Friday, October 31, 2008

Quick and simple

In the midst of dressing like Waldo for the company Halloween contest, I said a bothered "hello" to a co-worker.

Then I found out this co-worker was one of the judges. My spirit perked up. Suddenly she had more value to add to my life.

As you're certainly well aware, that's not really the way to treat people. In fact, a line that's always stayed with me is that "every single person is someone for whom your savior died."

Pretty much I should treat everyone like they were a judge. After all, even corrupt tax collectors can love those who love them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thoughts on fear

Like God, blogs where you aren't the only contributor are easy to return to, even if you've
ignored them for a very long time...

And fortunately for all of us, that isn't the real reason I'm posting here.

Yesterday, I more or less participated in a discussion about fears, and at some point it struck me how irrational our fears often are (you might say that fear is an emotion, and so by definition
is not rational, and I guess I'd have to give you that, but hopefully you get what I mean). Fear is a natural reaction to danger; thus if you find yourself in an active minefield, it would make sense for you to be afraid of death or injury by underground explosives. So many of our fears, though, aren't in response to a present danger. Reality is twisted and shadows elongated in our minds until we become scared of all kinds of things that might be, but aren't. And not just things like, "there might be a mine there, because this is a minefield." I mean stuff like "this isn't a minefield, but there might be a mine there..." when of course there is no mine, because you're in the Yukon and no one lays mines there or ever will. Spiders, hot cooking oil, and probably most other phobias don't warrant much worry either. But still, we carry these things around all the time.

Ironically, faith is frequently deemed irrational, a belief in uncertainties, and juxtaposed against reason. This is a misleading dichotomy, though, because in so many instances faith sides with reason, and these oppose fear. This is the formula I tend to see in the Bible. No wonder the most common command in scripture is to not be afraid.

Here is where I would insert an incisive conclusion, but I don't have one yet, so I'll just encourage you to explore the topic yourself. Here's a start:

Hebrews 13:5-6
God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Granted the Sox season is over now, but...

Actual text message exchange between myself and my friend Julie before game 7 of the ALCS on Sunday night:

Me: Don't stop believing Jules
Her: I can't...they won't let me...

I thought that was perfect -- not as a description of the Red Sox, necessarily, but of God. Every time I've wanted to stop believing in Him, He's done something that keeps me from losing faith. I can't stop believing in Him...He won't let me.

(and sure, the Sox lost...but that seems a bit irrelevant, now doesn't it?)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm blogging, as promised

So I'm actually blogging my trip over at

Also, Mike or someone needs to update the header for our HC blog to reflect the fact that we now meet on Tuesdays.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keep the faith

Several months back, I used the 2004 Red Sox as a metaphor to illustrate my point that "the fun is in the faith." The point was that, as the Sox began their incredible, never-been-done-before comeback from a 3-0 deficit, I couldn't be bothered to believe it possible. Same thing happened in 2007 when they came back from 3-1. It's like I believed I'd somehow be rewarded for dropping my faith. Instead, in each case, I ran from my faith. In each case I wound up feeling silly. The Red Sox came back from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back and I found myself wondering why I'd bothered doubting them in the first place.

This behavior also surfaced in my walk with the Lord, of course -- those times where I really wanted to believe, but found it somehow too risky to believe in the improbable, in His power.

* * *

Probably the biggest thing I learned in the past year was a corollary to that last bit: if I'm going to say I believe in an all-powerful God, I need to act like it. I need to believe it. For the past several months, I did that. Even if things didn't wind up the way I wanted them to, I believed they could. I believed that all things were possible through the Lord.

Earlier today I was thinking about the 3-1 series deficit the Sox were facing this year. I was tired of reading the pundits talk about past Sox comebacks. As far as I was concerned, they were cooked. Everyone on the team looks tired and the difference between this year's situation and past years, I was quick to point out, is that this year's team is less talented than their competition (unlike 2007 vs. Cleveland and 2004 against the Yankees). Between injuries to several key players and generally being not as good as Tampa Bay, I figured this season was over. I didn't even plan to watch the game.

But Mike, I internally dialogued, doesn't this contradict your newfound belief, in, well, belief? If you believe all the crazy, improbable things in the Bible, if you truly believe that all things are possible through Christ...I mean, is it so hard to believe a baseball team can win three games in a row, even with inferior talent?

For more than two hours, there looked to be no reason to believe. Through six innings, the Sox were down 7-0 and had two (2) hits. My friend Meg and I just wanted the game to end early enough to be able to see The Office. Then, despite my lack of faith, I was rewarded: the Sox, down to their last seven outs, scored eight runs to win game 5 and complete the greatest postseason single game comeback in 79 years (!)

Winding down afterwards, I couldn't help but think about how this again mirrors my walk with the Lord. After the 2007 baseball season, I promised I would never again stop believing. Obviously that didn't happen. Again, I feel silly for ever doubting. It will, I'm sure, be the same thing with my relationship with God. I'm sitting here, trying to convince myself that I'll never stop believing in Him. Thing is, someday I will doubt him again. It might not be an overt thing where I actually say aloud "I doubt you, God," but my actions, my inner beliefs will say those words.

But you know what the greatest thing is? Even when I have trouble believing, God loves me, and cares for me and prays for me. I'd love to be able to say "I will always believe, with all my heart," but it's probably not true. Even when it's not true, though, I know He is there for me. In my absolute weakness, when I have lost all belief, when I cannot find even a glimmer of hope, that's when He is strongest. And for that, my friends, I am more thankful than anything else.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What people really want

I once heard where the perfect government would be an omnipotent dictator. That thought has stuck in my head as I've watched these debates, which have essentially boiled down to:

Candidate A: You were wrong about this
Candidate B: You were wrong about this other thing


Candidate A: You flip flopped your views on this
Candidate B: You flip flopped your views on that

That's fine. That's politics. Maybe we can argue about it sometime.

Here's something else I've noticed about politics: People do want an omnipotent dictator. Why else would they expect someone to be right about everything?

Or, let's look at the flip-flopping bit:
Sometimes it's a result of being easily swayed. Other times it's because a new situation has presented itself and now the person has to react to it. Situations change and sometimes the strongest thing to do is change your opinion, policy or whatever.

Try as they may, politicians are not omnipresent or omnipotent, much as people want them to be. There's only one person I know who fits that description...whether people realize that's who they're longing for is another matter altogether.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Decent chance this post ticks you off

The Presidential election is I believe one month from today. I cannot wait for it to get here. Sure, I’ll miss the endless partisan YouTube and email forwards telling me that Candidate X is stupid, doesn’t know how many states there are, claims to read every newspaper, etc. It’s going to bring a tear to my eye when I can no longer hear friends argue with each other on issues about which they don’t actually know that much. Believe me, all of this is going to bring a tear to my eye.

Here’s the thing: I can’t help but wonder why Christians start freaking out when their party looks like they won’t win. To me, the subtext of this mindset is something along the lines of “everything is going to go wrong if Candidate X is elected.” I know it’s easy to fall into this trap with anything you care about. I’d imagine there’s a more productive mindset to have.

Which is:
God’s power is big. Huge. Beyond adjectives. Regardless of what political party is elected, He can handle it. I don't know much, but I know that.

Call me crazy.