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Tag Archives: Controversy

Grace, Freedom and the NFL

Boy, what a firestorm! The tension and controversy in America has reached a fever pitch over the last few years to where we have arrived at today. Not long ago it was just 49’ers  (ex) quarterback Colin Kaepernick (still doesn’t have a job) who intentionally thrust himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the National Anthem in protest of what he deemed to be wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States. Well, it’s a free country….and I don’t argue the subject of free speech. But, what we do with that freedom is an entirely different topic that oftentimes reveals the character of those who might use, or misuse it.

You may wonder about the above title and question how grace, freedom and these protests could be connected. I think, in principle, they’re very connected. Let me explain; Grace is an extremely important Biblical subject. It’s a wonderful thing! But it’s also one of the more controversial topics in the church today. It’s controversial mostly because it has been miscommunicated, ….and therefore misunderstood, ….and when all that happens it can easily be misappropriated. (used in an unwise manner)

Paul, in one of his letters, said it this way, “Brothers and sisters you have been called to liberty (freedom), but don’t use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh”. More clearly put, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to sin. It’s only the unwise, or maybe innocently by the immature, who would accept God’s perfect gift of grace and then use it as an excuse to sin. That would be an undeniable, gross misuse of grace! That’s where I see grace, freedom and these NFL protests intersecting.

The freedom that we enjoy in America is like none other in the entire world. It’s a freedom that has come at an extremely costly price. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives on the battlefield, here and around the world, in the name of freedom. I appreciate that; I’m grateful for it and it’s something that I would never, ever take lightly. So, it only makes sense to me to use that freedom in a wise, mature and conscientious manner. Everybody doesn’t agree….and that’s OK. But my opinion is that those who choose to dishonor the national anthem and the flag, are thus dishonoring the nation and those whose lives were sacrificed for our freedom. It appears to be a very immature, arrogant and unwise use of something so precious….and that cost so many, …..so much.

The NFL has some unbelievable athletes; best in the world for their God-given talent and abilities. But many of these young men have been coddled, babied and catered to since they were old enough to be involved in organized team sports. It’s a historical fact that many of these athletes making millions today won’t have any of it left after their careers are over. And, if the old adage rings true that “we all have 15 minutes of fame”, it’s a crying shame that these boys are using theirs’ this way. They’re influencing another generation of little boys in a very adverse, and negative way. I wouldn’t want that on my resume’!

Someone will probably cry, “racism”; But, c’mon …..give us a break! It’s not that. It’s called patriotism, …..and it’s makin’ a comeback!

“All things are lawful, but not all things edify; all things are lawful, but not all are helpful” – Paul

The way you handle grace….and freedom will tell the world just how deep your character actually is. 

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“Loosen Up, Sandy Baby!”

“I Don’t Know How We’re Gonna Win….I Just Know We’re Going To!”

Life’s Like Football, It’s a Game of Inches

It Takes a Village to go Back to Back…..to Back to Back!

 

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Theorists and Practitioners

Theorist: Someone who considers given facts and comes up with a possible explanation is called a theorist.                                                                                                                            Practitioner: A practitioner is someone who is actively involved in real life situations, and qualified to practice a particular occupation, profession, or religion.

I had a conversation 10 years ago with a few close friends. I don’t actually remember the exact details of the entire conversation but I definitely remember the conclusion I came to soon after it was over. I was with four other ministry people, all of which had quite a few years experience. A couple of these guys are great communicators, orators, Bible teachers. But they weren’t actively involved in the day to day dealing with people and their problems. It’s not that they couldn’t do it; they have. It’s just that they weren’t heavily involved at that time. I’ll call them the ‘theorists’. They’re important people!

It was a really good, brisk discussion on how things ought to work in the church from a, strictly, Biblical standpoint. Of those things there wasn’t much disagreement, whatsoever. But the ‘rub’ came when we began talking about how it really is in the ‘trenches’. You know, out there where the rubber hits the road….in real life; Where you get knocked down, get your nose bloodied, betrayed, lied to, tripped up and derailed. That all can happen (and really a lot more!) in the process of ‘practicing’ the theory.

I am deeply involved in the day to day challenge of dealing with people…and their issues. Been doing it for nearly 30 years. It’s what I do. I’m far from perfect at it….but I have learned a few things. For that reason I’d say I’m more a ‘practitioner’ than a theorist. When you add, what I’d call the ‘human factor’, to any theory, even a Biblical one, it complicates that theory to a large degree. Doesn’t mean the theory is wrong or even faulty, for that matter. But it’s different when it’s being lived out in real life. It’s never quite as neat; in fact it’s usually pretty messy; it’s never as cut and dried as we’d like for it to be. When you add people to the equation it gets a lot more difficult. It’s nearly always worth it….but difficult, nonetheless.

It led me to this conclusion; There needs to be a ‘coming together’ of the ‘theorists’ and the ‘practitioners’. They need to sit down at the table and talk, discuss, compare, hash it out, even argue a little if it’s friendly and helpful. It’s vital, I think. And, if it’s done in a productive manner….everyone leaves the table wiser and better equipped…..and both have a much better understanding.

In all truth, and I think this is how the Lord designed it for obvious reasons, …..unless the theory is tested in the laboratory of life….all you have is a theory. But when the theory is a Biblical one, and the parties involved will lean toward the Lord, it usually works out……..a whole lot more often than not!

The theorists and the practitioners need to get together!

Readin’ a book about learning how to fly an airplane is fine…..but when you’re taxiing down the runway……things get REAL!

Check these out:

I Plant a Little, I Water a little…..

A Long Ways From the Lord

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Yoke Up!

The old timers will all tell you that one of the sure-fire ways to train up a young draft horse to pull a wagon, a coach or a plow is to hitch him up to an older, seasoned horse. The young horse will fight the harness, buck, pitch and kick for all he’s worth but it doesn’t take long until he gives it all up. Yep, the old plow horse doesn’t let any of it bother him. He’ll just plod along doing his job until the young horse decides to cooperate.

Seems like a pretty fair analogy to describe our walk with the Lord. In fact, Jesus used that exact same analogy in one of the classic statements He made in His earthly life, “Take My yoke upon you”. For the most part His message up to that point had been directed to the Jewish nation and people. And this statement, while we can easily apply it to our own life, was directed to those who were ‘yoked’ up in the Law of Moses. Jesus’ message of grace flew square in the face of the over-religious, self-righteous, doctrinal police and they hated Him for it.

This message of grace and love was ultimately why they so often sought to kill Him. I find it extremely peculiar that as good as Jesus was they sought to vilify Him because He wouldn’t submit to their lifeless religion. And that’s exactly what legalistic religion is…lifeless. No man has ever been made righteous by the Law, and no man will ever be! The Law, as Paul says, served as a schoolmaster until Christ came, and after that there is no need for the Law. It’s a polarizing subject even today. In fact, it’s the issue at stake in the whole Body of Christ, this argument over law and grace. There are those who are being vilified in the same manner as Jesus was and the bottom line is that the legalists don’t believe that God is as good as we’re saying He is! So, Jesus’ statement was designed to take the heavy weight of trying to keep the Law off those who were burdened down under it and get them to ‘yoke up’ with Him.

Hitch up with Jesus!

His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Maybe we oughta quit our buckin’ and pitchin’ and try it!

Life is hard; It’s harder if ‘ya ain’t yoked up!

Here’s a couple you should take a look at:

I Don’t Know How He Does It!

He Won’t ‘Put More On Ya’ Than You Can Stand

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A Word or Two to the Grace Preachers Out There

I’m a grace man. I’ve been a grace man since November the 17th, 1984. That’s when I sat on the edge of my bed, with everything wrong in my life that could be wrong, and prayed this prayer….word for word; “God, if you’re out there, you gotta help me”. That night marked a turnaround in my life, a transformation if you will, that has continued every day since then. Hopefully that transformation will stay in progress from now on. I’m still a long ways from where I need to be….but after 32 years I’m still moving in the right direction.

Because of how I came to the Lord (read about it here), it shaped me into being a grace person. And, even though I cried out to the Lord in all sincerity He really had no good reason to rescue me. But He did it anyway! That, in essence, is what grace is! I experienced His amazing grace firsthand long before I heard anybody teaching on it. I think people who are around me would say that I handle and treat people with grace. *(if not….you have my permission to tell me!)

There has been an upsurge in the last few years on the topic of grace. The ‘finished work of Jesus’ is something a lot of people are talking, and writing, about these days. Clark Whitten’s book, “Pure Grace”, is a good one. And Joe Langley’s, “Unfiltered Grace” would also be a great starting place if you’re interested. Both are personal friends and their books are well written and easy to read.

Grace has become a very controversial issue. A friend put it this way, “If you want to make people mad, preach the Law; if you want to make them furious……preach grace!” I’m finding out there’s some truth to that. It really turns out to be an argument over how good God really is. It’s an important topic and one I think you should give some attention to.

Grace is a subject that God is breathing on. Truth be known, He has always been doing that. Anytime that happens there’s a rash of preachers and teachers jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak. That can be a good thing but it can also bring a lot of problems with it as well. Here’s how; Anytime we teach something but are not walking in it (or at the very least, trying to) the message is tainted. Listeners have a hard time reconciling the truth that they hear (about grace in this instance) with the level of personal integrity with a teacher who doesn’t handle people with grace. Who can blame them?

There are several teachers out there with a huge following. I find myself agreeing with most of what they’re saying. But their prideful and critical (my opinion) attitude toward other preachers/teachers who are not yet where they are in their understanding of grace causes me to ‘not’ be a fan. I don’t think I’m alone.

Here’s how I’d encourage the grace preachers out there:

  • Your understanding of grace is a ‘gift’ to be treasured and stewarded with wisdom and maturity. It’s not something you’ve earned…or even deserved, really. It’s a GIFT!
  • Grace is something that is best understood through experience. I, personally, don’t care how much Bible a guy knows if he doesn’t have some experiential knowledge of the subject.
  • If you’re going to preach it, then at the very least, attempt to walk it out in your attitude, words and dealings with people. Jesus was the best example: He didn’t just ‘have’ a grace message……He ‘was’ the grace message! He embodied the truth He communicated. We should do the same.
  • “Let not many of you be teachers, knowing that you will incur a stricter judgment” It’s a lot more serious if you’re a teacher. *Something to remember: “You teach what you know, but you impart ‘who’ you are!” If it’s coming from a critical heart you’re producing that same critical heart with others. That’s serious!
  • When you mock and make fun of leaders who’ve not been exposed to the message, you alienate them. So, you should take some of the responsibility for the controversy over grace.
  • When you criticize others and use strong words like ‘extortion’ toward those who are still finding their way…..you just lost me! I think you’re losing others as well. And what’s more important…you’re giving others a wrong or skewed perception of grace.
  • When grace is adequately communicated……very few people reject it!
  • Oh, and don’t forget what they say about knowledge! It ‘puffs up’!
  • Grace is a beautiful message; don’t contaminate it with the wrong heart.

Share this message!

You oughta read these, too:

The Elusive Definition of Grace

A Long Ways From the Lord

If He Can Fix My Life…..I Know He Can Fix Yours!

It Ain’t Grace’s Fault!

I Fought the Law….and the Law Won!

There’s Grace For That!

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“Sticks n’ Stones”

“Sticks n’ stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I can remember my Mom & Dad teaching me that little thing when I was just a kid. Kids can be cruel with their words. Sometimes it overlaps into adulthood, too. This is just a little rhyme that teaches us to not let those words spoken against us land in our heart…and take root. It was first recorded in 1862. I don’t know who, initially, came up with it but my guess is that it was someone who was forced to deal with some kind of negative barrage of words or criticism from someone else.

It’s good advice, no doubt about it, and if we can learn to appropriate it into our life we’ll be a lot better off for it. But the truth is that words can…..and do hurt. In fact they can cause tremendous damage to young and old alike. Words have extreme potential on both the negative and positive side. The Bible even talks about the importance of words more than a few times.

If we, as victims of those negative words, don’t find a good, positive way to navigate through them and not let them have their effect on us we can easily end up falling prey to their power. I know a lot of people who have allowed those critical and mean-spirited words spoken over them define their entire lives.

So, I think the little rhyme has merit and value for each of us if we’ll just ascribe to it. If we can make the determination within each of us that we won’t let those words hurt us, we’ll be OK. It’s a fact of life; we’re going to have plenty of cruel words hurled our way….but in all reality they can only hurt us if we let ’em.

It should also be a good reminder to each of us to watch our own words…and not to carelessly throw them out there where they can do damage to someone else!

You might like these, too:

What’s ‘Right’ With It?

You Can Live in the Past if You Want To…..But There Is a ‘Downside’

The ‘Magic’ Words

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Fail Forward

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in life, missing the mark is always a possibility. In fact it’s inevitable that we’re going to fail at something. Whether it’s not making the 5th grade basketball team or coming up short for class president. Most of us experienced the heartbreak of not doing quite good enough early on in life. You know, if it’d just stop there it wouldn’t be too bad. We could surely overcome that class president thing and move on wih life. But, challengingly enough, it doesn’t stop there.

Every single thing we do in life the possibility of failure is staring us square in the face. It can be distracting and downright intimidating. Get yourself two or three of those heartbreaks in a row, which is not hard, and it makes for a really tough patch of life. It would be easy for anyone to get stuck in that same old pattern and let it set the course of their entire life. It’s happened all too many times.

But it doesn’t have to happen that way. Actually, failure has some profound potential if we just don’t allow it get the best of us. Failures provide some amazing learning opportunities and they can give us some incredible perspective if we’ll just let it.

Peter was one of those guys that failed. He didn’t just fail a little….he failed BIG! At the time Jesus needed him most he folded like a cheap lawn chair. Three times he denied that he even knew Jesus, once to a little 12 year old girl. You may have had some major blunders in your life but I’m bettin’ you haven’t had one that big. It would have been easy for that failure to define the rest of Peter’s life. But he had an encounter with Jesus after the resurrection and something miraculous happened; something so miraculous, in fact, that for the next 25 years he was the most important man of the planet as it related to the paln of God! That should be a source of great encouragement to people like us.

Failure is a strong word; and, just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you’re a failure! We shouldn’t allow our failures to define us. We should use them as a stepping stone to greatness. Learn your lesson, get back up and get going again, use your bad experience to help someone else. 

You’re gonna miss the mark; you’re gonna fall short, you’re gonna fail occasionally. But when you fail, …….fail forward! Failure is not final…..unless you let it be!

Oh, and don’t forget what really made the difference for Peter! That encounter with Jesus is the ‘clincher’!

It’ll work for you, too!

Here’s a couple more you might like:

Critics……..There’s One On Every Corner

“Nothing I Can Do About it Now”

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Maybe You Oughta Think That One Through!

I just saw a picture post and quote on FaceBook that was supposedly from a Lieutenant Governor of a, let’s just say, far western state. Now, I didn’t ‘fact-check’ it so it might not have even happened. ‘Cause you know, as old Abe Lincoln said, “You can’t believe everything your read on FaceBook”! And….that is the truth! The quote attributed to him read, “I’d rather be a sitting duck at a mass shooting than have a gun to protect myself.” It does seem kinda ludicrous if it’s true….but who knows?

I’m not trying to make the call whether he said it or not. That’s not at all what this is about. But, I did have a funny thought run through my mind when I read it. If he did…or if someone might say something like that…my first thought is, “Uuuuh, I’m not sure you thought that one through!” It really got me to thinking. There’s so many times that people do things and say things without thinking it through. Man, …..how many times have I done that myself?! We’re often prone to act on the spur of the moment and make decisions totally out of our emotions rather than from logic, reason and common sense. Sometimes those, in the heat of the moment, decisions don’t turn out so well. 

And, really, most of the time it amounts to just thinking your way through the situation. How do you do that? Well, for starters it would help to think of the possible consequences of our actions. How is this going to affect the people I say it to? Will I end up needing to apologize? How am I going to feel if I deeply offend someone. That’s a good start.

James gives some great advice in his New Testament letter, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak…and slow to wrath”. If we’d just try to think our way through some of these situations we might choose a totally different plan of action….and maybe we wouldn’t have near as big a mess to clean up.

Check these out and “Share” ’em if you like ’em!

He Won’t ‘Put More On Ya’ Than You Can Stand

Redirecting!

Talk About a ‘Fixer-Upper’!

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