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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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Tragedy in Dallas: What Can I Do? Part 2

Serious times here in the good ‘ol U S of A! The tragedy in Dallas is the most recent in a seemingly unending nightmare of mass shootings. It comes on the heels of another hate crime and terroristic catastrophe in Orlando. Omar Mateen, a Muslim ISIS influenced loyalist, entered a gay bar two weeks ago, heavily armed. He killed 49 people and wounded another 53 before he was killed by a member of the SWAT team. It’s just now coming to light and being reported that Micah Johnson, the Dallas shooter, had strong ties to Islam, himself. Radical Islam is a term that we’re hearing almost every day now. But it’s a term that our President refuses to utter. I think we all know why!! It’s a problem that’s growing by the day and something must be done immediately to close the door.

Racial tension is at a fever pitch, the most intense that I can remember in my lifetime. If it wasn’t for knowing the Lord has our solutions it’d be extremely discouraging. I’ve thought about how we should respond as humans, as Americans….but more important as Christians. Here’s a few practical things that each of us can do that I think’ll make a difference.

  1. Pray! It always makes a difference. As you pray your level of faith will rise.
  2. Take it to the Lord. Inquire of the Lord ‘how’ you should pray. When you do that your prayers will be strategic.
  3. Get the facts. There’s so much false and conflicting information out there by the media that it takes work to find out the ‘actual’ truth.
  4. Be an agent of positive change. Each of us has a ‘circle of influence’. We can influence those around us in a positive way.
  5. Watch your mouth! This one may be just for me! It’s so easy for me to go negative with my mouth. It’s not good….it doesn’t work!
  6. Be careful with your social media comments and responses. *Everything your read on FaceBook is NOT true! Don’t treat it as such!
  7. Pray for and Support law enforcement. Now, more than ever they need our support!
  8. Use your ‘voice’ – The larger your audience – The greater your responsibility. Speak truth; speak with maturity.
  9. Don’t take the ‘bait’!  – Love instead! Lots of ‘race baiting’ out there right now. Be wise!
  10. Stay the course! This is not an overnight fix. Don’t get discouraged, don’t throw in the towel.

As believers it’s our responsibility to bring ‘light’ during these ‘dark’ times.

Let’s make a difference!

This is not a conclusive list. I’d be interested in your own thoughts. Let me hear from you!

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“Freedom’s Just Another Word” …… But It’s a Whole Lot More Than That!

“Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose”; Kristofferson penned those words a generation ago. It’s really one of the great songs of any genre. And in my opinion nobody comes close to Janis Joplin’s rendition of it…although Roger Miller does run a good second; Waylon knocks it out of the park, as well (although I’m a little partial!). Kris wasn’t at all talking about the freedom that we have here in the USA, it was more of a love song, of sorts. And while I love that line in the song, on a day like today I think of freedom in an altogether different way.

With all that’s going on in America today, and as challenging as the future may be, we still have our freedom. There are countless billions around the planet that have never experienced this thing called freedom; it’s a word alien to their understanding. And for us, who have experienced it to the fullest extent of any nation on the globe, I think we should at least stop for a minute, say thanks, and think a little bit of what we really have.  Freedom didn’t just happen; it was fought for….NO, I mean really fought for! Thousands of patriotic Americans have given their lives so we can live free, and do the things that we do. For me, I don’t necessarily think I ever took our freedom for granted. But I remember years back after first watching, “Saving Private Ryan” (If you haven’t seen it, you need to!!), and looking through some tears that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t give freedom the ‘value’ that it really deserves.

So, today, as we celebrate our freedom it would serve us well to stop for a moment and reflect on all that’s been labored for…for us to be free! And even if “she left you somewhere near Salinas”, or even if you’re “busted flat in Baton Rouge” …….you’re still free! So “pull your harpoon out of your dirty red bandana” and blow something Red, White & Blue!

I say we enjoy it!!

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