Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Danger of being an Either Or Person in a Both and World!

Terrorists, Immigration, Refugees, Politics, Race and Starbucks!  All have been in the news this last week and depending on who you talk to perspectives are varied and haired. Emotions are escalating as seen in the news and on social media.

Polarization is a danger that may eclipse all the above.  According to Webster’s, “Polarization” is a noun po·lar·i·za·tion \ˌpō-lə-rə-ˈzā-shən\  and can mean:

1. (the) division into two opposites                
2. (the) concentration about opposing extremes of groups or interests formerly ranged on a continuum

I have noticed that when I get into a “discussion” it becomes increasingly difficult to remain objective, open, and differentiated (Differentiation involves the ability to remain emotionally present, engaged and nonreactive in an emotionally charged situation, while simultaneously expressing one’s own goals, values, and principles. J. Wright, New Zealand Australian Journal of Family Therapy)  What happens when I become polarized?  I Stop Learning.  What happens when I am NOT differentiated?  I Stop Listening. 

When I Stop Learning and Listening, I begin thinking, talking, and acting in an either or way instead of being open to both / and perspective.  There are issues where God calls me to either or belief, but what I’m discovering is those things are few (The way to God- Jesus, How I live- like Jesus, Where I find truth- The God who revealed Himself in Scripture). 

As a Christ-follower the issue of polarization presents an interesting dilemma.  For instance, take the Syrian refuge issue.  On the one hand I understand the issue of refuges needing a place to escape from death and destruction.  The Bible talks about the need of being “open to the foreigner, to show compassion, and acceptance.”  But on the other hand, I also understand the Biblical concept of being “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  Having a willy, nilly approach to opening our boarders without any restraint doesn’t seem to be very wise.  But is there an answer that isn’t choosing either extreme?  There is and there are those who are immersed in this issue and have great insight on how to deal with the duality.  

I believe there are threats we need to be vigilant about when it comes living in this world. But I also believe that if we continue down the polarization trail, the biggest threat maybe ourselves.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tunnel Theory

While on vacation in South Carolina, we went to a historic site where one of the 52 waterfalls in the state was right next to a pre-Civil War railroad tunnel.  Well, actually, it was a cave more than a tunnel.  The tunnel, which was to be a part of a railway line from Charlotte to Cincinnati, was never completed due to the Civil War and then the bankruptcy of South Carolina.  Since the "tunnel" is a historic site we could go into the almost quarter mile cave.  No lights, sounds of dripping and running water, and no clue if we'd come out alive! 

One of us was really frightened to do the adventure walk.  Clutching my arm and almost having to drag said other member of our dynamic duo, we made our way by only our IPhone flashlight. Note: IPhone flashlights are not designed to illuminate such dark tunnels.  We made our way to the end of the "tunnel" and were met  with a big iron gate/door.  I couldn't help myself and had to stick my head in to "see" even though it was pitch black.  Immediately I thought to myself: "this is what horror movies are made of."  I wondered if a zombie, mummy, or some creature would grab me around the neck and slam me into the bars.  I have to admit, a little streak of fear, okay, a big streak of fear pulsed through me.  As I turned around, the said member of our duo was already a fourth of the way out back to the opening.  I could see the light of the opening and her silhouette as she walked.

We both made it out alive...barely. 

Tunnels, are all around.  Some are long and winding, others so short you can see the end before you enter the tunnel.  Literal tunnels amaze me.  How did someone do that?  Figurative tunnels annoy me, they scare me, they challenge me, they cause me not to want to go in them.  Know what I mean?  The times I've discovered I've entered into a tunnel of chaos, conflict, or challenge.  My path on this planet has brought about many "tunnels" that are necessary to go through, but not very pleasant, to say the least.  The best thing about these types of "tunnels" are the exit on the other side.  You know, that relationship, job, assignment, conversation, or waiting that has the blackness of a real tunnel and carries with it the same fear and trepidation I felt in South Carolina.  These tunnels don't seem to have any respect for who we are, what we know, or what we have gone through.  Tunnels of physical pain and suffering, emotional depths of depression, fear of the future, financial ruin, and relational collapse can all feel the same: dark, damp, depressing, and full of fear.

Here are a few thoughts I've had regarding these tunnels.

1. Tunnels are a passageway.  We are not meant to stay in the tunnel.  

2. If I consistently take my next step, I will eventual get through to the other side where there is light and a new location.

3. I am not alone, no matter how lonely I may feel. There is One who has promised never to leave me.

4. The tunnel helps me grow.  I don't walk by what I can see in the tunnel but by the faith I have in the One who is with me.  Believe me, there have been some tunnels that have been pitch black and all I could do was trust the One who was guiding me through.

So, what's your tunnel story?  From a fellow tunnel traveller!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I don't like to hear these words...just "hold on a second.” It makes me tired and left wondering, "hold on to what?"  I get the idea that I need to be patient but pushing the pause button doesn't come naturally, at least not to me.  There are those times when I look back and remember how I have not been the follower of Jesus I should have been. I have been really impatient, saying things that shouldn’t be said, or not doing what I know God calls me to do. The saying from Franklin D. Roosevelt has been quoted quite a bit: "If you are at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” When I get into the quandary of thoughts, it feels like I have come to the end of the rope.  My question is what knot? (no pun intended) What do I hang on to?

I've been on a journey of reading chronologically through the Bible.  It's been enjoyable to read the historical books and the books of the kings along with the Psalms and prophets.  It’s interesting to see the interplay between the books.  I'll have to admit though, as I looked at the schedule I wasn't too excited about a few of the books.  The one I was the most skeptical about was Lamentations, written by the "weeping prophet," Jeremiah.  I didn't foresee the surprise that awaited me.  I began in chapter one and slogged my way through the first two chapters of how God had rejected, poured out his wrath, afflicted, etc.  I was ready to apply my training in rapid reading to keep me from tumbling into the pit of despair when I came across verses 19 through 26 of chapter 3:

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

There it is, the "knot."  God's great love.  Because of it I am (k)not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, great is his faithfulness.  My knot?  His great love, his mercies, his faithfulness.  Because of that I can wait!

So, what's your knot?

Peace Out,


Sunday, June 21, 2015

What I've Learned from My Dad...

I am privileged to still have my dad around.  This year he will turn 85.  There are 3 values that I have learned from him that have shaped who I am.

#1. Faithfullness.  
I watched my dad care for, come along side of, and love my mom.  For those of you who didn't know her, she was a remarkable woman who struggled with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  A disease that crippled her and brought many debilitating side effects.  In a day and age where convenience was rampant and divorce became 'no fault' dad stayed faithfully beside mom's side until the day she died.  As a young boy, I knew my parents were in love and I marveled at the faithfulness exemplified by dad.  He faithfulness extended into other domains of his life, for 40+ years he would get up at 6:00am and be in at the office by 7:30.  His faithfulness extended to church where he served on numerous boards and committees.  His faithfulness was to the community where he led a school corporation through the daunting task of consolidation and building a new Jr. Sr. High School.  He donated blood regularly and has surpassed the 50 gallon mark. He was a volunteer fireman for over 50 years.  I have watched and learned to be a man, you must be faithful.

#2. Work Hard.
Dad was raised by depression era parents and the value of hard work was ingrained into him.  So guess what he passed on?  As a young boy, I hated this one.  Too many "spring breaks" were spent hauling manure, picking up rocks in the field, etc.  But I learned the value of sticking with something until it was finished and putting in my best effort.  The only person I ever saw out work my dad was his dad.  Grandpa was the epitome of hard work.  I have experienced the benefit first hand of having the same work ethic and realizing the satisfaction of seeing a project completed.  

#3. Integrity.
If dad says he will do something, it'll get done.  This integrity thing has shaped me in many ways and has been a real drag at times.  Anytime I think about not living up to my word, I am haunted with the thought of trying to explain it away.  Dad taught me and my brothers this lesson over and over by his example and by holding us to our word.  He is a firm believer in you need to inspect what you expect.  Many times I can remember the follow up questions of: 'did you finish, do, or take care of...?'  He knew that the wandering mind and body of a young boy could lead to a lack of followthrough.   

So, there you have it.  Three values that I am grateful for and am indebted to my dad for.  Thanks Dad, you taught me well.  I hope I can be as faithful, hardworking, and as full of integrity as you are.  Love You and Happy Father's Day.

Marty, your favorite son!   

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mind the Gap

Gaps...they are all over and show up in some of the most interesting places.  The other night we were watching TV and someone said: "wow, she's got a gap between her front teeth!"  A gap is a space between something that usually is filled.  Gaps can be beneficial: time between big projects at work, cool weather between heat spells, quiet between excessive noise, or deep breaths between long underwater dives.  

A gap that happens to me is knowing what to do and actually do it.  Before we moved to Australia there was a gap.  In the midst of that there was that irritating time called waiting!  Waiting can be a very real part of "gapness."  

Waiting has become synonymous with inactivity and that becomes a choice.  I can sit and wait in the doctor's office and do nothing.  I last about 5 minutes!  I don't know if I'm A.D.H.D or just wired to do something?  I really don't like to wait, especially when it means being inactive.  

I hated English class, it wasn't all the rules that tripped me up but all the exceptions: 'i before e except....' 'the vowels are: a,e,i,o,u, & sometimes....'  I couldn't seem to keep track of them all.  But one thing I did learn; verbs are action words!  The word wait is a verb.  Waiting requires action not inaction.  

So, what action can I engage in while I'm waiting?
I can...Think, Pray, Encourage, be Aware, Love, Serve, Praise, Reflect, be Generous, Care, be Patient, Read, Learn a new skill.  The list seems endless.  So, as you find yourself in a Gap, what will you choose?   How about the 'Action of the Wait?'  

Monday, June 8, 2015

I have a pretty good sense of direction.  There have been few times I have been lost and so disoriented that I didn't know which way to go.  I've noticed recently though there is a place that I can get lost in and not realize the huge amount of time spent.  Facebook.  For the most part, I see it as a good thing.  But like anything, if taken to the extreme it can rob me of other great time and living my life!

I can spend a lot of time reading, scanning, stalking, I mean catching up with friends and their lives that I forget to live my own life.  I've also noticed the temptation to fall into the "Facebook reality mode."  If I'm not careful, I can get so caught up in other people's lives and activity that I become depressed with my 'boring life.'  Everybody seems to be going places, experiencing the greatest food, and hanging out with really cool people.  Am I the only one not doing those things?  I begin buying into the lie: 'I'm a nobody who's life is really boring.'  Not True!  Well, it can be true if I exist only in Facebook world!  Am I the only one who has been sucked into the Facebook vortex?  I'm open to your thoughts and suggestions on how you maneuver this maze!  In the mean time I'm going to go run a couple of miles!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Thinking about mom!

It has been 14 years since I had a conversation with my mom.  No, there isn't a relational rift between her and I: just a gap between "here" and "there."  Mom's with Jesus and has been basking in perfect love.  I've just completed my Mother's Day message for Sunday
and again have realized what an awesome, loving, funny, resilient, godly, woman she is.  Just because she's not in this world doesn't mean who she was has ceased to exist with Jesus!

I wish I had some time with her.  There are always those things you wished you would have said but didn't or be able to clarify (in my case admit, confess, & seek forgiveness for).  This Mother's Day I am grateful for a mom who taught me to love selflessly, laugh often, & live life with all you've got.  The values of mom brought value to me! Thanks Mom and say Hi to Jesus for me!

Monday, April 6, 2015

He is Risen...Now What?

Yesterday was an incredible day to celebrate and communicate the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The day was packed and memories were made with friends.  

This morning I began thinking: He is Risen, Now What?"  Because Jesus rose from the grave, what difference does it make in my life?"

I came across a quote by Andy Stanley that I think sums up the Now What of Easter: If a man can predict his own death and resurrection, and pull it off, I'll just go with whatever that man says!"  So, I guess that's the answer to the Now What question...stay focused and follow what He Said!

Be Blessed,


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Breaking the Silence

For 4 months I have not written a blog.  That's not to say I haven't had different ideas of what to write.  I've been letting a few things marinate before I jump back into the blog-o-sphere.

There seems to be an issue that is consuming social media these days with my home State's politicians at the forefront.  I'm NOT jumping into that.  There are more intelligent people than I who understand this better than me.  I'll leave that debate to them.  

So, what's this post about?  A deeper level thing.  When I was in Graduate school, I had to learn, sometimes the hard way, that when you wrote a paper you needed to cite your references.  Several times I received a paper back that looked like a homicide happened and my paper was underneath the body.  Among the professor's comments: References Please!  A pretty simple rule.  If what I was writing about was my opinion, then I needed to state it as such and reference it as such, or leave it out.  

Here's my frustration with MUCH of what is going on in the social media world today. Many are writing posing as informed, knowledgable, credible, sources in their own right.  They are merely expressing their opinion.  I'm not saying you shouldn't express your opinion, but let's stop the posing and state things as they are.  Too many bloggers and well intentioned social media posts are simply writing opinion papers without any substance of proof or backing that is substantiated with research or fact.  It's merely opinion.

Here's an example NOT from the political arena. Because I'm a pastor my attention is drawn to posts or articles about the condition of the church today or the future.  There seems to be a vast amount of voices who are trying to expose the underbelly of the church based on personal experience and then attach to it a judgement that appears to be highly documented (the underbelly of the Church is visible and has been for quite some time).  But in reality is simply an opinion not backed by any research.  What happens then is people begin to repeat statements adding "credibility." I am concerned when I see these types of posts because I love the church and am fully aware of the underbelly.  But I also know that what the Church can be and can do is the hope for the world.

One such piece I recently read was why people are leaving the church. A topic that is near and dear to my heart.  The writer stated some compelling reasons and others that were, at best questionable.  The interesting part was, he referenced NO research or sources for the article.  I was left wondering, opinion???  SO, just to be clear, this post is MY Opinion!  Be Careful out there in the cyber world and in the material world to think before you believe someone's posts or talk!  Back to my State's issue, seems like A LOT of opinions to me!