Sunday, April 25, 2010

Moving Christianity into Western thought…

For so long, we as Americans have believed that while Christ died for our sins, we are somehow detached from His commission because this country was founded on the belief that religious oppression included something we left behind in the Old World. Americans embrace a New World philosophy where apparently we are supposed to be “free” from oppression and persecution.

With that in mind, fundamentalists are adamant about protecting that particular freedom as truly American, and a God given right. We move through life, generation after generation, upholding a belief that somehow being an American frees us from suffering for Christ (Philippians 1:27-30).

Instead of gaining freedom from sin through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we claim freedom by honoring the lives, and more importantly the deaths, of military men and women who supposedly grant us freedom.

But what does that freedom look like? Does it free us from eternal damnation or from sin? The claim is that we are freed from tyranny, right? Christians were persecuted (and still are) in the Old World, but American Christians believe that persecution has no place in their New World.

Christ Himself came to restore and give us new life, and all because of a grace that we could never understand. We celebrate that restoration by giving up our old ways and our old lives in order to live victoriously in Him. Our commission is to share that very news.

The contradiction for American Christians comes when we celebrate a freedom that is born out of death and nothing more. It happens when we rally around a freedom that is represented by man made accomplishments and man made documents. Americanism is all about what we have done and not so much about what our heavenly Father has done for us by His grace.

Leave it to man to circumvent God in an effort to be the top dog, especially an American man. The very image of an American man is one of rugged determination and grit, of steel jaws and raw nerves. Someone who doesn’t back down from a fight and never gives up. This image is powerful and it tends to draw every American in with the understanding that if you do not relate to this rugged American man, you must be either a traitor or a foreigner. Lately, you might be branded a terrorist.

The problem is that when the rubber meets the road and eternity is on the line, who are you going to trust; the military man with his big gun, or God Almighty?

Western thought (or Americanism) is relatively new in the grand scheme of things, especially that of philosophy and the understanding of the human mind. How any one group of citizens could have strayed this far in such a short amount of time is boggling but my inference is meant to elicit a question for each of us, and not meant to confuse or lead to more thought. The question is actually a simple one and it is this; who do you serve?

Take time to answer the question and do not jump to conclusions. It is easy to suggest that you serve God but I beg you to look at your life and examine what other forces are at work. What role does money play in your life? How about your job or your hobbies? Even your family focus needs to be looked at.

Most importantly, the object of this post is to examine what being an American means to you. I have written about this topic three times before and in those cases I pointed to the need for examination. You can keep blaming the other side if you want, keep pointing fingers, keep slapping “support our troops” bumper stickers on your car, but in the end God is going to expect much more from His children than silly rants on Facebook or catchy little Twitter slogans.

Move forward in your faith, but remember that in order to do so takes some bold thought. Redefining Western thought is an imperative but before we can even touch that one we have to redefine the priorities in our own lives. Examine yourselves by asking God for wisdom as James directs us. Then, turn your thoughts into actions that are truly beneficial to His kingdom, and not this one.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

soccer dad

We have all heard the term ‘soccer mom’ but when was the last time you heard someone refer to himself as a soccer dad? You might think this is some new age terminology but the truth is that dads have long been attending soccer matches for their kids but it is often the mom who, being a stay at home mother, totes the kids to matches along with their friends and then hangs out with other like minded mothers.

There is nothing wrong with this picture, that of a soccer mom, but what does the picture say regarding dad? For years we have established that dads didn’t always make soccer games because of work or other responsibilities (such as golf with buddies), but for the last 15 years that I have been standing on the sideline, mostly as a coach, the signs are clear; dads are at the games.

Adding to participation rates of dads is our current economy, which has seen a rise in women maintaining positions in the work place while men lose their jobs or they work part time. This of course frees up men to take more of an active role in things like soccer games, but even with that, when was the last time you heard a guy declare himself a soccer dad?

So let me openly use the term for all to hear (and read); I am a soccer dad. I for one am grateful for the opportunities I get to spend with my kids, and being out there for them as they play sports is a real joy. I watch them work hard to impress me when they know that I am watching and I get a kick out of seeing them interact with other kids that are doing the exact same thing. Watching all of this play out seems so natural to me but I remind myself that it has not always been this way.

Thinking back to my playing days as a young boy, I remember my dad being there occasionally but I also remember feeling like he was out of place. There were always dads at the games but something feels different about then versus now. Possibly it is my involvement in the game (I coach, oversee the local parks & rec. soccer program and also play), but I wonder what these times say about soccer dads today as opposed to 35 years ago?

If you asked either of my kids what their dad does for work, they might slip up and say, “he’s a soccer coach”, or “he coaches other soccer coaches”. And while I do have a job that pays me, the truth is that a large portion of my life is taken up by soccer, so the term “soccer dad” fits. But that term is of greater significance to me when I remember that I am a dad first and soccer comes second. Watching my kids tear after the ball is a joyous thing and I relish those moments, even when they get down on themselves for not being as good as they think they should be.

For those of us that have embarked on this privileged journey of fatherhood, we know that there are moments of brilliance followed by trials of uncertainty, both on the part of our kids and ourselves. Whether your sport is soccer or your place of involvement is the science lab (science dad?), we have such an awesome responsibility to be a part of the lives of our kids. To me, being a dad is sharing with my kids all of the experiences that have shaped me from childhood, while also sharing the unique lives of my kids as they share with me.

Being a soccer dad is just one way that I am privileged as a father. Watching as one of my kids scores a goal and then turns to celebrate with both hands in the air, the greatest moment for me comes from seeing them revel in their own accomplishment, then looking at me with that infamous face that screams, “did you see that dad?”

Yea, I’m a soccer dad.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. 
Peace to you all.


Monday, April 5, 2010

hope and love

I don't know if I am disgusted or pissed off or maybe just confused, but whatever it is I need a break from it soon. Maybe I think too much, or maybe I care too much, or maybe I've completely lost the last marble that was playing wall ball in my head. Regardless, I am in thought regarding the state of our world, specifically as it relates to the community. I think of it globally but it has to start locally so we should start this chat there.

I am constantly at battle with the idea that we are capable of so much more but only able to see to the end of our own noses. As we passed Valentine's Day, I was struck with the notion that there is some love out there but it seems to be isolated and spotty at best. I certainly want to believe we are capable of more but certain signs continue to point to a contradiction. So much of our concept of love seems to be wrapped up in who we are that we often forget what everyone else thinks. Does that seem impossible to fathom? Probably not, but I would suggest that we have not truly thought it through all the way.

I am of the belief that love is very deliberate and that falling into it is not really possible. I heard someone suggest a similar view today and it occurred to me how I feel about the topic. I could tear off into the definitions of love but instead, let me say this; we are all capable of love on some level. The real question is when are we going to show it? This world seems like a big game of poker and instead of showing our hands we keep bluffing and upping the ante. The real problem here is there are a lot of people playing this game and trust me when I say, the stakes are high, and there are going to be a lot of losers if we keep going like this.

Currently there is a division in this world that is thick enough to touch and it is getting worse. Opinions are flying in the face of facts and going unchecked. In the midst of this, love is being trampled like a city slicker in Pamplona and everyone seems to be cheering. Even those who claim to be in agreement with each other have abandoned love and seem to be clinging to appeasement. There is no community and certainly no love in too many of the public venues that we witness today.

Enter hope on the scene. While it is scarce and sometimes very quiet it is most certainly in the house. What we know of hope is it's like a 3 hour car ride in a booster seat knowing there's ice cream waiting at the other end. My son will tell you that Hope is his cousin but even he knows that hope is also the start of baseball season, sunshine filled days that are warm enough to wear shorts and trips to the beach.

I can't say enough about some of the cool people I continue to meet who regularly give me hope that there is more out there than just this stale fear of death. I have hope of so many things but it is life that fills me most. I live each day not as if it's my last but instead as a chance to be a positive force in spite of all that is against hope. My community needs it and yours does too; we need hope and love, not accomplishment and entitlement. 
My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.