Monday, February 02, 2015

Mixing Actions & Words

Tomorrow they will play the Super Bowl. As a Packer fan, I am still licking my wounds from two weeks ago when the boys let us down and failed to put us in the final game. OK, I have nothing to do with it, but that’s how it makes me feel!

            At the end of the game between the Packers and the Seahawks, a bad thing happened. The media rushed over to interview the winning quarterback. The quarterback had a terrible game. He threw 4 interceptions! However, in overtime, he threw 3 perfect passes to win the game. Through the highs and lows of the 60 minute monumental struggle, through the poor performance, through the peaking in the extra time period, this young man emerged victorious…and emotional. With all his fiber, I believe what he had to say to the media. With tears rolling down his face and not caring who was around him…totally uninhibited… he said, “God is good.”

            I am proud of him for publically living his faith. HOWEVER…to others watching, in one failed swoop the quarterback told millions that God chose him and his team over the other team. Others heard, because we won, God is good. I don’t believe that this is what he meant…but it is what he said. I believe he meant to thank God for His help to achieve a goal and to recognize that it was God who gave him the strength to do it…but that’s not what he said.

            This is no different than when we (yes, I am including myself) have conversations and say things to others like “…good luck….” There is no such thing as luck. There are too many scriptures that tell us otherwise. So why do we do it? For the most part, I believe the answer is twofold. First, I believe that many Christians are simply ignorant of truth and therefore do not have a prepared response. Put this together with the idea that we are merely regurgitating the diet of what we are listening to.

            So, I would like to believe that this young quarterback was praising God for the righteous reasons. If the Packers would have won, I hope the young quarterback would not believe that God chose the Packers team over his team. That would not be “goodness”. Can you imagine, “God likes the Packers more than the Seahawks!” I would imagine there are fanatics who think this way…but that’s just sacrilege. God loves us all the same! If he would have lost the game, I hope that the young quarterback would still believe that “God is good”.

Thus, in a moment, a powerful Christian teaching was presented to millions through actions and words. All that we can interpret is what transpired. After winning the game, the young quarterback said, “God is good”.

How do you translate that?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reflections of 2014

             So, we are drawing to an end of the first month of 2015. I was sitting in the steam room at the Y.M.C.A. reflecting on 2014. The year has kind of been a blur to me. As I started recounting the year, there is little wonder to why.
            I guess I would have to start with the 16 basketball games that I officiated in January and February…that’s about 2 a week. Then also in February, my band (B. Andrews) did a fundraiser for their ministry. Boy, was that a lot of work, and a lot of fun! That’s when we found out that we were selected for a “battle of the bands” at a Universal Water Park in Orlando, Florida. So, we began booking a band tour to Florida!
            It was a long and snowy winter last year. The last day I saw snow in the ditches was April 14th!  We do a unique Lenten Ministry at my church. On Wednesday evenings, we get together for a family dinner and have an in depth bible study. We capped it off last year by having a representative from Jews For Jesus with us. That was awesome! I was involved in the Community Good Friday Service and for Easter Sunday, the men of our Church host a breakfast in between our early morning service and the regular morning worship! Whew! That was Easter!
            In less than two weeks after Easter Sunday, we were in Florida and played in 8 churches, 1 coffeehouse, and 1 water park in 14 days. While we were there, one of my sons, also a band member, was offered and internship as a children’s pastor at a Nazarene Church…and I’m Wesleyan! He took the offer and returned to Florida for the rest of the summer.
            I promised my sons that I would work on their house (with their help of course). So upon returning, I ripped out their bathroom. I wasn’t going to rip out their bathroom. I was just going to build them a custom shower. However, when I got into the job…well, let’s just say, I found a lot of water damage and pipes so plugged I was amazed they were getting any water at all! So, I tore out all the pipes too. I mean all the pipes…even to the kitchen!
            That is about the time that we did a tour into Michigan. We also have an annual “Pig Roast” that my Church hosts as a community outreach. Upon my return from Michigan, I found that the trustees of my Church had secured a mechanical lift so that I could paint the Church parsonage. So, I quit working at my boys’ house (with a ripped out bathroom and only running water to the kitchen) to paint the parsonage. Of course, when you paint there is more repair work than just painting! When I finished that job, the trustees were so excited, they asked, “Can we go ahead and paint the Church too…while we got the lift?” So, a couple of the men in the Church pressured washed the Church for me while I was gone to a camp for Abused and Neglected Foster Children.
            When I returned, I saw the pressure washing and it looked like some had scribbled on the Church. In fact, as I was checking it out, a lady passing by said, “It’s a crying shame that someone would vandalize a Church!” That was on Friday. Sunday the band left for a 14 trip that would take us out to Seattle, down to Los Angeles, back up to Sacramento, back up to Portland, over to Weippe, Idaho and end in Janesville, Wisconsin! When we got home, I decided to paint the Church!
            So, the race was on to finish painting the Church before fall settled in and you could not paint anymore in 2014. Instead of a painter, I became a paint “slinger”. I put it on as fast as I could. About this time, we took our final tour of the year out to North Dakota. We got to see Little Bighorn and the Fort where the 7th Cavalry was stationed. We also got to sing for Jesus!
            When we got home, I started working on the bathroom. I was summonsed to be a juror at a murder trial for 14 days. We had a big celebration for our veterans. My son came home from Florida, and got married! Basketball season started, so I started officiating games again. As the year closed out and the snow returned to Wisconsin, I closed the year, by holding the hand of an elderly person and the hand of a little 4 year old as they drew their last breath on earth. One week later, I tried to celebrate my Saviour’s birth.
            Trust me when I say that I have spared you a lot of details. There were more times that the band sang. There were other ministries performed that were not mentioned. There were other victories. There were some defeats.
            As I sat in the steam room, with faces, places, and memories meandering in and out of my thoughts, I searched for some meaning behind what I am trying to do. I mean, I don’t want all of this work, all of this stuff I do to be for nothing! I want to make a difference in people's lives! As I look back over the year of 2014, I ask myself, "Did I do that? Did I make a difference for Christ in someone's life?"

So now the Church looks real good. The parsonage looks sharp. The bathroom still isn’t finished. The band sounds better than ever! “Father, help me to remember that all of this stuff that I do is suppose to be about making a difference in people’s lives before they take that last breath. If this stuff that I do does not fit your purpose, then help me to get it out of my life…’cause I don’t have the time! In Jesus’ Name I ask…”

Saturday, January 17, 2015

“Silly Rabbit, Smart Phone’s are for Kids!”

I believe there is a conspiracy afoot! In this day and age of accepted political correctness, non-profiling and supposed fairness to all, I believe there is a dark and insidious plot against the “post 40” crowd to keep them away from mobile electronic devices! I did not recognize this dastardly thinking for some time. In fact, I gave it no thought until it began to affect me, personally!
Maybe you have been a victim of this conundrum too. If you observe closely, you will see the majority of the users on mobile devices are “pre 40” in age. Maybe you have witnessed commercials of “pre 40” people dancing, computing, communicating…enjoying life to the fullest? This is proof that the manufacturers of these devices are practicing…discrimination! That’s right…discrimination!
       For you see, I, too, wanted to be one of the happy people like in the commercials. I wanted to dance and sing and frolic with my mobile device while connecting to web on a whim. Then, my joy was stolen from me. I was robbed! For when I purchased my mobile device, I could not communicate fluidly. I could not surf the web consuming information and sharing selfies! What brought about my pain? What caused my joy to turn to sorrow? …
        The manufacturers of these devices have plotted against us by making the buttons to small! I have sausages for fingers (and so do a lot of other men over 40). Try typing out text messages, or URL’s or anything else! It takes 10 minutes to text my wife “I luv u”! If I can touch one letter at a time, it would be a miracle. And “Autocorrect”…don’t even go there! I’ve been embarrassed just to read some of the messages that it created for me. Thank God I didn’t send them!

        The “Bill of Rights” states that I have the right for the pursuit of happiness. Therefore it is my belief that until they manufacture mobile devices for my fat, little pudgy fingers….they are unconstitutional.