Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Am I a spineless hypocrite?

I recently finished a book called "Sharing Jesus Without Fear" by William Fay. It was a great book for a new Christian to learn about sharing your faith as well as instruct you how to bring others into God's grace. I don't intend on giving a book report today but I wanted to consider the title of the book alone as I reflect on some of today's events in my life.

I work for a large company in a customer service habitat where we have around 600 employees in the customer service division alone and professionalism is most definately a requirement. I am fortunate because it is an incredible company that is ethical, fair, and very diverse. It takes pride and places great value in diversity and rightfully so. There is a commitment to diversity to the extent of a diversity committee that raises awareness of other cultures, religions, geographic areas, etc.

Today, there was a diversity committee awareness e-mail that went to the customer service division with information of the Jewish Holiday Yom Kippur. In this communication, wherever God was mentioned it was spelled "G_d". Shortly after this went out to the masses one individual replied TOO ALL " Since when in this company are we not allowed to spell out the name of God?" Amen to that right? Following this were several others supporters in the Christian faith to also "reply to all". All 600 or so employees in customer service.

As a manager it is my job to make sure that we are professionals. To my understanding, doing a good job for your employer is very Christian like. However I can't deny that I felt that I was witnessing someone act not unlike Daniel did when King Darius outlawed praying to God. Daniel of course did so anyway and was thrown to the lions. Who am I to douse the flames of someone on fire for the lord? Nevertheless I do my job by sending the following to my group:

No doubt everyone has seen the e-mail communications concerning diversity and Yom Kippur. I think it is Great that we get to learn about other cultures. However, I would ask my group to not participate in "soap boxing" by replying to all as some have done in response to this communication. While I think it is acceptable to communicate your feelings especially when offended through the proper channels such as HR or as in this case to the Diversity Committee Chairperson, I do not think it is appropriate or professional to communicate to the customer service group as a whole, particularly in this case where individuals of other cultures or religious sanctions might be offended.

Thanks for not participating in communications of this nature.


As it happens, none of my folks were involved and I wanted to prevent it before anyone got in trouble. In addition, a well informed employee responded to all, informing them that in Jewish tradition the word God is spelled G_d, in order to respect God. It is believed that the paper the name of God is written on cannot be destroyed without disrespect to God himself and in this case, any e-mail deleted. This certainly stopped the outrage but was followed by several "reply to all" communications where Christians were verbally "high fiving" each other for standing up for their beliefs.

With all of this I am left with much conflict in my heart as I find it hard for professionalism and Christianity to co-exist in today's corporate world, where we all walk on egg shells so we don't "offend" anyone. This is especially hard where it is my job to uphold policy. Where are we as Christians today in corporate America. I'm in the same hole as the judge that can't post the ten commandments at the court house and the teacher who can't allow prayer in state classrooms. So I am lost with this. I'm asking for some guidance here. Am I a spineless hypocrite in the eyes of God? I will pray on this. I would love some comments from anyone with thoughts or insight.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Love will gain you everything......Hate won't gain you squat but a front row seat in hell!

I am fortunate enough to work for a company that has incredible human value and bases it's foundation on honesty, integrity and hard work. My company encourages interaction between individuals to follow five basic principles. These principles are awesome and if applied can not only make a positive change in your work relationships but also strengthen relationships with friends, family, neighbors and even your relationship with Christ as it builds on brotherly love.

These five principles are:
1. Focus on the situation, issue, or behavior, not on the person.
2. Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
3. Maintain constructive relationships.
4. Take initiative to make things better.
5. Lead by example.

I think anyone who is truly living for Christ does these things because they are loving interactions rather than destructive. So often you hear arguments between couples, friends, parents and kids, or maybe complete strangers, where hurtful and uncalled for things are said. Absolutely NOTHING good can come from saying things to hurt or anger another individual.  On the other hand, if these five principles are used, a lot of great things can happen. These principles are not written in the bible in any literal form. However, they do represent love which is mentioned many times. Don't shame anyone into changing. Love them and pray for them to change! Incredibly, I work for a company that encourages brotherly love.

So often in the church, the very house of God, folks are tearing each other apart. These five principles if applied within a church, will make that church unite. The church becomes strong with brotherly love and mighty by the hands of God. It's as simple as deciding if you are going to let your life be filled with hate and resentment, or love and grace.

With that, what are you going to do today? Will Satan be in your heart as you destroy something dear for no good reason? Are you going to give someone a piece of your mind today? Try instead to give them a piece of your heart. Watch that grow like a seed planted in fertile soil. Maybe you can apply these five principles to your life and watch as you are blessed by the bountiful gift of brotherly love in the eyes of God.

Side notes:
UGA vs Arizona State Saturday. No need to apply the five principles here. Love them after the game. Until then, tear ass you hairy dawgs!

Also - Happy Birthday to my baby girl Sidney. 14 years old today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Aint No Woman Like the One I Got"

Genesis 2:24 So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body.

No doubt God outlined the plan for his children to follow in love, in marriage, and in life. For me, I realize this with everyday that passes. Just as Eve was made for Adam specifically, I have no doubt my wife was made for me and I for her. The initial attraction was undeniable and irresistible. Not necessarily in a form of temptation but a pure sense of belonging. At the same time I was nervous and a bit scared because I didn't quite understand what was happening to me. Yet the direction I was going was unmistakable. It is very similar to falling in love with Christ for the first time, being very nervous about the new life but unable to deny it or turn away. God modeled the love between a man and a woman after his own love.

I knew my wife was special from the beginning. I've known all along she was the love of my life and that I was hers. I've known all along that it doesn't get any better than this. I knew I had the perfect marriage! Boy was I wrong.

My wife and I have been married for 15 years and we have children ranging from 14 to 2 years old. I didn't know there could be more love in our lives until I actually GAVE my life to Jesus Christ. I accepted Jesus as my savior long ago before I ever met my wife. However I didn't hold onto his hand and walk beside him. When I was saved I don't think the evangelist quite finished the job by getting me in a church that I was at home with. At the same time I am grateful I was taken as far as I was. Still, my heart wasn't being nourished by the word of God. It seemed we would cross paths now and then and it was enough for me to know I was blessed and that I was loved. However, it was small compared to the love, life, and happiness I have with my Lord, my wife, and my kids today. I live for Him and understand the true blessings of doing so. It is amazing how it is never a burden as I thought it might be.

When I gave my life to Christ it was as if my wife was a flower that had just bloomed. I think she waited for me to come around for years. More so, she was waiting for Jesus to come around and lift me up. It breathed new life into her and has brought us closer. It's God's plan. Like the Four Tops Sing "Ain't no woman like the one I got", it is true without doubt, because this one was made for me.

So many of us don't follow Gods plan and many are further off than I was. Truth be known the farther you're off that path the worse your direction gets. This is especially important for young people starting off in life. Follow God's plan and bask in his glory. The rewards are incredible. Following your own plan can and likely will lead to teenage pregnancy, divorce, or poverty from missed opportunity provided by God himself. Luck isn't real and God is.

Ain't no woman like the one I got! However, He has a plan for you too.

Ephesians 5:31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Flu Bug Worse Than H1N1

There's a new bug spreading rampantly this morning consuming the world in it's sickness. I'm going to call it the H1KW. Let me tell you of its' origin.

Although I didn't watch it myself, The MTV Video Music Awards were on last night and from it rose a veil of hatred, spread relentlessly by one individual. In case you've been holed up in a cave somewhere, I'm taking about Kanye West. Taylor Swift was on stage accepting her award for Best Female Video when Kanye stormed on stage grabbed the microphone away from Taylor and went on a short rant about how Beyonce's video, which was also nominated, was one of the best videos ever. Taylor sat there drop jawed as did the rest of the nation.

Social networking exploded with posts of hate, feeding the fires of racism and resentment. Other celebrities present at the awards were "twittering"on site about the heinous act. No doubt that Kanye has his freedom of speech and can comment on what he wants, but he had NO right to take away Taylors freedom of speech by taking away her moment.

Now I obviously don't know Kanye or Taylor and I'm not a fan of either although my kids are likely fans of both. However, Kanye's actions anger me very much and I can feel hatred trying to fester in my heart. I don't like it. I despise the hatred more than I despise the action by Kanye. The seed of hate is however, what Kanye planted. He created the H1KW ( hate 1 Kanye West) virus. I'm going to fight off this virus with prayer. Nothing else will make it go away. I'm going to pray for Kanye so that he may see the fruit of his evil actions. I pray for forgiveness.

Beyonce responded later as a true class act, giving Taylor back her moment during her own acceptance time for an award Beyonce did win. It was a true selfless act during a time of self recognition.

As I write this I am still boiling with anger and resist speaking words of hatred. I have more praying to do for myself and the world, that this hatred may turn to forgiveness. Kanye you big dummy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Made in His image......yet far from the real deal.

Several weeks ago I sat on my front porch with my wife and some of our close friends( another couple) talking about church and where Jesus has led us. We discussed kids, the ups and downs of raising teenagers, and general how's life been treating you subject matter.

My friend and I have had many adventures together and there was a time that we were certainly hell on earth. At least we thought we were. Twenty years ago I certainly didn't think we would one day be sitting on my front porch talking about Jesus. My friend's wife is of strong Christian faith and the Lord no doubt has worked through her to bring my buddy to where he is now. He goes to church regularly and certainly is involved with the church a great deal. As we sat on the porch there that night, I wondered how did my buddy get here? In addition, where exactly is he with his faith. I had to ask. He loves to be asked anything about his thoughts, beliefs or opinions, because he will certainly give them to you and he won't hold back.

As he explained "where he was" is was apparent that he has come a long way in his spirituality just for the fact that he has any. Yet as he described his beliefs he also told of the things that he struggles to believe in. Things like "how can God let horrible things happen to little kids?" This is certainly a difficult question for someone such as myself that is not fully prepared or educated to bear the armor of God as needed in this situation. However, I was able to explain that the sins of the world sometimes have horrible effects on the innocent. I explained that Gods love either shields these individuals to make the stronger or perhaps they are convicted to take a different path. Still, it's earthly sin and we all bear the scars of it's sword.

Then he went to say that there is no way that he could sacrifice the life of his son for anyone. He asked how a loving God could do such. How can a loving God allow such horrors that are present in our earthly lives? Once again the sins of the earth create the horrors we have in our life, not God. Still, he stumped me with the question of how can a loving father sacrifice his son for the salvation of others. He says he doesn't feel the love of God. I did not immediately have an answer. I was stumped. I only knew that I was concerned for my buddy and that I needed to pray for him......and HARD.

Weeks later, (today) the answer for me was clear and so simple that I wonder why I couldn't present it on the porch several weeks ago. We cannot comprehend that kind of love. We cannot think like God for we are so meager in comparison to his might, his wrath, and his love. We cannot love as hard, as strongly as God can. We are not that forgiving of ourselves or others.
John 3:16
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. "

While we certainly can suffer and perish in our physical life here on earth, through BELIEF, we are given the gift to continue life beyond that eternally and without the wrath and scars of sin.

In addition we too are the children of God. God foresaw this deed long before Jesus walked the earth. He sacrificed a part of himself so that we might have salvation.

No doubt my buddy will read this as I'm sure his loving wife will show it to him. I certainly won't be surprised if he wants to debate this further. He probably has more questions. That's OK because the Lord has suited me up in some awesome armor and as I pray for my friend the answers will be provided. Face it, God loves you buddy! You might as well deal with it. Oh yea........I love you too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We Lost. So what, I got me some Jesus!

I am so happy that football season is back. I am not so happy that the Bulldogs lost to the Cowboys this past Saturday. I REALLY think we should be better than them but we are not because we lost. Why did we lose? I'm not sure but here are my thoughts on the game and the team:

  • Joe Cox with flu like symptoms was not as good as I expected he would be. I know he is no Mathew Stafford with an incredible rocket and a long ball but I did expect some accurate finesse passing. We have incredible receivers and Joe wasn't getting the ball to them. We do miss Stafford indeed.
  • We have a great running attack! Too bad our play caller couldn't capitalize on this within his strategy. To bad we couldn't identify what works at halftime. I'm not sure Mike Bobo is the right guy to be our offensive coordinator. Most teams have someone in this position that is much more experienced.
  • Defense was not too bad. They kept a powerful offense from scoring a lot of points. They were on the field a lot and didn't get overwhelmed. They were also dealt a few bad hands with turnovers in BAD field position for us. They still missed a few given opportunities for turnovers that I think would have changed the course of the game. It did for Oklahoma State when we coughed up the ball. Can Willie Martinez keep this intensity and improve a bit more on getting some turnovers? We sure have a LOT of talent.
  • Stacy Searels is one of the best coaches to come through our program in a while. We need to do what it takes to keep this guy on our staff. Could he play a bigger role?

These are the things that I question about the chemistry of our Bulldogs. These are the things that I pray will get better or get resolved. I really do pray for Georgia Bulldog football.

One thing that is different for me this season as in seasons past is that I am not devastated by this loss. There is something else in my life that I am even more excited about than Georgia football. I am fired up because it is also Jesus season and it lasts all year long! I get to play for His team, I get to root for His team and I get to recruit for His team. I love Georgia football and with Jesus I can love it even more and can roll with the punches a whole lot better.

This weekend we play South Carolina. They also are lacking on offense. This could be a dud of a game to watch but I'll be watching all the same. I'll have myself a bit of prayer before kickoff and no matter the outcome I will be content. Football is back and I'm watching the game with Jesus. Feel free to join us if you like. Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crickets or Worms?

Fishing in one of it's simplest yet most enjoyable forms is going after pan fish on the river. What is a pan fish? Well it's usually a term for a sunfish or similar species. Generally, it is bream or as we so often refer to them locally here in the south, shellcrackers, red breast, and bluegills. As you prepare to go catch a "mess", one of the first things one ask themselves is, "I wonder what they're bitin?". No, I didn't misspell that. We don't say biting down here when we go "fishin" and I'm trying to bring you into the setting. Nevertheless, to make sure you have a successful bite, you cover all the bases. You get crickets, some "pinks" perhaps (worms also called nightcrawlers), and possibly other seasonal creepy crawlies that the fish might like to eat. With that, you're bound to have some success given that you know how to present the bait and you don't do anything stupid to scare the fish off. The reward is an awesome fish fry complete with hush puppies, fries and coleslaw. Boy do I love the south!

This is all good but my intention here is not to teach anyone how to catch a mess of fish for dinner. The picture is a little bigger and certainly more important that that. I'm going to be the fish now. I'm swimming in a river of sin and I certainly don't want to be caught in the net of a church in which I think is full of politics, judgment, hypocrisy and void of love. Not to say I don't believe in God and Love Jesus for I most certainly do. But here I am swimming in a river of muddy water where my direction and my faith is as unclear as can be. My intention is staying away from the the lures of church which at times have become objects of despise. I've seen every bait that can be thrown my way and I'm not "bitin". Then one day, I am presented something that I've never seen before. I won't call it a bait or a lure because that is deceptive and it is anything but that. It is more of a net. I am willingly caught in this net and gently transported to a crystal clear stream where I feel love, where I want to love others, where I can be myself and still openly love Christ and share him with others without fear. It is a church without boundaries but yet a clear direction, which is the only direction. It is the direction of Jesus Christ and as soon as I willingly surrender unto his net, I am anything but caught. I am freed.

This is a church that can let go of tradition and focus on the important thing which is salvation through Jesus Christ. It is very modern and lets people be people. We drink coffee in church. I wear cargo shorts and a t-shirt to service. The music presentation is for worship and it's engaging to youth as is a rock concert. Everyone is welcomed. I see that everyone is loved. Yep, hook, line and sinker and I am forever grateful.

Why do so many other churches get it wrong in bringing someone like me to Christ? The answer is simple and we turn back to fishing for bream as I quote myself from earlier: "you're bound to have some success given that you know how to present the bait and you don't do anything stupid to scare the fish off." The reward is certainly much better than a fish fry.

Mathew 4:19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
Jesus has certainly made fishers of men at Rockbridge Community Church in Dalton, Georgia.

I now stroll up to the banks of the river. I cast out the net. But the net is no longer mine because Jesus has made me a "fisher of men".

In case you're wondering, I most certainly still love a good fish fry and will drown a cricket in a heartbeat!

side note:
Georgia vs Oklahoma State this weekend..........GO DAWGS!