Monday, September 26, 2016

HOW TO HAVE A BETTER DAY

I don't know that what I'm about to convey would be of much help to every reader.  But, I am believing it will be pertinent to most.  So, shall we give it a shot and see where it might land?

People have bad days for various reasons.  The car won't start or the basement flooded.  Perhaps the Street Crew shut the water off without a warning; so now you have to go to work a globby, matted mess.  However, I believe that the most of us have bad days because of other people.  They bug us.  They offend us.  They sin against us.

So what shall we do with this community of they when we feel that our days would be better off without them...and their constant interference?  Such ones can become trigger points that may ruin our outlook, our other relationships; even our day.

But there is a matter that we often fail to consider.  That is that we do to some others what some others seem to do to us.  The Bible says we are all alike.  They've got attitudes?  Oh, I believe you.  And you don't?  I don't?  Um...not the case.  We are all like.

Therefore, we can have immediate better days if and when we choose to live in gratitude rather than irritation.  To see the good in others rather than the ugly is precisely (exactly) what we/how we wish all others would treat us.  If they would overlook our grumps, gripes, silliness, and sins, we would feel much, much better.  So why not give those who bug us the same Free Space to have a better day just like the one we want?

We can do this!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

RACIAL TENSION AND THE MOMENT OF OPPORTUNITY

Times are indeed challenging, huh?  The sentiments of suspicion, frustration, even neglect, are surely a-brew.  Division among dear neighbors and whole neighborhoods begs to reign; to boss, to push.  Such division is powerful.  It is mighty.  It is full of selfishness.

One of the pains of mankind has and is being played out on the stage in Charlotte.  The next stage is being set in my own city, Tulsa.  We are next.  And while we all understand my perspective is merely one man's, I wish to portray a continued hope for our place.

A very valuable black man has been shot by an equally very valuable white policewoman.  No one views this development with an indifferent shrug.  This is devastating.  The question isn't whether it really happened.  It surely did as grief hangs over our city's landscape.  The question is, what are we really going to do about it?  How might we help?  It is at this juncture that I wish to say something meaningful.

This moment would be measured with the highest sense of catastrophic for all involved.  By involved, I don't single out just the victim's family nor the officer's for that matter.  I regard, too, each of us as we try to perceive from the sidelines via our news reports.  What are WE going to do about this?

There will be two approaches taken; identical in nature for either group.  There will not be a third; nor will there be a bias as to whether one is more capable than the other.  Two, and only two, clusters of thought will emerge...from BOTH camps; hatred or love.  Why?

Why will this saturate the hearts in both camps? Why on both sides of being right and standing for what's right will there be found either moments of genuine hope or moments of helpless devastation?  Why?  This is answered, I believe, from the interior of a person's heart; not from the exterior of one's skin color.  Deeds of the flesh will divide.  Fruit of the Spirit will unite.  There will not be a third path to wholeness for any community.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing are to be compared immediately in Galatians 5:19-22 with, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  

The latter is what I have seen, overall, coming from our Mayor's office and on into our police force and then embedded within our Tulsa neighborhoods as there is extensive grief, anguish and pain.  The Spirit fruit is known as His because we can't get such to come out of us by our fleshly determination.  As hard as we might try, we don't have it within our brainpower nor convictions to hold up under the stress of being people.

Yet, the Holy Spirit bears this amazing and much needed fruit with in us, if we will but yield to Him.  Indeed, racial tension is real.  It is here...now.  But our community will not be divided due to color.  No, such is a falsehood in artificial disguise.  True division is never truly of racial boundaries; but between the flesh and the Spirit...of both groups.  It is within these two that there will either be lingering devastation or lasting reconciliation.

If celebrities are coming to Tulsa to help out, thank you.  Oh.  Thank.  You. Please...bring your fruit of the Spirit with you because you are so needed for such a time as this.  Too, don't bring your pet aggravations with you.  Stay home if that the best you can offer.  We already have enough selfishness of ourselves to go around without you stirring.

Our city is very wounded.  We desire to heal well.  By God's grace, it will happen. Welcome to all within our city or to those who are traveling our way who can override anger with joy, hatred with peace and divisiveness with love.  Welcome.  Bring.  It.  On.








Friday, September 23, 2016

IS ANYONE WAITING FOR YOU?

As I looked over Henri Nouwen's The Wounded Healer this morning, I came upon a most impactive comment.  No man can stay alive when nobody is waiting for him....A man can keep his sanity and stay alive as long as there is at least one person who is waiting for him.  Simply profound.

One of God's turning points at Memorial Drive was our study of the one another verses.  Build up one another.  Love one another. Encourage one another.  On the list goes.  Power.  Meaningful.

Needed.

The Creator, the Savior, the Leader, the Strengthener, of course, are found in the indescribable God-head.  Yet, the body-builder is found in the interaction of the body parts tending to one another in support; in supply of energy and assurance.

As much as there is proper and needed call for us to acknowledge the head of the church, him being Jesus, there is also deep need for the body to move from atrophy to health.  This would come about because each body part fits, belongs, and strives to participate in the body language of the whole.

We all matter.  Each is key.  Do not underestimate the supply of God flowing through you.  Someone(s) will die if they do not find that someone is waiting for them.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

THAT THING ABOUT GOD

Religion is surely a challenge to those connected as well as those disconnected.  It's slippery.  It's awesome.  It's most challenging.  I want to be included in God's scheme of faith; but not in the rote and thoughtless rituals that habitize so many followers.  We do yearn to experience God alive!

There's that thing about God that remains fascinating.  We can know Him while never figuring Him out.  We can experience Him with zero ability to explain Him.  God works from the invisibles toward mankind which is incredibly, if not desperately, limited to the visual. That's the thing about God that throws people off-track.  He will not be pigeon-holed to fit our meager spiritual assumptions.

Serious students of the Bible are quite capable of dismissing Father's strong call.  We have the ability to look at the many stories of biblical grandeur and dismiss them as the God of then; but certainly not the God of now.  This is a catastrophic mistake.  No wonder so many walk away disinterested.  We have inadvertently tamed the Living God.

That thing about God, to which I dearly cling, is the genuine fabric of faith where things that just can't happen...can.  That's His historic message; what can't can be.  We read it in the Bible; but I cheer us on to see it unfold in the now.  Let us be open to God accomplishing things that have no confirmation of possibility other than that our faith believes that He can.

This is the thing about God...that keeps us new day by day....II Corinthians 4:16...He can...when we can't!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

HOW MIGHT THE RACIAL TENSION BE SOLVED?

Tulsa is poised city-wide for significant difficulty due to the white police officer shooting and killing the unarmed black man last weekend.  Tension is so high that I hesitate to even address the matter.  However, I note something within this situation which causes me to dare go public with my thoughts because the topic is so huge I feel definite inward frailty.

I had the great fortune to be close to St. Louis Cardinal hero, Curt Flood.  He and I became like brothers.  Through him I realized concepts of racial tension of which I had little awareness.  His words and actions continue to bless me.  Curt, a black leader and friend to Martin Luther King, possessed a humility that would allow me to ponder concerns he held.  He opened me to another side of racial thought that had never occurred to me.

Building relationships with other black Cardinal players brought about consistent new awareness of our community stresses.  Much inequality and unfairness goes on.  Sure, I knew that.  But I didn't grasp the concern personally for the issues were always "out there" on the "other side" of town.  Yet, within the framework of noting the divide, I see a thread that debilitates all sides and I mean all sides.  In racial tension the stage is set as if it is color against color.  This isn't the only opposition.  Whites oppose (rob and murder) whites.  Blacks shoot blacks.  Hispanics rob Hispanics.

So why does a riot approach as if we are not all guilty of the very thing we stand against?  I've listened to blacks make fun of those they deem too black solely due to a much darker skin color.  Surprised me.  And how many whites have mocked others within their own race for being too heavy, too ignorant, too lazy, or too ugly?  Racial tension is insincere for within the respected races there is quantitative and absolute bias against their own ranks.  Yet, this insincerity seems to be dismissed by all who wish to be vocally stirred about racial matters.  Why the bias regarding which areas we will label as biased?

So, to my question, how might the racial tension be solved?  To begin, we might do well to realize that we are guilty of the very things of which we gripe and fume and complain...Romans 2:1-5.

  • It would be a good start to clean up our own slip-shod attitudes if we evaluate that we have indeed been neglectful in weighing our own personal and unfair strokes of favoritism. 
  • We might be reminded that while outspoken bias gets the headlines, interracial community has long been around with intentional support because loving all and caring for all is who many are.  Churches, organizations, and clubs experience a unity that is...well...unity.
  • Jesus is always the answer.  Why?  He cares about the other person.  We do fairly well with this concept until we reach enemy level and then faith can be found to be tossed overboard.  It is here that the love for all people will bring about a life of harmony.  It is here, each of us carrying a cross rather than burning one, that our assumed opponents have a legitimate shot at renewal and reconciliation.  
Jesus is the solution.  We are to have been buried into him that we might walk like, talk like, be like him.  His central expertise?  Love the hateful.  Reach to the reject.  Care for the neglected.  Die (the reason for the cross in the first place) for those who despise us.  As did Jesus, may we die well that others might find a profound, remarkable, new life order where we drop the accusation and join the community in gratitude that God would engineer yet one more day for us to breathe deeply from the fruit of His Spirit.






Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SPIRITUAL HABITUALISM

I'm struggling significantly with what to say and how to say it.  My mind goes to those among us who are contemplating parting from the church because something isn't right; but they aren't quite sure what.  Many (masses) have opted out.  They attend other churches or simply fade into the would-work of the God-life if they only knew better how to fit our earthiness with His Spirit.

We have no light task in front of us.  Distraction fills the air.  From illness to injury to hurt feelings to indifference about God or people, mankind is in a slump.  We have been called from darkness into light for a reason...and we just must increase at making the move.  Hearts want to know if there is a God and, if so, how to know Him.

The Spirit of Jesus is fighting for entrance into His own Kingdom.  I do not consider myself as exempt from resisting Him.  I wonder day by day whether I've got what it takes to be a fortunate part of this amazing system.  Frankly, I do; but only because of His righteousness and never due to my own skill set.

I'm noticing a pattern among us.  Oddly, it is that the effectivity of God has no pattern.  We, on the other hand, prefer markers.  We want humanistic road signs that assure us with cross-reference and rock-solid information.  Have we not discussed faith in God as if this is an element which can be mastered if sufficient application is given?  Have we not believed that it is within man--certainly in our leaders--that if we were to try wise enough, long enough, and hard enough that we will accomplish Christianity a step ahead of the insincere?

What I see about me (and us) is that I have grown satisfied with the explainable.  I question my ability to walk out on the faith limb and saw it off behind me.  Rather, security seems to reside within the realm of figuring, planning, arranging.  It seems that if I can just figure how to approach an opportunity, and calculate how it will go, then somehow I'm going to get the task at hand handled.

What bugs me about me is that such isn't the trademark of faith.  It's His talent; not ours.  It's to be His strength; not my own.  Yet, my confidence seems to be tempted to take up space in the known; the very opposite of Romans 4:17 or Hebrews 11:1.

May we continue to work on believing God over trusting in our own spiritual habits which require little risk.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

DON'T FORGET TO BE A BLESSEE

Right now is filled with everything.  It has such a vast array of favorites and disappointments; courage and fear.  Focus on the good stuff; the life stuff that truly exists squarely upon your path.

Anybody can have a flat tire; but not everybody gets to have a car.  Anyone can experience a tooth-ache; yet some children never lived long enough to have teeth.  To get right down to the nitty and the gritty, there needs to be a whole lot more Thank You God going on rather than Why Me God?  

So yes, I would not be surprised that you have a lot going on.  You must be in demand.  I would not be surprised that you experience very much pressure.  You must be a very capable functioning adult.

Therefore, I cheer you on!  Don't let the negatives run your show.  Neither let them be invited into your day.  We've got living to do....lots of it!  When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, we see that even suffering and death made him advantaged.  We are...really...to be noticed doing the same.  Even in our darkest moments the light of God shines through us even brighter.

Right now is in your favor.  You know people who are lovely and just wonderful to think about.  You have blessings galore to the point you get tired of dusting and mopping and washing and drying and mowing and trimming them.  So try to avoid speaking into the air with a complaining voice.  Millions of homeless souls would treasure my bad day...and most likely yours as well.

This morning be sure the let the smile in your heart show up on your face.  Others will be blessed because you choose to be the blessee.