Good Directions

Unlike most men I am not afraid to follow directions. I will trust my GPS even when a better route is clear before my eyes. I enjoy building things by the plans. This trait was very useful a few days ago when it turned cold outside. You see, my family moved into a new home a couple of weeks ago. As the temperature took an extreme and sudden drop outside we switched the controls from “cool” to “heat”. When my children woke up freezing in the early hours of the morning, I realized that the gas furnace had to be lit. As the man of the house, I knew that this is something I needed to take care of. Yet, this was a new and daunting task; one that could literally blow up my house if I got it wrong. Read More »

Quotes from Catalyst ’09

“WTF” – Rob Bell

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake.” – Jim Collins

“A culture characterized by trust attracts trustworthy people and quickly surfaces those who are not.” – Andy Stanley Read More »

Thoughts @ Twilight

Upon announcing that our youth group was invited to come out to the movies and watch Twilight with me, I was intrigued in a new way…

History: I spent a great deal of time reading through the many reviews of this movie.  I did this because I enjoy studying anything that reaches the culture of our young people.  While growing up, I found that these types of things (i.e. Music, Movies, Books) were automatically viewed as suspect and often discouraged, especially by the church.  Adults too often recall their youth as a prodigal time of life that they must keep the next generation from experiencing – thus, seeking to shelter teens from the trends of their current culture while seeking to conform teenage minds to a culture they find more acceptable – their own.  While enough pressure in this direction may result in a symblance of obedience it generally corresponds with a loss of youth hearts.  At Christ Fellowship, we take a different approach to this matter.  While it is true that every generation finds new ways to appease their sinful nature, it is also true that this has always been the case.  Yet, through every change in culture, TRUTH is unneffected and prevails.  It is the desire of groundedyouth.com to embrace the changing culture of our youth and work hard to come up with creative ways to communicate an unchanging TRUTH. 

Twilight: In light of this historical overview, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series has captured my attention.  These books are gaining popularity among teenagers (especially young ladies).  I have not yet read the books, but decided to watch the movie. (Obviously, Hollywood is keeping up with culture much better than I am.)  Upon announcing that the youth was invited to come out to the movies and watch Twilight with me, I was intrigued in a new way.  We had a good turnout of young ladies with a spattering of guys.  The reaction to the invite among males could be summed up as a general disdain for such a girly event.  On the other hand, there was a sense of excitement among the girls – many of which had already seen the movie during this opening weekend.

We attended the movie.  The reviews of Kingsport, TN teens were somewhat mixed:
“Wow, what a wonderful movie!”
“This was nowhere close to as good as the book.”
“That movie was great!”
“Not my favorite.”
“Edward is sooooo cute.”
“Special effects sucked.”
“Good story.”

I will not take time to give a personal review on the movie – there are many websites and opinionated teenagers for that.  I will, however, give a few thoughts on why I believe the Twilight series has found a place in the hearts of many young people.  Not surprisingly, it is nothing new.  You see, Meyer has found a way to communicate a set of God-given, eternal longings in a relevant way.  A few years ago, I read a book by John Eldredge, Wild at Heart.  In this book, we read about 3 longings of every man – a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live.  Mr. Eldredge carefully and wonderfully articulates his position that these longings were eternally seated in the hearts of man at creation.  I believe that men have come to despise these desires and yet often seek to gratify them through hidden and dark corridors of their lives.  That is another story, but it could explain why young men do not care for Twilight; for in Twilight, we find Edward fulfilling these longings in ways today’s generation reacts to with a mockery covered jeoulousy.  I also believe that these longings of men are reflected in women though a different and more colorful light.  A woman wants to know that she is beautiful, to know that she is worth fighting for and to be part of an adventure bigger than herself alone.  For this reason, young ladies of today’s youth can identify with Bella and receive hope through her story.

While the movie itself was not outstanding, the story it unfolds is timeless.  Twilight has rejuvinated my desire to assist in training up our youth in the way they should go – not by asking them to conform to my reality, but by offering them the opportunity to embrace their God-given reality and focus it on matters of true significance allowing them a since of mystical fulfillment in ways that they may not even realize to be as spiritual as they truly are.

graceful defeat

I am a very competitive person. It is my nature, my make-up. Childhood memories let me know that it has always been this way:

  • racing to the swings at Warriors Path State Park during my 5 yr old b-day party
  • wrestling with my father on a daily basis knowing there would be a time that I could take him (you see, he committed to buying me a car if ever I could pin him – i never won that car)
  • speedracer big-wheels down the steepest hill in Chattanooga, TN
  • the fastest to finish a bowl of fruity pebbles or cookie crisp
  • who can throw a football the furtherest
  • betting to see who can get the first kiss from the new girl in school
  • drag racing at 16
  • high school football – we had an awesome 1 win season my senior year
  • double dates – “they better not think they can take us in this putt-putt match”
  • let’s see who can finish their work the quickest
  • i will be the most successful among my peers
  • my postings to this website will be better than jeff’s and chris’

 

Through all these years of competition, I have regretfully experienced many defeats, like:

  • Year: 1990
  • Location: Morristown West High School
  • Event: Football Game
  • My Team: Sullivan Central Cougars
  • My Position: Slot Receiver
  • Ball: Cougar possession on the opponent 8 yard line
  • Alignment: Twins Left
  • Play: Cougar
  • Pass: To #16 – Matthew Cleek
  • Result: pick route works perfectly, Cleek open in the end-zone, pass is on the money, and through the hands of Cleek for an incompletion
  • Game Ending: SC Cougars loose by 4

 

Obviously, the 6 points that would have been associated with a reception in the end-zone would have provided more than was necessary to win the game. I remember this event as if it just happened. I remember the days following this game where I was miserable at the thought of my inadequacy. Why was this? Why are similar emotions present, even as an adult, when I don’t feel like I have measured up to the task at hand? I always expect to win. I have seen it as a matter of the continual pursuit of excellence. But, the truth is – I will not always come out on top of every situation in life. This being true, how should I deal with these moments. I am confident that God would not have me to react as I often have in the past.

<insert moment of enlightenment>

Around 3 o’clock this morning, I found out that Senator Obama had become the new President Elect. I was working with the TV off; so, I decided to flip on FOX News to see what was going on. As I tuned in, a replay of the concession speechgiven by the Republican Nominee, Senator McCain, was playing.

“In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his [Obama] success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving…
I don’t know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I’ll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I’m sure I made my share of them. But I won’t spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been
I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
Americans never quit. We never surrender.
We never hide from history. We make history.
Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.”

</moment of enlightenment> – now that’s a graceful defeat

Being the Best – good enough?

Last week, the Philadelphia Phillies (what a creative name) won the World Series. But, the truth is, I do not care. Why is this? I am a big sports fan and have watched quite a bit of baseball this year. Yet, when it was time for the world series, I tuned out. Based on their season and performance during the playoff, the best team probably did come out on top. Why then, did I lose interest when it came time for the greatest showing in all of baseball – the World Series? Well, I am a Boston Redsox fan. Additionally, the Dodgers had sparked my interest with an amazing turnaround under the management of formor Yankees manager, Joe Torre, and the spark provided by the addition of former Redsox player, Manny Ramirez. When each of these teams lost in the semi-finals, I also lost interest in baseball. It made no difference that the teams who had come out on top were moving on because the teams that I like were done for the year.

This has opened my eyes to something I believed, but didn’t fully understand. About a year ago, I read a book called The Likeability Factor. The book can be summed up in saying that there is an advantage in life to being liked by others. That seemed nice, but I felt that a whole hearted focus on excellence would trump the likeability factor every time. Therefore, I have always put relationships on the backburner for the sake of productivity. This year’s baseball experience has helped me to gain a better understanding of my error. While excellence, attention to detail, and productivity are very important, I am beginning to understand that they will only get you so far. Growing relationships are proving to be essential to the ultimate success of any endeavor bigger than one’s self.