Category Archives: Society in General

Father vs. Dad (part 3)

Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem if we don’t intentionally model success. I wrote the following during the 2012 Summer Olympics:

By Way of Comparison

“Do you think someday I will be as fast as him?”

This is what my six-year-old son asked as we watched Usain Bolt win gold in the 200 meter race last night. Way to put me on the spot, kid.

That’s a tough question to answer when your son is grinning at you with that imaginative glow in his eyes. I didn’t want to belittle him or his six-year-old imagination that can still envision himself standing on top of an Olympic podium… I remember having that same dream when I saw Carl Lewis in 1988. On the other hand, I don’t want to fill his head with garbage. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much he trains or works or runs, Jack just doesn’t have the genes to be the fastest sprinter in the world. I guess that’s my fault. Well, half my fault half his mom’s fault.

“You can do anything you put your mind to” may be the most-often quoted lie. Maybe second to “No, that doesn’t make you look fat.”

I answered him by saying something like “That would really be something if you could run as fast as Usain Bolt because no one else in the history of the world has ever run as fast as he can” and we went back to watching the Olympics. See how I didn’t answer the question and avoided crushing his dreams? I’m pretty good at deflecting. At least I thought I was good at deflecting…he was obviously still thinking about it because a few minutes later he asked another question that was easier to answer but a lot more to think about.

“Dad, someday could you teach me to run as fast as you?”

In the span of 2 minutes he had gone from an unrealistic dream of being the fastest man ever to the all-to-obtainable goal of being as fast as a thirty-year-old, slightly overweight guy who likes to go for a three mile run a few times a week. Who we compare ourselves to makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

“Jack, I will run with you as much as you want, and I hope you’ll be faster than me someday.”

So back to the current topic…

  • Every dad knows it—our kids learn from us.
  • Every dad gets it—our kids want to be like us in many ways.
  • If we’re honest, every dad all also understands that sometimes our kids say “I’ll never be like that.”

I wonder how much it would change the way I interact with my kids if I realized that I am my kid’s measuring stick for life. How they compare to me will be their gauge of both success and failure. If I kept that thought forefront in my mind, I wonder if I would have a better chance of being their idea of success.

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Father vs. Dad (part 2)

It’s easy to point a finger at obvious evil, but perhaps even “good dads” are teaching much more important lessons than we think we are.

1. Fathers shape our impression of God

The Bible calls God our “Heavenly Father” many, many times. Jesus referred to God as “Father” over 100 times in the book of John alone. Paul called Him “Father” over 40 times in his writings. Many of the ways we interact with God mirror our own experiences with our dads—provider, model, teacher, judge, legislator, comforter, protector.

How we treat our kids will impact how they feel about their Heavenly Father.

  • Am I angry? My kids will probably think God never is satisfied with them.
  • Am I uninvolved? My kids will probably believe God is never there.
  • Am I selfish? My kids will probably live as if God is uncaring.
  • Am I harsh? My kids will probably consider God a tyrant.

But the flip side is true…

  • Am I loving?
  • Am I kind?
  • Am I consistent?
  • Am I just?
  • Am I patient?

The more I am like my Heavenly Father, the more realistic a picture my children will have of theirs.

2. Fathers shape our impression of all authority

People who grow up in homes without a dad are 20 times more likely to be imprisoned. There are all kinds of socioeconomic reasons that play into this, but I can’t help but think that a general lack of fatherly authority in their lives has led them to a mindset that rejects all forms of authority.

But having the wrong kind of authority could greatly damage a child’s perception of his own future role as an authority figure. Fathers who are harsh or lacking love in their authority cause an even more negative impact than the absent father. Dr. Stuart Brown studied serial murderers and found that, almost without exception, their fathers had forced extremely unrealistic regimens of work and rigid rules upon them at very young ages while failing to show any compassion or love. I wonder how many people who abuse their power as adults got the idea of rigid, uncaring authority from their fathers.

Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem…

Father vs. Dad (part 1)

I am convinced that improper fatherhood is the largest social problem in the United States. I believe it is the root of the vast majority of other problems that we face.

Dad Switch

If this universal switch existed, the world would change immediately. Many problems would be drastically reduced and some would be all but non-existent:

  • Abortion
  • Violent crime
  • Welfare-dependent families
  • Domestic violence
  • Hunger
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Suicide
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Dropping out of school

This list is obvious. If sperm-donors were replaced by productive leaders of families, if deadbeats provided for those for whom they are biologically responsible, if a temporary sexual relationship was never the commencement of a human life…the world would be different.

But it’s easy to point a finger at obvious evil…

Drinking the Kool-Aid?

Kool-Aid glassPop Quiz: Is this a cult?

  • Claims to be the ultimate moral authority
  • Rejects all other religions as outdated revelations that have been trumped by their authority
  • Intentionally and purposefully seeks out the most gullible and impressionable members of society to teach this new doctrine

A few months ago I was reprimanded for using the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid.” The person kindly pointed out that many of the Jonestown victims in 1977 did not know they were committing suicide and, therefore, should not be criticized for their decision. This point was expressed very clearly in a Washington Post article by James D. Richardson. Now with better knowledge of the details, I more strongly believe that the phrase very accurately (perhaps with less sensitivity toward lost lives than should be afforded) depicts the exact mindset that it is intended to portray. Of course many of the Jonestown victims didn’t realize they were harming themselves. Some were force-fed the poison and the others wouldn’t have done it if they knew it was unsafe. And that’s the point. They were convinced that what they were doing was beneficial while placing their trust in a madman. Following the direction of a strong leader who will cause harm without your knowledge is exactly what we mean when we say someone is “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

Unfortunately, many unknowing victims are being force-fed what I believe to be an even more dangerous cocktail of ideas and ideology that will condemn their souls individually and American society collectively.

In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul warned about the types of wickedness that we will experience in the last days:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)

The beginning of the list is almost entirely comprised of personal character problems that negatively affect other people. The last quality mentioned is “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” This simply means that they claim to live morally but this morality is not based upon any supernatural authority.

Paul continues to describe the wickedness of the last days by discussing the attempt to recruit the vulnerable and impressionable:

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 3:6-7 (ESV)

Although I do not believe Paul was specifically speaking about modern America; our government, media, and education system definitely fit the description:

  • Greedy, self-centered, discontent, abusive, ungrateful, dishonest, pleasure-seeking people abound.
  • All three branches of the federal government have repeatedly denied the moral authority of any supernatural power for many decades.
  • Our entertainment and news sources have claimed to be the authority of what is right and proper behavior, but have completely rejected any supernatural or innate reasoning for these beliefs.
  • Our government-sponsored education system has taught this foundationless morality to two generations of impressionable children and is continually becoming bolder.

When I say American society has been “drinking the Kool-Aid” I do not mean it as an insult or as an insensitive remark recalling the horrible death of 918 people, I am simply pointing out that the general population of the United States is a victim. I am not blaming the victim, but I will call attention to the perpetrators. I will speak out against the popular immoral ideas perpetrated by American media. I will denounce our public education system for its unapologetic promotion of the Godless religion of humanism.

I won’t be drinking the Kool-Aid and I will be warning those around me that it’s poisoned.

Risk Management and the Weather

snowA meteorologist has one primary responsibility—to make sure that the general public is aware of potentially dangerous situations. The worst thing that could possibly happen in a meteorologist’s career is that a major storm hits an area and he/she predicted a less dangerous situation than what actually occurs. Think about it:

IF…

A storm is coming and a meteorologist claims it will be horrible and people should be prepared…

THEN…

A)     The storm will be as bad as predicted and everyone will have been forewarned.
OR
B)      The storm will not be as bad as predicted and the meteorologist will have been wrong, but it didn’t hurt anyone to be aware of the possible dangers and prepared.

However,
IF…

A storm is coming and a meteorologist claims that it is no cause for alarm…

THEN…

A)     The storm is as mild as predicted and the meteorologist was correct.
OR
B)      The storm is worse than predicted and, because of a lack of preparation, property and lives are lost. The meteorologist will be blamed for the casualties and his/her reputation and career will be in jeopardy.

Because of these possible scenarios, I believe that most forecasters choose to publicize the most dangerous of the likely outcomes. I understand that reasoning and do not find fault with it…I would do the same thing in that position.

The problem is that I find myself treating them like Chicken Little or the Boy Who Cried “Wolf.” I under-prepare for their predictions and will probably find myself on the wrong end of a snowstorm or nor’easter someday.

I’m not sure what the point of this is, so I would like to know your opinion:

  • Do you think that weather forecasters choose to err toward safety?
  • Do you prepare for storms as if meteorologists are exaggerating or do you take precautions based on their recommendations?
  • Do you feel that their warnings would be heeded more if they didn’t predict that every storm will be so bad?

FAME: the only qualification for spiritual leadership

He's on TV. He's a Christian.

He’s on TV. He’s a Christian. He’s our leader.

In light of the recent news that Free Will Baptist Family Ministries cancelled a fundraising event featuring Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson, I have heard a lot of arguing debate. These fights discussions have included opinions ranging from “being wasted is fine as long as you don’t hurt anybody” to “if you shop at a store that sells alcohol, you will burn eternally.” Fortunately, most of the verbal artillery discussion has been somewhere in between these extremes. I think we are discussing the wrong topic.

The discussion shouldn’t be about wine or even Christian liberty but why we have allowed stars of reality TV to be the public face of Christianity.

Don’t take that the wrong way. I’m not upset with the Robertson family. I am grateful for their witness on a national level. I love it when PGA golfers Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson speak openly about their devotion to Christ. I love it when Christ-followers in the public eye give glory to their Creator by shining the light of the Gospel.

What I am upset with is the obvious leadership void within American Christianity. This lack of strong spiritual direction has led us to act as if certain entertainers, athletes, and politicians are our guiding forces as a movement. We hang on their every word and rally behind them to defend them even in non-spiritual matters.

Don’t believe me? Over the past decade, how many times did you hear these names mentioned from pulpits or dropped into casual conversation as an example of what a Christian should be?

Tim Tebow
George W. Bush
The Duggars
Sarah Palin
Jeremy Lin
John Edwards

Once again, my problem is not with people using their influence to promote Christianity. I am definitely for that. My problem is that Christendom is enthusiastically following public figures who are famous for something other than their walk with God or their strong interpretation of Scripture. The truth is that we need leaders. We need strong, passionate, visible Christians. We need people to rally the army of God. But our most influential leaders’ qualifications should be more than “You know that guy on TV? He’s a Christian.”

Cropping Halloween

cropping pumkins

Ever wish you could just cut the garbage out of life the way you do a photo? Halloween is full of metaphorical photobombs and downright ugly background distractions.

Here’s what I would crop out of October 31:

 

 

Pictures of every kid in the world in costume. I’ve already seen every Disney princess and every member of the Avengers seven times tonight.

Trashy adult costumes. Seriously. Have some dignity.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. I think anyone who posts the video to Facebook should also be required to post a video of himself doing the dance. I’d watch that.

Warnings about razor blades in candy. I’m pretty sure this never happens. If so, point me to the news story.

Dentists offering to buy back kids’ candy at $1 per pound. That’s a rip-off. And shouldn’t you be glad kids’ teeth are decaying? KaChing!

Arguments about the origin of the holiday. Unless someone is sacrificing cats or having witch trials in your neighborhood, you probably shouldn’t be that worked up.

What do you dislike about this holiday? Don’t hold back. This is not a place for a positive attitude.

Mousetrap Pride

Mousetrap is a brilliant game. As you play, you build a ridiculously complicated contraption that will eventually trap your enemy and let you win the game. There is one small problem…

THE TRAP NEVER WORKS!!!

You turn the crank and the boot misses the bucket…the silver ball flies off the track…the plastic ball falls the wrong direction…the diver falls off his platform…the trap gets stuck on its pole…your brother kicks his mouse out of the way…your brother cries way louder than he should when punched…you get in huge trouble.

At least that’s how it went in my house.

Mousetrap Game

Here’s the problem—even when everything is designed for one specific purpose, complicated procedures involving many different pieces are difficult to predict. So why is it that prideful people, like myself, assume that others have some unnatural ability to cause us inconvenience through ridiculously complicated means?

When someone else’s mistake causes me a little more work, I act like they made the mistake just to cause me trouble.

When someone is in my way, I act as if they are there just to irritate me.

When someone’s choice causes me to change plans, I act as if they intentionally chose the path that would cause me the most trouble.

 

NEWSFLASH: The world isn’t a giant game of Mousetrap with you as the little plastic mouse and everyone else turning the crank. How prideful do you have to be to approach problems that way? Apparently about as prideful as me.

 

Sometimes I need to step back and realize that no one is planning my demise…

Sometimes life gets tough and it is rarely caused by someone else’s genius plan…

Sometimes people aren’t even thinking about how their normal lives are affecting me…

…and that’s ok…

Sometimes it isn’t about me.

Admitting Doubt

Preface/Disclaimer: I have written various versions of this post at least four different times. It doesn’t say exactly what I hoped it would as well as I hoped it would, but it is at least a start. I’m pretty sure that, if I were to rewrite it again in a week, I would say some things differently, but hopefully you can understand my main point.

I’ve seen this posted on Facebook a few times:

one true religion

I understand the point. I get it. I know what you are saying—it is impossible to KNOW that your religious beliefs are correct. After all, we have no proof of what happens after death. We are physically incapable of observing the supernatural. We cannot begin to experience the past or the future. You’re saying that some things are unknowable.

I’d like to think that all of us who were raised in religious families or espouse ourselves to a particular belief system have thought through that particular conundrum. I don’t put any stock in someone’s faith who hasn’t questioned its validity at some point. Unless you have experienced some form of internal faith conflict, your opinions are probably not held deeply or defensibly. We have all realized that most religions are mutually exclusive and passed down from generation to generation and most of us have questioned these teachings.

In my mind there are only five possible conclusions to this inner struggle:

1. My religion is right- So, now affirmed in your faith, you continue on in your belief…until your next moment of doubt when you repeat this process.

2. Another religion is right- So you espouse this new (or at least different) belief system…until your next moment of doubt when you repeat this process.

3. All religions are equally valid- So you go on practicing, or not practicing, whatever religious system fancies you for the moment trusting that the god that is somehow represented by all of them knows your true heart and intent…until your next moment of doubt when you repeat this process.

I’m going to interject a little commentary on this one- This is the worst of all the solutions because, in an attempt to examine the facts logically, logic is somehow completely dismissed from the process. The idea that all religious systems can please a single god is contradictory in itself as many religions are mutually exclusive and their key tenets state specifically that the others are wrong. In fact, it is the primary, stated objective of most religions to convert unbelievers and proselytize other believers.

4. There is no god– Convinced that there is no supernatural being who cares or interferes in the affairs of humanity, you choose to base your life on pragmatism and the scientific method (rough description of humanism)…until your next moment of doubt when you repeat this process.

5. The answer is unknowable– You decide that it is impossible to know which answer is correct. If you come to this conclusion, you will need to choose to live according to the basic principles of one of the four previous conclusions. While you are not entirely certain that it is correct, you must at least have some sort of ethical and moral code…until your next moment of doubt when you repeat this process.

After examining the options, I feel that the people who made this meme are right. In a world demanding tangible evidence, the complete truth about the supernatural is unprovable at best. At worst, you could say it is completely unknowable. All of us, at various levels, live according to option #5. It is as impossible to prove that there is a god as it is to prove there is not a god. We have not been able to prove what we believe so we live according to a specific belief system that we feel is most likely to be correct.

I have no problem with this way of living—the honest seeker. My problem is with the cynic. The one who knows what is right (or at least what is most likely to be truth) and still chooses to live differently on a chance that it may be false. This person chooses comfort over conviction. This person seeks to undermine other belief systems without claiming to have an answer. This person posts religious memes meant to enrage others on social media sites.

I’m not enraged. I’m saying you’re right. And I hope you’ll become more right as you continue to search for truth.

Having the Right vs. Being Right

Here's a tip...

Here’s a tip…

I love local news.

Waitress fired after posting picture of snarky minister’s receipt.

When I saw the story this statement that I have heard many times popped into my head:
Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean it is right to do it.

 

  • The minister had the right to ignore the restaurant’s policy of adding 18% gratuity to large parties.
  • The minister had the right to write the comment.
  • The minister had the right to compare her gifts to God to her gifts the wait staff.
  • The waitress had the right to publicly post a picture of the receipt.
  • The minister had the right to call the restaurant and complain about the employees reaction.
  • The restaurant had the right to fire the waitress.

The last one is the only right that I will defend as right.

What do you think, was anyone right in this situation?