Tag Archives: Christian

Why I Can’t Stop: Was I just racially profiled?!?

It’s been a challenging week or two. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve lost friends over the last 2 weeks of my responses to American current events. Additionally, I’ve gotten some tough notes & comments from people that think I should get back to blogging about faith & posting pictures of my kids, the Tacoma sites, & woodworking projects. And I will. But I will not stop speaking on the needs of others…

I’m Working On It

I just don’t know what that means yet. I’ve attended meetings, talked with friends, & spent a good portion of my prayer life asking God what I should be doing. I’m reading books & articles on ethnic conciliation (not racial reconciliation… because I think DA Horton is brilliant), & I’m trying desperately to unpack the responsibility of the church & a Christian man in this season of hurt & newfound awareness of the ethnic divide. 

I do not have a ton of answers. As Tony Evans once challenged, our pursuit is not sameness, but One-ness. We are called to be one in the body of Christ. And I personally love the diversity of our multi-ethnic nation; the celebrations, traditions, customs, patriarchy/matriarchy, holidays & praise Jesus, the food!! I don’t want everyone to be the same. I don’t want churches to be the same. The homogenous nature of our worship stifles Christians & their response to the goodness of God significantly more than instrumental preference. What if our churches were Gospel-centered & community focused, rather than being Gospel-centered & preference focused? Community revival. I really believe that. 

Skin In The Game

At a meeting recently, a good friend said that white Americans just don’t realize that we have skin in the game in regards to our civil rights issues. The group conversation went on to discuss how community should be actively pursuing ways, big & small, to help bridge those divides. Small things like looking into the eyes of the homeless & smiling, not staring awkwardly at someone wearing ethnic or religious clothing, & just generally treating difference as difference, not leprosy. And then a nice woman began to speak to everyone. She was different from me in ethnicity, gender, orientation, & faith. I don’t know if she was left-handed, but if she was, then we were complete opposites on the big issues of our day. Yes, handedness is a major issue. Ok, maybe not.

In the meeting, I was the anomaly. Conservative, white, middle-class, heterosexual male. If their were  5 of us there in that group of 70+, I’d be shocked. And I loved it. I loved the discomfort. But the ugly truth is that I loved it for one reason… I could walk away from it. And that washed over me the entire meeting. I could leave, step outside, & be the majority again. I could go to church, my neighborhood, the store, the mall, the park & be the ‘norm’. What must it be like to feel the inescapable reality of a minority culture, without the luxury of being able to step out of it if the fire got too hot.

In a room full of diverse ethnicities & socioeconomic backgrounds, different gender identities & sexual orientations, I’m just the white guy wearing a safety pin. And I was loved. Several people thanked me for being different. The lady with nothing in common with me, she had a great smile & gave a really good hug. I wasn’t uncomfortable. I was welcome. It was just a safety pin. But it was so much more….

Coffee With a Muslim Man

You aren’t going to believe this… I’m stunned. What you can’t see in reading this is that there was a 15 minute pause in my writing. As I was typing “But it was so much more” an older white guy was stepping up behind me. I’m sitting at a high top table in a coffee shop that is mostly empty. My latte to my right, John Piper’s Bloodlines to my left, & iPad in front of me. 

“Oh, well thank God. I thought you were Arab.”

I look back, prepared to intervene for the man or woman being spoken to if the situation deemed it necessary, only to realize that this guy is talking to me. Arab? What? 

It… was… my… beard. My beard. He thought I was Arab because of my facial hair. Now first, what an awesome beard compliment!!! Part of me wanted to thank him for the compliment. But it was not a compliment. He went on to explain that under that black book (Piper’s), he saw a Bible as he was walking up. 

Wait. As he was walking up… Why was he walking up in the first place? Why was he behind me walking up? What would our interaction have been if it was my copy of the Quran or an innocuous journal? My mind was racing, so he stepped in to ease my mind.

“I see you’re a Christian & not one of those Arabs. I was nervous. [Insert horrific terror story-related insult]”

Now folks, I love Jesus, but my blood pressure was rising quickly. I pictured Hussein & his wife & kids. They practice Islam. Or Jermaine & his wife & kids. They’re black. We’ve been friends for nearly a decade, so I know how he’d have responded, & it wouldn’t have gone well. Or Ed, with his husband Tim. Or Iyesha, whose family is Hispanic, but she’s Midwest America, sharp & smart, & sarcastic with southern charm. 

So I made it known that all Arabs are not practitioners of Islam anymore than all Americans are Christian. Then I reminded him that Jesus was Arab. He tried to argue back… I cut him off. I got out of my chair, & let me be honest…

Nothing happened. He got embarrassed. He apologized. His buddy or son came over & apologized. And I’d love to say that in this moment I represented the grace & dignity of a believer. But I didn’t. 

What would you have done if I was Muslim or Arab?

I asked it a little louder than I should have. But they stopped & looked at me. 

I don’t know sir.

And I don’t either. I truly believe he had no plan. He was emboldened & clueless, not prepared for a white Christian that was ready to fight for Muslims… & bearded folks everywhere. So it ended there. No great lesson. No moral-ladened closure. No rush of people ready to apologize to me. No one asking me to leave. And no cops called. I’m still typing at my table. That gentleman left after he got what he came here for. And business is back to buzzing. 

And now I know. I wasn’t uncomfortable. I wasn’t apathetic. I wasn’t scared. I was mindful… I get to go outside in a minute & hop into a minivan, & be a white guy. I’m not different. I just have a beard that I’m shamefully proud of for a lot of macho, ridiculous reasons. 

So whatever it is that I’m going to do going forward, I will be a Christian, white, heterosexual man, fighting for the marginalized, the cast aside, the ignored & oppressed, because I don’t know how this last 1/2 an hour would have played out if I had been anything other than me. So I won’t stand by. I won’t stop. 

I believe in better days for all of us. And I believe I have a part to play.

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Influence & Our Lil Boy

We have two kids. The 6 year old is just like me. I’ll post about him eventually, & it will likely revolve around passing on bad habits or something equally humbling. But this post is for Elliott, our gorgeous, precious, 16mo. old. He’s great. With 10 teeth, he has an incredible smile. He’s learning, growing, into cuddles, & adventurous. And just this week, he taught me something so valuable.

You repeat whatever you hear the most.

It seems so simple. Mommy talks about Daddy, & before long we heard “Da-da”. Daddy talks about Mommy, & “Ma-Ma” sticks. And along with those two staple terms, he’s got variations of these words: up (for being held), yes, no, baby, boo, mwah (to make a kissing sound), & countless indecipherable terms that I’m certain are brilliant. But for the most part, he’s learned what we intended for him to learn. But that changed this week, when he was in our living room, just all of the boys…

“Bubba”

For those from the north, this probably evokes a giggle & some slam on being southern. Go ahead, we don’t mind….

But what makes this even more precious is that he said it to Parker, his big brother. And I’ve been calling Parker “Bubba” since he was a baby. I don’t know why. I just have. And now it’s a family-wide thing. I say it. Grace says it. I’ve heard other family use it. Even a friend called our oldest “Bubba” at breakfast last week. And somehow, Elliott caught on. And he heard it enough for it to become more than a term her recognizes. It’s now a term he says. So it went from foreign to familiar, then normal to repeatable. It was great to hear. And now he says it all the time.

What are your influences?

Influence is tricky. Aristotle said that ‘We are what we repeatedly do’, but I think he may have missed the real impact of influence. Yes, what I do may very well define me, or at least my character. But what I read, hear, & take in trains me. Whoever I go to for counsel, accountability, gossip, or fun are my teachers. The inescapable reality is that we don’t control all of our influences. 

So what influences you? Do you have mentors in your life? Now I don’t mean blogs you read or podaasts you listen to. I mean, who are the people that directly lead you? No one? Go find someone. And in my experience, ask someone hugely important or impactful in your life. They just might say yes! And beyond mentors, what do you read, listen to, or spend your time on? I am in no way speaking against the fun things in life! To be transparent, I love all sports, country music, woodwork, pro wrestling, joking around, competing, winning, & going out with Grace, my wife. I am certainly not against enjoying this great life we’ve been given. But let’s be honest… If you are immersed in negativity, you become negative. If you are surrounded by hopelessness, your outlook becomes progressively more hopeless too. If you are neck-deep in relationships that promote something unhealthy, the impact is just damaging. It just IS!! I didn’t make up influence. I just want to repeat & lead positivity, hope, health & growth!!

Who do YOU influence?

Unfortunately, influence is not the exclusive property of leadership. You can be influenced by countless combinations of things, people, objects, & ambitions. And in return, you can influence countless people.

This is the one that convicts me the most. I influence my wife. I’m pouring something into my sons. I’m training the people that work with & for me. And as I prepare to send this out, I’m seeking to influence friends & strangers alike. It is daunting to think about how easily I influence anyone I come in contact with!

In my anger, influence. When I’m openly discouraged or disappointed, influence. When I’m unfocused or silly, reckless or off-center, I am an influence on the lives around me. And those people are… well, they’re people. Humans who love & hope & have plans. And in a moment, I can leave an imprint.

What will our influence imprint be?

If you’re like me, this is both encouraging & kind of a bummer. People are watching. Some of those people are learning. So it is up to me to try & control what they’re learning, & what they are learning from me is seen in my responses to life, challenges, happiness, disappointment, trials, failure, success, etc. & only I can control it. 

So be intentionally influential today. There’s a person that’s about to blurt out a “Bubba” that your life has taught them, so lead well!!

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Your Best Shot

I’m working on some things for work, but the affinity to things spiritual, & hopefully Christ-like are never far from my thinking. So, as I’m reading through a relatively famous restauranteur’s book, I was convicted by how he decides what he will work toward in his field as innovation, with full time, & financial investment.

If I sense an opportunity to reframe something I’m passionately interested in, I give it my absolute best shot.

That sounds great….

Is that what I do? Is that the course that every believer should chart out? Understand your passions & then dive wholeheartedly into the thing? How do we unpack his life ambition/mantra in view of God’s will & my heart’s truest desires?

I don’t know.

But I Corinthians 10 is blaring in my ear, with that familiar chant to do whatever you do ‘to the glory of God’. So how do you navigate what you love/like & the call to be of God no matter where you are?

Honestly, while it seems tricky, it’s probably not. God wins. The glorification of God trumps whatever I may have figured out so far about my own desires. So if I’m positionally somewhere I don’t want to be, with no promise of reprieve, glorify God. Should I find myself in transition, from one thing on my way to the next, glorify God wherever my feet land, whenever they land. And if I’m doing the thing that I am certain I have been created for in this season on my life, do that to the glory of God too.

So the author’s idea is a great one, short of one massive overstep. God is not the centerpiece. So purpose requires an idea, innovation needs inspiration, & his best shot must be preceded by something he deems worthwhile… He has to want to want to.

Christians, that is not our luxury. Our ‘want’ must be God’s glory in exclusivity to everything else. Our inspiration must be seated in Christ’s work & eternity’s hope. The question that nailed me when I read this quote is now written in the book –

To what do I give my best shot?

What are my personal requirements that I use to invalidate the higher calling to glorify God? It has never been a choice between one thing or the other. It is a choice between me & God. I will serve to the glory of one, always. But my best shot belongs to God. My utmost for His highest, so to speak.

Passions aside. Preference ignored. What do I choose to give less than my best to? And how is God glorified in that?

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No Doubt About It

‘But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.’

The one who doubts get… nothing. In the litany of good gifts from God, ‘nothing’ is an embarrassing gift. But in the catalog of consequence & punishment, there is no more horrifying a penalty than ‘nothing from God’. Imagine a place where God offers nothing – no peace & no joy; no delight & no purpose – what a hell that would be. In fact, that is Hell, to be broken off from the root that gives growth (Romans 11). But here on this side of eternity, doubt elicits a hellish non-response from God. Just sit on the scriptural stance that the doubter ‘must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord’.

And I doubt! I doubt my calling, my abilities, my God in using me, the love God has graciously & overwhelming bestowed on me, his provision for me, the mercies of each new day, & his hand on my present place… so that makes me an expert in nothing. Those low places, uncertain moments that elicit doubt, have birthed in me a phenomenal aptitude to get nothing good from God. And I know a lot about nothing!

But what may be most convicting is not the reality that my ‘nothing’ moments are really a result of my own doubting, but that my response to those silences are usually a blame-shifting session where God is at fault for not blessing & leading me… in the middle of my unbelief.

‘He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.’ Yes he is. Yes, I am. Or at least, that’s exactly who I become when I doubt my Lord. And I do not want that.

I want to be a blessed man, steadfast in my affection for God & certain that God loves me & is set to bless me. And mindful of how James 1 so accurately defines me, I will pray Psalm 67 over me:

‘May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!’

Be blessed today & trust that God is for you.

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Truth Wins

Funny story from this past week. A woman & her grandchild came into work & found our GM so they could log a complaint. In typical CFA fashion, my GM went with our company’s LAST method of conflict resolution. Listen, Apologize, Solve, & Thank… he heard her complaint that she had ordered a 12 nugget box & only got 8 in the box. And Matt was almost to the ‘solve’ stage when her granddaughter spoke up:

“Grandma, you said there was eleven nuggets in that box!!”

Of course, 11 is still not 12, so Matt solved the problem as he had intended to, but I had to repress my laughter. And the thought crossed my mind that, in some way, truth always wins.

That story is a terrible example of this idea. People ‘get away’ with exaggerations & manipulations of the truth all the time. And while karma is a nice idea, it’s just not biblical. I don’t believe in it, but I do believe in consequence… & of course, unrepentant sin carries a hefty & eternal fine. So stop lying people. It’s pointless. Even if it gets you an extra nugget or two… it makes you a liar.

Perhaps another story would be more poignant, but it is also deeply convicting to me.

Not too long ago, I saw a man that I hadn’t seen in years. And without volunteering too much family information, I cannot think of another person that has so negatively impacted each member of my family on such a personal level. So, to be frank, he’s not going to make our Christmas card list… likely, ever. And for good reason. And seeing him elicited some pretty raw emotions for me. Nothing visceral jumped into my heart, but I wasn’t hoping for a reunion. So I kept a distance & watched him grab a meal in a local restaurant I was at. Alone, he sat at a table, briefly organized his food & condiments, & then prayed. He prayed for 4 minutes, at least. And when he was done, went right to eating. He didn’t look up. Never noticed me. And was certainly not praying to draw attention to himself. He ate pretty quickly, got up, cleaned his table, & darted away.

And it hit me… Truth wins.

He has certainly merited some ill-will from a lot of people. It was years ago, but it was bad. And it has left wounds. But God doesn’t grant grace on merit. Mercy & grace are freely distributed to any who call on the name of Jesus. That’s the Truth… & Truth wins.

Presently, a dear friend & a mentor in my life is remembering his daughter, who passed a few years ago. And rightly, as well as righteously, he & his family mourn the loss. But mourning turns to joy, because Heaven is a portion of the Gospel, & the Gospel is the Truth. Truth wins.

Our son is precious. He is smart, charming, & a good-looking kid. I am already praying over the challenges that puberty may very well wreak on his cuteness. But today, & each day since he was given to us by God, has been awesome. And we are trying our best to navigate through our parenting follies to point Parker in ‘the way that he should go’. We may fail. He may not go where we point. But we’re pointing¬† him in that direction because the Bible tells us to, & the Bible is God’s Truth. Truth wins.

How does Truth impact you? I’m not asking if you merely know what ‘Truth’ I’m talking about. That’s nice, but knowing what the Gospel is means you attended a decent Sunday School class when you were younger. I’m asking about how the Truth that is the Gospel changes your mind, your thoughts, your choices, & your lifestyle.

Frankly, if you know the Truth, but you cannot point to the impact that Truth has on your life, you don’t know the Truth like you think you do. This Truth humbles your right to be offended, grants peace to your mourning, & directs the way you raise your children beyond traditions & experience.

Truth wins. Truth wins here & always.

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