Saturday, April 28, 2007

Idol Gives Jack

I was watching American Idol the other night (come on you watch it, admit it. It's OK you are safe here. No one will judge you). Anyway, they had been hyping up this whole "Idol Gives Back" campaign where American Idol was going to give money to an African charity and other worthy causes. It was going to be huge. The night of the show came and I watched as always. What struck me was how quickly I realized that this was not going to be what I thought. I was expecting to see how American Idol was going to sacrificially give of itself to help people in Africa and other parts of the world. What this whole thing ended up being was a fundraiser for the causes A.I. wanted us to support. We were told to call in with our pledges and give generously. They brought in all the big stars and put on a very nice production. Yet, it was no at all what I expected.

All this got me thinking about charity; what it is and what it is not. When someone says to you "Hey, I think this is a good cause" and then asks you to give money to it are they really being charitable? I don't know, maybe it is just me but I do not think this is what Jesus had in mind for us when we exercise charity. A couple of things come to mind about Christ's teachings:

1. Give in secret - our giving should be so secretive that we are not even to tell our right hand what the left one is giving.
2. Don't brag - when we do give we are not to do it in a way that is showing off to impress others. Jesus said that with that kind of giving the praise of man will be our only reward. In other words it has no eternal value in God's economy.
3. Give sacrificially - he praised the widow for giving all that she had (1/2 penny) and criticized the Pharasees for giving out of their wealth (bag of gold). In other words, give your best not your leftovers. When I heard Ellen Degeneres say that she was giving $100,000 and challenged other wealthy friends of hers to match her pledge I remember thinking, "You know, Ellen giving $100grand is like me reaching in my pocket and pulling out a ten spot." Seriously, to her that is not a sacrifice, that is leftovers.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad that all the money they raised is going to help needy people. All I am trying to say is think about it the next time you give for the sake of charity. Do it God's way and make it count for more than this life...invest it in the next.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Religion good for kids?

I just read an article on FoxNews website that a study has been done to show that children that come from a religious based home are better behaved and adjusted than children where religion is not practiced or where religion is a source of conflict in the family.

"A Mississippi State University sociologist and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids, most of them first-graders, to rate how much self control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior and how well they respected and worked with their peers" the article stated.

It went on to say, "The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services — especially when both parents did so frequently — and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents. But when parents argued frequently about religion, the children were more likely to have problems. 'Religion can hurt if faith is a source of conflict or tension in the family,' [the sociologist] noted."

The reasons for this were believed to be three fold:
1. religious networks are a social support for parents
2. they provide good values and norms
3. they imbue (inspire or influence thoroughly) parenting with sacred meaning and significance

Well what do you growing up in a home of moral absoluteness, loving families that are supported by a loving community and where God is the head are actually doing better than those without it...who whould have thunk it?

Maybe we can start to wake up and see that God's headship, boundaries and support system are in place to help us live an abundant life. Moral Absolutes (boundaries) are to be passed on to our children as God has first given them to us. They provide a standard that is acceptable to Him and good for mankind. Kids need to know what those things are. Without them there is no higher reason for doing something or not doing something than selfish gain. Now keep in mind that obedience to this moral code does not equal a problem free life. However, given the whole, I would take the problems that come from living according to God's principles (and the support system that is found in doing that) rather than those that come from rebelling against them.

It seems arrogant to me to think that we are smarter than God or could produce life out of things that He says bring death.

What is the problem with the morals God wants us to live by any way? Is there really a better way than the one God has laid out for us?

Seriously, someone help me understand that line of thinking. Post a comment and let me know if you think God does not know what he is talking about and why. I've got to get inside your head.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Power of a Hug

I have two children, a boy (5) and a girl (4). My son is very tender hearted and friendly. He loves to play with friends and always seems to get along well with all manner of personality types. My daughter is very different from her brother. She has Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a result she has a difficult time socially. She can not talk yet and has meltdowns regularly. She does have her shining moments though. For example, one thing she did with delight was give her brother a hug and a kiss goodnight. This also pleased her brother as his primary love languages are words and touch. Since his sister cannot talk he knows this is the only way she can tell him that she loves him.

Well, a couple of months ago his sister started to go into a bit of regression. She stopped enjoying the bedtime routine and began to fight giving her brother hugs and kisses. We would bring her over to her brother for hugs and kisses and she would pitch a huge fit; kicking, screaming and fighting every minute of it. This went on up until a week ago. It began to take its toll on my son. I did not notice it before but I was about to find out. On this particular night something was going to happen that would impact my son, I would dare say, for the rest of his life. God was also going to teach me an awesome lesson on the power of unconditional love.

This particular night my son said to me, "Dad, I don't think Delaney loves me any more because every time I try to give her a kiss and a hug she always kicks me and pushes me away."

I tried to reassure and comfort him by letting him know that Delaney loved him and even though she did not seem to like being hugged and kissed it was important that we continued to demonstrate to her that we loved her no matter what. So I asked him to come and try and give her hugs and kisses. I was sitting on the floor with Delaney on my lap and as Aidan got close she started fighting and whining. I told Aidan to keep coming and held on to his sister while he put his arms around her and kissed her goodnight.

He sat back and just looked at her feeling utterly rejected and unwanted. It was evidenced by the look on his face. He was hurt deeply. This rejection by his sister confirmed his feeling unloved and unwanted by her. Then something amazing happened. Delaney started fighting for me to let go of her arms, so I did. When I did she leaned over to her brother, stretched out both her arms and wrapped them around him. He began to do the same and gave her a quick pat thinking she was going to tear away from him any second. But instead she held on. She continued to do so for several long seconds. Aidan began to pull back thinking she was done but instead she tightened her grip. Then, realizing she was not going to let him go, Aidan began to squeeze his sister in a big, long over due hug.

I sat there stunned as Delaney held on to her brother. I knew this was a moment that was going to impact my son. I watched his face warm up and his countenance change from feeling rejection to feeling that he was loved and accepted. Finally they let go of each other.

"See Aidan" I said, "Delaney does love you."

Those words sank in fast and began to completely overwhelm my son. He just sat there crying for ten minutes saying, "Laney loves me! She really loves me!" Again and again he would say it crying as loud as I have ever heard him.

"I am so happy that Laney loves me Daddy but why am I crying?" he asked.

I scooped him up and carried him off to bed. I told him that sometimes when our heart is full of happiness it spills out in tears. I let him know that his sister hugging him was a good thing to cry and be happy about. So he cried. He cried for a long time...and I just held him.

So many things went through my mind. I knew this was a life shaping moment for him. I wanted to say something that would help shape his life for the good. I wanted to tell him he was crying because at the core of our being we all want to be loved like that. I wanted to tell him that when we love someone from the deep places of our heart and soul we want to know we are loved in return from those same places. But I did not know how to say those things in a way that a five year old could understand them. "God help me!!" I prayed. "How do I say this to my son in a way he will understand it?"

Then I realized...Delaney's hug already did.

Friday, April 13, 2007

About Imus

You know a lot has been said about Imus' comments regarding Rutgers womens basketball team. I find this rather ironic given how we all behave towards one another. Our culture is one who thrives on put-downs and even foams at the mouth when we hear one person insulting another. It seems to be the way we get our laughs. We pacify our poor self-image by viewing others in a worse light than we see ourselves. We celebrate our ability to put others down in order to delude ourselves into thinking that we are better than the object of our ridicule. What is interesting to me is how we have justified this kind of behavior by hiding it behind the 1st ammendment...that is until now. Now, all of a sudden no one likes what Imus has said [myself included] and we want to hang him from the gallows.

Look America. We need to make up our minds. If we are going to allow freedom in expressing our opinions then we need to allow it. We don't have to like it. we don't have to support it or those who do. Otherwise let us come up with a universal standard that is acceptable.

But to say this speech is wrong for you to say but ok for me to say is hypocritical on our part.

Let us remember the words of the apostle James who said: "The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

Therefore my friends, be mindful of your words. Be intentional about what you say. Use your words to make the listener a better person and not to comfort yourself or make yourself rich; you just may end up making yourself out to be a fool.


Welcome to Sojourners Rd.

Here you will find thoughts, questions and comments posted by yours truly.
I expect feedback and I would like this to be as interactive as possible.
I am wanting to get to know you more than you hearing about me all the time.
This is site is dedicated to those who understand that this earth is not our home and want to seek and discuss how we are to live in the light of Christ while in this temporary place.
Thus, there will be both a spiritual and cultural theme addressed here.

All are welcome to walk this road with me.

I love good company.

Untill He comes or calls,