Filter Through Life

Kickball Tuesday
October 31, 2007, 9:17 am
Filed under: Games, Kickball, Sports | Tags: , , , , ,

In many cases after a night of kickball I feel pretty good.  I really enjoy reverting to my childhood and playing a nice, competitive game of coed kickball.  I do this every Tuesday night and have done so for the past year or so.  It feels great when we win.  It is an added bonus when I play well.  Last night we won and I played really well.  I even kicked a homerun (and no, it didn’t go over the fence, I legged it out.  I don’t think Pele could have kicked it over the fence).  Last night was different though.  We just creamed the other team 18 to nothing!  And I didn’t really feel good about it. 

You see, I started watching the reaction of some of their players.  Some were just out there to have fun while others wanted to have fun while playing competitively.  It was not, in any way, shape or form, competitive.  It was ugly.  It was New England Patriots-Washington Redskins ugly.  The difference being we actually stopped trying really hard…and we don’t get paid millions of dollars…and we aren’t in shape.  But I digress, see, we only scored 3 runs in the fourth and final inning after scoring 8 in the third.  I started hearing players say, “Can we forfeit?” and “Can’t we just quit?”  I really felt badly for them.  Seriously, this is not in jest. 

While I like winning, I think I like the game to be competitive.  I don’t like pummeling people, it’s no fun.  However…you knew it was coming…next week we play a team that has beaten us all 4 times we have played them, once 16 to 1.  I really want to pound them into submission.  Peddle to the metal, baby!


Just thinking

For years and years the person I called my best friend was an atheist.  We had rivaling viewpoints about the existence of God but we were always able to remain friends.  Something changed in him when I gave my whole life to God.  I had always believed in God and professed to be a lousy Christian but when I gave my life to Him and began to truly seek Him, my friend changed.  The conversations we had about God became more heated.  The words he spoke to me became more and more cutting and I eventually severed the relationship. I have spoken with him but a few times over the past few years but I pray for him to this very day. 

The more I prayed and thought about him the more saddened I became.  I began to realize something about many atheists, at least the militant ones; their agenda seems to be spurred on by pride and hate.  They seem to hate that Christians believe in God and often can’t wait to share how stupid and foolish we are for that belief.  They have seemingly reached some level of enlightenment that we have yet to reach. 

Christians should be motivated by love; a love for God, His word, His acts and His people.  Unfortunately, there are some that are motivated by other things such as selfish pride or ambition, greed, lust or power.  These unfortunately few have spoiled the majority for many people and are partly to blame for this hate some feel toward Christians. 

That being said, does that justify any person’s hate?  Certainly not!  Christians should never hate a person based on religion, race, sex or political persuasion.  We have no right to hate anyone because every person on Earth is God’s child whether they choose to accept their birthright or not.  We should hate abhorrent, immoral behavior or sin.  We should repent and turn our backs on it.  But no man is above another.  There is not a man alive or dead that doesn’t need God’s grace and the forgiveness allowed us by the sacrifice of His son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  That forgiveness is given freely by asking for it and can be withheld if we do not in turn forgive others.   

I forgave my friend for his hateful words about me and my God.  I don’t know if he has ever forgiven me for the pride I am sure I displayed at times.  I know I can be pious and self-righteous.  Thank God for the grace that has forgiven me and carried me when I have fallen in this area.   

All of this leads me to this question: is an atheist extended the grace of God, the same way Christians are?  Yes, they are.  They have yet to reach out and take hold of it, but it is there.  So, why the hate?  Why the disgust toward the Christian God?  Why the need to rub our noses in our collective ignorance?  If I have done anything in my lifetime to spur this kind of hatred I am truly sorry and I ask for forgiveness.  My motivation has not always been one of love but I am moving toward it.

Learning Proper Tool Care
October 29, 2007, 9:48 am
Filed under: Conviction Hurts, Daily Living, Marriage, Relationships | Tags: , , ,

My wife and I attended a wedding in Houston this weekend.  It was quite a beautiful ceremony held at the Rice Hotel.  It must have cost a fortune.  The food was pretty good.  The bride’s cake was really nice but the groom’s cake was just flat out cool.  David (the groom) plays to drums so appropriately the groom’s cake was a drum set.  Neat. 

It was a nice event and I was glad to have been there to experience it with the newlyweds.  I am really glad I listened to the ceremony.  The vows were not traditional and if they wrote them themselves I am beside myself.  Each vow spoke of what the spouse is to the other.  The vows really defined each as a helpmate.  I thought it was wonderful and it stirred something in me.  I have not used my wife in the way God has created her.  

God has created my wife to help me through life.  She is a wonderful, strong, prayerful, Godly woman.  She is sensitive and caring.  She is perfect…for me.  God has created her to be my shoulder to cry on when I need it but I would rather carry my emotions myself.  God has created her to pray for me but I would rather keep my needs to myself and struggle with them.  I am a MAN!  I am tough!  You can strike a match on my cheek and I can eat nails for breakfast.  At least, that’s how I want her (and the rest of the world) to see me.   

The problem with that is that we weren’t built that way.  God designed us to depend on someone other than ourselves.  First and foremost, we need Him.  Secondly, we need our wives (or husbands for those of the fairer sex).  Our significant other can be a powerful tool for building and repairing our lives if they are used and cared for properly.  I am learning that on a daily basis.  So if you are reading this Cheri, I love you and appreciate you very much.  Dudes, you go tell your wives you appreciate them too.  Chicks have a bunch of junk they have to put up with from us.

Early morning prayer
October 26, 2007, 8:08 am
Filed under: Prayer

I finally made it to men’s prayer again.  Let me tell you, 5:30am comes really early.  I woke up at 4:00am with terrible heartburn.  I was probably worried I was going to miss again.  I got a drink of water, ate a few Tums and went back to bed.  Next thing I know my new toy…err…organization tool, a Palm Treo 680, was blowing up.  I thought maybe the air strike alert was going off.  Of course, I didn’t over react.  I just stayed in bed for a few more minutes to make sure it wasn’t a Ruskie invasion.  Nope.  No bombs, no planes, no paratroopers, just a blaring cell phone, a whining dog and an unconscious wife.  Time for life to begin again. 

How is my customer service?

I joined the ranks of working stiffs when I was 15 years old.  I was a stock boy at a local mini-mart.  I was a proud employee of Mr. Ben Amato.  I represented the company with glee.  Ever since that first job I have represented several different companies in one facet or another.  I have always held some sort of sales job.  Regardless of what position I have held or what company I have worked for, I have been in sales in some way, shape or form.  I think (meaning, it’s my opinion) nearly everything we do in life can be boiled down to sales.  Let me explain.   

One definition of “sell” is: to cause to be accepted, esp. generally or widely: to sell an idea to the public.  A product or service is sold by employees.  When said product or service is advertised and represented well it usually sells well.  If it turns out to be a good product or service the word of mouth can help build a business as well as, or better than all the advertising a company can spend.  That being said, if the product, service or even the representative thereof leaves a bit to be desired the word of mouth can cripple the company, sometimes beyond repair. 

As a longtime salesperson, I often evaluate just how I represent myself, my “company” and the “product” I am selling.  I know the product I am “selling” is a good one.  In fact, it is the only product that has any true worth.  That product: everlasting life.  I know the facts of the product: Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead on the third day so that we might go to Heaven.  I know the value of the product: I don’t have to fear death, I don’t have to fear the attacks of the enemy, I am no longer a slave to sin, etc. etc. etc.  I also know that product works without fail, no exceptions, if’s and’s or but’s.  If Mr. or Mrs. Customer “buys the product” by accepting Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, he or she will live forever in Heaven.   

So, how am I doing as a representative?  What grade would I receive if someone were to fill out a customer service questionnaire about how they have been treated by me when they have come to church or waited on me at a restaurant or cut me off in traffic?  What would they have to say in the “Comment or Suggestions” section of the questionnaire?  Some days I would be afraid to know.

I want what _______ has.
October 23, 2007, 8:09 am
Filed under: Conviction Hurts, Daily Living, Faith, God is good, Prayer, Relationships | Tags: , , , ,

I find myself comparing myself to other people all the time.  I compare my position at work with others at work.  I compare my place in life with other people’s place in life.  I compare my financial stability with others.  I even compare my walk with God with other people’s walk.  But why?  How can I be sure that my position is any better or worse than Joe Blow down the street?  Do I really want someone else’s finances or relationship with the Lord? 

Jesus had to address this issue with one of His disciples, Simon Peter.  Jesus was telling Peter about the kind of death he would have.  And Peter, being the near perfect example of what I would do, says, “What about this man?”  He is referring to another disciple, John.  We hear Jesus’ response in John 21:21 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” 

I am not sure how Peter reacted to this rebuke but I imagine him wincing just a bit, sulking for a few minutes and then realizing that his life and relationship with Jesus is personal.  It was and is a gift from God to him and it is not to be compared to anyone else’s.  Why do we always seem to want what someone else has?  Why do we look at others and think, “Why is their life/car/house/kids/relationships/spiritual life is so much better than mine?”  Is it truly better or is it just different?  Yours and my life were crafted by God’s hand.  If we are not happy with where we are in life the only solution is to seek the Maker.  By building the relationship between us and God we will repair, build or be less worried about other aspects in our lives.

God’s Messenger?
October 22, 2007, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Faith, Funny Stories, Misbehavior | Tags: , ,

UPDATE:  I do not condone the violent act in story below. Violence is rarely a good answer for anything, though sometimes neccessary. Just not in this case.

I am not sure if this is the approach we should take as Christians but it sure would feel good every once in a while.

A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU. One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.”  The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God. I’m still waiting” It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold. The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, “What the heck is the matter with you? Why did you do that?” The Marine calmly replied, “God was too busy today protecting America’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff and act like an idiot. So, He sent me.”