April 10, 2013

Chronic Lateness

Coming or remaining after the due, usual, or proper time.

I grew up believing that arriving somewhere on time was the proper thing to do. In fact, I'm fairly certain my father taught me that 5 minutes early was on time. The reasons behind this were many, but the most important being that other people's time is valuable. And when I'm late, I'm implying that their time isn't valuable. And when I imply that their time isn't valuable, essentially what I'm saying is, neither are they. I'm wasting your time. You're not valuable. That's the message. Don't get me wrong: that doesn't mean that every time we're late getting somewhere it's out of disrespect or selfishness. Sometimes the kids spill milk all over the kitchen. Sometimes the dog eats a pack of gum and you spend an unexpected hour at the vet. (Don't get me started on that one.) For new parents, you actually have to go through a whole period of reorientation. You will no longer get ANYWHERE as quickly as you used to. And sometimes life just happens. That's not what this post is about. It's about what I only know to refer to as Chronic Lateness.

Now some will argue that this is a personality trait or some form of genetic wiring, like the way I have hypoglycemia or mild ADHD, others are born with chronic lateness. While I admit, I hold no scientific data in my hands to debunk this idea, I'm firmly convinced it's because there is no scientific data. Much like I regrettably allowed myself to become harsh - to ignore for years that a fruit of the Spirit was gentleness, and that God could teach & transform me in that area - many have allowed themselves to become late. And in an attempt to better understand this, I have some questions I'd like to ask:

Are you late for work? If so, do you understand that this is probably affecting the way your coworkers look at you and is sending a clear message about your work ethic? I would dare say your boss has possibly noticed as well. And if you ARE the boss, what does this say to those you're leading?

Do you make other people in your family late? I coached a kid in sports that I knew would NEVER be on time to a practice or game. Was it his fault? Nope. 

Are you late for movies? When you've paid $9 to see a movie, do you get there late? I'm going to bet you're there for the previews.

What about sporting events? When I go to Tennessee Football games, we get there 2-3 hours before kickoff. We don't just go for the game, but for the whole experience. I know people who start tailgating 5-6 hours before games. It seems that this could possibly be a reflection about priorities and what we value.

Do you show up late for dinner parties? Birthday parties? Parties that are actually in honor of someone other than you? But by showing up 20-30 minutes late, make it more about you? Or is it actually more about you?

I'm not asking these questions to condemn, but because I seriously want to understand. I want to know if it's something you're working on or if in all honesty, you just don't care. I want to know if I should give you the benefit of the doubt and wait to begin, or I should just start without you. There's an incredibly significant amount of the population that sits. And waits. And waits. For you. How much longer should we wait?

If you have any desire to work on this, any desire to eliminate the rushing around, leaving in haste, forgetting something important, and annoying people when you finally show up, here's a great article that I think can provide some solid tangible help: 7 Tips If You're Chronically Late. And here's more great insight in an article on WebMD: Help For the Chronically Late

We want to know.
We want to help.
But we are really getting tired of waiting.

What are your thoughts?

April 6, 2013

Stop Waiting for Peace

Sometimes you have to have one of those conversations. You know it's the right thing to do. You love the person and can no longer sit by watching them self-destruct. No way around it - there are knots in your stomach that aren't going anywhere. You're probably going to lose some sleep. Possibly lots of sleep. It won't turn out to be the Tuesday or Friday that you were planning on. (Does it ever?) But you know in your heart - because you live by a standard that is never moved or shaken - that this conversation has to take place. And it's probably going to hurt.

[I think it's important to clarify that what we're talking about here is known sin - a friend or family member who claims to be a "Christian" clearly rebelling against the standard of God. This is not a license to confront anyone and everyone who falls short of our own expectations. 1 Corinthians 5:12 and 1 Peter 4:17 tell us that as believers, we are called to confront sin - in our own lives and in each others.]

You'll begin looking for every loophole, exit strategy, excuse, or way out that you can find. Something or some reason to finally say to yourself, "Wait a minute. This isn't my responsibility! So and so can deal with this." Good luck with that. So and so probably already had the chance to deal with it and blew it. Or possibly didn't care like you do. And that's why you're going to have this conversation.

At some point you'll begin praying for peace. You'll quote Philippians 4:6-7 like my son quotes Nacho Libre - asking God for that "peace that passes all understanding..." Guess what. If by "peace" what you mean is that your stomach will feel better, you'll fall asleep and rest like an angel, and that you'll just begin to have this overall good feeling that, "You know what, this isn't going to be so bad after all. I'm going for it!", then stop waiting. That's not peace. That's a fairytale of some sort that I've never been part of. And peace is not something you can have that's birthed from your emotions or your guts. Peace comes from something unchanging and unmovable. That would be God's Word.

Read Matthew 18:15-20.
Check out Galatians 6:1-3.
(And while you're at it, take a look at Philippians 4:4-9.)

There will be a moment when you cross a threshold and (to put it bluntly) there's no more praying to do. You have to trust that the Holy Spirit's going to be "interceding for you" and is going to give you the words to say. You also have to trust that the Spirit of God is preparing, humbling, and breaking the other person's heart already - preparing them to receive it. If the Lord has been prodding and convicting you that you must confront, then He most certainly will be preparing that person's heart to be confronted. This doesn't mean it won't sting. It also doesn't mean that they won't be defensive. 

Is it possible you've prayed enough, and now it's simply time to make that call, look that person in the face, and have that conversation? 

Stop waiting for peace. You'll find the peace of God in doing what is right out of love.

Proverbs 28:23

April 1, 2013

Will We Ever Google Again?

As you have probably heard by now, Google made the unfortunate decision yesterday - EASTER - to make the "Doodle" on their main page an image of Cesar Chavez. Chavez was a Mexican-American who played a significant role in advancing Latinos and the American Labor Movement. You can read more about him HERE. (Or you can Google it. HA!) Several years ago, March 31st (Chavez's birthday) was named a national holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas in his honor. And while Google's decision yesterday was (as I labeled it in the first line) an "unfortunate decision", what was and is even more unfortunate about this situation is the way we as Christians have once again chosen to REACT rather than RESPOND to the secular culture we're living in. As I've said before (The Method & the Message) and will most certainly wind up saying again, I don't believe WHAT we've said or done in response has been the biggest issue, but HOW we've once again communicated our disappointment and offense. Allow me to explain.

Think about this from a different angle:
Is it possible that the decision-makers at Google - maybe somewhere below the surface - had a thought of, "Just watch how the Christians respond to this one!" I believe that John 13:34-35 and 1 Peter 2:11-12 completely affirm for us that the world is constantly watching to see HOW we will respond. As "exiles" (foreigners, aliens) in our culture - residents of our city, but citizens of Heaven - it's almost as if we're supposed to be living like guests here. This doesn't mean that we throw discretion or conviction to the wind and just say, "Well, when in Rome...". (1 Peter 2 speaks clearly about that as well.) At the same time, it's like we keep expecting people who clearly do not know Jesus - people still blinded by sin and the Enemy - to live and act and make decisions based on the same standard we do. That's NOT going to happen. And I'm more convinced daily that anger and defensiveness do not speak louder than love or compassion. We keep acting like a world that we've done nothing to earn trust from owes us their ear and attention. We're getting it backwards.

I believe that there are still God-ordained circumstances when and where He calls us to stand on a stage or a street corner and preach repentance. But even in those situations, the appearance of anger, hate, arrogance, or condemnation aren't going to gain us an audience. What stops people dead in their tracks and commands the attention of even the hardest heart is the response of unwarranted and unexpected love. Unconditional love. Love that says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ." We love Ephesians 2:4-10. But we don't so much like the verses before this that remind us that WE were once dead in OUR trespasses. I think we forget that the ones who are offending us actually used to be us. We were "by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." 

And when we get angry because Jesus was slighted - when a Mexican-American leftist labor organizer steals the attention of our Jewish carpenter rabbi - I think we need to remember that Jesus never asked us to TAKE offense for Him. He said that the Gospel will be offensive to those who "are perishing". Jesus will be offensive. Not Jesus will be offended. I think what offends Jesus most is when His "followers" go back to acting like they did before they began following Him. He said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven." But you see, when we do that, it completely takes control out of OUR hands and places it in HIS. Love & pray. Don't hate & yell. The latter is easy and expected. The former is hard - very hard - and humbling and shocking. Jesus was humbling and shocking.

So how can we respond differently?
What would it look like to shock the world because we didn't react for once?
What if what they got from us was unwarranted and unexpected love?

Maybe it would look like the teacher, down on His knees, washing the feet of the disciple that He knew would at any moment walk out the door and betray Him. Maybe it would look like the risen Messiah sitting on the beach, frying some fish, waiting on the one who had days before denied even knowing Him - waiting to restore him and love him.

What are your thoughts? 
Are you never going to "Google" again?