Friday, December 3, 2010

Comfort is For Blankets or Couches.

How many of you would agree with the statement that leadership is a starving art? I believe it one hundred percent. There are several leadership roles. Leader at work. Leader in the relationship. Leader of a family. Spiritual leader. You get the point. I am a workplace leader myself, and it's why I wrote this.

At work, I mostly see nothing but followers. The "leaders" in my workplace are anything but most of the time. It seems like no one takes responsibility in their roles. They are there to try to get away with doing as little as possible (as most do in a grocery store) and try to make it to Friday to collect a very much undeserved paycheck. Some of these individuals have been around for 20 years and make twice as much money as I do with half the work.

In life, some people that I know don't take the initiative to go for a better job or get out of a bad relationship. They only say to themselves, "Don't rock the boat."

In relationships, I see leaders abusing trust, abusing substances, or abusing the body or the mind. Why do we stay there?

Comfort, my friends. Sometimes self loathing, but usually comfort is the answer. Don't rock the boat = Comfort. Go from one bad relationship to the next = Comfort. Do as little as possible so as to not move a hair out of place = Comfort. Comfort has it's chains all over us.

Is it bad to be comfortable? Not entirely. The problem with comfort is that it's nice at first. After a little while, you get used to the plush or microfiber (or whatever fabric you enjoy) and become complacent. Not too long after, you become stagnant. No growth. No motion. No motivation. This, folks, is where Comfort has his evil grips on you. I've been there before. Just lay still and they'll stop shooting at you. Guess again. You become easy pickings. After Complacency has his way with you, you're pretty much worthless where you are.

We have enemies, people! And they have rented your sense of urgency with no intent to return (or rewind, for those of us old enough to have rented video tapes)! I believe there are only a few ways to stay out of this path. Out of this habit:

1. Accountability. At work, I have the guys underneath me keep me accountable to the standard I hold them to. It's important for me because at any moment, I could knowingly or unknowingly slip below my standards real quick. It also lets them know that I am serious about always performing at the highest level possible.

2. Photosynthesis. Just kidding. I don't convert light to energy.

3. Avoid. Avoiding situations where you could become too comfortable. If you're one of those people with little self control, this one is probably for you.

We are all, in one way or another, leaders. We really should all care greatly about what we lead. You never know, being too comfortable can lead you to inaction or bad decisions and you could lose a job, a relationship, trust, or ultimately, respect. And trust and respect are vital traits in a leadership. You kinda need those.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Omission of Ambition

I just got done watching an episode of one of my favorite tv shows, How I Met Your Mother. An episode about one of the characters potentially taking a job in another city, away from her friends, and away from a guy she was dating and really starting to hit it off with. And the question entered my mind: Are we so stupid that a job will infringe on our friends, and even our relationships? You may be questioning my use of the word, Stupid. Yeah, it is. Here's why:

We have been fed from birth the lie that we are supposed to make all kinds of money. As much as we can. Why? Because that is what it means to be successful and the aforementioned "success" is what will make us happy. Wrong. There's an old saying that goes, "You become who your friends are". Why could that be true if "success" is what defines you? In the end of that argument, if all you care about is your career, you will be a lonely person. If our friends define who we are, then connection is the most important thing about us. Not what we do for a living, but who we associate with, and sometimes who we don't associate with.

You know what, the real problem with ambition is that we put our careers ahead of all else, so we stop trying. We stop trying in our relationships, we stop trying in our friendships. And yes, we're all a little guilty of this, I myself have scoffed at those very words I was typing. The turnaround for me was being dumped by someone who wanted a career first. I'm not sorry for saying this, but there is not a career that could make me want to give up on any relationship that I deem important. Not one. Because when we make our community unimportant, we grow apart. We become alone. And we retreat into ourselves. And it's that dangerous combination that leads to bad decisions.

I would rather have people who build me up. People who I can bounce ideas off of. People who can show me love, and I can show love in return. Let's take care of our relationships, we never know how long they may last.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some friends and I were having a discussion about this the other night and I wanted to get some thought going. So, the question is, can you have logic in faith? I wanted to start a discussion, but just getting some thoughts brewing would be good too. One of my friends asked this question on Facebook a little while ago, but I wanted to extend this to anyone who didn't get in on that discussion.

My personal opinion here is that, no, logic cannot exist in faith. Faith, by definition is the evidence of things unseen, the hope of things promised. When you throw a word like logic in with faith, to me, it takes the power out of that word. The only people who don't understand the kind of power that it has have never understood how faith affects you. How it makes you a better person when stepping out. I have had moments where using any reason that I have learned in this world would have entirely broken the concept of faith, and if you would like to know more, ask me about it. I'm uncomfortable publicizing another's spiritual journey.

You see, the great thing about faith is the fact that it typically defies reason. In a situation where faith says to do one thing that seems crazy, reason tells us not to. But what if the thing that seems crazy leads to something that is so sane, it would have felt stupid to not believe. Even without the foreknowledge. Hindsight is 20/20.

I think some of us see faith as a personality trait rather than an actual act of obedience. It's the one thing that separates people of action from people of mere thought. It's also the one thing that can really make or break a spiritual walk. I've unfortunately seen many friends go down that road. The truth is, they never really experienced a crystallizing moment where the answer in a situation doesn't seem clear, but God has given them the answer. They were clearly just burnt out having to face those circumstances in the most emotional parts of their lives. But personally, I have learned that those who have lost faith in God, lose faith in everything else too. Slowly, but surely, they lose faith in the quality or longevity of relationships, they lose faith in the power of feeling powerless.

And the truth also is that feeling powerless is the most real feeling that most of us all experience, Christians or not. The difference is in how we react. Some of us will isolate ourselves, as feeling powerless makes us also feel weak. Don't confuse the two. Feeling weak makes us retreat whereas feeling powerless often makes us look for what we might be missing. Then there are some who will attempt to fix whatever they feel is wrong. The thing that really messes with us is that sometimes, when we are on our knees and broken of our pride is when we are the most useful. God cannot use the prideful to bring humility. And that scares all of us. None of us differ in our reactions regardless of what religion we claim as our own. Some of us will fight, and some of us will lose control. We will often blame God for putting us in this position. The funny thing about that is...God has just shown you how thin and brittle your faith was. If it breaks, it's because we didn't hold on tightly enough. We all take hits to our faith when things don't work out the way we thought. But some of us will patch it up and some of us, well, will do nothing. Because the world's logic tells us there is nothing to hold on to.

Don't you know that all things hang as you by a string over the darkness...poised to fall?
-Taken from the song "Beggars" by Thrice-

Sunday, August 8, 2010


This world tells you to make as much money as you can. Why? Because that is the only definition of success. I'm sure doctors are thinking about how much money they're making every second while a patient is dying. Or that cops are thinking about money when a situation becomes tense. We all know that the insurance adjusters are probably thinking about money when you file a claim (haha!). What is your definition of success?

The Bible makes it clear that God's definition of success is beyond money. He tells us to store our treasures in heaven, not on this earth where moth and rust destroy. Money is clearly not our most important asset, since we can't take it with us. So what are we supposed to store in heaven? What are we supposed to call success?

We will see people on this earth who are all about getting more and more money and we call them selfish. We see people trying to step on other people's heads to get where they want to be in life. I've professionally seen people who are threatened by someone half their age and twice as good. The more you do for money, the more regrets you will have.

My definition of success is based on how much I do, not for myself. Did I talk to everyone I could about God? Did I care when someone needed me to? Did I live what I believe? In my final hour, did I think about money?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Becoming Who We Really Are...

We all know the stereotypes about the personalities of men and women in the context of a relationship. We all know that men don't listen and women create such ridiculous double standards that piss men off. We get at each other. We drive each other crazy.

What if, we all just tried to learn how to lose our ridiculous habits? What if we learn to build each other up instead of lying to cover a sin? Example. In my last relationship, we lied to each other plenty. For instance, I wanted to cover the fact that I was extremely insecure. She wanted to cover the fact that she didn't 100% agree with how the relationship was going. This is on a pretty small scale, but what if we learned to help each other instead of lie? What if we learned to hold each other up instead of letting our lies stifle ourselves? What can be gained by being dishonest?

It's true that looking back and wondering what could have happened has never benefited anyone. What we don't usually consider is that if we do look back at first, we have a chance to let grace show us what we have done. Right or wrong. We often discover important things too late. I feel that that is because we try to avoid feeling pain, only to realize that we should have let our hearts hurt for a time.

But the differences in men and women are visible in so many ways. Men hunt, and women nest. Men fix cars, women cook. At least, that's the way it's been as long as most of us know.

There's a shift in the gender roles. Women are starting to get higher paying, more important jobs. Men are at home, taking care of the kids. From my experience, women in relationships are acting more like men and vice versa. Thanks to the recession, and maybe the removal of traditional roles, a complete and total role reversal is happening. We are standing at the edge of something none of us has seen before.

Wouldn't this be a perfect time to start working on who we are as people? Wouldn't this be the perfect time to become who we really are? And, just who are we? We are better than our mistakes. We are better than who we allow ourselves to become. We are better than what we know or don't know. And in relationships, it's the same. I've had conversations with friends who say that they play the same game that their significant other is playing with them. Why play that game? We're distracting ourselves. Why not just try to fix it?

After my last relationship ended, I started to change who I am, one little thing at a time. Think about it, isn't there something, or a few things, that you could stand to change? There always are. I started being more honest, speaking my mind, and treating people the way I know they should be treated. I started to value my friends more, and see the value that people had that I didn't know so well. I started to get into psychology and counseling people on their relationships and friendships. I'm not who I really am yet, but it's a few steps in the right direction.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What Cannot Be Undone...Can Be Undone

We have all been in situations where we cause some emotional pain to another. It's sometimes an unavoidable situation, but one that happens nonetheless. I have been on both ends of such situations and I would like to offer some uncommon wisdom.

In two different, specific types of situations, unrequited relationships and friendships. I was in a relationship a couple years ago. Something went wrong in the relationship and she broke it off with me. I was pretty heartbroken, but more than anything, I wanted answers. I had several points I wanted to raise and I needed clarification and closure. Long story short, the female in question snubbed me. She refused to answer my texts/calls and she refused to tell me anything honest about why she felt she should end it. We were both confessed Christians. On the surface, I'm sure this sounds typical and not very dire. But I'm not an on the surface kind of guy. Anyone who knows me can testify to that.

What probably should have been a month or two's worth of pain became about a year and a half's worth. Much of that time, I questioned why God would let someone abandon another person the way I was abandoned. I felt cheated. Very cheated. I felt that whatever wrong she had done inside the relationship could not compare to what she did outside of it. I teetered on the verge of collapse. I often questioned whether or not God really existed or if He was more of a state of mind in the hearts of His followers. Now, to the point. As a human being, let alone, as a Christian, I believe we have, not just a moral obligation, but also a humane obligation to attempt to undo any pain we cause another. Whatever cannot be undone, at least, must be explained.

I've often made this clear to people, and as we often do, they make excuses for why they did not leave an acceptable end. There is, as many of us know, no acceptable reason to cause another pain. What cannot be accepted can usually be explained. What cannot be explained can be cured by compassion. When each of those fails, there is nothing left to assume, except some form of embarrassment, or a lack of compassion. Again, NEITHER of those is acceptable. If something we had done had led someone to suicide, or we had not taken the chance to explain ourselves and the person had met some untimely end, we would be left with the remorse.

And what is the point of this? To wipe your slate as clean as possible before you are called to judgment. Ideally, there should be very little of what we do in this life affecting the judgment upon us. As we know, this is impossible, but a large part of the idea of Christianity is atonement and forgiveness. We cannot be forgiven by people if we don't ask. If we are not forgiven, we miss an opportunity for the offender or the offended to experience a large part of who God is. God is love, God is forgiveness, and God always gives us the chance to repent.

As people, as the people of The Most High God, we should be reflecting that love, that forgiveness, and that repentance. As with any other situation, we will screw up. We will hurt someone. And we will have to answer for it. But do we have to go into judgment with another wounded soul on our heads? That's the question. If you were the offender, could you truly live with knowing you caused someone else considerable emotional pain?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crooked and Easily Destroyed

There's no telling when things will be good, when things will be bad. But with that in mind, we act preemptively. We can use what little knowledge we have to avoid it, or counteract it, but at one point, the one thing you don't want to happen will happen. These are the times that test you. The times that show you and everyone else what you're made of. The times that can often make or break who you will become. Those of us who don't have faith in something, we will turn to vices. Certain things we know will make the situation worse. Somehow, we don't care or we don't notice.

Those of us who have faith will turn to it. Does it comfort us? Sometimes. Here's the point: most of the country still identifies themselves as Christian. But, in my experience, most people will only need God when they don't know what else to do. The basis of any kind of faith is not to lean first on our understanding. Did you know that we only use 15% of our brain's capacity? We have no idea how to access the other 85%. But that's the point here. When we think we can build a tower of Babel, we will stop at no end. When we think we need God only when that 15% fails us, then we don't need Him at all, because we are lukewarm. And God spits the lukewarm from His mouth. He will say that He never knew you.

We let God help with what we need, but when do we do what God needs done? And we can't wait to be fixed to be useful. That situation that we're missing may be the time we learn to be fixed. And God really can't use you until you're completely broken. Only when we are empty can we be filled. For those of us who have been spit out, consider this: You say you've never felt used. I guarantee, you were missing the first step. Without all the steps, whatever you're building comes out crooked and easily destroyed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

When "Right" Fails

What is it about alcohol that makes it so desperately avoided? What is it about swearing that makes you such a despicable person to do so? Or vices in general? The answer is the same to each question: the potential for abuse. So then it's something we can decide to do, then why is it so culturally frowned upon?

In different parts of the world, none of it is wrong. It is all simply a part of the culture. So guess what? We Christians even have a form of moral relativism. Some of us really need to wake up because our inability to have a beer or two at a bar costs us a chance to evangelize. It seems strange to think about, but I have honestly had some of the best philosophical and spiritual conversations at bars, often with people who have no belief in God at all.

Some of us think of people in bars as people who are at the end of their rope and need something to help them cope. Why isn't that the perfect place to evangelize? Jesus often sought out the destitute, the socially unacceptable, and those who were ready to give up to tell them that he had the breath of life. Do we, as Christians, have a superiority complex? Yes, we certainly do. And subconsciously, it has to do with the way we cannot accept our own faults. We reconcile our guilt with our need to feel good and the guilt will vanish. But we have a mission. We have a calling and we know it. And we ignore it, preferring to live safely in our airtight Christian bubbles while there are people who want to drown their guilt by killing themselves. That is not faith, that is religion. And religion has been proven to rot our souls.

In no way am I saying that we all should live the same way. If you feel convicted not to do certain things, then by all means, do not do it. But I have a pretty good idea that some of us avoid those things because it is "right" to do so. But anytime we turn down an invitation to the bar with people who need to know Jesus, we may be turning down a chance to introduce the two of them. And for what? To preserve your idea of right? Make no mistake, some of us will take that as an acceptable loss. It is not, however, acceptable to God to lose an opportunity to talk about your faith. And that's what it comes down to: sharing the story God has given you.

You have faith for a reason. Share it. You have life for a reason. Receive it. You have hope for a reason. Give it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why People Don't Believe in God, But Are Woefully Misguided (In No Particular Order)

1. Prayer - God does not answer your prayer because you want to date the hot cheerleader or because you really want a job that will make you a lot of money. God will grant your requests if your requests match up with His will, based on what is written in The Bible. The things the world value are not the things that God values, and therefore, there is no point in granting a request that does not improve your spiritual growth.

2. People - Yes, we all know, people can suck. And more often than not, Christians seem to suck the most. If you don't believe in everything a specific church or group of people believe, often, they will look down on you. This is a huge problem, but I see it being addressed with, what used to be the youth of the church, becoming leadership. Not to be mistaken with how as the years go by, certain things become socially acceptable. There is a fine line between those opposing views.

3. Pain - Pain is a hot topic of a lot of the spiritual dialogue that I've had. If God is merciful, how can He allow tragedy and disaster? Free will, folks. God allows us to make the decisions, and sometimes they hurt. Physically or emotionally.

4. "Divine" Retribution - Or the belief that God commands us to kill someone, in this specific example, anyway. Come on. That's like labeling every Muslim an extremist, which we all know is false and dangerous. For an average guy without a mental incapacity, I'm pretty squared away as to who I'm allowed to kill. No one.

5. Moral Relativity - The worst example of bullcrap ever. With this theory, nothing is ever right or ever wrong for an entire culture. It depends on the individual. Giant pantload of crap. We all know what is right and wrong, we just choose to ignore some things. I am no more innocent of this than anyone else.

6. The "Holier Than Thou" Complex - Those of us who have this complex have a problem identifying our own flaws, or dealing with them. So some of us project our issues onto someone else and deal with it by transferring the guilt. It may pacify you for the moment, but it is seriously wrong.

7. Judgment - This is the other one I hear more often than not. Christians judge people for their faults. Yeah, well we all do it, and we will continue to do it until we die. It is, for the most part, a character trait instilled at an early age. Generally. So let's all grow up and remember that we do the same thing, maybe subconsciously, maybe intentionally.

8. The Evolutionary Theory - Aside from the fact that this is a THEORY, it really cannot meet the scientific requirements to be considered fact. When scientists are up against a wall, they backpedal, like everyone does when they're wrong, and just try to prove Creationism wrong. The whole concept is that evolution is based on natural selection. Sure we adapt to our environments but if we improved ourselves over time based on our mental and physical abilities, then why do we all still make the stupid mistakes over and over again? Because as creatures of limited knowledge and free will, we knowingly or unknowingly set traps for ourselves and fall right in like we didn't know it was there! And that never changes. And, how is it that monkeys and humans are the only creatures to have evolved from one another? You notice how it's never giraffes or platypuses or elephants?

9. "Forcible Religion" - I once belonged to this group. Church and God was forced upon me by my parents. At one point in my life, I hated God, hated religion, hated church. Guess what? God is not a Christian. The term, "religion", is made for religions. If you agree with the statement that God is not a Christian, then Christianity cannot be a religion. I'm sure most of you would agree that L. Ron Hubbard was not a Scientologist. He was the founder. Can a founder of a religion follow it? As the figure head, I would say no. Can you even create a religion that has legitimacy? I don't believe that truth can be created. I think that if you try to create religion, then what is the basis? It has no legitimacy. And what of Christianity? If you believe like I do, then it has been since the beginning of life. It had no name when life began because there was nothing else. We create these things as distractions. We will pick and choose what we want from anything and everything and call it truth. Well, truth must be proven for it to be true. If we worship what is not proven, it is not true. If we worship what is not true, then we worship a lie.

10. Sex - The existence of pleasure and the usual religious condemnation of it are a huge thing for a lot of people. It is one of our base instincts. Then again, so is murder. Then again, so is selfishness. Then again, so are a lot of things that we generally consider morally incorrect. Yes, God limits its appropriateness and guess what? We piss all over that, say there's nothing wrong, and now we have a birthrate of 41% of children born to single parents. We have an ever growing demographic of broken homes or no real discipline. Growing divorce rate, growing crime rate. Somehow I don't think that God is the problem. Quite the opposite.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Can It Be Said of Us?

Can it be said of us that we seek out those who are in pain? Those who are hurting? Can some of us even make it a point, let alone our lives mission? It has occurred to me recently that we seem to subconsciously seek out the company of those like us or worse off. This to say, we make ourselves feel better about ourselves in the process. Is that the reason we are given these gifts? Is that the reason I have the job I have, in the position I'm in? I'm in a midlevel position of power. Does it mean that I can treat people like they have diseases and I can avoid them at all costs? Just for those of you wondering, the answer is no.

Now, I am not saying that company with people in your physical, emotional, or spiritual condition is not good. But what are we to do with those we wouldn't normally associate with? Do you believe in your heart that the people you see most often are just those that you are stuck with in your station of life? Or is there some bigger purpose? Did Jesus not come to those who were sick, dead, or dying? Answer: He did. But they also sought Him out. Not for any sense of being elevated in status just by being by Him. Because they knew He could heal.

But still the selfish monster inside of us that often becomes who we are steals the joy from our spirits. It steals the happiness from our faces. When then, are we different? We're not, as we all become the same faceless, asymmetrical disfigurations. And we become lowly. Not lowly in the eyes of the world, but lowly in the eyes of the only Being that has any hope of saving us from becoming the aforementioned ugly creatures. Money spoils like milk when you keep it for selfishness. It turns the depths of your spirit into the recesses of the darkness. Our hearts long for more than lip service and a quick white lie to remove any guilt.

There must be a turning point. The sad thing is that often, the turning point happens when we've realized that we've screwed up. Sometimes, irrevocably. The important question is, "Can it be said of us that we gave, even when it hurt?" Sure as hell, hell is sure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What Will You Die For?

So what do we have to hope for when what we hope in shatters into so many pieces that we can't possibly put it back together? We all feel like this at times. Those of us who disagree are lying or denying.

We place our self worth in possessions, but they are temporary.
We place our self worth in our careers, but one day we will be too old to work.
We place our self worth in our significant others, but people will always let us down.

I've heard it said that your life should reflect the love of Christ. But how many of us will continue to hold our grudge? How many of us will continue to ignore the poor, the hungary, the unlovable? How many of us will continue to lie to ourselves and say that we believe in God so we are saved from fire and brimstone? Too many, and I will tell you one thing: The scent of hell is in our nostrils. The flames show in our eyes. The hate pours from our lips. Guess what? We're not safe if we continue to think that we've done enough.

But there is a world out there that is longing to feel that love that we say emanates from our very being. There is a world that doesn't understand that the only way to live is to prepare to die. There is a dying generation sleeping with the dead. Hoping to fill the void that the sunlight had left when they left the sunlight. We have purged ourselves and it makes us feel like we've accomplished something. There is a mission, there is an unfulfilled vocation in our kingdom. It is the position of The Messenger.

Mark me with fire and send me,
Among the living dead.
They cannot comprehend me,
I watch the sickness spread.

Kiss the coals,
Breathe in smoke,
And I say:
Here I am send me.

I have been sent. I have stared our enemy in the face and smiled as wide as The Joker. I have seen what some hope to never experience. But fear slowly becomes surrender. And the irony of it all is that only when we are on our knees, can we fight with both feet on the ground. Only when we realize we are weak, are we strong. Only when we admit we defeat ourselves, can we overcome us. But only with the hope that comes with resting in the grace of God. Only in the reverence of what we don't understand can we find the peace to say, "I don't know".

And that scares us more than we can say. But the thing about fear is that when you see it for what it is, it loses it's power over you. Only then can you say, "I am Yours!". And only then, can we stop searching for meaning.

We all live for something, but the shame of it is that some of us will die for nothing. What will you live for? And more importantly, what will you die for?