Perfect!

Yep, that’s me! Mr. perfect!

Ha – not at all. If you know me, you know… KNOW that I am not perfect.

However, sometimes people accuse me of being a perfectionist. I find there is a slight difference between doing an excellent job and being a perfectionist. I’m truly just trying to do an excellent job. But maybe I’m fooling myself. Okay, so sometimes I do step over the line!

Watching the Olympics, of course many of the gymnastic contests involve trying to get that perfect 10. Others simply have to beat out everyone else, or score one more goal than the other teams. But for some Olympians, they must shoot for the Gold by being PERFECT!

Wow. What a feat to shoot for!

Well it may be possible in some sports, but when it comes to our walk with God, other issues rear their ugly heads. Oh, we can try to live that perfect life of righteousness.

But sooner or later your own abilities and strengths have their obvious limitations. No matter which way you look at it, we all end up being inadequate.

Funny, God really never asks us to be perfectionists. (He does want us to give our best for Him.)

But he DID say we must BE perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Oh, that’s comforting!

Being perfect is of course impossible in ourselves. In fact, obeying the Law – even the Ten Commandments, is actually impossible to fulfill in all of it’s implications. Truly, it is supposed to be that way.

Christ in us obeys the law. We don’t fully. We cannot completely. So Jesus needs to come inside and obey for us. In reality, their is only one capable of being perfect. Our job is to allow that ONE to live in us so that he can be perfect in us. (Colossians 1:27)

Sounds easy. The hard work is in giving up, handing over and submitting to.

Are you trying to be perfect? Give up. Give in. Submit to God. And let God fulfill the law in you!

Have a great day, fellow imperfect ones!

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Paterno and Penn State

Well unless you have your head buried in the college football sand (which, if so, you are not alone. We college football fans are an unusual species) you are well aware of the horrible circumstances befalling the Penn State football program, as well as the entire university establishment and allumni.

And you surely have heard about the conviction of Jerry Sandusky, former assitant coach to Joe Paterno. Sandusky apparently has lived most of his adult life as a pedophile, and used the football program to launch at-risk youth programs… all which provided him with oportunities to recruit potential victims. It is sad beyond words. The negative impact of sexual abuse on a child has obvious never-ending consequences.

Apparently (According to the Freeh report (http://thefreehreportonpsu.com/) which Penn State ultimately endorsed as accurate, Paterno was made aware of instances where Sandusky abused children while he was still Assitant to Paterno. Paterno claimed he brought this to the attention of the University, but not to any legal authorities (which, by law, he has a matter of hours to report).

No question Paterno was in error. No question Paterno was therby complicit in Sandusky’s rougue affairs. No question, there must be serious consequences for actions, incuding possibly removal of his position as head coach, as well as other kinds of penalties for the football program. But what the NCAA eventually brought down on Penn State as punishment is, in the opinion of many, too severe for the actions committed by Paterno. Sandusky left his position under Paterno in 1999. One could argue that all actions after 1999 should not be viewed as happening during that part of Paterno’s career.

Take aways from this whole scenario:

1. The higher you climb in authority / position, the greater responsibility you hold. If you are not absolutely solid in your convictions and standards at the bottom on the ladder, you will not be prepared to hold to the highest standards (like telling a close friend, and assitant coach, that he has 24 hours to report his actions to authorities before you are forced to do, by law) when you get to the top.

2. People place great (unfortunately too much) trust in large, reputable organizations. And for a time, they may turn their head to improprieties in fear of being run over and blacklisted by that organization.

3. The crowd wants to have a lynching. The angrier the crowd, the quicker to judgment. In this case, it is my personal opinion that while there cannot be any punishment too severe to hand down for even one case of child abuse, we need to be sure we are placing the punishment fairly in the appropriate people. The NCAA took away every win the Penn State football team has won since 1998. On the one hand, I get that they want to send a message that sports and winning at all costs is not acceptable. But if it’s a strong message that is wanted, would removing every win Paterno ever achieved be enough? I don’t think so. Many former Penn State football players and alumnists are hurt and offended at why they had to be thrown under the same bus as Sandusky and Paterno. Why did many winning and even championship seasons have to be eliminated to make a strong message about Sandusky when most had nothing to do with Paternos actions?

4. Paterno – I think all would agree that people felt Paterno was one of the greatest coaches, even role models, in the history of college football. Did he really understand the weight of what was going on with Sandusky? Maybe he did. If he did, and chose to ignore it all in favor of winning and his reputation and the reputation of Penn State, then we could maybe agree that taking away as much as possible from Paterno’s legacy is appropriate. If he did not have the information and knowlegde of what was really up with Sandusky, I think he deserves at least some leniancy. The Freeh report says he did know plenty and covered it up. Fair enough.

Paterno died of lung cancer before the Freeh report. His statue was taken down (for now) and most of the penalties from NCAA is meant to be a certain amount of punishment due to the football program; understanding that the actual sentencing from the court will be directed mainly at who it should be – Sandusky.

I have been in private meetings with repsected family members who are forced to deal with a sexual abuse issue with one of their members. It is unbelievably messy to say the least. And many times, otherwise upstanding and righteous people are willing to ignore and even deny that anything is going on or ever went on – more for survival on a psychological level than anything.

In other words, we who are without sin, we can cast the first stone. The rest of us, we should take inventory, and make sure that we have, or can get to that point at which, we would be willing to confront and turn in a close friend who is doing a very, very wrong and damaging thing… Understanding the repercussions for us personally taking a stand could cost us a job, a future, our reptuation, or even perhaps our lives.

Timing is Everything

Comic genius Steve Martin explains the secret to comedy is “all about the… Time-t…ti-ming…. Timing!

I think success is very similar. I have tried to push through some projects and ideas only to hit a brick wall, resulting in complete failure, or frustration. But then there are other projects that seem to have a path cleared out before them. Even if there is a lot of work involved in following them through, there is a sense of “easy” to them.

Right now, one of the projects I am involved with is an adaptation of Charles Dickens classic tale “Oliver Twist”. This will be shown for a couple weeks run live on our stage at Rochester Assembly. I am re-writing it specifically for this production. Also our music director is writing new music for it. I am excited to see what we come up with!

We will be auitioning most of the parts. I have already chosen one actor to play one of the main characters. We will see who rises to the top this time around.

One of the reasons I opted for an original adaptation over a pre-existing version is because some of the characters and moments in the original Dickens novel are left out in many of the film and stage versions (including the Oscar winning film Oliver!). I want this version to be a touch darker and even deal with some of the more controversial material Dickens dealt with such as religious insensitivity, child abuse, the neglect of the poor, and basic love for the lower classes of society. But of course, true to Dickens form, there still needs to be plenty of humor and irony.

Will continue to update on this project!

Unexpected

It never ceases to amaze me – the unexpected interruptions in life. They come from anywhere and everywhere. Unexpected trouble can blow up like a thunderhead and totally overwhelm us.

I dont know about you, but my first thought is to panic. Thankfully, more and more, my second thought is to trust God no matter what. What else can we do?

This seems to be an unusual season of a variety of struggles for me. I do have a confidence, however, that God is in control and knows what He is doing.  I guess my transmission problems will somehow, unexpectedly, be taken care of. I guess my parents present health status will be in God’s hands.

I guess God will do a miracle. But maybe it will happen in an unexpected way.

 

 

Now That’s Joy

James said to “count it all joy.”

I get that. But it is easier said than done. I don’t know how it is for you, but for me, I find it much easier to rejoice in large disappointments rather than small annoyances.

My car has already had one transmission fail this summer. As of last Friday night, it seems like I am now in the middle of a second failed transmission. Three’s a charm? I think I was able to keep my attitude in check also because my wife was so calm. Okay, she didn’t really know what was wrong with the car other than she was with me when it blew out while driving on the freeway. There are so many things going on this summer, the last thing I wanted or needed was this.

But we will get through it. I really believe that. I know it. I think faith says God will provide – when we are in that hopeless situation, our faith in God gets us through.

Regarding the Re-release of Heart of The City, I met with the post team at Crash N Sues in Minneapolis about ten days ago. It was a very encouraging meeting. We are planning to finish the final touches by end of July. I will keep you all posted on that.

By faith, the movie will be completed in God’s perfect time. I believe it will. In the meantime, we will count it all joy.

Dependence Day

Happy July 4th!

Temperatures are soaring into the high nineties and low one-hundreds, so be careful out there today. A friend went into a Target store looking for his favorite bbq sauce only to find the entire line of sauce was swiped clean!

Oh well, there’s always ketchup.

We Americans call this special day “Independence Day” as we celebrate our freedom from tyranny, control and domination. It’s a great day, and like many holidays many people get too consumed with the fireworks and picnics, and not as focused on the original reason for the season.

But I am struck this morning by the fact that it should also be considered our nation’s “Dependence Day” on God.  You cannot escape the fact that our founding fathers were religious minded people who, in spite of various personal religious views, proclaimed independence from political oppression and dependence on God Almighty.

Still today, our President concludes each public address with “God bless the United States of America.”  I hope we can really trust and depend on our God this year as we struggle through a variety of difficulties. God likes to be depended upon. He likes to show His faithfulnes to those who have faith. I must admit, I sometimes find myself struggling to depend on God at times… even after years of seeing so many prayers answered.

Are you in trouble today? You and I can pray, depend on God and see great things happen!

Mean.

As you may know, Taylor Swift sings a catchy little tune called “Mean”, and I must confess, I like that song.

The thing is, all of us can relate to it. I would dare say all of us have been treated poorly by a group of “meanies” and on the flip side, I fear many of us have been on the opposite side as well… Dishing out some “mean” to someone else whom, for whatever reason, we don’t like.

Well, why don’t we like them?

Maybe because they are just like us, and we are annoyed at the reflection. Or, maybe it is because we are envious, or jealous of them. Possibly they have something we want. Maybe they have the friends we want, or then job we want, or the body we want. Maybe we are tired of being beaten down by other meanies, and so we are paying the meanness forward. Maybe we are filled with a “mean center” covered with an outwardly nice shell.

I have never been a mean person. I have probably been too nice. All my life, people have always said I was too nice. I do have a shepherd’s heart. I used to be so embarrassed about this. Not to say i am never willing to lay it on the line; I do as necessary. I do get angry.

But for those of us who have a penchant for the mean side, consider this: usually the meanness inside has to do with unresolved issues from past experiences. Hurt people, hurt people. It’s such a true cliche’. Talking about friends behind their back is mean. Judging another person without hearing and listening their point of view is mean. Not thinking the best about a friend is mean. Spitefully using others to promote yourself is mean. Stealing people’s reputations is mean.

Nevermind the bulk of Scripture that commands us to only speak, say and do those things that build another up. (Ephesians 4:2-4) Nevermind that Jesus commands us to make sure our brother or sister is not offended or hurt by us in any way before coming to God in worship. (Matthew 5:23)

I don’t know about you, but I really want to know why some people have to be so mean? We do have to forgive mean people. We do have to love mean people. But I dont have to like mean people. Mean people in the church is an oxymoron. If you call yourself part of the church, then you have made profession to take on the character and likeness of Christ the compassionate one, forgiving one, patient one, humble one, loyal one, and many other traits – none of them in any way, shape or form could be considered mean.

If you are mean, maybe you need some hard knocks to come and brake your conceit and pride. Guess what? I did. Yes, Even though being mean was not at all my issue, there have been other issues in my life that God needed to deal with. I needed God to break me and shape me. And he did. He still does. It is called DISCIPLESHIP.