The Cops

We see the cops in the media often lately.

What are they usually doing?

Beating someone up, choking them… Sometimes killing them.

I’m sure that bothers you like it bothers me. We need a new mode of thinking and training for police. They cannot go beyond what the law allows.

I mean, pulling a gun out and emptying the bullet chambers as a suspect flees – just because you feel unsafe, this is not acceptable. These policemen should be tried for murder and permanently removed from law enforcement – period.

But let me tell you something else… Something you already know…

Putting our law enforcement officials in harm’s way in today’s culture is a lot like putting our young men in Vietnam back in the ’60’s and 70’s – the enemy is all around them. Families including children were all part of the war effort. You had no idea if some little girl was offering a gift or a bomb wrapped in a package. Crazy, right? Crazy war. How could entire families be part of that war against American-supported, pro-democratic South Vietnam?

Before we look down on the Vietnamese people – let’s get real for a moment. So you’re telling me that Vietnamese people who were in support of their homeland but on the communist side, were crazy for not remaining neutral bystanders? Can you imagine Russians invading the USA? Are you really naive enough to think we would all remain “neutral” innocent bystanders and let the uniformed soldiers fight their own battles?

But I digress from my main point – that we need to gain some kind of understanding of what is going on in the minds of today’s law enforcers just as we understand the psychology of our anxious and frustrated soldiers in Vietnam a few decades ago.

It is not only understandable that police officers sometimes lose their senses and misuse their authority – it can almost be expected when in a very hostile neighborhood.

“HOOD” LIVING

I have many friends that live in some of the most dangerous “hoods” in America. In fact, in the 1990s I put my money where my mouth was, and moved into an area right next to a “hood” so that I could relate to them in a real way.

So much to say here – wow. It changes your perspective to say the least. First of all, it was no longer them but “us” in my mind when I thought about gangs in the hood; inner-city living; whatever you want to call it.

Secondly there is no denying that when an block or street or neighborhood begins to grow in violence and dangerous activity, everyone loses. Property values go down, businesses leave, urban decay begins its cancerous spread. And everyone suffers for it.

I don’t have any answers. But if the only time an authority figure is seen in most “hoods” is when they are sent in to stop a serious situation. It’s only natural to distrust them and the image of what begins to develop in the minds of kids and adults in the hood.

If you never see your daddy around unless he is very angry, well of course that relationship is going to break down and unravel. Of course both sides will be totally polarized. Of course police will not trust anyone in that area and of course no one on that area will trust the police.

REBEL NATION

When I was growing up it was in vogue to be a rebel. Smokey and the Bandit came out in 1977. It was an obvious caracature of the law as arrogant and pompous idiots who can’t fight their way out of a paper bag. But man, was it entertaining!

Then Star Wars came out that same year. Who were the bad guys? The Imperial Empire – and the bad guys? The Rebellion! Luke Skywalker was a rebel! We love us our rebels!

Even the popular cop shows on today – the only cool cop is the one who ends up fighting cops himself!

It’s American to rebel, dag-nabbit!

In fact, that’s how we got here in the first place right? Rebelling against our Englush authorities in the 1600’s. Yes, we understand rebellion quite well, thank you! “Taxation without representation? No thank you, Pappa Brit! Toss them tea bags in the Boston harbor boys!”

Look at Westerns – the lone gunfighter riding out into the horizon with his six guns packin’! I can hear that ‘rebel’ played by Bruce Willis in the “Die Hard” movies yelling at the cops right now.

So you see, we sometimes reap what we sow.

OUR HYPOCRISY

We Americans live in this hypocritical dichotomy – on the one hand, we perhaps more than any other nation in history live in safety and creature comforts because many young men took the bullet, the bomb, the lethal booby trap that was meant for us.

We daily rely on the ongoing sacrifices of other men and women who were selfless enough to allow their bodies to be destroyed for our freedoms. But then we turn around and act like it was no big deal. In fact, “I am a pacifist” is not literally possible in the USA; if you paid or ever have paid any taxes to the Federal government, it’s too late. You hire people with guns to keep you safe – YOU DO IT!

Let’s get down to brass tacks – SOLDIERS are only “hired guns” sent out to protect YOU! I understand, okay… I get that you can say, “Well, that’s not me behind that stuff, that’s our crazy political leaders making decisions on their own.” Yeah but, they are all voted in. So, you may not have voted for certain leaders, but you enjoy the fringe benefits and blessings and perks of living in a nation that voted for them.

Cops in your hood? C’mon, every US citizen depends on local authorities, police to defend, protect and keep us safe. They carry a gun so that you don’t have to. They shoot the guys with the gun and will and determination to come to your dwelling and do great harm to everything and everyone you hold dear.

So – don’t tell me you are against guns and violence on a moral standpoint, if you are a US citizen. I would say – move to another country if you want to remove yourself from your conflicted, dichotomized hypocrisy.

I get that we don’t trust authority. I get that we enjoy our rebellion psychology. I understand not liking officer of the law soldiers who have never shown any kind of selflessness in our defense.

But I don’t get not appreciating and respecting those people who willingly take the bullet aimed at your head. That – I don’t get.

That – is the reality. You can lump every authority together if you want to.  But I think there is a world of difference between these two kinds of authority figures.

One day there was a rebel who walked the earth, calling out corrupt and evil authorities. He was embraced by the lower class and the down and outers. He took interest in their situation. He cared about their problems. He lived with them and walked with them. He socialized with them and was considered one of them by these corrupted authorities.

And finally he was killed by death on a cross by the authorities. But one soldier bent his knees and cried out “surely this man was the Son of God!”

Jesus did not side with all the authorities, yet he never broke the law. He never acted out in violence. He was innocent, yet made a great difference in the lives of the most needy.

What we need today in our cities is to “cry out” to Jesus and asked him to walk among our most needy places once again.

In answer to that prayer, he might just come in the form of you and I.

Till next time

Jeff

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“HH Polizeihauptmeister MZ” by Daniel Schwen – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HH_Polizeihauptmeister_MZ.jpg#/media/File:HH_Polizeihauptmeister_MZ.jpg

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Changes Remain

Things change.

I’ll never forget the day my dad was taking pictures of us kids during Christmas – and the Polaroid camera he was using was out of film. And one of us just volunteered our cell phone.  He was in awe of the technology shift that had yet again taken place.

Even digital cameras had already become yesterday’s news – now our phones had better technology. You snooze, you loose – is today’s technology mantra. Another way to say it, I guess.

Today, our lives are on a rapid merry-go-round. We get acclimated to a new job, or a new home, new child, new neighborhood, new neighbors, new government leadership… and then – things change.  And next, we are back to the unknown – fear and doubt attack our minds and we once again must face our fears, take a step of faith, and hope it works out.  Well, with God it does work out. We know he is able. The kicker question is this: will we choose to trust and obey?

Our grandparents and great grandparents were probably one of the first generations to face multiple major changes in the world. One could argue that this past century our earth has been through as many changes as all previous centuries put together. It’s amazing to think that before this, “normal” included having the same job until you retire, living in one home, in the same state (if not town) for the duration. Today, changes happen at a rapid pace. Entire families can fly to the other side of the world on whim and start fresh and anew.

Maybe this explains the growing lack of concentration in many people today – a condition that may include various forms of ADHD. Soon change will be so normal, that when some remains for even a period of several months, people won’t be able to handle the boredom. “Give me change now!”

As you wrap your head around “life in 2015” I hope you take time to pray and ask God to give you clear direction on where He wants you to be.  He may bring big changes that you didn’t expect. The good news is He is more than able to help you adapt and embrace the change.  Until next time, Jeff

Who knows?

Sooner or later, all drivers are forced to make a decision. We asks the question in our minds, “Which road do I take?”

I was on a two-week trip to England many years ago. As it happens, I was given a car by some friends and was able to drive all over the location where we were staying. It was great, but two things you will learn quickly when driving a car in England: First, the driver side is on the right side of the car. You can imagine the confusion that initially grips you when you are turning left and you realize you normally would be dozing off, people watching or staring out at the scenery. And then it hits you – YOU ARE DRIVING, NOT YOUR PASSENGER! Secondly, when driving in England there are many nooks and crannies and roads, none of which look wide enough to fit a motorcycle, let alone a vehicle. And you have to get your map out and figure it all out!

If you don’t have a map, you a re in trouble. If you are male, you are even in more trouble because you will not get out of the car to ask someone for directions. But if you do, take care – if you have just arrived from American soil, you might have a hard time understanding half of what they tell you! (Contrary to what you have heard, English spoken in the “mother tongue” still qualifies as a foreign language!) When all is lost, we throw up our arms and say, “Who knows?” It is then that we have to say a prayer and hope for a miracle. Funny how we eventually get where we need to. Coincidence? Divine Providence? Hmmm.

Someone knew. They guided us all the way.

I remember the shear terror that gripped me when I graduated from High School. “What am I gonna do now?” I asked this over and over in my head that whole post-graduation summer. I had virtually ZERO aspirations, being a very talented procrastinator, party animal extraordinaire and carefree / no-thought-for-tomorrow kind of guy.

I played the fool all through high school. And the most foolish of all things – I actually thought I could live this way indefinitely. But God knew differently.

That’s the thing; God knew.

When I was at the end of my rope, my back against the proverbial wall during my first year of college, I couldn’t take the despair and fear anymore. I needed God to show me. I needed God to tell me my future.

You know what’s funny? He didn’t tell me anything about my future… except that I was going the wrong way! It was as if that RED SIGN on the Freeway Exit Ramp that says “WRONG WAY” was placed in front of my face. God called out to me and told me it was time to grow up, get up, and get going with my future – His way.

I don’t know where my path will lead me in the coming days. I would guess, if I did know, I would probably freak out anyway.

Tarot Cards? Palm Reading? Horoscope?

Really?

I think it’s much more fun to trust God and know as LITTLE AS POSSIBLE of my future. That’s me. If I was told when I and where I would meet my wife exactly, I probably would have messed it up somehow. I may have tried to speed up the process. Or worse yet, I may not have felt the necessary freedom to make the right choice in the first place.

All I can tell you is this – I STILL don’t know where I am going! I STILL don’t know my future. God knows. I guess, that’s really all we need to know.

Who knows? God does. And because of that, you can trust Him to guide you every step of the way.

Until next time,

Jeff

Photo used by permission. Flickr / Creative Commons License

Dreaming

MLK Jr. had a dream.

He spoke it so eloquently at the 1963 March on Washington Capital for Equal Rights. He dreamed that people of every race would be able to declare in the words of that old spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty! We are free at last!”

I have this reoccurring dream that I have dreamt for most of my adult life. It’s pretty hilarious! Let me try to explain it:

My dream can take place in various settings and situations, but the essence of it is the same: I am in some sort of physical danger – running from Police, barking dogs, angry employees (and I don’t even have my own business) church members, dinosaurs, headless horseman, Darth Vader, Jaws… it can be and has been any kind of chase scenario you might imagine in your head.

They are after me, you see.

For whatever reason, be it something good or something bad, they are out to get me! They are chasing me. But Im not afraid. At all! What?

Yeah and in fact, the most negative feeling I can ever recall during one of these dreams is maybe some anxiety. But even that is just part of the pleasure. And, its so funny. They have no clue – they think they are gonna catch me! And I pity them. Ha ha ha. They never are able to catch me!

Just when I got them thinking that they are going to catch me, I do what comes naturally and so easy to me… it hardly takes any effort – I simply lift my legs up at the knee, look up, put a little tension in the arches of my feet, and I begin to fly! Woo hoo! It’s amazing!

Now I can fly two feet in the air, three feet, ten feet… I have even flown as high as one hundred feet above them all! And they can’t catch me! They are so mad, so angry. But I look back and smile. They had no clue they were chasing “Jeff – the flying man!”

This may sound ridiculous (and, it is of course) but in the middle of my dream, I am certain that it is real. In fact it takes a few minutes to realize I was dreaming when I first wake up after such a crazy adventure in my subconscious.

Dreams are like that. They are unrealistic fantasies that have no basis in reality – yet.

Hey, let’s ease up on dreams for just a moment. We give those dreams a bad rap. My cousin became a pilot in his twenties and flew with the Blue Angels. He was and is a commercial airline pilot. My dream my be just fantasy to me, but my cousin made this dream HIS REALITY.

And in fact, if I really wanted to, I could go purchase a para-sail rig or something of the like and actually soar over it all for a while.

For me, flying is a fantasy and not actually something I want to do. I like my GROUND just fine, thank you!

But I do have other dreams, that are crazy at first thought, but have various opportunities to make them a reality to me, if I pursue them. I always wanted to direct a movie. But it was just a dream! I would actually day-dream about this for years. I finally realized, I could make it a reality if I gave it my best effort.

So I did. You can see my film trailer at www.heartofthecitymovie.com

It took a long time, and created more dreams in my heart. I now want to make another film that is a commercial success. I actually have many friends and family that did not see my dream of directing film as valid unless my film became the low budget miracle of the ages and hit the big time – like a movie I must confess, I like a lot – “Facing The Giants”.

I have dreamed that my movie would have had the success that Facing the Giants has had. But that has not been the case, yet. On the other hand, before “Facing the Giants” these filmmakers made “Flywheel”. Never heard of it? Thats because you really can’t make your first film into the blockbuster miracle. That’s where you learn all of the mistakes and realities of distribution, marketing, film production. Imagine if Thomas Edison was only allowed to make one successful test of the light bulb? We would be still traveling on horseback and using torches for light.

Broadway will never take an unproduced play for that very reason – somebody has to do the grunt work of developing, testing, fine tuning and tweaking that play on smaller stages. When something makes it to Broadway, it must be pristine and basically perfect.

Another thing that is a known principle in Hollywood is that you must make the 1000 dollar movie to make the 10,000 film. Then you must make the $10,000 film before you can make the $100,000 film. Then you must make the $100,000 film before you can make the Million Dollar film. Every filmmaker must grow this way. Very seldom does a new filmmaker make a multi-million dollar budget film on their first try.

If this is the case, I’m ready to make my Million dollar film! (but not with my own money! hint hint) Now, I may make another movie. But then again, I may not. Either way, for me, my dream of directing a full length feature film that played in several festivals and venues was a reality.

Do you have a dream? Does it seem too good to be true? If not, it is not a dream.

So follow MLK Jr’s example today and make it the best reality you can.

Until next time,

Jeff

You’re So Annoying

“You’re so annoying!”

That’s exactly what my wife said to me recently after a friendly discussion about the garbage disposal. I don’t know why she said it. I wasn’t trying to be cute or snide or sarcastic. I thought the disposal was just fine. It works. Sure, it’s old and smells bad. But it works.

Another reminder to us men that women truly are from VENUS!

Seriously, I think all of us, married or single, would admit that we annoy one another at times. And if no one has ever annoyed you before, you are either a true saint in whom there is no blemish, or you have always lived alone in a cave!

Sure, we conflict with those we love the most at times. That’s part of the relationship process – known as “iron sharpening iron”. Only problem is, this reality is often a grating and conflicting experience, resulting in frustration and sometimes, exasperation.

“Does this mean that relationship is bad for me and I need to get out of it?”

No. Relax. You’re relationship is just fine.

Now if there is abuse of any kind occurring then read no further because what I have to share today is for those healthy relationships in our lives that sometimes include conflict.

If you grew up in a large household with many siblings, at least more than yourself, you already know conflict just happens automatically when you include any other human being into the equation.

But guess what? This is a great opportunity for The Life to have a new growth spurt in your spiritual life. Those little pet peeves and creature comforts that we secretly cultivate and make room for suddenly get jostled and jilted when you live with others.

Eventually you have to let those go to an extent, or find ways to compromise so that all parties involved can each benefit. And when we are the ones being affected in some way by someone else, it requires management of our emotions, irritations and even anger.

If I can look to The Life inside me, I find there is grace and patience that I personally do not possess, and I find myself having the power to deal. And sometimes, accept, and occasionally, enjoy.

You know what? That person may be “so annoying”, but then again, without them, The Life will never get chances to grow and stretch and develop inside you.

And that may be annoying in an eternal sort of way.

Until next time!

Jeff

Don’t get offended.

“I mean this in love and in no way intend this to come across as negative or critical, but…”

Ever have someone start out a conversation this way? Not the easiest statement to hear someone else say to us. Well, don’t feel too bad, it’s only natural to put up an emotional wall, or get verbally defensive when someone we know well confronts us with an issue.

Whether they say it in love or not, or whether it is even well-intended or meant to hurt us, I think we can learn to glean value from any kind of confrontation, rebuke, even attack.

Granted, some verbal attacks are purely worthless and should be discarded immediately. In fact, I sometimes think the reason many of us get defensive when spoken to this way is actually because of a lack of GOOD DEFENSE.

Now hear me, I am not saying that it is good to “get defensive”… not at all. What I propose to you is this: If we have built healthy boundaries (read any book from the amazing series BOUNDARIES by Henry Cloud and John Townsend) in our Circle of Relationships (ask ME for a copy of this helpful tool ), we won’t have to “get defensive” when bombarded, attacked, or lovingly addressed in a proper way.

You see, if you have built healthy DEFENSES ahead of time, you don’t need to GET DEFENSIVE at the spur of the moment!

You can listen to that person, chew any meat they may have given, and spit out the bones. And if someone gives you ALL BONES, well then you can spit the entire mess out and get a good breath mint later!

Jesus didn’t need to get defensive when verbally attacked by his critics, because he already had healthy defenses built before hand.

Some of these defenses relate more to a healthy view of ourselves and a confidence of who God is in us and the fact that if He is for us, we have nothing to fear.

In fact, if you find yourself getting defensive often, that indicates you probably have not built good DEFENSES up in your inner man. And in fact, you may find inside your soul many conflicting sources pulling and pushing you to really fly off the handle emotionally, psychologically, physically.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Now I would be a hypocrite to make it sound like I am such a well-adjusted human being that I have never, ever become defensive. The exact opposite scenario is closer to the truth. You see, I found so many unhealthy emotional triggers inside of me when I first started my spiritual journey – I was one of the most defensive people on the planet. I discovered part of the reason had to do with being a very caring person – I was sensitive. But sensitivity without a healthy defense system on the inside will produce a lot of pain. I had to “toughen up” as others say.

But truthfully, it had nothing to do with getting tougher, but with getting fortified with a good set of boundaries and inner foundational truths. It took years and still I am growing in that area even to this day.

I wish I could go into greater detail with this, but if I did, this would not be a blog entry, but a book. And for more detail, you are going to have to wait for THE BOOK – “The Life” ha ha.

So all I can tell you is this – you and I need our source to be God inside of us in order to build healthy defenses on the outside. Then and only then, when the time comes for someone to “share a personal word” with us, we won’t get defensive anymore, but instead, with peace and calmness we can gently listen to the person(s) and filter the information properly with a smile, and even say, “Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I will take it into consideration. Have a great day!”

Sounds easy, of course it is not. But with His Life inside of us, it is more than POSSIBLE!

Until next time,

Jeff Saxton

A Few Feet Away

Just a couple of feet away.

That’s all that separated my grandfather from instant eternity as he fought in the trenches of France during World War I.

Starting in 1914 and lasting 4 years up to 1918, ” The Great War” was an unbelievably brutal conflict in which Germany fought Britain, The United States and other Allied nations along a long trench that split the geography of France. This “trench warfare” really had no complete victory as both sides pummeled the other with mortar shells, grenades, cannons, mustard gas and other chemical explosives, and various kinds of guns, ultimately amounting to a stalemate war of attrition.

War technology advanced 20 years ahead within that four-year span. By 1918 tanks, planes, armor, guns, and modern battle strategy had surpassed the old ways of direct combat, trenches, armies fighting row upon row et.

But sadly for my grandfather, he was drafted at age 18 and sent to live, fight and hopefully survive the gruesome reality of the trench.

A great amount of fatalities and casualties that occurred in the trenches involved exploding shells. Sometimes these shells would explode a few feet above the heads of soldiers, blowing their heads apart like watermelon. New steal helmets helped in some circumstances, but anyone who spent any amount of time fighting in those trenches saw plenty of awful and unsightly deaths.

As my grandfather was walking in the trench one day, some shells began to hit very close to where he was. And then suddenly, he heard a shell coming right for him! He tried to run away, but it was too close to him – it blew him sideways immediately and his fellow soldiers figured he was dead.

Thankfully, the shell did not hit him directly, but hit just a matter of feet on the floor of the trench. Instead of blowing his head off, it just blew hundreds of pieces of shrapnel into his lower leg.

He was taken out of the trench and to the medical area immediately. The doctors did everything they could to save his leg. But they were unsure – time would tell depending on healing and infection. Thankfully the leg was intact and he was able to hobble along.

Before long his leg had healed up and he was able to have full use of both legs throughout his life. The only minor nuisance he had to deal with the rest of his life was chronic pain.

I recall as a youngster, grandpa Ray used to bandage up his leg every morning. But when we were present, he would first let us have a look at his leg. It was constantly swollen, red with many tiny dark speckles of metal and lumpy from the permanent scarring. Hundreds of tiny pieces of shrapnel from the Great War in France were a permanent reminder of what grandpa Ray endured as a teenager for his nation.

I tell you this story not so much from a patriotic standpoint today, but maybe even more from the aspect of divine providence. You and I are not alive today by accident. We are intentionally here for a reason. My grandfather made some unfathomably selfless decisions for the good of humanity.

The fact that I am alive today because my grandfather was a few feet away from annihilation – well, that gives me pause for contemplating my purpose and my destiny.

Life is precious. We all have the ability to make a difference in positive ways. Those who live to bring death and destruction to this planet, well all I can say is it is a total waste of their good fortune of even being allowed to live on this third rock from the Sun.

I am very proud of my grandfather and his willingness to give even his own life for the cause of worldwide freedom.

And I realize today that I must follow in his steps, and live for the betterment of others.

For I am only here on this planet by the difference of few feet.

Until next time,

Jeff

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Are You Dressed Up?

I remember hearing that phrase over and over every Sunday morning when my mom and dad would get us three boys ready for church.

Like most good church-goers, my family strongly adhered to the popular adage – “look your Sunday best for God.” And we did. Every Sunday, we wore clothes that we would never otherwise wear outside of funerals and weddings.

Well, outside of Sundays we were your typical pre-adolescent boys – pretty much dirty and grimy after a long hard hour or two of kick-ball, swimming, tree climbing, crayfish hunting, sewage tunnel exploring, and of course motocross bicycle riding.

Another common phrase that is heard in many such households on any given Sunday is “you need to dress nicely out of respect for the temple of The Lord! When you are in a God’s house you behave respectfully and dress appropriately.”

So… My adolescent takeaway was this – God only wanted to be around us when we were in His “house”, clean and showered and “dressed appropriately.”

This is how I grew up in my perception of who God was. I saw Him as an out-of- touch, distant Father who only cared about me when I was in His temple looking a certain way on the outside.

Now let me just say, I have no problem with dressing nice in church or being respectful in a house of worship. But I think many people today have the same experience as I have had regarding God and church – Over time a message begins to become ingrained in our minds, even unconsciously, that would evolve into a total misconception of who God is and what He truly cares about.

Juxtaposed to this vision, I also found myself as an adolescent drawn to the lowly child who was born in a stable named Jesus. Jesus seemed to be comfortable associating with the dirty, filthy, lowly people of the world – like me. So much so that the religious leaders of his day condemned him. He showed compassion to those who were regarded as “unclean” and unfit to even walk into the local houses of worship.

This Jesus didn’t seem to dress as nicely as the Pharisees. They had impressive religious garb and looked down on him for not looking as good as they did. And he greeted lepers and other unclean pagans and even hung out with them.

To a God who I was brought up to believe was mostly impressed with people who dressed the best and acted respectfully when in his house, this Jesus wound have and should have deeply offended.

And then the kicker was this – Jesus finally made the most audacious claim hitherto as he boasted to his disciple Philip who asked him to “show us what God is really like” when he replied, “Philip when you have seen me, you have seen the Father. ”

What?

What about dressing up nicely for a God who cared about how nice I looked on the outside? What about the God who wanted me to be quiet and reverent when in His temple?

How can this non- conformist claim to be the very representation of God? He was born so poorly that his crib was filled with straw from a dirty stable! His earthly arrival was so inauspicious that he couldn’t even “get a room”!

This law breaking Rabbi who told everyone to allow their own hearts to be the temple of God – this was not at all the same message I had grown up hearing!

A tension is upon you and I that is quite literally a fork-in-the-road moment: will we continue to follow the ideas of this off-the-wall Jesus, or will we go the other way and keep in the old-school view of a distant God who might give you some attention if you dress up nicely and get into a beautiful house of worship first?

Which way will you go?

Next Sunday when you and I get “dressed up for church” and act reverently, keep in mind our namesake (Jesus Christ) dressed up nicely when it was appropriate to do so , but his lifestyle certainly carried this “respect for God and his house” over to every area of his daily walk – including showing compassion for the dirty and lowly people.

These same people might very well end up sitting in the same pew next to you.

What will you think? What will you do?

As Hamlet claimed, “that – is the question. ”

Until next time,

Jeff

Now & Later – Part 4 of 4

Yes!

If you have been following my “Now & Later” Series you have made it to the final post…

Congrats are in order!

Basically the notion that we can have good friends both for now and later is not that incredibly deep. Many people have best friends for a lifetime. I wish my life worked that way. I think a person could have a best friend for life if both parties live in the same area their entire lives.

For me, it hasn’t really been possible to stay in the same place. I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. Somehow I got the reputation of being a bit on the ancy side when it comes to longevity vocationally and locationally. But you know, God’s will is the result of what happens while we are making other plans.

I tend to make a deep friendships – more than many acquaintances. Not that I am shy or socially awkward. I can flutter and flit with the best of them. But I get bored with being merely a social butterfly, barely landing on an individual’s shoulder long enough to get beyond the surface. I like to get deep. Yeah, I like deep. I like to really get real, honest, vulnerable.

“How you doin?” “No… really. Come on man… talk to me.”

Good or bad that’s what I like about human interaction. I hate it when someone is listening to you but their mind couldn’t be further away from you. I remember one time, I was sharing with a prof in college about my classes and some frustrations I was having with another teacher, and my prof fell asleep at his desk while I was in mid-sentence!

He fell asleep!

So I stopped talking and just stared at him.

Okay. So what does one do in moments like that? Should I start yelling? Should I, slip out of my chair and twinkle-toe-it outta there before he wakes up? Should I pour water over his head? Maybe I should have called “911”. But instead, I just stared at him. I was miffed. Finally he awoke and saw me staring at him. He shot right up and said almost on cue, “Well it sounds like your on the right track, brother.” I wished I had been telling him I was a horrible addict with a huge record of felonies. That would have made for an amusing reply from him, assuring me that I must be on the right track.

In his defense, I found out later that he had severe sleep-apnea. Ya think?

You see I’m not out to take from others. I do believe that when it comes to relationships, people are either givers or takers – they are either looking to get, or looking to give.

Ladies, try to stay away from the guys that are looking to get from you. Instead, look for the guys that are givers. I know, I know… easier said than done. Well I have had so many life-changing experiences that have deepened me, stretched me, and really made me more of a giver than a getter.

Have you noticed that those who are ‘getters” tend to keep all of their relationships at the surface level? They are too self-centered to think about giving to others. It would be way too inconvenient for them to give without getting back. I think Now & Later friendships have to be built on an equal exchange of giving and getting. Kinda like withdrawing money from your checking account – you cannot make withdrawals if you never make deposits.

Think about your friendships today. Have you been frustrated with very small withdrawals lately in those relationships? Maybe it’s time to make a big deposit in someone’s life today. Take a moment and write down someone who really could use a deposit from a friend. We all have those special people in our lives that have blessed us in the past.

I think it is time to make a deposit. It’s time to be a giver to that special person

I really hope that once you make that deposit, you will see that friendship grow in fresh new ways! I believe you will!

And when that happens, you will be the NOW & LATER friend that everybody wants!

That’s the real secret of friendships – give to others, even if they don’t always give back. If you ARE a good friend, you will HAVE more friends that you can handle!

Until next Series,

Jeff

I Got Your Back

“I got your back.”

I was listening to Jim Rome the other day on his syndicated radio sports talk show.

He was interviewing an athlete and said, “Hey bro, I got your back.” You know what he meant by that, right?

That’s how dudes tell each other they are loyal to them. I think it probably comes from the military idea of watching out for the other guy. You know, you are clad in your soldier garb, helmet, rifle and all – sitting in the foxhole in the jungle with the enemy firing all around. Your fellow soldier buddies are on all sides, shooting. It’s your turn to jump out of the foxhole and run over to the bullet-ridden army jeep that has extra ammo cases and retrieve them.

While you are literally running for your life, your fellow soldiers are supposed to “give you cover” or shoot at any and all possible enemy locations. In this way, they “got your back.”

I love this notion.

There is something ethical, moral and even spiritual about friends who “got your back.” That’s really what a true friend is – someone who has your back; in the midst of negative or critical comments or gossip, your friend is somehow able to say, “Yeah well I love that guy anyway. And I got their back.”

How do you feel when you find out a supposed “close friend” does not have your back? What do you do when a friend has perhaps turned against you in some way, or betrayed you in some manner?

Julius Caesar was totally shocked when his closest friend, Brutus, stabbed him in the back along with the Roman Senate. For some reason, in my mind it is easier to forgive Brutus for a political betrayal – after all, it wasn’t personal – just business! 🙂 I find most upsetting are the betrayals in which the motive is centered in jealousy, greed or fear.

When I see someone act like they are a close friend to someone, and then when not in their presence they clearly do not have their back, I really have a hard time with that. There are those who use friends like tools – they have their back for as long as they are useful to them in some way, but the minute they are no longer needed, suddenly they no longer have their back and they are dropped like a hot potato – put right back in the box of “I don’t have your back anymore”.

This is messed up. Right?

People who cannot keep any close friends often do this kind of thing – I think its a personality disorder. There are many “wolves” who stalk lonely women looking for someone to “have their back.” These guys come along and treat these women like they are queens, and then they drop them in the “I no longer have your back” box. Some men can juggle several women all at the same time in this way.

If you have a problem with this, I would take a good hard look inside – is it possible that you see others, including close friends, as a means to attain some kind of personal gain? If so, you know this is really a selfish way to operate. You don’t have anyone’s back.

Someday you will be in the foxhole and the crossfire will be more than you can bear. You will look back at your buddies and to your shock, you will be all alone with dead bodies. And guess what? They weren’t all just shot by the enemy – some you turned on and shot in the back when they were busy trying to protect your back.

And when the ammo runs out, you’re gonna have to get up and run. Good luck making it out of there alive.

Something to think about.

As always. 🙂

Jeff

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