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

600px-HH_Polizeihauptmeister_MZ

“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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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

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

The Secret is Caring

Good Day to you!

It’s kinda nice to have someone give us a nice warm greeting each day, isn’t it?

I once knocked on a door of someone’s home as I was inviting people to a special event at our church, and was quite shocked when the owner of the home opened the door and, before I could say a word, launched into a multi-syllable cuss fest about how much of a “hypocrite you are for walking across the street from your church to talk to me when you could care less about me! You just want to show everyone you are better than them and act like you are so holy!”

This tirade went on for about five minutes, but lasted for an eternity – it seemed to me anyway. The funny thing was, this was decades earlier when our society wasn’t quite as turned off to cold call invitations. But this house was maybe a few hundred feet from our church building. I was totally shocked to hear such negative words directed at my character.

I have since learned to not take this kind of thing personally (I very much recommend a special brand of duck-feather oil – you will live a happier and longer life!)

Anyhoo… yeah, this blew a little wind out of my sails at the time. What shocked me was that this lady had me all wrong. Or did she?

As I considered her words, I realized that she was wrong in that I wasn’t out there to make anyone feel bad, or think i was more holy than they. I was out to merely be used by God to offer eternal hope to people.

At the same time, she was also right – I did NOT care about her personally. I mean, how could I? I had never met her. Sometimes we need to show people we care before we do anything else. This woman had probably been preached to and “evangelized” many times before by well-meaning church people, or others not as well-meaning.

I have learned that I need God’s compassion for others. I have seen that when I show someone care, concern, compassion, they are very open to hearing anything I have to say.

I used to think it was what I KNEW that would change the world. Now I know that it isn’t about what I KNOW, its about how deeply I CARE. True love and compassion has moved many mountains in our world.

Ask God to give you His compassion for others. And then, once you care, ask Him to show you how to show that love and concern.

The secret lies not in KNOWING, the SECRET IS – CARING!

Until Next Time
Jeff

Check out updates for my upcoming book with co-author MIKE STEHR at https://www.facebook.com/GetTheLifeBook


The Greatest

In Luke 9:46 we have recorded a rather hilarious event that took place among the disciples. Apparently they felt it was necessary to establish a pecking order among themselves early on. This of course resulted in an argument – and the ones who were the most outspoken basically “got dibs” on the titles such as “CEO, CFO, P, VP ” and other key “VIP” titles.

There is an entire study on the phenomenon of how and why people choose to rule over other people in sociology. It’s simply human nature – we need a leader, and leaders need to be followed.

I remember one person on my high school who was always running for some kind of office at school. I know people “say” they do this so they can better “serve” the group or body at large, but many times one gets the feeling they are on some kind of power trip and feel the need to lead. Politicians call themselves “public servants” but many times they seem to want others to do the serving while they “lord it over” them.

Stories like “Lost ” or “Lord of the Flies” remind us that people naturally look to dominate and usurp one another as they gather together.

It’s no wonder the disciples were doing this too.

It’s funny especially in light of the previous few verses where Jesus just got done warning them that one day men will come and arrest and imprison him. Hardly the ideal situation for these disciples who yearned for “greatness”.

The great thing about “greatness” in the kingdom is that it is very attainable from a practical standpoint. But the way to eternal greatness is counter intuitive to say the least.

If you seek true greatness, you must seek to be the least – the floor mat for all of your friends and acquaintances to walk on and upon. I’m not saying you must be a pushover – but in terms of humility and how we position ourselves on this planet, Jesus is asking us to serve others, to seek his greatness and not our own, to build up others as if they outranked us, and to remove all pretense and false humility since God sees that anyway and he is not fooled.

Is this the greatness you were looking for? If not, there are plenty of opportunities to become great in this world. Enjoy them. It might be the only greatness you will ever see in your eternal life.

Until next time,

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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The Two Paths

You know how you are walking or biking down a new trail that you have never been on before and you come to that literal “fork in the road”?

If you are an adventurer like me, this is an exciting moment! “Two choices instead of one! My little adventure just got twice as exciting!”

I remember last year my wife and I were driving around some back roads of a national park, and we kinda got lost.

It was exciting however because we were in the mood to get “lost” even though we had a map and we knew we could find our way back if we needed.

It was fun.

Either path was about the same and generally took you back to the main public roads at a similar point.

Life also has paths. People today say, “There are many paths and they’re all good, they all generally get you to the same location – so what’s the big deal?”

Jesus said there were ultimately only two paths – two ways. With two gates. And he said they couldn’t be more different. (Matthew 7:13-14)

One way is wide and many take that path and it leads to destruction. Then Jesus said the other path is narrow, few take it, and it leads to life.

This Sunday I will be speaking in church at Rochester Assembly about these two paths and how in high school and just after graduation, I underestimated the seducing power of the path of destruction. I also realized some of my friends were going down with me.

I had been spared certain death twice. Also I was literally rescued out of a river as I floated face down in the water after passing out from over-intoxication – and I was selected to drive us home!

Nice!

Home was an hour drive. I got home finally after dropping off my drunk friends and laid in my bed, and squeezed on to the sides for fear I would fly off because my room was spinning about 100 mph! I have yet to find a ride at Disney that can equal the speed of that spinning bed!

I knew I was in trouble. I was depressed and unfulfilled and addicted.

Ultimately God spared me miraculously and in a moment my life was transformed as God met me in the middle of my hopelessness.

Soon after, I found a small group of people who had chosen the narrow path to life as well. For the next several years we were to walk that journey together and see amazing and wonderful things beyond my wildest imaginations.

But I never forget the power and addictive connection that the path of destruction had on my life.

I do not judge those who are caught in that path. It is wide, most people are on it, and it takes a miracle to be set free from it’s grasp!

Until next time!
Jeff

Forgive and Forget?

You grow up hearing this in elementary school, right?

“Oh, just forgive and forget.” Okay, I’ll get right on that. My problem is, I have a fairly detailed memory and very good recall and retention level. And my mother and my wife have an even greater memory than I do!

Maybe you are like me – you forgive and then remember forever.

One could say that if we have vivid memory of past offenses, it means we really haven’t truly forgiven. I think that is the case with many people today – they kind of “forget” the offense for the time being, but have not truly forgiven the trespasser from the heart. And when the occasion suits itself to think about that offense, we relive it and pick the offense back up, perhaps with more bitterness and anger than ever before.

So we first need to really GET THERE in terms of forgiving others from the heart. We literally let go of the offense, and choose to let God deal with the heavenly justice of the issue.

There are actually many people who are so afraid to be offended that they convince themselves that the offense never happened; yep – a little defense mechanism called DENIAL.

You need to admit the truth of the situation and accept the reality of it no matter how painful. Once you get there emotionally, you should struggle with some initial feelings of bitterness or anger. Immediately following this, you are ready to begin forgiving.

And when you forgive, of course the truth is you need to let the offender OFF THE HOOK. You need to release the offender. You need to give it to the Lord and let go of it. Just let go. That’s hard for us sometimes, right?

But will this mean we actually forget the offense ever happened? Don’t count on it.

Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7. That’s a lot of forgiving the same person for the same offense. But it makes sense with those of us who have vivid memories. Whenever you remember the offense, forgive. If it means forgiving every day, or every week, or every month the same person of the same issue, so be it.

That’s hard. It would be much easier if we could actually forget painful memories altogether.

Next time you think you have forgiven your neighbor and you recall their offense, forgive them again from your heart.

Who knows, you may eventually forget it ever happened.

Until next time,

Jeff