Reality Reflection: The world is flat

For many years people believed something because that was what the “experts” said, and quite frankly they didn’t think it could be anything else. What was that belief? That the world was flat. I can understand why they would believe that, it’s hard to really understand living on a sphere. Wouldn’t that mean that someone is upside down or sideways? Who would live that way? Besides, it certainly seems like the world is flat. But we know now, especially with the ability to go into space and take pictures, that the world is not flat, it’s round, and we’re not the only round planet out there.

As I was reminded about this part of history while I was reading it got me thinking about if we’ve got a “world is flat” belief that hundreds of years from now people are going to laugh at us and try to consider what we could have been thinking. I think it’s entirely possible because just like the people back then, even with all our technology we still don’t have the full understanding of everything and everyone in the world. It’s a great reminder of exactly how small we really are, and how little we really know. We really only know the portion of the world that we call “ours” well, and we don’t always know that portion well. I bet you could ask adults who have lived in NYC for their whole lives if they know all of the city and they’ll tell you that they’re still learning and discovering new things.

I don’t think the answer is to be worried about having a world-is-flat belief for generations from now to laugh about, I think when we come upon a question we’re not sure about we should keep on making educated guesses based on all the facts that are available to us. There’s no shame in discovering that you didn’t have all the facts or that all the facts weren’t available when you had to make a decision. The only shame is in not being willing to keep learning and gathering more education that can be used to help us make more educated guesses in the future.

What will you learn today?


Victories Yesterday and Today

Today ends the celebration of the Jewish holiday Purim. It’s technically an event that’s celebrated by multiple religions, including Christians, but for the Jews it’s a very important holiday. Purim is the celebration of the defeat of Haman’s plot to kill all the Jews. God, Mordecai and Esther intervened and saved the day, and I would encourage you to take time to read the whole story, it’s only 10 chapters long and more of a story than anything, in the book of Esther. Typically in the middle of the week I blog about victories, and the story of Esther is certainly a story of victories. There’s some trial and tribulation, as there is with just about every victory, but ultimately the bad guy loses and there’s a happy ending.

This is a big victory for Moredecai, Esther and the Jews. Many times you hear about the struggles that the Jewish people have gone through and don’t hear about the victories they’ve had, especially since they don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah that they’re waiting for and Jerusalem has been a hotly contested location for a very long time. But the events surrounding Purim are a very real and tangible opportunity for them (and us) to celebrate, it’s a good day any time a people group isn’t persecuted or massacred. For Esther especially it’s a victory for her personally, for women and for Jewish women because she took the opportunity God presented to her, stood up for what she believed, prepared and presented the situation to the King (her husband), and got all that she asked for.

Something else to consider is that Purim is really a remembrance celebration. I was thinking recently about the balance that it’s necessary to find in remembering the past and moving forward. Each year we celebrate the day that we were born, after all we would not be here if it was not for that day. There’s value in celebrating the recent victories as well as the victories from the past, as long as the focus on celebrating past victories don’t hold you back from celebrating future ones.

So what are you celebrating today, either from years ago or today that recently happened?

Where To Begin Again

Everyone needs a new beginning from time to time. New beginnings can mean starting completely over, just calling it a day and starting fresh tomorrow, taking things in a new direction you haven’t tried before or bringing someone in for a fresh perspective. Sometimes it can feel good to start fresh because you’re ready to move on and sometimes it can be discouraging and frustrating because what you were doing didn’t pan out as you expected and you were really invested in it. When you’re force to start over and it feels frustrating it can be hard to know what to do or where to turn or even how to find the strength to start over. John 1:1 says:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Sometimes you need a place to start and I think John 1 is a great reminder of where to start not only your new beginnings but each day. This verse gives us two important reminders. First, God’s been here since the beginning. He’s navigated floods, volcanos, earthquakes, drought and wars that have taken countless lives and changed the lives of countless others. There’s very little that God hasn’t had to navigate or deal with, and no people group, language or culture He doesn’t have a connection with.

The second reminder is that the Word has been here since the beginning. I don’t think this means all the literal words of the Bible, but rather the themes, concepts and laws God has shared through the Bible. However, many of the words in the Bible are evergreen, meaning we can turn to them at countless times throughout our lives and be encouraged by them. Yes, there are dated, century-specific, culture specific sections of the Bible but much of it teaches valuable lessons that can be applied to different portions of our lives.

If you’re facing or navigating a new beginning in your life I encourage you to check out some new spiritual books, ask God to lead you to new passages in the Bible to encourage and guide you now, and if you haven’t tapped back into the Bible and passages that have always spoken to you, I encourage you to do that too.

Reality Reflection: When Practice Becomes Reality

Over the past week and a half the US has been dealing with another school shooting and with the aftermath of the shooting.  One of the things that has been discussed is the actions (or lack thereof) of the resource officer and police first on the scene.  While there are no official results or reports yet, the story is that they didn’t take the actions that most would think they should.  I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know the full story or history of these individuals but hearing these possible stories of people who were supposed to be saving lives not following through got me thinking about reality.

Law enforcement officers are given training in a multitude of situations and take an oath to protect and serve, much like a medical professional takes regarding not harming anyone.  One of the arguments that has always circled regarding the education we give our kids these days is that book skills don’t really translate to the real world.  While those in law enforcement have more hands-on training than the average student does, there’s no way to truly duplicate what happens in life during practice.

I’m not discussing this to dismiss or in any way make it OK if trained professionals didn’t take action, I’m suggesting that you reflect on your life and the reality that while you say one thing and really believe one thing this minute, if reality shows up you may react very different.  No, you shouldn’t doubt yourself that you’re not going to follow through on your training or beliefs, but understand that sometimes reality is so much more overwhelming, scary, hard and different than you could ever expect.

Everyone has a responsibility to treat others with respect and to treat others as you would want to be treated, but not everyone chooses to follow through on that responsibility.  With every failure we’re given the opportunity to revisit and revise our understandings, plans and even our skills. In those moments of failure and pain we’re also given the choice of whether it will strengthen our community and our relationships or break them further apart.  People’s lives will never be the same because reality came calling a week and a half ago.  The choice is where we go from here and how we approach and practice for reality.

A Life of Faith and Fire

This week a well-known individual and leader passed from this life to the next: Billy Graham. He touched so many lives in so many ways and was outspoken about his faith and belief that life is so much more than what we deal with in our day to day lives. I believe that some of the reason he was well-known was because that was God’s plan for his life. Some of us are meant to live quiet lives of faith while others are given a lot more responsibility and a more visible calling.

But there was something else that he had that not everyone else shows the world, or is able to sustain for the many decades that Billy Graham did: passion. Billy Graham lived his life with a passion for living and for his faith. Anyone who knew Billy Graham could tell you about the passion he had, and how his life reflected that passion. He wasn’t shy about sharing his faith, but he didn’t do so in an abusive or aggressive or offensive way.

You may never have the world stage that Billy Graham did, but if you have any dreams or desires of getting there you better have a serious passion, whether it’s regarding your faith or something else. It’s not about being loudly vocal about something, or having the finances to put yourself on stage, or even about being something so that you can be on stage, it’s about having a true soul-deep passion for something (or someone), something that others identify with and can get excited about too. Where does that passion come from? It’s in large part about being true to yourself and following through on the abilities and passions you were born with or have developed.

Are you living in line with your passions and purpose, regardless of whether you’re on a national/world stage or just hanging out with friends? Focus on being who you are and choose to make a positive impact on each person you meet.

“If you are what you should be, then you will set the world on fire.” Saint Catherine of Siena

Relationships of Love

Last week people around the US celebrated Valentine’s Day. It was an opportunity for couples to celebrate the love they have together, for individuals to love themselves, and for those who aren’t in a relationship but want to be to recommit to doing the work that will bring them to that other person. One of the things I’ve been reminded this month as we talk about love is that love is so much more than just one thing or one definition, and when it comes to God His love is more than we could begin to imagine or understand or describe.

In my devotions last week I read 1 John 4:12 which says: “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.”

This verse says a lot of different things about love and God. First, we should love each other. Second, God lives in us. Third, God lives in us when we love each other. Fourth, when we love others we share God’s love for us with others. Fifth, we can only begin to experience God’s full love when we let Him in our lives and love others. It almost sounds like there’s a condition to God’s love, and in some ways I think there is. But what I think this verse is really saying is that God is all about the relationship. He doesn’t want to be that dude on the throne overseeing everything, the benevolant dictator. He wants to be in relationship with us, and He wants us to have healthy, loving relationships with others too.

I think it says something really powerful that God isn’t just about the relationship He has with us, but that He cares about the relationships we have with others too. Yes, the Good News is spread through people, but I am confident that God would get the message out in other ways if He had to, so it’s about more than just the Great Commission. God has more love in Him than we could ever imagine, love that works in countless ways and reveals God in exactly the way that we need to be spoken to in that moment. God doesn’t keep His love to Himself, He wants to share His love with us and for us to share our love with others. How will you share love today?

Reality Reflection: What is Normal Anyway?

A topic I’ve been contemplating this week is that of what “normal” really is. As much as many people can say that they have standards as to how they’ll be treated, how they’ll treat others or what they think is right or wrong, and as much as I think we could come up with standards about respect and how we treat others and how we share the world we live in, I don’t know that there really is a “normal” anymore. We’re such a wonderfully diverse world with wonderfully unique people who each have different aspirations, world views and passions that my “normal” won’t look like your “normal” and you and I may not even really have a “normal” in our lives!

I understand the appeal of normal, it means that things fit in nice neat boxes, are easy to understand and don’t complicate our lives.  But I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing that there isn’t really a “normal” for every life in the world anymore, or the same normal for everyone. It challenges us to think and learn how to interact with others who are different than us. It gives us the opportunity to live a much richer life. It encourages us to learn to live in the moment. It means we can love the life we individually live and allows us to be our own person and not a copy of anyone else.

I think we should stop worrying about our definition of normal not matching up with anyone else’s, or if there’s even a definition of normal that applies anymore.  Personally I think attaining normalcy should be pretty low on your list of things to accomplish.  I think we should work instead on loving better, living more wisely and being more considerate of the others that we share this world with.  Work on finding a “normal” that works for you, or don’t!

Do you have a normal or are you trying to work towards one, or are you happy with your life that doesn’t fit in a “normal” box?