Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Golf War

It's a war out there. I face the enemies - sand, words, trees, and water - armed with nothing but my driver and a Titleist®. Oh, I have the shoes, the hat, and the glove to back me up, but the big gun I sometimes use is my mind. So I see the swing, feel the swing, be the swing, and attack the fairway. Sometimes I win, most of the time the fairway wins.

Eventually it happens and I beat the fairway - only to do battle with the green. The green uses subtle illusions of light and shade to reshape itself into a different animal. It bends to port while telling me it will bend to starboard. Ah, it is sneaky. It does its best to defeat me, slowing the ball, moving the cup at the last moment, or just collapsing the cup all together. But, I will prevail - no matter how many strokes it takes.

Ah, the golf war is a war I love to play, always lose, and yet always go back. Why would I subject myself to the certainties of humiliation, frustration, and rejection?

Because there is always that one shot that brings me back. It is one shot that brings form and function together in one smooth and graceful motion that produces a professional grade gold shot. It may be a 300-yard drive in the middle of the fairway, a chip shot that lands six inches from the hole, or a 35-foot putt that bends twice and rattles home. That is the shot that keeps bringing me back. That is the shot I remember when I walk into the door at home and the wife asks, "How did it go?" I can answer truthfully, "I had an awesome shot!"

For me, that is how my life with God is. In spite of all my best intentions, He makes everything right - perfect. He sees me as perfect, made perfect by His Son. That is awesome!

How is your golf war going?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Scary Jobs

One year I worked for the local "haunted house." My job was to sit in a chair in the back of the room - very still. When the people would come by me I had to remain seated and still, until I would pick out one person to scare. I would then leap off the chair, raise my hands, and yell. Usually I was able to get a scream; sometimes they would back up screaming, and one time a person fainted. Now that was a scary job.

I imagine there are other scary jobs. For me, painting the Golden Gate Bridge would be scary, or driving 18-wheelers on an ice road, or launching nuclear missiles would be scary. Walking the steel on high-rise buildings, parachuting out of planes, or putting animal tags on gorillas would also be scary to me. Racing cars around the track might be scary, but real fun, just like riding broncos or directing traffic in downtown Chicago.

If I had to rank some of the scariest jobs of all time, I would say being a kindergarten teacher tops the list. A close second would be just being a man in today's society. With all of the expectations placed upon men and all of society's rules and norms, it is harder for a man to be himself. Yes, it is a scary job, but a necessary one.

It is a job that God equips and empowers me to do - for I can do all things with His help. That is always a comforting thought.

What scares you? Where do you find comfort and help?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Keep The Faith

There was a time in American history that phrase would waft across college campuses. It was a rallying cry for a generation bent on changing society. It was a touch point for strangers that immediately identified one as a member of the group. "Keep the faith" still brings memories to many.

There is another faith we need to keep - not "faith that we can change the system," but faith in almighty God. This God created us, gives us eternal life, and gives us the power to share our faith with others.

Sharing your faith in the '60s was easy - raise up two fingers or a fist and shout out, "Keep the faith!" Sharing faith in God in the 21st century is more complicated. Real men aren't supposed to get emotional about faith issues, so the stories of tear-filled, life-changing moments don't do it for men. Running up to another guy, hugging him, and declaring, "God loves you and so do I," is not for men. So what is a man to do?

Live life and let people see your faith in your deeds. Take time to talk about your values, your beliefs, with children and other men. Use natural moments of discussions to bring up how important God is in your life and why. Driving your son to baseball practice is a great time to talk to him about how God saw you through rough spots in your life and how God does answer prayer - sometimes even helping a boy's best efforts to get a hit in a game.

Condemnation, confrontation, and contradiction are not the best way to share your faith. Listening, sharing, and living your faith works - even if you think they don't.

How do you share your faith?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Camo Paraments

Those of you who have been worshipping in a Lutheran church for a while might have noticed the color of the paraments (fancy word for altar cloths). We're men, so most of us probably missed it but a few years back, we added a new color to the parament collection -blue for Advent.

Do you think a panel decided on those colors? They aren't listed in the Bible anywhere, but I'm guessing you couldn't just mix them up willy-nilly without someone getting pretty red in the face. Do you think anyone is open to adding one more color to the collection? How would you feel about this new color for those cloths - camouflage? Some will split hairs and argue that camouflage isn't a color, but a pattern. Tell that to a deer hunter or a soldier. Camo paraments - you won't find them on the Internet, but I still think they would be appropriate for two services each year.

We could put them on the altar for Reformation. Though Luther intended to initiate a discussion, he initiated a war - a war of words (and later weapons) over the truth of the Bible and the importance and central position of the Gospel. Because he said that man was saved by God's action alone through faith in Jesus, he was declared a heretic and could be killed on sight. Camo paraments would work for a day that celebrates that kind of battle.

The other day this new "color" might be appropriate is Good Friday. On that day, the most important war in the history of the world was fought and won. Jesus, on our behalf, did battle with Satan and all of the forces of evil - and He won. "It is finished!" was His victory cry and Easter Sunday was the day of celebration. Good Friday was the battle.

There probably won't be camouflage paraments on your altars this Reformation Sunday or on Good Friday. I wonder, though, if people wouldn't take more notice of the importance of those days if there were!