Whom do You Wanna be Like When you Grow Up?

28 May

When professional sports playoffs occur, teams play each other between four and seven times to determine who the best team is, and because of that, the teams begin to know each other. The ebb and flow of a series allows for adjustments and then for people to complain about factors that people are against them in an attempt to adjust the outcome in the future. The teams can no longer surprise the other and, usually, the best team wins the game. This is one reason I like professional sports. They reward excellence. I get to see teams (particularly teams of approximately equal skill) go head-to-head in different environments with different circumstances as many as seven times, and upsets are usually because we over-estimated or under-estimated a team and not usually because of a lucky play or two.

The NBA Playoffs have been fascinating this year, setting many records for close games and close series. And just when you think home court did not play a role, home teams are winning almost every game in the conference finals. At any rate, these series are happening at a time in my personal life when I am bemoaning the wussification of society in general. I’m teaching a children’s Sunday School class and coaching a Bible Quiz team, and I sit in awe at the things that parents complain about and the things that parents allow their children to complain about. I detest it when people are always blame-shifting and not “manning up” and taking accountability for their own junk.

Against that backdrop, I come into sports watching them very differently than I did ten years ago. I watch them with my children (well, mostly my son and whichever of my daughters feels she can weasel her way into a later bedtime if she agrees) and hope to find teachable moments. I love it when people take personal accountability for how they perform. David DuPree says, “You have to respect the referees, and can’t blame other people for your actions. If you make mistakes it’s either on me or on you.”

So, with apologies to my Pacer fan friends, I must say that I have a new-found appreciation of the Heat. After Game 4 in which Miami led from tip to buzzer and never really felt in danger of not winning the game, Paul George blamed the refs. Roy Hibbert blamed the coach. Several players said Lance Stephenson had put them in a bad position, and overall, they just didn’t take blame. After Game 5, where LeBron James played less than half the game because of foul trouble, when at least four of the fouls look fishy to me, LeBron did not blame the refs. He said he wanted to play more, but praised his teammates for giving him a chance to win.

I will not comment on the potential benefits of complaining about the refs at this point. Instead I will say, that I want to keep a copy of that LeBron interview. I want to show it to my son. I want to tell him that this is how you act like a man and take responsibility. This is how you act. This is what I want you to do when you feel like you’ve been wronged. It’s the first step in peace making and it is a huge step in maturity. I personally believe you can learn a lot about a man by whom he blames when things go wrong. LeBron took the blame and did not complain. This is the way to behave in a world of finger pointing and blame shifting.

Sticks and Stones

15 Mar

It seems that the NFL is attempting to outlaw the use of a particular ‘n’ word. This seems to have created a little bit of a discussion on the word. People who look like me seem to be powerless to participate in the discussion, and for pretty good reason. Before you dismiss this as just another white guy telling black guys how to talk, I urge you to read the entire post and then criticize.

The only reason for this discussion is because of the imagery and history associated with the word. There are good reasons to stop using the word. It represents a time period (or more correctly, an aspect of a time period) in this country that is dark and not redeeming. Understandably, there is a reason to want to do away with this memory entirely. Of course, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

By the same token, those who have taken that which is atrocious and turned it into a word of kinship, friendship, and camaraderie do not (understandably so) want to have their vocabulary stripped. I’m sure David Howard understands this also. To have words which represent a greater meaning stripped from usability can be a cruel thing.

I remember a scene from a Full House episode where Uncle Jesse was trying to use a word (apprehensive) that Michelle didn’t understand and he had to go with scared. Now, that was done for comedic effect, but the reality is that the depth of meaning is not completely conveyed by scared, and often a single word can communicate more than we can with a dozen words not including it. This is why I think it can be tragic to eliminate words from one’s vocabulary.

So, here I am with ambivolent feelings about using this word. I begin to realize there are many words that I feel our community would be better without using. While even the most heinous of words can convey meaning, the reality is that some meanings are better left un-conveyed. Nevertheless, eliminating a word or two cannot make that desired effect.

Making someone convey a different message can only be accomplished by changing their heart. And language, much as I appreciate its depth, ability, and necessity is not the most important thing. The most proper speaker of English can convey things with tone, movement, and even proper words that are not redemptive. This is why I feel any rule, mandate, or anything else to eliminate language is not getting to the heart of the matter.

The Beauty of God’s Perseverance!

22 Feb

This post was originally written for my church’s blog.

One of my favorite things to teach over in the Reformed theology class is Perseverance of the Saints. If you haven’t joined a class, this week you can make a one-week cameo appearance in our class and I believe you’ll love it.

The reason I love this class so much is that more than anything else studied, this concept is something that is tremendously enlightening and exciting. You see, the fact that it is God who preserves our salvation is incredibly encouraging. Knowing that my identity being cemented forever as a child of the one true King is enough to excite even the most doldrummed observer of the Christian faith.

The problem I usually see if that most people reduce this tremendous promise of Perseverance of the Saints to merely Eternal Security. While it is true that it includes the promise that our eternal destination is secure, to say that is all that is included in this historical truth is like saying that the only benefit of eating is sustenance. It is an invaluable, and perhaps even the most important, part, but it fails to grasp the entirety of the gift God has given us.

Surely, as we study the historical truth of Reformed theology, we realize that God gets complete credit for our salvation. When we know this truth, we understand that it being sustained is also to his credit. However, there is another glorious truth contained within this concept. Perseverance is not limited to the act of continuing. It also involves the journey itself.

In this case, we learn that God’s perseverance of us does not just have to do with our eternal destination, but rather with the way we relate to him while still here. A former pastor of mine once said, “You were not elected you to go to Heaven. You were elected to live a righteous life to His honor and glory. Heaven is a by-product.”

Our perseverance allows us to live lives that honor Him. It allows us to reflect our God in this life here. And learning about that can bring honor to our God is so exciting, how can I help but be super-enthused about it? This is a class we’ll all enjoy!

Investing for the Future

5 Feb

As I was watching Friends recently, I learned what Ross Geller would do, if in fact, he won the lottery. Obviously, the comedic elements don’t necessitate an actual answer, but the reality is investing is an important part of life. I’ve previously stated that investment is important. As a real estate professional, I am incredibly biased, but I believe real estate is a tremendous place to invest one’s money.

Investing one’s money is such a complicated subject that there is no way I could get into every nuance, even if I knew them all. While it can be used to increase one’s current standard of living, I will address the concept of investing for one’s retirement. While I believe it is possible (and even common) for one to idolize the concept of retiring, it is a worthwhile venture to plan for when working, as much and as often as you currently do, is (or almost is) impossible. The government has allowed several different ways to invest for retirement with tax benefits, including an IRA and a Roth IRA.

My primary thought is that most people do not know how to invest this retirement money in anything other than stocks. Stocks can be a fantastic investment and one of the pastors at my church, Mike Graham, can tell you how if his grandparents had listened to his 12 year old brother, they would be the richest family in the USA. Obviously, a tremendous amount of wealth can be gained by investing properly in stocks. I guess my main beef is that I have an MBA, feel like I understand relatively well how stocks work, and I can’t name a single stock that I can (with any accuracy) predict what it will do in the future. This may be the primary way I display my ignorance, but it is where I live.

I believe the most under-used investment tool for IRA’s in investing in real estate. So you ask, “Can my IRA really invest in real estate?” The answer is USUALLY Yes! I say underused, because I believe if a 100 person survey (Family Feud Style) were taken on what is a better investment-stocks or real estate, a certain number of people would say real estate. Whatever that number is (you’ve got one in your head at this point), the answer is probably more than 1. If it is, the concept is underused, because less than 1% of the population uses its IRA money on real estate.

If you are in that portion of the population that feels real estate is the better investment, but never considered using it for your own retirement account, contact NuView and set up a self-directed IRA. Then, call or email our office, so we can guide you through the specifics of choosing good real estate investments. Then, when you retire, you can have a healthy amount in your retirement account to make it fun to do things like travel, visit grand-kids, or just give your favorite blogger nice gifts!

Who’s Guilty?

31 Jan

This week I had the blessing of being able to watch our legal system from an incredibly new and unique vantage point. I was called to jury duty. I always thought that since I went to law school, I would be exempt from jury duty. Alas, I was not. While the week I was originally assigned was in a few weeks, I will be assisting in a Bible Quiz at that time and, therefore, I needed to reschedule. I was rescheduled for this week, which wreaked havoc on my schedule for this week.

Jury Duty is a unique experience where you show up and sit in a room with about 800 other strangers. I was amazed that with there being 800 people that live in my county around me, I didn’t seem to recognize anyone. At any rate, the moderator begins to send people to rooms in groups of 25. At about 2:30, my group was selected. Eighteen of us were chosen to be potential jurors. While I was not one of those 18, six were eliminated for various reasons and I was chosen to be on the panel of 18. After various questions were answered, seven jurors were chosen. I was in that group.

Therefore, I was able to see a criminal trial from the perspective of the jury box. This was an incredible experience. I saw that it matters how good your advocate is. The fate of this man was in the hands of a couple of attorneys in many ways. And both of these attorneys were fine advocates. They both did a good job, and they both advocated well. There was a judge who did a wonderful job also. I was actually quite encouraged by the show of professionalism in the courtroom. On a personal note, I thought about if this was something I might want to consider doing in my life. While that may be something to ponder and write about later, I will not let it deviate me here.

Above all of that, as jurors, we were instructed to observe the law. Observing the law, I wondered how many times I had fallen short of the legal standard in my life, both intentionally and unintentionally. While the laws of the state of Florida may be able to be followed, I thought about how much more significant my falling short of the laws of God is. I am chronically sinning. I can’t seem to bumble through a single say without displaying this nature.

The difference between me and any defendant in the legal system is that everyone knows I’m guilty. My advocate has already paid the penalty for that guilt and given me imputed perfect following of the rules. This is something that no human court has ever seen, nor could it work very well. And, for that, I am incredibly happy!

Soup-er Bowl Sunday

18 Jan

This was originally posted on my church’s website.

Our ministry is centered at a building in, and most of us are pleased to live in, Seminole County. Most people think of this as a relatively affluent county, where people are wise to budget

(for help with that, please attend our Equipping Hour class in the F1, where we have several experts guiding those who come into wiser choices with their budgetary decisions)

but that the average citizen is living in relative comfort. And while I would not dispute this, as compared to the world, when you learn that in our own backyard, there are a myriad of homeless students. There are a lot of children who don’t get food.

Certainly there are many different ways to feel about this cultural and political phenomenon, but at the very least, we are commanded to be generous to those who are poor. We are commanded to exhibit the love of God, wherever we go. One of the very small things we can do, and have traditionally done as a church, is to give a big donation to a local food bank.

We have a historical relationship with the Seventh Day Adventist Church down the street, and we have started donating our collection to their food bank. They have done a wonderful job, and there is no dispute that they are in the same area of ministry as we are. We have benefited from many aspects of their ministry in the past and are pleased to continue a great working relationship with them. The differences we have are certainly less important, in this case, than the fact that we can minister together for the sake of sharing God’s love.

Now, if you are anything like me, you have extra cans sitting around that are stuck from when you were in your fruit eating phase (which lasted about 22 seconds) or from when you decided eating beans would be helpful (which lasted about 36 seconds) or just when you decided that you would buy a Sam’s portion when you had company for Thanksgiving. You want to clean out the pantry to make room for the food you’ll actually eat, and you’d love to contribute to this food drive, but you always seem to forget while looking for your Bible and church clothes.

I’d love to appeal to your sense of competition and see which ministry or community group within the church could have the most participation. Instead, I’m going to appeal to you to have a real shot at attempting to see the hungry among us and offer him food. Do your best to contribute to the solution to a real problem. Do all you can to be the hands and feet of God in our community.

For the next three Sundays, culminating on the same date as the homonym of our event, the Super Bowl, we will be collecting cans. There will be a spot set aside by Paul Hunt, and we can put cans there throughout the time, so if you have the urge to stop by during the week, we can accept cans at that time also. And do your best to contribute all that God would have you contribute!

Sola Scriptura

10 Jan

A version of this was originally posted on my church’s website.

We began our Reformed Theology class in Equipping Hour last week and it was a wonderful time of introduction into what our reformed faith is. Broadly speaking, Reformed theology includes any system of belief that traces its roots back to the Protestant Reformation. Among other things, Reformed theology holds to the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through Christ, and the necessity of evangelism.

Reformed theology teaches that God rules with absolute control over all creation. He has foreordained all events and is therefore never frustrated by circumstances. This does not limit the will of the creature, nor does it make God the author of sin. Christians are in the world to make a difference—spiritually through evangelism and socially through holy living and humanitarianism.

Of course, the Reformers themselves traced their doctrine to Scripture, as do we, as indicated by their credo of “Sola Scriptura,” so Reformed theology is not a “new” belief system but one that seeks to continue apostolic doctrine. This is a beautiful thing that we should never overlook. Yes, our Confession is fabulous, but all of it can and should be traced to Scripture. The Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.

While we are teaching this concept, we will point out that it doe not rule out human teachers or eliminate systematic theology. The Reformers often cited the works of Augustine, Tertullian, Jerome, Cyprian, Ambrose, and others-ranging from the early church fathers through Aquinas. They didn’t, however, follow any of them slavishly, but they certainly took them seriously. This is the balance we will attempt to strike as we talk about the value of Scripture.

Sola Scriptura means that Scripture alone is the final court of appeal in all matters of faith and practice. It is an affirmation that “the whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture” and that “nothing at any time is to be added to the Bible, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”

There is ultimately no higher spiritual authority than God’s Word, so “the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself. Therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture… it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” But none of that means we’re obliged to discard the wisdom of godly men from ages past and require each man to try to discern truth from scratch by reading nothing but Scripture by himself. This often helps us, as midgets, to stand on the shoulders of giants and see far!

Feel free to follow our Reformed Theology class online!

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