Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Category: Blog (page 1 of 13)

Whoops

This year has been the year of life change. I got engaged, I started a new business and I’ve expanded my network.  I’m in the stage of life where things are changing in the most serious way.  I’m no longer in any sense of the word a teenager, I’m almost past the point of being labeled young person and to boot I’m in my late twenties.

Now I know what people say when they tell me “the older you get the faster time flies”.  Time certainly is moving and I’m more aware of how finite this life truly is.

Because of that, I’m also realizing how important our time truly is.  Time is something you can’t buy back, time is something you have no control over, time is something that has a beginning and an end….time is a law of the universe that is inevitable.  So because of that you bet I’ve been really re-evaluating how I spend my time, the people I spend my time with the time I spend on things that matter forever and the things that I waste time on that in the end are meaningless.

Arguing with people over the internet and tearing people down is meaningless.

Oh but I didn’t always think this way.  No no, there was a time where I pretty much used my social media platform to debate and to argue, there was a time where I had to have the last word.  Heck there are times where I still do it.  There are things I say to the world via internet that I just want to delete.  Things that I say that I think to myself “Tim, you are an idiot for posting that”. Yeah, I know the taste of my foot all too well.

But as the saying goes you reap what you sow and frankly the past few months what I’ve been reaping I really don’t like. People say things to me about me or my life choices and they say it while hiding in front of a screen.  For a little while I was offended and hurt until it dawned on me….who did I hurt? who did I offend?  What did I say to someone in front of a screen that really cut them deep that I never knew about?
Reality check Tim Whitaker..you can be a jerk.  Ouch.

But it’s true. I can be a jerk, I have been a jerk and I’m done wasting my time trying to prove people right or wrong over a medium that really doesn’t allow that to happen anyway.

So as I thought about that…I started to then think about real life.  I started wondering who or what I’ve said to people that i meant as a joke that maybe that person didn’t take as a joke.  Now, I realize that the past is the past and you can’t change it.  I also can’t think of a specific time or place where I said something to someone that I thought could be hurtful but I know there are times where I did.  Once again, Tim you can be a jerk.

I started a new business this year.  One that is very heavy on self development and the mindset you carry with you throughout your day.  I’ve realized that supporting the people in your life and encouraging them to be better people is a much better way of living your life than tearing people down via social media or in front of other people.

And so begins a new intentionality of sorts.  So begins the hard work of changing mindsets that don’t always want to be changed.  But one things for sure, this is certainly a better way to live

-TW

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Christian Millennials: It’s the Thought that Counts?

I love my generation.

I really do.

There’s not doubt we are part of an exciting time.  Technology does things our parents only saw in the movies.  We have been the first generation to grow up with things like social media, cellphones and the world wide web.  My generation helped start organizations like kickstarter which let’s people give money to projects they want to see become a reality.  A few of us founded some world changing charities, some have become pastors to usher in the next generation of the Church and others still are on the cutting edge of medical health and sciences.

But…

And there’s always a but.

What about the majority of us?

Let’s face it, every generation has their few stars who rise to the top and do amazing things.  But what about the rest of us? .  What are we supposed to do?  Or maybe a better question to ask is are we fooling ourselves?
You see I know the my generation is aware of the world’s problems. I know if I ask my friends the question ‘what is wrong with the world’ that they can give me answers.  But what are we doing about it?

You know what I think we are doing about it?
We are “liking” it on facebook and patting ourselves on the back for it.  We dump water on our head, put a big red X on our wrist, we like pages for certain causes and we make sure we tell everyone on our social media accounts that today is national “insert major cause here” day.

But is this helping?

I suppose on a pure awareness level that doing things like that helps to raise “awareness” of that issue.  But if it stops there, then we’ve really missed the mark especially when the Jesus we follow lived a life of hands on ministry.

You see for the all the good my generation has done, I see one glaring flaw.

We.Are.Selfish

Now humans are in general selfish there’s no doubt about it but thanks to a materialistic culture in thought and a prosperous culture in reality my generation has, in many ways never had it easier, and still demands to do things our way with very little room to listen to the generations who have come before us.

We’ve fled the church by the hundreds of thousands

We think we know it all and when we disagreed, we took the easy way out and left our faith institutions instead of doing our best to work together to be co-workers in the Kingdom of God

We’ve decried the faith of our fathers for not being authentic enough while making our own faith up by only taking parts of the Bible we’ve deemed radical and organic.  We’ve tossed the baby out with the bathwater.
And I’m one of them.  I’ve made these mistakes.  I left the Church angry and frustrated.  Many times my reasons were valid but my reactions we were anything but.

Jesus prays to the Father that we are one Church and I’m afraid to admit that at times, I’ve contributed to the very thing that frustrated me.  Division and drawing lines in the sand that hinder the spread of the Gospel, not grow it.

For my generation to start changing our cultures, we need to be proactive participants and not annoying bystanders.  What good is it to point out all of the problems with the world if we won’t get in the mud and start working on solutions together?

We can rant on Facebook, we can write blogs about the problems of the world (pun intended) and we can walk around thinking we know better.  But if we aren’t willing to actually move and take action then we are nothing but the people we criticized in previous generations.

As long as we keep thinking the world revolves around us and our rights and our wants and our dreams I can assure you we won’t see much change.  Jesus tells us that if we want to find our life we must first lose it.  James tells us that true religion is to look after the widow and the orphan (AKA – Not looking after yourself).  The disciples gave up their entire lives so the gospel would be spread to the ends of the earth.  Many of them lost their lives because of it but Paul counted it joy because unlike our self-centered culture, Paul knew that what mattered wasn’t what he did for himself, but the impact he made on people around him to spread the good news of the gospel.

We (millennials) might have these grandiose thoughts about how to change the world but if we don’t put the work in to make those ideas a reality then they are useless to everyone except ourselves.  We trick ourselves into thinking that if we are aware of an issue and we stand against it in our hearts then we’ve done our moral Christian duty by publicly saying “I’m against this!” or “I’m for that”.  I promise your words although well intended do very little to change the status quo,

When it comes to our faith the words we say are only the beginning. If there is no tangible actions behind our words than our faith is pretty much useless as James tells us.

So where do you start? When faced with the world’s problems it can get pretty overwhelming pretty fast.  Start with little things in your life that you can do to start changing things you know that are harmful to yourself, other people, or the environment.

My girlfriend recently has decided to cut back on her use of disposable items such as plast silverware, straws, cups plates and bags.  She decided that she didn’t want to add to the problem of throwing away items that the earth can’t break down and reuse.   A simple lifestyle change that over time will help to reduce the amount of waste we bury underground.

You want to help the generation coming up behind you? Then find a place you can volunteer to start being a role model

You want to feed the homeless? Then volunteer at a shelter and be the hands and feet of Jesus

You want to fight Human Trafficking? Then get in touch with an organization and see how you can help.

Don’t just dump water on your head, don’t just draw a big red X and throw in on social media so people can admire your good work.  Get in the dirt with us and start impacting people.

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What’s Wrong With Ferguson: Christians

*sigh*

We all know Fergusson is a very hot button topic right now in our country.  The death of Michael Brown has sparked outrage on all sides of every issue this event entails.

This post isn’t about the acquittal of the officer who shot Michael Brown or about race, or politics, or anything of the sort.  This post is about the Christian response to Ferguson and frankly, it’s been a little embarrassing at times.

Christians will often tell you that they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  By saying that we are really saying that Jesus is the person who rules our life, and we trust in Him for eternal salvation as made clear in the Bible.  Any Christian who takes their faith seriously would agree that following the teachings of Jesus and using his life as a model for how we should live ours is basic Christian living 101.

This isn’t to say that we always get it right.  We are after all, human and are prone to our faults just like anyone else.  But the catch is that in our culture, Christians have become so publicly vocal about how to live that we’ve trapped ourselves by not being able to live up to our own standards that we preach from our bullhorns (usually Facebook).  When it comes to Fergusson I’m afraid we’ve made that same mistake.

If there’s one thing I’m seeing lacking in the Christian response to Ferguson it’s  empathy.  There is very little empathy from Christians nationwide for Michael Brown (and the people he represents).  When the jury announced their decision to not indict the police officer my Facebook exploded not with empathy or condolences to brown’s family, but to all the reasons why he deserved to be shot.  Well that’s not completely true.  Usually someone would say “It’s sad that he is dead but…”

“but he robbed a store”, “well he went for the officers gun”.  This might be true, but does that mean that a family is still not mourning the loss of their son?  Is there not a bigger issue at play here?  Why do Christians consistently seem to be on the side of harsh words instead of gentle answers and most importantly how would Jesus respond to all of this if he was here right now?

There are a lot of questions that seem to be lacking answers.  But the one that I’m most confident about is that if Jesus was here, he’d be part of the conversation to help change the culture we live in when it comes to racially charged issues and violence that takes so many of young ones.

Christians have no problem calling Michael Brown a thug yet Jesus chose a few thugs of his own to be his disciples and to change the world.  Tax collectors, violent revolutionary zealots and the like were part of the 12 Jesus chose to announce his Kingdom.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  We are all too often ungraceful in how we respond to such tragedies.

When Christians respond to issues of the day the world watches.  People notice how we say things, how we respond and they don’t forget about it.

Sometimes we can look so unlike the Jesus who said to love our enemies, who told us to love our neighbor as ourself.  We can be so unlike the Jesus who shook up the establishment because he was a bridge between racial lines not a builder of walls.   Yet, we often feel justified in our response to issues like Ferguson because well the facts are right there, and the facts are facts.  Let me tell you, I’m glad Jesus still acknowledges the facts about my life but offers me grace instead of what I actually deserve.

When we don’t empathize with people, we contribute to the racial divide.   When we refuse to hear other people out and we instead assume that they are imagining things, we contribute to the cycle none of us want.

As Christians, we should be the first group of people to sit down at the table and offer solutions on how to stop all kinds of senseless violence because we believe that we have major solutions to contribute but those solutions won’t be heard if we first don’t listen.  The Bible tells us as Christians to be slow to speak and eager to listen and it is so necessary that we put this into practice.

I don’t think anyone wants another Ferguson to happen.  But the only way we can stop things like Ferguson from happening in the future is if we take the time now to come together to listen to the needs of each other and our communities and find solutions together.

As Jesus said (paraphrased) ”

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

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Fighting The Wrong Fight…Again…..

Am I allowed to rant?

I suppose so, it is after all my blog and so I’m going to rant.

I’m frustrated

i’m aggravated

I’m fed up.

So what is it that it that I’m so fed up with?  What is it that makes me at times want to stop identifying with the word ‘Christian’?  It’s the mass hysteria so many christians get all frenzied up about. It’s the posting on Facebook to express how persecution is coming to America and posts some obscure article to prove it.

Usually the article talks about some big government move by some big horrible liberal politician and then explains how important it is that us Christians step up and fight this down!  The ironic part? Often, these articles don’t tell the whole story.  They just pick out parts that suit their needs to get their audience all riled up for no good reason. 

I wonder if I can find an article….oh wait here we go!

http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/major-u-s-city-demands-oversight-of-sermons/

It wasn’t long before I saw articles like this one all over my feed with christians posting the links with headings like “We warned you” “I called it” “This is the first step to our persecution” blah blah blah.

I’ll be honest, at the beginning of this story breaking I was concerned myself.  Are politicians really trying to snuff out a pastor’s right to free speech?  Can this really be happening?  The answer…no it’s not happening.  Articles like this (http://americanvision.org/11407/houston-demanding-oversight-pastors-sermons/) tell a much bigger part of the story and explain how what is happening in Texas is common law practice.

But this post isn’t about this story necessarily.

It’s about 2 things.

First, It’s about the deceptive nature of some christian conservative news outlets.  I see it all the time on my feed.  Some obscure news website that panders to an only christian conservative worldview will purposefully twist words and leave out necessary points to a story to rile up people into thinking that Christians in the states are being persecuted.  It really blows my mind to see some self-proclaimed christian news sites being so deceptive either intentionally or unintentionally.  I mean when Jesus tells us to be honest, to be people of peace, and to be salt to the world, I think the last thing he had in mind was “go ahead and rile people up with half baked truths”.  The hypocrisy between their name and their actions is so glaring, I can’t believe other christians actually find them legitimate news sources.

Second, Christians are still at war with the wrong thing.  Perhaps to be the bigger issue here is the kind of wording I was seeing with Christians replying to the story I posted above.  This verbage of fighting the good fight, standing up for our rights, fighting till the end, are all extremely anti-Jesus.  Paul talks about losing our rights as Christians, Jesus calls the peacemakers blessed, and Paul also tells us that our battle is NOT against flesh and blood.  How do we miss this?

Let me share with you some quotes regarding the story I shared above. And I’m going to respond to them underneath of each one These were taken from Charismanews

In light of this egregious example of gay-activist bullying—the very kind that I and others have documented for years now—I urge every pastor in the city of Houston to address the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism this Sunday, announcing this for the entire world to hear but at the same time, refusing to obey the unrighteous decree of Mayor Parker’s office to turn your sermons over for government scrutiny. (This should be done respectfully, in the spirit of Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29.)”

I really wonder if Paul, or any of the disciples felt bullied and what their responses were.  After all they lived in an extremely oppressive culture and most of them all died pretty terrible deaths by the hands of governments.  Yet Paul says it’s a joy to be persecuted for the faith.  The disciples willing went to death for the sake of the gospel.  No where do we read in the Bible “This oppression is wrong so I have become a politician to ensure my rights”.  So many of my fundamentalist friends have no problem claiming to go only by the word of God….but then have no problem fighting with other humans for what they deem are their “rights”.  Yes, legally we all have rights, which is why no one is in jail for their beliefs, but even if they were…would that give us a right to make enemies with people?  After all, Jesus said that the two most important commands that every other command hinges on is to Love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Notice here that the most important command is not to tell gay people they are super sinful.  Notice how the most important command is not to wage war on people.

“I also urge every congregational member in Houston to tell your pastors that you are standing with them, encouraging them to stand up for what is right in the face of bullying and intimidation.”

Yes, a legal request has become bullying? Urging the congregation to stand up for what is right?  This kind of talk just draws a bigger line in the sand.

I don’t know how much clearer the Scriptures make it. Jesus was a friend of people who had problems.  Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet when He is not here.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus getting political, or campaigning for his rights.

What if (and it’s a big what if).  What if those Texan pastors requested lunch with the mayor? What if they requested a meeting with her to hear her side of the story, hear where she is coming from and asked the mayor to hear them out and see where they are coming from to get better clarity on an issue that has divided so many.These pastors have a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus to someone directly and instead they are throwing it away because they were taught that there is a huge culture war and it’s their job to fight for good morals in the world.  (Hint: It’s the wrong battle)

You don’t change people by legislation and you certainly don’t change them by telling them how to live their life.  Life change is a fruit of a relationship with the Holy spirit.  If there’s no holy spirit then you can’t expect life change and guess what our job is in this? To introduce people to Jesus.  That’s it.  It’s not our job to judge the world, it’s not our job to tell people (especially those who are not Christians) how to live their life.  It’s our job to be the tangible hands and feet of Jesus and to tell the world that there is hope.

To the Christians who insist on waging war on humans even though the Scriptures tell us not to; it’s time to start building bridges to reach lost people, not burning them.  I never want to be the reason why someone turned away from Jesus and his infinite mercy and grace that he extends to every human.

Let me put it this way (and I’ve said this before).  If you tell a person how they’re living is wrong, that they need to change or else, and that person dies without knowing Jesus, you still failed your mission.  Our mission was never, ever, ever, EVER, to become American Pharisees, but to humble ourselves before others to show them the hope we have found in Jesus.

-TW

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Marriage 201 (Written by Michelle Capizzi)

Tim’s Note: This post is from my friend Michelle who has known me since I was about 12 years old.  Michelle and I both were involved with the same organization (CEF) and I’ve come to know he entire family extremely well over the  years. Michelle also just started her own blog and you can check that out here (https://mountainsandvalleysofmommyhood.wordpress.com) -TW

 

About 3 months ago, Tim wrote about watching the perfect marriage while growing up. As I read it I was reminded of my own childhood and living with my parents, who had a great marriage too. Like Tim’s parents, mine were rarely angry at each other and never fought in front of us. They disciplined us, loved each other, worked together, submitted and lead properly and pointed us all to Jesus. So in my naive mind I thought all marriages, with Jesus’ help and a Disney flair of happily ever after, were perfect. But since getting married almost 7 years ago, I’ve realized that marriage is a divine gift given to very fallible humans who have unrealistic expectations and think that they can wade through these treacherous waters by themselves! I’ve also learned that while my parents were great, my marriage will never look exactly like theirs.

So here’s what I’ve learned from watching a great marriage and living one that will, hopefully, be great too:

  1. My husband and I are NOT ever going to be the same as my parents.

My parents are both middle children in big families and while I’m also from a big family (the oldest of 9, yes nine!) I am a first born and by nature not as laid back as my parents and some of my younger siblings. My husband is also a first born, but only of two. He was also raised in a very different family dynamic than me or my parents. So just our personalities and upbringing play a huge role! As first born we both want to be in charge and lead. We’ve had to learn when to let the other person take the lead and to trust each other. (Btw… for those of you who aren’t first born, trusting another person to lead, even someone you love a lot, is REALLY hard! As a side note, if you’re interested in birth order and personalities it can be an interesting study.)

  1. Not going to bed angry is important, but learning to say “I’m sorry” is even more important.

I always wanted a marriage where we never went to bed angry and since I rarely saw my parents disagree and never saw them fight I thought that was a possibility. It is possible, but it takes a lot of humility and commitment to working things out. And since I never saw my parents fight and rarely saw them disagree I also never saw them make up! So I didn’t learn a lot about conflict resolution. I’ve also been convicted lately about having a pride issue. But my husband is great at apologizing! He has actually taught me and our kids more by his humble example than anyone else. He says sorry to me and our children whenever he needs to.

  1. Marriage is A LOT of work!

I’m sure my parents worked hard to make their marriage what it was, but I probably wasn’t paying attention till I was much older and they tended to talk about anything important away from little ears. So I never understood how much work it is, especially the first couple years! Since my hubby and I are from such different family dynamics it has added to our work load. Like Tim, I’m from a fairly stable family and never dealt with divorce, mixed families, etc. But my husband has dealt with step parents, divorce, abuse, and then some. We’ve had to learn to be able to disagree and work through it, to understand that we have completely different points of view sometimes, to realize that it’s not about “winning” but about doing what’s right & best for our family.

  1. Being submissive and loving each other sometimes means calling each other out on our sin.

We know each other better than almost anyone else and we know each other’s weaknesses, struggles and hurt better than anyone. But we have to because those things effect both of us! We are married; we are one in many ways and this is one of them. So when one of us chooses to wallow in our own crap it hurts us both. We are learning to call each other out on the sin in our lives, hold each other accountable, tell each other everything ASAP and forgive each other. This takes a lot of humility! (Did I mention I have a pride issue?) It also takes a lot of wisdom and prayer!

  1. Kid’s change everything!

Losing sleep, having to decide how you will discipline your kids, and dealing with the daily stress of little people driving you crazy will test a relationship like almost nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, we laugh at them every day and love them so much! But like anything that’s worth doing well, being a parent is hard. This is also an area where our different upbringings can hinder us, because we have to be clear about our plans and expectations. I’ve learned to relax about what my kids see and hear (we didn’t have a TV growing up… another story for another time.) and talk to them about everything, while my hubby has had to learn to be more careful about what they see and hear. It’s a balancing act.

  1. Lastly, marriage isn’t a fairy tale!

Please talk to your kids (once they’re old enough to pay attention) about what a real marriage is like. Feel free to work through things and say I’m sorry in front of them. Most fairy tales portray a princess and a prince riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after. I love the fact that so many animated movies have focused on other relationships (sisters, mother and daughter, etc.) lately. I wish some of those had been around when I was a kid. I also wish someone had reminded me that Christian romance novels are FICTION!!! I don’t know anyone whose marriage looks anything like I ever read in one of those books. Marriage is real life; dirty laundry, paying bills, changing diapers (once you have kids) and all the day to day mess. It’s wonderful if you work at it, but you do have to work. (I agree with Tim that our generation doesn’t like to work hard. I have to admit there are times when I’d rather not “work” at my marriage.)

I know I have a lot more to learn. Being married less than a decade is not much time. We hope to have many more years to get to know each other, raise our kids together and figure out this crazy, wonderful life.

 

 

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Let’s Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Women….Unless We Like It!

Have you’ve seen the newest Nicki Minaj video for her new single out Anaconda? I’m not going to talk about the musical trash the music industry consistently puts out on this post.  I could go on and on…and on….and on…about that.  No, this post is about something entirely different.  It’s about the way our culture views sexual exploitation and the hypocritical stance so many people (coughcoughCHRISTIANScoughcough) take on this issue.

 

 

I first heard about this video particularly making waves because of how explicit the video itself is.  The video mainly consists of scantily clad women shaking their butts at a camera with a lap dance or two thrown in.  I personally saw the first 30 seconds before I turned it off.  The video is arguably soft core pornography and the lyrics that accompany it could probably be found in an erotic novel.

 

Now to be clear, I’m not really shocked about the video.  I mean it’s the hyper-sexulized-music-industry-machine.  It’s always been pushing the limit on what they can show to the public without being banned.  Last year we got to witness Miley Cyrus swinging on a wrecking ball naked while seductively licking a sledgehammer (her video by the way won video of the year recently) so I’m not exactly shocked that a music video involving Nicki Minaj close to naked and twerking her butt came out for public viewing.

 

What is so surprising to me is the amount of Christians in particular female Christians who apparently think that the video is hilarious and funny and the song is “so catchy”.  These are some of the same girls mind you, that I see posting about stopping the sexual exploitation of women and I just can’t help but look at this and ask what am I missing here?

I mean as Christians this is the type of stuff that we should be standing against.  We stand against the exploitation of women for money right?  We should be standing against women selling their bodies for fame or for approval, not passing it around like a hot potato on Facebook.   How is it that we as Christians will denounce pornography, we will denounce human trafficking, but we laugh and share a video like Anaconda? It honestly makes me angry.

 

We love to post about our new moral stances and demand justice…unless we like it.  I mean sure, we say pornography is wrong…but studies show that most of us reading this are either addicted to it or have seen it as some point.  Sure we say that women should respect their bodies and men have no right to take advantage of them (rightfully so)….but then we share a video like Anaconda…I mean really? So because it’s a celebrity that suddenly makes it ok? Because it’s a music super star (I use the music part here loosely, it’s ok? It’s ok that Nicki is close to naked with the camera zoomed in on her butt while she gives a guy a lap dance because she’s…popular?

 

I wonder what Jesus would say to Nicki if they were in a room together.  I think Jesus would tell Nicki how much he loved her, and how much it hurt him to see Nicki use her body the way she does because it was never designed to be used that way.  I think Jesus would tell Nicki “to go and sin no more” and to join in on the radical gospel movement because there is plenty of room at the table for her.  I doubt Jesus would share that video with the disciples and say “Omg have you seen this yet? Look at how she dances!”.

 

When we claim publicly (especially on Facebook) to be followers of Jesus, and then share videos like that, we shoot ourselves in the foot and contribute to the mindset so many people have of Christians; that we are hypocritical.

 

My generation has brought so much good attention to the hyper-sexualized world we live in and I’m grateful for it.  More and more people are exposing toxic industries like the pornography industry and the sex trafficking industry.  But let’s not fight against one side of hyper-sexulation while embracing another.  

 

Jesus calls us to love people and to call them to a different way a living. One of freedom, out of bondage and into a life of fullness.  When we promote and view videos like Nicki’s we give our stamp of approval and tighten the chains around her arms instead of showing her how to break them.

If you like this post then share it!

 

-TW

 

 

 

 

#icebucketchallenge #alsicebucketchallenge #strikeoutals

So, if you have logged onto social media in the past several weeks you have seen copious amounts of videos of EVERYONE dumping buckets of water on their head.  By now, we all realize that this is about raising awareness of ALS and promoting donations to ALS research.

I am certainly glad that this horrible disease is getting so much attention as it is 100% fatal with no cure.  However, as Christians we don’t just follow social trends and go along with the crowd.  I have been challenged to do this multiple times at this point and have politely declined and given my reasons for abstaining.  Here are some of them:

  1. The ALS Association is an organization that supports and performs embryonic stem cell research. While you can elect that your donation dollars not be spent to fund embryonic stem cell research (and the major study going on now is funded by a particular donor interested in such research) ALSA does state that it will not hinder future research of this type.
  2. Social gratification. I can’t speak for anyone else but when I was first challenged my first thought was “oh man let’s do something big so people will notice.”  The whole reason it is viral is because it plays into the instant social gratification veiled as altruism.
  3. Dumping 5+ gallons of clean, fresh, ice water on your head is degrading to countries and people who don’t have even a single glass of clean drinking water. Our water is so abundant and free that we don’t think twice about dumping it on our heads.  Now don’t get me wrong, we also water our lawns and wash our cars (while most people don’t even own a car or have a lawn).  But I don’t think we should be going around making a show of it either.

As a Christian, my giving should never be fueled by emotions.  Commercials can be very good at getting us to feel a certain way.  Marketing is all about stirring emotions to drive an end goal.  To me, my donations or charity should be done in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It is HIS money after all, right?  Again, I’m not saying that all of this money going to ALS research is a bad thing but I wonder how many Christians have donated to a cause simply because of a challenge without being burdened by God that they should give God’s money to ALSA (or some other foundation/organization).  This isn’t just applying to ALS but to every donation I make.  Everything I give should be in accordance with what God wants me to do and where God wants me to donate (whether it is money or time).  My challenge to you is not to follow a social trend and make donations to the popular place but to pray and be open about what God has you to do.  For me, I wasn’t lead to give to ALS research for the reasons I listed in this post.

I will tell you about a charity that I do support and that God has laid on my heart.

Charity: Water

I’m not seeking to challenge anyone into giving.  I had originally included a paragraph about life in a third world country but realized that wasn’t appropriate.  Pray about it.  I know some of our readers do regularly give to charities that they feel strongly about.  I personally have been burdened by resources in other countries and love that charity: water gives 100% of donation dollars to the projects (not administrative costs).  Research charity: water and if this is something you want to support click the link below!

https://my.charitywater.org/coffee-theology-jesus

As a side note: for those that are burdened about ALS, I did find an alternative place to ALSA that conducts biblically ethical research:
http://www.jp2mri.org/capital-campaign.htm

Thanks for reading!  As always if you have any comments please let us know!

Rob

Language of Love by Paul Joseph Cheeseman

Tim’s Note – This was written by my friend Joey. Although we do see the world very differently we not only coexist peacefully, but we have learned a great deal of other perspectives that we did not inherently grow up in. As a follower of Jesus I have learned that before I can speak into someone’s life, I must first be genuinely interested in their life as Jesus is so genuinely interested in our lives. I hope these words are heard and that we as Christians continue to build bridges instead of burning them. -TW
P.S interested in writing a post for us? Shoot me an email at Drumminelsewhere@gmail.com

When there is breaking news, I tend to check all of the major sites. Just to get an idea of what each individual site has to say. And I also (shudders) check the comment sections. That is never a good idea, for anyone. What I find so maddening, is that each one takes their respective side. Offering partisan talking points. Glossing over important information to further absorb a story into a rhetorical philosophy. A political war between the left and the right. Between democrat and republican. Between one side and another. It’s 24 hours a day. 7 days are week. On the radio. On the internet. It is an endless cycle. It can create a cloud of confusion and misinformation quickly, which in turn tends to turn the conversation from a lively debate into a personal bloodbath.

I met my friend Tim about 7 years ago. We worked together at Starbucks. Tim and I are two people with a vast ocean of differences between us. Tim is a Christian. I am an atheist. Tim is straight. I am gay. Tim was homeschooled. I went to public school. Between the two of us we have lived uniquely different lives. We have both been fortunate enough to see some of the world outside of our tiny east coast lives.

Our entire relationship as friends is rooted in the sincere fascination and exploration of our differences. And guess what? While we may disagreed on a number of issues throughout our friendship we have allowed each other the space and dignity to express our thoughts and feelings without arguing. Without trying to win the debate. Instead, we both said what we had to say and then (this is the important part) We shut up and listened to what the other had to say. We didn’t talk over each other. We didn’t try to dehumanize the other. We opened our ears and we opened our hearts.

Despite all our disagreements we are two equal individuals who sit down at the table in the name of fairness and brotherhood. We try to understand the other. Including our backgrounds. Our upbringing. Our strengths and weaknesses. So that we may try to understand where the other is coming from. It is precisely why Tim and I have learned so much from each other.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night isn’t just one star. If it were the painting probably wouldn’t be remarkable. It’s a painting full of stars. Van Gogh’s style and vision created something remarkable. As people we are not just one star. We are a sky full of them. We are complex. We are nuanced. We have flaws: sometimes we make mistakes and we are wrong – and that’s ok.

The point is that socially, we need to be better. Let go of all that anger. Let go of the incendiary language both sides equally use. Start talking to each other with more respect. Because it’s not about taking sides. It’s not about Pro- this or Anti- that: the only label that really matters is Human Being. It’s not about taking our country back. It’s about taking our humanity back. Our charity. Our kindness. Our ability to live with one another despite all those things that make us different.

We need a reconciliation. A new language and way to speak to each other. A new dialogue with our brothers and sisters in this world. We are not inspired by those who are just like us. We are inspired by those who challenge what we think we know. Those people who allow us to grow. Those who motivate in us to be better.

Consider this: There is is rise in new narratives. For liberals you have a re-emergence of populism with the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. And for conservatives you have Rand Paul and Nick Gillespie and many voices for populism and libertarianism. The old system does not work. We are not simply a liberal or conservative. We are more than being a democrat or republican. We are much more complex. We contain much more depth and nuance that these old machinations of representative democracy allow us. We are being held back by our rather easy habit of falling to one side or another. More than anything we need balance.

We live in a fast moving fast changing world. We do not resemble past generations. It is time to let go of all the old world thinking that limits us from moving forward and facing the tough challenges that indeed lie ahead. The moment you think you have all the answers Life will turn it all upside down. In this life we must commit to learning. I learn something new about this world and myself everyday. I encourage you to do the same. Seek out those who challenge you. Seek out those who reveal and teach you lessons you did not know you needed to learn.

Peaceful coexistence is entirely possible. However we must stop choosing sides and condemning the other. The old adage of walking a mile in another’s shoes is still to this day the stepping stone to a deeper level of compassion. Which inevitably leads to a stronger sense of connection and love in this life.

-Joey

We Don’t Want Freedom, We Want Victory.

I’m getting political in this post. Well….sort of political anyway.

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In this post I’m going to attempt to cut through the hyper-partisan culture we live in with some logic. Once again, I must emphasize that I’m attempting here. I make no promises that I’ll succeed in doing so, but I can’t just sit by anymore and watch the partisan venom spew from people. I also can’t capture all that I’m trying to say in a simple Facebook status so I’m taking to my soapbox known as Coffee Theology and Jesus to throw my tiny opinion into a massive ring. This post also might be more of a rant than a post…whoops.

Here’s what drives me crazy, people on both sides of the aisle (read Conservatives and Liberals) are so incredibly biased that they refuse to see any good in the other side.

I grew up listening to a lot of conservative talk radio. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are the two talk radio juggernaut who dominate the radio waves and feed the conservative machine with daily rhetoric. It really does impress me that these guys say pretty much the same thing for 3 hours a day 5 days a week and somehow find ways to dress it up in new words. Yes Sean we get it, Obamacare is going to ruin the country, Obama is ruining the country, anything Obama says is wrong and a lie. See Sean? I just summed up your three hour show in a few words.

Liberals don’t exactly fair much better either. All one needs to do is to turn to MSNBC to see the complete opposite venom being spewed. We know the talking points: gun control, pro abortion, welfare, expanding certain government programs, cutting certain government programs that conservatives like blah blah blah.

The irony about both of these parties? Neither of them really want freedom at all. They just want victories that secure more control for their party.nThe inconsistencies on both sides of the aisle are glaring and no one is willing to point out that maybe their side isn’t right on everything.

Instead we live in a talking point culture that thrives on rhetoric and a media that overall panders to their audience instead of reporting straight facts. I mean it’s no secret that the Fox News slogan is “fair and balanced” when in reality is should be “we are pandering to a conservative audience and we know it “. MSNBC is the opposite side. So what do we have? We don’t have two news networks, we have two entertainment networks that spin news stories to pander to a certain audience. *Sigh*

Anyway I digress. So what does this mean for the Christian? Because when it really comes down to it I care much more about how Christians respond to this than I do any other people group. Why? Because Christians claim to follow the Bible and claim to follow and believe in the same resurrected Jesus as I do. Therefore, I am much more critical of Christians because that’s who I identify with and I think frankly, that too many Christians have bought into the lie that to be a Christian means to also hold mainly conservative views

In the Bible there’s no such thing as a “Christian conservative” let’s not forget that.

I can’t emphasize this next point enough. If we claim that our worldview is from a Biblical perspective then we must be consistent in that perspective. Do you know what James says is true religion? Here’s what James says:

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Instead of letting the whole Bible shape our worldview, we have allowed politics to shape how we view the Bible. Do you know how many people I see on my news feed who claim to be a Christian call our president a clown? An idiot? A dumbass? Call liberals stupid, dumb, retarded? (their words not mine). I mean these are people who in one breathe praise God and in another breathe curse men. Hmmmm…sounds familiar doesn’t it? Oh yeah I know why! Because James as an answer for that too

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Nailed it.

Sure we want the government not to tread on us, yeah we want lower taxes, but you know what? The Bible says the opposite of that. Jesus tells us to pay our taxes (and don’t forget he was telling his people who were being oppressed by a government to pay the massive tax to Caesar) and Jesus tells us that for us to understand His kingdom we must lay down our rights.

I’m tired of allowing certain politics to influence Christians to be incredibly selective in how they apply the Bible. I’m tired of hearing people try to explain how yeah, Jesus says to love our enemies, but we have a right to bomb other countries and kill civilians. I read Jesus telling us to love our neighbors and I hear the Church tell us to take care of yourself, that the poor are lazy and don’t want to work so don’t help them out because it’s their fault anyway. Ironically Jesus never puts such a stipulation in the Bible when it comes to those with less than us.

Jesus doesn’t give exemptions to loving our enemy, loving the poor, and forgiveness. But we have instead bought into the political lie that somehow these things are conditional. Thank God (literally) that Jesus’s forgiveness is not conditional, thank God that Jesus didn’t tell us to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps first and then he will save us. But this is how we treat other humans. This is how we treat other people made in the image of God.

I could go on, and on and on….but I won’t. There’s enough stuff here to write a book about so I won’t belabor the point of this post. Here’s the question I want Christians to ask themselves;

Is my allegiance to Jesus first or is it to country and political ideologies first?

This is the time to check your views and compare them to the book we claim is the word of God. If we really believe that, then our views must match what’s in that book, not the other way around.

If you like this post then share it!

-TW

What I Learned From Watching the Perfect Marriage

I was extremely fortunate to grow up with two loving parents who not only loved all three of their kids (who definitely pushed their love to the limits), but also loved Jesus like crazy.  The older I get I realize how solid my parent’s marriage actually was.

 

In a day where so many kids grow up without a mom or dad, or in abusive situations, I felt very lucky to grow up in a house that was overall peaceful with two great parents who were willing to learn and adjust to not only each other but to their children’s temperaments and attitudes as well.   

 

Here are a few things I learned about marriage through them.

 

1. They Never Went to Bed Angry – I honestly can count on one hand the times I remember my parents arguing.  I can count on one finger the time it got so heated my dad left the house to cool off.  In 25 years I can’t think of one time that my mom or dad slept on the couch because there was a disagreement between them.  My parents were quick to forgive each other and to put any heated situation in the past.  When my dad got angry the few times I remember, he was quick to apologize and my mom was quick to forgive.  As their marriage progressed they got better and better at forgiving each other. 

2. They Are Growing Old Together – It’s no secret that my dad is not the same person he was when my parents first got married.  My dad grew up in a completely different house than my mom did.  While my mom’s family was all about…well family (oh, and pasta), my dad’s family was more of the ‘do whatever you want’ type.  When my parents first got married it was a major shift for both of them.  My mom was used to having people over all the time and my dad…well he most definitely was not.   Over the years they changed and adapted to each other’s needs and personality types and they are both better because of it.  My dad is a much more personable person these days not because he was forced to but because he loves my mom and wants to meet her needs.  Which brings me right in to my next point

 

3. They Meet Each Other’s Needs –  Oh sure, they are still two different people.  My dad has no problem working on his motorcycle in the garage for hours by himself (something my whole family would pay money to see my mom do), and my mom has no problem talking to her friends either in person or on the phone for hours (something we’d all pay a lot of money to see my dad do), but they sacrifice for each other and they cross over into each other’s needs to meet them.  My mom encourages my dad to buy the toys he wants, she has never once fought him on it.  My dad hosts more people at the house more often, not because he necessarily wants to but because he knows it meets a need for my mom.  It’s mutual submission to each other and what the other needs and it works wonderfully. 

 

4. The Never Fought About Money – My parents have owned a small business for almost 30 years.  Once again I can not think of one time they fought over money.  As far as I know they never had their own personal checking accounts and their were no secrets between them regarding where money went.  My mom was the book keeper for the business so she knew more about how our house economy worked, but my dad never once doubted where the money was going.  My dad was also the sole provider of the family for the past 25 years and he was always extremely generous with the money he made for us.  I once again can’t think of a time where my dad told my mom no (unless they were mutually going on a budget).  Trust me, my dad didn’t want the  pool, but my mom did….and now we have a pool.  The things that my mom wanted and my dad didn’t (and vice-versa) was never used a weapon in their marriage either.  My dad was more than happy to give my mom the world if he could regardless of who was making the money. 

 

5. They Disciplined Their Kids – Yes, I was spanked as a child (I know I’m really mentally scarred) and you know what? I’m a better person because of it.   My parents never ever ever spanked me out of anger or hit me out of anger.  I spanked on my cute little butt and was always told that my parents loved me and they wanted the best for me.  I truly never thought I was being abused, and I don’t have nightmares about being spanked….ever.   I was a little punk as a child and I needed to learn that I wasn’t the one running the shots, my parents were.  I’m so grateful for it now.

6. They Are Still In Love With Each Other – My parents marriage is like a well oiled machine.  If you walk into our house on a week day morning you’ll see my dad at the kitchen table running through all of the paperwork for the job that day and planning out all the materials he will need and then getting his employees together and sending them out to get supplies while my mom is running between the kitchen packing lunches for all of us while going into the office to get details my dad might now have.  They communicate like pros and you can tell that all of the hardwork they put in to their marriage early on has paid off immensely.  I know my dad still sees my mom as the most beautiful person who has ever lived, and I know my mom is still head over heels for my dad.  

7. They Mutually Submitted to Each Other – Let’s not confuse things here. I know that many non-Christians think that Christianity teaches the woman to submit to her husband and for the husband to rule over her like a king but this can’t be farther from the truth. The Bible teaches mutual submission with distinct roles to be fulfilled in marriage.  My dad sacrificed so much for my mom and consistently put her needs before his own.  My mom absolutely loved being a stay at home mom and she kept a CLEAN house even with three tiny terrors living there.  My mom wasn’t forced to stay at home, she wanted to stay at home and my dad will tell you that she took the much harder job.  Trust me, raising three kids, running a business, maintaining a house, and being involved with a local Church is no easy feat.  My parents both knew the two essential roles it takes to have a family and the fulfilled those roles flawlessly. 

8. My Parents Introduced Me to Jesus – I can’t speak on behalf of my other two (awesome) siblings, but I can say without a doubt that my parents are the ones who introduced me to Jesus and changed my life forever.  They didn’t just tell me about Jesus and what it means to be a Christian, they modeled it in every area of their life.  My parents were always honest, they always paid their taxes,and  they gave money to those in need.  They didn’t just send a few bucks overseas here and there, they gave money to people who couldn’t pay their mortgages, or couldn’t put food on the table.  My mom ever single morning has that Bible out and is reading it taking notes.  As a kid she would often tell us proverbs (usually when she was angry) that still stick with me to this day.  We were heavily involved with a local Church as well.  This gave me my foundation for life.  I owe my relationship with Jesus all to my parents modeling a life after Christ and building their entire lives around it. 

 

 

 

My generation doesn’t like hard work (just ask my dad he will tell you all about it), but marriage is hard work and when you put the time, effort and commitment into it, the result is a beautiful strong thing that binds two people together.

 

 So thanks mom and dad for being the best examples of marriage that I’ve ever seen.  You’ve raised three great kids and built a great life together.  Thanks for being the model marriage that so many people look up to. 

 

If you like this post then share it!

 

-TW

 

 

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