#NoBlackFridaySalesOnThanksgivingDay

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Disclaimer:  Some may not consider this a Kingdom issue, and I could agree with you.  But then we would both be wrong.

If any of my family and friends go “Black Friday” shopping on Thanksgiving Day know that I am disappointed in you. It means you are selfish and care more about a “sale” than people. It is disgusting to me that anyone would deprive another person of having Thanksgiving Day with family and friends. I feel more disgust towards those who go shopping than the corporations that open up on Thanksgiving Day. Make Thanksgiving Day the MOST UNPROFITABLE DAY of the year for retail businesses that are open on Thanksgiving Day by staying at home. If I’ve offended anyone with these remarks, I want to say to you, “Oh, well…..”

#NoBlackFridaySalesOnThanksgivingDay

 

 

Participation Trophies Are To Blame

Why We Need To Ban Them!

participation-trophy

(Disclaimer:  This is a satirical article.  The appearance of reality is simply an inexplicable expression of my gift of sarcasm.  Any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, is strictly incidental.)

For this past week since the Presidential election I have been observing with great insensitivity to the details.  I have intentionally looked long and deep at the people who are rioting in places like the Wacko Coast (known to some as the West Coast, including but not limited to the region known as the Northwest Coast), New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and other areas known as The Great Void of Common Sense (such as Boston, Providence R.I., Portland Maine, et.al.).  I not only looked long at their faces but also into their eyes.  I have listened to their quotes with great ad nauseam as well.  And here is my personal conclusion to all the chaos:  PARTICIPATION TROPHIES ARE TO BLAME!

Soccer moms, millennial youth leaders, you heard me correctly.  The cause of all this rioting  and pestiferous savoir-faire lies clearly at the base of that gelastic and farcical mutation of human dignity and valuation called the Participation Trophy.  No other creation or contrivance of the acumen from Homo sapiens has accomplished such reprehensible and opprobrious corollary as the invidious Participation Trophy. Take a moment to ruminate on this aggregate denouement .

In our not so distant history trophies were reserved for actual proficiency in the pursuance of measurable skills and goals.  Typically these were reserved for measurable results that were classified as best, almost best, and above all the rest; otherwise known as first, second or third place.  Teams in the arenas of competition clearly understood this conceptualization.  The result of this conceptualization was that each member of the team would study, learn and practice their moxie in the effort to do more than participate, but to accomplish a measurable goal, that being success!

And in the realm of individual prowess, people would apply themselves to become the best at whatever they were involved.  This meant strenuous  and operose application of the most personal of resources–their time and effort.  But we engaged in this activity knowing ahead of time that we may not win that trophy.  And here is the epitome of our resolve and determination:  we went ahead and applied ourselves to put forth our best efforts in the pursuit of that trophy.  Today we are seen as maniacal, but it was simply the application and exertion of common sense.

And if that wasn’t maniacal enough, if we did not win a trophy we experienced this emotion called disappointment.  Now, to show you what wild and crazy people we were, after experiencing disappointment, we actually got over it.  Can you imagine that?  Got over it!  What was wrong with us.  And to further show our insanity, we picked ourselves back up and we really did try again.  We were convinced that crying and whining did not accomplish diddly-squat.  And to show how disrespectful and mean we were, we called those who did not get back up and try “cry babies”.

58193856.jpgBy not receiving this abominable thing called the PARTICIPATION TROPHY, we grew up believing and proving that courage, resolve, and hard work made our communities and culture better, not bitter.  We actually believed that success was borne out of both our best efforts and adversity.  Each success and each failure were moments to learn from and lessons that could be applied to real life.  We were daredevils who laughed in the face of potential failure because we knew we were stronger than any single moment in time.  Oh, and about our teams, we actually worked diligently at helping others to become better at their tasks.  But there was one trophy that was highly prized that was not designated for the best.  It was the “Most Improved Trophy”.  The improvement was not measured by participating.  Rather it came through showing both the desire to learn and the willingness to sacrifice for that measurable achievement.

If our nation is going to survive and become flourishing and not languishing, it will be when enough people stand up and declare with every fiber of their being, “NO MORE PARTICIPATION TROPHIES!”  Let’s start a dynamism that creates a paradigm shift in the United States.  Let us collect all the existing PARTICIPATION TROPHIES and deliver them to recycling centers.  And the parts that cannot be recycled, send them to innovative places that can re-purpose them into something that is actually useful, like a paperweight.  As much as I loathe governmental over-regulation, let us add another amendment to that document that was birthed from hard work and determination, otherwise known as the United States Constitution; an amendment that bans any and all PARTICIPATION TROPHIES until the end of time.

I leave you with this great work of art from one of this culture’s greatest and innovative minds, and challenge you, my readers, to start the hashtag #BanParticipationTrophies.  Oh wait, here’s a better idea.  Show and share this thing called determination and personal responsibility.  Teach others that failure is not fatal, but the opportunity to rise up and become stronger, and kinder.

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On This Day After The Election, What If. . .

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28 One of the religion scholars came up.  Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question:  “Which is most important of all the commandments?”

29-31 Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel:  The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’  And here is the second:  ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’  There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

Mark 12:28-31 (The Message)

We can understand anything with more clarity and depth when we know the context of what is being said or written.  I believe that in order for you to have both clarity and depth in these words I share, you must know my context-where I am in my heart, mind, soul and my literal geographical location as I write these words.

Here is the first thing you need to know:  As of this early morning on the day after the Election I do not know who was elected President of these United (man is that an oxymoron!) States.  I hear some of you thinking, “What???  Are you hiding in some cave?  Gone off the grid as some wacko survivalist?”  No, allow me to tell you where I am and as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

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Debbie and I are on our annual sabbatical to the Smokey Mountains.  It was 12 years ago on November 13 that we spent our honeymoon in these mountains.  Last night I made the very intentional decision NOT to watch the election returns.  The closest I came to it was watching reruns of the show “Criminal Minds”.  Maybe there is something prophetic about that.  And this morning, on this Internet, I have managed to avoid any reference to the outcome of yesterday’s election.  I did it by simply keeping the web browser open from yesterday on another page, so when I opened up this laptop I saw no news feed and I turned off notifications on both my phone and tablet.    Oh, we did vote by absentee ballot so do not accuse me of not participating in the process.  I mentioned this in another blog, Oh Lord It’s Monday.  So I do practice what I preach, most of the time.

And because we have chosen to separate ourselves for this short season from all the “stuff” out there, I am in that place where I can and will rest in God.  He sent His only Son, His very Self, to this earth-the Creator became one He created and then died that horrible death all for me.  How can I NOT rest and trust in Him who has never denied this sometimes misguided and often broken life His infinite grace and mercy?  Since I have no clue as to who won, I am renewing my commitment to God to live like a true citizen soldier of the Kingdom of God.  Here is how I am going to work it and I challenge you to do the same.

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

1.  Believed in prayer?

That as we pray, we pray with the conviction that it is the summons for Heaven’s Angel Armies to surround a person or situation with the full authority of God, Himself.  That prayer wasn’t our last resort, but our first resort.  That prayer isn’t the least thing we can do but the most important thing we can do.  That prayer which comes from faith the size of the mustard seed can move mountains and we can see miracles.  That this faith is not something we produce or build up but that wonderful gift God gives us.  That prayer causes all the demons of hell to shudder in fear!

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

2.  Became kind to others?

That we gave up our place in the check-out line to the person behind us even though their shopping cart is packed and overflowing.  That after the meal we just ate at our favorite restaurant we left our server at least a 20% tip or more.  That we genuinely smiled at that person who is not dressed as nice as we are and said “Hello” to them.  That we smiled and said “Oh, that’s OK.  Thank you for helping me” to the associate who just informed us that they did not have that sale item in our size.  That we did something kind to others without expecting anything in return.  That if we are able, we did not pick the closest parking place but left it for someone else.  That we removed limits to who, when and where we will be kind and that no act of kindness will be too small or too extravagant.

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

3.  Refused to judge others who are different?

That we stopped blaming those living in poverty for their mess and admitted to them (and ourselves) that we are all in poverty somewhere and that we can walk together out of our poverty.  That we become more concerned about the homeless living out in cold of winter needing a warm place rather than focusing on why they are homeless.  That we offered to sit beside that guest who came to church dressed differently than us good “church folks” and instead of being friendly we started building a friendship with them.  That tattoos and body piercings do not make them unfit for the Kingdom.  That we stop thinking the divorced or unwed mothers have no place of leadership in the church.  That the “bum” begging change on the street bears inside them the image of God and are unconditionally loved by God.  That God wants those who are not like us, just as much as He wants us.

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

4.  Refused to insist on having our own way?

That we realize we are not the most important person.  That the world does not revolve around us.  That sometimes we are disappointed but that disappointment does not change our true identity.  That we are not entitled to anything in this life but are given unlimited opportunities to be like Jesus by symbolically or literally washing the feet of others.  That we truly live like we believe what Jesus said is the Greatest Commandment and the Second Greatest Commandment.

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

5.  Stopped acting like our local church belongs to us.

That we exist for those who are not here yet.  That we prepare for those not here yet by understanding them without judging them.  That we look for ways to connect with them in ways they understand.  That we do not train them how to be like us but that we encourage them, challenge them and enable them to be the unique person God created.   That we stopped treating “church visitors” as invaders of our space and accepted them as one of God’s gifts to us so that we have the opportunity to be a real follower of Jesus by showing them the difference Jesus is making in our life.  That we stopped grumbling about the crying baby  in church and gave thanks that this child is surrounded by God’s sanctuary of love, grace and mercy.  That we see our challenges in this unchristian culture not as obstacles but as opportunities to grow spiritually and understand that the Body of Christ is always counter-cultural.  That we are not called to create a Christian nation but to usher in the Kingdom of God.

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

6.  Stopped criticizing our leaders and blaming them for everything that is wrong?

That we started praying for them and not against them.  That God would fill their minds with His wisdom.  That God can and WILL use even the worst scoundrel in Washington D.C.  That they would find the liberty to do what is right rather than what their constituents want or their lobbyists want.  That they would follow the model of Micah 6:8-“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:  to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  That the Micah model is not impossible for God to achieve in any politician.

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

7.  Made the commitment to stop spouting words of fear and hate, especially about who won or who lost?

That we disengage our mind, heart, words and actions from all the negative stuff we see and hear in our world concerning this election.  That we would not post in social media words that, in the end, are words of hate, words of despair and hopelessness, or words that brag about “our” candidate winning.  That our words become life-giving words.  That our words will be hopeful words.  That our words will always be gracious and filled with kindness.  That our words reflect THE WORD rather than the world.

On this day after the election WHAT IF WE. . .

8.  Realized that God is counting on us?

That God has only one plan to bring the Good News of Jesus into the world.  That plan is for us to become the person that Jesus modeled when He was in our form.  That God is not looking to transform our nation through Washington D.C. but through lives that have been transformed by His grace.  That God has no other plan but to use our hands, feet, heart, mind and voice to reveal the life that everyone is created to enjoy.  That anyone and everyone matters more than our plans, programs, political ideologies and everything else.  That one life, our life, will make the difference in one other life as we live this life as more than a fan of Jesus, but as a real follower that offers no excuses or limitations to the ways that God wants to use our ordinary life in extraordinary ways.

Can you understand this context?  Without knowing who will be sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office, my purpose and my mission does not change.  And neither does yours.  That person, be it Hillary or Donald, has no impact on who we are, if we truly are citizen soldiers in the Kingdom of God.  The hope of our nation and our world is found in only one place and it is not located in Washington D.C.  It lies at the Throne of Heaven that is always occupied by the same One–the Creator and Sustainer of true life and the One who is full of truth, love, grace and mercy.  God is not handcuffed or limited by the winner of this election result when it comes to redeeming, restoring and renewing His Creation.  If you cannot see and embrace this truth then maybe the problem is not who won this election but you.  I know this last sentence sounds harsh, but it truly is spoken out of love and hope for you, if this is you.

Even though in this exact moment I do not know who won this election, I will eventually know the truth.  You see, the truth has a way of finding us.  Even if we are not seeking the truth, the truth always reveals itself.  What this truth is, be it President Hillary Clinton or be it President Donald Trump, Jesus is still my King and His Kingdom has been given to me-given to be to live in, to live through and to share-this Kingdom of Life as God designed it to be.

Now, excuse me please because I need to step on out the back porch of this cabin to see the sunrise.  Context, again please.  It is cloudy this morning and I probably will not see the actual sun rise over those mountains in front of me.  But I will see the sun rise because this darkness will give way (it has to!) to the light of the sun that these clouds are trying to hide.  The clouds will not stop what the sun produces–LIGHT!  Could there be a lesson for our nation in this?

And remember, to love God with all your heart, love others the way God loves you, and make sure that all the glory goes to Him!

Pastor Randy

Pray with sincerity this prayer from John Wesley:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.  And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine.  So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

 

Look to the LORD

Great thoughts that need to be shared.

I love the Psalms

Reading:                                         Psalm 105                                                                 

 (Verses 1-7)

Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the L
ORD rejoice.
Look to the L
ORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the L
ORD our God;
his judgments are in all the earth
(NIV).

Reflection

This past Sunday during the children’s church time the pastor led the children in a rousing chorus of “Jesus Loves Me.” In case you need a quick…

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