Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When women and children shouldn't go first

In the scriptures there are examples of women stepping up and leading their families and passing on their faith from one generation to the next. One example is Timothy, who's MiMi and Mama, not Pa-Pa or Da-Da somehow played a role in Timothy's faith (2 Tim 15). I think there plenty of lads today who have had mothers who spiritually impacted them. I want to emphasize the importance of godly women in the spiritual formation in the church.

With that stated, when father abdicates spiritual responsibility in the house, there is a lasting effect. This article discusses and reflects on a Swiss study on church attendance and the concomitant disastrous result of fathers skipping out on corporate worship. Certainly a thought provoking article on the necessity of men in the church.

The results aren't pretty, but they are pretty obvious. When Dad is not there worshiping with his kids, his kids very likely won't be worshiping as adults. If the church in general primarily targets women and children, then soon there may be only women.

I'm very thankful for it and commend it to you. It has me really thinking more on the role of men in children's ministry at home and at the church.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Journey of the Magi revisited

My favorite poet, and I say that word favorite loosely, because I haven't picked up his collection in a while, is T.S. Eliot. And my favorite poem by my favorite poet would have to be "The Journey of the Magi." 

Eliot creatively ponders their journey to see the toddler Jesus and then what it would have been like on the "ride" home. Perhaps it is because I share such a fascination with these characters that I'm drawn to this poem? Perhaps it is the "real" nature of the struggle of these Magi instead of the sentimental glamorization of the Xmas characters?  Now this poem is not as easy to understand as "The Night before Christmas," but this poem is filled with much more amazing and deep, and even dark (but honest and real) Christmas reflections. Here are just two which have stuck out to me over the years.

1.) The uneasiness the Magi would have had upon returning to their homelands. They had been in the presence of the true King, for which their hearts truly desired. Now they would have to return home and be counselors to lesser kings. They even longed for another death: Christ's and their own, for the two are linked together. There is a healthy dissatisfaction which comes from living in this fallen world. In fact, it should be the same with all of us if we've ever met the true King, in whose presence we will one day bask in glory!

2.) The Magi are aware that this new King will be one who will have to die. The good news comes just as much in his death as in his birth.

Anyhow, without further shaping your own experience, here's the best Christmas poem ever written (in my opinion of course!)

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flawed leadership?

As an earlier post mentioned, I was impressed by the leadership of a young Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback calling out older players who doing things like getting arrested. And I was equally unimpressed with the young coach not disciplining the players the way Tony Dungy would have.

But at least Buccaneer coach Raheem "the Dream" Morris is growing in his leadership. Most people talk about the colossal collapse of the New York Giants to the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday because most people who like football were watching that game. But another collapse happened in Tampa when play-off chances for the Bucs were just about shot by a heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Lions (losers of 27 straight road games) led by a third-string QB. It's just that very few people were watching; the games are still blacked out in Tampa b/c they can't sell them out anymore!

Anyhow, Raheem chose to play it safe, and not allow his QB to win the game. Instead, the Bucs chose 3 running plays to run time off the clock. The answer was a field goal instead of a touchdown, and the defense caved once again, giving up the game tying field goal. Then they gave up the game losing field goal in OT.

On Monday he admitted he made a bad decision and would do it differently next time. Tom Coughlin, the Giants coach, took blame for the loss, but didn't question anything he did-though others have rightly questioned his approach to the onside kick. These seem to represent two different leadership styles.

If I'm a player, I want to follow a coach who can evaluate, admit mistakes, and learn from them. This is the kind of leadership I appreciate, and I think I'm not alone. Kids need to hear parents say, "Sorry, I made a mistake there." Wives need this from husbands, as do congregants from their pastor. People tend to follow flawed folks who admit mistakes more so than those with "perceived perfection." At least that's been my experience. 

All leadership is flawed. But never confessing any flaws is ironically a sure-fire way to further flaw your leadership.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Caroling and why its worth freezing for a bit

I'm no caroling historian, but I think Christmas caroling was more common in yesteryear. Fortunately the tradition was already alive and well at Redeemer. So it only took one phone call for me to ask someone to set it up and everything was a go.

We went caroling last Wed night with well over 30 people, comprising everyone from children to youth to those who might qualify for a senior discount. In previous years, the church has caroled in neighborhoods going from house to house. "Blind caroling" can be a fun endeavor, but folks can quickly get discouraged when people come to the door and say, "You should just go to the next house." That happened the previous year.

Since the youth had already caroled to and mingled with a local nursing home, I felt it necessary to carol to those who would certainly appreciate it: some of the young at heart in our own congregation. 

So, with highs in the 20's (if that), and a rare day of no snowfall, we hit up 5 houses and brought joy to a number of folks who really appreciated it. I think caroling accomplished a number of things, but here are several reasons why I think its worth the effort.
1.) While its a lost art, this is a way to love those who are young at heart but who may qualify for special age-based discounts. Other people may not feel loved by caroling, as evidenced by them not coming to the door or telling you to leave, but certainly some folks appreciate it. It's a great way to show that you love them in a way that is well received. I think its necessary to care for those outside the church family in nursing homes, as well as those within the church family. Neither group should be ignored.

2.) It brings the carolers joy. There wasn't anyone I talked to-other than Connar, who melted down by the last house saying, "No sing! No sing!", and he's only 2 and was freezing and tired-who didn't have a blast. Getting the church together to sing songs about Jesus is good for the soul. Joy begets joy, and others' joy increases my joy. Your joy helps others and others help you. And we all needed this in 20 degree weather. And we still need it for the 20 degree weather of life.

3.) Good cross section of church. We had children, jr high and sr high youth, adults, single, parents, seniors all together. We needed to have the youth do a caroling trip of their own for logistical purposes, but having them together with the rest of the body is always a good thing. This is a time where kids who like to sing can be around others of all ages who like to sing and minister together.

I think next year I'd like to add some mingling to the caroling because it was very hard to turn down hot chocolate several times over. That would have been another great way to show love. But all in all, a great time. I hope that you get the opportunity to partake in caroling next year wherever you are. It may not be your bag, and small children may preclude you from going (probably not the best idea to bring a 2 yr old), but it is something worth considering.

Friday, December 17, 2010

From Freeman to Freemen

One of the songs on the Seeds Worship CD's is I Timothy 4:12. It comes on after, "The Rock song" as Connar calls it (Psalm 40:1-2), and says, just like the verse, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. But set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." I actually wrote that verse down from memory (although I forgot 'speech' and had 'faith' in the wrong place) BECAUSE of the CD's. They are helpful for adults, so that they can memorize scripture along with the children. I'll never stop recommending those things.

When Tampa Bay drafted QB Josh Freeman out of Kansas State last year, I was disappointed. But I'll admit that I was wrong on what he would bring on and off the field. This verse came to mind after Freeman called out his team for the recent string of arrests. Former FSU linebacker was tasered and arrested on Monday morning and Freeman apparently had enough. As a quarterback, he is supposed to be the leader on the field. But he is also probably the youngest player on the team, born in January 1988! If you do the math, and I just did, that makes him only 22 years old right now.

Since his coach, also the youngest coach in the league, has done little to actually discipline such players by taking away their most prized possession (a game check via suspension), Freeman has taken it upon himself to not only set the example, but to make sure others follow that example.

I don't know if Freeman is a Christian. He may be-I've seen nothing to doubt that he is, and I do think I spotted the WWJD bracelet on him once and in this picture (I didn't think they still made those things). But in calling these players out, not fearful of being the youngest one around, he is certainly following Jesus' command to Timothy.

This is a fine example, and one in which I wish I would follow better myself. When the Bucs players get arrested, it reflects poorly on someone. Usually the coach, and the organization as a whole. When Christians walk according to their own flesh, whether in a public venue or in their own homes, it reflects poorly on Christ and His church as a whole.

So I'm thankful for Freeman. And I also hope all those who think they are too young to offer anything, will set the example for believers of all ages. And when older believers dishonor Christ (and don't realize it, or refuse to change), I hope the younger ones can speak with love and the boldness of Free-men (sorry, I had to). Because in Christ we are truly free to fight for the honor of Christ and his reputation in the world. God isn't afraid to use the young (or old for that matter), so we shouldn't be afraid to be used, eh?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Henderson's Santa reflections

I shared some Santa reflections from Pastor Mark Driscoll on yesterday's post. Here are some Henderson reflections on Santa and his place in OUR Christmas season-I'm not writing this to tell you what to do, but to give another example of thinking through a cultural issue. As should be the case, these reflections are informed by scripture, our own experiences, interaction with culture (taking what's good, tweaking what's unclear, and tossing what's bad), and interaction with Christian community (folks like parents, pastors, and friends).

1.)  Not pretending he isn't there. A well known pastor/theologian wrote with a fatherly pride indicating his toddler son had no clue who Santa was. When in a store his son said, "Daddy, who is that funny looking man?" Everyone of course gave him looks of disdain, which he proudly took. I don't want our children to be unaware of the cultural milieu around them. We want Connar to be aware that Santa is out there, and he is associated with Christmas. Just as children need to be aware that not everyone worships Jesus, children need to be aware that for many, Christmas=Santa and presents ALONE. In addition, Santa is part of our American culture, and to love Americans, we can't pretend Santa isn't out there. That's not loving our neighbors well. I'm indebted to his systematic theology of the church at seminary, but have to part ways with him here.

2.) Making Jesus big. One pastor told me, "Geoff, Jesus is big enough to fill the season, so we talk him up every chance we get during Christmas." While I don't want our children to be ignorant of Santa, we try to talk about Jesus every chance we get. From the fisher price nativity scene, to the little devotional book Beginning with God at Christmas put out by the GoodBook Company, to baking cookies for neighbors to baking Jesus a birthday cake, we talk up Jesus as much as possible. We do have a dancing Santa in the house, but the nativity gets the most attention. We were planning on seeing Santa in the firetruck (the firetruck would have been the main draw for Connar), but b/c it wasn't a priority, it fell through the cracks. Making Jesus big is the primary reason why we make Santa smaller. He is big in the bible, and in particular, these birth narratives where wise men actually worship a little child.

3.) Thanks and Grace.  Parents/Grandparents should be acknowledged and thanked for gifts. I'm not sure anyone has ever written "thankyou" notes to Santa-though I could be wrong. But if they did, its obviously a waste of paper and stamps. Amy and I think its important for our kids to thank their parents and grandparents who graciously give them gifts. Connar, and Cade next year, will get presents simply because they are our children and we love them, not because Santa saw they were good kids. And certainly not b/c those freaky Elf-on-a-Shelf things told Santa my kids were good. Connar hears, "Jesus makes you a good boy" all the time. I'd be more likely to drag one of those things behind my car on a West Virginia potholed road then put one in my house.

4.) Trust. We want our kids to be able to trust us, and I just can't get behind the perpetuation of a myth for several years. However, I do think that pragmatically this is the weakest argument against Santa celebration. I don't know of anyone today who doesn't trust their parents or doesn't trust in Jesus b/c parents "lied" to them about Santa. In fact I've witnessed the opposite; parents who celebrated Santa and their kids love Jesus. Maybe parent hypocrisy or lack of training their children, but Santa? Still, I'm on board with the principle of trust, and it does make sense to me. It isn't the primary reason for downplaying Santa for us. But it does crack the top 5.

5.) History. When Connar gets older, we'll probably put Santa in a proper historical context and explore the character of Saint Nicholas. Then we can emulate the character of giving presents to those in need.

In conclusion, all parents have to decide what they will do with Santa. I don't think a death-to-Santa type of thinking is the way to go. I also don't think we should culturally embrace anything without thinking through it with a Christ centered grid, and in community. But whatever you decide, remember that if Christ is truly your Lord, you can walk around in freedom, not fearing the disapproval or craving the respect from those with whom you differ-including me. No condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Isn't Jesus awesome?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What to do with Santa?

Pastor Mark Driscoll, has written a thoughtful piece for the Washington Post on how he celebrates Christmas, and what role Santa Claus plays in it. This is well worth the read, regardless of what you decide or have decided about Santa.

The most powerful Christmas decoration I've seen is one my parents used to have: Santa bending the knee and praying to baby Jesus. Still sticks with me. Regardless of whether you build up the Santa myth, contextualize it, or play it down, consider thinking critically through all issues, and let the King of Kings reign in your heart and house.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bring back the Wow

Just finished rereading the scripture passage I preached yesterday at Redeemer, and listening to the sermon. If you missed it, you can listen here  or download it here under "The Christmas Flip-Flop"

I also wanted to put up Bono's manger reflection. I hope that this amazing incarnation story never ceases to amaze us. It doesn't need to evoke tears as it did for him one Xmas Eve, but how can it not make us say, "Wow!" After the sermon I spoke with a couple who felt the same way. When a pastor can hear people speaking more highly of Jesus, his prayers for a "good sermon" have been answered. It just doesn't get any better than that. The goal for the whole worship service is that people would be talking about and celebrating the tri-une God.

May this Advent season, when we celebrate Christ's first coming and long for his return, be dominated by the awe of God's son born in straw poverty. Like Bono said, "What poetry!"

What I forgot to mention in my sermon when I reference this quote is that Bono wasn't given star treatment that Xmas Eve service. He didn't have a seat saved for him! That only moved him closer to the humility of Jesus and enhanced his experience. Here's the quote and introduction.

This reflection on Christmas occurred after Bono had just returned home, to Dublin, from a long tour with U2. On Christmas Eve Bono went to the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Jonathan Swift was dean. Apparently he was given a really poor seat, one obstructed by a pillar, making it even more difficult for him to keep his eyes open…but it was there that this Christmas story struck him like never before. He writes:
“The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in sh&$ and straw…a child… I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry … Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Choosing choo-choo over the Jets; UPDATED

I was disappointed with the first hour of The Sing Off on Monday night. Teeny-bopper music, some risque moves, snotty and snooty folks, and the standard "Paula Abdoul-esque" critique (saying something without saying anything) from Pussycat Doll judge. Then in the 2nd hour, they brought out the groups which were actually good. Everything changed. The music included "instruments," the sounds were good, and the judges were blown away. In the end, the 2nd half redeemed the first. So I hope you at least got to hear Committed, a black gospel group which performed a Maroon 5 song. Solid.

With that said, I came across a fascinating and telling post about a former NY Jets player who declined their offer of a contract. The Jets, much like the Bucs, have lost several safeties do to injuries (the Bucs also lost one to drugs as well), and have been desperately searching for replacements. Keith Fitzhugh, released by the Jets on Sept 4th, has enjoyed his new job working for a railroad. Because his return would only be for several weeks, why leave the train station when he has a steady job? He'd be released after the season ended.

For Connar my 2 year old, who loves trains, this would be a no-brainer. Stay with the choo-choo's. 

But Fitzhugh is also taking care of his disabled father who can't work, and that definitely played into his decision. As a result of that, I found this story worthy of promoting.

The NFL has power. But it doesn't have supreme power over some. That may show up next year in a lockout (I'm hoping it won't be the case, but that may be a good thing for sports fans). Regardless, it is great to see a player who would can choose principle and parent care over the money, fame, experience, and fun offered by the NFL. Now I don't want to say that he couldn't have said "yes" to the Jets. He certainly could have.
But the fact that he COULD say No, not the fact that he HAD to say No, reveals to us that the NFL is not his idol. Watching a game, rooting for a team, spending money on a team is not bad in and of itself. Yet it's a different story when we HAVE to watch, spend money on, root for, play, at the expense of other things which may be clearly commanded: corporate worship, loving family, taking care of parents, giving, etc... It is not saying YES to football that is bad. It is when we CAN'T say no, that we know, football has become an idol.
I'm sure I'll have to eat my words soon, but putting this stuff down on paper is one way to hold myself accountable!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Despite Bucs loss, someone is still singing off

Well, yesterday, Mr. McCoy and my Buccaneers fell once again to the evil that is the Atlanta Falcons. I didn't get to watch the game due to Fox deciding to show the lowly Cowboys and Colts instead, but it was probably best that I missed the game. The Bucs successfully snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory, by blowing a 10 point lead with 10 minutes to go. Either McCoy regressed spiritually, or the entire defensive line simply got outplayed yet again. No sacks. Again, another reason why it can be dangerous to equate God's approval of you with personal or team performance.

On a completely unrelated note, and musical one at that, I'm excited that "The Sing Off" is on again. This is the 2nd season of an acapela group competition where voices don't simply throw out musical instruments; the voices can actually replicate the instruments. That's my favorite part.
It's really quite amazing what singers can do with their voices, and definitely commend this show based upon last years performances. These folks would be great to have in your back pocket if your sound system suddenly went down.

I think they could do without Nick Lechey, and the flaky Pussycat Doll judge, but for the most part they get out of the way. Ben Folds Five front man and the Boys II Men judge usually do their part to add to the performances.

The show airs tonight at 8 pm, and will go on for 5 nights, ending Dec 20th. If you get a chance to DVR it, I think it will be worth your time to see what it looks like to truly get the most out of God's great gift of the human voice.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

If blaming is bad, what about praising God for football success?

A majority of this week's posts have been about football: more specifically blaming God for football mistakes.

Here's a story about Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT and first round draft pick Gerald McCoy where this player does the opposite of Steve Johnson. He actually credits God for his improved play in recent weeks. Here's an excerpt from the St Pete Times.

"My spiritual life, what was happening, I was swaying away from that," McCoy said. "I was kind of doing things the way I wanted to do it. God had a plan for my life, and I wasn't living according to how His plan was. "Once I got back on track is when things started to really make a quick transformation. Two games, three sacks, it happens that fast. You've got to stay on track with God, and things work out for you."

First of all I have to say that I heard McCoy being interviewed on the Dan Patrick radio show, and he was very mature, classy, humble, and a godly lad.

In light of the respect I already have for this 21-22 year old,  I'd simply like to throw out a question: "Since its never a good idea to blame God as the reason for your bad play, is it ALWAYS good to cite God as the reason for your good play?"

It is always good to attribute your God-given ability to, well, God. It is always good to attribute your opportunity to God; some folks just don't get the opportunity because of coaching situations, injuries, family tragedies, etc...

But while attributing ability, opportunity, and even success to God, athletes need to be very careful in attempting to explain WHY God has granted those things. This can actually become quite dangerous.

God does bless people when they return to Him, but HOW He does that is His business. We don't get a vote. God could be graciously (unmerited) blessing McCoy after He wandered and returned, that his poor play was God's way of getting his attention. But its also possible, that McCoy, a rookie, has simply begun to learn to play within the system now.
 There are numerous examples of God raising up athletes for seasons of their lives for a specific purpose and then setting them down. Pittsburgh Steeler's Tommy Maddox comes to mind, as does Shaun King for the Bucs, both of whom are professing Christians. Both had A season of playing at a high level before being deposed.

Who knows why God exalted them for a bit, and then humbled them shortly after? Was it moral failure? Did God exalt them because they returned to the Lord? Did He simply want them to glorify Him in different places through defeat? No idea.

To assume we know WHY God allows Christian athletes, businessmen, or pastors to excel is to assume a very simple and reductionist view of God. It equates walking with God with outward success in life; aka the "prosperity gospel." God simply becomes a vending machine with the currency of good works used to squeeze something out of Him.

In conclusion, I think it is awesome McCoy recognizes God's Sovereignty in His success. I just wish he and other Christian athletes wouldn't draw such a necessary connection between faith and success. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

A prophet and king unwelcome in home town

Jesus coined the phrase "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household (Matthew 13:57)." While he was born in Bethlehem, he grew up in Nazareth. People there had a hard time really getting behind the fact that while Jesus was fully human, he was also fully God (of course this was hard for the first 300 or so years of the church, but they always seemed to have the sense of it being true despite taking some time to agree upon the precise orthodox language). They saw Jesus as Mary and Joseph's kid, who like all the other kids, did kid things (though not sinfully-I'd love to see what Jesus was like as a youth!), and now was a grown up telling people he was more than just a dude. So Jesus was not respected in his home town as even a prophet, much less a King, even though he did nothing wrong.

It seems a king is also not without honor except in his hometown as well. Lebron James, aka "King James" returned to his hometown-at least in the vicinity of-Cleveland with a similar reception. Except he received boos instead of disbelief. But these were well deserved boos seeing as he did jilt his hometown on national TV via his self-promoting TV special to head to Miami. The city reflected upon James and his actions, and the best way to dishonor this lesser King. Fortunately they stayed within the confines of the law and didn't need the bail money they had set aside, as some had talked about on Jim Rome's show.

So prophet and king aren't welcomed in home towns. I wonder about priests...Where is Priest Holmes now?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Steve Johnson Tweet Take 3

This is my final Steve Johnson Twitter take. Again, this is not to pile on one man's mistake, but simply to consider our own response to "dropping passes" in our lives. He's probably a cool cat, and he probably loves Jesus just as much as I do. Although, one could make an argument that if his life was so structured as his tweet- he "praised God 24/7" so that good things can happen, and is mad when they don't-that's really not love at all but attempted manipulation. God can't be manipulated like people, so don't try. But I don't want to read too much more into his tweet, so this take is more on the public nature of twitter and facebook.

There is a powerful scene in The Apostle, one of my favorite movies of all time, where Robert Duvall is literally yelling and screaming at God, wondering what in the world is happening to him. The neighbors call up fairly perturbed and ask what the deal is. His mother answers to something to the effect of, "Sometimes Sonny talks to God, sometimes he yells."

God can take our frustrations. He can take our yelling. We don't need to be gentle as though He gets His feelings hurt by us. We just need to couch everything in the fact that He is God, and we are not. He's privy to more than we are, and He love us more than we love ourselves (hard to believe, but true). But with that pre-supposition in our heads (our hearts may be miles away), we can lay our souls bare before him. I think we can even yell and cry out.

But bearing your soul and frustrations before Him is one thing. Bearing your unfiltered frustrations with God and others before the world is another.

Facebook and Twitter can be great things. But they are not good places to lay your soul bare, and air dirty laundry that you have with your spouse, children, siblings, and frustrations with God. Such venues dishonor ALL of the aforementioned. God doesn't do that with us, and he doesn't let others do that to us (Matthew 18). 

Frustrations are best done in real community, not cyber-community. A small group, a close friend, a pastor, elder, are 100% better than Facebook in this regard. These are safe places to be frustrated which don't dishonor anyone. Of course the best person is the person with whom you are frustrated.

Mike Florio of, though not a believer to my knowledge, offers some sage advice on what we can learn from Johnson's tweet:

The possible lesson?  Prayer is best left between the person sending it, and the entity receiving it.

Unless your prayer is something that you want repeated throughout generations, like those Puritan prayers in The Valley of Vision, Florio has a good point.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Steve Johnson Tweet Take 2

Other folks, perhaps smarter, with blogs more well read, have blogged about Steve Johnson's tweet. One thoughtful, albeit lengthy response is here.

Before moving on, I will say that Johnson tried to recant his tweet here. Nevertheless, since his tweet raised some interesting questions, I'm going to give my "take two" on Johnson's shot at God. This take is more aimed at a question, then at Johnson.

You regularly see QB's pointing to the sky for touchdown catches, as well as some who give praise to Jesus for a win. So if God makes you win, then does God make you lose? If God makes you catch the pass, then does God make you drop the pass? If you can credit Him for the win, shouldn't you be able to blame Him for the loss?


God is providentially involved in all of life, even evil things which people do to us (Gen 50:20). I prefer to use the word, "allow." He allows us to drop passes, catch passes, remember our spelling words, or forget something on the SAT. He is in charge of all things, and nothing is out of His control. Jesus calmed the storm in Matthew 8, and showing how even weather systems are powerless against his will. But Jesus often lets weather systems run their course too. Are they his fault? Well he did allow them...

At what level was God involved in Johnson's drop (he actually had 5 in the game), I don't know. And I don't care, and neither should we. While football is often the center of our universe, it isn't the center of God's universe. I don't think he cares a whole lot about the outcome of the game. He could run that operation like Angels in the Outfield, or just allow normal cause and effect and differing levels of skills and coaching to be the deciding factor.

The problem is that the one who wins is the one who gets the microphone, and so all we hear is, "Thank you Jesus for this win." We rarely get to hear the loser speak, which is what reporters would do if I had any say. But after Johnson's tweet, maybe I don't want Christian football players who just lost the game get in front of the mic. Twitter, like it or not, is perhaps even more powerful a tool than TV now.

In the end, good receivers, whether Christian or non-Christian, make touchdown catches at the end of the game. They just do. It is not wrong for them to take some credit in making a great catch.

Ultimately, in the end, God allows us to both catch and drop passes. When you catch it, remember who gave you the ability to catch it-whether you mention Jesus in the interview or not. I don't think Christ is dishonored when you don't throw out his name by giving him credit for the win. 

But when you drop it, recognize your part in it all, and then remember who gave you the ability to deal with the drop.