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Showing posts from September, 2013

Take the Second Shot

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If you've never played Around the World, it's a simple game played on a basketball court.

Each player makes a sequence of shots from one side of the basket to the other and back again. You have to make a basket to advance, but you can chance a second shot. The consequence of failing this little venture is losing your place, and returning to the very beginning--regardless of how far you'd made it.

And over the course of the dozens of games I've played, I have never taken that second shot.

I used to take pride in that. I thought of myself as the smart, consistent player, like the fabled tortoise. But the difference between me and the tortoise is he actually won the race. I never won one game. You would think after observing all of those stupid risks payoff, I would've learned something. Sadly, I've only recently discovered that consistency isn't the hallmark of good stewardship.

I wonder if the stigma against risks, particularly in the church, is related to g…

Go Do Art

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Chicago, like most cities, is no stranger to street art. And in May of 2011, the southeast corner of Washington and State in the downtown area saw this new 6-story mural. An article in the Huffington Post from that summer described the message behind it:
The mural is a work of Midwest-based designer and artist Kay Rosen. It's also the emblem of a new initiative by the Chicago Loop Alliance in conjunction with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, which is hoping to inspire 100,000 good deeds by Chicagoans this summer. In a city that's recently become the country's murder capital, inspirational projects like this are greatly needed. And I think it acts as a nice companion to CeaseFire's "Stop. Killing. People." ad campaign. But unlike the Chicago Loop Alliance's 2010 eyeball sculpture, I have a hard time calling three black words on a yellow background art. And that's because in this case, the message obscures the transcendence.

By transcendence, I m…

Don't Ask

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For Christmas, my wife and I got each other a baby. And I just can't wait to raise that little kid. Kids, like cats, are really curious. This world is new to them so their days are filled with thousands of questions as they begin to understand what makes everything tick.

It's the foundational purpose of a question, really. Not necessarily to get a straight answer, but to discover the reasons and causes behind this life's many expressions and effects.

Take the question, "Why is the sky blue?" for example. While it can easily be answered by a discussion on particles and wavelengths, the deeper desire in that question is one of wanting to understand why the sky is blue and not red, yellow, or green.

It's the difference between seeking answers and seeking understanding. In the same way, when an adult asks, "Why did God ask his people to commit genocide?" well, some questions just aren't welcome.

This generation may be one of the most skeptical in his…

Chicks Dig Guys with Skills

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I'll never forget when I decided to go to Moody Bible Institute. My mom was stoked. Ever since the divorce, my life had seemed like one of its casualties. I was wandering and directionless. She once told me she figured that she and I would grow old and gray together--me still living in the basement or something.

Even the people from my home church were surprised when I showed up one Sunday with a real, live girlfriend. Apparently I had "bachelor for life" written all over me. So needless to say, my mom was excited to see me taking charge of my life and carving my path out in the world. But not everyone in my family expressed the same amount of enthusiasm in my decision.

Now it's important to note that my grandmother is one of the strongest believers I've ever met. She has been giving to missions work and teaching Sunday School for decades. So I have nothing but respect for the wisdom of this 90-year veteran of the Christian life.

But I was taken aback when she to…

The End of Authenticity

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Confession time: I'm relatively narcissistic.

Not in the classic self-love sense. More in the "my own ideas impress me more than anyone else's" sense. At least that's how a friend of mine put it on Facebook a while back. I'm that annoying guy who isn't interested in listening to you as much as thinking about what amazing thing I can add to a conversation.

Because, you know, I'm practically brilliant and I have lots of brilliant things say. It's partly why I don't read many books; I think most literature and most writers and thinkers are beneath me. Which is ok since my IQ is nearly at genius level. So don't be embarrassed if and when you meet me. I'm smarter than 98.5% of this world's inhabitants, so odds are, I'm smarter than you.

That's me being authentic. Yet somehow I don't think that attitude will win me more Twitter followers or Facebook friends. Consider that conundrum for a moment. Authenticity has become the cu…

Children of the Cookie

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When I started school in the early 90's, being homeschooled from kindergarten through high school was pretty rare. It was something that was usually associated with denim jumpers and family "vacations" to science camps. You know, odd folk.

Nowadays, it's becoming increasingly more common for a variety of reasons beyond the evangelical fear of the big bad world. More and more it seems parents are concerned with how well their children are being tracked.

Now that's all well and good save that I'm not sure we know what "tracking" means. I know what a lot of educators mean it to be. Tracking to them is trying to make every kid respond to schoolwork just like I did. They want cookie-cutter students that carry around books on birds, trees, and insects just in case they happen upon something in life they need to learn.

That was me, wandering around my backyard examining leaves, collecting bugs, and watching birds. I loved learning. Still do. But here's…

Not Guilty?

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Most people I've talked to are convinced that George Zimmerman is guilty. Of what exactly depends on who you talk to, but there's a consensus among most young people that Trayvon Martin was the victim of something Zimmerman should feel guilty for. Which strikes me as odd.

Not the Zimmerman part, the guilt part. Public opinion has overwhelmingly swept the nation with condemnation, threats, and an overall sense that he should feel horrible about himself. And what strikes me about that is last time I checked with those leading our generation, imposing guilt was abusive.

Alongside social justice, emotional health is near the top of young people's minds today. This shouldn't surprise us since depression, anxiety and stress disorders have increased dramatically in recent years. So I'm in agreement with many of my peers that this subject deserves greater attention.

Growing up, I assumed that emotions were the lesser, weaker part of our human makeup. Consequently, that sid…

Unacceptable

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We get tired of hearing it, but it's true that our generation cares a great deal about matters of social justice. Marriage equality, human trafficking, racism--these are all things that not only make the news but make hashtags. And the United States Constitution is actually very conducive to supporting most of them.

Because America was founded as a place to escape tyranny, to escape oppression, to be accepted. Really, it's one of the most common human experiences: the need to feel accepted. I'll be the first to admit that it hurts a great deal when I'm not. It's damaging. It tears us down. But it's also going to happen. And I don't think that's always a bad thing.

You won't see that sort of talk on most of the top, young evangelical blogs today. Nonacceptance is seen as abusive and irreparably harmful to a person's psyche. And it's usually followed by lots of random Jesus quotes and stories.

Let's be honest, it's hard not to like Jes…