Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Weasel? Really?

"The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."
- Vince Lombardi

With Autumn and football season creeping up ever so closely, I 've been reading a lot lately about adversity and the will to win, whether it's in a game you are playing or life in general we all face adversity.

One of the most famous, successful coaches of all-time was Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. He used the tactics he learned from the military and appropriated it to not just football, but life. Aside from coaching, Lombardi was also a motivational speaker. No matter what he put his hands to he succeeded, his motivation excelled his players to a higher level,

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."

I recently watched a documentary on the Honey Badger, a weasel the size of a skunk, but just as deadly a force as a lion. The honey badger is defined as: fearless and relentless, moves with a confident trot, and clever. Their attitude is: mess with me and your gonna die.

The honey badger is basicly a weasel; one who will use any tactic available to beat prey 10 times their size. In this documentary they show  honey badgers willing to attack lions, hyenas, rhinos, and anything else that will get in their way for food. These fearless critters will even dive into a bee hive for honey, even if it means getting stung 300 times, which happens in one scene.

After watching this documentary, I now know the reason behind coach Jim Harbaugh showing this film to his players before the 49er's 2013 season. Harbaugh was teaching his players to be fearless and relentless on the field, never giving up on any one play throughout the game. His tactics worked as his team would make it all the way to the Super Bowl that year.

This past week in one of the small groups I teach, we were talking about our identity in Christ.
I called their attention to the honey badger, an identity we should all carry: walking with confidence and moving forward both fearlessly and relentlessly.

Charles Spurgeon once said,

"In order for God to flow through us, we must come face to face with the fact that we have weaknesses and we must be determined not to let them bother us. Our imperfections will not stop God from working through our weaknesses unless we let them."

Probably the one verse that I remind myself daily with, and you should too, is,

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Don't let your weaknesses or fears stop you from becoming victorious, be like the honey badger and keeping pressing forward.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Losing Has It's Advantages

"Yes, the journey s****(stinks) Rusty, but it's a part of getting to the destination."
- Clark Griswold

In the original 1983 film Vacation, Clark Griswold and his family are on a road trip from Chicago to Wally World Amusement Park in California. Along their way they run into many roadblocks and mishaps that hinder them from reaching their destination, which has the kids Rusty and Audrey question their dad on why they are still traveling when they should just throw in the towel and return home.

Just this week, Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro football player James Harrison made headlines when he returned his kid's participation trophies. His children are involved in sports and they received trophies just for participating in their games.

For all the sports I played  as a kid growing up, it would take an 18 wheeler to hold all my trophies for participating.

It is unfortunate that organized sports today gives out trophies to all children who participate, but that is the society we live in today. What they are saying is you deserve a prize just for showing up.
That would be like a child getting a D on a test and yet getting a reward just for taking the test.

What does any of this teach our children? Yet, this is the culture we have created for our future generations. A future that says all you have to do is show up for work to get paid. A future that says forget learning, all you have to do is show up to school and you will pass.

Ronda Rousey, a UFC Fighter and champion of the world recently stated,

"Everyone thinks I have this perfect, undefeated record, but they don't see all the failures it took to get to this point."

Losing builds character.

Losing gives you that drive to get better in order to excel.

Losing gives you that drive to want to learn more in order to achieve.

Losing it what gives you that drive to win.

Losing has it's advantages.

My only disclaimer to participating awards would be Special Olympics, for obvious reasons.
Heck, we could learn a lot just from those kids!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Woah Kids!

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today." - Mark Twain

Some of life's most unexpected moments may happen when you are on a road trip. This summer I have taken a few road trips, and in each one an element of surprise awaited. That's what makes road trips so unique, you never know what will happen.

On a recent trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin we made a stop at The Apple Holler. My friend Brian recommended we stop there, not just for lunch, but to sniff and taste all things apples. Yep, anything you can possibly make with apples as an ingredient, they had it. There is something to be said about scents and how they can transpire one's behavior and thinking. Just the aroma of fresh apple pies baking in the oven can make any frown turn to a smile.

The one thing that I found quite noticeable, aside from the smell of apples being baked in pies, cakes, bread and even donuts, was the consistent joy upon all the teens and pre-teens working there. Each of them were so happy to welcome you into their establishment that I began to feel suspicious.
I, for one, am not used to seeing happy teenagers working. Perhaps it was because I was in a different state. Or maybe it was because these kids enjoyed working in farm bib overalls. Maybe it was because they were working within the sweet aroma of baked apples. Whatever the case, it was a delight to see kids that were happy in their environment.
Former all-star basketball player Charles Barkley once said,
"I'm not a role model...Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."
What I think Charles was driving at was that it's the parents responsibility to teach their kids morals. Athlete's are human just like everyone else and make mistakes too. In fact, sports stars are under more pressure because everything they do is defined under a microscope.
Parents should take the responsibility in setting the standards for the children to live by. Create an enjoyable, happy, loving environment for them within your home.
I believe at the Apple Holler most of the teens working there were a part of the family. Hence their enjoyment of serving others, smiling, and being polite was apart of their upbringing. Whatever their parents are doing, they are doing it right.
Create an environment for your kids. Not just a safe one, but a home filled with love and joy; for when your kids grow older they are a reflection of you, so make it a good reflection.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Kids Lives Matter

"All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them."
- Magic Johnson

Maddy was just a bubbly eight-year old girl doing what she loved to do, riding her scooter.
She would later that day become a missing child, only a few days later to be found in a dumpster.
How could such a beautiful day end so tragic?

Daniel was a five-year old boy who loved doing what probably any other five-year old boy would do, playing video games and sports. Then one night his mother locked the two of them in the car and set it on fire. How could a child's life end so tragically?

Two Oklahoma teenagers killed both of their parents and three of their siblings, ages 5,7and 12 in a night filled with rage. Who could do such a thing, especially to kids?

All of these are just a handful of news stories from one week here in America. Yep, all of this without even adding in here the Planned Parenthood humanely insane tragedy. With so much violence and hatred spilling out these last few months, America doesn't quite look like the country it once was or was intended to be. What's missing?

If there is darkness in our nation than there is a lack of light.

There's also a lack of all Christians reading God's Word. A recent study has shown 90 percent desire to please and honor God, yet don't read their Bible everyday. No matter how much social justice work you may get involved with in our society, you need to add hope to it, the one hope that matters most.

"You are my refuge and my shield; Your Word is my source of hope." - Psalm 119:114

If there's one group of people that need hope it's all the young, innocent children of the world. It doesn't matter what country you live in, like Magic Johnson said, "All kids need hope."

Light dispels darkness. And what illuminates that hope that we may provide others with is God, His presence, His Word. It is utterly impossible to do things on our own, no matter how much we want to or try to change the circumstances of others and deliver hope. We need to access that greater hope, the One who lives inside of us in order to illuminate others.

"Core values enable us to focus on God and be led by the Holy Spirit. We do not become embroiled in carnality, rather , we allow our responses to elevate us into the nature and character of God. So we must practice peacemaking, love, gentleness, self-control, and kindness." - Graham Cooke

If there is one thing America needs it's Christians of all faiths to focus on shedding it's light.

"No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light."  - Luke 11:33