Thursday, September 29, 2016

87 or 24

"Well here it is, this is the end, you can go on or you can go back and do it again, but you have to do it the same way." - Arnold Palmer speaking on his retirement from professional golf.

While television began evolving more and more in  1960 so was the sport of golf thanks to Arnold Palmer. With his genuine respect for the game, the people who played and those that watched, Palmer quickly became an ambassador bringing golf to the masses as a gentleman's game.

Palmer was the gleaming image of golf for seven decades and within a four- year period of the 1960's
he won 21 tournaments. Long before Michael Jordan became a marketing endorsement magnet it was Arnold Palmer who had paved the way for athletes. Palmer was the first of it's kind of any sport and he continued to pioneer golf even after retiring. Everything from designing his own golf courses, to his own clothing and golf clubs, and even his own lemonade/ice tea had his signature and imprint on it. Why, even last year he made $40 million in endorsements. Not bad for an 87 year-old, huh?
Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87 last week, but he left a true legacy that measured greatness by living life as a true, genuine gentleman.

Florida baseball player Jose Fernandez, an up and coming pitcher for the Marlins passed away in a boating accident at the tender age of 24 just hours after Palmer. Jose showed much promise as he was a dominating pitcher on the mound but it was his love of the game, the passion he played with, and the joy he brought his teammates that will be remembered. With Marlins attendance struggling in recent years to sell out games, Fernandez brought an exuberance to the game whenever he pitched that attendance actually rose on the days he was scheduled to pitch.

Jose's joy and love for playing a kids game stemmed from his freedom from Cuba. He escaped Cuba as a 15 year-old after three failed attempts. He began working with kids in the Cuban communities within Miami enlightening them with his story that anything is possible.

Both of these great athletes made an impact on life and those around them, but one was short-lived which is why it's important to make the most of your time here on earth while you still can.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

So this Happened

While quarterback Kaepernick and other athletes were taking a knee during the national anthem (fortunately Kaepernick has decided to get involved more instead of just protesting), and protests, looting, and rioting were going on in parts of America this week, this was also happening in one of Chicago's neighborhoods where the homeless live under the viaducts:

A simple gesture of love and hope provided by the Compassion in Action team at my church
 (Mercy Gate Intl.) and a Chicago church as we participate with Chicago's Night Ministry (linked on my home page). On most scheduled evenings we normally feed the homeless a hot meal in a styrofoam container with a bag of snacks, and in the winter we also provide them with hats, coats and gloves.

 But on this particular night we provided them with a candlelight banquet. Some commented in astonishment asking why we were doing this for them, some said they hadn't sat down at an actual table for a meal in a long time, and some thanked us for providing them with hope, a hope that is so needed within America right now.

It's easy for any of us to just sit and criticize what's wrong with society, criticize the oppression and ill affects that are taking place within our society, or even criticize what we read through social media, but at the end of the day we should each be asking ourselves,

"What am I doing to help?"

"Am I a part of the problem or part of the solution?"

"Do I hate what is going on in my country?"

 "Do I want to see change?"

"What can I do to help?"

God knows there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to get involved and make a change.

If you, your church or any group you are associated with would like to help there are several ways you can do that:

1. If you want to help but don't live in the Chicagoland area, you can either checkout my church's website linked on my homepage (Mercy Gate Intl) and donate for the night ministry (the money goes directly toward that mission)

2. If you and your church or group want to get involved with Chicago's Night Ministry they are also linked on my homepage.

And more importantly if you live outside the Chicago area, get involved within your own community.
Don't just sit and wait for change, be a part of it. I think we can all agree that waiting for the government or politicians to change things in society for the good of the people just ain't gonna happen'.

 Like I said, the opportunities are out there. Things aren't going to change unless each individual American's actions change.

All is one thing can change by itself.

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - Francis of Assisi

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hero is a Verb

"I just rode up the elevator with five Brittney Spears and a sweaty Harry Potter!"

One of my favorite sitcoms of all-time is the TV show Frasier. If you've never saw this 90's comedy you can catch it on Netflix. The show is about an insecure, pompous psychologist named Frasier who hosts a radio program. He lives in a posh high rise apartment in downtown Seattle with his down-to-earth regular-joe dad Marty. His brother meanwhile is his own pretentious self and a psychologist as well, known as Niles.

In the episode Room Full of Heroes Frasier has a costume theme party for Halloween. Known by his office co-workers as having the dullest of parties, Frasier gets a whole lot of cancellations due to a fictional illness going on around at the office.

Unfortunately Frasier's own family is stuck at his party and they try to make the best of it. Each person was required to wear a costume of their hero, one you most admire and want to emulate.
While Frasier dresses as his hero Sigmund Freud, his dad Marty dresses as Joe DiMaggio, housekeeper Daphne appears as Sir Elton John, Frasier's brother Niles is made up to look like his father, and station manager Roz appears as Wonder Woman.

When Frasier asks Roz why Wonder Woman? Roz simply replies,

"Because Wonder Woman is smart, beautiful, has morals and is independent. That's who I want to be!"

I love Roz's answer because even though she's chosen a fictional superhero character, it's what Wonder Woman stands for that has attracted Roz to want to emulate.

Most boys and young men have athletes as their heroes today. With my love for sports as a child and even today, I'm lucky to say none of my heroes were athletes. Today that would be a good thing!

In the last month I've written a few blog posts about honoring our national anthem and the American flag, unfortunately some of todays athletes did not get the memo or read my blog. It's a very confusing time here in America and not one I am proud of as an avid sports fan, but I do not want to continue to address honoring America. You can read my last few posts about that subject.

Football player Colin Kaepernick has chosen to take a knee and disrespect the American national anthem as he protests what I will just call the injustice of society. Since taking his stance many other pro athletes have begun to follow his lead. One coach put all of this in perspective simply by saying,

"When Kaepernick was a successful quarterback and winning games he appeared to be selfish and
never did anything but promote himself. Why didn't he protest then? What changed? Now that he is an unsuccessful second-string quarterback he decides to protest and be in the limelight. I don't trust his sincerity."

Ironman Robert Downey Jr says, "A hero is a verb not a noun." Which is precisely why many are discouraged by some of these athletes who have chosen to dishonor the anthem and the American flag. If they want to fix what is wrong with injustice in society they need to invest their time, money, and elite status into helping the neighborhoods within their communities. Actions speak louder than words.

Someone once said, "Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life." 

Who needs a hero when each of us individually can make a difference.

What you do in life will echo through eternity.

Be your own hero.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dirty Harry vs. Tony Robbins

"Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes." - Psychology Today

Imagine for a moment a scene where Clint Eastwood's character Dirty Harry mistakes self-help guru Tony Robbins as a criminal he is in hot pursuit of:

"Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a
.44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, you've gotta ask yourself one question:
"Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?"

Tony Robbins would probably counter with, "Well, it is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. What people can do is very different from what they will do."

Robbins would probably talk Harry's ear off with a little more self-help guru banter and try to change him, "We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish."

Of course, Dirty Harry's approach would be his old standard self, "Okay, I hear ya. But I wish to keep criminals off the street and there's only one way I know how to do that." probably know how that scene would end.

While Dirty Harry is relentless in his tracking down a criminal until justice is served, well in this case his way of justice, Tony Robbins is resilient in getting people to unleash the power within. Same resilience just a different approach.

Clint Eastwood once said, "You should never give up your inner self." Hmm, sounds like Clint may have taken in a Tony Robbins book or two don't you think.

For all of the psychology books, classes, self-help cd's and videos we may indulge in to improve ourselves, there is One Book that covers all of this in a more satisfying and successful way.

While Robbins uses the approach of controlling our minds and emotions in a positive manner to get to a successful conclusion, and Dirty Harry just toying with peoples minds, those of us who are believers in Christ are told to have the mind of Christ. That is because we do have the mind of Christ if we are walking in a right relationship with Him.

For "who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Cor. 2:16

To have the mind of Christ is to think and act like Christ in all situations.

Graham Cooke puts it like this,

"There is only one thought to have in any situation, and that is the one that Jesus is having about it."

"When we are learning to walk with God, we are submitting ourselves to the way that He thinks."

In layman's terms we need to see things how God sees them. If we view ourselves as in Christ and know that Christ is in us, what is stopping us from seeing victory in the midst of defeat? Does God look at our situation and say, "There is no way out of this mess."? Of course not. We need to see things as He does.

In the Book of Numbers Moses sent out twelve scouts to explore the land of Canaan before taking it over. The scouts report consisted of "But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there!"

"We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!"

"Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that's what they thought, too!"

If Tony Robbins were there in the midst of them he would probably laugh it off and say,
"C'mon guys. Mind over matter."

Somehow I think if Tony Robbins really met Dirty Harry he would have gotten himself out of the situation,

"C'mon Harry. Let me buy you a cup of coffee and we'll talk this over."

"The path to success is to take massive, determined action." - Tony Robbins


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Troll Once, Troll Twice, Troll....

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." - Mark Twain

Troll dolls were a huge toy fad in the 60's and then made a comeback in the mid- seventies which would last into the 90's. They were created by a Danish woodcutter named Thomas Dam.

 Even though I never had one as a kid, both my sisters had them and they never had to worry about me wanting one or taking theirs because I thought they were ugly. Which reminds me of the actual definition for these weird looking fellas:
Troll dolls are defined as a mythical, cave dwelling being depicted in folklore as a giant or dwarf and typically having a very ugly appearance.
With the advancement of technology and social media today we are now amused or abused by a different kind of troll, the internet troll which is defined as:
A person who sows discord on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people by posting inflammatory messages with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response.
And that response may be one of anger or hostility, which is why it's best to neglect those trolls who may comment in a negative way to what you post on social media.
My guess as to why they are referred to as trolls is not necessarily the portrayal of ugly on the outside, but on the inside which can be more damaging. And yes, they are cave dwellers seeking refuge from the outside world as they scope the internet to find a victim to harass, which in turn makes them feel better. But it only makes them feel better on the outside while that anger builds up on the inside and eventually explodes.
It's unfortunate of all the anger and hostility bottled up within people today. And there is no shortage of expressing that anger and hatred toward others as we see here in America.
Here in Chicago there have been 400 shootings and 78 killed just in the month of August. That is more than New York and LA combined. Chicago is on pace for over 500 deaths by year's end just from shootings alone. Most of the deaths are due to rapid gang violence with many innocent victims in the crossfire. In the US alone 58 percent of young African-American men are unemployed.
While our Compassion in Action team at my church serve within the city on a weekly basis, we see first-hand not just the violence but the need. And the need is great. One of the reasons why there is so much violence in the city is because some feel they have no future and no hope as jobs are scarce and the way of life is disappointing to them and they feel there is no way out.
For the past month my Pastor (Pastor Freddie Steel @Mercy Gate) has been teaching on church culture:
"Many curse the darkness but don't do anything about it. It is a Church of authenticity (real or genuine) that is missing in America. The Church is not an occupying force."
The opportunity exists for The Church like never before. If we are to be a light within the darkness The Church needs to go out beyond it's four walls and simply be the church. To thirds of God's name is go as my Pastor aptly puts it and it's an opportune time to do that!
On my home page you will find a link to "The Night Ministry". They are a great organization that travels 5 nights a week throughout the city of Chicago feeding and helping the homeless and the needy. They have two buses that house a doctor's office with medical staff on board along with volunteer chaplains. Today they have a need of more churches or small groups who are willing to partner with them on any given night during the week. You would be participating by providing food  within a certain neighborhood on a certain evening.
 If you live in a different area of the United States and feel led to help, checkout my home page link to Mercy Gate and on there you can donate financially to help as our team continues to serve and provide to those in need within the city of Chicago.
Many Christians hate the darkness but fail to bring the light. Now is a good a chance as any to be a beacon within that darkness.
"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost it's flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
"You are light of the world- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father." - Mathew 5: 13-16