Musing on Moss returning to Minnesota: The Joy of the Return

For readers of the blog it should be no secret that this writer is a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. Yesterday was a day that had most Vikings fans feeling good.  It is the day that Randy Moss came home.  Sure, Randy Moss can and will display a selfish attitude.  Yet, when he is motivated he is a wide receiver like no other.  Yesterday’s trade is one that brought feelings of happiness and hope.  The season looked to be headed in the direction of failed expectations, to one of excitement and a desire to see how things play out. The trade was one that uplifted the fan base.

In thinking about the Randy Moss homecoming, thoughts go to how God reacts when we come home.  Each of us at one point or another go our own selfish ways. We leave God’s path and go our own way.  Yet, God always provides a way of return.  When anyone who has been away from God returns, it is a time of great joy and elation.  This is true for all. Each step of return and repentance brings elation and joy.  And unlike the return of Randy Moss, the end result is no.  When anyone returns to God, the victory is already assured.

Dealing with disappointment: Musings following Vikings NCF Championship Loss

Well the Minnesota Vikings lost another football game. It is disappointing to all fans. It is a perfect time to examine some basic principles of coping with disappointment. Before quickly examining disappointment, it is worth noting that the emotion of disappointment happens when a desire, hope, wish, need, want, or expectation goes unmet. It is a God given emotion, which can signal to us a need of evaluation and changing focus. Either a person can get wrapped up and locked in the emotion of disappointment or take some steps to deal with it. As always, for each of us, true peace and focus comes from keeping eyes off the temporary things of this life and world and on to the eternal. When the focus is on God and the things of God, disappointment is always but momentary. Now that being said there are some basic skills one can use to cope and learn from disappointment.

1: Be thankful for the good. It is very easy to focus on what ifs and what could have happened anytime there is a disappointment. It is hard to express gratitude and thanksgiving and celebrate the good. It is all about setting aside own personal wants, desires, and expectations and taking an approach of gratitude.

2: Learn from your disappointment. Each time something does not occur in a way wanted, desired, or expected it is an opportunity to learn. It is an opportunity most of all to learn about self, about what things have become a priority and focus. It is also a chance to learn from mistakes so you do not end up in same position as before. This also really involves examining choices. A good step to do here is to ask God to reveal anything about self that needs to change as a result.

3: Forgive others: If a person has disappointed you and done things to let you down, it is important to forgive the person. If hold onto any offense of disappointment and do not forgive it can damage relationships and lower your overall mood and attitude. Forgiveness is a real key in being able to release emotionally. It is an intentional act.

4: Evaluate your focus. Figure out why disappointed and If remain that way find out what you are focusing on. Disappointment is but momentary, and refocusing on what is important, changes the focus. A particular way for us to change focus is look to what is beyond self: God and others.

Each action is a necessary skill to move beyond the emotion of the moment. Granted, a person can use the skills outside of a relationship with God, but without the ability to look beyond self to God, the skills are limited to simply coping. Turning to God and looking to him in the midst of disappointment can bring peace to a disquieted soul. Now there is probably more ways to examine this topic, but this writer is tired. Today as a Vikings fan, disappointment is experienced. Working on using the skills and focus on the good God is doing. Feel free to share your thoughts on disappointment and effectively dealing with that emotion.

News Commentary: Brit Hume’s comments about Tiger Wood.

Currently the internet and varied blogs are posting and up and arms about a comment Brit Hume made today on Fox News.  He made the following statement:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith,” Hume said. “He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger is, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Bloggers and commentators through out the internet are mocking and decrying the comment.  Quick reference is made of professing Christians infidelities. Additionally, the personal tragedy of the suicide of Mr. Hume’s son and a father’s rejection of homosexuality being seen as a trigger.  It is amazing to see the rage and scorn for such a simple statement.

Brit Hume in a blurb compared Buddhism and Christianity. One that provides an answer to mans sinfulness.  Brit Hume was correct in pointing out Christianity offers a way of restoration and recovery.  If Tiger turned to Christianity and turned himself around he could receive some restoration and be a great example. However, in the brief blurb Brit’s comments are also short-sighted. While, to receive true healing and restoration, the only true way is turning to Jesus.  Yet, such an action should never be about regaining what was lost, like reputation. Rather, it is about recognizing our own selfishness and need for answer beyond self. 

When I think about the rage of responses in varied commentaries, it really seems down to pointing to an answer beyond self-determination.  The anger is about the Christian faith indicating there is only one true path, and not many paths that is determined by self.  Yes, people can make changes in their life outside of Christianity. Christians also have done very bad things.  Here is the essential difference though, it comes down to eternal matters and forgiveness. Brit Hume made a limited comment, essentially comparing what the path of Buddhism provides and compared to Christianity. It clearly is Brit’s opinion and with indications that he is leaving Fox, he clearly spoke his mind.  The sad part is the statement and context come off as self-righteous and condescending and without a broader context of love.  It is not the way to convince Tiger or anyone else of the value of the Gospel. The truth always needs to presented within the context of love.  Brit here made a statement of truth, he may have done so with love and care for Tiger in mind, but it falls short of presenting the truth in love.

Tiger would be better off in this life and in terms of what is ahead because turning to the forgiveness provided by Jesus brings completion.  When someone is totally surrendered to Jesus there is a wholeness that brings true peace.  Yet, no matter how anyone says it, without a demonstration of love accompanying the words, they are empty.

News Commentary: The 100 Club- MN Vikings players caught speeding

This week news broke that Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian both have been pulled over for driving over 100 miles per hour.  Now clearly this will become the source of derision and plenty of jokes will be made.  I have to think though that athletes driving the cars really fast is nothing new.

One thing I know from experience is that getting caught speeding is an intermittent thing.  You can go years and years driving fast, or in this case extremely fast and never get caught. It just takes one moment to get caught.

There are a few factors that probably play a role in athletes making such a decision. One being is generally there is some level of a need and desire for adrenaline boosts.  They operate in performance sports where they frequently have adrenaline boosts. Driving really fast boosts the adrenaline.

Another factor coming into play for some in a sense of entitlement.  The mindset is that there are two sets of rules, one for them, and one for everyone else.  Being athletes there may also be some thinking along the lines of “I have better skills than the average person, I can handle driving really fast.” So at some level they think they are better and do not need the same rules as everyone else.

There also is a general sense of invulnerability. The sense that given their strengths nothing can go  wrong and they can maintain complete control.  Also just plain thoughts that even if something did go wrong, nothing could seriously do any damage. It is the same kind of thinking that goes on with adolescent drivers.

So athletes are likely to have those factors playing a role in their decision-making. Yet, their choices are not any different from those made every day by each of us.  We evaluate the risk and potential cost of our choices and make decisions as to what is acceptable.  In fact, in our culture today there is even an emphasis on self-driven determination of right and wrong. There is even a view of morality that considers anything that refrains desire to be immoral. 

Now maybe Adrian, Bernard and all the uncaught athletes driving over 100 miles per hour can handle it. Yet, we live in a world that is assessed to be unsafe for the community at large.  Personally, there have been stretches where attentiveness to speed is lacking and have received my share of moving violations that were fair and just.  Even if the consequences were unjust or even wrong, it is still the system of authority and rules we live under, and they are applied at the discretion of the those with that authority.

As a Christian, there are is Biblical directive to submit to the authority that is place.  The rules of law are there for reasons and are not personally defined.  So Adrian and Berrian drove really fast and will receive the appropriate consequences.  They also face additional consequences related to fame of the incident being brought to attention of the public.  

Thinking of this incident and actions, it gives a reminder that each of us need to attend to our behaviors and choices.  We may think we can handle certain things, but can lose control at a moments notice. We may think it is harmless until something goes wrong. We may think all sort of things for all sorts of reasons.  We may get away with doing wrong things with a season, but consequences will eventually come. If not in this life, than the next.  So when thinking about the poor choices made of these young men, think of your self and your own poor choices, think about what you may need to choose to do differently.

Movie Commentary: The Blind Side- Building up others by acts of faith and love.

The Blind Spot is a must see movie.  The movie brings to the big screen the story of Mike Oher and the Tuohy family.  It tells how the Tuohy’s came to reach out to Michael Oher and his life was changed, as was theirs.  The movie was filled with excellent acting from all members of the cast with Sandra Bullock leading the way.  This is a movie you leave impacted emotionally.   The movie does show that it was not just the Tuohy’s involved in changing Michael’s life but many choices along the way. There was “Big Tony” Henderson, Mrs. Beasly, and Miss Sue all who made choices that helped Michael.  Now the reality is that the movie is powerful but the story alters from the facts to fit the director’s vision.   The full details of the story can be read in detail in Michael Lewis’s book: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.  A sampling of the story can be found in a New York Times article written by Michael Lewis titled: The Ballad of Big Mike. It gives a fuller grasp of the elements of the true story. Regardless the movie in the film is powerful. 

Now the film gives a perspective related to the change fighting with the director John Lee Hancock’s viewpoint. In an interview, John Lee Hancock indicated that he did not feel the Tuohy’s faith was a major factor in the story; it was simply part of who they were. In his mind, it could have been anybody.  The story was about the way a young man was helped and how both touched each other’s lives. It is a story about actions that changed a life and the relationships involved.  Many of the lines used by the director/writer in the book are quotes taken from statements made by those involved.  Not at some level, John Lee Hancock also alludes to social trends and the lives of those who do well compared to those who do not.  It showed the real dynamic of acts of love not being trusted by others, and being fueled by motives of secondary gain.  Rather, the movie significantly displays that lives were touched as people responded in keeping with who they were. That this story has such strong impact that it reflects acts of love even if you remove the contributions of faith to the story. 

An interesting element of the director’s take on the story was the focus on protectiveness.  A measure of “protectiveness” is added as a measure of intelligence to portray that Michael Oher had a profound sense of protectiveness and loyalty. He cared for others and truly needed to connect with others.  Family is seen as the primary need and a comparison is even shown between those that reach out in love to those that use and destroy (Tuohy’s versus drug dealer/gang.) Ultimately, Michael was shown to care so much about others that he would protect at cost to his own self.

Another element the direct highlighted was that we all have blindsides or blind spots.  Michael constantly is protecting himself from the painful memory of separation from mother.  Near the end of the film the character talks about surviving by simply closing his eyes.  Emphasis was also pointed out toward how others can be blind to real need and giving is just a superficial part of being in society and giving out of surplus.  The Tuohy’s though went beyond that, and like the Good Samaritan reached out when others may not have.

Personally, the film for me showed the importance of giving in such a way that builds up another, reflecting the love of Jesus.  It did serve as part of the inspiration of the giving challenge issued in an article written on Black Friday. The Tuohy’s gave and it touched Michael Oher in a way that built him up and touch not only his life, but now the life of millions of other people.  Their act of love ultimately draws attention and glory to the King of Kings.  Sure, they are now famous, but famous for living the life of people following God’s lead and helping others.  Their actions were not an act as evidenced by the reaction of Sandra Bullock to exposure to the family. In an article by Terry Mattingly, Sandra Bullock stated “This family, they were themselves for no other benefit other than because they wanted to reach out, lend a hand, and had no idea that they would get a son in return” and she also as indicated that she regained “faith in those who say they represent a faith. I’ve finally met people that walk the walk.”   For those of us who follow Jesus and entered into the kingdom of God, that is words the uplift.  As Leigh Anne Tuohy stated in that same article “We absolutely believe that none of this was a fluke. This was God-driven from the start.” Life was lived in love in such a way that others see the actions and see ultimately Jesus as faith and deeds match.  The Tuohy’s in their actions truly reflected Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

So for any reading this commentary, if you haven’t seen the movie please do so.  And if you have, take a look at yourself and whether you follow Jesus or not, examine how to walk in love of others by giving in ways that touch others beyond the superficial and in a way that builds them up.  Michael Oher’s life was changed by such actions.  It is not about whether a person is built up enough to develop worldly success, rather it is about touching a person that elevates and enables them to walk with confidence into the journey of life.  



 

Sean, Leigh Anne, and Michael

Cultural Commentary: Favre signing with Vikings- Symbolic of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

This writer enjoys watching the sport of football. I live in the Twin Cities and the team I root for as a fan is the Minnesota Vikings. The ongoing saga of whether Brett Favre would or wouldn’t sign with the Vikings was a drawn out soap opera with the fans hope that if he signs, perhaps he can guide the team to the promised land of the Super Bowl and a long desired and lacked Championship. His finally signing with the Vikings generated two things among Vikings fans, Hope and Ambivalence. As already stated, the hope is a competent and Hall of Fame Quarterback is the only piece missing for a championship run. The ambivalence comes from the fact that Brett Favre was a member of the enemy for sixteen years. He was the focal point of the team Vikings fans hate the most and care more about whether we win or lose. It is hard to root for one who was once considered the enemy.

The reader may respond with a thought such as “That is well and good and pretty straight forward. So what.” Or “Since this is a blog focusing on Christianity, Life, and Culture what on earth does Favre to do with anything other than drawing hits.” Well, football in general is a game that is rich with symbolism that can be used to illustrate matters of success, faith, and development. The latest result of the saga that is Brett Favre’s career is no different. Clearly there is the nature of hope. We want to hope, we desire hope, we want to feel good. We affiliate with a team for reasons such as proximity and the results impact our mood and culture. Brett Favre brings hope to a community that there is a chance for better. A chance that the desire for the team we cheer for to achieve ultimate success. Yet, there is much more to success than Brett Favre being a successful, healthy Quarterback. Yet, the hope is strong.

A rather harder concept to grasp is that of conciliation. There are fans that do not embrace the hope because of the fact they still consider Brett Favre the enemy. He won the Superbowl and had much success with the Green Bay Packers. Success that is both envied and disdained. Yet, now their past key star player is now a member of the Minnesota Viking. Yet, there is something within us that will struggle to accept the one who was an enemy now being a key part of the team. It does not sit well emotionally, leading to ambivalence.

Now the truth is the hope represented in Brett Favre is fleeting and temporary. The Minnesota Vikings may succeed, they may fail, and they may be mediocre. The hope may be well founded or prove to be false. Brett Favre after all is a human with limitations and it takes more the Brett Favre to achieve success. As a Christian though, I know that hope that does not disappoint exists. This hope is found in the person of Jesus the Messiah. This hope is found in the message of the Gospel that it is not about being “good enough” to be in relationship with the Creator of the Universe, but rather accepting the gift of redemption and turning from self. The true hope rests in that which lasts for eternity, not for a fleeting moment such as winning a championship. I hope Brett Favre and the Vikings win it all, yet their success or lack of success will have nothing to do with my eternal prospects. It will not impact my source of peace or joy, unless I focus on self and not on the certainty of Jesus.

The harder concept to grasp is the concept of conciliation. It is difficult to accept that Brett Favre is no longer considered an enemy. It is difficult to cheer for one that used to jeer. It actually is rather surreal to see Brett Favre in the purple and gold. Yet, each one of us at one point or another was an enemy of God. Each of us had to make a choice to sign on, and to turn from our past enmity. Now for some people the choice comes easily. It is a decision simply known to be right. Other people may hem and haw and have difficulty turning from self and joining God’s team. Many simply reject the offer to join the team TJ Houshmandzadeh. Now some people readily rejoice over Brett Favre joining the Vikings, others simply have stronger reactions. In thinking about the conciliation Vikings fans face with Brett Favre, my mind goes to the Apostle Paul. He was a man who was clearly an enemy to the Church. He killed many, many people. Yet, God transformed this man from a murderous zealot to a key Apostle who served to spread the Gospel and was used to write the majority of the New Testament text. So when I think of Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking, it serves as a picture of each of our coming to peace with God once we accept the offer of salvation through Jesus the Messiah and turn from our way, to God’s way.

Hopefully you find these thoughts to be helpful and challenging. In order to reach conciliation from God it is never too late. The Hope of that does not fail that is found in what Jesus did to remove the enmity and establish peace with God. I am grateful I am able to join God’s team. On God’s team there is no fleeting reward but eternal. The hope is sure and sound. So if you are not yet signed up to be in God’s team and kingdom, please consider the possibility.

News Commentary: Jeff Dubay Update-Exchange one prison for another.

Well the Star Tribunehas reported that Jeff Dubay has been sentenced to 180 days in the workhouse for his drug related offenses.  Judge Smith also gave him a stiff warning that the next step is prison.  He had failed to follow through with the diversion program and substance abuse court and had failed twelve drug tests while missing eleven. 

Jeff sadly turned to cocaine to fill the emptiness inside after finding the truth in Ecclesiastes that what he had chased after was ultimately all nothing.  He lost everything including now his freedom for his drug.  Perhaps his lawyer is right and his moving to Brainard, Minnesota away from his drug connections would be the answer. However, this is often not the case for people who have turned to drugs for an answer.   Here it is moving from the prison of addiction to actual time in jail.  It is the told bottom of self.  

Jeff Dubay’s struggles are not uncommon and we all think we are good enough.  The mindset is that if you just have enough strength and will power and drive to succeed, you will do what it takes to be successful and avoid anything that can drag you down. Yet, each of us at one point or another turn to something to feel the emptiness.  It does not matter whether what is turned to is socially acceptable or not, but it is something that is an attempt to fill what Blaise Pascal called a “God-shaped vacuum” inside us all. The true satisfaction only comes when one is in right relationship with God. The only way anyone can get right with God is through Jesus the Messiah by turning from self and accepting the gift Jesus has to offer.  If you want more details on turning to Jesus please read this page: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/how-to-become-a-christian/. Please don’t wait till you reach bottom to look to turn to Jesus.   The consequences and problems will still exist but there will be peace and the driving emptiness will be no more.

Now for any who struggle with addiction, including Jeff Dubay. I strongly recommend getting involved with the Teen Challenge treatment program.  They will deal with both the addiction issues as well as the connected spiritual issues.

—-

Please see this post for most recent thoughts and update: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/addict-lost-in-addiction-and-the-pathway-to-death-1-12-10-update-on-jeff-dubay