Monthly Archives: November 2012

Thankful

Image

Two of the reasons I’m a lucky, lucky man.

I struggle with the holiday season.

I’m not going to make the same assertions as many cranky sourpusses, insisting that each holiday season is a fabrication of marketers and Hallmark, but there is little doubt that the holidays have a sinister side.

Traffic is worse — drivers become angrier, riskier in their maneuvers, and uglier in the gestures. Feel like going to the store for some batteries or a 12-pack of soda? Well, I hope you enjoy waiting for 30 minutes in a line full of comparably impatient people, all of whom appear to be ready to ram their shopping cart through the hip of the elderly woman in the front of the line, taking 12 minutes to write her check.

For the church workers among us, mid-November through New Year’s is the busiest stretch on the calendar. Parties, special services, social Gospel events, musicals, practices, youth events, and more leave our family with fewer than three free evenings until 2013. I’m not complaining — that’s just part of the job.

And yet through all of the stress and anxiety, the holidays give us some of the most special moments of the year, namely two large chunks of time spent almost exclusively with family. As I type this post, my son lies asleep with his foot literally propped on my computer keyboard hand rest. Just in the hallway, two of my nephews are playing and laughing. Two rooms over, my dad, brother-in-law, brother-in-law’s father, and two dogs are resting with their own legs propped up, recovering from the incredible meal we consumed like ravenous hyenas (with equal amounts of laughter). The ladies stepped outside for a bit to run an errand, but they’ll be back soon, and we’ll all be worn out from doing very little.

Yes, the holidays are expensive. Yes, they are stressful. Yes, I’ll kind of be relieved when they’re over.

But then I’ll start waiting for the all over again.

In this season of excessive complaining, I must admit: I’m still thankful.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Turn the Other Cheek…For Real?

There’s been a firestorm of controversy over Andy Stanley’s sermon earlier this year in which he was clear in condemning adultery as a sin, but was silent over the issue of homosexuality. This is all we’ve heard concerning Andy in the news, and I can’t say I disagree at all with the criticism, but as I’m partially through this article on CNN detailing the tense history between Andy and his father, a story he shares  kind of smacked me in the face:

When he was in the eighth grade, his father waged a bruising battle to become senior pastor of First Baptist. The battle inflamed tensions so much that his family received nasty, anonymous letters and deacons warned his father that he would never pastor again.

One night, during a tense church meeting, a man cursed aloud and slugged Charles in the jaw. Andy says his father didn’t flinch, nor did he retaliate. He kept fighting and eventually became senior pastor of First Baptist.

“I saw my dad turn the other cheek,” Andy later wrote about that night, “but he never turned tail and ran.”

His dad was his first hero.

Imagine, especially if you’re a pastor or minister of any kind, being publicly cursed and punched…in the face…in front of everyone.

What would your natural, instinctive reaction be? Perhaps you would shriek, “OWWWWWW! What did you do that for?” Maybe you would curl into the fetal position on the floor and weep uncontrollably. Or would you call your troops into action against the dissenters and engage in a Medieval battlefield clash in the middle of the church, swinging wild fists as someone in the distance wails, “FOR NARNIA!”

The most common, instinctive reaction would be to simply duck and swing back. It’s human. And in America, particularly the South, it’s what you do if you’re “a man.” I’m not even the type of guy who wakes at 4 AM to freeze to death in a deer stand, but if someone decides to (and I use this phrase with all the humor that my friend Chris finds in it) punch me in the face, I’m not 100% sure that I would do exactly what Jesus asked of us, simply take it, and turn the other cheek.

What Charles Stanley showed wasn’t weakness. After all, the story says that he “didn’t flinch.” What he did show was incredible strength of character in NOT responding. While this is purely speculative, I would imagine that the restraint that Charles Stanley showed that day was probably a factor in his eventual pastorship of First Baptist Church Atlanta.

What about you? What would your reaction be? I understand isn’t a revelatory blog post — even non-Christians know the related scripture from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

It’s just a question.

Matthew 5:39 – But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,