by Bill Dye
How do you like your crow? Do you like it best roasted, fried, or baked?
Truthfully, there’s no good way to eat crow. No matter how you prepare it, crow tastes bad. That’s why crow is so hard to eat.
Here’s a modern example. Doug Pederson is taking his Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl.
In 2016, when the Eagles hired Pederson the so-called experts went crazy. “Terrible hire,” one guy said. Another sarcastically tweeted, “My first impression of Doug Pederson is I wonder who the Eagles will hire as head coach in 2017.”
They said things like, “Pederson is less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”
ESPN ranked Doug Pederson as the worst coaching hire in the NFL.
But then the improbable happened. The Eagles started winning. By mid-season, they were the best team in the league.
Finally, its time for the experts to eat some crow, right?
Rather than admit their mistake the so-called experts pointed to the brilliance of the Eagle’s quarterback Carson Wentz. Doug was passed over for coach of the year, but in a backhanded slap, they gave the General Manager of the year to the Eagles GM. He surely deserved it, but Doug also deserved some credit for the Eagle’s winning ways.
Do you hear what they are saying? “Doug didn’t do this, his General Manager gave him such wonderful player personnel that the team wins on its own.” Why can’t they admit that Doug was at least partially responsible?
Even when the Eagles had the best record in the NFL one guy wrote, “Why I still think Pederson was a bad hire.”
Then Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury. The analysts wrote them off, “Poor Eagles, it was a nice run. Too bad.”
Then the most improbable thing happened. The Eagles continued to win. They beat the Falcons in the first playoff game. The headline read, “Falcons have nobody to blame but themselves.” Then in the NFC championship game, the “underdog” Eagles took the Vikings to the woodshed.
Finally, it’s time to eat some crow, right?
Doug runs the offense. Guess what ESPN’s headline read after the NFC championship blowout. “Prominent defense propels Eagles into the Super Bowl.” Seriously? Sure the defense played great, but a backup QB that was nearly out of the league was 26 of 33 for 352 yards and three TD’s against the number one defense in the league? Doug was magnificent. Why won’t they admit it?
As I’ve tracked Doug Pederson’s unlikely story I’ve been reminded time and again just how badly we hate to admit when we are wrong.
We all hate the taste of crow.
I know I do.
It’s so hard not to defend your mistake or try to walk it back to a more acceptable state of “less wrong.”
That’s true of sports analysts and its true of the rest of us too.
There’s really not a good way to prepare crow, but sometimes you have to eat it anyway. Just close your eyes, open your mouth and chew. You will never be right until you are able to admit that you’re wrong.
Read Psalm 32:3-5.
I love the old comic strip Calvin and Hobbs.
Calvin is in an overstuffed chair, his back to the reader. The TV is bouncing wildly on the stand. Calvin is mesmerized. Calvin’s dad is behind him looking over his shoulder at the Television and Calvin says,
“OH LOOK, YET ANOTHER CHRISTMAS TV SPECIAL. HOW TOUCHING TO HAVE THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS BROUGHT TO US BY COLA, FAST FOOD, AND BEER CONGLOMERATES. WHO’D’ HAVE EVER GUESSED PRODUCT CONSUMPTION, POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT AND SPIRITUALITY WOULD MIX SO HARMONIOUSLY, IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD, ALL RIGHT.”
After his dad leaves the room, Calvin, without ever looking up from the set says,
“DAD DOESN’T HANDLE THE SEASON’S STRESS VERY GRACEFULLY.”
Bill Watterson, the creator of the strip, made an excellent point. Consumerism, entertainment and spirituality really are odd companions.
In fact, when you back up and look at it with cool skepticism, the whole thing is . . .well sort of odd.
For example, why do we drag a dead tree into the house and hang gaudy things all over it? What in the world does that have to do with the birth of Christ?
Imagine a stranger from another land visits your house at Christmas. “Why are you doing that?” he asks. “We are celebrating Christ.” “Oh, who is that?” “He’s the son of God.” “I see,” he says, “your god is a tree.” “Well, no.” “Then he was born in a tree?” “Not exactly.” “Born in a forest?” “No,” you reply, “a stable.” Was it a forested country?” “Actually it was semi-desert.” By now he’s really confused, “So was it a wooden house?” “No, probably a sort of cave.” “Any trees in the stable?” “I seriously doubt it. Mostly cows sheep and goats.”
“So why the tree? Uh, . . . I don’t know.” For that matter, why the lights? Why are we climbing roofs, risking life and limb to string lights that don’t work? I don’t know. But it’s what we do.
And I’m not saying we shouldn’t. I love everything we do. I’m just concerned that the real purpose for the party is being lost in the celebration. Jesus is the reason for this season.
Without Christ Christmas doesn’t make sense.
Let me suggest two things that will help to keep the purpose in your Christmas preparations.
First, don’t allow the busy preparations to keep you from His quiet presence.
Second, in preparing for Christmas don’t allow your material passions to overshadow His spiritual purpose.
I ask myself that every year. Why are we doing this? Guys are on roofs risking life and limb to string lights. People are stressed out and trying to find the perfect something for the person that needs nothing.
Folks that never give Christ or God a second thought pretend to celebrate His birth.
It all makes no sense.
How can this feeding frenzy of materialism that we call Christmas be connected to the birthday celebration of a man that was among the most non-materialistic personalities to walk this planet?
It has to be the most incongruous religious ceremony in history.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m all for Christmas.
I put up the lights and dress up the tree, and we shower each other with unnecessary presents. I love the celebration. I’m just not sure exactly why we do it.
One day it dawned on me that there are really two Christmases in Christmas.
One is a cherished American holiday tradition. The other is a Christian memorial to a sacred event.
The American holiday tradition is built around materialism and nostalgia.
Nostalgia will tell you that Christmas is here to bring us all together. We attach words and phrases to this holiday in hopes of manufacturing some sort of deeper significance. “Christmas,” we say, “means, ‘Peace on earth. Goodwill to men.’” But those are just words lifted from the shards of the original, echoes of the old true voice of Christmas.
As an American Holiday, Christmas doesn’t bring peace. In fact, it tends to bring more stress.
A recent survey revealed that 45% of Americans would like to skip Christmas altogether because of the financial stress it creates.
Pack an extended family into a house and you can’t even get “Goodwill to kin,” much less “Goodwill to men.”
And yet, here we are. Still doing it because Christmas is a Cherished American Holiday Tradition.
The second celebration is very different. This celebration is a Treasured Christian Sacred Memorial to a historical event we call “the incarnation.”
Christmas remembers that moment in time when God removed his majestic robes, stepped from his glorified position, and squeezed himself into the form of a human being.
With the American Holiday, we tend to find ourselves asking, “Why Christmas?”
But with the Christian Memorial, we are forced once again to remember, “Why Jesus?”
Those two questions seem similar but they are miles apart.
Why Christmas is a head-scratcher. Why do we keep doing this? We like to think its about peace on earth and stuff like that, but truthfully we seem to do it because we’ve always done it.
Why Jesus is less of a question than a statement. It calls us to remember that sacred moment when God put on skin and lived among us. What did that mean? What does it mean now?
Posted by Bill Dye
Bob Goff said this in his insightful book Love Does,
And then he added:
I read that and it stopped me down. Do I hit my targets or do I simply draw targets around my hits?
Drawing targets around hits will make us feel like a success. And so we tell our kids, and ourselves, “It’s not important what you do; It’s only important how you feel.”
Nobody seems to consider the long-term implications of this silliness.
Sooner or later I must learn to hit a target.
If I target my hits then I’ll never learn to hit anything, and we live in a world that really wants you to be able to hit something. Eventually, that’s going to make me feel a lot worse than if I had taken the time to learn to hit the target.
Did it ever occur to you that you might feel better about yourself if you could hit a target?
This is true of work, marriage, family, and it is especially true of spiritual things. Don’t drift through life pretending that your spiritual misses are actually hits. Take aim. Steady yourself. Fix your eyes on the target and spend your life learning to hit it.
Here are a couple of verses that might help with this:
 Goff, B (2012) Love Does. Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Books pg. 10.
Ok, so what’s my take on global warming? I don’t know. I’m a pastor, not a scientist. Go ask a scientist. I live in Louisiana. It’s always warm.
I have some opinions about global warming, but they are probably about as well informed as your opinions.
Here’s the thing about opinions: we all have them. Having an opinion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best opinion, or that it’s even a particularly good or even valid opinion. And sadly the validity, or maybe better, the lack of validity, of my opinion rarely keeps me from sharing it.
I wonder if this dissemination of unqualified opinions isn’t a big part of what’s messing everything up?
These days everyone is an “expert” on virtually any subject.
Here’s what happens. Someone brings up a “hot-button” issue and you discuss it with some friends. Nobody really knows what he or she is talking about, but we’ve all read a piece of an article or someone shared an idea on the subject and we took it for true. the topic doesn’t really matter. It could be global warming, or it could be college football.
Until we had this discussion my opinion was somewhat vacuous. As the conversation progresses something strange happens to my opinion. The nebula begins to solidify into a planet. Thirty minutes ago I didn’t really know where I stood on the subject, but now that we are discussing it I’m either persuading or being persuaded to harden my position.
By the end of the discussion, my unqualified thoughts have turned into a “firm opinion.”
And because I might have an overinflated sense of my own intellect, it’s easy for me to think that my “firm opinion” is as good or better than your “firm opinion.” It doesn’t matter what credentials I brought to the discussion, or even how much I really know about the topic. It’s an opinion; it’s my opinion. Don’t mess with my opinion.
Once an opinion is formed it must be disseminated and protected.
I will now fight for my ill-informed half-baked opinion with the same gusto that William Barrett Travis and his band of Texicans defended the Alamo.
This, despite the fact that thirty minutes ago I didn’t even know if I believed my opinion.
What began as a vague idea has forged into a fundamental truth inside my head. It’s my truth. Since my opinion has become truth, if your opinion disagrees with mine then your opinion is clearly wrong. In fact, I’m not sure you even have the right to such a wrong-headed opinion.
The discussion degenerates into an argument. Sides form, lines are drawn, and friends are lost as collective ignorance swirls in the air like shrapnel from a howitzer.
Nobody stops to remember, it’s just an opinion. It might not even be a good one.
Look, have your opinions. Just be aware that you might not always know what you are talking about, and you don’t always have to share it.
Here are two verses to help us:
During his postgraduate work Joe met and fell in love with a young coed. The breakup sent him spiraling into depression and despair. Sadly, with the world ahead and a PhD in his pocket twenty-three year old Joe became consumed with thoughts of suicide.
Joe’s post academic career never lived up to the promise of college. He tried to write. He taught a little. His attempted novels were all rejected. He wrote a couple of plays. They weren’t published.
To pay for his Romaine Noodle existence Joe was forced to take a job at a bank. He hated it. They fired him. He bounced around, surfed sofas, and drifted in and out of various philosophical ideologies. By now Joe’s love of church was long forgotten. He read Marx and Engels. He fell in love with the writings of Dostoyevsky and Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
A biographer said of this time in Joe’s life, “His diaries reflected the writings of a man who was isolated, preoccupied by ‘religious-philosophical’ issues, and lacked a sense of direction.”
Then at the age of twenty-seven Joe met the man that would alter the trajectory of his life. Joe’s new mentor was a failed painter turned politician. Joe quickly realized that this fellow artist not only shared his distrust for the establishment, but also had the courage and charisma to force it to change.
And so in 1924 Joe threw in his lot with his new hero and became member number 8762 of the Nationalist Socialist Party.
Over the next ten years Joe quickly rose through the party ranks and ultimately become the second most powerful man in his country. Together with his idol Joe would eventually help kill six million innocent Jews and drag the world into the most costly war mankind would ever experience.
I don’t think there were ever two men in human history responsible for more suffering than Joseph Goebbels and his insane master Adolf Hitler.
Why do I tell you this?
Here’s the thing. Young Joe was just like every other young Joe. And that’s what scares me.
Evil seldom happens suddenly. The power of ideas fostered and fomented over time shape us into what we ultimately become.
A young clear mind slanted by prejudice and twisted by disappointment ultimately congealed into the darkness that was to be known as Joseph Goebbels. I’m sure he never set out to be infamous. He never intended to be a mass murderer. No, young Joe simply allowed himself to be carried along in the fog of darkness until he found his hope in a mind even more dark and twisted than his own.
If it could happen to Joe, it can happen to us.
2Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness,
Guard your heart. Guard your mind.
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Socialism is mad at capitalism, nationalism is mad at globalism, conservatism is mad at liberalism, and racism is mad at racism. ISMs are bitterly divided and deeply divisive.
Here’s just one example.
I was watching a documentary on Netflix entitled, “The Red Pill.”
The Red Pill is a feminist’s look at the new men’s movement. The various men’s groups go by a variety of names because they haven’t been able to come up with a good “ISM” name yet. The classic men’s ISMs, “chauvinism” and “machoism” have fallen out of favor. So we’ll call it the “men’s movement” until we can think of something better.
The men’s movement is trying to bring balance to the dominant view of feminism.
Obviously, that’s an unpopular idea to feminism and so the feminists attack it like Allies hitting the beaches at Normandy. That analogy isn’t far off because many within feminism have called the men’s movement Nazi’s and hate groups.
So this young feminist journalist decided to investigate. Turns out these guys aren’t the crazy neo-Nazis she expected, and they have some legitimate points.
I’m paraphrasing their argument but the men’s movement guys basically contend that men get the raw end of the deal in a lot of ways. Men die younger. They tend to be killed more often. They are forced to defend the country, many times against their will. Men have to do the dirty jobs women don’t want to do. And to top it off, when the cruise ship hits the iceberg men aren’t allowed in the lifeboats. It’s always “women and children first.” “Why are women and children more intrinsically valuable than men?” (Their words, not mine).
The real stickler had to do with reproductive rights. Feminists make a huge thing about the woman’s reproductive rights. The men argued that they have absolutely no say in whether or not they become fathers. They even point out that some women have tricked men into becoming unwanted dads.
Sure the baby isn’t in their bodies, but they are at least half responsible for it.
A man can’t control any aspect of reproduction except conception, but if she decides to give birth then that man will spend the next 18 years paying for a child he never intended to have. Conversely, if he does want the child but she doesn’t well then, he’s out of luck.
And here’s what’s really intense, sometimes the child isn’t even his!
I didn’t know this, but according to the documentary, there are countries in Europe where it is against the law to get a paternity test! Yikes.
Then there is the whole custody thing. Many of the men in the documentary had gone through ugly divorces and effectively lost all contact with their children.
The young feminist doing the documentary was profoundly troubled by what she heard. She interviewed some feminists to buoy her sinking confidence, but when asked about reproductive rights the feminist pundits said, “If he didn’t want to have a baby he should have been more careful.”
The irony is heavy. Those are nearly exactly what the pro-life people have said to feminists for decades.
By the end of the show, the young girl was so moved by what she’d learned that she rejected her own ISM and said, “I don’t know what the answer is but I’m no longer a feminist.”
Still, something bothered me. My son watched it with me and something bothered him too. He said, “Dad, do we really need a man’s group to offset feminism?”
I think he’s right. Don’t we have enough ISMs already, and haven’t they done enough damage.
It seems to me that all these ISMs are just a smoke screen for the age-old problem of man, selfishness. And this is a selfish age. We all want our way!
What happens when YOUR WAY gets in MY WAY?
How do we construct a civilization that lives together in community when every member of the community wants — no demands — his or her way?
Sooner or later someone will have to yield to the will of the other.
That’s why we have ISMs. ISMs are cluster groups that mobilize around some specific right. And the point is to ensure the members of that particular ISM get their way.
So if you ask any ISM, “Who should sacrifice?” every single ISM will tell you the same thing: “YOU.”
YOU should be the one to sacrifice, not me. Never me. Always YOU.
But what happens when YOU won’t do it? Well then, I get really angry with YOU. I shout at YOU and call YOU all sorts of names. I demand that YOU sacrifice and if YOU still won’t do it then I’ll pass laws that ensure YOU are the one that bends to my will.
Jesus came from a completely different angle. When someone asked him, “Who will sacrifice?” He didn’t say “YOU.” He said, “ME.” And then did it. And now he asks you to follow his lead.
Take a minute and read Philippians 2:1-11 and you’ll see that you don’t need another ISM. If you want to live a more meaningful and joyful life you won’t find it by following an ISM. You will only find it by following the IAM.
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The year 2017 will go down as one of the tough ones for America.
Hurricane Harvey was like that crazy uncle who came to visit but just wouldn’t leave. He rolled into Matagorda Bay, hung around Rockport, then left to gather up some more water to dump on Houston and southeast Texas. By the time he was finished the Lone Star state looked like it was trying to impersonate New Orleans. Then Irma blew through the Leeward Islands and set her sights on Florida. It was a near miss that wrecked our nerves.
Meanwhile, a pubescent little dictator playing with his new missiles and atomic weapons dominated the news from Southeast Asia. There are few things more terrifying than a homicidal maniac with his thumb over the button of a thermo-nuclear device.
And then there was Vegas.
It’s been a rough couple of months especially when you sprinkle in a nation divided by acrimonious social activism.
It’s as if 2017 looked down on America and said, “Wipe that smile off your face young man or I’ll wipe it off for you.” Sure enough, it did.
How do we get our smiles back? Where can we go to rediscover authentic lasting happiness?
I don’t want threadbare clichés and tired platitudes. Don’t try to “cheer me up.” There are few things more annoying than someone trying to cheer you up when you are genuinely hurting.
I don’t want to sing songs to troubled hearts. But I would like to learn the secret of singing songs from a troubled heart.
Is it possible to find joy even when our circumstances refuse to allow it?
I did a Google search to find “The Secret of Happiness” and turns out the Internet is filled with suggestions about what will make you happy.
One article suggested the following six steps to happiness:
Yeah, there’s probably some truth in there, but I don’t’ think you want to share those pearls of wisdom with the people in Houston.
They are likely to drown you in the brackish water that is in their living room.
You do know that, right?
Ask the typical person on the street, “Will money make you happy?” Most will tell you, “No.”
When you press them they aren’s sure why they say it.
Maybe its because they’ve heard a lot of friends say it. Or it could be that we all know someone with lots of money that seems genuinely miserable. We also know that whenever we get a little more money the euphoria wears off. Turns out I can outspend whatever I make.
So I’ll say “No, money is not the key to happiness.
Money won’t buy happiness but not having enough money can be miserable too. So I know that when I don’t have enough it’s a whole lot harder to be happy.
I once heard a comedian say, “Money isn’t the key to happiness but I always felt that if I had enough money I could have the key made.”
“Do other people make us happy?”
“Why do you say that?”
I think we know ourselves. If we can’t be happy in our own skin then someone else won’t fix that.
Still, it sure does seem harder to maintain a lasting joy when you are alone all the time. If I had more friends I would be less lonely. If I were less lonely I think I’d be more happy.
The odd thing about a longing is that when you feed the craving it grows. Our appetite never says, “Thank you, that’s just enough. I’ll never bother you again.”
Nope, that monster will lie and say its full and then come roaring back for even more next time.
We know that. And yet, we still spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to satiate cravings.
We seem to know that and yet “The pursuit of happiness” is listed as one of our inalienable rights
As I read through these insights I started to realize that there is a strange contradiction between what we know about happiness and what we do to try to get it.
When we feel truly free and when we feel content then we can know what real joy feels like.
I was reading through the book of Philippians and noticed that it’s probably the happiest book in the New Testament. The words “joy” and “rejoice” are littered throughout the text.
But here’s the thing. The guy that wrote this letter was falsely imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and at the time of the writing, he was awaiting trial before Emperor Nero, one of the most sinister characters in the history of the world.
The writer of this little letter had no freedom and by every measure we use, he should have had zero contentment.
What’s the deal? Do contentment and freedom have nothing to do with happiness? Or could it be that we’ve missed the bigger question: “Where do I go to find contentment and freedom?”
Listen to what that ancient prisoner wrote in chapter four of his letter to the Philippians,
Now there’s a secret to happiness that few seem willing to consider.