Monthly Archives: April 2015

Dear Baseball, Learn A Lesson From A Mad Mama!

mad mamaIf you are a baseball fan, you are probably aware that today is a 1st in baseball. But as much as baseball likes to count things, this is one “honor” the Orioles would rather not have. Today marks the first time in baseball history that a game is played in an empty stadium – no public allowed.

While this kind of thing has happened in European soccer stadiums before, it wasn’t the fault of the fans in this case. It is sad to know that at 2pm today, Oriole Park at Camden yards will have empty seats, silent cheers, and no time-honored stretching and singing in the 7th. Why? Rioters.

In light of the riots in Baltimore, Major League Baseball decided to postpone 2 games and play the 3rd in an empty stadium. Now, I’m sure that they had the best interest of the players, city resources, and fan safety in mind. But I wonder if they shouldn’t  have taken a lesson from one “Mad Mama” who didn’t back down from danger.

The Mom is Toya Graham. And she made headlines for the “correction” she gave her son on national television this week. [Warning: if you are going to watch the video, I suggest you do so with the sound off as there is foul language used.]

But as the old saying goes: “When Mama ain’t happy, she’s gonna smack you in front of all your rioting gang and drag you home by your ear.” Or something like that, I think. At least, that is the lesson Toya’s son learned. She spotted her son on television and, as only a Mom could, marched down to the riot, grabbed her son, and dragged him home by his ear!

Now, aside from being a really embarrassing way to lose your street cred, her son learned a great lesson, and baseball should too. We need more Mad Mamas! We need people who are willing to take uncomfortable risks to teach important lessons. And this Mom showed that when you love someone enough, you won’t let a little thing like a riot or looters stop you from trying to save them.

Of course, you’re probably thinking, it would be nice if we taught kids not to riot and loot in the first place. Well, yeah. But you know what? Everyone makes mistakes. And those of us who made mistakes, and learned from them, often learned those lessons because of Mad Mamas who grabbed us by the ear and sent us home.

In Matthew 23, Jesus likens himself to a Mother hen who longed to gather her chicks together, but they would not come under her wings. And sometimes, “mother,” had to give her children a correction. Unfortunately, we won’t always be successful when we try to correct children, but it is always worth the effort.

In Matthew 21, Jesus went into the Temple grounds and found money changers looting the people –  a “den of robbers.” John writes, in John 2, that Jesus fastens a whip and gives the equivalent of a smack upside the head and a good ear grabbing. It didn’t cause God’s children to correct their behavior, but at least Jesus tried to show them the error of their ways.

I don’t know if Major League Baseball should have moved the game to a nearby stadium or played the game at Camden Yards. But it seems to me that playing the game while barring the public sends  the wrong message. Isn’t it better to at least try to teach a better lesson? If not, the rioters and looters win, and we are all in trouble!

Sorry, Kanye, But You Aren’t God…And We Aren’t Either

book-of-yeezusTo say that Kanye West has an ego is quite an understatement. He believes one would have to go back to Beethoven to find his equal; he has compared himself to Picasso; and he has claimed, “I am Steve Jobs,” and “I am Walt Disney.” 

But his claims to be on par with Jesus and his song “I am God” pushed the very edge of megalomania. And now there’s more fuel for his ego! In a new book, “The Book of Yeezus,” Kanye fans rewrote Genesis to replace every reference to God with the singer’s name. That’s right! “In the beginning, KANYE created the Heavens and the Earth!”

Now, this might seem like harmless foolishness to you. And obviously, it is pretty easy to dismiss as nonsense. After all, Kanye isn’t an infinite being; he isn’t omniscient; he isn’t omnipotent; he isn’t omnipresent; and well, he can’t speak matter into existence.

But consider this: isn’t this latest blasphemy just the logical conclusion of our society? Isn’t this where idolizing singers, athletes, actors, and politicians had to take us? Rewriting Genesis may seem outlandish, but it points out a far bigger flaw in America today – out of control egos in each one of us. What began with “every man is king of his house,” has become, “every man his own god.”

You see, Kanye’s ego might be a little bigger than most. And we might not say it as boldly as he does. But there are a lot of folks running around these days with the attitude that, they too, are God. They make their own rules and their own morality…they are masters of their destiny.

In the Bible, we see an example of where Kanye-sized egos take us as individuals and as a society. Nebuchadnezzar ruled a big kingdom – the Babylonian empire. In Daniel 4, looking on his kingdom, he asked, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” Bad idea.

God lowered Nebuchadnezzar, and made him like one of the beasts of the field, acting insane and eating grass. It wasn’t until he recognized God as the highest ruler and King of Heaven that all his “reason returned.” Ultimately, though, Babylon was overthrown by the Persians due to the ego of invulnerability. Perhaps it is time for reason to return to the rest of us!

Actors, singers, athletes, and politicians are not gods…not even a little. Neither is Kanye. And neither are you. Nor am I. We are often selfish, at times egotistical, and always flawed human beings. We need salvation from the burden of our sins.

And thankfully, God has provided us with the perfect example. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to show us what being God really looks like. He performed many signs, wonders, and miracles. He lived a perfect life. And He sacrificed Himself for all of mankind. Kanye-like fame comes and goes, but there is only one who separated the light from the dark and created all. Look to Him today!

Death & Taxes: Overcome, But Still Hated?

Day_Death_Died_The_std_t_nvBenjamin Franklin is credited with the famous statement that nothing in life is as certain as death and taxes. But, believe it or not, April 15th and Federal income taxes haven’t always been a part of American life. In fact, it wasn’t until 1913 when the 16th amendment was ratified that individual taxation began in America.

It was 1954, though, that solidified April 15th as the day that many Americans dread. But did you know that Congress made April 15th the day in order to try to help make life easier for Americans, not hurt them?

 You see, March 15th used to be Tax Day until 1954 when the government moved it to April 15th. The reason? Well, there were two: 1) They were trying to give people an extra month to recover from Christmas debt, and 2) they were trying to get away from an ancient Roman stigma of the Ides of March, the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44BC. It was known throughout history as an “unlucky day.”

That’s right! Tax Day used to be even more depressing! Believe it or not, as people were still reeling from Christmas debt, they joked about the dreaded Tax Day and the Ides of March, thereby immortalizing Benjamin Franklin’s statement – “Death & Taxes.”

Long before taxes were joked about and hated by many Americans, and long before tea parties in Boston (or anywhere else), people have always had issues with tax day and the taxman. But before you complain about taxes or make that favorite IRS joke, keep in mind, you may not be thinking the way Jesus did!

 In the Bible, we read a lot about death and taxes. Jesus hated one and gave appropriate respect to the other. Want to guess which was which?

 For your consideration:

  1. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Jesus went to his house, ate with him, and helped him to get on the right spiritual path (Luke 19:1-10).
  2. Matthew was a tax collector who Jesus made one of His disciples. He ate at Matthew’s house with many of Matthew’s tax-collector friends (Matthew 9).
  3. Jesus instructed Peter to pay them so as to not “offend” (Matthew 17:27).
  4. Jesus, confirmed that one should “”Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).

Meanwhile:

  1. Jesus was moved deeply (angry) with the fact of death (John 11:33).
  2. Jesus had victory over death in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:57).
  3. Jesus tells us that death will be thrown in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).

Taxes aren’t my favorite thing, but I know they serve a purpose. And I know that if my concentration is on April 15th woes, then my focus is off of Jesus. Have you submitted to Him? He paid the debt He didn’t owe because of the debt we couldn’t pay…the ultimate tax! And He overcame death for us. Give it some thought…

No Glory For God When Churches Go “DirectTV”

DirectTV adIn a world of “cord cutters” who increasingly get their content online, cable companies are locked in a brutal battle for “pay TV customers.” And as the pool of pay TV customers shrinks, the battle has gotten meaner and nastier than ever. Just ask Comcast how they felt about DirectTV’s recent campaign!

If you haven’t seen the Rob Lowe ads, here’s the gist. Basically, attractive, happy Rob Lowe watches DirectTV, while his alter-egos (ie., Super Creepy Rob Lowe, Scrawny Arm Rob Lowe, and Broken Down, Less Attractive Rob Lowe) have cable. Basically, if you want to be like successful Rob, switch to DirectTV. If not, keep cable. And it appears to be working.

Though DirectTV had lost 28,000 subscribers in the 3rd quarter of 2014, “when the campaign started its run, the company gained 149,000 subscribers.” That hurts. So Comcast appealed to the National Advertising Division, and the NAD actually agreed that DirectTV should pull the ads. Sorry, DirectTV, but some claims are just TOO outlandish!

It is striking to me that the Church might be facing a similar problem today. And as the pool of Bible-believing, church-attending people shrinks, some churches might panic and feel the need to “go DirectTV” in response. But churches aren’t cable companies! And while it might add numbers in the short run, growing a congregation by shrinking another doesn’t bring glory to God.

Now, I want to be clear – I don’t mean that we need to quit denouncing false religion. False religion needs to be denounced (Paul says they need to be “silenced,” ie., Titus 1:11). And I’m not saying anyone should stop promoting their positives (Paul praises congregations that are doing well, ie., Colossians 1:3-4). But before talking negatively about another congregation, churches ought to consider one simple question: “Does this follow God’s model for growth?”

Why would we emulate the failed system of customer swapping when the pool of unbelievers has so much more potential to bring glory to God? Let’s go into ALL the world, making disciples, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).

The truth is, gaining new “customers” is hard. It costs far more time, effort, and money. It causes us to go into unfamiliar territory. It forces us to speak to those who, in many cases, have “cut the cord” of religion altogether. Yet, the only model Jesus gave us was to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And to God be the glory!