Driving by the Golden Rule

In church today we discussed the meaning of the parable Jesus uses in Mark 4, which says in part, “By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you.” To translate, it’s the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

I didn’t feel convicted until I thought about my experience on the road. Not necessarily how I drive, but my attitude while I’m driving. I’m very decisive (totally opposite of how I am normally, which is quirky), and in turn I expect every other driver to be decisive, too.

With that in mind, here’s the catch: I don’t extend much grace or forgiveness to any other drivers, but I expect it in full from them.

Basically I act like I’m right you’re wrong, and if you can’t make a decision just get out of the way. I also get angry, anxious, impatient, perturbed, fed up when motorists think laws don’t apply to them. I’m very legalistic when it comes to obeying the rules of the road. Check out Steve McQueen here…

In the moments following this Hell’s Angel’s disregard for the law, nothing I thought about was very Golden Rulish.

So now I have something to work on while I’m in the car. Extending grace. Forgiving these inferior drivers. Not honking so much. Hitting the brakes to let someone make up for their idiotic decision.

I know there’s a place for administering justice and correction, so I guess I can be praying for discretion and discernment on which battles to fight, and which to let go.

-Out of the Wilderness

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The top posts of 2017

I had so much fun posting blogs about life, love, music, dogs, and many other things in 2017. Here’s a list of top new posts from the year.

Music or music videos

  1. The woman in Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (10,653 views, posted Jan 10)
  2. The cast of Brett Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know” (9,358 views, posted April 8)
  3. The dancers in Keith Urban’s “The Fighter” (7,661 views, posted April 5)

 

Dating or Relationships

  1. Ten more signs a Christian guy is into you (583 views, posted May 1)
  2. Rekindling an old flame (384 views, posted July 19)
  3. Rekindling an old flame, part 2 (285 views, posted Aug 9)

 

My favorite light-hearted posts from 2017

  1. A guy who (sometimes) shaves his legs (45 views, posted Sept 17)
  2. Encounter with a car salesman (39 views, posted Sept 28)
  3. Avoiding a “Talkative Tim” or “Chatty Cathy” (12 views, posted Sept 9)

 

My favorite thoughtful posts from 2017

  1. Thoughts about Virginia, and why I love the Nashville PD (80 views, posted Aug 16)
  2. I have a hard time saying no (10 views, posted Sept 15)
  3. Brief encounters (15 views, posted April 5)

 

My favorite spiritual posts from 2017

  1. What if God is the sun? (9 views, posted June 2)
  2. Jesus saved a bunch of animals, too (18 views, posted March 22)
  3. God is able (14 views, posted Feb 20)

 

I’ll be posting a lot this year as well, so please subscribe and come with me on another year-long adventure!

-Out of the Wilderness

To kill, or not to kill

A friend of mine met me for lunch yesterday and among the things we talked about was guns/ gun ownership/ self-defense. I think we got on the topic in somewhat of a round-about way, first discussing what we’d do (or have done) in scenarios where help might have been needed. Think: car accidents, someone being locked out of their car, house fires, robberies, that sort of thing.

We eventually got to a fear everyone’s thought about at some point: what if an intruder breaks into your house with a gun? I know there are different strategies based on who’s in the house already, like if you have a family, if you’re single, have roommates, etc. Our hypothetical scenario was us as fathers with a family in the house when it’s broken into. The question we asked was would we, or even could we, shoot to kill or would we do whatever we can to allow the intruder to live? My friend and I are both Christians, so while we agreed our first instinct was to defend the family, there’s another wrinkle to the story because we’d be dealing with someone that hasn’t met God…yet. Do we use a gun and, if the person is killed, take away their opportunity for salvation?

My stance was an enthusiastic, “Yes, send them to their Maker.”

My friend was discussing this days earlier and the other person in that convo is a father and husband, and he proposed that because he knows where his family members are going, as in Heaven because they’ve all become followers of Jesus, he would do whatever he can for the salvation of the intruder’s soul, even if it meant sacrificing himself or any member of his family. Sounds sick, right? That’s sort of what I was thinking but it’s more complex than that, and also there are ways to subdue the unwanted guest without killing, I guess.

So back to my friend and I chatting as we munched on lunch at First Watch. He then brought up the strongest defense in favor of the intruder… what example has God set for us in this kind of scenario? Well, He didn’t choose to save His son when He could’ve (when Jesus was on the cross, about to die). And Jesus died so others could live, so it’s kind of like the made-up scenario where maybe one of the family members dies, but the house intruder lives. God chose us, the humans/ sinners/ intruders over His son.

Rocked my world.

It’s still something I’ll think about in the coming days, but at this point I don’t know how that truth can be overcome. God chose us. He chose the ugly, mean, sinful intruder because He wanted us to have a chance at redemption. It’s a beautiful and completely unfair thing He did, and of course, I’m grateful.

But if I’m ever in a situation like the one that just happened in Vegas, I don’t know what I’d do. Are there more than the two obvious choices: let the gunman run wild, or kill the gunman? Maybe killing him so others can live is the answer. I texted my friend about what happened in Vegas and he texted back: “Shoot him… with a stun gun” …so maybe that would work, if the opportunity was there?

It’s a complex world we live in, and really the only way to rid ourselves of horrific events like [insert tragedy here] is to admit we are sinners in need of help. Then, as TobyMac says, “when love breaks through” things would begin to change for the better.

-Out of the Wilderness

What if God is the sun?

“God is like the sun; you cannot always look at it, but without it you cannot look at anything else.” — G.K. Chesterton.
img_20170603_115600.jpgFirst, I hope you read this with an open mind, especially if you’re a Christian like myself. Because it sounds a lot like pantheism to say God is the sun, but that is not my intention at all. When I refer to God, I’m speaking of the God of the Universe, the one who created the sun actually 🙂 so take all of this as just a day dream that turned into a conversation with a good friend, and something I believe God is capable of doing if He so chose to.

OK, OK, on with it! I’m a big fan of endings with a twist. I still remember those wow moments in a couple of M. Night Shamayaya movies The Sixth Sense and The Village. I’ve also started watching Leverage and that show is great for having surprise endings. I guess I like the thrill of expecting one thing, but then something else totally out of the blue happens. Side note, I just watched Split (M. Night Shamyaha movie) and it’s pretty great, too! I recommend it.

img_20170603_114640.jpgA few months ago I was chatting with a friend. I’m not sure exactly how we came up with this notion, but what if God is the sun? What if, at the end of time when Jesus returns and order is restored, we have the biggest OMG moment as God says, “Hey y’all, hey Dolly… I’ve been here the whole time!” (Who doesn’t love Dolly Parton, right?)

Wouldn’t that be a crazy twist no one saw coming!? Sounds a little far-fetched, I know, but I do find it quite interesting how many attributes or characteristics of God actually align with the sun as we know it. Here are a few:

  • The Bible often refers to God as “light”/ the sun is light
  • God never sleeps or slumbers / the sun is always “on”
  • No one is able to look at Him / have you tried looking at the sun directly?
  • He’s everywhere all at once / on earth, the sun is kinda everywhere all at once (if reflecting off the moon counts?)
  • God is not bound by time / the same sun that shines on us also shined on dinosaurs
  • God feeds nature at the proper time / the necessity of sunlight for food to grow for humans, animals, fish, etc.

In Genesis 1 the story of creation goes that God created light, and later created the sun. So I totally get it, chances are God isn’t the sun. But maybe He dwells in the sun at times. Who knows. His ways are higher than ours, right? But these kinds of thoughts interest me very much. What does God do that would blow our minds if we knew it? What has He done in the past, or will do in the future, that will leave us in even more awe? In the future, will there be some kind of twist no one saw coming?

-Out of the Wilderness

Jesus saved a bunch of animals, too

I’ve had a recurring thought over the past few years and it makes me love the story of Jesus even more. One, because everything I learn about him or experience with him usually makes my heart skip a beat. He really was a hero. Two, I love animals.

So most people reading this will know at the heart of Christianity is Jesus’ death saving mankind from our sins. He died, now we live (spiritually, eternally, etc). The thought that keeps coming back to me is this: when Jesus died, the need for an animal sacrifice was Jesus_Lamb3aeliminated because his death became the payment due. Animal sacrifices were no longer needed. Of course, not everyone back then believed Jesus’ message, so I’m sure sacrifices continued, but for a whole lot of animals then and from then on, they get to live. Sheep were like, “Baaaaaaaa!!” Rams were like, “Woooooonkkk!!!!” Doves were like, “Someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dyyyiiinn’!”

But seriously, in a more literal way than Jesus’ death bringing life to humans, in fact, in a very literal way, his death meant life for so many of God’s creatures. Right there on the spot. That day.

I think that’s pretty cool! I also came across this blog post that gets into the details of Jewish sacrificial history, and it’s an interesting read. Take a look when you get a chance!

-Out of the Wilderness

God is able

A phrase that’s been on the front of my mind lately is one you’ll hear in sermons, in songs, or written on posters or in sympathy cards. It comes from Ephesians 3:20.

God is able.

image

If you’re like me, though, every once in a while you might ask yourself, “What is He able to do, exactly?” I think the Sunday School answer is everything. But that doesn’t necessarily help me when I’m stuck in traffic and frustrated, or when I make a mistake at work, or when I say something that’s not exactly encouraging to someone. Or for you, maybe you’re losing patience with your kids, or lost out on a big work project, or didn’t do so hot on a recent test. Or maybe you just accomplished something significant, or did get that big work project. There’s still a need for God even in those situations, right? It could almost be anything at all that points us to a need for something more.

What has made the phrase relevant in my life recently is acknowledging that I sometimes get caught in this cycle:

Feeling discouraged <turns into> thinking something will or won’t happen <turns into>  doubt <turns into> unhealthy behavior <turns into> guilt.

So I’ll admit, then, sometimes I wonder about it. “Is God able?” I’ll ask. Is He actually able to help me with what I’m doing today? Using the cycle above, is He able to keep me from diving into discouragement, etc?

Then recently it dawned on me: Yes, He is. Because His ability to “do” isn’t constrained by and doesn’t rely on my belief that He can. He can. He can. That’s it. He can. It’s like wondering if a beagle howls. Or a dolphin jumps. Or if grass is green. The answer is yes, yes, and yes. Whether I believe it or not, the grass is still green. A dolphin will still jump. A beagle will still howl.

And God is able.

So I’m thankful today that even in my wavering ups and downs where for one minute I’m singing How Great Thou Art and the next I’m quoting one of my favorite lines from Rescue Dawn – “God, why don’t You help us when we need You most?” – God is still there, and He is still able.

-Out of the Wilderness