Friday, June 21, 2013

Paula Deen, America, & the N word.

Paula Deen was fired from Food Network today after admitting, under oath, to using the n-word in the past.

I am a food fan.  I have also been a Food Network fan for many years and have thusly became a Paula Deen fan.  You can look pretty dang hard and will be hard-pressed to find a person less racist than myself. I've never been one to like or dislike a person based on their color nor background... at least I've never tried to be. I have great white friends and great black friends. I've utilized white friends in different ministry scenarios and I've used black friends the same way. I have ministered to white, people, black people, and many other ethnicities. I have black people that I dislike and I have white people that I dislike. I have black athletes that I pull for and the same with white athletes. I have some favorite actors and actresses that are white and some that are black. 

I try my best to see people for what they are at their foundation: humans. All of you know that this is who I am and who I try to be and who I try to raise my kids to be. My daughter, Kate, referred to her black friends as her "brown" friends until she was 7 or 8 because that was the best way for her mind to describe who they were. 

I'm white. I'm okay with being referred to as a white guy if the need arises for someone to point me out in a crowd or describe me to someone. Because I am white.

"Deen and her brother are being sued by a former employee who claims she "worked in a hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs," according to the AP." - Jennifer Brett, AJC

Deen admitted while being questioned in this deposition to using the n-word as a racial slur in the past but also acknowledged that it had been a very long time ago and assured the prosecution that neither her nor her family condone racism nor the use of hurtful words to describe people of any race. 

I understand that Food Network is a business with an image to protect and anything short of firing Paula Deen would appear to support her past mistakes. 

The fact that Food Network is being forced by society into this decision is nothing less than hogwash. 

There isn't a person south of the Mason-Dixon Line that hasn't used the word "cracker", "nigger", or "wetback" to describe someone of a certain race or personality. At some point in the distant past, I have used all of these words and I've ignorantly used them to describe people in a hurtful way and I've ignorantly used them to describe people in a humorous way. I've been called a "cracker" and I've heard comedians across America use this word to describe white people for as long as I can remember. 

But that's okay? 

Understand that this is tough for me to write because to some it may look like "the white guy defending white people" but if you know my heart this is the furthest thing from my mind. 

I want racism to end and fairness to win. My mama always told me "what's good for the goose is good for the gander"...

America has turned into a melting pot of whiny babies and our judicial system is nothing less than a horrible, pacifist mother raising all of us brats. Most white people don't care if racism ends, they just don't want to be called "crackers" by black people. Most black people don't care if racism ends, they just don't want to be called "niggers" by white people.

Racism is a nasty and distasteful part of America's personality, past and present.

My argument ends with this: Should we not applaud (or at least appreciate) an older southern white woman who grew up in segregated Savannah and who voluntarily admits to using racial slurs in the distant past but discourages using them now? Is this not what America wants?? Don't we want people to admit their faults, change their ways, and encourage others to do the same? 

Lord, come quickly. 

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Wonder If I Bore Jesus

Last night, I was working on the last paper for a class I'm taking online when I received a phone call. The person who called me always seems to call at the most inopportune times and seemingly never has anything interesting to say. It's always something about work or their spouse. My end of the conversation usually consists of a bunch of "Really?", "No Way.", and "I heard that."

I don't think there is anything wrong with being bored in conversation, by phone or face-to-face. After all, can we help what interests us and what bores us? I think the only thing we control is how interested we can act. I try my best, when I'm seriously bored in conversation, to at least act like my attention is undivided. I'm not always bored and a lot of things interest me but with a touch of ADD, you should say what you want before you lose me.

So last night, I got off the phone and returned to my paper when began thinking about some of the things I could do to stop losing interest in people so easily. At that point, I stopped dead in my train of thought and said to myself,

"I wonder if I bore Jesus."

Now, a lot of people would say, "There's no way that Jesus would lose interest in His people." So you're telling me that Jesus gets angry, heartbroken, interested, satisfied, happy, and jealous but He would never get bored? I don't think Jesus gets bored with me personally but I am not completely convinced that He never gets bored with the things I do and the way I do things.

I guess above all, whether Jesus gets disinterested in the way I do things or not, I want to make sure that the things I attempt for God are fresh and out of necessity rather than just doing things because that's the way they've always been done.

I may bore all of my friends but I want to make sure that what I do for Christ receives His genuine interest.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy Place

My number 17 favorite movie of all-time is Happy Gilmore. This movie stars Adam Sandler who plays Happy Gilmore, a former hockey player who is incapable of controlling his anger so he resorts to playing golf in order to save his grandmother's house from bank foreclosure. Get it? I hate when that happens....anyway. There is a point in the movie where Happy is struggling with his putting game so his coach, Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers), forces him to play mini-golf but, or course, Happy can't control his anger so Chubbs convinces him to find his "happy place". This is the point where Happy imagines a place where his on-screen love interest, Virginia Venit (Julie Bowen), is carrying two pitchers of beer while clad in skimpy lingerie, his helpless grandmother is hitting the jackpot on a slot machine, and a midget is riding a tricycle. I'm not sure how happy this place would make me or anyone else but the point here is that this was Happy Gilmore's Happy Place. Now it's time for me to Jesus this thing up a little.

God isn't a mere man. He can't lie.
He isn't a human being. He doesn't change his mind.
He speaks, and then he acts.
He makes a promise, and then he keeps it.
- Numbers 23:19 (NIV)

My Happy Place, spiritually speaking, is anytime that I can step aside from my God-less routine and life-driven complacency to revisit the points in my walk with God where I was most happy, most on fire, most eager to win the world to the Kingdom of God.

II Kings 4:8-37 tells the story of a woman from the town of Shunem. You can read it here. Here's the gist of it. This woman decides to build a room for the Prophet Elisha because he passed by her house so often. This room becomes a seed.

This labor intensive activity of building a room for the man OF God becomes her worship of and offering TO God.

In return, Elisha promised this childless woman that she would have a son, a promise that excited her but one that she also didn't initially believe. Her husband was old and she had never had the children she must have wanted so this was a big word for her. Fast forward a year, she has a son. Move ahead 10-15 more years, this son; her dream and her promise, DIES unexpectedly in her arms. This distraught woman takes her dead son into Elisha's room; the room that she built as a seed and lays him on the bed. She then heads out to find Elisha, who returns and is used by God to bring life back into the dead child. It's a really beautiful story if you have a minute to read it.

What do you do with your promise when it seems like time has ran out? What do you do when it's clear that your dream is broken, busted and will never come to pass?

To me, the most relevant part of this story isn't how God uses Elisha to speak life back into this boy's lifeless body...

but rather how she knew exactly what to do with her dead, lifeless, broken dream....

She knew to return to her Happy Place.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: I Will Not Make A Baby This Year

So I did it again. I stuck my foot in mouth on twitter last night. I was asked for my New Year's Resolutions so, without thinking, I rattled off a few things that I'd like to do in 2011. Some of them are drastic life-changes and some of them aren't major changes for me or for anyone else but maybe some of these things will help me overcome some inconsistencies in my life. So, I've made a list of 10 in no particular order. Chew on this:

  1. I will write 50 blog posts this year, one per week, with a couple weeks off somewhere in there. I love blogging and reading blogs but have consistently been guilty of being sporadically inconsistent.
  2. I will read at least 20 books this year. Some people read 20 books a month. I am not sure if I have even read 20 books in my life, honestly. I've never been a fan of reading but I know the importance of reading and I am sure that this would help in some way. I also want my kids to see me reading more.
  3. I can and WILL weigh no more than 200 lbs by New Years 2012. This WILL happen. For me, for my family, for my friends, for ministry, for everything. #thatisall
  4. I vow to give away more things than I am given this year. I will keep track. I will remember.
  5. I will be a better husband and father than I am capable of being. How? I have no idea. I just know that I wanna be the best husband and father in the world, and then step it up.
  6. I will not dip into our "New York City Thanksgiving 2011" money jug. Just so you know, I love "things" and I impulse buy. Typically, a money jug in the corner of our dining room is like the stands at a Marlins's just not gonna fill up.
  7. I will participate in a 3-day, 20 mile hike in May at a weight of no more than 230 lbs and I will run a marathon this year.
  8. I will work on my scriptural study time and prayer life like I never have before. I've notice an unhealthy and self-created communication gap between God and myself. This isn't me and makes me uncomfortable. Hopefully I become uncomfortable enough to bring an end to it.
  9. I'm a sports addict and have occasionally put sporting events (televised or in-person) ahead of family and God. This will come to an end. I will continue to be a huge sports fan but my priorities will take a dramatic shift in the right direction.
  10. And lastly, this year I will: turn 31, not shave until May, purchase an iPad, pay off my truck and my cabin, not own a credit card, and not get my wife pregnant. We met in 2000, were married in 2002. My wife has been pregnant 6 times and at some point in every year, 2002-2010 with the exception of 2005....and 2011 :-)

I hope you enjoyed reading blog post 1 of at least 50. Please comment and RT! Thank you all so much for being my friends. Happy 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Attention Grabber.

I try hard to not be the type of guy who takes everything in life and credits it to God or blames it on Satan..or vice versa. That was the church atmosphere I was raised in from the day I traded in the amniotic fluid for O2 and strongly believe that some good and bad things in life...just happen.

On the same note, I'm also not the type of guy who finds a Jesus story in everything that happens. I don't think that every hitchhiker or homeless person I see is an angel I'm unawaredly entertaining. I didn't think "that's how sin is" when Tobey Maquire was trying to peel off the black spider-man suit.

But....(Isn't there always a but?)

Due to the crazy few weeks that just went by (moving, sick kids, etc), we finally put up our tree and decorations last night...the 21st! We usually have a real tree and spend hours upon hours picking it out, cutting it down, setting it up and finally decorating it but this year, since we will only enjoy it for a week or so, we went with a $38, artificial Wally World special.

After assembling the tree, I was in my recliner catching up on some reading for school while, 6 ft away, my wife took decorations out of a plastic bin, one-by-one, fixed the hooks and passed them on for one of our offspring to place on the tree. I continually noticed how my eyes would subconsciously turn, how my head would fall back onto the headrest part of my chair and how I would become completely and hopelessly lost in watching my children enjoy this activity so much.

And that's where my big "but" came in. I had a rare moment. A "WWJD" moment, if you will. A "all-things-are-Jesus" moment. I thought to myself:

Do I get God's undivided attention with how much I enjoy doing what He's called me to do? And I don't mean the goo-goo-ga-ga-how-sweet-is-that attention. I mean, in a sense: Do I turn God's head?

That is all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Happens When There Is No One Left To Impress?

"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." - II Corinthians 11:30 (NIV)

We have a weakness. We like to impress. I don't mean your typical "check-out-how-clean-my-shoes-are" impress. I mean, we really like to impress and not just on a small scale. We have all been known to attempt to live beyond the means or resources that we currently have available.

Examples? Absolutely. See that picture? I designed it from scratch with nothing more than a "save picture as..." command on a google search. Then I cropped and finagled and added and fasted and prayed until I had, what I consider to be, a pretty snazzy, 30-minute discussion title logo. Impressed? No? Well, oddly enough, that doesn't really matter to me personally. I have deciphered that, for some strange reason, my desire to have and do things that are considered impressible drives me more than whether or not the product or service or item or idea I have that I want to be impressive is...impressive.

Another example. I play softball and every year I think I have to have new cleats, new pants, and about every 2 years, a new bat. Why? I really don't need those things. Last years cleats are fine, a few mud stains on softball pants only impose the idea that I'm a go-getter on the diamond (which I am) and any softball player knows that the more quality hits you can put on a bat, the better it hits. But I love for people to think that I'm top-notch in everything I do. Call it pride. Call it boastfulness. Call me a spoiled brat. All of those labels are probably true. So that's why I'm writing this therapeutic blog post.

I don't think there is anything wrong with having nice things. Where the problem comes in is when we purchase, say or do things simply to impress. This has always been my issue.

What Happens When There Is No One Left To Impress?

What happens when we graduate from high school and the peers that we always dressed to impress are gone and out of our lives for what usually ends up being forever?

What happens when we are too old or out of shape to play softball and all we have are the receipts from all the wasted transactions?

What happens when the social network du jour is played out (i.e. MySpace) and nobody even knows, much less cares, about the non-life changing feats we accomplished this week?

What happens when there is no one left to impress?

Its not just about enjoying the ride. Paul said that if he couldn't go without boasting, he would at most boast about the areas in his life where he fell short.

The moral of this story is this:

We waste so much useful time and needed finances on impressing our friends, our co-workers, and our congregations.

I think I should take Paul's advice and brag on the fact that my pride has caused me on many occasions to be grotesquely wasteful with valuable resources.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Are You A Perfect 10?

Are you a Perfect 10? Are you the best? I most definitely am not. Not in appearance. Not in talent. Not in my walk with God. Nowhere. Do you know someone who is? I sure don't. Yet, everywhere we turn in society we are pressured to be exactly that. Be the perfect actor or actress. Be the best mom, dad, running back, diver, writer, singer or speaker. Guys rank girls features on a scale of 1 to 10 and I'm convinced that some girls do the same to guys. We are all pressured to believe that if we aren't THE best at whatever we do then we will not meet our full potential of success. What is this struggle that pushes and also pulls us toward a mark that no one has reached in the last 2000 years? Here's my opinion on a spiritual level:

I am convinced that even though we can not be perfect, God requires us to strive for perfection.

Your immediate thoughts are probably something like this: "What? God doesn't expect me to be perfect. That's why He offers forgiveness and grace and mercy." You are exactly right. I know that God doesn't expect me to be perfect but I know that God wants me to strive to be exactly that. II Samuel chapter 10 tells a story of King David. I won't quote the entire story but I highly recommend reading it. Here it is or here's an excerpt.

9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites.

The awesome part in verse 9 is that we see that Joab selected "the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans." The reason this is so relative to my blog is because when we back up to verse 6 we read:

6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become a stench in David's nostrils, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maacah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.

Put 2 and 2 together yet? We understand that the Aramean army was, by far, the largest and strongest army in the battle.

So Joab chose the best troops to fight the hardest battle. Joab divided his army into two parts and, through the telling of this story, gave them two distinctive names: THE BEST TROOPS and.....the rest.

I don't know what this story speaks into your life today but here is what I hear from it. Regardless of what I give God, whether I give him 20% or 100%, I STILL HAVE TO FIGHT. I would much rather be known as a choice soldier, one of the best troops, than to be complacent, give God less than He deserves, and be considered one of "the rest".

I WILL strive to be a Perfect 10.