You Can’t Make This Stuff Up – My Facebook Saga

Within five minutes of trying to post the following, I was once again denied access to both my personal profile and Cotton Steel page.

You can’t make this stuff up…

My personal profile and Christian blog page have been investigated near a dozen times to where I had no access for up to a week at a time.

This morning I receive a friend request from a name and picture of a young lady (the name I will not divulge and has already been blocked) which states that she desired “company” tonight in her “bedroom.” This request, being what I thought an obvious phishing type scam, was brought to the attention of the fine AI’s at Facebook.

Within a matter of a few hours, I received a follow-up to the report made.

This is where it gets good, “…it doesn’t go against one of our specific Community Standards…”

Huh? Links or mentions of a Christian blog deserves repeated investigation, but an attempt to phish for a hookup is within the Facebook parameters???

My friends, I no longer wish to take part in this FB endeavor. It seems almost hypocritical to try and promote my blog postings and book titles via this particular form of social media (which all the experts say is necessary to success). However, being that I am not one to turn away from a cause…I wanted you all to know that my efforts to post my website blogs will be increasing until such time as they shut me down completely.

To that end, I am asking any of you that are interested at all in my writings to go to my blog contact page listed below so that I might not lose complete contact with you when I am once again am denied access to my FB friends/messenger list.

As always, any suggestions/comments/likes/shares are most appreciated.

“May the Lord grant you one more race against the sunset in order to pursue your rendezvous with destiny.”

~Cotton Steel

GAMEDAY

PRACTICE

During any given practice, there are those moments when a player needs to be corrected for making a mistake in carrying out his or her assignment. However, it is much more often the case when the player could not be made to feel any worse for having committed the error.

Players caught in such a moment would likely be seen slapping themselves upside the head and heard muttering something to the effect of, “Dangit…that was stupid…sorry coach.”

As a football coach (it all comes back to football), my standard response would be to place a hand on the shoulder of the player and then speak in a tone that insinuated I was letting him in on one of life’s greatest secrets. “Relax,” I would say, “that’s why we aren’t playing the game today. We are practicing so that YOU WILL get it right on gameday.”

I was reminded of that coaching point during a recent sermon.

The church I attend has recently had a great focus on how to truly love in the Christian sense. And just like that player described hitting himself upside the head, I have been beating myself up over what I have been perceiving as mistake after mistake after mistake…

Unfortunately, the conviction on my heart was far beyond my simply being able to raise my hand with the admission of “my bad” and then moving on to the next play. But after being better coached on the lessons found within our Christian Bible (Ephesians 4:20-27), I am starting to feel a hand upon my shoulder and the whispers of reassurance. Let me explain:

HATE

I would be watching a news broadcast of riots, and…

Hate.

I would be witnessing the persecution of Christians by Islamic fundamentalists, and…

Hate.

I would see the further persecution of Christians by the United States government or by citizens of our country, and…

Hate.

Someone would mistreat my kids and…

Whoa…now you know how that one ends. Mess with me all you want, but mess with my kids and…

Hate with action, and as a former marine I felt that I would be more than able and willing to take the action.

That is what I would PRACTICE in my mind, but then…

TIME TO SCRIMMAGE

1 Peter 1:17

Just as a coach hopes to see practice performance improved when putting a player into a scrimmage situation,…

I would wish a blessed day upon a person that resembled those who chose to riot.

Instead of taking the action I practiced in my mind, I would hold the door open and warmly greet individuals wearing long flowing clothes and head scarves.

I would shake my head in disbelief as I walked away from having a polite conversation with that very same person that did my kids wrong.

Was I getting too old? Too soft? Too weak?

Or, was I taking that which was being taught to me on the “practice field” and finally performing at a more spiritually mature level when placed in a “scrimmage” situation?

I’ll probably need a few more scrimmages before I know for sure.

Phillipians 3:12

GAMEDAY

A good coach always works to get his players ready to perform at their peaks on gameday. Peak too early, and your players waste a whole lot of good plays on the practice field. Too late, and your players are going to lose–big.

As an old ball coach, I have come to realize that it is better to prepare to win. So, excuse me as I go back to reading that Great Playbook. Today isn’t gameday, but tomorrow just might be.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Read the Red (No.2-3)

Read the Red (no.2)

Below is the second red phrase which we have had about one month to contemplate:

Matthew 3:15 (NIV)

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Again, there were some great responses from readers in regards to this second red phrase. Please know that your contribution is what makes this set of blogs so very much worthwhile.

Also, feel free to comment on previous editions of this Read the Red series of blogs. Being further removed from an object will at times give us a more clear–and certainly a broader–perspective on what it is we should focus.

So, on to the task at hand: Read the Red (no.2).

There were three words that caught the attention of our readers:

  1. Now
  2. Us
  3. Righteousness
Now

There were a few ways in which the word “now” was interpreted. The first referenced our first Read the Red phrase in that Jesus might be saying, “Do not wait to seek me. Come to church, immediately.”

Others thought that it might be speaking to the person whom is already sitting in church, and we all know this person–very, very well. During an invitation to stand and turn their lives over to Christ, this person sits back in a sea of doubt as wave after wave (“I am not ready…” or “I will next time…”) pounds against their desire to act. The thought being that Jesus himself is coaching us on to take that step of faith “now.”

For some of the readers, the word “now” went along with the word “righteousness” whereas if a person were to turn their life over to Jesus or be baptized in the Holy Spirit then that person would immediately–despite ANY past sinfulness–be brought into right standing with God.

Us

This was, in my opinion, the true gem of a find by the readers. The word “us” seems to make it clear that Jesus tells us that we are not going to be alone in this adventure of life. That He promises to be with us each and every step of the way.

What’s more, is the thought that not only does Jesus want to be with us but that He needs to be with us during our walk. Making the individual decision to go to church or to say that we are a Christians is not enough. We have to “turn it all over” to Jesus and join into partnership with Him.

Righteousness

The word “righteousness” as referred to earlier can be defined as either being correct by Devine declaration or conforming to the revealed will of God. Seems to make sense then that if we can interpret Jesus’ words as an invitation to be righteous, then simple logic would lead us to the assumption that He does indeed desire for us to be righteous.

The fact that Jesus chooses to use the word “righteousness” may imply a bit of foreshadowing as well. Consider the passage below where the word “righteousness” is used not once, but twice:

Psalm 40:9-10 King James Version (KJV)

I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.

10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

Could it be that those words spoken to John the Baptist were a foreshadowing of the Great Commission that was essentially beginning there in the River Jordan?

Read the Red (no.3)

Now, on to our next phrase in the series (NOTE: we are pulling from the book of Matthew again since there seems to be a more complete quote as compared to the other gospels):

Matthew 4:1-11 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

The idea is simple: Isolate and focus on those words and parables in the Bible that are written in red-those attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ.

What do these words, isolated an on their own merit say to you? To what other thoughts or scriptures do these words lead you?

Your questions, comments, and answers are always appreciated. But please remember that for this particular set of blogs, your participation is essential.

Reminder: You can feel free to leave a comment below (and thus begin an open discussion), or you might be more comfortable sending me your thoughts and questions via the Contact page.

Come And Take It – A New Beginning

The Pioneers of Texas and ‘GTT’
State of Texas

Texans are a proud bunch. And I do mean proud. They are not arrogant. They are merely outwardly sympathetic to any and all persons whom come from some other less fortunate state.

However, what many “native” Texans (sometimes limited to those whom have a lineage linked to Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred”, but may include others also permitted by the Mexican government to settle the land of Coahuila y Tejas during the early 1800’s) may not realize is that we “imports” likely have just as much in common with the early pioneers of the old republic.

Those early American imports to Texas were not only seeking out a large tract of land or new place to live…in many cases, they had troubles in their lives that had become far too out of control or too overwhelming for them to handle on their own. They were searching, hoping,…they were praying for a new beginning when they made the decision to go to Texas.

As a matter of fact, it became a common occurrence for friends, family members, business associates, and sometimes even creditors to go and knock on the door of an empty house and find nothing but three letters written on the door: GTT.

Gone To Texas

Gone To Texas. That was the way in which the overwhelmed and distraught would announce to the world that they had left their troubles behind and went out to claim their new beginning.

How many of us–at least one time in our lives–have found ourselves in a state where we felt overwhelmed, distraught, or hopeless?

How refreshing would it be…how good and proper would it be for us to show the world exactly where we went to claim our new beginning, our new hope, our renewed joy?

I am putting forth today, my friends, that it is more than good–it is essential–for us to visibly stake our claim. We are living in a day and age where we need to boldly show our detractors as well as our admirers exactly where we have chosen to dwell.

Gone To Jesus

We have gone to the Rock.

We have gone to the Word.

We have gone to live out the rest of our lives within the boundaries of joy, of peace, and of love.

GTJ. We have Gone To Jesus.

A Reborn Battle Cry

Next, I would like to take the plight which those early Texans had with their Mexican government and juxtapose it against what Washington, D.C. is dispensing out to citizens today.

And so it came to pass, that in order to draw in settlers to the land of Tejas the Mexican government had put forth some provisions. Among others, were the provisions that Catholicism would be the religion of the state and that there would be a moratorium on any new taxes.

No new taxes for any period of time was certainly compelling as it would provide an opportunity for the new pioneers of the land to establish for themselves a solid fiscal foundation. Something which the majority of them were in desperate need of.

In regards to Catholicism, it was more than implied to the early settlers of protestant heritage that the enforcement of the mandate was more a formality of paperwork as opposed to any ideal that would ever be enforced.

Had the Mexican government stayed true to the ideals of their own constitution, then Texas may to this day have still been a part of our southern neighbor. Instead, new taxes and a forced change on how people were permitted to worship became the politics of the day.

The government did not adhere to its founding document.

Well, these new citizens of Tejas having barely been a generation removed from the memory of the American Revolution were not about to allow any of their religious rights or hard earned money be taken away without a certain amount of grumbling.

The Mexican government and especially the president, Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna, caught wind of some of this discontent and decided to take action against these lowly citizens.

So, in the town of Gonzales was a cannon which the Mexican government had given the people in order to help protect them from Indian invaders. President Santa Anna, knowing that it would not be wise to leave such a weapon in the hands of a people that might decide to turn on him gave orders to go and take that cannon away from the town of Gonzales. And that brings us to this scene:

The Battle Begins
Battle of Gonzales

A small group of lowly insignificant citizens decided to take a stand. They decided to not allow their cannon or their rights be stripped away. They decided to not be told how it was they could worship. They decided to take a stand and say “You want it, then Come and Take It.”

Come and Take It Flag

And thus began the Texas Revolution.

This is the legacy to which we all have a claim.

And now, let us bring our focus to today and to what else you have a claim.

Consider the following:

Franklin Graham

“And make no mistake, hostility toward Christians in the United States is on the rise and will grow unless we stand up for our freedoms of religion and conscience.” ~Franklin Graham, Charisma News, May 13, 2016

 

 

International Christian Concern
2016 Hall of Shame Report

“In short, Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and closeminded…More importantly, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through the law.” ~International Christian Concern, 2016 Hall of Shame: New and Noteworthy Countries [United States]

 

 

First Liberty
2016 UNDENIABLE

“Hostility to religious expression in America continues to grow at an alarming rate…Quantitatively and qualitatively, the hostility is undeniable. And it is dangerous.” ~First Liberty Institute, 2016 Undeniable

Now some would revise our history in order to put forth the argument that the United States of America was not founded on Christianity.

 

 

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams would disagree.

“Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in matters of conscience direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum.” —Samuel Adams, August 1, 1776

I would put forth that this nation was founded by those that had to worship in secret and in barns and basements until the day that they might break away from their oppression in order to seek freedom–specifically religious freedom–in a new land.

Some would have us believe that the American founding fathers were non-believers themselves and that the United States Constitution is not a document founded on Christian Principles.

 

Common Sense Pamphlet

Thomas Paine had a bit more common sense.

“Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience…But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above…” ~Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

Some would site polls like those from the Pew Foundation that found those identifying as non-religious in the US rose by seven percent, to 23 percent of the total US adult population within just seven years (2007 to 2014).

And I would say how sad it is that we are allowing ourselves to be forced back into our barns and into our basements as we are told that we can no longer worship out in the public square for fear it might offend the loud and obtrusive minority.

Some would say that we cannot possibly take on the entirety of the Liberal elite, the Hollywood Left, and the colossal United States Government.

To that I say,…

 

1 Samuel 17:26

“…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ~David, 1 Samuel 17:26

A New Banner – A New Challenge
A New Banner

We are living in a time of opportunity, my friends. A time when we are either going to plant our flag high atop a hill and defend it, or we are going to allow the light from the shining city upon the hill to be extinguished forever.

So I ask you, do we have men of courage and women of courage today?

Do you have the courage to love in the face of hate?

Do you have the courage to put on the full armor of God on a daily basis and give to your family the spiritual covering they so desperately need in the anti-Christian climate of today?

Do you have the courage to say ‘yes’ to the Lord’s calling for you?

Do you have the courage to stand on that wall and defend that shining city upon the hill?

When you say yes, will you continue to display courage when the devil attacks you with all he has?

An Invitation

Now, for those that are unsure of themselves…unsure of whether they want to be–or deserve to be–part of the rank and file…please know this:

You deserve that personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that gift is free and available now–yours for the taking.

Just Come And Take It

Come and take the gift of forgiveness. Come and take the joyful life you so desperately want. Come and take up the shield – that warrior’s spirit- that is going to allow you to become that shining example to others. Come and take the Word and the everlasting life provided by the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

COME AND TAKE IT

Habakkuk 2:1 (GW) God’s Word

“I will stand at my guard post. I will station myself on the wall…” ~Habakkuk 2:1

To get your own “New Banner” to show the world, click on the t-shirt below:

Display Your Banner

The Waterfall

The Waterfall

The Waterfall

I stand looking at a waterfall.
It is not exceptionally high,
or loud, or pretty,
and is not known by any name.
It is certainly not Niagara Falls,
but I stand here just the same.

From the base of the waterfall I stare,
chilled by the water’s spray.
I try to watch a single drop as it falls,
and before it floats away.
If I could follow just one drop from beginning to end,
then maybe my being here would prove time well spent.

I begin to float to the top of the ledge,
and feel myself shrinking in size.
I understand why I am doing this,
and am not taken by surprise.
I fly to the source of the falls,
and dive in head first with a cry.

I grab onto a single drop of water,
and begin to enjoy the ride.
I know the fall approaches as my heart beats louder,
and my smile grows wide.
This time, this one time, I will follow from beginning to end,
and I will consider this waterfall worth something quite special then.

The fall draws nearer,
my heart beats faster,
my smile grows wider.
Nearer.
Faster.
Wider.
Nearer, faster, wider more.

I am standing at the base again,
and the ride is over and done.
I did not follow that drop,
and the drop is already gone.

On the far bank is a baby girl
in her mother’s embrace.
She lets go with an excited giggle
as the mist kisses her face.
Together they watch a leaf helicopter
downwards towards the water.
The leaf lands in the stream and sails off
as the tiny girl hugs her mother.

The time here proved to be special
on this ordinary day.
I truly enjoyed this waterfall,
so now I can walk away.

~ Cotton Steel

How Can I Be Rooting For the Clemson Tigers?

How Can I Root for Clemson?
Clemson University

A great many of my friends have come up to me the last few days offering a pat on the back and their (sometime) sincere condolences. The interaction almost invariably proceeds something like this:

Them: “Man, it’s too bad what happened to your Buckeyes in the playoffs.”

Me: “Oh, I am fine. I have been pulling for the Clemson Tigers all season long.”

Them: “Yeah, right. Sure you have. But you’ve got ‘Bama in the championship, right?”

Me: “Nope. I will be rooting for Clemson next Monday night as well.”

Them: “What? How can you be rooting for the Clemson Tigers?”

The Rematch

One week from tonight, the undefeated Crimson Tide of Alabama will be going for their gazillionth college football national championship against Clemson University.

The Tigers of Clemson come into the contest with a blemish on their season record. Coach Swinney’s Tigers lost this past November to a team that does not rank in the top-twenty nor was that team capable of winning one of those other bowl games.

And, oh yeah, Alabama beat Clemson last year for the 2016 title.

So, how can I be rooting for the Clemson Tigers?

‘Bama v. Clemson OR ‘How’ v. ‘Why’

According to his bio on the Clemson Tiger website, Coach Swinney has coached football at two universities.

Coach Dabo Swinney began his college coaching career in 1993 at Alabama which just so happens to be where he gained his playing experience and college degree. He then made his way to Clemson University where he has remained for the past 13 football seasons rising up to the rank of head coach for the past six of those seasons.

Two universities in twenty-six plus seasons of college coaching. My friends, that harkens back to a mostly bygone era of college coaching when integrity was the rule and not the vast exception.

I, myself, was guilty of too often looking for greener pastures as opposed to focusing on the moment and the blessing I had in being able to coach football and shape the lives of young men.

Coach Swinney has a laser sharp focus on both those things.

Consider the Following

Clemson University Football, according to a December TIME Magazine article, is #2 nationally in the annual academic rankings.

Empirically, Coach Dabo Swinney is one of the best in the country at providing the academic environment which allows for the shaping of scholars.

And if you review the clip below, then I think you would agree that there is no better example of a major college football coach leading his student-athletes into manhood.

(Background: The YouTube clip is a 4min. snippet of Coach Swinney’s response to a question regarding Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem.)

Here is a person of Christian values. Here is a coach who is man enough to profess and share those values. And not only that, he is willing to speak the name of Jesus while representing his public university employer. There are not many universities that would back such actions from their football coach; and for that reason (among others), there are even fewer coaches today whom are willing to openly speak what they truly believe.

That is courage. That is leading from the front. That is a man you want mentoring your son.

 So, how is it that I can be rooting for the Clemson Tigers you ask.

Easy. My ‘Why’ is big enough.


 

BTW…share this blog and it could be worth $$money$$ to you! (details are forthcoming)

Read the Red (No.1-2)

Fun is Worshipping Together

This is already proving to be a whole lot of fun.

Thank you all for the great contributions to this very first exchange of ideas in the Read the Red series.

(You can refresh your memory on Read the Red (No.1) by clicking: RTR-1)

I have to divulge that my FCA group had a bit of an issue focusing in on the true target of this exercise. Many of their responses resonated with the regurgitating sound of the book reports to which they had all become accustomed:

“Joseph and Mary took their son Jesus to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus was about twelve years old. They left Jesus behind when they left to go home. When they discovered that Jesus was missing, they got real worried. They returned to Jerusalem and found Him sitting in the temple talking to the teachers, and then He said…”

You get the idea.

Read the Red (no.1)

Luke 2:49 (NIV)
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Again, the ideas that were put forth in regards to this first scripture were wonderful.

Perhaps the funniest of them all was:

“Now I don’t have to feel so guilty because that is pretty much what my nine-year-old said to me when I forgot her at my in-law’s house one Christmas.”

An Invitation

The great majority of the responses likened Jesus’ first words to an invitation for the reader. I could not agree more with that assessment.

Following are some of your interpretations (or translations):

“What’s wrong?”

“How can I help you, my child?”

“You never need to feel alone, for I am always here with you.” His first words bring full circle His final words before going to heaven (Matthew 28:20).

He is telling us where to go when we need help, to church (His father’s house).

He is inviting us to church.

Is it not abundantly appropriate that we are considering this first passage as all of us approach the new year and many are seeking the way to a new beginning?

Read the Red (no.2)

Below you will find our second red phrase to be considered:

Matthew 3:15 (NIV)

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

The idea is simple: Isolate and focus on those words and parables in the Bible that are written in red-those attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your questions, comments, and answers are always appreciated. But please remember that for this particular set of blogs, your participation is essential.

Reminder: You can feel free to leave a comment below (and thus begin an open discussion), or you might be more comfortable sending me your thoughts and questions via the Contact page.

 

Some (more) Un-Paine-ful Common Sense

Two Kinds

There is an old adage in the ranks of college football coaches (It all comes back to football):

“There are two kinds of coaches. Those that have been fired, and those that are going to be fired.”

I checked both those items off during my brief tenure as a college football coach. Yep, got ‘em both done checked off.

Well, it seems that there is a similar saying for blog writers:

I Probably Deserved That

“There are two kinds of blog writers. Those that have received hate mail, and those that are going to receive hate mail.”

Check box one, and check box two. I am such the overachiever.

So Hateful it is Humorous

A few days ago, I did a piece on how our glorious government should take on the task of bringing an end to the ‘Bulldog’ being used as an athletic team mascot. A few hours after posting, I received an email full of more insults than an article on why people need to be more tolerant.

Initially, I chuckled at the email as I thought it to be written in the same satirical spirit as was my bulldog defense. Soon after the email, though, came a phone call (you see, the author of the hate mail is a close family member).

Early on in the phone call, it became evident that my family member was not only seriously upset with my opinion but also genuinely concerned that I had gone off the deep end. Being that this was someone whom I consider one of my most dear and close family members, I handled the onslaught in a manner consistent with the way in which the majority of us handle criticism from dear and close family members.

Let the Insults Begin
And…The Volley of Insults Thus Begun

We were almost out of breath, my family member and I, when I thought a better recourse might be to explain my position on the article’s true meaning as opposed to explaining my opinion on the family member’s lack of intellect.

So, the rest of the conversation went like this (I must paraphrase, of course, in order to protect identities):

Me: “Okay, family member, let me try and explain it this way. The phrase ‘Un-Paine-ful Common Sense’ was my clear attempt to reference Thomas Paine, a man who clearly spelled out the fact that government was not glorious but rather a necessary evil—at best. Furthermore, any person having given the least amount of attention to Paine’s Common Sense or possessing for himself the least amount of the same would have the understanding that a government ‘s sole purpose is to secure liberty—and that particular task should be carried out in the least intrusive manner possible. Paine would have zero capacity for understanding on how ‘We the People’ not only tolerate but plead for our elected officials to spend time on things as trivial as the name of a sports mascot or protection of a person’s feelings. So, I took that argument closer to its natural and most ridiculous end by putting forth the idea that our government should take up the business of protecting the honor of our pets. So, my dear family member, I now ask you what a person must be inundated with that would make it possible for him or her to believe such an utterly ridiculous petition to the government of the United States of America?”

Family Member: “Well, I am employed at USA University.”

And All is Forgiven

Me: “Enough said. All is forgiven.”

Some Un-Paine-ful Common Sense

The Ferocious Bulldog

I have sat quietly on this thought for far too long now. But, having been witness to the glorious growing of our government and having further been witness to how that government has taken an ever more active role in the well-being of its citizens, the time has come to seriously take up the matter.

For far too long now our government has left our society to its own senses of right and wrong and therefore – to no surprise of this citizen – our completely unaware citizenry has too long suffered the obvious injustice of allowing thename of the beloved Bulldog be used as a mascot for many American football clubs (and other such aggressive sports teams as well).

The Affectionate Friend

The bulldog is being maligned as a vicious and aggressive beast that will stop at nothing for a victory in any one of a number of sporting events when nothing can be further from the truth (please note the cute picture of the dog loving on the kitten – the kitten obviously is representative of a modern day member of our American society). The underlying danger cannot be overstated here. If we continue to allow such misuse of this ever loyal and loving companion’s name, then there is no doubt that it will lead to the multitudes believing such bull malarkey.

Continuing to allow such a malevolent smear campaign will no doubt lead to the ill effect of those persons, whom might consider housing such a noble animal, reconsidering and going instead for something along the lines of a maltipoo or chihuahua. I am sure that all can see how that would negatively affect the well-being of the bulldogs by leaving them facing no other future other than incarceration in the local animal shelters and denying them the safe spaces to which all beings have a right.

A Mascot Too Tough

Now, many will correctly point to the further injustice of the breed having long endured the hardship of also being named the mascot of the United States Marine Corps. This writer concedes that is a valid point. However, having to focus on one fight injustice at a time I will sadly have to leave the fight of finding the U.S. Marines a kinder gentler representative figure to another clime and place.

This HolidaY Season, Is Your ‘Why’ Big Enough?

Is your ‘Why’ big enough?

The hustle and bustle of the season is here, and as a wise young man once said, “Good grief.”

My wife and I were walking through the parking lot of Walmart the other day when she began to pray, “Lord we just ask that you give us patience…”

My head and shoulders sunk, my eyes rolled, and my lungs let loose with a moose-call of a sigh.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.

“You asked the Lord for patience…don’t you realize the ordeal that will be put before us just so that He can prove that your prayer was answered.”

My wife knows well enough that it pays to ignore at least half of what I say. To that end, she has pretty much become a millionaire over the years.

But today I wanted to be heard, “Why couldn’t you pray for some empty checkout lines or at least an ample number of cashiers?”

My dear wife just smiled and with each and every step became ever more the money grubbing miser.

Made me wish I had gone shopping with Ebenezer Scrooge (or at least Bill Murray).

Because I know that everyone of us has had their own experience with checking out at Walmart, I will not bore you with the details of our shopping experience that day. Let me just quietly say, “I WAS RIGHT!”

Try and ignore that, Mrs. Scrooge.

What She Should Have Prayed For

Of course, that little story of levity was for the purpose of entertainment only. The truth is that I find it an essential exercise to pray every time I trek into Walmart (and not only during the holiday season).

But instead of praying for patience, I find it better to pray for joy. Pray for an over abundant, radiating, and contagious amount of Christmas Joy.

I know. I know what you are saying to the computer screen right now… “How, how in the world do you expect me to display some Christmas Joy when I am about to step into Walmart (or the mall, or any store during holiday season really, or…who are we kidding – it is ten times tougher at Walmart!) and go to battle against no parking spaces, wobbly shopping carts, guilt trips brought on by a ringing bell and red bucket, whining kids, crying parents, jammed aisles, empty shelves, long lines, rude customers, overwhelmed employees, and that person still ringing their bell as they look at me and then look at their red bucket and then look back at me in that special way to remind me that I said, ‘I will on the way out.’ How is that humanly possible?”

How, how, how indeed (please note the play on Santa’s famous phrase).

The ‘Why’ is More Important than the ‘How’

I recently had an opportunity to reminisce with a coaching friend of mine on the way in which we always tried to get our football players (It all comes back to football) to understand that the ‘why’ you want to accomplish a goal is always a more important factor than the ‘how’ you are actually going to accomplish said goal.

For example: If a team can find in their heart enough reasons ‘Why’ they want to win a state championship game (for family, friends, teammates, the hometown,…), then the ‘How’ they are going to win enough games truly becomes a secondary function of that end result.

So, do you have in your heart a big enough ‘Why’ to help you find and keep that over abundant, radiating, and contagious amount of Christmas Joy?

Why Keep Your Christmas Joy

Why? Because you are fortunate enough to actually need a parking space.

Why? Because you are going to make someone very happy with what you put into that wobbly shopping cart.

Why? Because that ringing bell and red bucket reminds us that we are giving just a little gift in celebration of the birth of One who gave so much.

Why? Because those whining kids aren’t yours…this time.

Why? Because that parent might be crying over the loss of a loved one.

Why? Because those jammed aisles are filled with God’s children.

Why? Because those empty shelves are an indication that we still live in a most blessed nation.

Why? Because those long lines provide us with a greater opportunity to spread the good news.

Why? Because your battle is not with that rude customer, that person of flesh and blood.

Why? Because that overwhelmed employee has likely had to deal with too many persons of flesh and blood.

Why? Because someone is watching, and you are either going to draw them closer to the faith or put a barrier between them and the opportunity for eternal life.

Be that city upon the hill that shines with Christmas Joy, my friend.

Merry Christmas!