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!

Read the Red (no.1)

Read the Red (no.1)

Perhaps it is the beginning of the holiday season that has so inspired me.

And, perhaps it is the fact that having recently spent some time in one of my former teaching venues has brought an overwhelming desire to hand out homework.

Either way, I hope you find this series of blogs interesting and find yourself compelled to participate.

The Assignment

NOTE: I did this a few years back with one of my FCA groups and found the results to be rather interesting.

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.

New Testament vs. Old Testament

I think I remember reading somewhere something about a man not coming to abolish the law but to fulfill the law. Yet, there is invariably at one time or another (or another and another and another for the non-believer) where we doubt that the God found in the Old Testament is like-and-kind with the God that we see through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So, where do the red words seem to contradict those found in the Old Testament? Where do they fulfill them?

Bible Times vs. Modern Times

If those words in red were said to you today-in a reference completely removed from any religious talk-then to what do you think the conversation might be pertaining?

Would your thoughts today coincide with the interpretations of the disciples?

Back in the Day vs. Youth of Today

One of the most fascinating aspects of this exercise was how the understanding of the words in red are so very generation dependent.

As an FCA Ministry Leader, I would come to an FCA meeting with my notes in hand, thoughts in mind, and ready to share share share. However, when the student-athletes would begin to exchange their research and thoughts on the words in red then I would find a great gap between their interpretation and mine.

The nice thing was that discovering that great gap proved to be a primary step towards building a bridge between their world and mine.

Now, I am not under the delusion that you are going to be able to compel your youth to do their own bible research. However, I do believe that you may find it engaging to simply ask, “Hey, what does it mean to you if I said ‘XYZ’?”

To the Task at Hand

This is a participation grade, my friends. Your questions, comments, and answers are always appreciated. But please know that for this particular set of blogs, your participation is essential.

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

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?”

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. Either way I will compile and share our collected thoughts in a follow-up post.

I will try my best to introduce items in chronological order and to combine the like phrases found in the different gospels. This initial assignment will last until Christmas and then will be followed-up with a new phrase every two weeks or so.

My oh my, it does feel good to be giving out homework again.

They Do Not Care How Much You Know

“It all comes back to football.”

That was the catchphrase that I used probably too many times with a certain assistant coach. It became sort of a running joke. We could be talking about anything outside the realm of football –  a conversation on faith, marriage, teaching, child-rearing, or even the dreaded politics of the day – and invariably we would be able to identify a potential life-lesson that could be related back to a gridiron coaching point.

I thought our banter to be only witty and humorous. That is until I came to the realization of how an old coach’s saying was influencing my marriage for the better.

“They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

I first saw that phrase posted next to the door of the coaches’ dressing room at Youngstown State University. The poignant thought was attributed to a former Ohio high school and Baldwin Wallace University head football coach – the late Lee Tressel. I have seen and heard variants of the phrase many times since, but I will always attribute that bit of advice to Coach Tressel.

From football to marriage.

My wife and I have survived that rollercoaster of a ride known as the first year of marriage. And when I say rollercoaster ride, I really mean a rickety wobbly carriage ride through a minefield (or some mental image similar to that).

Our survival has led several other couples to the false conclusion that we have some super secret method of achieving wedded bliss. Despite my many arguments to the contrary, my bride assures those other couples that being married to me is not always joyful. Yet, hand-in-hand we continue our walk together into that final sunset while at the same time so many other couples choose to take a path separate than that of their spouse (or former spouse as the case may be).

How is it that my bride and I remain so much in love? How are we able to see through the hard times that the enemy will invariably try to present? Is it true that I am just that much of a joy to be around, or is it that my wife is so much more mature (see the term COUGAR)?

When a man would ask me, I would give some coaching snippets such as “Man-up and do the right thing,” or “It’s not about you, it’s about the team,” or “Just G.I.D. (Get It Done).”

I once heard the advice my wife gives to her friends, and without a doubt she does a much better job at counseling. When asked how we are able to maintain our marriage, my wife tells those that will listen that she focuses on the only thing that really matters: “I know, at the end of the day, that my husband loves me. I know in my heart that he would never purposely do anything to belittle, degrade, or endanger me.”

My wife does not care that I know that I am always right, or that I know that I never make mistakes, or that I know how to act like a bear when I am tired, or that I know how much she spent on a mirror for our front door breezeway. She knows how much I love her, and love never fails (1 COR 13:8).

I am blessed to have such a wise wife.

So, I suppose I will be changing my advice to my guy friends and be telling them to make sure their wives know how much they care.

Which reminds me of something I heard the great coach Lou Holtz once say, “Remember men, the greatest thing you could ever do for your kids is show them how much you love their mother.”

It all comes back to football.