The Hatefulness of not playing favorites

I’m a terrible person.  Or so I am tempted to believe as a result of a phone conversation that ended a few minutes ago.

Of course, I can think of all kinds of reasons he was wrong, but all  of these reasons are playing less loudly right now than the reminder of his voice.

“So, you hate veterans?”  He hung up before I could answer.

Of course I don’t hate veterans!  But, while I could have shot this simple statement out before he disconnected, I didn’t even mutter these words because that wasn’t an answer to what was actually happening.

He didn’t really care if I cared about veterans.  He cared if I cared about him.  Making things even more difficult than that, the only way I could prove to him that I cared about him was if I gave him exactly what he was asking for.

He did what he was supposed to do, right?  His best play was the card he had that could most likely win; his best card was the “veteran” card. He had already played the “my grandfather was a pastor” card, and that hadn’t worked.

In that moment, he wanted me to play favorites. More accurately, he was hoping I would both play favorites and that he, in one category or another he had presented to me, was in my list of favorites.

At this point it would be easiest for me to call up the “God is no respecter of persons,” which is how the King James version translated it.  The Common English Bible renders it “God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another.” (Acts 10:34)

That’s where most of us go to fight playing favorites. There are plenty of other places in the scripture we could go, if we wanted to. Matthew 19:24 and Matthew 25:31-46 come to mind quickly.

So was I playing favorites by choosing that verse?

Are we are always choosing to play favorites, one way or another? Is it really a matter of being honest with ourselves and with others about how we choose favorites?

I am left with the story of the starfish.

White finger starfish and seashells
White finger starfish and seashells

However it is that we play favorites, may we realize that in helping one, any one, we at least offer help to that one. Whether or not we change the world in doing so, we might hope to be part of the change in that one’s world.

The Hatefulness of not playing favorites

What were the odds?

Honestly the odds on this one were pretty high. A Lottery Official accused of cheating the system.

Since the 80’s, when the head of our government led the country in the direction of “the best government is the least government,” people have been trying to get the government or of every possible area of our lives.

Except gambling. More and more, governments have been moving into gambling, if only to make up for the taxes they promise to cut.

If there is one thing government ought to stay out of, it is gambling! I hope our country’s “smaller government” aficionados would rise up against this.

What were the odds?

Texas secession resolution passes GOP committee, headed for Party vote Saturday – Houston Chronicle

So, would I have dual citizenship? Would I have to leave since I wasn’t born in Texas, or could I stay because w of my kids were born here?

Or will they build a wall around me?

Texas secession resolution passes GOP committee, headed for Party vote Saturday – Houston Chronicle

Confirmation Bias

I just read another blog post about an atheist attempting to disprove Christianity and becoming converted in the process.

landing-pages-confirmation-bias-lessonOnce upon a time I was impressed by such stories.  No; more than impressed, I was convinced this kind of thing was the linchpin to converting the rest of the world to the truth of Christianity.

Because I was interpreting such an event from the perspective of a Christian, I now believe it is fair to say that I was suffering from confirmation bias. Evidence that agrees with me or supports my side in an argument gets extra weight in my thinking.

I mean, lets face it: does it even make news that a Christian walks away from the faith?  Do you know someone who once considered him or herself a christian but now claims to be an atheist?

Christians: Please join me in being excited for any who come to the faith, no matter the place from whence they’ve come, or the difficulty of the journey of following Jesus along side us.  But lets get rid of the scoreboard we are prone to keep in our minds that values our ‘wins’ with more points than our ‘losses.’

Confirmation Bias

Lesson from a 3rd Grader

Yesterday I made my weekly trek to South Euless Elementary Schoolsouth euless 2where I mentor a couple of boys.  One of them is in 3rd grade, the other in 6th.  This week, I met only with the 3rd grader.

As usual, I checked in on social media. This time, I checked in with this statement: “What will I learn from a 3rd grader today?”

And my bluff was called. So, what did I learn from a 3rd grader yesterday?

That I don’t always communicate what I intend to communicate, and that if I don’t pay attention, I’ll miss something.

He and I have been meeting together over lunch most of this school year. Each time, he seems eager to sit down with me and start talking.

I learned early on that we are better off if I don’t force the conversation where I want it to go.  When I do, I quickly sound like just another older person dispensing advice and wisdom.  I know this because I see it in his eyes, and I hear it as he gently mocks me.  Sometimes he’ll parrot my words back to me. Sometimes he just says, at increased volume, “You tell me that every week!”

I don’t believe I do tell him the same think every week, but if I argue with him about that, then I’ve lost the battle for relationship before I’ve even started.

It is a challenge for a 52 year old to meet a 3rd grader on his own terms, but if I want this child to respect my experience and the wisdom and insight I’ve gained along the way, I owe it to him to try my best.

We only have 30 minutes together each week. Sometimes this will be filled with significant conversation. Sometimes it will be mostly his making faces at his friends at other tables.

But he still looks forward to my meeting him at lunch. That’s something I’ll take any day of the week.

Lesson from a 3rd Grader

Who is holding up your trampoline?

During the day of our big annual event, a Lord’s Acre, this past Saturday, I received news that one of our youth had run away the day before.

Our Director of Student Ministries jumped on it, contacting folks and catching up with family members.  I interspersed prayer into the other events of the day I to which I was committed.

By that evening I had received word the youth was safe, and taking some steps toward returning to normalcy.

Whenever I would pause and pray, I kept getting drawn back to a class in seminar. It was my first Joy class.  By “my first Joy class,” I mean my first class with Dr. Don Joy Here is a bio, written by a seminary classmate of mine who now teaches at Asbury Seminary.

trampolineDr. Joy taught us about our trampoline.  Or let me put it this way: he had us all look at our own life as a trampoline. Then we were required to identify the people who served as springs and legs – those who held up or supported our trampoline.
If I remember right, he had us draw a box as our trampoline, and then draw “supports” off each side of it, something like this:  20151026_112127

Then we were required to write the names of people who supported us, encouraged us in significant ways, around each side of the trampoline.

These were the people who held up the trampoline that was our life.

Anyone knows who has ever bounced on a trampoline, that it needs quite a few springs to work well. In fact, one could say, the more springs the better.

The point was quickly clear to me, and, I assume, to the rest of the class. To grow up well, or to live healthy as a person, one ought to have a support system holding up one’s trampoline.

This particular youth, the one who ran away, has quite a few people holding the trampoline up.

Of course, part of adolescence is that it seems increasingly difficult, as one tries to find one’s own identity, to maintain those ties, to accept the support of others.

I not only invite you to pray for this young person, but I ask you also: who is holding up your trampoline?

And, finally: whose trampoline are you holding up?

Who is holding up your trampoline?