What are Your Ground Rules?

 What are your ground rules?

 

Watching the news cycle is increasingly difficult not only because we’ve elevated opinion over fact, but we’ve also allowed vitriol and anger to run unchecked. As a person of faith, sacrificial love is the mark of the Christian. So much so, that the late Francis Schaeffer made this observation:

 

“I have observed one thing among true Christians in their differences in many countries: What divides and severs true Christian groups and Christians - what leaves a bitterness that can last for 20, 30, 40 years (or for 50 or 60 years in a son's or daughter's memory) - is not the issue of doctrine or belief that caused the differences in the first place. Invariably, it is a lack of love - and the bitter things that are said by true Christians in the midst of differences.” (emphasis mine)

 

The church as a whole, in the U.S., is failing this test. Observable deeds of love have been replaced by self-justifying words and deeds of anger, hatred, and defensiveness.

 

In recent meetings with international partners, I have heard that fewer international students feel that the United States will help them grow in to the people they want to be. This is indeed sobering.

 

Yet, part of that truth is related to the unrestrained nature of the commentary. The unwillingness for many to simply stop when something awful comes to mind before sending that tweet, that social media post, or that snide remark out in the world. Let me put it another way: are you violating your own ground rules? Do you have lines drawn that show you where your descent in to hatred and bitterness starts?

 

As a human being, I have had to take the news and tweets in smaller doses. The lack of love combined with the lack of restraint is toxic and acts like a stain that is increasingly difficult to wash out.

 

So, a few weeks back, I jotted down a few ground rules for myself and to put barricades up on the side of the road, that allow me to travel within the lines on some things. There are five of them and they are as follows:

 

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Tags | forum | Grace | listening | world

Barcelona, Spain

When I arrived at my hotel in Spain a few weeks back, I immediately was blasted with a wall of cigarette smell. So, I looked at my paperwork to find the phrase 'non-smoking' room (which I did) and then I paused and wondered whether or not I would switch rooms. 

I asked the nice lady at the desk if there's anything that could be done about the giant ashtray I was assigned to sleep in and she said that they'd work on it. I thanked her and then went to my scheduled business meetings. When I returned, my room smelled like a perfume bottle exploded and the windows were all open. I had to smile.

And then I promptly went downstairs to the desk to thank the nice lady and her staff. And therein lies the cultural moment that if you're someone who travels, feel free to take note. Saying 'thanks' in a sincere way truly does translate in to other cultures and languages.

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Why are we at the Center of the World?

Two weeks ago, my son and I watched the reports on CNN concerning Somalia together. Afterwards, we had dinner and my eight year old prayed for the children who don’t have food and gave thanks for his own food. This is pretty normal in our house, so that isn’t the part I remember many days later. What I remember is his question during dinner moreso than the prayer before we ate.

 

“Dad, why is all the news about America, when there are so many other people and so many other countries in the world?”

He’s got a point. Why are we at the center of the world? And if we’re not, then why do we act like we are? Now, don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t a rant that smacks of being unpatriotic or hyper critical of the U.

::informed by the end of the world::

I attended a lecture this week from teacher and author Michael Goheen. He said something striking and it's worth noting. Here's my paraphrase: how you understand the end of the world will inform what you believe your mission to be.

The band, R.E.M., used to close many of their concerts with their song 'it's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine.' Interestingly, the song is informative and not far from Goheen's point. To feel fine about your mission, you must come to grips with what you believe about the end of the world. But, for many, the world may never end and for others, this is simply paranoia. But, think about it. Goheen's point is that the end of the story informs what we believe our part to be in the story. In fact, Goheen writes,

 

Michael W Goheen
 Heaven, which has been separated...by sin...now is joined in harmonious unity with earth.
 
 (it's worth reading the entire article here)
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The Miracle of Bangladesh

It's tough to stay up-to-speed on global and local news, sometimes due to busyness, or laziness.  And other times just because I don't feel ilke the post-read depression.

More times than not, reported news is about trauma, tragedy and the negative movements of society. And although these are crucial to a holistic worldview, they are also less attractive to internalize, let alone handle.

I believe there will always be poor among us*, and that ending poverty will not heal humanity, but I also believe that helping poverty is a means healing humanity. And the following article from “World Ark Magazine” echoes this hope—that no matter how bad an impoverishment, there is always room for healing.

Bangladesh is a country I didn’t know much about before reading this, but now have a keen respect for, let alone inspired hope. It’s impossible to walk away from its content and not agree that although much remains undone in the aid of our broken world, much good is also being done.

http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.5299859/

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