Posted tagged ‘messed up priorities’

Why I Wrote A Book

November 13, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        November 13, 2017

                            

I’ve enjoyed writing in my spare time, and now especially in my retired life time. I’ve progressed just a bit since I flunked English Composition my first quarter in college back in 1972. And now I’ve written a book!

Before you become too dismayed let me say that it hasn’t been published yet! In fact, two special friends who edited the manuscript for me are helping me figure out what publishers  and literary agents to send it to, and what each of those publishers and agents look for. So…it’s done, and yet it’s a long ways from being done!

The book is about a young man who has moved to a new town in West Virginia with his family. His dad is the new pastor of the First Baptist Church (Yes, that sounds familiar!), and the young man is going into ninth grade. New town, new school, and he has bright red hair. Everyone notices him! This young man is an exceptional basketball player, but also a teenager who has great character and humbleness.

And that’s why I wrote the book! In my twenty plus years of coaching and sixteen years of basketball officiating I’ve witnessed a growing trend: athletes who think the world should stop and pay homage to them for making a three point jump shot. There is the stink of arrogance that has filtered into athletics. I long to find the young athletes who have a firm grasp on the reality of life; that athletics is a form of fun and recreation and there are many other things in this life that are much more important.

That list includes such pursuits as treating everyone with respect, showing compassion to the hurting and grace to the fallen, making responsible decisions, and seeking to serve in various ways.

Young athletes need parents who are well-grounded and lead their sons and daughters towards that healthy understanding of what life is all about. Sometimes warped young people are the direct result of having parents who were already twisted in their priorities !

And so I wrote a fictional story about a kid who understood that making a free throw wasn’t as important as his friendship with the seventh grade neighbor boy who had always been made to feel he wasn’t good enough.

I wrote a book about a young man who held the idea of being a team as being more important, win-or-lose, than being the star of a team.

I wrote a book about a new kid in a place of unwritten traditions and practices who lives a life that has been planted with humility and fertilized with grace. I’m hoping that in the future I will meet that young man often and each day, whether it be a court, a field, a stage, or a track.

The Need For Magical (Spiritual) Experiences

May 15, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 May 15, 2016

                            

I recently wrote a blog post on “The New Sanctuaries: Fields, Courts, and Rinks”, in which I referred to the sites of athletic events as being now the primary focus of people’s worship on Sunday mornings- worshiping the games their kids are playing, that is!

As I thought about the craziness of kid’s sports now it made me go to the next question: Is there something that people are looking for at Sunday soccer fields and volleyball courts that they don’t think a church worship experience can give them?

What is missing in our worship sanctuaries that adults think they are finding at a soccer game between eight year old boys?

Let me begin to answer that by saying that there are a lot of questions inside the questions. It’s like the water hose in my backyard, which, although only one hose, seems to have the ability to inherit multiple tangles and knots.

The chaos of the situation is knotted into our sin nature. What is meant for good, for our enjoyment and delight, is quite often distorted by our natural ability to get our priorities screwed up. I say that to allow us to get our red flags out of storage and ready to be raised into the air. When anything or anyone becomes the dominant element of our lives besides God the likelihood of getting things messed up becomes assured.

There is something else going on here! There is the need for magical experiences, the reliving in more personal ways the NCAA Basketball tournament’s song “One Shining Moment.” Magical is the cultural term that masks the spiritual. What people are looking for is a spiritual experience, but we think we can some how receive it by watching our son win a race, or our daughter stroking a double down the line. It allows us to receive a short-lived sense of delight, a sigh of satisfaction. For many of us, our lives are simply a series of satisfied sighs jumbled together with tangled turmoil.

I’m a substitute teacher, but I’m not the real thing. I fill in, but the amount of learning that students receive on days I’m subbing does not come close to when the real teacher is there. The real teacher sees the whole school year, knows the direction, the needs and journey. In the same way the “God-need” that each one of us has gets substituted with other things. Short spurts of happiness become worshiped and craved instead of seeking the joy of the Lord. And we come to a point where we begin to believe that is what life is about!

Here’s the last thing to ponder! Wherever the elements of “privilege” and “pressure” are evident approach with caution. Wherever the elements of “grace” and “forgiveness” are present travel towards.

In another year or two my grandson will be old enough to tryout for a “traveling soccer team.” It will be communicated as a privilege…and there will be more demands attached to it. More expense, more time, and his family will be told that it needs to be a higher priority for their whole family. The flattery of being asked to be on the team will be anchored to more expectations. There will be the pressure to conform. Statements will begin with words like “If you expect…” and “If you want…”, and will end with the phrase “…your son must do these things.” Many parents will fall for the trap, not to emerge again for several years.

The elements of grace and forgiveness never pressure and never trumpet their privilege. They accept and are grounded in the love of God. As a result, they are often minimized in their importance. No goals get scored with grace, and forgiveness is lousy on defense. And yet, the path to the deeper “God-need” that each of us has travels directly through them.

This morning I’ll be in worship, connecting with my Lord who forgives and shows me grace. This afternoon I’ll referee two youth basketball games where forgiveness and grace will get stuffed into a ball bag and hidden behind a bench.

The New Sanctuaries: Gyms, Fields, and Rinks

May 10, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                 May 10, 2016

                      

The Colorado spring weather has been as predictable as a confused moose wandering in a downtown business district. Sunny…cold…snow…hot…sleet…sunny, and that’s just one day!

The weather has played havoc on spring sports schedules. Between them, my two soccer-playing grandkids had five games this past weekend. Snow-outs got rescheduled for Sunday. Whereas, my daughter and son-in-law keep a pretty good perspective on the priority of Sunday church worship over other things, it’s getting harder…especially when it comes to a team sport. It is a challenge that will only get more difficult as their children get older. Sports organizations have minimal, if any, concern about disrupting Sunday worship services. That’s because the families and participants in their sports contests have made the venues of soccer, baseball, softball, and basketball games the new sanctuaries.

The Methodists and Lutherans are no longer the competition to the Baptists. They are in the same boat together…and losing the race! The Christians are in a rowboat. Youth sports organizations are in a speedboat!

Parents are more excited about little Johnny’s base hit than they are with the moving of the Spirit. Try to find a parking spot at the soccer complex at 11:00 this Sunday morning! Chances are, if there is a church nearby there will be plenty of open spaces to use. Families will find a church with a Saturday evening service, rather than disrupt a all-day Sunday baseball tournament for ten year olds.

One of the reasons sports venues are the new sanctuaries are because of the lure of future rewards. Whereas followers of Jesus are promised the future rewards of walking the heavenly streets of gold, parents are willing to give up a lot of gold for the possibility of future college scholarships. It is amazing the size of the “offerings” that parents will hand over in anticipation of future awards. Jenny could get a full ride to Big U for volleyball in a few years, but she will need to play about 55 weekends a year for that to happen. In other words, Jenny will need to be really dedicated. Parents are willing to take that chance. The thing is…there is a greater chance that Jenny will never want to touch another volleyball by the time she’s sixteen then there is that she will be playing after high school. Kids burn out…even when their parents want the flame to keep flickering.

“The new sanctuaries” are places where Mom and Dad get to replay their childhood dreams through their kids. In essence, their sons and daughters become the new focal points of their worship. The contest is packaged in a neat one hour time slot where the young participants can be applauded, be praised, and watched in admiration. Relationships with other worshiping parents offer the fellowship factor. Starbucks’ cups tell of the pre-game family visit on the way to the worship center.

God should get such attention!

Watch parental reactions at youth contests. When Johnny gets whistled for a foul because he clobbers another player there is often righteous indignation. When was the last time that people rose up in righteous indignation because children in various places can’t get a piece of bread today?

What to do? Here’s the hard decision. Families need to decide what their boundaries will be. I draw back from making it a hard and firm line in the sand, but perhaps a realistic perspective on what is important and what they will talk through before making a decision. At the beginning of a sports season a conversation with the coach, letting her know of your family’s priorities, would be helpful. Is the spiritual health of your family, and your children, more important than Tim’s batting average? In a few years will these parents you’re standing on the sidelines with be walking with you as you deal with a serious illness, or will it be those you are in community with as a part of a church fellowship?

And what will be your son or daughter’s perspective about your spiritual relationship when they get some distance from their childhood? Will they see depth and clear priorities, or will they be confused about how they should parent the next generation?