Archives For October 2012

Hope Again

Tim Jackson —  October 26, 2012 — 9 Comments

Last night I had the privilege of listening to sports legend Rocky Bleier. Because I grew up as a kid in Central Pennsylvania in the 1970s, I felt compelled to hear Rocky speak.

The lackluster Steelers had been at the bottom of the barrel for the preceding 40 years of professional football, but in the 70s they were finally coming into their own and becoming the dominant powerhouse team in the NFL. Rocky was part of the backfield trio of players—Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Rocky Bleier—who won 4 Superbowls that decade.

What impressed me last evening had little to do with football. What was striking was how this man, now in his seventh decade, displayed so much exuberance for life. Yes, we heard stories of gridiron challenges, and they were great. But what quickly became apparent was that his life wasn’t just about football and reliving the glory days. That’s one aspect of his story, but not the whole story, and certainly not the main part of his story.

The word that I never expected to hear as the theme of his talk was “hope.” Rocky said, “That’s what football is all about . . . hope.” Hope for a good game, no injuries and, yes, for a win. Hope to do better in the next game. Hope to make the playoffs. Hope to win a Superbowl some day. For players and fans alike, it’s all about hope.

I’d never thought about it that way. And that reminded me of Isaiah’s words about hope: ”Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV).

We all need hope. We can’t live without it. Hope is as essential as the air we breath, especially when we feel beaten up by life, are weary of living, and catch ourselves just stumbling along trying to survive.

But that also raises a few questions: Where’s our hope? What are we hoping for? Or, even more penetrating, who is our hope in? Is my hope in me? You? Or in Someone bigger who can make what we hope for a reality? I’m banking on the latter. How about you?

Where’s your hope? Let me hear from you.

Inside Truth

Tim Jackson —  October 16, 2012 — 10 Comments

I recently reread the words of David penned about a year after he’d perpetrated the inconceivable—adultery and murder.  This lauded king of Israel—the sweet lyricist who’d earlier written, perhaps as a shepherd boy in the pasturelands of Judah, what may be the best known and beloved psalm  (Psalm 23)—stole the wife of one of his closest colleagues and then had him killed to cover it up.

This is what David wrote: ”Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Psalm 51:6).

What motivated him to pen these words?

David came face to face with the inescapable awareness of the depths of his sin (v.3). With the help of Nathan the prophet (2 Sam. 12:1-14), David became deeply aware and convicted of how he’d come to despise the word of the Lord (v.9) and perpetrated such an unthinkable evil for which he had no excuse or remedy. It was something he was powerless to uproot. It required the healing touch of the Divine Surgeon to expose, cut out, and forgive his sin.

But what struck me the most about this passage wasn’t the darkness of David’s heart. Anyone who is honest with one’s self knows what darkness lurks within. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s conviction echoes this sentiment when he clarifies that “the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.”

What it exposes most is the heart of God. It’s God’s desire that we be honest with ourselves. Telling the truth is fundamental to the heart of God. That makes it easier to see why self-deception is one of the greatest threats to our personal integrity in relationships. It’s the lies we tell ourselves that are often the most convincing and most stubborn to uproot. And it’s the lies we tell ourselves in secret that give birth to the kinds of actions we’d normally consider despicable. Somehow, in the darkness of self-deception, otherwise reprehensible behaviors become justifiable over time . . . until someone shines a light into the dark crevices of our hearts, revealing the truth and causing us to remember.

Learning to tell ourselves the truth—no matter the consequences—helps us avoid far more devastating consequences resulting from embracing lies. I think telling ourselves the truth will change the way we treat others. Don’t you? Love to hear your thoughts.

Palm Trees

Jeff Olson —  October 12, 2012 — 4 Comments

One of the things the State of Florida is known for are its palm trees. You know you’re in the Sunshine State when you start to spot its unmistakable canopy of evergreen leaves sprouting out of the top of its long, branchless trunk

As I was returning home from a recent trip to Florida, it dawned on me that I didn’t remember noticing palm trees. Normally, these tropical icons are one of my favorite things to see in Florida. But on this recent trip, I didn’t “see” them.

The palm trees were there. I just wasn’t.

On this most recent trip, I had traveled down to my parent’s house in Florida to help sort through their belongings and settle their estate. (Earlier this year, both of them unexpectedly passed away).

This trip was another one of those emotionally taxing, but necessary tasks that adult orphans find themselves having to do.

This trip also reminded me of the fact that when you’re grieving the loss of someone close, you are not yourself. Things that used to be important don’t seem to matter as much. For a period of time, (sometimes a very long period of time), you often lose the desire and freedom to appreciate the things of life that you once enjoyed.

But unlike the ones that we love that are gone, our capacity to enjoy and appreciate things, even little things like palm trees, can return. It takes time. Sometimes it can take a few years. But eventually the fog of grief will start to lift, and our desire and freedom to enjoy life can slowly come back.

While future trips to Florida will never be the same without my parents, a time will come again when God will lift my heart to enjoy the majestic beauty of a palm tree.