Monday, November 28, 2011

Persuasive Living

I'm really thankful for a debate class that I took in college. The professor didn't care what we believed or what our interests were - she just loved teaching us how to debate. This has helped me a lot in life - not just to debate - but to think through what information is being presented to me.

In a typical class, there would be an assignment which might look a little like this: I would be given an issue with two opposing sides, and I'd have to be prepared to argue either for or against the issue. I wouldn't know what side of the debate I was on until I got to the podium. I'd walk to my podium and the professor would say - "Ok - you're for argument A," then point to the other student and say, "And you're against argument A."... And then we'd debate.

I had to be able to debate well on either side of the argument - or look like a fool. This was a real challenge to a lot of students. How does one argue against something they believe in?

It helped me a lot - it changed the way I see and approach a lot information that comes my way.

I also remember having to identify what kind of arguments people used. There were a lot of different ways to persuade. Emotional appeal, exaggeration, slippery slope, identification, endorsement, logical argument, etc.

I hear a lot of this in the political arena - as well as the religious arena. Everybody's arguing. Everybody wants to be right - to be correct.

But - when I look at Jesus - He does the opposite. There's not a lot of arguments in His storytelling. There's just stories. And - as He walked around - He seemed to dissuade people from following Him, rather than convincing them to. His invitation is actually ridiculous - if you just look at it with sober judgment: "Deny yourself, take up the cross, and come follow me." Who would do that, unless there's something behind what He's asking?

And then there's the cross. I've wondered about this in past posts - but - follow the stream of thought for a second. IF Jesus was indeed God - the creator of everything - then He was the most correct person to ever have lived. And, if He could do anything He wanted because He had ALL power, then why didn't He just prove how right (correct) He was - and how wrong everyone else was as His hands were getting nailed? He could use fire - or light - or do something crazy that you might see in a video game. But, He doesn't. He just takes it - and ends up dying.

I mean - think of it. God in flesh - hanging on a cross? He could have easily gotten out of it. He calmed storms, healed diseases, raised dead people. He has complete control. And, yet, He hangs there on a cross and says things like - "Forgive them, for they know not what they do" right before He dies.

Here's my point. Christianity - following Christ - whatever you wanna call it - is NOT an argument. But - somehow people have turned following Christ into one. I think Christianity is less appealing when it's turned into an argument. When I hear people arguing for Christianity - I want to argue the opposite. I hear some of the most ridiculous statements coming from pulpits - and many well-meaning Christ followers. If I can shoot tons of holes in their arguments - and I'm a believer - what must the unbelieving world think?

Yet - at the same time - nothing that I have witnessed is more inspiring than a life lived with the love of Christ. I've seen people that are truly amazing - all because of a life-changing moment with Jesus. The fruits of the Spirit are the best evidence of God's amazing love within His people.

And - the scriptures. They are truly brilliant. And they don't reek of argument. They point to a man that was murdered and then make a claim that that man was God in flesh. But the scriptures don't argue for Him, they just seem to present Him. I mean - there are statements that you can turn into arguments, don't get me wrong. Saying a man is God - that's an argument - for sure. But - the scriptures don't try to persuade the audience one way or another. Jesus is just presented, and we're left to decide.

If God's going to be persuasive - Jesus gives really bad arguments to follow Him. Crosses, death, people will hate you, give everything you own, - all while not worrying. And so much more. Yet - people follow Him. And millions have given up their lives for Him. It's pretty crazy - from a purely marketing standpoint.

It's hard for me to live a life that's not an argument. I feel like I've been trained that way. I'd rather be known for the love I gave to people than the things that I know. Yet - that's not how I live my life, for the most part. When I look at that standard, I completely fail.

And those - oh - few times that I do see clearly - it's not long before I find that I've lost my way again. Grrrr...

There's no wonder I need a Savior. I'd be hopeless without one.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


It's kind of fun to look back at some of the blogs I've written.

It's a bit like looking at a past me. It's what I was thinking about - or processing - at a different time in life. It's fun to revisit.

But I say "kind of fun" because some of the blogs are just not that good. Ya never want to read something you wrote and cringe. I don't want to erase them (even though it would be easy to do so) because that's just where I was at that time in life. They're a little written record etched in time. However - bad is bad.

But not everything I wrote was horrendous (ha!). Many blogs are way better than I would have thought. I'm actually surprised that I wrote a few of them. Going through them - it's like searching for the diamond in the rough. Every once in a while - it's not a cringe that crosses my face - it's a "Wow." That makes me glad at this endeavor.

Some blogs, I can tell, were written at a particular time in life - so they almost have that diary feel to them. Many are way too long. It's hard to be concise. Oswald Chambers is more and more my hero - in the writing realm - cuz he could write a page long message with depth that nearly unreachable. If I could copy his length, and get half his depth - that'd be a good blog. So - I'll keep trying.

Someday in the future - this too will be a diary blog. I wonder how I'll see it a year from now - or ten. My future self will read these words someday. That's pretty weird to imagine.

Well, to my future self: I hope you're not cringing - hope this one's more of a "wow" than a "what was I thinking?" I doubt it'll be a wow or a cringe actually. It'll be more like a - "hmmm...that's kinda cool." I can hope anyway...

I'm gonna try my best to keep writing - even though I realize that some blogs will be cringe worthy. I'm not gonna be able to help that completely. But I hope more and more will become "Wow" worthy. Guess we'll have to wait and see...

have a great day!


Friday, November 11, 2011


"Throwing the baby out with the bath water..."

This is the season of politics. I'm not a big fan of writing about politics - it's such a divisive topic (not that religious writing isn't). But - I'm pretty passionate about God topics - not so much with political speak.

However, I have to mention a pet peeve that I hear over and over again - from both sides of the aisle - that I don't want to ignore. The fear-mongering from both parties is a bit ridiculous. And the crux of the pet peeve comes down to stereotyping - or maybe generalizations would be a better word.

Right leaning people believe "government" is the problem. Left leaning people - "Wall Street and Corporations" are the problem.

What both sides miss is that there are actual people behind the "evil" scheming. Government - and huge profit businesses are run by people.

Government doesn't make decisions. People do. Government does not create problems - people do.

Corporations don't make decisions. People do. Corporations aren't greedy. People are.

I have friends that work in the government. They're awesome people - and try their best to make this place a better place. I know business owners that do the same with what they have worked for - amazing people both.

However - for whatever reason - when my mind just hears "government" or "corporations" - I tend to think of dark rooms and scheming. The reality is that this is just not the case. The propaganda machine is very effective and really does influence how we think. But illusion is far from reality. Actual people are the backbone of both corporations and government. And people make good and bad decisions. Here's a couple good ones I've witnessed from both business and government...

McDonalds. I don't know anyone in that corporation. I don't endorse their products (except for their friggin' fries - yummmm). But - I do recognize that they do wonderful things - and they're flexible to change. They have Ronald McDonald charities - look it up - it's awesome! And - after "Super Size Me" - the movie - they changed a lot of how they do business. People made those decisions. The public has the power to change how people run corporations and do business. Real people that make real decisions. Could they make some better decisions? Probably. Is everything perfect in their model? Probably not. But that's not the point...

I have a friend who works in the CCC (California Conservation Corps). He's awesome - and is helping a "lost" generation by giving them a job - and skills - to further their lives and careers. He's not taking advantage of the "system" - and is far from being a leach. In fact - his career is an honorable one - more honorable than most. A real person made this "government program" to help real people. And real people benefit from it. Is there government waste in the program? Probably. Is it a perfect government run program? Probably not. But - that's not the point either...

I guess the point is this: actual people break stereotypes and generalizations.

We can talk about motives - and good vs. bad - all that. And those are good discussions. But - that's not the point I'm trying to make. Stereotyping and generalizations come out of ignorance, not intelligent thinking.

Let's see if this hits it:

A person can HATE the Catholic Church because a group of their priests molested young boys.

Blaming the institution for the acts of a few - there's a HUGE problem with that line of logic. The Catholic Church had NOTHING to do with molesting boys. People (priests) did. And other priests (bishops) covered it up. People were the problem.

It'd be like saying "All teachers are bad" because one teacher molested some kid in some town.

YET - I hear it over and over again - with "Government" and "Corporations" and "Wall Street" (not about molesting - that'd be weird. I hear people making generalizations that create ridiculous fear laden arguments that lead people to make mind boggling conclusions). And no one's ever called out on it. It's sooooo annoying.

I made that mistake about God once. I thought all "Christians" were idiots due to a handful that were - and that God was irrelevant because of that. But - I was wrong. Dead wrong.

So - I guess I just wanna give a word of caution for those entering into this political season. Watch out for generalizations. And watch out that you don't make them. Just be careful in believing everything you hear.

There's that famous phrase:

"Ignorance is bliss."

Well, it might be bliss for some - but it's annoying for the rest of us...

Have a great day!