Trying to get back on the Saddle

Okay, who in here doesn’t ride horses?

For those of you who don’t, have you ever done it before? Like at a friend’s ranch, or at some retreat where they offer the opportunity to ride a horse?

One of the hardest things to do for a lot of new people is trying to get on the horse’s back. Like one foot in a stirrup, but unable to get on the saddle. You keep trying to pull yourself up but always start to fall down before you’re are able to get settled.

When it comes to writing this blog, that analogy is what I’ve been experiencing for a while now. When I have a good prompt, like when I wrote about the Nashville Statement or about seeing the Total Solar Eclipse, I can write up something pretty quick. But when I don’t finding inspiration on what to write about or motivation to even write fails me.

I used to post something everyday, and the weird thing is I was way more busy when I did post something everyday than I am now. But, here I am again trying to get back in the saddle and hopefully posting more.

Why? First, because I love writing. I love telling stories, I love sharing experiences or tidbits of knowledge. Second, because it clears my head. It helps my crazy ADD mind sort things out.

So wish me luck. I hope I won’t look like that one guy who just can’t get on the horse!

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Patriotic Dissent

Just for a moment I want to speak as an American and not necessarily as a Christian, although I believe the values I’ve learned from Christ helps guide my views as a citizen of a country.

But as an American, I hate seeing so many attacking others just for just having a different opinion.

We as a country have seemed to have forgotten that patriotic dissent is the foundation of democracy. We can make a protest about certain issues and still remain proud to be American. We can respect the office of the President and still think the man is horrible.

So let me say that again… We can respect the office of the President and still completely disagree with Obama. We can respect the office of the President and still completely disagree with trump.

We can love our country and hate awful things some have said and done in it.

We can kneel during the anthem and still honor the flag. We can protest during the anthem and still hold on hope that as “the bombs bursting in air, that our flag is still there!”

Men and women died for us to have the right to stand up and voice what they believe in. Men and women died for the right for Neo-Nazis and KKK to gather. Men and women died for the right for Black Lives Matter to meet and vent their anger.

Yes, what many say are despicable and should not be endorsed. But, if you don’t believe in the right to free speech for your worst enemies, you don’t believe in it at all.

The country I grew up in and love is built on our right to speak our mind and it doesn’t make anyone a bad American to show discontent. That is what in fact makes us great.

Do you really want to make America great again? Don’t demonize those who hold different political views from you. Don’t demonize those who protest differently than you do.

People in other countries die for voicing a different opinion or criticizing those in power, but in America we can do those things.

Colin Kaepernick is a patriot.
Bruce Maxwell is a patriot.
Alejandro Villanueva is a patriot.
Every player in the NFL who protested or stood in solidarity yesterday are patriots.

Respect them, respect their views. You don’t have to agree with them but don’t for one second say they are un-American for voicing their opinion and disagreeing with the President.

Patriotic dissent is the key to creating a great country.

If we don’t allow and respect patriotic dissent, we are no different than the dictators we fight against and help overthrow.

So maybe instead of attacking people for having differing opinions or criticisms, let’s work together to create solutions to a make a more perfect union.

/end rant

Bait and Switch

Bait and Switch is when you advertise one product and sell another.

It’s generally frowned upon…. Okay, so that’s putting it mildly, but you get the idea. People don’t like being tricked into buying something they didn’t want.

Unfortunately, the church is sometimes guilty of this. Advertising Jesus, heart transformation, life change, and inner peace, but what people get once they buy isn’t always those things.

We advertise Jesus but sell religion. We advertise relationship but sell rules.

We’ve inadvertently pulled a bait and switch.

The Nashville Statement

A couple days ago, a controversial document was released called the Nashville Statement.

I found out about it after it started trending on Twitter and a few people I follow were tweeting about it. There was a lot of hate being thrown around, so I felt like I need to search for it and read it myself.

For those of you who don’t know, the Nashville Statement is supposed to be a “unifying” document created by and signed by Protestant church leaders on sexuality and marriage. In it they write 14 articles, each article states something they affirm and something they deny (both related to each other.

After reading this document I have a few thought I’d like to share:

1) I think the basics of what they said in the Nashville Statement isn’t any different than what has been affirmed or preached by most Protestant pastors (especially Baptists). I’m pretty sure, no new doctrine has really revealed in the release of this.

2) However, I feel the language they used in the statement was not only strong but I can understand, how from a certain perspective, it can seem very ignorant or even bigoted. Reading it is like reading legalese, which is how most denominational doctrines or individual church bylaws are written. But I totally understand how a non-church-goer and even the average church-goer see this and only see condemning language in this.

and 3) Let’s be honest, the timing of this is awful. On top of there being a major natural disaster the home state of many of those who signed, but it also being right on the heels of Osteen getting shamed into opening his church for refugees in Houston
I am fully aware that many in here AND many that signed that document are not fans of Osteen, but from so many people all they see is a Christian pastor unwilling to open his mega church for those in need, then many other Christian pastors condemning gays and transgendered.

I don’t care if this day was planned ahead of time, you can delay the release of this until after Houston is no longer waist deep in water, if only to not give people the reason to call them heartless, hypocrites, or say they only care about telling people what they can’t do.

In the end, what is written in this document is extremely controversial and while the core I believe most of what they affirm and deny, I feel like by putting it on paper like this make it seem like grace has any place when it comes to sexual sins.

If you feel like this document is condemning towards you, as a Christian- I’m sorry we have made you feel this way. You are still loved, and while you still a sinner, guess what, so am I! And your sin is no worse than mine. God still loves you and his grace is bigger than any sin we can commit.

Totality


This Monday I was able to witness one of the greatest things I will ever see in my life. And on top of that, the experience I had made this one a story I will tell for the rest of my life.

In March of 2015 while I was in England, I was able to see a partial, and one with a lot of coverage. Over 90% if I remember correctly. It was pretty cool, all the church workers there went outside for about an hour or so and poked holes in paper because we didn’t have those fancy eclipse glasses.

While that was cool, it wasn’t something that was going to stick with me for the rest of my life. It was just another cool thing I’ve seen in my life.

Earlier this year, my dad (who is a huge astronomy nut!) started to get excited about this one. We started to make plans to go, researching all the possible locations we could go to see totality.

So fast forward to now. We decided on Kansas City because it was the closest to Dallas, but we felt uneasy. Other than west of Wyoming, most of the path of totality was forecast for clouds and maybe even rain.

The original plan was to go to St. Joseph, north of KC, but the morning of we called an audible and head east where the forecast said there would be less chance of rain and fewer clouds. We found our way to a town called Boonville about 100 miles east of KC. There was a small airport that closed for the day and hosted a viewing party.

Everything looked great as the partial started. Some clouds, but not too thick. But as moon crawled across the sun, clouds started coming in! With about 25 minutes to go until totality, the clouds completely covered the sun with no break in sight.

Honestly, at this point, I had accepted the fact that we weren’t going to see it. Not only was I feeling down, but I felt bad for my dad who has been looking for this almost a year (he is known as the “eclipse guy” at work).

Then, as if we were being taunted, less than five minutes before totality, rain started falling. After a moment, my dad decided to walk to the truck nearby to get the umbrella.

THEN!!! With less than 2 minutes, with rain still falling, a break in the clouds. With the eclipse glasses on, we could see just a sliver of the sun. I yelled at my dad to get back! We might see it after all!!

A small cloud breezed through but passed with just seconds to go. Then like it was a miracle, clear sky. The total was so close you could actually see the sun disappear through the glasses.

Then it happened! Darkness enveloped us, we ripped our glasses off! TOTALITY! For 2 minutes and 39 seconds, Jesse Viertel Airport saw a total solar eclipse!

Words can not describe that view. Words can not describe that experience.

We’ve all seen pictures, maybe even video. But it doesn’t do it justice.

A few week ago, I watched a TED talk by David Baron where he said that “You owe it to yourself to see a Total Eclipse at least once in your life.” I 100% agree with this statement. The partial I saw in 2015 over 90% coverage. While it was cool, but it was nowhere near the experience I had seeing totality. So if you only saw a partial on Monday and were underwhelmed, don’t let that stop you from trying to see a total in the future.

“Drama” aside, totality was breathtaking, I was almost in tears. Some were. The others in that little airport in Boonville were hollering and yelling, hugging and high-fiving. For 2 minutes and 39 seconds, the moon covered the sun, day became night, and you could see the sun’s corona shining brightly around the moon. Truly one of the most amazing things you could ever see.

It was spectacular. The next total solar in the States is in 2024 and I echo Mr. Baron’s sediment – you owe it to yourself to see a total solar eclipse.

Don’t let waiting get you down

Waiting is one of the hardest things to do. Especially when you feel called someplace or to do something. You just want to go and do it, you don’t want to wait.

But remember, God made people wait all the time:

Abraham waited 25 years.
Joseph waited 13 years.
Moses waited 40 years.
Jesus waited 30 years.

If God makes you wait, you are in good company.