Whoops

This year has been the year of life change. I got engaged, I started a new business and I’ve expanded my network.  I’m in the stage of life where things are changing in the most serious way.  I’m no longer in any sense of the word a teenager, I’m almost past the point of being labeled young person and to boot I’m in my late twenties.

Now I know what people say when they tell me “the older you get the faster time flies”.  Time certainly is moving and I’m more aware of how finite this life truly is.

Because of that, I’m also realizing how important our time truly is.  Time is something you can’t buy back, time is something you have no control over, time is something that has a beginning and an end….time is a law of the universe that is inevitable.  So because of that you bet I’ve been really re-evaluating how I spend my time, the people I spend my time with the time I spend on things that matter forever and the things that I waste time on that in the end are meaningless.

Arguing with people over the internet and tearing people down is meaningless.

Oh but I didn’t always think this way.  No no, there was a time where I pretty much used my social media platform to debate and to argue, there was a time where I had to have the last word.  Heck there are times where I still do it.  There are things I say to the world via internet that I just want to delete.  Things that I say that I think to myself “Tim, you are an idiot for posting that”. Yeah, I know the taste of my foot all too well.

But as the saying goes you reap what you sow and frankly the past few months what I’ve been reaping I really don’t like. People say things to me about me or my life choices and they say it while hiding in front of a screen.  For a little while I was offended and hurt until it dawned on me….who did I hurt? who did I offend?  What did I say to someone in front of a screen that really cut them deep that I never knew about?
Reality check Tim Whitaker..you can be a jerk.  Ouch.

But it’s true. I can be a jerk, I have been a jerk and I’m done wasting my time trying to prove people right or wrong over a medium that really doesn’t allow that to happen anyway.

So as I thought about that…I started to then think about real life.  I started wondering who or what I’ve said to people that i meant as a joke that maybe that person didn’t take as a joke.  Now, I realize that the past is the past and you can’t change it.  I also can’t think of a specific time or place where I said something to someone that I thought could be hurtful but I know there are times where I did.  Once again, Tim you can be a jerk.

I started a new business this year.  One that is very heavy on self development and the mindset you carry with you throughout your day.  I’ve realized that supporting the people in your life and encouraging them to be better people is a much better way of living your life than tearing people down via social media or in front of other people.

And so begins a new intentionality of sorts.  So begins the hard work of changing mindsets that don’t always want to be changed.  But one things for sure, this is certainly a better way to live

-TW

]

What’s Wrong With Ferguson: Christians

*sigh*

We all know Fergusson is a very hot button topic right now in our country.  The death of Michael Brown has sparked outrage on all sides of every issue this event entails.

This post isn’t about the acquittal of the officer who shot Michael Brown or about race, or politics, or anything of the sort.  This post is about the Christian response to Ferguson and frankly, it’s been a little embarrassing at times.

Christians will often tell you that they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  By saying that we are really saying that Jesus is the person who rules our life, and we trust in Him for eternal salvation as made clear in the Bible.  Any Christian who takes their faith seriously would agree that following the teachings of Jesus and using his life as a model for how we should live ours is basic Christian living 101.

This isn’t to say that we always get it right.  We are after all, human and are prone to our faults just like anyone else.  But the catch is that in our culture, Christians have become so publicly vocal about how to live that we’ve trapped ourselves by not being able to live up to our own standards that we preach from our bullhorns (usually Facebook).  When it comes to Fergusson I’m afraid we’ve made that same mistake.

If there’s one thing I’m seeing lacking in the Christian response to Ferguson it’s  empathy.  There is very little empathy from Christians nationwide for Michael Brown (and the people he represents).  When the jury announced their decision to not indict the police officer my Facebook exploded not with empathy or condolences to brown’s family, but to all the reasons why he deserved to be shot.  Well that’s not completely true.  Usually someone would say “It’s sad that he is dead but…”

“but he robbed a store”, “well he went for the officers gun”.  This might be true, but does that mean that a family is still not mourning the loss of their son?  Is there not a bigger issue at play here?  Why do Christians consistently seem to be on the side of harsh words instead of gentle answers and most importantly how would Jesus respond to all of this if he was here right now?

There are a lot of questions that seem to be lacking answers.  But the one that I’m most confident about is that if Jesus was here, he’d be part of the conversation to help change the culture we live in when it comes to racially charged issues and violence that takes so many of young ones.

Christians have no problem calling Michael Brown a thug yet Jesus chose a few thugs of his own to be his disciples and to change the world.  Tax collectors, violent revolutionary zealots and the like were part of the 12 Jesus chose to announce his Kingdom.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  We are all too often ungraceful in how we respond to such tragedies.

When Christians respond to issues of the day the world watches.  People notice how we say things, how we respond and they don’t forget about it.

Sometimes we can look so unlike the Jesus who said to love our enemies, who told us to love our neighbor as ourself.  We can be so unlike the Jesus who shook up the establishment because he was a bridge between racial lines not a builder of walls.   Yet, we often feel justified in our response to issues like Ferguson because well the facts are right there, and the facts are facts.  Let me tell you, I’m glad Jesus still acknowledges the facts about my life but offers me grace instead of what I actually deserve.

When we don’t empathize with people, we contribute to the racial divide.   When we refuse to hear other people out and we instead assume that they are imagining things, we contribute to the cycle none of us want.

As Christians, we should be the first group of people to sit down at the table and offer solutions on how to stop all kinds of senseless violence because we believe that we have major solutions to contribute but those solutions won’t be heard if we first don’t listen.  The Bible tells us as Christians to be slow to speak and eager to listen and it is so necessary that we put this into practice.

I don’t think anyone wants another Ferguson to happen.  But the only way we can stop things like Ferguson from happening in the future is if we take the time now to come together to listen to the needs of each other and our communities and find solutions together.

As Jesus said (paraphrased) ”

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Post Picture.

Fighting The Wrong Fight…Again…..

Am I allowed to rant?

I suppose so, it is after all my blog and so I’m going to rant.

I’m frustrated

i’m aggravated

I’m fed up.

So what is it that it that I’m so fed up with?  What is it that makes me at times want to stop identifying with the word ‘Christian’?  It’s the mass hysteria so many christians get all frenzied up about. It’s the posting on Facebook to express how persecution is coming to America and posts some obscure article to prove it.

Usually the article talks about some big government move by some big horrible liberal politician and then explains how important it is that us Christians step up and fight this down!  The ironic part? Often, these articles don’t tell the whole story.  They just pick out parts that suit their needs to get their audience all riled up for no good reason. 

I wonder if I can find an article….oh wait here we go!

http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/major-u-s-city-demands-oversight-of-sermons/

It wasn’t long before I saw articles like this one all over my feed with christians posting the links with headings like “We warned you” “I called it” “This is the first step to our persecution” blah blah blah.

I’ll be honest, at the beginning of this story breaking I was concerned myself.  Are politicians really trying to snuff out a pastor’s right to free speech?  Can this really be happening?  The answer…no it’s not happening.  Articles like this (http://americanvision.org/11407/houston-demanding-oversight-pastors-sermons/) tell a much bigger part of the story and explain how what is happening in Texas is common law practice.

But this post isn’t about this story necessarily.

It’s about 2 things.

First, It’s about the deceptive nature of some christian conservative news outlets.  I see it all the time on my feed.  Some obscure news website that panders to an only christian conservative worldview will purposefully twist words and leave out necessary points to a story to rile up people into thinking that Christians in the states are being persecuted.  It really blows my mind to see some self-proclaimed christian news sites being so deceptive either intentionally or unintentionally.  I mean when Jesus tells us to be honest, to be people of peace, and to be salt to the world, I think the last thing he had in mind was “go ahead and rile people up with half baked truths”.  The hypocrisy between their name and their actions is so glaring, I can’t believe other christians actually find them legitimate news sources.

Second, Christians are still at war with the wrong thing.  Perhaps to be the bigger issue here is the kind of wording I was seeing with Christians replying to the story I posted above.  This verbage of fighting the good fight, standing up for our rights, fighting till the end, are all extremely anti-Jesus.  Paul talks about losing our rights as Christians, Jesus calls the peacemakers blessed, and Paul also tells us that our battle is NOT against flesh and blood.  How do we miss this?

Let me share with you some quotes regarding the story I shared above. And I’m going to respond to them underneath of each one These were taken from Charismanews

In light of this egregious example of gay-activist bullying—the very kind that I and others have documented for years now—I urge every pastor in the city of Houston to address the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism this Sunday, announcing this for the entire world to hear but at the same time, refusing to obey the unrighteous decree of Mayor Parker’s office to turn your sermons over for government scrutiny. (This should be done respectfully, in the spirit of Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29.)”

I really wonder if Paul, or any of the disciples felt bullied and what their responses were.  After all they lived in an extremely oppressive culture and most of them all died pretty terrible deaths by the hands of governments.  Yet Paul says it’s a joy to be persecuted for the faith.  The disciples willing went to death for the sake of the gospel.  No where do we read in the Bible “This oppression is wrong so I have become a politician to ensure my rights”.  So many of my fundamentalist friends have no problem claiming to go only by the word of God….but then have no problem fighting with other humans for what they deem are their “rights”.  Yes, legally we all have rights, which is why no one is in jail for their beliefs, but even if they were…would that give us a right to make enemies with people?  After all, Jesus said that the two most important commands that every other command hinges on is to Love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Notice here that the most important command is not to tell gay people they are super sinful.  Notice how the most important command is not to wage war on people.

“I also urge every congregational member in Houston to tell your pastors that you are standing with them, encouraging them to stand up for what is right in the face of bullying and intimidation.”

Yes, a legal request has become bullying? Urging the congregation to stand up for what is right?  This kind of talk just draws a bigger line in the sand.

I don’t know how much clearer the Scriptures make it. Jesus was a friend of people who had problems.  Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet when He is not here.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus getting political, or campaigning for his rights.

What if (and it’s a big what if).  What if those Texan pastors requested lunch with the mayor? What if they requested a meeting with her to hear her side of the story, hear where she is coming from and asked the mayor to hear them out and see where they are coming from to get better clarity on an issue that has divided so many.These pastors have a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus to someone directly and instead they are throwing it away because they were taught that there is a huge culture war and it’s their job to fight for good morals in the world.  (Hint: It’s the wrong battle)

You don’t change people by legislation and you certainly don’t change them by telling them how to live their life.  Life change is a fruit of a relationship with the Holy spirit.  If there’s no holy spirit then you can’t expect life change and guess what our job is in this? To introduce people to Jesus.  That’s it.  It’s not our job to judge the world, it’s not our job to tell people (especially those who are not Christians) how to live their life.  It’s our job to be the tangible hands and feet of Jesus and to tell the world that there is hope.

To the Christians who insist on waging war on humans even though the Scriptures tell us not to; it’s time to start building bridges to reach lost people, not burning them.  I never want to be the reason why someone turned away from Jesus and his infinite mercy and grace that he extends to every human.

Let me put it this way (and I’ve said this before).  If you tell a person how they’re living is wrong, that they need to change or else, and that person dies without knowing Jesus, you still failed your mission.  Our mission was never, ever, ever, EVER, to become American Pharisees, but to humble ourselves before others to show them the hope we have found in Jesus.

-TW

Post Picture.

Marriage 201 (Written by Michelle Capizzi)

Tim’s Note: This post is from my friend Michelle who has known me since I was about 12 years old.  Michelle and I both were involved with the same organization (CEF) and I’ve come to know he entire family extremely well over the  years. Michelle also just started her own blog and you can check that out here (https://mountainsandvalleysofmommyhood.wordpress.com) -TW

 

About 3 months ago, Tim wrote about watching the perfect marriage while growing up. As I read it I was reminded of my own childhood and living with my parents, who had a great marriage too. Like Tim’s parents, mine were rarely angry at each other and never fought in front of us. They disciplined us, loved each other, worked together, submitted and lead properly and pointed us all to Jesus. So in my naive mind I thought all marriages, with Jesus’ help and a Disney flair of happily ever after, were perfect. But since getting married almost 7 years ago, I’ve realized that marriage is a divine gift given to very fallible humans who have unrealistic expectations and think that they can wade through these treacherous waters by themselves! I’ve also learned that while my parents were great, my marriage will never look exactly like theirs.

So here’s what I’ve learned from watching a great marriage and living one that will, hopefully, be great too:

  1. My husband and I are NOT ever going to be the same as my parents.

My parents are both middle children in big families and while I’m also from a big family (the oldest of 9, yes nine!) I am a first born and by nature not as laid back as my parents and some of my younger siblings. My husband is also a first born, but only of two. He was also raised in a very different family dynamic than me or my parents. So just our personalities and upbringing play a huge role! As first born we both want to be in charge and lead. We’ve had to learn when to let the other person take the lead and to trust each other. (Btw… for those of you who aren’t first born, trusting another person to lead, even someone you love a lot, is REALLY hard! As a side note, if you’re interested in birth order and personalities it can be an interesting study.)

  1. Not going to bed angry is important, but learning to say “I’m sorry” is even more important.

I always wanted a marriage where we never went to bed angry and since I rarely saw my parents disagree and never saw them fight I thought that was a possibility. It is possible, but it takes a lot of humility and commitment to working things out. And since I never saw my parents fight and rarely saw them disagree I also never saw them make up! So I didn’t learn a lot about conflict resolution. I’ve also been convicted lately about having a pride issue. But my husband is great at apologizing! He has actually taught me and our kids more by his humble example than anyone else. He says sorry to me and our children whenever he needs to.

  1. Marriage is A LOT of work!

I’m sure my parents worked hard to make their marriage what it was, but I probably wasn’t paying attention till I was much older and they tended to talk about anything important away from little ears. So I never understood how much work it is, especially the first couple years! Since my hubby and I are from such different family dynamics it has added to our work load. Like Tim, I’m from a fairly stable family and never dealt with divorce, mixed families, etc. But my husband has dealt with step parents, divorce, abuse, and then some. We’ve had to learn to be able to disagree and work through it, to understand that we have completely different points of view sometimes, to realize that it’s not about “winning” but about doing what’s right & best for our family.

  1. Being submissive and loving each other sometimes means calling each other out on our sin.

We know each other better than almost anyone else and we know each other’s weaknesses, struggles and hurt better than anyone. But we have to because those things effect both of us! We are married; we are one in many ways and this is one of them. So when one of us chooses to wallow in our own crap it hurts us both. We are learning to call each other out on the sin in our lives, hold each other accountable, tell each other everything ASAP and forgive each other. This takes a lot of humility! (Did I mention I have a pride issue?) It also takes a lot of wisdom and prayer!

  1. Kid’s change everything!

Losing sleep, having to decide how you will discipline your kids, and dealing with the daily stress of little people driving you crazy will test a relationship like almost nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, we laugh at them every day and love them so much! But like anything that’s worth doing well, being a parent is hard. This is also an area where our different upbringings can hinder us, because we have to be clear about our plans and expectations. I’ve learned to relax about what my kids see and hear (we didn’t have a TV growing up… another story for another time.) and talk to them about everything, while my hubby has had to learn to be more careful about what they see and hear. It’s a balancing act.

  1. Lastly, marriage isn’t a fairy tale!

Please talk to your kids (once they’re old enough to pay attention) about what a real marriage is like. Feel free to work through things and say I’m sorry in front of them. Most fairy tales portray a princess and a prince riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after. I love the fact that so many animated movies have focused on other relationships (sisters, mother and daughter, etc.) lately. I wish some of those had been around when I was a kid. I also wish someone had reminded me that Christian romance novels are FICTION!!! I don’t know anyone whose marriage looks anything like I ever read in one of those books. Marriage is real life; dirty laundry, paying bills, changing diapers (once you have kids) and all the day to day mess. It’s wonderful if you work at it, but you do have to work. (I agree with Tim that our generation doesn’t like to work hard. I have to admit there are times when I’d rather not “work” at my marriage.)

I know I have a lot more to learn. Being married less than a decade is not much time. We hope to have many more years to get to know each other, raise our kids together and figure out this crazy, wonderful life.

 

 

the-marriage-test

Language of Love by Paul Joseph Cheeseman

Tim’s Note – This was written by my friend Joey. Although we do see the world very differently we not only coexist peacefully, but we have learned a great deal of other perspectives that we did not inherently grow up in. As a follower of Jesus I have learned that before I can speak into someone’s life, I must first be genuinely interested in their life as Jesus is so genuinely interested in our lives. I hope these words are heard and that we as Christians continue to build bridges instead of burning them. -TW
P.S interested in writing a post for us? Shoot me an email at Drumminelsewhere@gmail.com

When there is breaking news, I tend to check all of the major sites. Just to get an idea of what each individual site has to say. And I also (shudders) check the comment sections. That is never a good idea, for anyone. What I find so maddening, is that each one takes their respective side. Offering partisan talking points. Glossing over important information to further absorb a story into a rhetorical philosophy. A political war between the left and the right. Between democrat and republican. Between one side and another. It’s 24 hours a day. 7 days are week. On the radio. On the internet. It is an endless cycle. It can create a cloud of confusion and misinformation quickly, which in turn tends to turn the conversation from a lively debate into a personal bloodbath.

I met my friend Tim about 7 years ago. We worked together at Starbucks. Tim and I are two people with a vast ocean of differences between us. Tim is a Christian. I am an atheist. Tim is straight. I am gay. Tim was homeschooled. I went to public school. Between the two of us we have lived uniquely different lives. We have both been fortunate enough to see some of the world outside of our tiny east coast lives.

Our entire relationship as friends is rooted in the sincere fascination and exploration of our differences. And guess what? While we may disagreed on a number of issues throughout our friendship we have allowed each other the space and dignity to express our thoughts and feelings without arguing. Without trying to win the debate. Instead, we both said what we had to say and then (this is the important part) We shut up and listened to what the other had to say. We didn’t talk over each other. We didn’t try to dehumanize the other. We opened our ears and we opened our hearts.

Despite all our disagreements we are two equal individuals who sit down at the table in the name of fairness and brotherhood. We try to understand the other. Including our backgrounds. Our upbringing. Our strengths and weaknesses. So that we may try to understand where the other is coming from. It is precisely why Tim and I have learned so much from each other.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night isn’t just one star. If it were the painting probably wouldn’t be remarkable. It’s a painting full of stars. Van Gogh’s style and vision created something remarkable. As people we are not just one star. We are a sky full of them. We are complex. We are nuanced. We have flaws: sometimes we make mistakes and we are wrong – and that’s ok.

The point is that socially, we need to be better. Let go of all that anger. Let go of the incendiary language both sides equally use. Start talking to each other with more respect. Because it’s not about taking sides. It’s not about Pro- this or Anti- that: the only label that really matters is Human Being. It’s not about taking our country back. It’s about taking our humanity back. Our charity. Our kindness. Our ability to live with one another despite all those things that make us different.

We need a reconciliation. A new language and way to speak to each other. A new dialogue with our brothers and sisters in this world. We are not inspired by those who are just like us. We are inspired by those who challenge what we think we know. Those people who allow us to grow. Those who motivate in us to be better.

Consider this: There is is rise in new narratives. For liberals you have a re-emergence of populism with the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. And for conservatives you have Rand Paul and Nick Gillespie and many voices for populism and libertarianism. The old system does not work. We are not simply a liberal or conservative. We are more than being a democrat or republican. We are much more complex. We contain much more depth and nuance that these old machinations of representative democracy allow us. We are being held back by our rather easy habit of falling to one side or another. More than anything we need balance.

We live in a fast moving fast changing world. We do not resemble past generations. It is time to let go of all the old world thinking that limits us from moving forward and facing the tough challenges that indeed lie ahead. The moment you think you have all the answers Life will turn it all upside down. In this life we must commit to learning. I learn something new about this world and myself everyday. I encourage you to do the same. Seek out those who challenge you. Seek out those who reveal and teach you lessons you did not know you needed to learn.

Peaceful coexistence is entirely possible. However we must stop choosing sides and condemning the other. The old adage of walking a mile in another’s shoes is still to this day the stepping stone to a deeper level of compassion. Which inevitably leads to a stronger sense of connection and love in this life.

-Joey