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Accomplishing Your Dream: A Lesson from a Toddler Putting on Socks

Toddle Socks

One of our toddler’s obsessions is shoes, or as she calls them “pretty shews”. When I say obsession, I mean we are routinely tempted to throw them out as a means of intervention. She loves shoes. And, because she loves shoes, she learned fairly quick how to put them on all by herself. She even responds to, “wrong feet” and promptly corrects them. She is pretty much a genius. Socks on the other hand are a tad more difficult for her, so she still requires our help in that area.

A couple months ago she came into the kitchen, socks and shoes in hand, with the dream of wearing them in her heart. She walked over to us and said “Shock on. Shews.” My wife was cooking and I was doing dishes, so I responded, “Okay baby. I’ll help you in a second.” Then turned to wrap up my task. When I turned back to help her I was shocked to see that she had already put on her socks. I looked at her and celebrated, “Yay! You put your socks on!” She responded by throwing her hands in the air and declaring, “Yay shocks on!” I did need to help straighten them, but all in all, she put her socks on, with the heel mostly in the correct spot. As I stood and watched her put her shoes on, I thought about what it took for her to achieve that dream.

Okay, maybe it is a bit over the top with the dream thing, but it was something that she really wanted and she went after it. Of course there was a learning process for her, but eventually she decided she was not willing to wait for someone else in order to see her dream of shoe wearing fulfilled. The same is true for your dream. There is a point at which you have to decide that you are going to accomplish your dream, even if you do not know how.

Here are four things that I took away from my daughter putting on socks that might help in accomplishing your dream:

1. It is okay, even necessary, to watch others.

Whatever the task you want to complete, no one expects you to just know how to do it right out of the gate. My daughter watched us every time we put on hers or our socks. While we did, she talked through it, mostly just pointing and saying “Shocks on.” But, I looked at it as her asking about putting socks on and verbally walking through the process. She learned by watching someone who knew how to put on socks.

There are others who have success in the area that you want to succeed in. So watch them. Read what they write. Watch their videos. Take their courses. Email them. Ask questions. Learn from people who know what they are doing.

2. Be confident in what you have learned.

Eventually there comes a point that you have learned what you needed to. You have read all the blogs and books, watched the YouTube and Face Book videos, attended the webinars/courses and have pages of notes. But it is not enough to just know what you need to know, you also have to be confident enough in what you have learned to apply it.

There came a point in my daughter’s sock wearing journey that she had learned enough to give her the confidence to do it herself. She trusted what she had learned and applied it. In addition to transferring knowledge, a teacher should also build confidence in your ability to apply it. Stop following people who do not inspire confidence in you.

3. Do not wait for someone else.

My daughter really wanted to wear her shows, but her sockless feet stood in the way. She could have either waited and went shoeless for another five minutes, or implemented what she learned and wear her pretty shoes now. She opted for the “pretty shoes now.” She did not wait for permission or for someone else to say she was ready, and she did not wait for someone else to do it for her, she just did it. In the same way, you do not need someone else’s permission, so start.

4. Do not be afraid to accept help.

My daughter could have refused my help and instead put the shoes on over crooked socks. It would have worked, but it probably would have been a bit rough on her walking. But she did not refuse. Instead, she realized I still knew stuff about sock wearing that she did not and she accepted my offer of help.

In 2015 I launched a blog called, The Whole Man. After my first post a lady contacted me and said it was a great post, but there were some grammatical errors and she could point them out if I would like. I could have been offended, refused and went on my way, never realizing the generosity and blessing in that offer. But, I knew enough to realize that there are people that know far more about writing than I do, so I accepted her offer. Now, more than a year later, I have an amazing copy-editor and coach and my writing is so much better. And, I have gained a dear friend. People want to help, do not be afraid to accept it.

With all the technology available to us, not knowing how to do something is one of the worst excuses for not accomplishing your dream. The world is literally at your fingertips and there are people that want to help you succeed. So put on your shocks and shews and start walking toward your dream.

Does the Gospel Hurt People?

Does the Gospel hurt us? Is that its intent? In order to answer that, we need to understand what the message of the good news is.

What is the Gospel Message?

John 3:16 – 17 sums up the whole of the gospel. That passage starts, “For God so loved…” That shows the message of the Gospel begins with God’s love. God’s love is the foundation on which the good news is built; personified in Christ, realized at the cross, and magnified in His resurrection. The first reality we must grasp is that any attempt to separate or minimize the Gospel from this truth causes it to cease being the Gospel that God, Himself, delivered to us. A gospel message initiated by anything other than love, is not good news.

If then, God’s love initiates and substantiates the Gospel, what should we understand about the intent of it with regard to the possibility of it hurting us? Because God’s message of reconciliation to us focuses on His love for us, the only acceptable response to it is love. Jesus punctuates this idea by declaring the greatest command and attaching to it the second command, which He describes as “like it.”  And if loving our neighbor is like loving God, isn’t it likely that the tangible expression of our love for God is played out in the love we show for our neighbor? Not only are these the two most important commands, Jesus says that this love thing encompasses the entirety of the law and the prophets.

Love and Our Neighbor

So, does the love we show our neighbor hurt them? Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” So no, our love does not hurt our neighbor. And, if our love of God and our neighbor is a mirror response to the love that God initiated His good news with, shouldn’t it be that His love does not hurt us?

1 Cor 13 explains this clearly. It tells us, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love does not create an environment where hurt can exist. If then the Gospel message is wrapped up in God’s love for humanity, it cannot hurt humanity.

The Offensiveness of the Gospel

But what of the offensiveness of the Gospel. This offensiveness is wrapped up in the fact that the love of the Gospel message always moves toward the truth of true righteousness. And, true righteousness comes against our human idea of righteousness. Man’s sense of righteousness always focuses on self. The Gospel means to undo that view by focusing righteousness toward God and others, through love. This may be offensive to our sense of righteousness, but is still separate from the good news of the message.

It is also offensive because it seeks to separate you from the sin you so desperately want to hold to. It calls you out of what offends God and into His view of righteousness, which again causes offense to your “sensibility.” But still, these are responses to the Gospel and not the Gospel itself. Likewise, any other feelings you have about the Gospel or any reaction to the Gospel is not the Gospel. And, while conviction initiates from the Holy Spirit, as a result of the hearing the truth of the Gospel, and may even cause us pain, that again is simply a feeling caused by the Gospel and not actually the Gospel.

Two Men, One Message

Consider this. Two men of similar circumstance receive the same Gospel message. One man, being far less emotional, receives the message as logical and surrenders himself to God. For him it the most rational decision he could make. The other man, receives the Gospel message and is completely undone by it. He resists it and struggles with what accepting that truth will require of him. It causes him agony and he likely experiences pain. He reluctantly surrenders himself to God. In either situation, was the message the same? Yes. Did it intend to hurt either man? No. But one was hurt and one was not. Why? Was it because of the message or the man’s view of it?

The Gospel is not a product of your feelings, it’s a product of God’s love. And love does no wrong.

 

photo: flickr/submerged~

How Disney Played Christians like Gaston Played the Villagers

Gay LeFou

This past weekend Disney debuted their live-action version of the timeless classic, Beauty and the Beast, in theaters across the globe. The movie was so highly anticipated that it smashed the record for a March opening night with a staggering $170 million coming out… er, uh I mean, debut. And that’s to say nothing of the $350 million the movie earned worldwide (and, to be fair, I’m writing this on a Sunday afternoon, so that amount doesn’t even account for the whole weekend). And all that in the midst of a call by Evangelical Christian leaders, well one in particular, for Christians to kill the Beast.

Kill the Beast

The call to boycott the film came after Disney’s announcement of the inclusion of an “exclusively gay moment” involving Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, played by Josh Gad. And what was this “gay” moment? Well, I haven’t seen the movie, yet, but my wife has. So, I know what it is and don’t want to spoil the surprise. I will say that the big gay moment was so subtle and quick, that if you leaned over to grab some of your neighbor’s popcorn, you would have missed it. But, that didn’t stop Christians from taking up pitchforks against the “happiest place on earth.” For me, the call to boycott, though I think it silly, isn’t the issue. My issue has to do with when the boycott was called for.

The announcement about LeFou’s moment was made on March 1st and the boycott was called for on March 3rd, more than two weeks before the movie opened. That is my issue. Christian leaders called for us to boycott a movie they had not seen and based on a, likely deliberately, vague announcement. When the movie premiered, this “moment” was literally a moment and so subtle that most of our kids wouldn’t have picked up on it. And, even though I have a huge problem with this latest “fall on our sword worthy” fight against Disney obviously trying to “corrupt” our children; the hypocrisy of that isn’t even the point of this post. If you want to read a great article in that vein, check out the one Jonathan Merritt wrote for USA Today.

We Got Played

Instead, I’d like to go another way and suggest that Disney played Christians, for their benefit, and we took the bait. What I mean is, Disney already had a ton of hype surrounding the release of this movie. A whole generation of adults could not wait to see their beloved cartoon brought to real life. They also couldn’t wait to share it with their children in a way that they never dreamed possible. People were going to see it no matter what. There was no reason Disney had to reveal any information about the “special moment.” They could have let it be surprise. Likely most people wouldn’t have noticed it. Those who did, without a Disney confirmation, would have just been stretching. So Disney didn’t need to release that, but they did. Why? Obviously I don’t know for sure, but based on Christians history, it is easy to speculate.

I think an obvious part of it is likely that they want the LBGTQ community to know they support them. I also think, based on how Christians have historically reacted to this type of news, Disney knew this would cause a firestorm and ignite a huge public debate. My news feed was certainly consumed with the movie tagged in statuses, news articles and blogs. To me it seemed as if Disney put out this vague announcement about some sort of “gay” moment and then sat back and watched the internet lose it. And the discussion spanned the whole spectrum, with people both praising and demonizing Disney for “normalizing” the lifestyle. But, while there were a lot of people happy to hear about the scene, the loudest voices came from Christians who were angry about it.

Boy, Oh Boy…cott

And that’s the point I want to make. We, as Christians, have become so predictable about how and what we will respond to negatively that we were played. And whether Disney did it on purpose or not doesn’t matter. In today’s social media driven culture everyone knows that any publicity is good publicity. Companies know that if you can get people talking about their product, most times it is a good thing. So Disney put out some vague statement and sat back and watched everyone talk about it. Ultimately the boycott did nothing. In fact, I actually heard people say that one of the reasons they wanted to see it more than they did before was to “see how far” Disney went with the scene. Then, when the movie premiered, the scene was so subtle it made Christians look ridiculous and the boycott even more so.

The truth is, the world will continue to move toward worldly things and we are not called to stop it. Jesus will when He returns. Our job, while we are here, is to be His witness to people, not governments or corporations. We are called to make individual disciples, not reorient constitutions and business strategy. Introducing people to Him changes heart and that will be what ushers in the Kingdom of God. I’m not saying not to boycott or protest, do it if you want to. I am saying it is a waste of time and energy if you want to follow Jesus the way He called us to. He called us to love and serve others in hopes that they may know and come to Him.

Boycotts won’t stop people from seeing the things we disagree with, but they may just stop them from seeing Jesus.

 

 

 

photo: Flickr/(LeFou)Jeff Kern and (Flag)torbakhopper (changes made to original images)

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