Look for and Become a Helper

Mr. Rodgers was known for saying to children that in a tragedy, look for the helpers. This last week the nation looked on in horror at the tragedy that occurred in Texas. Many people tweeted about all the politicians, both good and bad. People even went to social media and reminded people the importance of voting. You know what? When my power is out in below freezing temperatures and my water is out or pipes burst and flood my home, I don’t need a vote. Voting is good, but much more needs to be done, and Texans did the much more this last week. Texans stepped up and became helpers to one another.

Many Texans brought people together in their homes if they had generators and could keep their house warm. Individual plumbers went to homes and fixed broken pipes for free. People gave out money for other people to have enough cash in the grocery stores. A church in Austin has opened up its doors as a food pantry. They may not have running water, but they have donations of food, diapers, and bottled water. Neighbors checked on neighbors. Let us not forget the owner of the mattress store who opened up his store to shelter 300 people with food, warm dry clothes, and a comfortable place to rest.

I wonder if Mr. Rodgers told children to look for helpers in a tragedy because he hoped one day they would become the helpers. No one who is helping someone in a tragedy stops and asks that person for whom they voted or are concerned with their religious beliefs or their ethnicity. In a tragedy, we are all humans at that point and our differences are pushed aside, which is why it is so important that many of us take a break from just typing our opinions on social media and begin getting to work. People have been working and serving since the beginning of the pandemic. When we serve, we do not have time to criticize or cancel people on social media. In fact, we begin to choose what we do on social media and our mental state becomes healthier.

When we serve others, we forget about our own struggles, if even just for a few hours. I remember serving in New Orleans six months after Hurricane Katrina hit. Many places did not have power. We gutted homes. We fixed up a church to be a dormitory that would house volunteers in the summer. It was a week where I didn’t think of myself. For one whole week, I focused on the needs of others and remembered the blessings that God had given me.

It almost sounds like a selfish reason to serve to get mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy, but serving others is not just about the other person. It is about using our voice, our hands, our talents and gifts for the good of others. Serving others makes our souls healthier. It is what makes us human again.

In the movie, Beauty and the Beast, those living in the castle wanted to be human again so they could serve. Even in their states of not being human, they did everything they could to serve. Their lives were not complete because the prince gave them praise, but because they were able to serve. Our lives become complete when we serve others.

With the pandemic and many places closed in Los Angeles, I had to discover ways to serve others. Whether it is a text message, a phone call, or writing an encouraging post on social media or giving money and supplies, serving others is always beneficial to our overall health. Maybe it is why so many in the medical field do not get as sick physically as those of us outside of the medical field. In any of our workplaces, once we see our jobs as places of service, we become mentally and emotionally healthier.

So, as we pray and think about solutions for those in Texas, we can also discover ways we can serve those in our own communities. Many people may not be able to give of their finances, but all of us can give of our time. When we fully open again as a country, we will notice there are changes. There will be changes because people served. If we notice that our communities are not better, then it will be time that we roll up our sleeves and get to work. It’s the Texan way. It’s the American way. More importantly, it’s the humankind way. Let’s not just look for the helpers, let us be the helpers.

You Are Who You Support

I saw the Twitter post, “Who you support is who you are,” and even though it was referring to a political pundit with a clear agenda to insult and create division, I saw it as an opportunity that since it was not given context, to take it to a place in which it was not intended. When we drop statements without full context and our desire is to hurt, we open doors for people to find empowerment instead of insults. It is how I am deciding to do 2021.

If who I support is who I am, then I am a 2020 World Series Champion, a five-time college basketball champion, a college basketball coach with over a thousand wins, and I am an All-Valley karate champion with a dojo with the best name. I have never played on a sports team or taken any sports lessons, but if someone on Twitter is going to drop the claim that I am who I support, then I am claiming the greatness of those I support without doing anything, which is the exact opposite of who I support.

Being a sports fan or a fan of a movie series or television series is much different than being an elite athlete or a talented actor, writer, director, or producer. Many people today claim greatness without actually getting off their couches and doing something. They hide behind their computer screens and post on social media as if they are changing the world one post at a time. These same people also are great at pointing out the flaws of those who achieve greatness. What they do not know or understand, is that in order to be great, you have to fail. For those of us who support greatness, we have supported those who are great in their failures.

In order to be great, you have to get off of the couch and act. In order to fail, we have to attempt something great and recognize what we need to do to make that feat great. In other words, in order to be great, we have to fail. Greatness does not come to us overnight. It is a lifelong thread of failures. Many great people have failed and today, social media loves to post their failures, but at least they did something. It’s easy to sit back and criticize. It’s difficult to get up and do something brave and great, but it must be done and it will be done. If we do not get up and do the great deed, someone else will, and we will flounder in our apathy.

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. Some people will support a certain team or player. Others will support a commercial. Whether we support a team or not, the outcome will not be because of our support. Whether we support a product or not, the product will be advertised for millions to see during this event. So, whether we support people or not, we are not who we support because our support cannot change what someone does or does not do.

As I trod through this life I want to attempt feats of greatness. I will fail. You know what? It’s fine that people will throw their insults at me with my failures because at least I got up off the couch and did something. I refuse to remain apathetic. I want to do great feats that make a difference in this world. If it is through my writing, or speaking, or teaching, I hope I make great strides as I take on the disciplines that my great sports teams and television show has.

Let us all rise and take risks and do great feats to make a difference in this world. No political person is going to change and save us. Great feats come from ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds that make a difference. Will we fail? Absolutely. As we fail, we will learn from our failures as it is the only way we will be great.

So, my support for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, and the television show Cobra Kai are here to stay. Yes, even with Duke’s abysmal season this year, I’m still faithful. Faithfulness leads to greatness. I will learn from these great organizations and apply their great habits to my life. Go ahead Social Media people and judge. I choose to live, act, and strive for greatness. I hope others will join me because it’s more fun than sitting on my computer and bashing those of us who are making the attempts to be great and learn from every failure we make along the way.

Hiding Behind Our Screens of Perfection

I have heroes. My heroes are unlike superheroes. My heroes have flaws and sins and make mistakes; however, their greatness far outshines their flaws, except on social media. Recently, a hero of mine was attacked for not having the perfect words after a disappointing moment in his life. I do not worship this hero, but I do respect him. Twitter went a flutter because of the words he spewed. He’s a great coach. He is the only coach in college basketball to have over 1,000 wins. He’s written a book on leadership. His super power is his leadership skills that inspires his players to win. He’s not a perfect human being. In fact, his words were not that degrading, but when perfect people look for a flaw, they will attack whatever we do or say as it was the worst thing in the world, and their flaws and sins are never revealed. Therein lies the problem.

When we are so focused on pointing out the flaws and sins of others, we hide our own sins and flaws. I know because I have done that most of my Christian life. With social media, it has become much easier to hide. We hide behind our screens and present a perfect life. if we do have a flaw or make a mistake, we cover it up with pointing out the flaws of someone else. If someone else looks horrible, our own flaws do not look so bad. It is a bad choice and one that most of us make, especially on social media.

There are people in the Bible that made this same choice. They are the Pharisees and other religious leaders. They would walk around and point out the flaws of other people, while at the same time committing the same sins or wrongs that their victims would never think of committing. I would love to demean this kind of perfection, but I cannot because I have done the exact same thing. We all hide so that people will not think less of us. in reality, those who think highly of us would like to see how we handle those mistakes and flaws.

To be fair, no one wants to read anyone’s own sins or flaws on social media. We do want to see the good. We can all decide for ourselves when a person with some fame says something if the words are evil or not. We do not need thousands of people to inform us of how horrible someone is. I do not want to see the bad in people. I know my heroes and their flaws. That’s why they are my heroes. I know how they have overcome their flaws and risen above them to accomplish the great feats that they have done.

The reason why people want to expose the flaws of those who have accomplished amazing feats is because they believe that if they bring others down, it will build them up. Maybe they cannot act in a film or coach a basketball team, but they can fold their laundry. Sorry, but when we point out the flaws of others who are using their gifts and talents to the fullest, we are revealing that we have yet to accomplish the fullness of our gifts and talents, including myself.

As we enter the second month of the year 2021, I have decided to revisit my goals for the New Year. I want to be better. I want to do better. I want to work on me and improve myself. It will start with not judging others for their flaws and working on my gifts and talents. Once I focus on me, I do not have time or energy to focus on others. I want to inspire others and have others inspire me. I know everyone is flawed, but I am going to choose to see the good in others. February is the month of love. Maybe we can begin to show and give love and then we will be open to receive it.

Run Away or Stay?

There are two major responses to fear. We either fight or take flight. For most of my life I have been the person to take flight. If trouble was brewing, I ran away. If I sensed that if I stayed where I was that I would encounter hardships, I ran. Unfortunately, I did not run from relationships in which I should have run the moment I saw a red flag. I did not run from unhealthy workplaces. I would always run from that which I could face and fight. I ran because I was afraid that people would be disappointed in me. I always stayed when I could not fight because I was afraid of what people would think if I took flight. I had to learn to fight or flight with God not with people’s opinions.

It has taken maturity and strength to recognize when I should stay and when I should take flight. It has also taken the fact that I have purposely surrounded myself with Christians who believe that we must stay where we are needed the most to present the Gospel and not hide in our little Christian caves. Most of my life, I have hidden in that Christian cave, even as I have lived in Los Angeles, California. Those Christian caves can be built anywhere, and they are very dangerous to our faith. I know because I recognized that when I crawled out of it.

When I resided in the Christian cave, I was unaware of the negative influence that I had become for Christ. It was never my intention to exclude people or to make people feel inferior because they did not believe in Christ or did not reside in the Christian cave with me, but it is exactly what had occurred. Throughout my Christian life, I was encouraged to reside in the Christian cave because people believed that those who were outside of it would influence me to walk away from Christ. The irony is that it was from within the cave that my faith waivered.

Within the cave, I received criticism and a list of rules that I had to abide by in order to thrive as a Christian. It is within the cave that I believed the term to become a “better Christian.” I have recently recoiled from that term to become a better human being and represent Christ. Christianity is not a competition, so I don’t know what a “better” Christian looks like. As a Christian, I am to replicate the attitude and actions of Christ, not of a person. Unfortunately, it took me years to recognize that much of my Christian beliefs were built on people that I thought were “better” Christians, instead of my faith being built on Christ who is the best.

So, I stepped out of the cave and entered a world where I need to influence people. I am always learning how to speak both in-person and online. I am trying to have intelligent conversations with people with whom I disagree. I don’t want to run away from those who do not believe in Jesus. I do not want to run away from those who vote differently from me. I do not want to run away from those who may commit immoral acts that I have not committed, but have committed my fair share of immoral acts with my own sins.  I want to stay and fight the good fight of faith.

In recent weeks, I have recognized that people who are Christians want to run into caves. Some caves are filled with Christians. Some caves are filled with people who are Christians and because they voted differently than those in the other cave, they feel that they are superior to them and refuse to communicate with them. Both caves are filled with “better” Christians. I have been in both caves, and I no longer reside in a cave. I am out among the people. I have discovered that we all want great things for our country, our states, our cities, our communities, and our churches.

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus said. “Go.” He did not say stay separate. Some of us need to gently and in love teach how to represent Christ well. We can only do that with humility and confess our own mistakes and sins. We need to lead and not run away. Others of us, need to stop running away from social media sites that do not have just “Christian” values, but sites that need Christians to stay and encourage others. We just may need to be aware of how we say our words of truth in love and realize that Jesus is so much bigger and better than any political figure or political party or agenda.

It is my hope and desire that for the first time in a long time, Christians will stop running away. Christians please stay and fight the good fight. “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” Christians have run away from Hollywood and scream that it is immoral. Christians have run away from large cities and claim that they are evil. Christians have run away from public schools and universities and claim that they are void of God. Christians let us stand together and not make another mistake. Let us stay on social media where Jesus is needed. We have all sinned. No sin is greater. It is time we love those whose sins are different than our own. Be love. Be the light. Let us come out of the caves and stop running and stay. It won’t be easy, comfortable, or safe, but it will be well done.

The Pen IS Mightier Than the Sword

I have tried unsuccessfully to write what my thoughts were about the terrorist attack on the capitol of the United States of America. I was angry and ashamed that people believe that violence is the answer to all of the world’s problems. People may not like the outcome of any election, but that just means that we, as citizens, need to become better and stronger servants in our communities. Since that horrific event, I have learned that many of the people were gathered and angry because of posts on social media sites. Don’t get me wrong. I love the way social media has kept me connected to old friends and new friends, but it has also made me realize that what we write on social media can have more power than we know.

If you have been on social media for any amount of time, you have probably offended someone and someone has offended you. I know when I hit people too hard with my words, I get frustrated with myself and try to correct the wrong. I do like to have serious conversations with my friends on social media because I have smart friends, but when I try to have a serious conversation, people bring out their pens with sharp points and begin stabbing people. I have always known that I could write my way in or out of anything. I think many people on social media think that they can too. Social media has exposed the fact that many people who feel they are not heard can spew their thoughts with a few strokes of a keyboard.

Words are powerful. What we write can contain more power than what we say because we do not always see the intent of the words that we write. One of the reasons the Bible is powerful is because the words are written. One of the reasons the Bible is misinterpreted is because many who read it do not understand the intent or read it out of context. As Christians, we must write our social media posts so that our words have power and yet, do not bring hurt to others. We must convey the context with love. The apostles were able to do that as they wrote their letters in the Bible. They knew that the pen was stronger than any speech or sword because the written word lasts forever.

Some Christians are upset that what they post politically is being blocked on social media sites. We have freedom of speech, but a private organization can restrict our speech. Social media websites have the freedom to restrict what we post on the Internet. We may not like the restrictions, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot exist. Every time I submit my writing, I have perimeters and restrictions.  People are suffering. They need health and help, not harm. What we write on the Internet is there forever. I have discovered that I need to be careful with what I write.

In the Bible, James talks about our speech. He uses the metaphor of a forest fire to the words that we put out in the universe. Our words can damage people and a whole community for a very long time. Our words can also inspire and challenge people and a whole community. I think of the power of the words Martin Luther King Jr. put out and his words have inspired and changed many people. We have to choose which we are going to do. Are we going to help our hurt?

People state that we need to speak the truth. The Bible states to speak the truth in

love. Love prefers to be kind than right. Love does not belittle people or call them names. Love shows empathy and compassion. Love gives solutions. Love heals.

I have made my word for the year 2021, “Fearless.” I want to be fearless in my writing, but I want my pen to be a mighty sword that brings healing and not harm. I know I’ll mess up and I know that I’ll have to revisit this blog for myself. I also want the church to rise up and become the leaders we need to be in America. We need to not be so concerned about politics and more concerned about how we bring Jesus to others. We can start a forest fire with our words. May we start a fire with words that are encouraging and challenging and inspiring instead of words that are burning down communities. People are reading our words. May we strike first, strike hard, and have mercy with our words that we write, so that our swords will be powerful in bringing the Gospel to the world.

A Different and Better New Year–2021

Every year we all watch the clock tick from 11:59 on December 31st to 12:00AM on January 1st, and we celebrate the new possibilities of what is to come. We are so glad to be done with the year that was behind us and the trials and troubles that came with it, whether they came upon us or we caused them. For the past few years, I have noticed that many people complain of how bad the old year was and look forward to what is to come. For the year 2020, many are thankful to put it behind them, as it was difficult and full of trials, but maybe, just maybe those trials are what created the year to be unique.  

We have to take one day at a time and stop giving up when we miss our goals for one day. Before the year 2015, I would set goals or resolutions to do something every day. Usually, the task was writing. Then, I would miss a day. Then, I was done. I didn’t take the time to develop a habit. I didn’t take the time to give grace for one missed day. Then, in 2015, a pastor said, “No one ever keeps their New Year’s resolutions.” I know what he said after that, but I took that first line as a challenge. I decided that year to write every day, but I also decided that if I miss, I just pick it up the next day and start over. What a huge relief that was. A habit was developed. It’s now five years later and I’m still going strong writing every day.

We have to develop good and healthy habits. It’s interesting how quick we develop bad habits that we usually don’t realize that we have developed them. We spend time watching Netflix or television. We eat unhealthy foods because we have convinced ourselves that we do not have time to create a healthy meal. We stop exercising because we claim we do not have time, while we spend more time binge watching a show on Netflix. This entire list contains all my excuses. We don’t have to focus on creating bad habits because they are easy to create. Many people focus on stopping the bad habits, which becomes difficult.  We have to focus on creating good habits.

Creating good habits is one of my downfalls. I write every day. It took a full year for that habit to really become something that was routine. We create good habits when we decide that we must make a change in our lives to have a different or better life. It starts slow and gets stronger each and every day. It starts with creating good habits around the habits we really want to develop.

If we really want to make the year better or different we have to face challenges or difficulties head on and conquer them. The year 2020 was so difficult for most people. Many lost loved ones. Many lost their jobs. Many lost relationships. How we handle disappointments and tragedies reveals our strengths and weaknesses in our character. Life will never be without them. It doesn’t matter what day it is, what month it is or what year it is. Life happens and it can hit us hard. Do we hit it back or do we sit back and wallow and drown ourselves in our sorrows?

We have to fight through all of our struggles. We must take the time to grieve. We must go through the grieving process. That’s part of the fight. We can never stop fighting through our trials. Trials build our character and perseverance. We cannot run from trials, but embrace them. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV) Our struggles and trials create us to be strong. Our strength does not come from the good things in life, but from those things that cut our very soul.

It was from the trials that I develop good habits. It is from trials that the habit of writing every day became routine. In order to have the best year, we need to resolve to become strong with every trial that we will face, and realize that it will create a character in us with good habits. When we become strong, our lives become different and we can look back at the end of the year and recognize our growth and how wonderful the year was because we became stronger. Happy New Year! May it be a year when we all become stronger because we have created one good habit.

Hindsight is 2020

Last year at this time, many of us were setting goals for our aspirations and dreams for the new year of 2020 that seemed to promise perfection, just like vision, but even before the first month was over, with the tragedy of the death of Kobe Bryant and the eight others in the helicopter, some of us can reflect on the fact that 2020 was not perfect. It is within a year like this that we cannot just forget and throw it away. If we don’t take time to look back and learn from 2020, it will be a waste. It will just be a year of chaos instead of a reflection of incredible lessons to be learned.

Here are some of the lessons I had to learn.

Adaptability. First lesson for me was to learn to adapt working at home. I prided myself on rarely doing work at home. I graded in coffee shops, just so I could keep home for the place to relax. That had to change. I also had to write more at home. I had to make my desk accessible. I had to adapt to working hours and non-working hours. I had to adapt to teaching with different strategies to keep my students engaged. Then, I had to search for a job.

Faith. I had to look for a new job while teaching because I was furloughed. In June, I found one. My mom had to have surgery in order to swallow again. Her surgery was in July and she can and does eat everything in sight. I had to trust God when life looked bleak and I thought I was alone. I had to trust God when there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

Light. There is light in the darkness. My new job is incredible. It has brought back my passion for teaching and bringing equity into education. I have found inspiration in writing and may have found some solutions to getting published. Jesus has given me strength in times when I felt helpless.

Strength. When the protests broke out, I understood that change needed to happen. I see the inequity in education and racism is settled in the roots. As I try to write the truth, I am also trying to create bridges for my current students to cross in order to have the same opportunities as all other students. They work hard. They just need the same tools so that their hard work is producible.

Knowledge. I have had to keep learning. I have read books, watched documentaries and movies in order to understand lives that are different from mine. I have studied scientific processes in order to understand all the polarization and generalization that is occurring in our world and is prevalent on social media.

Wisdom. For some people, social media became a platform in which they could communicate with others. For other people, it became a platform for them to tell everyone how right they are with their politics, knowledge of science, and pretty much answers for everything. In the past few weeks, I have had to use wisdom in how to respond to people. I’m still working on that one.

Live. I have had to live each and every day with purpose and with fullness. There has been so much loss of life this year. Many of us have experienced grief on some level. Some people lost their means to living. We have to keep living. We have to create. We have to move forward when we see in hindsight that 2020 is a year full of lessons. May we all learn from the lessons that it has taught us.

Visitors at Christmas

One of the recommendations for our world in 2020 is not to gather in large groups. Although people have disobeyed the orders, many people have adjusted and adapted their lives to not gather in large groups. As we enter this Christmas week, I was reminded of those who visited Jesus. Some of them broke rules. Maybe all of them did. When people come to Jesus, they may have a journey that is not a sweet Sunday School lesson, but one that changes their lives forever.

The first visitors to witness baby Jesus were the shepherds. They were at work. They were taking care of their sheep at night in the middle of a field. Then, an angel came and spoke to them. At first, they were afraid, but the angel told them not to be afraid for he had good news for them. He told them about Jesus being born and that he was the Messiah, a Savior for all people. The angels told them that they would find the baby in Bethlehem and in a manger, so we know that this was right after Jesus was born.

The angels did not tell the shepherds to go to Jesus. They just told them where they would find Him. The shepherds decided to go at that very moment. So, being the student, I have questions. What about their sheep? What about their job? Did they take the sheep with them? Did they quit their jobs? Did they just leave for a few hours and come back? Were they fired? We don’t know. We do know that they took a risk to go see Jesus, but the risk was worth it. After they saw Jesus they began glorifying and praising God and they told everyone what had happened with the angels and meeting Jesus. Mary treasured and pondered all of this in her heart.

The shepherds were not the only visitors. Some Magi from the East came to see Jesus. There are many words to describe these men. For years, some scholars decided to call them kings, which was wrong. Others, called them wise men, which could be close to what they were. They were of the priestly caste of ancient Persia, or also known as sorcerers. Yes, sorcerers came to Jesus. They heard that the King of the Jews was born and that a star was placed in the sky for him. They were asking people about this new king. King Herod heard about their questions and became disturbed. So, he sent the Magi to find Jesus.

Herod did not appreciate that a new king was born, so he actually sent the Magi to find Jesus so he could kill Him. God had other plans, and in His plans, he used the Magi also known as sorcerers. The Magi went to Bethlehem and the star they had seen went ahead of them and stopped at the house where Jesus was. This was not at the manger scene. Jesus was at a house, so Jesus was older and not a newborn. The Magi brought gifts to Jesus. They brought gold for a king. They brought frankincense, which was a healing oil and myrrh, which was also used for health benefits and a burying oil. The gifts were significant as Jesus would heal and conquer death, as the King Eternal.

The best part of the Magi is that they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, as he wanted to kill Jesus, so they returned home another way. See, when people come to Jesus, he changes them and they return home in a different route because they are changed. Jesus changes lives. He can change any life. Even as a baby he was changing lives. My friend said that Satan had a plan to use the Magi, but we can see that Satan’s plans were foiled. The Magi didn’t just visit Jesus; they worshipped Him when they came to Him, and they returned home using a different route obeying an angel in a dream over King Herod. They were changed.

May we this Christmas season come to Jesus and leave the Christmas season changed. May we not just visit Jesus, but allow Him to enter into our lives and change us that we cannot return to our old ways, and that we are so overjoyed that we cannot contain ourselves from telling others about Him. May we have a Merry Christmas as we gather with Jesus and understand that with Jesus, we are never alone.

The Sound of the Christmas Season

Confession: I start listening to Christmas music way before Thanksgiving, and sometimes I listen to it all through February. To be fair, I have lots of instrumental Christmas music that helps me concentrate while I write, at least that’s the excuse I give. I’m not a fan of hymns, but I love the old-fashioned Christmas carols, no matter if they are updated or the old version. I think it’s because I only hear them once a year. Whatever it is, music elicits emotions that help us think, which helps us grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Music has always been a part of my life. I loved my music classes as a child in elementary. My mom taught me how to play the organ when I was young and I learned to read music. I played the clarinet in marching band. I took piano and voice lessons in college and even sang in a traveling ensemble.  I even took a music theory class and learned how to write music. I love music. It inspires me to create. It inspires me to dance. It inspires me to think beyond anything I have been taught and think with a new viewpoint, even in Christianity.

The Bible tells us to sing and worship. “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the people, his marvelous deeds among the nations. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” Psalm 96:14- (NIV) Worship gives glory to God and reminds us of the salvation that he has given us.

Music is an art that brings many instruments and voices together as one. As harmonies come together a song is built through different sounds to create a beautiful song. Music embodies the idea that through many we become one. It resembles the concept of Romans 12 that many body parts come together to work and function as one whole body.  If we take out an instrument from a song, it can ruin the song, no matter how big or small the instrument is. Music is an art that works within a community. It inspires us to join in with the community and sing or play along with it.

Music is an art that brings the words of poet to life. I am attracted to many songs because of their lyrics and the life that they bring. Poets bring the lyrics to life. There are so many Christmas songs that are old and new that tell the story of Jesus coming to earth and why he came. It is through the lyrics that we can all discover the beauty that the child whose birth we celebrate brought into the world.

Music is an art that can be shared to all people. It is a medium that can transcend languages and styles. It can bring people together and join in with the festivity without understanding the written language but can feel the joy in the sounds of music.

This Christmas season, may we all take time to listen to the music as an art that proclaims the coming of a Savior without the pomp and circumstance, but with the humility of a baby born in a barn in a land not his own. May the music of this season teach us more about who this baby is and why he had to come. May we all have joy and peace with our silent nights.  

Why? Why Are We Afraid of Questions?

I ask questions. I ask a lot of questions, and it infuriates people and gets me in trouble. As a teacher, I have to answer a lot of questions because in education we say there are no stupid questions except the ones not asked. So, not only do I answer questions, but I continue to ask them. Asking questions keeps me educated and informed. So, this may make people angry, but I have questions that I want answers to, but I’ll settle for trying to understand why these questions make people angry.

First, many people desperately want to believe in something or someone higher than themselves, so they search everywhere. When they find it in science, politics, or religion, they take in all the information without asking any questions. Then, when people begin to ask them questions, they get angry because not only do they not have the answers, but they are frustrated that someone does not share their same belief, or that they have had those questions and others have become angry with them.

When we encounter people, who are frustrated when we ask questions, we must remember that they are the ones struggling with the issue, not us. It’s time to ask the right questions and ask how they are doing. It’s time we begin to ask the right questions to the right people, and begin to find answers to our questions and not just ask questions to make people angry.

Second, many people ask questions to prove their point. We need to ask questions to learn and understand other people and their beliefs, not just to prove ourselves right. If we need to prove what we belief is right, then we may need to reexamine what we believe and search for our own answers. The religious leaders asked Jesus questions to trap, him so they could prove that they were right and to justify their killing of Jesus. Jesus is smarter than our puny human brains and He knew what they were doing, so he would many times answer them with a question or he would make a statement, with or without words, that addressed the real issue of their questioning. Jesus could win any question situation because He has the answers. We just need to listen to Him and cast away the garbage that others have surrounded with His answers.

There are many areas of my Christian faith that I have questioned, so I have turned to the Bible, commentaries, the original Greek and Hebrew Bibles, and other study helps to answer my questions. I have also looked into those who believe differently than me and discovered what they believe and why they believe it. When we search for the answers, we will find some of them. For some of my questions, it will take a lifetime of searching, and it is worth it because each search for my answers leads to a discovery of something new that strengthens my faith in Jesus. There are some questions that may never get answered, but that doesn’t mean everything is wrong. It just means I may need to be asking other questions. When I stop asking questions, I begin to doubt because I am not growing and searching for answers.

The third reason why people get angry when we ask questions is because they don’t want to reveal that they are wrong or what they believe has holes or is incorrect. Nobody wants to look foolish in front of other people. When we ask questions on social media to prove people wrong and make them look foolish, it is exactly what we are doing. It’s not Christ-like and it’s not kind. I do know teachers that did not welcome questions from students. They do not want the students to know that there are things they don’t know, which is ridiculous because no one can know everything. It makes the students be more confident to ask more pressing questions when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and answer with honesty when we don’t know the answers, and when we don’t get angry when questions are asked.

May we all find the answers for which we are searching. May we never stop asking questions to the issues to which we really want answers. May we always ask people how they are doing and mean it because it is within asking questions that we discover the answer to how people are doing. It is within asking questions that we discover that we don’t have to know everything and we can have questions in our faith and still have a strong belief in Jesus and God’s Word. It is through asking questions that we can discover how to love those who believe and think differently than us because with the questions we will find the answers.