Feeling Pressure: Fear Versus Faith

The only pressure I’m under is the pressure I’ve put on myself.
~Mark Messier, NHL Hall-of-Fame player (Oilers/Rangers)

Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing
~Chuck Noll, NFL Hall-of-Fame Coach (Steelers)

‘Pressure’ is a word that is misused in our vocabulary. When you start thinking of pressure, it’s because you’ve started to think of failure.
~Tommy Lasorda, MLB Hall-of-Fame Manager (Dodgers)

Courage is grace under pressure
~Ernest Hemingway, Author

Whatever you see—any good results—are all from the pressure
~Ziyi Zhang, Author

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following post intentionally applies a secular position through its majority, eventually applying a Christian perspective near its conclusion. The rationale for this decision is that it will help non-Christians see the general relevance of the topic, while also highlighting my view that a Christian perspective for addressing moments when feeling pressure (or confronting those poorly dealing with pressure) is best. This post focuses on issues that I believe are both prevalent and pervasive within the culture in which I find myself. I attempt to be as thorough as possible in my logic and as reasonable as possible with my justifications. What I do not claim is omniscience or perfect clarity on this issue—or any issue. Therefore, I welcome thoughtful dialogue with anyone who may disagree with any or all of my positioning | Any bold, magenta words within this post are hyperlinks that provide useful, supplemental information. If the magenta hyperlink is followed by (a), for example(a), then there is an available blog or appendix page that allows for a deeper look into the topic hyperlinked.

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INTRODUCTION
Feeling pressure. Who doesn’t feel pressure at one time or another? But for as frequently as we feel pressure, do we even understand why we feel it? And, what is “pressure”—really? Continue reading

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Commodifying Love

The greatest danger of copying culture, as a posture, is that it may well become all too successful. We end up creating an entire sub cultural world within which Christians comfortably move and have their being without ever encountering the broader cultural world they are imitating. We breed a generation that prefers facsimile to reality, simplicity to complexity (for cultural copying, almost by definition, ends up sanding off the rough and surprising edges of any cultural good it appropriates), and familiarity to novelty. Not only is this a generation incapable of genuine creative participation in the ongoing drama of human culture making, it is dangerously detached from a God who is anything but predictable and safe (Culture Making, p. 94).

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2, NLT).

4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4, ESV).

INTRODUCTION
Recently, I have become sensitive to the fact that when I receive, or I overhear someone else receiving, relationship advice—whether solicited or freely given—there rarely seems to be a difference between what is provided by professed Christians and non-Christians. This is extremely concerning to me, because when I read scripture, it seems to suggest that “how” Christians engage in love and relationship distinguishes them from non-believers (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14; Luke 6:31, 35; Matthew 22:37-39). Continue reading

Seeing Shadows

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

The Importance of a Good Reputation

Scripture supports the rationale that a reputation should be greatly valued.  In the Old Testament, we are told that “the memory of the righteous is blessed,” while “the name of the wicked will rot (Proverbs 10:7 NASB).”  Proverbs 22:1 (NASB) further supports there being value in a good reputation; proclaiming that “a good name is to be more desired than great wealth.”

Given the importance appropriated to inheritance and family legacy within the entirety of Old Testament scripture (see Abraham, Isaac, David, etc.), a good reputation was (and is) highly valued within Jewish culture.  The New Testament, likewise, encourages Christians to place a high value on one’s reputation, as overseers (elders) “must be above reproach,” and “respectable (1 Timothy 3:2).”

That being said, what is a “good reputation?”  How shall it be defined for purposes of this note? Continue reading

A White-Washed Tomb

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” ~ Matthew 23:27-28

Originally posted on Facebook–October, 2011

The following scripture has been ruminating within my heart, and spilling into my conscious thought.  The gospel of Matthew always seems to speak to me about my heart, and I have been spending much time evaluating its intentions. Continue reading

Followers of Conviction and Not Fear

Originally posted on Facebook–February, 2013

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  ~ Theodore Roosevelt (U.S. President, 1901-1909)

Whenever I have read anything about Theodore Roosevelt, an adjective that arises constantly is “vigorous.” He was a man that believed in passionate action. The quote with which I began this note is likely his most well-known quote, regularly referred to as “The Man in the Arena.” It was part of a larger speech, known as “Citizenship in a Republic,” given at the University of Paris on April 23rd, 1910. The major premise being expounded upon by President Roosevelt during this speech was that a measure of a country should not be its citizens’ visible successes, but rather the overall quality of its people. “To judge a man merely by success,” Roosevelt said, “is an abhorrent wrong.” Continue reading