Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

O Canada

Today, I’m happy to share another guest post by Tim Fall.  I always appreciate his willingness to share his thoughts!

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I have a romantic idealism about our neighbors to the north, but I really like Canada. It could be our family camping trips there when I was a kid – yeah I’ve been to Penticton, folks – the cool Maple Leaf flag, all those Dudley Do-Right cartoons I watched, or this guy’s impressive spoken-word performance at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games opening ceremonies. Whatever it is, I’m hooked.

Originally I planned to use this great winter headwear as further proof that Canada is all kinds of awesome. (You know you want one). But here’s something even more impressive, although it’s the coach and not the hockey league authorities that deserve our admiration. A team of 18-20 year olds wanted to play in a hockey tournament but the timing was bad, coinciding with exams at school. So the players told the coach they couldn’t go unless the trip included study time. The coach agreed and notified the league that the players would miss the opening and closing ceremonies because they had to study. After the tournament finished, the league told the coach he made the wrong choice (all players had to be present at all functions according to the tournament manual) and banned him from coaching for a full year. Then it fined him $2000. He’s a volunteer coach. $2000 and a year in exile for making a choice that he informed them about ahead of time. Thanks for all your hard work, Coach; no we couldn’t have told you beforehand that the players weren’t allowed to skip the ceremonies.

From what little we can see of the coach in that article, I would bet he’d make the same choice if given the opportunity again. This is a coach who puts his players first, who answers to a higher sense of sportsmanship than that shown by the league.

This is a coach who reminds me of Peter and John.

In Acts 3 John and Peter performed a miracle, healing a man who had not walked in years. The amazed crowd asked how this happened and peter answered with a phenomenal sermon on the Good News of Jesus Christ. The authorities were not pleased.

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. (Acts 4:1-3.)

The next morning there was a trial of sorts, but it didn’t go as planned:

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. (Acts 4:18-22.)

Doing what’s right because it’s right. Not following orders, because those orders violate a higher principle. Taking your lumps for doing so (like going to jail), because you know you that ultimately you answer to God and not people. (Psalm 56:4; Joshua 22:22; Luke 16:15.)

Where have you seen this lately?

Would you do the same?

[Biography: Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids (one in college and one just graduated, woo-hoo!) his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California. Tim guest posts on other peoples’ blogs, but is too lazy to get a blog of his own.]

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On Being Presumptuous

After my last article, Tim Fall emailed me and was all, “Hey, I can’t help but notice that you seem to be feeling ‘behind’ on your blog…so how about I write a guest post?”  And then I was like, “YES!  THANK YOU!  My kids seem to think that I should, like, be a mom or something these days.  It’s weird.”*  And then like magic,  I had a post in my inbox to share with you guys.  Wonderful. 

I hope to get back to writing regularly soon, mainly because I have approximately 1,214 blog posts in my head, and when I get to 1,300, my brain explodes.  Hopefully that won’t happen, but in the meantime, enjoy this great piece from my friend, Tim.

*Disclaimer:  That might not have been exactly how the conversation went.

A Call from the Principal

Years ago I got an unexpected call at work from my son’s Junior High principal. Not a good thing under most circumstance: this was no exception to the rule. She wanted to tell me that my son might be upset, and she called to let me know immediately rather than learn about it when I came home from work.

It turns out she had called him to her office to reprimand him. She said he was circulating an inappropriate petition concerning one of his teachers. I started to get an idea of the problem. He’d told us a few days before that some of the students were concerned with how this teacher was handling the class, and we had talked about it a bit in the days leading up to this phone call.

His idea of how best to handle it was to put the problem in writing and see if enough kids agreed so that he could then talk to her about it. He didn’t want to bother bringing it up with her if not many kids were bothered by it. I didn’t know the details of his plan, but the general topic of a petition came up.

I listened incredulously as the principal told me that once she found out about it, she called him out of class and into her office. I listened in sorrow as she described him getting upset and teary at being reprimanded (he’d never been called to the Principal’s office for anything!). I listened in disbelief as she told me her main concern was for the teacher – the TEACHER – as she might get her feelings hurt at the petition being circulated. I did not hear her say anything about students handling concerns in a creative and constructive manner. I did not hear her say she’d spent time listening to my son explain his intentions, or an explanation of the root of the concern itself. Nothing. The way she explained it to me, this conversation in her office was pretty one-sided. She spoke. My son got choked up.

I said thanks, ended the conversation as quickly as I could, and prayed for my son.

The Bike Ride to Suspension

It’s been a while since I thought of that phone call. Then I read this article today. A group of High School Seniors in Michigan decided to stage a massive bike ride to school as their Senior prank on the last day of classes. Sounds innocent enough, constructive and creative even, right? Not to the principal. She told all sixty-four participants it was a dangerous stunt: traffic could have snarled and they might have been injured – “your brains could have ended up splattered,” she told them. She would not countenance it! They were prohibited from Senior activities for the rest of the day and sent home. Some even missed a final exam.

Turns out, the Seniors had more on the ball than she gave them credit for. They had contacted the authorities ahead of time to take care of safety concerns and rode with a police escort. Not only that, the Mayor even accompanied the students on their route to school that morning. The only ones not in the know were the school officials, but letting them in on it would have defeated the purpose of a rather benign Senior prank, of course.

Cooler heads eventually prevailed. The suspension was lifted, teachers offered make-up tests, and the school district issued an apology complete with a statement from the Principal.

Waiting for All the Evidence to Come In

Jumping to conclusions is rarely a good practice – even if it is out of concern for the feelings of a Junior High School teacher or the safety of a few dozen graduating Seniors. It really doesn’t work at my job.

One thing I tell jurors repeatedly throughout trial is not to form their final opinions or conclusions, but to wait until all the evidence is in and then deliberate with all the other jurors in order to reach a verdict. In fact, this admonition has been adopted into a formal written jury instruction that applies in all trials in my state. The wisdom underlying it goes back thousands of years.

            Through presumption comes nothing but strife, but with those who receive counsel is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:12.)

Don’t presume. Talk things over with others. Then come to a reasoned conclusion. It’s so simple, right?

I don’t know about you, but I see people around me and jump to conclusions all the time, thinking I know what’s going on in their lives. But I don’t. That might hurt only me except there are times when I act on this utter lack of knowledge, this lack of reasoned consideration. That can lead to mistakes, big mistakes. So what should I do?

God’s wisdom still applies: don’t presume; get the facts; find someone to talk things over with. It’s simple, right?

And share your experiences here in the comments. None of us want to presume we have all the answers!

[Biography: Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids (one in college; one just graduated, woo-hoo!) his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California.]

Guest Post: The Congresswoman and the General


I’m excited to have another guest post by Tim Fall, especially one that marks the day that he joins The Radical Journey as a regular blogger.  All I have to say is, “It’s about time!”  I’m excited to be able to hear what Tim has to say on a regular basis.  For now, here are some great words on love, respect, and the peace of God:

            Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords didn’t make it to last year’s State of the Union Address. She was in an Arizona hospital, having been rushed there just a few days before when a gunman shot her in the head at a public appearance. Her colleagues left her seat empty that night in her honor.

She made it to the State of the Union Address this year, and those same colleagues stood in applause as she slowly, haltingly and with a limp, made her way to her seat. In what is usually a well-orchestrated event, where everyone is told by their party leaders when they will stand and cheer, when to sit quietly and how they should respond to all that goes on, her appearance broke down the carefully constructed walls of pomp and protocol as cheers of “Gabby, Gabby!” roared through the house chamber in greeting.

Congresswoman Giffords is in the same party as the President, so (as is usual) she was given instructions on when to stand and applaud certain points in the speech. But she’s still recovering and, in fact, had announced already that she would be resigning from Congress the next day in order to concentrate on getting well. Constant standing and sitting, repeatedly moving from one position to another, would tax her strength that night almost beyond its limits. She needed help.

Congressman Jeff Flake, a fellow Arizonan, stood at the ready by her side. When she needed to stand, he took her arm, helped her to her feet. When it was time to sit, he gently lowered her back down. Time after time he stood with her and then sat again when she took her seat. Nothing too remarkable about this, you might say? But there is.

Flake and Giffords are in opposite political parties. His leadership had given instructions too, and they did not include standing whenever the President hit one of the applause lines in the speech. Quite the opposite, they were to sit mute while the President’s party clapped and cheered. Only occasionally would they be instructed to give modest approval to something in the Address. But Jeff Flake stood anyway. Every time his friend and colleague Gabby needed him, he was right there at her side helping her to her feet so she could cheer. And every time she needed to resume her seat, she knew that her friend Jeff would see her safely back into it.

I thought about this the day after the Address and at first it was just another nice moment of setting aside party differences for a friend. But then I started thinking about another time someone stood and bowed, even if it was not in his own interests to do so. And, as sometimes happens, that very night I read about the man I was thinking of, a 9th c. BCE Aramean general named Naaman. (2 Kings 5.)

Naaman was commander of the army of the King of Aram, and he had a horrible and incurable skin disorder. He learned that Elisha, the prophet of God, could help him, so he asked his king for permission to go to Israel. On meeting Elisha, Naaman was sure the prophet would call upon the name of the Lord and cure him right there. Instead, Elisha told the mighty general to wash himself seven times in the nearby Jordan River. Naaman is disappointed and ready to return home in disgust, but his companions convince him to give it a try. He does, and he is cured. There is not a blemish left to show he was ever sick.

On returning to Elisha’s house Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel,” and offers the prophet a rich reward. Elisha refuses, giving the glory to God alone. So Naaman asks for a blessing for himself instead

“Please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”

Here’s the part that blows me away: this seems to me like it would be a tough request for a prophet of God to stomach, forgiveness for bowing down in the presence of false idols (see Lev. 26:1, for example), yet Elisha responded, “Go in peace.” What?

Go in peace. What glorious words to receive from God’s prophet. Naaman received the blessing to carry out his duties to his king because God knew what was in Naaman’s heart: total devotion to God. And this is more than just forgiveness for carrying out his duty; it is the promise that Naaman already enjoys God’s peace and that he will continue in it as he returns home.

All of this reminds me that the peace of God is something that he gives to everyone who belongs to him. We might not be able to understand how (Phil. 4:7), but we experience a peace that transcends any we could hope to achieve on our own (John 14:27). And it comes to us through God himself, who will never again condemn us for anything we do ever (Rom. 8:1). We are at peace with God the Father through the work of Jesus, God the Son.

So I say to all God’s people: Go in peace.

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Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids now in college, his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California.
Besides guest posts here and there, Tim blogs with the team at The Radical Journey.

Guest Post: “Being Targeted”

I’m excited to have my first guest post today.  Tim Fall, a faithful blog reader and commenter, had some thoughts that he wanted to share.  I have enjoyed reading his numerous guests posts on other blogs, and I was glad to give him this platform, however small, to share his ideas.  Enjoy!

Being Targeted

Everyone wants to be wanted, right? We hear this all the time. But there are times when the reality of being wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Target’s Targets

Forbes recently ran an article about some freakily accurate target marketing at – where else – Target. Based on your shopping habits, the store will send advertisements and coupons that – with reasonable accuracy – fit your lifestyle. How accurate? They do such a good job of identifying pregnant mothers, they can get right down to the trimester the mothers are in and the month their babies are due.

The store’s statisticians and marketing team have also discovered that mothers don’t like to feel spied on. Mailing a catalog filled with baby items to the home before the mother has told Target of the pregnancy tends to freak her out. (You think mothers never tell Target they’re pregnant? What’s that baby registry all about, then?)

So Target decided to hide the ball; the catalogs still have all the baby items, but they are alongside unrelated marketing pitches such as lawn mowers. A target employee was quoted saying, “we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons.” Hmm. “Thinks she hasn’t been spied on.” Who’s wild about being wanted now?

Of course, being wanted, even being targeted, isn’t so bad if it works out well for us. But it’s not always profitable in the end.

A Prowling Lion

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8.) I’ve read that verse a number of times over the years, but this news article has given me new insight to its meaning.

Satan sees us. He watches our actions, discerns our habits, and designs temptations for us. He targets us. He sends us spiritual ads and coupons for discounted ways to please him. He likes nothing more than to steal a shopper away from the storehouse of spiritual gifts our heavenly Father has for us. Satan knows his targets well.

How does Satan target you? Consider what he sees you do with your time, your money, your family and friends. You may be doing things that are perfectly all right in and of themselves, but that doesn’t mean Satan is not taking note to see if there is a way to draw you into temptation and ultimately sin. After all, he “prowls around … looking for someone to devour.” He’s looking for it!

What hope do we have against such a powerful adversary? How can we escape his schemes? How do we keep from becoming his targets? Well Satan may be a prowling lion, but that does not mean that he is the most powerful cat in the jungle.

The Triumphal Lion

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” (Revelation 5:5.) Who is this Lion? It’s Jesus, the triumphal Lion of the Book of Revelation. And he does some targeting of his own:

            “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:14-16.)

Jesus knows his sheep, his people. He knows our habits, what we do with our money, time, family and friends, and frankly he targets us despite those things. In fact, according to Paul, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8.)

You see, it’s not our habits that attract God’s attention to us but rather his own love for us – it’s his very nature – that drives his desire for us. That is the targeted ad he sends our way. And his offer is immeasurably more valuable and eternally better than Satan’s:

            “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30.)

Jesus promises that once his, he will never let you go. We are his target. So what can we say now about wanting to be wanted? When you are Jesus’ target, it’s a good thing.

And he hits his target every time.

[Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids now in college, his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California.]

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