All posts by pastorjeff@citylifela.org

The Dangers of Tug of War

In the news today comes a story of how some kids lost some fingers playing tug of war at a school event.

You can read about it here.

First, let me say that my prayers go out to the students and their families. I am praying for a full and complete recovery.

That being said, while I was driving today, I heard some news reports that mentioned the incident. While listening, I had this thought: “They’re probably going to ban tug of war”!

Sure enough, as I was thinking about it, they said it!

In that article, Eric Spillman (the author) states, “The school district is reviewing its policies to see if tug of war will be allowed in the future.”

What?

Why is it that every accident that happens leads to us creating more rules or outright banning something?

Should we ban beaches because of shark bites?
Should we ban cars because of accidents?
Should we ban sports because of injuries?
Should we ban marriages because of infidelity?
Should we ban airplanes because of terrorists?
Should we ban banks because of robbers?
Should we ban hospitals because of sickness and death?

While it is true that we can always be more safe and cautious, I fear that we are becoming a risk averse society.

Life is made up of risks. Once risks are removed, we are no longer living life as it was meant to be lived.

In becoming a risk averse society, we don’t just protect ourselves from negative outcomes…we also eliminate the enjoyment of positive outcomes.

If marriages are removed, the fullest expression of love is put to death.
If sports are removed, the enjoyment of leisure and play is also removed (and discipline too)!
Etc.

When we create rules to avoid risk, we are basically admitting to the fact that we are a fearful society. We are afraid that something might go wrong or someone will get hurt. We allow an isolated incident to tell us that it might happen to all of us. This is simply not true.

Why don’t we simply accept the fact that these things will happen? Then, we can support each other when things go wrong.

So, for the love of all things enjoyable, please don’t ban tug of war!

Why I Won’t Pray For President Obama

Because…

He doesn’t agree with my political philosophy.

He is ok with abortion.

He is a closet Muslim.

Etc.

Why I WILL pray for president Obama:

Because…

IF all of the above were to be true, then he needs lots of prayer!

Because no matter who is in the office of the president, NO president will ever be perfect…they all need prayer.

Because we are commanded to by Paul (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

And no, this is not the type of prayer I’m talking about!

Let’s join together and ask God to give our president peace and wisdom as he governs the affairs of our nation. Let’s ask God to bless his family. Let’s ask God for his presence to be made known in our president’s life.

What’s your choice?

I Saved My Son and He’s Mad at Me

The other day, Evelyn and I went and grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant.  We took our little ones (Isabella and David) while the other two were in school.

While we were eating, David (our 2 year old) decided that he wanted to eat as big of a piece of meat as was possible.  So, he did.  Then he started choking.

Not coughing.  Choking.  Turn blue in the face type of choking.

Here enters father (aka Superman).

I reached over the table and hit him hard on the back 3 times.  He immediately spit up his food.

Thank God!

Then an interesting thing happened.  He looked at me and almost started to cry.  His look was one of anger.  He immediately cuddled with my wife, trying as much as possible to ignore me.

I thought when we save people there was supposed to be some type of gratitude.  Some acknowledgement of the good that was done.  Some appreciation for risking my perfectly good eating hand to save his life (ok…it wasn’t that much of a risk).

No.  Only anger.

And it made me think.

The reason he wasn’t happy with me is that he didn’t understand the fact that he was in trouble.  Although he definitely felt the pain of his situation, he couldn’t connect his pain to my actions, which were meant to relieve his pain.

He didn’t have enough faith and trust to believe that what I was doing was for his good.  While he had to suffer momentary pain, in the end, his life was being saved!

And so it is with us.

So many times, God has to take us through moments of pain in order to save us.

We may not understand the full reality of our situation.  We may not know that we are in deep trouble.  But, God does.

And he responds.

The problem is that many times we lack the faith to believe that what God is doing is meant to help us…not hurt us.  We get angry with God, wondering why he allows certain things to happen to us.

Have you ever stopped to wonder if the bad thing that’s happening to you is something that is saving you from much worse?

If we have the wrong perspective, we end up getting angry with God, instead of thanking him.

Choose to thank God today, and he just might reveal to you the “what” and the “why” of all those things that have happened to you.  Choose to look to God with eyes of faith, trusting that he is looking out for you and knows what you need.

For the record, David was happy with me about 5 minutes later.

The Error of Spectatorship

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(crossposted here)

Spectating is a national pastime.

We have phrases that prove this:

“Armchair quarterback”

“Backseat driver”

We spectate at so many things. We watch sports on tv. We regularly attend shows, sporting events, theatre productions, and so much more.

And, here’s what all of us do, both during and afterwards: We critique.

How was the show?

What did you like about it?

What didn’t you like?

Should I go see it? Why?

Why is this team losing the baseball game? What is the pitcher doing wrong?

On and on and on.

Now, I don’t find anything particularly wrong with us critiquing when we are enjoying entertainment.  We’re typically not hurting anyone and we are simply giving opinions.

But, I have noticed a trend of spectatorship that has gone much deeper than entertainment.

I have seen too many people being spectators of life.

While so many things are going on, while the world is constantly changing, while there is so much to be done, people remain comfortable, sitting on the sidelines of life, watching, and never participating.

And, here’s the problem: the spectator’s chair of life is one that always leads to a life of unhealthy critiques and demeaning judgments, one which never helps anyone improve or make things better.

There’s an interesting story that I’ve read plenty of times, but only recently noticed what I’m talking about in this post.  King David was bringing the ark (which was the symbol of God’s presence with his people Israel) into Jerusalem.  While doing so, an interesting thing happened.  This is found in 2 Samuel 6:14-16.

14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. 15 So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. 16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.

David was dancing with joy.

People were shouting with joy.

And they even brought out the ram’s horns for the celebration!

And notice this, in verse 15, it says “all the people of Israel” were with David doing this.

Except for one.

I love the picture this story gives us of Michal, David’s wife.  She was looking down from her window.

This is the spectator’s stance: One who is positioned (at least in their own minds) high above everyone else, looking down on their idiocy, their craziness, their stupidity, despising them for what they are doing.

Could you imagine what would have happened if she would have joined the dance?

Later on, David had a conversation with her about her wrong attitude.  It didn’t go well. In fact, the end result was that Michal remained childless the rest of her life (verse 23).

I see that happening with so many people today.  They sit on the sidelines…of life, of the church, of experiences, and so much more.  And, as a result of their own critiques, they are so filled with hate and disgust that they end up living life “barren”. 

Barren of joy, excitement, life, love, and so much more.

This post today is a call: Step into life, join the dance, be a part of the party, experience all that God has for you.  Do NOT sit anymore on the sidelines of life.

There is too much at stake.

Welcome to My New and Improved Blog!

love to write.

I’ve been doing it for years, and I don’t intend to stop!  For awhile now, I have been hosting my blog at http://jeffunplugged.wordpress.com.  You can still go there to see all of my old posts.

I decided to get my own website…after all, “jefftolle.org” is much easier than what I had before!

So, without further ado…WELCOME!

My plan is to make this site more fully developed than what I had before, in order to give more information about what I do and how you can partner with me (and I with you)!

I’ve uploaded some of my most viewed posts from my previous blog to this one…so if you haven’t read any of them, feel free!

There will be much more to come, so get ready!  Feel free to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on anything!

We’ll talk soon!