Archive | December, 2013

A Resolution Against New Resolutions.

30 Dec


resolution list - CopyHave you ever felt like you have been here before?   Some many of us start each new year with a list of resolutions and goals.  We hope that by improving ourselves we will make this year better than the last. Continue reading

Black (Green) Friday and A Culture of Consumerism

19 Dec

shopping mallcon·sum·er·ism –

1.  a modern movement for the protection of the consumer against useless, inferior, or dangerous products, misleading advertising, unfair pricing, etc.

2.  the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy.

3.  the fact or practice of an increasing consumption of goods: a critic of American consumerism.

That’s the definition of consumerism via www.dictionary.com.

It seems that people, especially the day after Thanksgiving here in the US, are really, really excited about it. This year marks the first, at least that I can remember, that stores opened early the evening of Thanksgiving, some as early as 5 and 6 pm-prime turkey time.

This raised a LOT of questions, boycotting, people choosing not to shop at these stores at all and millions upon millions in record breaking revenue in a very short amount of time. For some it also raised the question, is this an attack on the family?

As a Christian and someone that recognizes issues with my own faith from time to time, I really struggled with whether to shop on turkey night or not.  If it was an attack in the family, then I would choose to stay home and fight the lesser crowds on Friday with family as normal. If it wasn’t the attack on my foundational beliefs, then maybe it would be ok to go after all?

It doesn’t matter what I decided to do, or what others decided to do. I do believe it’s less about corporate America attacking the family and more about the condition of greed in the hearts of a sinful human nature.

What stands out to me is that we are missing the root issue.

Black (or Green) Friday as we know it is part of our holiday culture. The stores aren’t attacking our family by opening their doors 6 hours early for our “must haves”, they ARE responding to our demands the rest of the year.

We need to work on is our consumerist nature. One that consumes and consumes all year long, one that is almost constantly plugged in, quite literally.

How many black Friday sell out items were hard-copy books or hiking shoes? None that I’ve heard of. Tablets, Apple products and TV’s topped the list. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but we need moderation.

I did shop on Thanksgiving night for about 30 mins. I saw and overheard things I couldn’t believe. Friday was just as crazy, even in the afternoon when I went out.

I speak this as a guilty consumerist with the best motives.  

Brandon Pachey

404677_10150625626792049_329776103_n

Brandon Pachey is the husband of an amazing wife and father of three awesome kids, hoping to adopt for the first time soon. He has lived all over the United States in six different states and Germany. He has worked in Youth Ministry as a volunteer for 13 years (3 as a full time volunteer youth pastor) and done ministry in Germany with military students and US Military Men’s Ministry. He looks periodically at the funny things the church does and faith in day to day life on For the Love of God Too. He also has a passion for off-roading as a family sport.

The Movie every Man should see, but only a few will.

17 Dec

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my parents came into town to visit us.  On the first night they were there, my son looked at us and said, “I want private time with Granna and Pops.   You two need to leave. “  What could we say?  So my wife and I made plans to go to a movie the following night.  Thanksgiving weekend is a huge weekend for going to the theatres.  It seemed as if everyone not at the malls was at the theater. 

My wife’s first request would have been to see some Nicholas Sparks’movie.  But I am thankful that none are currently out.  I hate crying for no good reason.  There were actually no romantic movies out (dodged a bullet on that one).

My first choice would have been “Thor” (for the 2nd time).  It is my first choice because it is a movie about a Marvel super hero.  It is also my first choice just because it is awesome.   (Tom Hiddleston as Loki is simply great.)  However, when I voiced my opinion, my wife gave me no response.

My wife’s second request was to see some movie called “Catching Fire.”  I am not sure if you have heard of it.  I guess it is a big deal to some.  I surprisingly haven’t seen it, and didn’t want to see the 2nd before I saw the first.  So my wife let me pass.

My second request was non-existent because the Hobbit wasn’t out yet.

My wife then suggested that we go to “12 Years a Slave.”  I knew it might not be tough, but I like movies about difficult topics.

The move is about Solomon Northup, a freed black man from New York who is abducted and sold down south into slavery.  Facing the end of his freedom, Solomon fights for survival and for hope in a dark world.

Why should you see this movie? 

The first reason is because it turns slavery from a textbook into a reality.  I don’t want to give away what happens during the film, but I know that you will feel like you are there.   I am not saying it is a good feeling.  There were many times when I felt as I wanted to run, hide.  I covered my eyes.  I covered my ears.  I felt as if I was there, and I could barely handle it.

The movie challenged me to know that I can withstand the circumstances that I am in.  Solomon made choices to cling to hope and his integrity.  He was a great example of being a man.

The movie challenged me to continue to look for injustice in our world today, and to be a voice for those who have none.

As a warning, the movie has a MPAA rating of R due to male and female nudity.  The nudity does not come through a passionate bedroom scene, but through trying to display the reality of the lives of slaves in the south.

I know that many people go to the theater because they want to forget reality, injustice, and the difficulties of life.  I get that, and I often do the same.  The box office numbers reveals this fact.  12 Years a Slave has made about 33.7 million in the box office (and will soon be gone).  Thor 2 has already grossed 188 million.

If you don’t go to the theatre, then rent it.  Whatever you do, you should watch the movie.

There are some issues in life that are hard to address, however, that doesn’t mean we can ignore them.

I believe that watching this movie could make you more understanding, compassionate, and driven to be an instrument for the Kingdom of God.

Unless, you are not tough enough to handle it.  

I’ll Never Get Caught.

12 Dec
Note: Having recently celebrated 10 years of marriage, I began a series of stories, or rather mistakes I’ve made in those 10 years. I hope that through these deep, personal stories, you’ll come to see, as I have, the gloriously beautiful experience of the Gospel that is marriage.

I'll Never Get Caught Part 1

These may be the last words you ever read from me. Not because of some proverbial notion that I get hit by a bus, or I’ll never write again, or that I have run out of things to say, but because honestly, these words will tell a story that’s difficult to share. One that you probably won’t enjoy that much.

Enjoy is not a very good word to use there so let’s go with the word hate.

Hate is a much stronger word, I know. But it’s the most accurate word I can grasp right now.

I use it because I have felt this tension inside me, building throughout this series, knowing it would lead here.

And I hate here.

I have lost friends because of here.

I have seen smiles turn to blank stares because of here. I know you know what I’m talking about, the disapproving, disappointing blank stare. The ones that stay with you forever. The ones you never forget — ever.

My marriage has never been the same because of here.

When I look at the photo above, I’m reminded again, and I grieve some more from the loss that here has handed to me.

Let me tell you, we reap what we sow alright. No one in their right mind can deny that. It’s a spiritual certainty. (Tweetable.)

It’s something like the spiritual equivalent of Newton’s 3rd Law.

Even suggesting to tweet that phrase above just seems silly in the context of the gravity of this story — eh, this mistake that is.

I remember growing up and hearing that phrase again and again, you reap what you sow, always thinking I would be some sort of exception. Like for some unknown reason I would escape punishment, I could avoid being caught. Caught for what I didn’t know then, but whatever it was I would sow, I just imagined that the reaping would be for someone else, not me.

Boy was I wrong.

I’m sure by now you’ve discerned that in the story of my marriage exists some darkness. Some places I’ve been, decisions I’ve made, and patterns of behavior I’ve committed of which I hate. Stuff that, sure, The Father, in only His loving-kindness graciously redeems, but the wake of which continues to pierce old wounds.

Trust is an extremely sacred thing. Once it’s fractured, it’s not so easy to repair. Only affections of the heavenly realm can mend that which is broken.

I understand that now more than ever.

For me it started early as child, discovering a stack of Playboys in the bathroom — at least that’s how I remember it. That beast grew as I fed it, until there were just remnants of innocence left. Pornography sank its ugly teeth in me early as a child and wouldn’t let go till it nearly took everything from me.

I know God has a plan, I’ve always known that. Some of the fondest memories I have of my grandmother are her writing those words in birthday cards, holiday cards and handwritten letters. I know He takes our messes and turns them into messages, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to hate who I was back then.

I’d give anything now to be able to travel back in time and rescue that little boy, love that 13-year-old or even beat the crap out of that 20 something.

I was so foolish to think that I could hide it forever.

It wasn’t but a few short months after our wedding that Mary caught me the first time.

Somehow I wasn’t as careful as I thought and she found some traces of something disturbing on the computer. Suddenly I was found out. I was trapped with nowhere to hide.

To be honest, I was scared and embarrassed. I mean we had talked about it a little bit when we were dating. And when I say a little, I mean, I did what all of us men typically do when we’re sorta kind of fessing up to something; we try to candy coat things. Like how when we’re late for something we’ll tell someone we’re farther down the road than we actually are.

Only when Mary refused to come home, did it really start to sink in on just how serious things were. I couldn’t ignore the plank in my eye any longer.

I hate that it didn’t stop there.

I hate that at that moment things would change for years to come.

I hate that for years to come I would continue to struggle with pornography.

The greatest storytellers in the world talk about story in the context of redemption. They tell how we all have parts of our stories that God redeems. I certainly talk about that a lot as well. But it’s always nicer and neater in the context of someone’s else’s story. It’s always easier to tell someone else’s story, than the dark parts of your own.

That is until the sunlight breaks the dawn, until the freeze lifts and makes way for new warmth and until that fateful stone rolls away.

There’s a new song in my heart these days, one that I can’t stop singing. One that draws deep into the well of my soul producing a flood of tears. The words covering each and every broken reminder of that place, that man I once was. It’s called The Rock Won’t Move by Vertical Church Band. The chorus reads:

The Rock won’t move and His word is strong.

The Rock won’t move and His love can’t be undone.

The Rock won’t move and His word is strong.

The Rock won’t move and His love can’t be undone.

The Rock of our salvation.

Even though I can’t say that the story ends here, and that the morning sunrise chased away all traces of darkness and pain, I can boldly proclaim that The Rock didn’t move. He was right there in the middle of it all. His words are strong and His love can’t be undone.

Again, right in the midst of the storm, while the storm was still raging, as scriptures describe, Jesus calls to us all. He certainly was for me and promises to continue to do so for you today. No matter what your storm looks like.

The disgusting statistics of those addicted or struggling with pornography are astounding. They tell us 1 out of every 2 men are addicted to pornography. While I’m empathetic and compassionate for those struggling, can I get close and step on some toes for second? There’s only one thing at the end of that tunnel — death. If you or someone you know is struggling, get help. Do whatever it takes.

Josh Collins

Josh’s series 10 Mistakes in Marriage will be continued here on http://www.morethanabeard.com.  If you can’t wait, you can check out his website at www.thejoshcollins.com.

Giving Gifts with Her Completely in Mind

10 Dec

As Christmas approaches, I am once again faced with what seems like a monumental task – finding my wife gifts for Christmas.  Now, I want to be clear.  It is not because my wife is demanding, or has everything, or is difficult to please.  Continue reading

Fatherly Humility

5 Dec

I had a rough day last week.  I completely lost my cool with my family.  I said things out of anger that I did not mean.  It eventually got to point where I had to walk away from the situation.  I walked out the door to cool off.  I was going to drive away, but I knew that was not going to be a good decision.  So, I decided to sit outside in the dark to collect my thoughts.  I eventually came back inside, defeated and humiliated.

How can I be a husband, a father, and a pastor if I struggle with this? Eventually it was bed time for our boys.  Whenever I put my oldest son, Caedmon, to bed we spend a little time in prayer before we read books.  I wanted him to pray that night because I was still not in the mood to do it (I know it must be shocking that a pastor was not in the mood to pray!).

So, Caedmon prayed and he did the most amazing thing: he led me in prayer.  And, not just any prayer, but the Lord’s prayer.  He is six years old and he knew it by heart!  Talk about a very humbling experience. That night, like many nights and days as a father, God taught me a valuable lesson of fatherhood, humility.  A father who is not humble enough to learn from his kids is not cut out to be the best father he can be.

The pressure is to have all the answers for our kids.  After all, they look to us as the superheroes and the braniacs who can do anything and know everything.  So, woe be to us if we ever make a mistake.  And if we do make a mistake, then we are the worst failures ever.  I mean every other parent never makes a mistake right? Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  I don’t want to be a father who is puffed up on pride.  I don’t want to fall and be destroyed because then I would really be useless to my family.

I would rather humble myself before them and allow God to use them to teach me a thing or two about following him. My six year old Caedmon is a boy after God’s own heart.

He is loving and forgiving.

He is gracious and merciful.

He is the kind of person I want to be.

He is my hero at times because he teaches me so many things about the heart of God.

He shows me how to live a godly life.

If that makes me weak in the eyes of the world, then may I be the weakest weakling ever.  I would rather find my strength in my King and the way I am going to do that is through humility.

So may we as fathers be humble enough to admit our mistakes.  May we be humble enough to learn from our kids because we do not know everything, able to occasionally to look up to your kids.

PhotoRyan Revelry is the husband of an amazing wife, Allie, and the father of three great boys, Caedmon, Shepherd, and Rex.  He is the senior pastor of Matthews Memorial Church in Chelmsford, MA.  He is also the chaplain for the Lowell Spinners, the single A club of the Boston Red Sox.  He is a big sports fan, rooting for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Bears, and Boston Bruins.  He loves reading, superheroes, and reading about superheroes.

Displays of Power – Jonathan Martin and Pranks within the Dolphin’s Locker Room

3 Dec

martinJonathan Martin, a player on the Miami Dolphins, recently stepped down from the team due to how he was treated on the team.  While there might be differences between a football locker room, and other work cultures, we need to remember that football was not simply a game, but it was also his job, so his story is really one that we can all relate to.

A job where he was expected to pay for the food, beverages, and vacations of others.  A job where he was treated poorly because he was new to his position.  A job where he was purposefully isolated.  This type of workplace behavior would not be tolerated in most businesses, and should not be tolerated in professional sports.

While the specifics of any case like this can cause much debate, the concept of how our masculinity affects our workplace behavior is important.

I find the excuses given for this type of behavior in this situation to be lacking.

1.  Just being boys.

First can I ask a simple question, “How old are these boys?” Their prank of leaving the table when Martin arrived, reminded me of typical behavior in a junior high lunchroom.  Why is there no shame or remorse for their immature behavior?  I oppose the line of thinking that “men never really grow up.”  Let us raise the expectations upon ourselves and each other.  We should not accept poor behavior because they are “boys” at any age.

We must also acknowledge the deeper motivator for this type of behavior.  Most pranks are not simply boyish behavior designed for laughter, but are struggles over power and position.  No one wants to be at the bottom of the totem pole.  No one wants to be a “Jerry” (from Parks and Recreation).  In order to establish that you are not at the bottom, you must make others look as if the belong there.  Teasing, out-performing socially, and pranking others is especially helpful in this process.

As men of faith, we should examine our relationships, and how we seek to establish ourselves within our communities.  Power Corrupts.  Seeking power is dangerous especially when we advance ourselves at the expense of others.

 2.  Tough Love.

Some people believe that Incognito was simply a veteran leader who was helping out a younger player – a player who needed help surviving.  I loathe this concept – that it is our job to help others develop thicker skin by harassing, teasing, and demanding things.  Although used occasionally in Christian circles, it is little less than Christ-like.

When did thick-skinned become a virtue to be sought after?  I understand that we should not be swayed by the opinions of others – that is biblical.  But there is another aspect of this concept that says, we should become emotionally detached from behaviors (either our own or others).  Emotional detachment is not always the first step towards healthy living.

As men of faith, let us strive for real love and kindness.

There is also an assumption that those who are younger need tough love as part of GROWING UP?  A crucial piece is that those older in the community are helping those who are younger.  Can I propose a new perspective?  I see it as those who have lived in an unhealthy environment for too long, are used to it, and are now acclimating you to do the same.

Which leads me to my third point…

3.  Team Loyalty

Are you a turncoat if you stand up and ask for change?  Especially in Christian circles, there is a pressure to not “rock the boat” or cause dissention.  Shouldn’t we live for unity above all things?  While unity is important, it is not the highest goal.  Communities that call for following leadership and current culture at any cost are breeding spots for abuse (especially in the church when that leadership is God-ordained).

Should Martin be called a traitor or a hero?  There may be various opinions for years to come.  This event has brought a chance to change a broken system.  A hero is one who has the strength to stand up, risking everything to bring to light a system that is broken.

If the investigation is done well, I believe that they will discover this was not a failure of an individual, but of the entire system.  Regardless, of whether a formal complaint was filed or not.  I find it incredulous that any Dolphin player or member of the organization was not aware of the culture of the community.  The problem was known, and was ignored.  The pressure upon the NFL is that if it acts then it will have to change a culture, and not simply solve a problem.  I personally find it difficult to believe that the flamboyant touchdown celebrations (which are penalized), are more dangerous to the sport and individuals than the apparent culture of their locker rooms.

As men of faith, let us be ready to stand against injustice within our communities.

I am waiting for someone on the Dolphin Team to be a man.  To stand up and say that their behavior towards others has been less than kind, lacking in maturity, and should be changed.

However, I am not holding my breath.

Until then, I will examine my own life.  I want my communities to be free of power struggles, over-flowing with real love, and ready to stand against injustice.

photoDr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.   He grew a beard for “No-shave” November that he found very itchy and shaved on December 1.

%d bloggers like this: