Gatekeeping

Gatekeeper

Do you know who the gatekeepers are?

  • In your organization?
  • In your family?
  • In your school?
  • In your religion?

These are people (and sometimes processes) that are designed to provide a barrier or to protect something.

“Gatekeeping” is NOT always a bad thing,  If you want to get to my children, mama and papa bear might fight to protect that.  If you want to talk to me at work, and you don’t currently work for us, you are going to have to see a receptionist or my voice mail.  There are times when it’s logical and purposeful to get stuff done.

But….

There are times and cases where the gatekeepers are doing it for less benevolent purposes.  In my experience with the Church, they are constantly using these people/processes/devices to keep a barrier that has no Biblical backing.

  • Some bar women because Lord knows men always get it right.
  • Some bar homosexuals because Lord knows that infidelity, child molestation, or other sexual sin isn’t an issue with straight pastors.
  • Some bar people based on socioeconomic things (ie. seminary/finances/capacity for Greek)
  • Some bar for a lot less controversial things

Some of these barriers were created to protect people but they don’t really work.  Bad orthodoxy and orthopraxy come from straight men trained in seminary.  (Truth: Authority doesn’t come who you are)

These gatekeeping devices are designed to keep “wolves” out, but they don’t.  And sadly, many times they end up keeping out the types of shepherds that the Church is thirsty for.

If you look at a congregation, a denomination, or a religion and see where they are struggling, you’ll find who they aren’t allowing to have a voice*.

*voice is more than just speaking in this manner*

The Loudest of “Boo’s” Come from the Cheapest of Seats

booing-crowd-boo-sign

You have critics.

We all do.

I can guarantee that any of my work that is public will get some criticism, which sometimes is in the form of passive aggressive behavior.

The critics are those that are chipping away at whatever you are trying to accomplish or whatever ground you’re trying to gain (even if it’s something internal).

What I’m finding is it’s those without “skin” in the game that yell the loudest.  It’s those that have replaced the work with criticism and have somehow convinced themselves that the criticism is the work.

We are tempted by this behavior.  Everyone has the ability to tear down and the internet gives all of us a platform.  There are even forums that are created to draw this opinion out of us where we have no authority to speak.

Constructive criticism is a great tool and should be wielded wisely.  It can create tension that helps change.

I guess my question is “Can you really give legitimate constructive criticism when you are removed* from what you’re criticizing?”

*Removed is subjective, but most people are smart enough to see where they aren’t really “in the game” but just a chest beating gong of “I’m right and you’re wrong”.

I Can Be Miserable to Be Around

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…well if I’m thinking right.

If you’re super excited about…

  • new job
  • new boyfriend
  • wedding
  • a holiday
  • an election

… I’m probably not going to be super excited with you.

If you’re super pissed about…

  • a boss
  • your old boyfriend
  • you spouse
  • an election

….I’m probably not going to be super pissed with you either.

If I’m thinking straight and I am rested, I’m going to sound like a joy-kill or I won’t benefit your bitch-fest.  Maybe it’s a choice to be neither high or low about a lot of what the world throws at us.  Maybe it’s a personality/genetic/natural thing.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve lived through enough crap and come out bruised but walking and feel like “this too shall pass”.

Not sure the cause, but I see the benefit.

This world is constantly pitching magic pills and doomsday events that it seems to be saturated with either a sterile veneer of everything is great (or should be), or it’s some talking head preaching how this ______ is the worst _______ we’ve ever seen.

But neither are true.  If we studied history we’d know otherwise.  Hell, if we just study our short existence (my 33 years), we’d know otherwise.

But we believe that this time is different without calculating the constants.

waves

I believe, as followers of Christ, we should look like crests in the troughs (and vice versa).  When the world is idolizing people, events, elections, and holidays, we should look calmer.  When the world is screaming about gun control, low income apartments, gay marriage, taxes, or ISIS, we should look calmer.

It’s not an apathetic calmer, it’s a peaceful/my-citizenship-is-elsewhere calmer.

“Don’t Tell Me What To Do!”

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People mistake freedom and liberty often.  People like their freedom but seldom are a fan and advocate for the freedom of others.  Of course they argue differently until that other person’s freedom infringes on theirs.

Liberty/Freedom has always been restricted….and for good reasons.

  • The Bible restricts it.
  • The Constitution put up barriers.
  • Your wedding vows deny your freedom.
  • If you had good parents, they restricted it.

I work in a section of an industry that puts restrictions in place.  We get a lot of “you’re not the boss of me” (even if it isn’t said).  The truth is restrictions can be liberating if you see the big picture.

ie.  “You have to wear this respirator so that you’re free to breathe at 50.”

One night Kai and I were talking at dinner.  I was drinking soda and he wasn’t allowed any.  He lamented but to no avail.  I told him “I can drink as much soda as I want because I won’t drink as much as I want”.  I know its a little philosophical for a dinner time conversation but I’m raising adults not kids.

What I was conveying, and will continue to convey, is that those that can discipline themselves are freer based on their ability to not take and have what is available.  Those that want freedom without restrictions, whether self-imposed or other-imposed, don’t need freedom…they need wisdom.

Romancing Romance

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I’m away from my bride today.  Now we aren’t “lovey-dovey” people.  We don’t buy anniversary presents, birthday gifts, or stuffed animals on days like today.  I’m not dogging those that do, it’s just not our bag.

I’m okay with romance, even if I taste bile when it’s overdone.

I’m a fan of love (my harshest of sentiments are my expression), but I loath it when it feels obligatory.

  • If you are obligated to call…
  • If you feel obligated to buy her that thing and she feels obligated to have a better emotion towards you…
  • If you feel obligated to clean, to fix, to whatever…

People would argue that they don’t feel obligated, but what do they predict would be the outcome if they didn’t do _____?

Would that person be upset?  Disappointed?  Annoyed?  Spiteful? Would they withhold something from you?

On days like this, the lines feel more blurred about “what is love?”.

Gifts are a great present, but presence a month from now will be the most romantic thing you can do for her.

Been Underground

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So I haven’t written anything (publicly) in almost 5 months.  In that absence, not a lot has changed and much has changed.  The reality is no one has miss my voice and I’m not looking for…”yeah we have”.  It’s just not true (I can check analytics).

People need perspective that is “NOW”, or “yesterday” at a minimum.  With that being said, if you aren’t constantly blogging, people move on.  I understand that emotion because I tend to operate the same way.  I only go on twitter to read on something that is “NOW” and worth perspective(s).

So what’s going on “NOW” that was going on 5 months ago, will be what’s going on 5 months from now, and was a topic of interest 5 years ago

  1. People are fighting gay marriage
  2. Race is an issue
  3. The economy is an issue (gas prices are too cheap now)
  4. The “christian” right wants to kill people that believe differently that want to kill them
  5. Obama is a ________
  6. The missional “church” is screaming fire
  7. The traditional “church” is being gimmicky “This program is going to be different”
  8. The weather is either too hot/too cold depending on where you are standing
  9. There are 3 or 5 or 10 “Ways to reduce belly fat” other than what works (eating less, exercising more)
  10. God is good

So if I start writing again, great.  If I don’t, you don’t have to consume the next greatest thing because you’ll find it has a treadmill-like quality.  It will fatigue you and you won’t go anywhere.

The Theology of Groups

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
 – Seth Godin
“Nothing truly valuable can be achieved except by the unselfish cooperation of many individuals.”
 ― Albert Einstein
We are creatures of clans.
We love to organize.
We have a gravity in us that pulls us together.
We are the Roberts family.
We are Aggies.
We are Cowboy fans. (well…not my wife)
We are _______ (insert political party, geographic location, nationality, ethnicity, vocation, religious affiliation, etc.)
Although there are many negative attributes of grouping together because of our fallenness, that doesn’t mean we should have a Theology that a group is secular.  I actually believe it’s the opposite.  Because of the history of the mob mentality, I need to really have a Theology of who I run with and why I’m with them.
This isn’t a “separate thyself” posture.  I just need to understand where God is working in the connections that I have with other people.  If we are a running group, where’s God?  If we are family, where’s God?  If we are a church, where’s God?
I don’t have to disassociate with people that are different than me.  I just have to look harder as to how God is connecting us.  “Why can I have atheist friends?”, because God is in all things and even people that don’t believe the same doctrines.
God is above all our similarities and differences alike.  Seeing this is easier in some groups and harder in others.  If I can’t ultimately make the connection with God as I’m connecting with others, I usually know there a True disconnection all around.

 

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecc. 4v12

Theology of Family

“The best inheritance a parent can give to his children is a few minutes of their time each day.”

– M. Grundler

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

– Desmond Tutu

I really didn’t “get” a lot of things in life until two things happened:  I got married and I had my first child.

I thought I knew a lot about the world and who God was, but I forgot one major piece… I didn’t know who I was.  I knew stuff about me (giftings, passions, etc.), but I didn’t really understand myself in the eyes of others.  I could be a figment of my imagination with others, but I saw the true me when I saw my bride and my boy.

My family, including my siblings, father, and extended family, have been a gift to me as well.  I see what God meant to create when he created a people.  Our families are suppose to be foundational for our understanding of community.  True community means a group of people, blood related or not, that: 1) Care for you. 2) Fight for you. 3) See the hope for your future. 4) Forgive you. 5) Help you see and understand your faults, for your growth.

Family has been one of the closest reflections of biblical community and has taught me how to live in community outside of my family.  The roles I have had in my family have taught me how to live in the Kingdom.  As a son, I’ve learned how to be a son to God.  As a father, I understand why God wants good things for His children and why discipline is needed at times.  As a brother, I understand that it’s okay to fight because at the end of the day, were both striving to know more and be more.  As a cousin, I’ve learned how to help and how to be an advocate. And as a distant relative, I’ve learned how to love those well that are away from me.

I have actually yelled at my children “HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU STOP _____ BEFORE YOU’LL LISTEN?”, and immediately heard God go “it’s annoying, right?”  I love those moments.  I realize how to be a father like God.  I also can empathize with my child in that moment because I see my stubbornness with God.

Family is a beautiful gift for me.  It always gives me awareness of my God, my family, and myself.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

Psalm 128v3

Theology of Eating (part deux)

“One should eat to live, not live to eat”
– Benjamin Franklin

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I remember the first time that I saw the Lion King movie. All the animals “chillin'” together near “Pride Rock”. Remember all the predators and prey just “hanging out”. Mufasa explains the Circle of Life. It’s this beautiful explanation of the food cycle, and your heart thinks “that sounds right”.

Well it is right.
Life has to be taken so that you and I can have it.
Daily. Weekly. Constantly.

There is something sacred and Holy about eating because a plant or animal had to give it’s life for me to survive. I can try and detach myself from the process, but I can’t detach myself from the Truth. A #1 isn’t a combo meal, it’s an animal. When I have forgotten that, I’m missing out on something.

When I’m really aware of this, it changes my posture towards what I eat. More importantly, it alters how much I eat. We are called to be people that only desire our “daily bread”, and there is a richness to this. However, there is also the Truth that whatever I consume has a cost.

When I understand what I’m eating, I understand why I eat and how to eat.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12v11

Theology of Eating (part one)

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.”

– Michael Pollen

 

I love food, so I have to possess a theology that encompasses it.

 

We live in a culture where food (cooking, preparing, eating, etc) is glorified.  We have a tv channel dedicated to it.  We spend more and more money every year on it.  It is a common passion and function.  It’s a routine in my life and it can be a centerpiece of conversation with complete strangers.

 

Seriously, you can walk into a room with complete strangers and yell “tacos or pizza?!”, and watch how everyone has an opinion.

 

Food’s universalism is one of the things that makes food Holy.  It may be the only experience that Warren Buffet and a homeless man can share.  Food isn’t bias or prejudice.  Eating isn’t reserved for the wealthy, educated, and affluent.  The meal is an arena where all can sit and enjoy.

 

Jesus knew this.  The Pharisees knew this.  I’m starting to understand this.  I can share a meal with anyone, and I mean anyone.  I can’t share all my experiences with everyone because there are things that can get in the way, but not food.  I could eat with a blind man that only speaks Cantonese.  I’m not saying it would be easy, but it could be done.

 

As this starts to permeate into my Theologies, I start to see that the meal is sacred and a gift.  It’s powerful because it can allow me to see people as the same.  It allows me to bridge differences with others and it fortifies my home with the four I share the majority of meals with.

 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

Acts 2v42-44

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