Feb 11 2015


Names

Nickname Wordle

Recently, as I was reading the Well Spring trilogy by James Rubart (given to me by a particularly thoughtful and kind client of mine), I was reminded of the spiritual power of the names we take on along this journey of life.  Some are given to us.  Some we place upon ourselves.  Some are kind.  Some are cruel.  Some are silly.  But if we hold on to them with even the smallest part of our hearts, they take on a spiritual power in our lives and will come to shape our identity and our impact.

In response to the chapter about name significance, I decided to prayerfully review any and all names/nicknames I could ever remember carrying throughout my life.  Most struck me as worth discarding, but I remembered one that stood out as a particularly frustrating chapter in my life, because I HATED that a family member insisted on calling me something for years – simply because it pushed my buttons and agitated me.  I am grateful to have already had the opportunity to lay this to rest with this family member years ago, but back in my childhood the dynamics of this obnoxious nickname game always left me feeling discouraged, belittled, and helpless.  As I recalled those days, I thanked God for moving me past it, and setting me free from any long-lasting negative impact.  And then it hit me…

For years, I have done this same thing to my own son!  I haven’t done it in quite the same way.  I haven’t stuck one particularly obnoxious nickname on my son, despite his protestations.  But what I have done is frequently blurted out a silly nickname of the moment/day/week, based on whatever movie, TV show, song, stuffed animal, etc is at hand.  Just to get a rise out of him.  It wasn’t that I was picking on him, or being mean, or anything like that.  I was just having fun with him.  Or so I had told myself for a long time.  The Holy Spirit told me otherwise.  I can always count on Him to tell me the Truth.

That night, as I lay down with my eleven year old son at bedtime, I told him I wanted to talk to him about something serious.  Of course, his first concern was what kind of trouble he was in.  I assured him I was the one who had been out of line.  I told him the story of my childhood nickname, and how it made me feel.  I then told him God had helped me see how I had been doing the same thing to him for a long time.  I’m not sure how I expected him to react.  I guess I figured he’d say something like, “Thanks, Dad,” or “No big deal, Dad,” or maybe even, “Yeah, that bugs me, too.”  Whatever I expected, it was nothing like the conviction that came when he shot this bullet straight back at my heart…

“You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that!”  That is actually what came out of his mouth.  WOW!  Well, I managed to keep from falling apart on the spot.  Much more importantly, I promised him I would stop this behavior, and show him more respect and love in this arena from now on.  We agreed his names would be limited to “Shep,” “Son,” and he also liked “Tiger” (I told him how that was what I called him for the first few weeks of his life, but somehow it seemed like it just didn’t stick).  I am pleased to report I have done much better, and he has been quick to remind me when I forget and slip into the old habit.  I want him to know I see him and believe in him for who he is and Whose he is, and don’t want him saddled with foolish or harmful nicknames.

Do you have any names you have been carrying that are dragging you down?  Hand them over to God, and ask Him to take them away from you for good.  You don’t have to accept them anymore!  And what about the conviction that hit me?  Have you been calling someone by a name that tears them down, rather than builds them up?  It’s time to stop.  And say you’re sorry, and want only good for them from now on.  Give it a try.  Lighten your load.  And theirs.  Walking in our true identity given us by our Father is so much greater than wallowing in the counterfeit identities that ultimately come from our Enemy.

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Jan 31 2015


Just a second…

?????????

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels frustrated at so frequently hearing, “Just a second…” in response to an instruction to turn off the digital device and come to the table, get in the car, get out of the car, join a conversation, get ready for bed, etc. And frankly, I’m racking my brain trying to remember the last time “just a second” turned out to actually be only a second. What it really means is, “What I’m doing on this digital device is really more important to me than whatever ‘real life’ interruption you are trying to impose on me, and I’ll get to that as soon as I’m satisfied with what I’ve done here on my priority activity.” Right? Now, in our house, our son has learned that his mother and I both show no remorse at all about yanking said device away from him if he does not put it down or give it back. And he has also learned there may be bigger consequences whenever this dynamic becomes chronic, or is accompanied by an inappropriate attitude.

But I was thinking today about how often I tell my son or my wife, “Just a second…” because I am plugged into my own digital device doing something that is clearly oh, so important to me. How about you? How many precious hours and moments of real life relationships and experiences do we miss each week because we have our faces buried in screens so much? Do you have any screen-free zones in your family’s weekly rhythm? Is dinner time kept sacred from digital interruptions? Or maybe travel time together? Certain days or nights of the week, or even certain hours during the day or night? Maybe even a room or other place that is designated as screen-free? How powerful would it be to go on an outing with a spouse, child, or whole family, and purposefully leave the phones at home? Does the idea make you cringe just to hear it?

Let’s be intentional about showing the people we love that they are more important to us than the digital options clawing for our attention. Yes, there is a time for using our screens as tools for important work, for communication, and for enjoyable fun. But may we not sacrifice the hours of the lives of our loved ones on the electronic altar of “Just a second…”

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Jan 09 2015


Today

todayTherefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  – Jesus (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Such profoundly simply wisdom.  And yet, for some reason, so easy to discard in favor of needless daily stress and worry.  Whatever challenges you may face in this year, whatever resolutions you have made for change in your life, whatever relationships need mending or redirecting, whatever guilt or shame you have been carrying, whatever goal you are determined to reach, whatever mess you know you need to clean up, whatever chapter you are ready to close or begin…

DO YOUR BEST TO FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON THE BEST CHOICES YOU CAN MAKE TODAY.

And know that so long as you are doing so with your best efforts at walking in what you believe God would have you do, you are making the very most of today.  Because the simple truth is this: making the very most of today is the best thing you can do to move forward in any area, challenge, or relationship in life.  This brief span of days we are given to breathe and to act on planet Earth can only be lived one day at a time.  Simple as that.

I was reminded of this wonderful Truth earlier this week on a peaceful stroll through my favorite nature spot in Baton Rouge.  As I spoke with the delightful retired couple who serve as the resident bird enthusiasts at the Bluebonnet Swamp, this wise woman shared how the birds don’t stress out about the changing weather or what might happen tomorrow.  They get up, face today, and do the work of living well today.  And somehow, they seem to sing and dance their way through it.  She reflected on how grateful she is for their ever-present reminder to her of living in today.  And I am so thankful she shared with me, reminding me of the very example Jesus used to illustrate the quote above.

This year on my blog, I plan to share more practical insights and guidance into handling real life difficulties well.  And reminding us all of this foundational Truth seems the best place to start.  One day at a time.  Breathe.  Pray.  Face the hard stuff.  Look often to your Father in heaven for wisdom, guidance, and strength.  And live today as well as you can, knowing this is your best hope for a better tomorrow.

In His Grace,

Roger

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Dec 23 2014


Christmas Presence

Christmas presence

If you are anything like me, you love the joy of sharing Christmas gifts.  The searching.  The buying.  The hiding.  The wrapping.  The anticipation.  The unwrapping.  The smiles.  There is just something special about Christmas presents.  It’s fun to get them.  It’s fun to give them.  When it goes well, it really feels like a magical time.  And my favorite part of the Christmas gifting ritual has long been the opening of Christmas stockings.  One after another, a stream of quirky little treasures brings laughter and smiles and questions and silliness and appreciation.  I just love it!

And for all the fun of sharing Christmas presents with loved ones at this time of year, I still believe the greatest gift we can offer one another is our presence.  I’m not saying we have to be there at a certain time of the Christmas holiday celebration for us to offer our best.  I’m simply saying our greatest gift is to share of ourselves with openness and authenticity.  The most real and valuable and personal thing I can give you is the gift of what is uniquely within me – my hopes, my beliefs, my fears, my joys, my tears, my spiritual journey.

I believe God has given me so many wonderful gifts and blessings, I could never name them all.  And while the gift of redemption from my ugly sins by the blood of His perfect Son is one I most desperately need and could never ever earn or deserve by my own merit, it is the Incarnation that blows my mind the most.  He gave us the gift of His presence!

I have shared my thoughts before about the unthinkable nature of the Incarnation – the Holy Son coming from ultimate glory to live among us as one of us.  Remember in the opening narrative of Kung Fu Panda when Po (Jack Black) tells us that “Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose Kung Fu skills were the stuff of LEGEND!“?  And he goes on to describe how masses of people went blind simply from gazing at his awesomeness.  Yes, I’m a big Kung Fu Panda fan.  But while that little story is really shared as over the top silliness from our daydreaming hero, the Truth is that God’s Word tells of the greatest warrior who ever lived leaving the unspeakable dazzling perfection of heaven to enter our stinking, sin-corrupted world as one of us, just to be with us, so He could redeem us, so we could live with Him forever.  Okay…WOW!!!  He shared Himself fully with us because He wants to be with us.

So as you embrace this Christmas season, close out another year, and move into a new year, I hope you will extend the gift of Jesus just a bit further.  Share your self with the ones you love.  Just as He did.  Yes, have a great time with gifts and stockings and egg nog and mistletoe (does anyone still do that anymore?) and all the cultural Christmastime joy.  But may you and I love more people more fully this season and this coming year than we have in the past.  May we give more openly and more fully of our greatest gift – our presence.  And may God be glorified as we share the story and the love of Jesus with one another throughout this Christmas season and beyond.

“I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people…Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

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Dec 18 2014


Moving on…

moving on

After an almost three month transition process, I am now publishing on my site – compliments of a new web host: A Small Orange.  So far, I am super impressed with their timely and personal responsiveness, and I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them.  : )

So, I’m writing this little post to tell you my website is moving on.

And I’m writing this little post to remind me and you that sometimes in life, we must simply…move on.  Especially when we do something like write what really seems to be an inspired and timely heartfelt blog post, publish it, then come back later in the day to review it and find that it has vanished without a trace.

Moving on.  (And checking to see what happens to this little post after I publish it.)

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Aug 21 2014


Teach Your Child To Fish

fishing

There is an old American saying: “Give a man a fish, and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for life.” So simple, profound, and true. If you have followed my blog for a while, you may remember some of the wonderful times and lessons my son and I have shared through fishing together. This picture is from what has become our annual trip to the catfish pond with my best friend and his three boys.  What a great time!  Laughter, fishing, smack talk, encouragement, disgusting smells – you name it.  We even netted a snake and fish that were battling each other in the water.  It was the coolest thing ever!  : )

But this post isn’t about fishing. It is about teaching, training, and equipping our children and teens to be fully capable and responsible adults.  And so, we shift from fishing to typing, grammar, and punctuation.  Over the course of the last month, my ten year old son has developed an interest and enthusiasm for learning to type.  Frankly, my wife and I have been rather impressed with the zeal he has put into this pursuit, given how much he takes after his old man and hates sitting still to do homework and such.  He has even come with an extremely clever way to hone his typing skills while managing to get a bit more screen time than we would otherwise allow him.  He will watch about two to five minutes of a favorite TV show, then pause the show, go into the other room, and type up his version of what he is seeing and hearing on the screen.  And even though he is not using his own original material, we are struck by what a knack he has for detail and colorful word play.  And while he is an exceptionally bright lad in a wonderful school, he is only just beginning the fifth grade, and still has much to learn about the rules and regs of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and such.

So this week, my wife asked me to go through what he has typed up, and help him with editing and learning more about punctuation and capitalization.  If you know me well, or were my “friend” on Facebook back before I pulled the plug, you know how much I appreciate the proper use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation when sharing the English language.  The truth is, I have a certain warm fondness for the Oxford comma.  I know, chances are, you have NO idea what I’m talking about at this point.  Chances are even greater that you’re thinking what a total nerd I am.  Fine.  I yam what I yam, as Popeye loved to say.  In addition to being a bit over zealous about proper comma usage, I can be *just* a bit of a control freak.  Okay, babe, if you’re reading this post, please no comments on that last.  ; )  Taken together, there was the potential for the perfect storm of me completely taking over my son’s work, perfecting it, and leaving him with absolutely nothing learned or gained.  Well, I suppose he might have learned to keep a bit more distance from his Dad.

Praise God (The Holy Spirit, in particular) this story goes in a very different direction.  With the nudging of the Holy Spirit, and the example of my amazing wife and the gifted teachers at our son’s Montessori school, I decided to teach the lad to fish, rather than just frying some up for him.  We sat at the table, and I had him get out a notecard.  I shared with him two basic rules for capitalization and three basic rules for punctuation that should cover the vast majority of grammatical situations he will encounter.  I even had him write them down, rather than me doing that for him.  I did my best to use that patient, gentle tone my wife uses when she is teaching a child a lesson.  You should see her in action some time.  She’s like the Child Whisperer, or something.  She is truly amazing!  Anyway, I talked through these basic guidelines with him, and he really seemed to take it in.  And here’s where it gets shocking.  Once we had finished reviewing these simple rules, I told him he had really done well in the lesson with me, and he could take a break before actually editing his paper.  He immediately said, “No Dad, I don’t think I should take a break yet.  I really want to get this.”  And he proceeded to edit the paper.  Un.  Be.  Lievable!  (Don’t tell my son about the rules I trampled with that little verbal stunt I just pulled.)

It would have been so much quicker and easier for me to just mark up his paper myself, and have him redo it.  But how much would he have learned?  And how much would he want to continue working with me on this kind of lesson and work?  Bear in mind, he is almost as much a stubborn knucklehead as his dear ole Dad.  I can confidently say at this point that we are both looking forward to working on more of this writing and typing work together.  He just started fifth grade this week, and he is already wanting to get prepared for the daunting challenges of middle school that await him a year from now.  And thanks to God, my wife, and his teachers, I think I just helped him take a good step in that direction.  The least I could do was pass it on to you.  Teach your children and teens to “fish.”  Don’t just serve it up ready to eat.

In His Grace,

Dr Butner

p.s. – Okay, you didn’t REALLY think I was gonna go without sharing pictures of the crazy snake-fish battle royale, did you?

photo 1photo 2

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Jul 24 2014


Celebrate!

Lulu's

Well, maybe this isn’t the way YOU celebrate, but for brothers and friends who have all just aced the ring toss game at Lulu’s at the beach, this is how it’s done.  : )

Who shares in your celebrations of life?  What do you celebrate?  DO you celebrate?

Friend, if you struggle to answer these questions, I want to urge you to reach out to someone with whom you could share the celebrations which are so important to really living life.  Yes, my family and I are particularly blessed with having such dear friends who are truly family.  Maybe you haven’t been so fortunate.  I understand good friends don’t always come easily to everyone.  But good friends also don’t usually just fall out of trees.  We must reach out and share and experience life.  Take risks.  Invite.  Welcome.

And then… CELEBRATE!

Celebrating the blessings, joys, victories, and delights of life with friends and family is always time well spent.  What are you waiting for?  If there hasn’t been anything worth really celebrating in your own life lately, find out what good has been unfolding for those you care about.  In fact, that will probably do you even more good than sharing your own triumphs.  Okay, maybe no one you know has hit the Powerball lately.  But I’ll bet someone has overcome a daunting obstacle, finally achieved a life goal, reached an important milestone, won a game, or just beaten the pants off everyone at laser tag.

What are you waiting for?!!

p.s. – If you are looking for some good celebration food, I highly recommend Bluebell’s Southern Blackberry Cobbler and Southern Peach Cobbler ice creams.  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS.

YouTube Preview Image

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Jun 13 2014


Grasp the Sword!

Theoden reborn

The once strong, commanding king now sits in bewilderment.  The faces of family and friends around him are deeply familiar, yet he can’t quite place them.  He feels as though he has just been roused from a deep sleep.  This is not far from the truth.  For long months, a darkness and gloom has stolen over his land and his people as he has been under the befuddling spell of a sinister wizard. 

But a Friend showed up.  A Friend who was unafraid to confront the darkness that has become the effective law of the land.  More than just a friend…he is a Light-bearer.  And as Gandalf speaks commanding words of truth and power against the dark stronghold of the enemy, Theoden King is set free from the strangling spell.  The Light pierces the Darkness.  The King is transformed.  He is awake.  But waking up is not enough.  He must remember who he is.  He must know his place.  He must reclaim his authority.  And he must walk in courage and conviction if his people are to survive.  And then his Friend and Counselor gently speaks one more time…

Your fingers would remember their old strength better – if they grasped your sword.

Within moments of drawing and wielding his sword, the King begins to act with decisive authority.  He is kingly once again.  His family, his realm, and all of Middle Earth now stand a fighting chance of survival against the malicious evil that is poised to devour them.

If you have never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic masterpiece trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings,” I urge you to do your self a favor, and read it at your first opportunity.  Not a reader?  Okay, fine – at least watch the movies.  Men – seriously – this is a must do.  Okay, back to Theoden.

Do you ever find yourself feeling lost and overwhelmed in the face of life’s threats and storms?  Perhaps you were once feeling very much in control and capable of responding to whatever came your way.  But things went wrong.  You were blindsided.  Or you lost a few battles.  Or you just sat comfortably for too long, and forgot how to stand and fight the good fight.  And now your kingdom is crumbling.  Maybe it’s your business that is withering.  Or your marriage is on the brink of divorce – or a loveless truce.  Perhaps you’ve given up on trying to reach your kids.  Or you have been defeated and mocked so many times by your addiction that you have lost hope of ever gaining victory and freedom.

I have been there.  I have SO been there.  And I am deeply grateful for the Light-bearers God has sent to me to wake me up and remind me of my source of strength and authority.  So I now find great joy in sharing this hope with friends.

Jesus, our True Source of Light, speaks this bold proclamation and invitation to every one of us who is or was bound in the chains of darkness and despair:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:10 NIV)

God’s powerful words of Truth continue:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14)

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:12-16 NIV)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:1-5)

Need to regain your bearings in life? Or find real direction and power for the first time? GRASP THE SWORD! Yes, read your Bible and learn from the wisdom and truth of its pages. But don’t just read a book. Seek the Source of the words in the book. You may need some specific direction in how to save your marriage or your business or your very life. If I can help with that, let me know. But I promise you this. Whatever realm of life you are trying to save and restore, you will do it best when you walk in your true identity.

Look daily to the Source of Light.  Listen daily to the Speaker of Truth.  Drink daily from the Fountain of Life. Sure, you have made mistakes. Maybe even caused a lot of damage.  So have I. But God still wants to lead us in victory. Jesus is offering you His sword of Truth and Power every day of your life. Take it from one who has been awakened and freed and granted victory over the darkness. Grasp the sword.

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May 01 2014


Life Treasures

Star-Wars-Old-e1365097730815

Something got me thinking this week about the experiences throughout my childhood and beyond that are so valuable to me, and that my son is likely not going to have in the treasure chest of his life.  Some are beyond my ability to influence for him, while others can happen, if I am willing to do what it takes.  Below are a few that come to my mind.  What comes to your mind?  What are the treasures I WILL help to pack in his life chest along the way?  What about you and your kids?

  • Playing impromptu games of “kill the man” with the neighborhood kids and a football in our front yards up and down the street.
  • Stopping at a neighbor’s house for a glass of Kool-Aid or Tang on my bike ride back from the park to my house by myself.
  • Looking through the chainlink fence around the backyard to see who was outside playing, and then just climbing over the fence to go play.
  • Roaming free on a trail through the woods behind the back of our house as a child and teen with no one to keep me company but our family German Shepherds (once we moved from the “chainlink” house in town out to the country).
  • That wonderful feeling of familiarity and comfort I had in the chair by the phone in the kitchen, because that’s where I always sat and talked to my grandparents when they called.
  • Riding in that rear facing bonus seat in the back of a station wagon and gesturing to truckers to blow their cool horns.  Man, I used to love that!
  • Knowing that the original three Star Wars films are far superior to the newer high-tech drivel served up by an older, richer, seemingly much less imaginative George Lucas.
  • Riding horses in Grandad’s pasture.
  • “Helping” Grandad in his garden.
  • Being an active part of a huge parakeet (American Budgerigar) farm.  Okay, so I actually hated this one, but I know it was a tremendously valuable life experience.  You dodged a bullet on this one, son!  : )
  • Seeing the annual spectacle of the world-famous Osborne family Christmas lights of Little Rock.  Oh wait, my son DID get to experience this at Disney World, and even got to take center stage and flip the switch to power on all the lights.  Thanks a bazillion to Kris Breithupt for so graciously helping me check this one off the list a few years ago!
  • Seeing and hearing the national anthem play at the end of the evening when television WENT OFF THE AIR FOR THE NIGHT.  wow
  • The thrill of getting up early on Saturday mornings because it was “Cartoon Day.”
  • Growing up with the Duke Boys as my on-screen heroes, rather than the Avengers.  Don’t get me wrong – I totally dig the Avengers these days.  But Bo and Luke were like real life redneck superstars that could easily have lived just down the road from us.  Okay, that’s kinda scary on several levels, but there it is.
  • Having a video game system with only one button on the joystick control.
  • Sneaking a taste of paste now and then.  Oh, stop judging – you know you did it, too!
  • Living in blissful freedom from the “What Does The Fox Say?” plague.  Well, that must be my clue that it’s time to wrap up this post.

Happy Treasure Making!!!

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Apr 30 2014


Selfie Reflection

Some of you saw my recent WAFB interview on “The Dangers of Selfies.”  How could any of us have predicted that only days afterward, a young woman in North Carolina would actually die while taking selfies and posting to Facebook while driving?!?  While I am not going to dwell on this extreme example in this post, sadly, I do not believe this will be the last such incident.  I thought it would be worthwhile to write out my concerns about the growing obsession of taking and posting “selfies.”

If you are reading this post, and you don’t know what a “selfie” is, I would be curious who logged you onto the internet and helped you navigate to my site.  Let’s face it, selfies are happening, and they are happening constantly – everywhere!  Now, let’s get something straight.  I do not believe taking (and sharing) selfies here and there is a terrible thing, in and of itself.  I do believe they can be both useful and fun.  However, they can also contribute to some serious problems – my two biggest concerns being self-centeredness and personal insecurity.  And it does occur to me, even as I write this, that this is certainly one of those chicken-and-egg scenarios where it is really difficult to say which is cause and which is effect.

One of the general dynamics that is greatly magnified by our social media usage is a growing mindset that people are or should be thinking about me all the time.  As seductive as this can be for me, and for so many of us these days, it is pure rubbish!  I’d say God addresses this whole issue rather nicely right here:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  (Romans 12:1-3 NIV)

When I live with the increasing mindset that people should be thinking about ME, I grow less and less likely to be mindful of how I can be of service to OTHERS.  Once again, I believe God makes His will for our lives rather plain in this wonderful narrative:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Life is truly so much better for all of us when you and I live with a daily mindfulness to show consideration and compassion and service to others.  Much more could be written on this matter, to be sure.  But I’ll go ahead and move on to my second selfie-centered concern…

I generally stay away from using the term “self-esteem,” either pro or con.  So I’ll stick with discussing how the frequent taking and mass sharing of selfies can do so much to increase an individual’s struggle with personal insecurity.  The problem here is not so much wanting to share a fun pic of what you’re doing at the moment.  As I said, that can really be a postive thing at times.  The problem is what happens when you combine the constant possibilities of taking selfies (given that we all have a handy camera with us all the time now) with the forces and culture of social media.  Suddenly my fun moment becomes part of a tidal wave of competition at who gets the most likes and comments, what kind of comments are posted, and “Oh, my goodness, did someone just SHARE my selfie?!!”  The joy of the moment I just experienced is now sacrificed on the fires of the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr idol.

Here’s my point.  By all means, have fun taking selfies when the inspiration strikes you (just not while driving or perched in precarious positions).  And share them with your family and friends, if you like.  But don’t miss out on the joy of an experience in the here and now moment because you are consumed with posing the best selfie.  What a tragedy.  The only life we have available to us is what we get in the here and now moments.  Be fully present.  Live life to the full.  And don’t miss out on the wonderful life purpose and transformation that comes through responding in love and service to others because you are so consumed with what others may be thinking about you.  This only leads to greater emptiness and loneliness.  Live well.  Live fully.  Live large.  Live for Him.  And be richly blessed.

In His Grace,

Roger

p.s. – I was going to end by sharing my all-time favorite selfie with you.  It is a picture of my closest circle of college buddies where we actually stood in a circle in my dorm room, placed the camera on the floor facing up in the middle of us, and two of us managed to snap the picture with our feet.  Of course, we had to wait on the film to be processed before we could be amazed and thrilled with this snapshot of a lifelong memory.  But it will have to remain simply my memory, as I am no longer on Facebook, and that’s the only place I could think to be able to quickly access and pass on the photo to you.  What a great moment, though.  I’m enjoying the picture in my mind right now, and I don’t really need your input on that, anyway.  : )

p.p.s. – After thinking about that selfie of my buddies and me in college, it occurred to me that there is often something qualitatively and psychologically different about taking group selfies vs solo selfies.  Hmmm…

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