A GREAT Post! No, not a shameless self promotion but rather a friend’s post that is too good to pass up!

1shut-up-catI have an "old" friend…no, not in chronological years but in a "different" frame of reference.  My friend Beau is someone I've known since our paths crossed at Azusa Pacific University.  He also joined our staff for the Youth Leadership Institute for a summer.  What a great guy!  Anyway, we haven't talked in a while and I haven't seen him in years…but Beau is still "alive and well" thinking through Kingdom living and lifestyle in his own context.  I read his blog post this week and thought of YOU (and me)!  I thought this was incredibly profound.  As we say in our faith community, it is better to "LIVE YOUR FAITH and SHARE YOUR LIFE" than it is to "LIVE YOUR LIFE and SHARE YOUR FAITH."  If you think about those two phrases, there is a big difference.  Another old friend of mine used to sessentially say the same thing – "people don't care what you know until they know that you care." WE don't have to earn a hearing…essentially we need to listen and enter other people's lives bearing the incarnate Word, shining the Light of the world…and in most cases, sharing the Gospel (but without words).  Here's Beau's post – thanks bud!

Stop sharing your faith (for now)

"A few weeks ago I gave a charge to the college guys in my Bible study: stop sharing your faith.

Take two weeks and don’t talk about Jesus, don’t offer Biblical insight, don’t answer the

question, don’t tell your story. Instead – just listen. Listen to what questions your friends are

asking, listen to their stories. Don’t think about your response, just absorb what they are telling


I teach this class on college student spiritual development. Parker Palmer says that we really

learn about our calling when we’re willing to dive in to the dark and deep places within us. I

just didn’t think it was practical to talk about the spiritual journey’s of students-out-there if we

weren’t in tune with the stories of the students-in-here. So we broke into small groups and

shared our spiritual autobiographies.

For two hours I listened to the broken, winding, and beautiful stories of skeptics, Jews,

agnostics, believers, and I-don’t-knows. People said things out loud for the first time. They

talked about pain, family, and what’s next. In a way I can’t explain, I saw God more clearly in

their stories than in the half-focused broken-record testimony of Christians at churches new

member classes. It was probably the best two hour class I had ever been in, and more

enlightening than any sermon I’ve ever heard on evangelism. There are a hundred things I

learned. But what I took away most was a feeling that I wish every Christian I know could have

heard what I heard.

Of course, they can’t. One of the reasons it worked is that our class has built up trust. We

intentionally created space to be able to listen. Most Christians will never get to hear those

stories. We are too busy trying to talk. We don’t know how to create safe space. Maybe we

aren’t interested. We’re so eager to share Jesus what we don’t honor or listen to the people he

died for.

I was wrestling through how to share my own story and so I asked my friend Nick to help me.

As the instructor, I know my voice carries more weight. I was so fearful of someone putting up

a wall because of what I would say. Would it be too polished or preachy? Would it be

authentic? Though I obviously wanted to be able to share, I didn’t want to trick them into

having to hear the gospel. Nick said, “what’s your motive?” I knew immediately – I just wanted

to be real.

This is a mystery. Opening the door to others sharing started with me listening. On the other

side of that door, they asked me to share my story, that is, the story of how God came close to


And so, dear reader, I challenge you to give no answers, share no truth, tell no stories, read no

verses, and do no preaching. For now. If you just listen, you’ll soon find people are begging

you to talk again." 

Ways we close our minds…Cognition Traps!

Close mindedCognition Traps and Intellectual

I'm tired of my closed mind AND I'm especially tired of the closed minds of others.  For some reason, the phrase "I've made up my mind" is not a phrase that that inspires me anylonger.  It used to!  It used to mean that someone was principled.  Unfortunately, in our culture these days it has come to mean more about a persons egocentricy and narcissism than just about anything else.  Community is built, relationships are matured and faith grows in an atmosphere of open-mindedness.  Think about it…any time you have personally or relationally or intellectually or spiritually grown is because something NEW entered your heart and mind.  That's why I love some of these thoughts about Cognition traps. Closing our minds happens in a variety of manners…which are you using today and what can you do about it?

Sum of the book Blunder, Why
Smart People make Bad Decisions
by Zachary Shore

Exposure Anxiety – belief that the failure to act in a manner perceived as firm will
result in the weakening of one’s position. 
Exposure anxiety victims never grasp that admitting errors and
correcting them is not a sign of weakness – rather a clear sign of strength.  (In short, “I’m never wrong…”)

Causation Confusion Causefusion – misunderstanding about
the causes of complex events.  Oversimplification
of an issue/challenge is often a cause of failure.  Causefusion is common because we are easily
blinded by our assumptions.  We make
assumptions that are guided by emotions rather than reason (“monocausal
myopia”).  (In short, “my assumptions
guide me”) 

A rigid perspective that constricts our imagination to just one dimension.  It’s “black/white” “either/or” “for
us/against us”…simplistic solutions. 
Doesn’t allow for contradictions, complexity, and nuance.  (In short, “everything is black/white”).

Cure-allism – dogmatic belief that a successful theory can be applied
indiscrimately…it is almost religious belief in a theory’s universal
applicability.  (In short, “we’ve always
done it or thought about it that way”).

– Obsessive relation to information – some will horde it to undermine others or
will be “infovoiders” who seal themselves off from information to be purposely
naïve.  (In short, “I need more

Mirror Imaging – Assuming, consciously or unconsciously, that the other side thinks
and acts like us. (In short, “everyone should be like us”)

Static Cling – Prevents us from recognizing that we are living in a changing
world.  Longing for things past or
present to bring us prosperity, comfort, and peace.  (In short, “it’s all about the past”)

Bias - 
Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or
myside bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their
beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember
information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect
is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs.
They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing
position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain
attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the
different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when
beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the
irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early
in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an
association between two events or situations).  Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in
personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary

Biased memory - Even if someone has sought and interpreted evidence
in a neutral manner, they may still remember it selectively to reinforce their
expectations. This effect is called "selective recall",
"confirmatory memory" or "access-biased memory".  Psychological theories differ in their
predictions about selective recall. Schema theory predicts that information
matching prior expectations will be more easily stored and recalled.

effect - 
A similar cognitive bias found in individuals is
the Backfire effect. Here, individuals challenged with evidence contradictory
to their beliefs tend to reject the evidence and instead become an even firmer
supporter of the initial belief.[

of opinion – Attitude polarization - 
When people with opposing views interpret new
information in a biased way, their views can move even further apart. This is
called "attitude polarization".

Persistence of discredited beliefs - "Beliefs can survive potent logical or
empirical challenges. They can survive and even be bolstered by evidence that
most uncommitted observers would agree logically demands some weakening of such
beliefs. They can even survive the total destruction of their original
evidential bases."—Lee Ross and Craig Anderson

correlation - 
Illusory correlation is the tendency to see
non-existent correlations in a set of data.  This effect is a kind of biased
interpretation, in that objectively neutral or unfavorable evidence is
interpreted to support existing beliefs.

inertia - 
Cognitive inertia refers the tendency for beliefs
or sets of beliefs to endure once formed. In particular, cognitive inertia
describes the human inclination to rely on familiar assumptions and exhibit a
reluctance and/or inability to revise those assumptions, even when the evidence
supporting them no longer exists or when other evidence would question their

selective exposure theory - 
Selective exposure theory is a concept in media and
communication research that refers to individuals’ tendency to favor
information that reinforces pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory
information. In this theory people tend to select specific aspects of exposed
information based on their perspective, beliefs, attitudes and decisions.
People can determine the information exposed to them and select favorable
evidence, while ignoring the unfavorable. This theory has been explored using the
cognitive dissonance theory, which suggests information consumers strive for
results of cognitive equilibrium. In order to attain this equilibrium,
individuals may either reinterpret the information they are exposed to or
select information that are consonant with their view.

Semmelweis reflex or "Semmelweis effect" - 
The Semmelweis reflex is a metaphor for the
reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it
contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms.

Maybe I’m cynical but the Super Bowl is “looking” more and more like ancient Roman games

1Roman-gladiators-300x224No, I'm not always cynical.  But I do get my moments where I think through some things that are going on in contemporary culture from a more "jaded" perspective.  Take, for example, yesterday's Super Bowl.  If there is EVER a public display of extravagence, celebrity worship, hedonism, materialism, individualism and a "worship" of those who are wealthy and culturally regarded as "icons", it would be the Super Bowl.  The show is getting bigger and bigger as the years go on.  It is no longer just a game (that's obvious to everyone) but it is a cultural "feast" of contemporarily worshipped values.  "We" cheer overpaid athletes (who are treated like royalty on the sidelines) to entertain the masses…watch commercials that encourage us to adhere to blatant materialism (image and entertainment are perfect triggers for our spending fingers)…and behold halftime festivities which appear to many of us who are aware of history as massive "orgies" of hero worship that promote values of licensiousness and amoralism.  

Interestingly enough – read this blurb of ancient Rome and its "games" of entertainment:

"The events staged at the Colosseum were many. Nearly all of them involved death and destruction. There were the well known gladiator fights and the feeding of "enemies" and the enslaved to lions. There were also a number of lesser known events such as mock sea battles involving ships, animal circus acts, animals fighting animals and animal hunts.

All sorts of animals were kept in cages below the Colosseum. Wild cats, buffaloes, bears and elephants would all be kept and then made to fight one another. In some parts of the Roman Empire, certain animals died out because their type was in such demand by those who ran entertainment in Rome itself. It is thought that on the day the Colosseum opened, over 5,000 animals were killed.

However, animals were the secondary part of the 'show'. Those who came to the Colosseum came to see people fight. Famous gladiators had a huge following but many gladiators were the Roman equivalent of 'canon fodder' – there to entertain and be killed. Many of these gladiators were slaves or prisoners-of-war. The casualty rate per 'show' was massive – near enough 50% died each show. Those gladiators who had fought well but had not won their fight could be spared by the emperor if he was present at an event – a thumbs up meant life, and a thumbs down meant death. The Roman writer Seneca wrote that for a gladiator "the only exit is death."

These shows were usually free to the public. The emperors believed it was a good way to keep the people of Ancient Rome happy and content with the way the city was being governed. The government provided free bread and free entertainment – a combination they believed would keep happy the many unemployed people in Rome."

With a culture struggling with financial ruin, millions unemployed, and fascinated with gratuitous violence and cruelty (just look at what all the top grossing movies are all about), you might, just might make an appropriate connection.  NO we are not seeing massive "death" but we are watching something that is brought to us by a culture that desires to distract us from reality.  That's essentially what entertainment can be at its worst…a denial or escape from reality.  But, before you start thinking that I'm a cold hearted cynic, understand that I watched the whole thing just like most of our country. Yep, watched the whole thing.  I simply am considering though how, over time, the Super Bowl is more of a reflection of a culture melting down before our very eyes and less about a game that is enjoyed by many because of athleticism and gamesmanship.  

Just sayin…

Now, here's a post from a guy I respect who has his finger on the pulse of culture.  So, take a peek at Walt Mueller's comments about yesterday's Super Bowl.  He has some more "gracious" things to say! See what you think:

Most of us watched, didn't we? And most of us watched the way we normally watch. . . disengaged. . . thoughtlessly. . . seeking to be entertained by the creativity (yes, some really great creativity!) of the stagers, the singers, and commercial script-writers. "Come on. . . make me laugh!" or "Make me forget about the trials and travails of my real life for a couple of hours!" is the way we watch. . . usually without even knowing that that's what's happening.

My morning-after confession includes the fact that I didn't watch as carefully as I normally do. When I say "carefully" I mean that there where times when my attention was directed elsewhere. . . like to the two other people in the room. . . or the newspaper. . . or (can I admit this?) Downton Abbey for an hour. Sure, here at CPYU we encourage people to watch carefully. But sometimes you've just got to shut down for awhile. . . like when it gets to be too much of the same-old discouraging thing both on and off the field.

But I did see enough . . . most of it actually. . . to allow me to endeavor to be somewhat thoughtful in the way that theologian Karl Barth used to say. . . "Every Christian should start their day with their Bible in one hand and the newspaper (or Super Bowl!) in the other." Yesterday morning's appropriately-timed sermon on pride was helpful once 6:30pm rolled around. I was already convicted about my own self. Now, I was feeling convicted about my own self's culture.

I also watched with the theologian John Stott's reminder of our need to engage in "dual-listening" in mind. Stott wrote in his book The Contemporary Christian, “We stand between the Word and the world with consequent obligation to listen to both. We listen to the Word to discover even more of the riches of Christ. We listen to the world in order to discern which of Christ’s riches are needed most and how to present them in their best light.” 

So, what did you hear as you "dual-listened" last night? I'm curious. Here are some general observations that I went to bed mulling over in my own head.

First, the Apostle Paul would most likely respond to us and our sport and consumer-obsessed culture in the same way he responded when he arrived in Athens. . . he would find it all greatly distressing. Why? Because our landscape is very similar to theirs. . . littered with idols. . . and I'm not sure I would say that our idols are any more difficult to see if we are willing to stand back and take a good look. There's the idol of consumerism (think commercials). There's the idol of sport (think about what a spectacle the Super Bowl has become). There's the idols of self (think about the "hey! look at me!" posturing that goes on after a player exercises their God-given athletic ability to the glory of self). There's there idol of celebrity (think Ray Lewis. . . think about Beyonce arriving on stage by rising above all else in the midst of theatrical fog). And so forth and so on.

Second, the Super Bowl gives us a quick and obvious peek into where and how we think we should find our identity. It's in what we look like. It's in what we own. It's in anything and everything but who we've been made to be in the image of God.

Third, the glory of God was everywhere last night. In the agile and athletic talents of the athletes. In the brains of the coaches. In the creativity of the commercial-makers. In the voices and talents of every halftime performer. In the engineering technology that allows us to watch. . . and show replays. . . and turn the lights back on. Yes, we have been made in the image of God who has in turn gifted us to be culture-makers. God can be seen in all of that and more. . . even if we choose to use those God-given gifts to the glory and honor of someone or something other than him.

Fourth, play is good! We are meant to enjoy life. We are meant to laugh. We are meant to sing. We are meant to dance. It is essential to our humanity. The real question is, "Who are we playing, enjoying, singing, and dancing to?"

And finally (although there's so much more we could talk about), yesterday's extravaganza exposes both our hunger for redemption and "the feasts" we think will fill us up. We've all been made by God and for God. Our brokenness leaves us groping in the dark for something that will answer our hunger and need. We are looking for something that will fix it all and make us feel right. And so we see things like stardom, sex appeal, victory, and stuff being heaped in huge proportions onto the cultural banquet table. We eat and leave. . . only to come back more hungry than before.

Here's what I need to remind myself of this morning: Ultimately, the search for our identity is a spiritual quest. Alistar McGrath captures that reality in his book The Unknown God:  "If there is something that has the power to fulfill truly and deeply, then for many it is something unknown, hidden in mystery and secrecy. We move from one thing and place to another, lingering only long enough to discover that it is not what we were hoping for before renewing our quest for fulfillment. The great certainty of our time seems to be that satisfaction is nowhere to be found. We roam around, searching without finding, yearning without being satisfied. The pursuit of happiness is often said to be one of the most fundamental rights. Yet this happiness proves astonishingly elusive. So often, those who actively pursue happiness find that it slips through their fingers. It is an ideal which is easily put into words, yet it seems to remain beyond our reach. We have long become used to the fact that the richest people in this world are often the most miserable, yet fail to see the irony of this. Perhaps it is just one of the sad paradoxes of being human. Maybe we will have to get used to the fact that we are always going to fail in our search for happiness. Part of the cruel irony of human existence seems to be that the thngs we thought would make us happy fail to do so."

At one point during last night's game, a friend connected me to fascinating and thought-provoking piece by Matthew Vos, a sociologist who is a follower of Christ and a watcher of sport culture. The article is fromComment magazine. . . a magazine I love. The article is entitled "Prizes and Consumables: The Super Bowl as a Theology of Women." If you are a Christian and you watched the game, your Super Bowl experience is not complete until you give this article a read.