When Jesus Becomes a Fill-in-the-Blank

Something to think about here…connecting the church journey with relational traction.

Holy Soup

People describe the Christian faith as a “personal relationship with Jesus.” But in the church, how have we gone about encouraging and developing that relationship with Christ? Curiously, church services, classes and programs rarely pursue that relationship like, well, like a real relationship.

It’s not for lack of good intentions. At some point, years ago, church leaders somehow got the idea that the church is in the information business. The God information business. They knew a lot of good information about God, and they felt compelled to share that good information with other people. So, they looked around and asked themselves, “How do information-keepers disseminate information?” Well, for mathematics, literature, history, and other academic subjects, people set up classrooms and have “school.” The teacher with all the information stands in front, lectures, and recites information. Pupils sit quietly and passively while the teacher goes through his or her lesson plan. Seeing…

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What Pastors Don’t Want You to Know

TheoCult Collective

Pastors have a dirty little secret.

I was meeting with a movie producer in Seattle who was looking into a new project. His idea was to find a creative visual way to discuss the issues of loneliness. At one point he said to me, “I thought I would ask pastors how they deal with loneliness.”

I said, “That is fantastic, because pastors are the loneliest people on the planet.”

Awkward pause.

He continued, “I meant, I was asking pastors how they dealt with loneliness in their congregations. Are you telling me that pastors are lonely?”

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5 Stages of Distrust and How it Destroys Your Relationships

Leading with Trust

Distrust1By nature I’m a pretty trusting person. Under normal circumstances I tend to extend trust to others expecting they will reciprocate in kind. If the other person proves to be untrustworthy, then I’ll dial back the level of trust I place in him/her. In relationships where I’ve experienced distrust, I’ve found it usually isn’t caused by one significant breach of trust (although those are the ones that grab our immediate attention), but rather several smaller instances over time. A broken promise here, a missed deadline there, and a pattern of unreliable, unethical, incompetent, or uncaring behavior becomes the trend.

Distrust doesn’t happen overnight. It develops progressively through stages, and if we can recognize these stages when we’re in them, we have a chance of addressing the situation before distrust takes root.

1. Doubt – The first stage of distrust begins with doubt. You start to experience a slight uncertainty about someone’s trustworthiness that…

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The Black Sharpie


Have you ever used a “black sharpie”? I’m guessing many of us have, at some point in our lives, used one. I didn’t realize how many shapes and sizes are availble to us now. In school teaching I used them for posters and projects. Occasionally I would use one on a package or letter to line out, permanently, an old address. Every once in a while I would accidently make a mark on my shirt or pants and I even remember leaving one in a pocket only to find out after it went into the washer and through the wash cycle. Yikes! This was not pretty! Sharpie marks are permanenet; I discovered.

Have you ever experienced a “black sharpie” in relationships? Do you know what I’m talking about? I observed one come out after the Seattle Seahawks victory over the San Francisco 49ers. See this link and...video.

This post game rant, if you will, created a huge buzz in the news. Sports commentators analyzed and dissected Richard Sherman during the week after the game and it will begin again this week, Super Bowl week. Many people put a “black sharpie” on Richard for these emotionally charged post game comments. A “black sharpie” permanently stains, as I mentioned above. It is loaded with permanent ink. Some folks have permanently judged Richard, marking him with a “black sharpie”. During one brief 45 seconds of his life, for all to see, he shares what he shares and gets the “black sharpie” from thousands. Yet, is this who he really is, 45 seconds defines him? This interaction happened before Richard’s outburst…see this video clip.

Then, to wrap up the sequence of events, see this interview with Richard some time later after the game.


So…have you put a ‘black sharpie” over Richard Sherman? If yes, what is at the root of your reason for picking up the “sharpie” and “X…ing” him out? Instead of just settling on your opinion as being right, sit back, reflect and explore what is going on inside of you.

Why? Because “grace expects and anticipates imperfection”. No one wants to be labeled as judgemental. Yet when we pull out the “black sharpie”, could it be possible that we are playing the judgement card? Are you qualified to be The Judge?

Think about it. When we use our “black sharpies” on people we will have a hard time getting “Relational Traction.”

Heroes, Villians and being upside/down


I recently went to see the latest Hobbit movie at a local theater. My friend and I were running late which meant we’d miss most of the trailers to the new movies coming out soon. However, we managed to see at least 5 trailers and in all of them I discovered a common theme. It was not a new theme…yet it struck me that this old theme is being delivered to us over and over again in these times. The theme is that of good vs. evil, hero vs. villian, and the heroine is also part of the story.

The hero in most of these movies is a man of supernatural abilities, powers and compassion for others. Of course today what sells is big clashes of power, lots to boom and special effects. The heroine is naturally gorgeous sexy and strong, holding her own in the story. This is Hollywood and I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the pulse of our culture today. Hollywood is usually dialed in on the themes that sell tickets at the box office.

There is another story that features a hero a heroine and a villian that doesn’t play in Hollywood, yet it is the story that makes most sense when you really dig into it.


Are you familiar with all aspects of this story, the story of Jesus? It has all the components of the Hollywood stories for today, and it is even more radical, more supernatural, more upside/down.

Tough Love ?

Have you been following the Richie Incognito story? If not, briefly, Incognito is an offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins who has been accused of some serious “over the top” harassment of teammate and fellow lineman, Jonathon Martin. This case has raised national media coverage which is ongoing today and investigations to get at the truth are also ongoing. Below I’ve captured just a few news snipits dating back to early November…note Incognito’s reaction on Nov. 8th.

Updates from Friday, Nov. 8:

ESPN’s James Walker has the latest on Incognito’s point of view:
“It’s probably a combination of totally blindsided and a bit betrayed,” the source said of Incognito’s current state. “He’s shocked. He can’t believe this happened and thinks it probably could have been avoided.”

According to the source, Incognito viewed himself as a “tough-love older brother” to Martin. Incognito gave Martin a hard time but also was protective of the second-year player, the source said.

Jason Cole of National Football Post gives us more insight into Incognito’s personality:

According to two sources, suspended Dolphins guard Richie Incognito regularly held meetings for the team’s offensive linemen at a South Florida strip club, demanding that other linemen attend at the location. Incognito went so far as to “fine” teammates in an erstwhile kangaroo court if they did not show up.

“Richie wanted to set up Richie’s world as a way for everybody to act,” a team source said. “Richie thinks everybody should act that way. He doesn’t get that some guys aren’t into that behav-ior. Some guys don’t want to constantly explain to their wife or girlfriend why they have to go to a strip club.”

If players didn’t go, Incognito would mock them for not being part of the group, one of the sources said.

4:04 PM ET Thu, Nov 07
More troubling information about Incognito has been released. According to Ben Candea of Local 10 in Miami, the suspended Dolphins lineman harassed a women at a golf outing:
Miami Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito harassed a volunteer at the annual Fins Weekend Golf Tournament last year by touching her privates with a golf club and emptying a bottle of water in her face, according to a police report.

The alleged incident happened May 18, 2012, at the Turnberry Resort & Club.

The then 34-year-old volunteer told police that Incognito had been drinking, and when he was at the hole where she was working, he rubbed her privates with a golf club and knocked a pair of sunglasses off her head with it, according to the report.

Updates from Saturday, Nov. 16
Jason Cole of National Football Post reports two Dolphins players may speak out against Richie Incognito:

Two more Dolphins players are expected to tell an NFL-appointed investigator about behavior by suspended guard Richie Incognito that could be considered hostile, according to two sources.

The players do not want to be named for fear of further upsetting teammates who have publicly backed Incognito in the aftermath of teammate Jonathan Martin leaving the team. However, one of them may tell investigator Ted Wells of a threat of physical intimidation by Incognito. The other player may explain how Incognito requested relatively large sums of money from him for en-tertainment activities.

Icognito I realize is innocent until proven guilty and my purpose here is not to judge him…just to share what is possibly being uncovered. I also realize that the NFL locker room (team) culture is unique, yet I wonder how much of this culture has influenced manhood in our country, both inside and outside the church. You can Google many more articles on the Incognito – Martin story, but what I want to explore here in the weeks to come is; what is healthy manhood, as exemplified in the Biblical narrative and how does it contrast from the manhood images we see in our culture? Stay tuned and please feel free to offer your thoughts.


Marriage Isn’t For You

I have been pointing this Relational Traction blog towards men, yet it is not exlusive. This post by Seth Adam Smith, reveals something for men in marriage and there is also application for women too. I had to share it because there are huge Relational Traction points in what Seth shares here…enjoy friends!

Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each…

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