executive orders

In the wake of emotion following the shock of Sandy Hook, this coming Tuesday, a Washington group led by VP Joe Biden plans to place on the desk of the President their recommendations regarding increased gun control and safety.  Foreshadowing their report, Biden publicly remarked that while multiple options remain, “The President is going to act.  There are executives orders — executive action that can be taken.”


U.S. presidents have been taking “executive action” for over 200 years.  While these orders are not legislation, they still are accompanied by full force of law.  The reality is there is no specific constitutional provision for the decrees, but there exists a vague granting of executive power in Article II.  The idea is that presidents issue executive orders in order to assist in operational management of federal agencies or to carry out what they perceive as their unequivocal, “constitutional responsibilities.”   That’s what the orders are supposed to do; however, through the years — as for some reason seems typical in contemporary culture — we have digressed…


Initially, executive orders were issued for such as the following:


  •   On December 25, 1868, Pres. Andrew Johnson pardoned “all and every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion” related to the Civil War (the “Christmas Proclamation”).


  • In 1861, Pres. Abraham Lincoln used presidential directives to run the early months of the Civil War.  Within his first two months in office, Lincoln issued a proclamation activating troops to defeat the Southern rebellion; he also issued proclamations to procure warships and to expand the size of the military.


  •   After World War II began, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the interment of Japanese-Americans — thinking they may be a threat — thereby impacting more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans, even though many were U.S. citizens.  Note:  it is widely believed that in FDR’s clear growth of government, expansion of the extent of executive orders was also his practice.


Via executive order, Teddy Roosevelt protected 130 million acres of land and created 5 national parks.  Pres. Ford pardoned Richard Nixon.  Executive orders have been arbitrarily and subjectively utilized, all via one man’s discretion… albeit one very powerful man.


Don’t let me also act as if all of the above was deemed categorically constitutional; much, in fact — even then — was controversial.  Conventional wisdom tells us that Lincoln’s actions were most likely unconstitutional, and the purported cruelty of Roosevelt’s executive orders has been debated for decades.


Still, as alluded to, through the years, executive orders have digressed; they have become seemingly more arbitrary and albeit, more political.  Such as…


  • In reaction to 9/11, Pres. George W. Bush created the Dept. of Homeland Security.


  • On March 16, 2012, Pres. Obama gave the White House absolute control over all the country’s natural resources in case of a natural disaster or during a time of war.


There is more.


Friends, herein lies the challenge…


If you are a supporter of Pres. Obama, the probability is that you wholeheartedly support his executive orders.  If you were a supporter of Pres. Bush 43, you most likely supported his decrees.  The challenge is that wisdom must be adhered to regardless of who is president.  For example, should any president decide he or she has the discernment skills to dictate the approach to the economy — meaning proceed via executive order — such would scare me.  For example, as much as I respect Pres. Obama, his economic background, in my opinion, is strikingly minimal.  Hence, should he enact any executive order affecting our economic future, the Intramuralist would question the inherent wisdom.


Gun control?  Gun control?  Did VP Biden misspeak once again?  Or is it totally ok to bypass Congress and simply dictate one’s opinion, assuming it is wisest and best?  Is it ok to bypass bipartisan debate?  Is it wise?  Or is it arrogant?


Great questions.  Guess we’ll see on Tuesday.




fairness (satire, too… oops…)

It’s not fair!  It’s a matter of fairness, and this is not fair!


I’ve decided to consider advocating for this fairness concept — this idea that everyone deserves a fair shot — equal shot — maybe even the exact, same shot… that we should all have the same opportunity — regardless of…


… ability…  gifting…  weaknesses…  strengths…  effort…  blessing…


This just isn’t fair!  We deserve to be the same!  “Equals should be treated equally!”


Call it fairness.  Call it justice.  Maybe it’s social justice, some would argue.


We live on the same planet.  It’s not fair that some have so much — and others — yes, us — have so little…  too little, I might add.  How can that be justified?  How can some stand so smugly by? … even cheering?  Cheering, I said!


That’s ridiculous!


Still even when the inequality is so stinkin’ obvious, the wealthy among us actually have the audacity to stand and cheer — almost as if they are unaware that the rest of us are also in the stands.  It’s as if they don’t even care — like we’re not even in the game.  They don’t care about the active discrimination.  They don’t care how little we have.  They must have no heart.  It’s all about them!  It’s simply not fair!


Monday night the University of Alabama football team won their 15th NCAA national championship.  The (semi-) Fighting Irish (based on their performance Monday night) claim 11 of their own championships — same as Michigan’s Wolverines and those tempestuous Trojans of Southern California.  But alas, my woeful, beloved Boilermakers — those prudent young men from Purdue — have won a grand total of zero.




Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.


And here’s the kicker…


Because the Crimson Tide, Irish, Trojans, etc. historically fare so well, the best and brightest from the high school ranks prefer them over my precious Purdue.  Year after year, the best only get better; and the rest of us?  Well, woe is us.


It’s not fair.


So should we change the college football system?  Should we regulate it?  Should we limit the number of wins or good recruits allowed by Alabama football, UConn women’s basketball, or the talented men from Duke?


Or should we fight harder, recognizing that goal setting and hard work and even adversity are all worth something?  Should we actually wrestle with the wisdom embedded within the recognition that we weren’t all created with the same ability, gifting, weaknesses, strengths, work ethic, and blessing? …


Or do we instead focus on life not being fair?


Dare I add:  I can’t wait for the day — that incredible day — one day, someday, whenever it happens — when my Boilermakers win the national football championship — and convincingly smash that Alabama Crimson Tide.




violent crime

In my quest to discern what is wisest and best, I stumbled upon a bit of a case study surrounding the “Windy City.”  Love that town!  As a young adult, many a day did we stroll the streets along Lake Michigan, somehow even embracing the cold, enjoying the sights, and taking advantage of Chicago’s innumerable offerings.  Chicago, so-to-speak, has always been ‘my kind of town.’


With the recent response to the shocking Sandy Hook shootings — and how that tragedy, for some, has created cause to ratchet up the gun control debate — I have perceived that far too many of us are unaware about the situation in Chicago.  Now allow me to first share that I have no engrained partisan stance in the gun control conversation.  I have no sword in this fight.  I am neither an NRA card carrying member nor an anti-gun advocate.  My what-I-believe-to-be common sense approach is that the Constitution allows for guns, and they should be responsibly utilized.  Hence, I seek to discern what is wisest and best.  That search leads me to Chicago, as society discusses prudent approaches to gun control.


Violent crime in Chicago — how should I say this respectfully — is awful.  Let’s be clear; that’s the Intramuralist’s opinion.  Allow me to now share the facts.


According to the New York Times, the total number of illegal incidents in Chicago decreased by 9% in 2012.  However, the murder rate rose 15%.  After 513 homicides in 2012, New Years Day 2013 was rung in with 3 more.*  Among “alpha” cities (municipalities considered significant in the global economic system), Chicago has the highest murder rate — more than double that of New York City and Los Angeles — also higher than Mexico City and Sao Paolo.


A potential knee jerk response could be a cry for increased gun control.  The irony is that Chicago already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.


Friends, I would encourage you not to overreact on either side of this debate.  I would encourage you to refrain from adopting any engrained partisan stance; this is not a partisan issue.  The presentation of the facts above does not clearly communicate that gun control is unnecessary; but it also shows that increased gun control is not necessarily effective.  What the facts say to me — and again, in our pursuit of what is wisest and best — is that something else must be in play here; some other factor(s) is influencing crime in our country.  Do we honestly believe that if we remove all guns, then we would remove all violent crime?  That there would be no other way for the sick, perverse, or even evil mind to hurt innocent others?  That sticks and stones would somehow no longer be able to break our bones?


And so I ask, similar to my initial response in the days immediately following the seemingly unthinkable in Connecticut, what else is in play?  What else is a factor in why violent crime is far too prevalent in this country?  Could it be…


… the lack of complete care for the mentally ill?

… the muted attention and compassion for the mentally ill?

… the reasons for mental illness?

… the breakdown of the American family?

… the digression of societal values where sometimes “anything goes”?

… the ambiguity of absolutes in regard to what is right and wrong?

… the dilution of giving credit to the divine?

… the temptation to rely more on self and do away with the divine?


What else?  What else is in play?


Are we courageous enough as a country to acknowledge that this might be something more?  … that this might be something that increased legislation may be incapable of fixing? … that simply more or less gun control might not make a difference? … that we are actually talking about the wrong thing?


As seen, perhaps, in Chicago?


Maybe even in our kind of town.






* Note that the Chicago P.D. reported only 506 homicides in 2012; however, they base their statistics on the day the victim died, as opposed to the day the incident occurred.

what it’s not

Much of what we say actually means something else.  Hear me out on this, friends.


We utilize multiple words and phrases that are either inaccurate or utterly fallacious.  It’s seemingly most often unintentional; however, today I’m wondering about the colloquial error of our ways.  I speak not about the grammatical misuse of “lie” vs. “lay” or “who,” “which,” and “that.”  I’m thinking more about the phrasing that has subtly sneaked into our dialogue that simply is untrue.  For example…


“It is what is is.”


Egad.  Perhaps one of my pet peeves.  “It is what it is.”  What exactly does that mean?  Does it all go back to Pres. Clinton’s legal questioning surrounding the definition of “is”?  Surely not.


We hear that phrasing frequently…


From business mogul, Ted Turner:  “I regret that I wasn’t more successful with my marriages, but it is what it is.”


Or from my fave NFL QB, Drew Brees:  “The Madden Curse has really taken on a life of its own.  People just love talking about it, and it is what it is, but I look at it as a challenge.”


Are you kidding?  It is what it “is”?!  No.  “It is what it is” is what we say when we don’t know what to say anymore.  It’s the clear ender of conversation, meaning there’s little else to say or I really don’t want to speak of it anymore (see Turner, Ted).


We also hear…


“You’ve got the patience of Job.”


Sometimes, as the parent of a special needs child, I receive that frequent retort.  Newsflash, friends:  it’s not true.  I don’t have the patience of Job.  But the reality is, in my semi-humble opinion, that Job wasn’t patient!  Shocking.  (Another “hear me out” here…)


In my continuous pursuit of wisdom, I routinely invest in writings that are historically noted for their accuracy and truth.  Once again, I just completed reading through the book of Job.


Here was a man who was blameless — a man of complete integrity.  He was wealthy and wise yet seemingly humble and giving.  And over the course of a few stunning days, the man lost his family, possessions, and good health.  Such is a set of circumstances that undoubtedly would cause each of us to cry out, arguably inserting a bit of “why me.”


But Job went further.  While at first seemingly attempting to persevere and maintain his humility — a component contemporary society often negates from its integrity definition — Job’s countenance and composure changed.  Granted, he had a few friends around him who were certainly not helpful, yet Job became demanding.  He cursed the day of his birth.  He questioned the wisdom of God.  He questioned not only God’s wisdom but his power and all of creation.  He condemned God to justify himself.  (Fascinating concept… condemning God to justify self… my thinking… my behavior…)


Who knows how any of us would act under such a tragic, unthinkable set of circumstances?  Truthfully, most of us would probably act much like Job.  The reality is that such is not considered patient.


More false phrases exist…


“head over heels”… aren’t heads already over heels?

“could care less” … then why are we speaking to begin with?  Isn’t it “couldn’t”??


Or one of my funny favorites…


“the whole 9 yards”… wait… all NFL enthusiasts know that 9 yards are not “whole”; a team has to go 10 yards to actually continue down the field.


Sorry, friends.  I’m not very patient today.  Have I shared that I do not have the patience of Job?




dysfunctional families

I know a family which facetiously claims to put the “fun” in “dysfunction.”  They’re a large family… with individual, unique skill sets, passions, and opinion.  Sometimes they share their opinions with one another respectfully, and well, sometimes they don’t.  But they’re “family,” so they are committed to working even the tough things through, challenging and emotional as they may be.


They’ve had a tough road in recent years.  There are days it at least appears that there is more that divides them than actually holds them together; it’s on those days that remembering they are family is especially important.


Like most families, while there exist multiple causes of conflict, the number one argument stems from managing their finances.  Yes, families fight — we fight — about money.  The dysfunctional family in question fights about money — seemingly, arguably, all the time.


Now prior to sharing more insight and analysis regarding this dysfunctional family, I must offer a semi-humble caveat.  Remember:  it was in the early years of the Intramuralist where one commenter strongly suggested I wasn’t “smart enough” to run a lemonade stand.  (Granted, it should also be noted that I took a bit of sarcastic satisfaction in the fact that the not-so-gentle gentleman misspelled the word “lemonade.”)  I share that to acknowledge that there exist different opinions on how to navigate via a family’s finances.


This dysfunctional family is in debt.  Massive debt.  What denotes “massive” is that (1) they have spent more than they have taken in for years, and (2) they have zero specific plan to pay it back.  After putting food on their table and paying the electricity bill, when they don’t have enough money to pay for their cell phones, kids’ gymnastic lessons, and/or cable TV, they simply borrow more money.  In other words, no one wants to go without something they already have; so instead of sitting around the family table, having an undoubtedly painful but necessary conversation about where they can and must save, the dysfunctional family only asks how to get their hands on more money.  My sense says there is no “fun” in that level of dysfunction.


Let’s be sure we give great grace to one another here, friends.  I mean, the reality is that this is hard.  We all would prefer to spend instead of save.  None of us like asking the question of “what can we do without” or “where can we cut?”  We are far more comfortable asking others to give than addressing our own sense of entitlement.  That’s true for far too many.


That sense of entitlement is an authentic challenge…  I need my cell phone… we need cable TV; have you seen how few channels come without it??… and exactly, my especially talented kid needs those added lessons!  The challenge is that we allow our wants to pose as needs, thereby hoping that no one would actually consider cutting something that has now evolved into perceived necessity.


In order for any family to become less dysfunctional, when discussing family finances, there needs to be an accurate assessment of the problem.  There needs to be a comprehensive acknowledgement of all that has contributed to the dire financial straits, as opposed to only focusing on the issues that my side of the family is most passionate about… the issues that my side of the family has prioritized.


We can’t simply keep borrowing.  We can’t simply quit spending.  It is very possible that the family patriarch may need to find a higher paying job or other members of the family might need to go to work.  But netting a larger salary or finding a better job will only equate to an applied Band-Aid if the spending problem is not seriously and significantly dealt with.


We cannot keep allowing our wants to evolve into needs — and then omit that evolution from our conversation regarding responsible finances.


Otherwise the family will remain dysfunctional…


… with no “fun” included whatsoever.





Even after the transparent admission last week that Christmas is “my favorite time of the year,” I must also acknowledge a strong fondness for New Year’s Day.  Not the festive and frolicking New Year’s “rockin’” Eve — although toasting to friends and family both near and far is certainly sweet — but the actual initial day of another year.  Why?  Because I love resolutions!


Yes, yes… I realize that last line prompted many a sigh or perhaps even a “so long” for this post this day.  My apologies.  I do not desire to evoke such a lack of energy or entertainment value.  Note, however, that my relishing of resolutions evolves not from the actual, annual intentions…


… I want to be healthy… exercise consistently… pray more… love others better… be less judgmental… be respectful… eat better… figure this “God stuff” out… work harder… listen more… talk less… be more giving, selfless — less selfish… read a new book… ask for recommendations… ask for directions… read the Bible… be teachable… save more… spend less… go to the spa… hug my kids… teach my children well… get on the scale less… focus more on people instead of things… write a letter… spend less time on Facebook… take more walks… get more sleep… focus on the important things in life… get more organized… take a daily vitamin… work on my abs… quit smoking… get a better job… be nicer… take a vacation… volunteer… read a classic… fast… get out of debt… spend more time with my family… drink less… count my calories… make a new ‘to-do’ list… throw away my old ‘to-do’ list… do away with ‘to-do’ lists… seize the day… be less busy… read the Intramuralist more… stop and smell the roses… appreciate the beauty of the sky… apologize… forgive… forgive again… and again… commit to living wisely… be more humble… be healthy…


Now the reason the sighs and “so long’s” are so often prompted lies within the reality that for most of us, the above are only intentions — as opposed to permanent changes in our behavior.  Our intentions are too often temporary.  Hence, if they are temporary, what’s the benefit of making the resolutions to begin with?


Ah, and therein lies the fondness for the Intramuralist.


What would life be like if we encouraged the above, positive behavior change, but yet, we also allowed ourselves the freedom (for lack of better words) to “screw up”?


In other words, what if we recognized that much of the above is hard? …too hard, in fact.  Much of the above — even with earnest intent and commitment — may be or appear too difficult to do.  With that honest recognition, how would our resolutions be altered?  Would we then simply refrain from ever making them?  Would we give up on the process, noting that while the behavior would certainly be a positive change, that the degree of difficulty makes our pursuit fruitless?  … that with desired consequences unlikely, resolutions are futile and therefore unnecessary?


Friends, as realistic as such sounds, my greater sense is that such logic misses the beauty forded on New Year’s Day.


It is not the actual resolution that possesses greatest value.  True, eating healthy is a good idea; it has great value.  So does taking a daily vitamin, being humble, and appreciating the beauty of the sky.  Those are good things!  But the benefit of the resolution is the growth that comes via the process.  The more we focus on being humble — whether or not we actually, ever, totally and truly get there — the more we focus on being less judgmental and exercising more consistently, the wiser we will be.  The healthier we will be.  And while we may not actually “get there,” the pursuit moves us closer to where we want to be.  The pursuit — and thus the intent — is good.


The reason the Intramuralist so appreciates New Year’s Day is because it’s a clean slate.  Once again, we are given the abstract opportunity to focus on what’s most important.  Yes, we need to give ourselves great grace in the process; know now that we will most likely “screw up” somewhere.  But thanks to the freshness and attractiveness of a clean slate, we are more willing to make the resolutions that we know would be wise to embrace.


Happy New Year, friends!  Time for this semi-humble blogger to hit the elliptical.




the year in review

As we pause to glance back and reflect on the year in review, I’m struck by the events, circumstances and people which made us collectively pause during 2012…


From the London Olympic games to an incredibly expensive American election to the December elementary school shooting…


From the so-called “Arab spring” that turned into the summer of discontent that turned into a seemingly constant state of volatility and unrest…


From the “Occupy” protests to the Super Bowl champion, almost-missing-the-playoffs Giants to Wendy’s overtaking Burger King to become the second best selling hamburger chain…


From the murdering of the American ambassador in Benghazi to the Aurora, Colorado Batman shooting to the recognition of some of the specifics within Obamacare…


From the return of James Bond to Clint Eastwood’s odd, non-talking chair to the “Avengers,” “Hunger Games,” and still-grossing “Hobbit”…


From the books that grabbed our attention, again from “The Hunger Games” to new stories from both Grisham and Baldacci to all those “shades of grey”…


From the overspending in the United States to the overspending in Greece to the overspending in much of the entire European Union…


From the weak attempts to fix the overspending in all of the above — recognizing that spending is always easier than cutting no matter who is currently in charge…


From the arrest of the Pope’s butler to the shocking power of Hurricane Sandy to the inactive global response regarding the ongoing Syrian civil war…


From the additions to our vernacular — via “tebowing” or “kardashianed” — to entire new phrases — such as “Gangnam Style,” “fiscal cliff,” or so-called “legitimate rape” — to a growing supply of JoeBidenisms.


From the downfall of Lance Armstrong to the upstart of Paul Ryan, Gabby Douglas, and Pinterest to the excitement surrounding Corey Booker, Susana Martinez, and Marco Rubio…


From the loss of Whitney Houston, Joe Paterno, and Thomas Kinkade…


To the loss of Davy Jones, Donna Summer, and Dick Clark…


To the loss of Mike Wallace, Nora Ephron, and Neil Armstrong…


To the loss of Chuck Colson, Roy Bradbury, and Rodney King…


And the loss of Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, and Sally Ride…


Not to mention Marvin Hamlisch, Andrew Breitbart, Phyllis Diller, Davy Jones, and the Rev. Sun Myung Moon…


Or George McGovern, Larry Hagman, Helen Gurley Brown, Charles Durning, Jack Klugman, and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf…


It is wise to pause and reflect… to remind and remember… from the good to the bad… from the healthy to the unhealthy… recognizing what we will miss and what we will not… to thus learn from and move forward… prepared for the learnings and growth from the wisdom awaiting in 2013…





Writing from the midwest this day, a funny development occurred.  It snowed.


It wasn’t just a little snow.  It was big…  perhaps not “big” to those living in the mountainous East or West, but here in the heart of America, it was big.  “Big” equates to enough to make life stop (… and to impose upon many the dreaded fear of running out of a gallon of 2% milk).  Yet contrary to popular belief, life stopping is good.


I know, I know.  I hear you…


Do you not realize the plans this all messed up?


I have things to do — important things!


I’m frustrated… bored.  I can’t do what I need to do!


Exactly.  Important things.  Stuff we need to do.


I wonder sometimes, no less, if what we claim to be important is really, truly, somehow lesser…  if we prioritize items and issues and activities that are lesser in value and wisdom than reality — than things of greater value — than things, so-to-speak, of a more enduring “bottom line.”  An insightful friend of mine, who has bravely initiated a ministry designed to generously pour respect into the lives of men and women, often says, “We have to keep what’s most important most important.”  But yet we don’t.  Society doesn’t.  We often get off track…


… in our homes… in our hearts… in Washington… and in the world.


In Washington many of those who contributed to the decades-old pattern of financial fragility are currently seeking to solve it.  But to solve it, they would have to collectively, fairly-permanently agree to spend less money than they take in.  In other words, with a national debt of over $16 trillion, reducing the debt by $2 trillion over 10 years — one of the current options on the table — will make little dent in the debt.  It doesn’t solve the problem.  Solving the problem is what’s most important — not adhering to lobbyist groups that simply attempt to shout loudest for their special, special interest.


Friends, hear me on this, please.  With all due respect, congressmen from both parties and the President each have those special interests in the back of their minds; they have issues and entitlements which they have individually — and often partisanly — prioritized.  As long as those interests maintain an entitled grip on a politician’s motivation, the politicians collectively will not solve the fiscal problem.  If they do not solve the problem, they are not keeping what’s most important most important.  And dare I suggest… if they are not keeping what’s most important most important, they are not serving — at least the entire country — well.


It’s hard, however, to cast stones upon Washington when we maintain similar struggles in our own homes.  In fact, at Christmas, especially, many of us also have prioritized things of lesser importance… like…


… presents over people…

… things over relationships…

… materialism over the meaning of the day…


We all do it.  We all struggle with keeping what’s most important most important.  And it matters not how brilliant nor intelligent nor worldly or wealthy we are; the struggle remains real.


And so sometimes, perhaps, in order to make us slow down — to make us pause and reflect upon what means most — we are given opportunity — if we are humble enough to actually “get it” — to re-prioritize what’s most important.  Hence, sometimes, life stops.


Sometimes it even snows.




my favorite time of the year

Borrowing from none another than Kenny Rogers…


How wise the wise men must have been

To find the Child in Bethlehem

He lives again and draws us near

Christmas time is here.


A tail of love that never dies

The laughter in the children’s eyes

The child in me is always there

Christmas is my favorite time of year.


The mist of wonder lies under my tree

The gift of memories is waiting for me


The day will come and soon depart

The spirit stays to hear my heart

With love for people everywhere

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.


Christmas is my favorite time of the year…


Yes… with love for people everywhere… recognizing that all sorts of varied emotion accompanies this day.


Merry Christmas, friends.  May we always focus on what’s most important.




… with great peace and an even greater joy…



making our lists

We’re making our lists and checking them twice.  Maybe even 3 or 4 times.  There’s so much to do!


Yes, isn’t that the irony of the season?


As the holiday has evolved — knowing evolution often distorts meaning and potentially reality — perhaps our most significant progression of the meaning of Christmas is that we’ve centered so much of the meaning around what we are doing as opposed to who we are being.


What do we do?


Hang the stockings with care.

Fill them.

Roast chestnuts (ok, so maybe not really… remember the distortion of reality…)

Wrap presents.

Wrap more presents.



Call our mothers.

Dress up like eskimos.

Run to the grocery.

Stand in line at the post office.

Finish up work.

Purchase one more gift card.

Deliver those gift cards.


Eat some more.

And more.


The point is that we focus on the doing.  Truth is, that seems our human nature.


As the events of the past week have unfolded — as we’ve grieved the horror of happenings in Newtown, Connecticut — in our passionate, admirable need to respond — we continue to focus on what we can do…  establish tougher gun control laws… put guns in every school… invest more in mental health… tinker with the 2nd amendment… etc. etc. etc.  The point is that it seems our innate human response is to attempt to do something… as if we, yes, we, can control it.  We can stop this from happening if we only do something.


It is a far more ambiguous, intangible — albeit rewarding, growth-oriented — practice to focus on who we are… who we are and what we were created to be.  It takes more time; it’s not as black and white; it’s less legalistic.  It also causes us to be still… to pause, reflect, and take both ownership and responsibility for our individual strengths and weaknesses, our right and wrongful thinking.  Newsflash, friends:  we each have all of the above.


That’s hard to wrestle with.  It is challenging indeed, for example, to actually wrestle with what caused that gunman to snap, mercilessly murdering those innocent children.  What was in his head?  Where was the wrongful thinking?  How has society contributed to that?  Where have we morally accepted what is not good and true and right?  Where is my wrongful thinking?  Where am I not acting and behaving and thinking as wisely as I should?


In order to answer those questions accurately, I need to be still, wrestling with the rawness of the answer.  Wrestling, though, often makes us uncomfortable.  Hence, we jump into doing — because doing is actually easier than being.


The coming of Christmas is not about candles and cookies nor even chestnuts nor children.  The meaning of Christmas centers around the incarnation of a God who loves us because of who we are — not because of anything that we do.


Who are we?  Persons with individual strengths and weaknesses, even right and wrongful thinking… persons tempted to do.