Aaron Rodgers and The Art of Meaning

For those of you who may not know the name, Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. He’s also a media darling, appearing in commercials though not to the level of Peyton Manning. He has MVPs and a Super Bowl victory to his name.

Rodgers recently visited Danica Patrick’s podcast. Rodgers and Patrick are dating at the moment, so this isn’t a stretch for him.  The conversation turned to matters of faith and Rodgers stated he was unsure if he believed in hell anymore. He said, “I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell.”

Relevant‘s article about this includes the information that Rodgers was involved in ministry earlier in his life, but had since drifted away and no longer considered himself a Christian.

mirror-light-black-glass

There are a few things to unpack here. I do not begrudge Rodgers for his faith journey as each person is entitled to their own. I find his perspective on hell interesting though. Rather than breaking things down to New and Old Testament semantics, we need to look at the idea of suffering.

There is a split in creation.

Humanity is imperfect.  This causes pain and fear.  We operate within psychological systems ingrained from generations of development. Our problems have grown, the risk of life has grown.  With every advance comes someone working to skew it to their own desires.

A belief in pain denotes a belief in God. Suffering does not exist outside the dichotomy of good and evil. Our souls, deep in their core, yearn to beauty and glory, hope and compassion.  We feel the longing of this when we hurt and the imperfection of humanity hits deeply.

Rodgers is reacting to the medieval image of hell as fire and brimstone. In this, he is incorrect.  Hell is losing a child.  It is the end of a relationship, a family member drifting away, declining health, losing a job, or going hungry.  Hell is living on the street.  It is crime and punishment and families torn apart by addiction. It is cancer and the diseases that will not go away.

As you read that paragraph, images of people likely flashed through your head, the weight of sorrow sitting on your heart.  That is eternal punishment.

God’s desire is completion, to see us live the stories we were given before creation, to see us hold hands and connect hearts.  God’s desire is for opportunity and dreams, to impact the world and make it a better place.  God’s desire is to fill the hole deep inside our being.

We do this by crossing the line of faith.

It is not easy.  It is not safe. It is something that will change your universe.  Yet, it is worth it.

You may not believe, and that is your right.  Yet, I’m willing to bet you feel.  You understand pain and suffering.  You long for better and your soul radar is pulling you towards something greater.

Faith is courage.

Hell is missed opportunity.

Life is the interplay between the two and what wins out in the end.

A New Year

Today, July 3rd, is my birthday. I always take stock on these days, look around me, and think about the year that has passed. My son asked me this morning if he could open my gifts. I told him that he could and his eyes lit up. There is something about a birthday that makes the day special for kids and that feeling tends to fade as we grow older.  I met my wife when we were in high school and working at a grocery store.  I remember those years. I remember the parties I had as a child at my dad’s house swimming in his pool. I remember my youth, my teenage years, and my first years as a believer.

Music is a big part of my life. I can’t play an instrument but I love listening to a good song. I love writing with music and worship songs have always been a large part of my faith. David Crowder, the worship leader, was one of the first I discovered. Here is a lyric video from his newest album.

We had a chance to see him in concert. It was one week after the death of Kyle Lake, a pastor at his home church, who died during a service after being electrocuted in a baptismal pool while performing a baptism. Before the show started, he said that the goal of the night was to “get our feet off the ground, even if it was just an inch or two.”

That is the point of worship, however you choose to do it. That is the point of life when you face difficulty. Sometimes, when we break it down, our goal is to just get our feet off the ground, even if it is just an inch.

So this will be our year, the year for my writing, the launch for p356 Creative Services, the next step in our lives. We are in His hands and they will hold us up just as they will hold you and lift your feet off the ground.

~Matt

Why Me?

This spring my oldest son, who is five, played t ball for the first time.  He’s a baseball nut and loves the game. We’ve pitched to him in the back yard since he was a toddler. Initially, we were not counting outs. Every kid was able to stay on base and run the bases. They could experience the feeling of getting a hit and scoring a run. As we neared the end of the season, we started counting outs.

I was the assistant coach for the team and I felt bad sending our first real “out” back to the bench. Then the game happened where Carter was forced out at second base.  I remember the look on his face when he walked past me.  He walked past the bench, went to my wife, and broke down in tears.

One of the biggest things we will ever face in life is that moment where a door is slammed shut, a job is lost, a loved one passes away, and tragedy pays us a visit. We look to God and ask why.

be41caf602ea3a42dace9063f2fe8094

In Luke 22:42, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane and he prays, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” After he is arrested, tried, and in the midst of hanging on the cross he says, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A friend of mine who is a pastor wrote to me once that God is a big boy, he can take your honesty.  We all face circumstances where we question the divine reason.

This Monday I had my blood drawn to be sent to the Mayo Clinic to be evaluated for any sign of cancer.

It hurts to write that sentence.

We will keep going as a family.  The specialist I’m seeing believes that things will work out, that the cause of my past altered lab results is something rare and specific, not the possible darker option.   He told me to trust him.

I know where I put my trust.

So as you go forward this week remember the bottom line. Know that we are in the midst of a refinement process, that this world is not perfect and know the truth of the verse I pray every night:

All things work for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

~Matt

 

Ask the Right Question…

I spent two years getting a teaching certification for English grades 7-12. We studied all kinds of classroom management techniques, assessments, lesson planning, and models of teaching. One of my favorite models is called the Inquiry Method.

The gist of the Inquiry Method is this: every unit is designed around an essential question. The questions are large-scale and open to create conversation. Every time I presented a lesson centered around an essential question, the students would light up.

The key to engagement, professionally and personally, is connection to essential questions.  The song in the above video is by 10th Avenue North and it is one of my favorites. I included the lyric video with a point. The chorus is:

“Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise from ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn”

The band hits five essential questions for believers everywhere. Can redemption win? Will the struggle end? Can a heart be mended? Can you sing again after being broken? Finally, can you be reborn?

As you go forward, consider the questions and remember the answers. The walk of faith often moves in circles. Read through Psalms and you’ll see David experiencing all the ups and downs of the journey: confirmation and doubt, struggle and success. Keep in touch with the deeper meanings in life and know that everything matters. Identify your mission and purpose and know that every person you help is one step closer to seeing it through.

~Matt