A Moment Together

 

When something BIG happens, we want to share it.  The big event may be a positive or a negative.  It may be a communal event or a personal event, but we want to share the event.  We want to be near other people and offer our comments.  We want to hear the other people’s comments.  We want to know we are not experiencing the event alone.

 

Consider the big events in your personal life.  The job offer.  The proposal.  The diagnosis.  The death.  The birth.  All of the BIG events of your life.  Some were total surprises.  Some were much hoped for possibilities.  Other events, were crushing surprises.  No matter what type of event, we want to connect with others.  We call in celebration, shock, or grief so that others might know.  Those who find out our news send cards or congratulations, call, or visit our home.  The bigger the event, the quicker and more connectional the response.

 

When events happen to us as a people – locally, nationally, or internationally, we want to connect with others about what has happened.  As the 9-11 tragedy unfolded, I watched the televisions in my gym and the people in the gym.  As people gathered at the televisions, they spoke to one another.  I remember a woman peppering the man standing next to her with questions.  They both had access to  the same amount of information, so she could not reasonably believe he had answers.  Instead, she wanted a connection.

 

Even in some of the smaller moments of life, we want a connection.  Recently, JB Mauney successfully rode Asteroid.  If you do not follow bullriding, this means nothing to you.  However, for those of us who are bullriding enthusiasts, it is a very big deal.  JB Mauney is a rider who has had a number of injuries.  He was able to come back from a broken riding hand, which is a difficult thing to do.  He was able to come back and ride a bull who has had 16 consecutive buck-offs and finished last year second in the world.  As I watched it on television, I wanted to tell someone, post it on Facebook, or something!  I wanted to share the moment, but there was no one in my house who wanted to be woken up to hear about a bull ride.

 

We want to share our moments.  It is a part of our human nature.  Are you helping others to share their moments, or are you to wrapped  up in our own life?  Do you know your neighbors enough to be included in their BIG moments?  Are you forming relationships so that others can share the BIG and not-so-big moments?  Life is about relationships.  Are you forming and building relationships?

 

Getting Noticed

Business card origami (and kirigami)

Business card origami (and kirigami) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all want to be noticed, some of us more than others.  We want to know that there is someone who sees us, knows us, and acknowledges our existence.  This past week I was at a bull riding event.  Prior to the bull riding, a local band played.  They wanted folks to not only enjoy the music that night, but they wanted the 2,000 people in  attendance to remember them.  They handed out free CDs so that we all could take them home with us.  They wanted our attention for more than a brief interlude.  They wanted to be remembered.

 

Most people are not in a band, but we want to be remembered.  We want to know that people think about us.  We want affirmation of our worth.  Yet, we do not have a CD to hand out.  How are we going to create an impression?  Are we going to hand out our business card?  Do we really think that anyone will keep those business cards?  The way we make an impression is to share ourselves.  We are created in the image of God.  We are worth remembering.  As we share ourselves and allow others to share their selves, then we are creating connections.  We are creating impressions.  We are making ourselves memorable.

 

Yet, unlike the band, we often try to hide our light under a bushel rather than singing out.  We don’t offer ourselves.  We hide.  This band, Hangin with Stogie, was offering their talent as well as their CDs.  What are you offering to the world?  You have something to offer.

 

Changing Hands

100_1187

100_1187 (Photo credit: wakiwon)

Bull riders are either right of left-handed riders, like baseball pitchers.  One hand is used to hold on to the rope that keeps the rider on the bull. They always ride the same way.  Now, it may be different, at lest for one rider.  J.B. Mauney recently broke his riding hand.  He had to have surgery to repair the hand.  He has already missed two events because of the injury.  Now, he may try to ride with the other hand.  From what I have read and heard, many are shocked that he would even consider this change.

I have trouble doing most things with my non-dominant hand.  I imagine it would be extremely difficult thing to do, but he is showing us that sometimes we have to do things in a new way.  Most of us are far to ready to let small things divert us from our goal.  The least excuse and we find a way not to do something.  We say, I was goings to invite my neighbor to church, but I did not see hi. Outside.  I was going to mow the grass, but it looked like it might rain.    I meant to read my Bible, but I became engrossed in a television show.

We look for excuses to sideline ourselves.  We look for diversions to keep us from the task at hand.  If someone can change their riding hand, how many things can we do if we put our mind to it.  We won’t know how he does until this weekend, but he is offering us hope.  If he can try to reach his goal in a new way, then maybe we can find a new way to do what God is calling us to do.

Yes, you can

 

English: Bull riding, Walcha Rodeo.
Image via Wikipedia

Children’s Hospital Heroes: Rebecca Shumaker.

 

We focus on our limitations.  We say there is no way that we can change the world.  We look at our limitations and say that we are confined.  Yet the truth is that with God all things are possible.  Rebecca Shumaker is living her possibilities.  She is a 16 year old girl with some health issues that require her to be in a wheel chair.  She is also a stock contractor.  She has bulls that are bucking bulls and competing.  She is living her dream.

Her parents are helping her with this dream.  Her dad says that faith is the key to life.  So, who are you helping?  Is there someone who has a vision that you could assist?  Is there a child in your community with a dream?  Use the skills that you do have to help change the world for at least that person.  Reach out to others.  Pray for them to have a dream.  Pray for them to realize their dream.  Pray for them to experience the transformative power of hope in Jesus Christ.

What about you?  Do you have a dream?  Do you have a vision for something more than you life now?  If God has given you a dream, why aren’t  you pursuing that dream?  What is holding you back?  Sometimes our fear of the unknown holds us back.  Sometimes other people hold  us back.  Do not be afraid.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Just ask Rebecca.

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Mountain Top

Gilley's bull rider

Image via Wikipedia

In the PBR, Professional Bull Riders,  riders score points.  The point total is how riders are ranked.  At the end of the season, the rider with the most points is the world champion.  J.B. Mauney is a rider who has been around for a while, but he has not won the world title.  Yet.  He did win the World Championship, but he did not have enough points to be the World Title holder.  Currently, he is ranked #1 in the world.  He has held onto this ranking for a while.  He has attained this rank before, but he said that has trouble holding on to it.

 

He is obviously on the mountain top.  He is number one, and he is not suffering any injuries.  (He has in the past had to deal with a lot of injuries that affected his riding.)  While there are very few of us who know what it is to be a number one ranked bull rider, we do know the feeling of being on the mountain top.  We feel overwhelmed with joy and invincible.  When things are going well for us, it is easy for us to think that we can do anything.  It is easy to believe more fully in ourselves and dare ourselves to go for bigger goals and bigger dreams.

 

It is also a temptation to forget how we got to that place.  We forget to focus on the basics.  We forget the simple things that allowed us to be on the mountain top.  In order to continue to experience the thrill of victory, we must keep our focus.  We must remember how we got to that point.  We must keep doing the things we needed to do to get to that point.  One of the things that gets forgotten is our relationship with God.  When we are in the valley, it is much easier to cling to our faith.  It is harder to cling to God when things are going well.  It is harder to remember that our spiritual life is one of the things that got us through the valley and back up on top.

 

Cling to God.  Cling to God when things are going well.  Cling to God when if feels everything is going well.  Cling to God when on the mountain top, realizing that it is God who helped you get there.  Never lose focus on your relationship with God.

 

Connections

'Bull Riding' photo (c) 2008, a4gpa - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Happy Anniversary to this blog!  I have been writing this blog for a year, although it was originally published on a different web site.  As I reflect on the year, I took some time to look at the statistics.  If someone uses a search engine to find my site, they are generally searching about bull riding, PBR, JB Mauney, or another bull rider’s name.  We bull riding fans want to connect with other bull riding fans.  We want to get to know the riders we support, and we just want to find our place to belong.  Our place is with others who are in some way like us, including having similar interest.

We all have a desire to be a part of a group, bull riding enthusiasts included.  The PBR (Professional Bull Riders) know this.  A requirement of any event is that the bull riders take time to greet the fan.  The organization understand t hat people want to make a connection with those they watch so many weeks of the year.

Do we understand the importance of making connections?  Do we take the time to connect with the people in our lives?  Do we take the time to add new connections in our lives?  Greeting one another, speaking to your neighbor, or even commenting on the weather does not take a long time, but it can give the opportunity for a connection.  We are not meant to live in isolation.  We are meant to be connected with other people.  Thanks to my fellow bull riding fans who make connections.  Thanks to you when you reach out to another person.  You are shining the light of love in the world.

Choosing a Pattern

Gilley's bull rider

Image via Wikipedia

The PBR, Professional Bull Rider, season is a long ten months.  The world champion is determined by a points system over that entire ten months.  Most of the riders seek to get the largest possible score at each event.  The score is based on both the rider’s performance and the bull’s performance.  Therefore, to get the highest possible score, a rider will often choose a more “rank” bull.  This means that the bull is more difficult to ride, but a successful ride will result in more points.  The risk is that the “rank” bull is harder to stay on for the full 8 seconds.  There is a higher risk that the rider will not complete the ride, which means no score.  Bull riders are not known for playing it safe.  They pick the bull with the potential for the highest score.  They accept the risks.

 

Silvano Alves, the reigning World Champion, has decided to be more calculated in his approach.  He is choosing somewhat safer bulls.  This means that his scores are not the highest, but he is planning to rider a higher percentage of his bulls.  He is calculating that finishing in top five every weekend will earn him more points that occasional wins and occasional wipe-outs.

 

The season will be over in October, and we will see if Silvano’s approach works.  Thinking about the different approaches makes me wonder about our approach to discipleship, especially evangelism.  All who follow Jesus are called to reach out to others to invite them to be a part of the community of believers.  Most people I know prefer a safer approach.  They would rather find safe ways to invite others to faith.  We don’t want to take the risk.  We are worried about being too high-pressure.  We don’t want to offend or be considered a Jesus fanatic.

 

Instead of playing it safe, maybe we need to take more risks.  Maybe we need more holy boldness.  Maybe we need to go for the big win rather than playing it safe.  If we do, there is risk of offending or being rejected.  There is also the possibility that a life will be transformed.  Go for the big win.

You Never Know

English: Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. ...

Image via Wikipedia

This past weekend, I was watching bull riding, PBR on CBS Sports Network.   Austin Meier was in the final round.  He finished in the top five.  As he was riding, the on-air commentators were discussing him and his style.  According to Ty Murray and Craig Hummer, Austin never opens his hand.  This means that he keeps holding on, trying to finish the ride.  The commentators went on to say that you never know what the next jump will bring.  For Austin on this particular night, it meant that he was able to re-position himself when the bull, Shepherd’s Hill Trapper, jumped again.

 

I doubt many of us would be able to remember to keep our hand closed while holding on to a bull rope, but I think we can all learn something from Austin’s riding style.  Some riders get anxious about what might be coming, so they plan their exit strategy.  They decide that it is better to get off than see what the next jump brings.  Maybe this is a conscious plan, and it might be unconscious.  Either way, they are uncertain of what will come next.  There are folks who think about life in a similar fashion.  Because they are anxious about what might come next, they convince themselves that the best they can hope for is escape.  They decide, consciously or unconsciously, that it is better to cut their losses than to see what will happen in the next jump or across the next hurdle.

 

Yes, there are many times when we don’t know what will happen next.  There are times when we feel that we are badly positioned for the unknown.  Some of us may never feel that we are set-up just right for the unknown.  So we avoid the next jump.  We escape rather than seeing a situation through until the end.  We leave the party, end the relationship, or open our hand to release us from whatever the situation is.

 

Sometimes the blessing God has for us is on the other side of the jump.  God may be asking us to trust God to see us through the jump.  Yes, it may be an anxious time.  Yes, we may feel ill-equipped.  Yes, we may feel that we are not set-up for the potential issues at the end of the jump.  God seeks us to trust God for whatever is to come.  We are called to hold fast to what God is calling us to do, even if it is scary, unknown, and potentially harmful.  When God calls us, we are to trust God to be present where we are, and in the future.  We may not know what happens after the next jump, but we can be assured that God is there.  Trust God.  You never know what the next jump holds.  For Austin it was a successful ride and a good score.  For you, God only knows.

It is Not Just Me

Happy

Image via Wikipedia

JB Mauney says that it is not just about him anymore.  He has a daughter, Bella, and he hopes to be her primary care giver.  Her presence in his life has caused him to realize his larger responsibility to someone other than himself. He is correct.

 

For all us who are a part of the kingdom of God it is about more than just us as an individual.  We are a part of the kingdom of God.  We are not on our own allowing our the currents of life to sweep us along.  We are called to think about our lives in terms of the kingdom of God.  How does what we do affect the kingdom of God?  Are we building up or tearing down the kingdom?

 

JB, like most parents, has adjusted his priorities based on having a child.  What we have to remember is that we are called to  adjust our priorities because we are children of God.  Consider your day.  Is it doing what you want, or do you consider how your life impacts the kingdom of God?  What percentage of your actions impact the kingdom?  Is there a way for you to live more fully considering the kingdom?

Unexpected Blessings

Bull riding

Image by Jami Dwyer via Flickr

It has been a good but busy week.  I finished up my second day of working over 12 hours.  Wishing for only bed, jammies, and sleep, I crawled into my bed.  My foot was throbbing because of a possibly broken little toe, which was the result of a run-away hair dryer that morning.  Then, it happened.  I turned on television to watch the news.  I surfed through the guide, and there it was.  Bull Riding.  Was it really coming on, or was this a programming guide error.  When I have seen the words before, I would then find another sporting event.  I selected the channel.  It was there. The opening song by Gary Allan began to play.    As I heard the familiar song and saw the opening to the broadcast I heard another song in my head. The Hallelujah Chorus started in my head.  It was a new re-cap show from the PBR.  Even though I had missed the weekend event, I was able to catch parts of it as well as the commentary.  Woo-hoo!!!  What a great ending to my day.

 

Then, as I began my day, I again turned on the news.  I knew I had to get out of bed, but I really did not want to end my slumber.  I needed a couple more hours to sleep, but the day and my first meeting of the day was calling.  It was not the news on my television.  The TV was on the channel from the previous night, CBS Sports Network.  Bull Riding was on!!!!  Ending and beginning a day with bull riding is . . . Wonderful.  Unexpected blessings are wonderful.  So often the unexpected is challenge or struggle that we have to face.   Yet, to find an unexpected blessings is something that changes our outlook on the day and world.  The times of unexpected blessing allow us to experience greater joy in life.

 

Unfortunately, we often miss the blessings because we are too focused on our own agenda.  Usually I do not surf through the channel guide.  I enter the channel number of my favorite news channel.   There is no possibility of finding anything different because I only go to the familiar. We don’t branch out and try new things because the old thing is all that we are interested in doing and experiencing.  We often become focused on our goals, tasks, and mission at the moment.  We don’t meander through the channels or take the long way home.  We put on our blinders and concentrate only on the course we have set for ourselves.  Goals and focus are wonderful things, but if we are so focused, we might miss the blessings.  We might miss the experience of starting a new relationship, the opportunity to learn something new, or an experience of God’s splendor.

 

Take some time to allow the blessings to flow into your day or life.  Take the time to go the long way home, surf through the channels, or to be open to God’s leading.  As we open ourselves to possibilities, we are opening ourselves to blessings.