What To Do When You Lose A Toe

FullSizeRender-7My dog is missing a toe.

His name is The Roc. He’s a tough, old miniature pinscher. He didn’t lose his toe through any fault of his own.

You see, I adopted him a few years ago. And for as long as I’ve had him one of his toes has given him problems. Eventually an infection popped up and our vet thought it would be for the best to remove the toe.

What started out as a simple surgery turned into a maelstrom of problems.

The Roc always had a couple of quirks about him – the weird toe, a tiny cyst above his eye, a hacking cough. Nothing big, just the effects of old age. So when he went in for surgery the doctor took care of a few nagging issues in one sweep.

During the surgery the vet also noticed questionable cyst in his mouth and decided to snip it out as well. That’s where the trouble really began.

The Roc bled and bled out of his mouth all over my carpet for a two days straight. I did my best to stop the bleeding the first night, but when I woke up in the morning there were trails of blood all over the carpet.

Then came the incessant pawing at the scar on his eye, necessitating the dreaded “cone of shame”. Finally, he somehow managed to scrape up the left side of his torso one day while I was gone at work (we never figured out how it happened). He ended up having to wear a baby t-shirt for weeks to protect the ointment he needed for the cut to heal up. Every day for a month or so was a new adventure in trying to care for The Roc.

If you don’t have a dog you’re probably shaking your head at this point.

Why would I go through all this trouble for my dog? He’s just an animal. He can’t grasp what I’m doing for him. He can’t thank me in any way.

What’s the point? Why would I take care of a dog with a missing toe?

Because I love him. And because he can’t take care of himself.

It’s the same two reasons why God constantly takes care of us: Because He loves us. And because we can’t take care of ourselves.

The uninformed may ask why God bothers with humans. Why would He send his precious and innocent son to die in our place? Why would God rescue us?

It all sounds illogical. But the answer is in God’s role as our Father.

Just like no good pet owner wants to be separated from their animal, no good father wants to be separated from their child.

God is a Heavenly Father. We are His children. God saw His children ensnared by sin. He saw we could not rescue ourselves from this deadly trap.

He could not stand the thought of being separated from His children. So He took care of us. 

The difference between humans and dogs is that dogs will never understand why we love them so much. My dog will never grasp why I, his earthly father, keep sacrificing for him.2 years after his surgery I’m still waiting on my Thank You Note from him for all the care I gave to him (I guess I’ll have to settle for the way he snuggles into my lap every night as a sign of his appreciation).

A human’s brain works differently. We can, at least to an extent, make some sense of how incredible our Heavenly Father’s love is (though we will never full grasp it in this life). We can be humbled by His grace.

The next time you’re missing a toe, or need to be taken care of in any way, you have a choice. You can accept God’s grace and go right back to what you were doing without even a word of gratitude. Or you can choose to stop taking advantage of our Father’s unconditional care and instead let your life be transformed by it. 

More Adventures With The Roc:

Why I Give My Dog Christmas Presents

Life On The Leash

Are You Missing The Answer Right In Front Of You?

The Reason You’re Hearing Things

*A version of this post was originally published in The Augusta Chronicle*

We Are Action Figures

Kids these days – they don’t know how good they have it.

Have you strolled through the toy section of Target or Walmart lately? It’s amazing how far things have come from when I was kid. Especially with the wrestling figures.

(Click Here if you can’t see the video above)

Now that’s how you sell toys! Gosh, I know that commercial by heart. “So close to the real thing it’s like being in the ring!”

Except as awesome as this advertisement was the toys really didn’t live up to the hype. 

You would think the entire idea behind a pro wrestler action figure would be to use him to recreate the matches you saw on tv. If you buy a Hulk Hogan and an Ultimate Warrior and replica ring (with championship belt and American flag included), you would want to use them to replicate your favorite dream matches.

But the official WWF figures of my childhood just weren’t made well. They only had a few points of articulation – some of the had absolutely zero! Most of them came with their bodies contorted in odd shapes that made it all but impossible to create your own classic matches with them.

Try as I might, I never could have that much fun using my WWF figures in my ring. So when I wanted to have wrestling matches in my room, I turned to my other action figures.

I had a lot of action figures growing up. X-Men. Batman. Ninja Turtles. Power Rangers. And all of these figures made for better wrestlers than the real wrestling figures did.

Their arms and legs and heads and torsos could move around in any direction you wanted. You could actually do wrestling moves with them!

So instead of pretending they were superheroes fighting crime, I used all these action figures in the wrestling ring. That’s how I ended up with Chuck Norris battling a Bushwacker (as seen below) for the World Heavyweight Champion of my imaginary action figure wrestling federation.

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That’s the great thing about toys: they may come in a prepackaged box with instructions on how to use them, but sometimes they’re way more fun when you use your imagination.

I think a lot of times as Christians we put ourselves in the same box as the inarticulate wrestling toys of my youth.

We think only a certain type of person specially made with a certain kind of label is suited to step into the ring to do battle for Jesus.

Some people believe the only type of person that can serve the church is someone who works inside the walls of a church building or who goes off to another country to do foreign missions.

But what the world truly needs is all types of people putting their lives into action for Jesus.

Secretaries, doctors, cashiers, servers, cheerleaders, toymakers. We need any character we can get of any shape and size with any skill from any walk of life to to offer their unique abilities as a wrestler for the faith.

Our churches ought to look like the replica wrestling ring of my youth – filled with a bunch of mismatched toys who may not look like they belong but have a world of possibilities to offer.

Because we are all action figures: plucked off the shelf, popped out of the package and placed into the arena. We all have something to offer.

Just like with action figures, sometimes the people who look the most well suited for the job on the outside really don’t have what it takes. They may not be able to move or speak or connect the way you think they should. Sometimes the people you would never expect to make an impact are just the people you need.

Its ok to be adventurous when it comes to our toys. Its ok to use our imaginations when it comes to our lives as well.

Whether we fit the mold or not, our churches need every type of figure stepping into the ring and getting into action.

 

The Determined Way Of The Sea Turtle

If you ever get the chance to watch a nest of sea turtles hatch, I recommend dropping what you’re doing and running to the beach. 

It’s a rare sight and I was lucky enough to witness it with my family on vacation at Fernandina Beach last week.

I’m not a biologist or ecologist or whatever type of “ogist” that would be an expert in sea turtles. That being said, here is my unscientific report on the brief and magical migration I saw firsthand:

The sand above the nest, taped off to protect it by a local preservation society, began to rumble earlier that night. A neighbor came up the beach telling everyone the hatch was imminent. When we arrived the sand was bubbling like boiling water getting ready to explode.

As a small group of us stood watch and the sun began to set we began to wonder if this was really worth waiting around for. All of the sudden the first turtle burst through the sand, an overachiever leading the way. Before we knew it a hundred more baby turtles followed.

Their mission was to make it from the sandy shore to the crest of the water and get swept into the tide. Their survival depends upon a swift march from the nest to the water, led by the light of the moon.

The turtles’ time on land is brief and determined; their focus laser sharp. It has to be. 

One turtle, the runt of the litter, lagged a bit behind. We all held our breath as he made his way a few steps behind his family until finally he got swept underneath a wave.

Who knows if that runt will survive, or really if any of the turtles will? At best only a few will likely make it to adulthood.

So in their moment they do not hesitate. They are not distracted by the people watching, by the shells on the shore, by anything other than their one true goal.

Of course some of the spectators could not help but pull out their phones to try to capture the moment. In the spark of excitement they could not figure out how to turn the flash off. Each time a flash burst from a phone a neighbor yelled. She admonished how even a momentary flash could distract the turtle. (Thankfully, I knew how to turn mine off. The picture suffered but it’s the price you pay to witness this special moment.)

You see any false light could lead the turtle away from the true light in the sky guiding their path toward the ocean. Follow the distraction and the turtle will permanently lose its way and its chance to live.

The migration itself lasted less than 5 minutes. As soon as it was over the group of us smiled and walked our way back to the beach house.

We all knew we witnessed something very special and something we will probably never be lucky enough to see again.

And for a moment I understood that the human life is not so far different than the turtle’s. 

Our time on the land is just a brief migration from where we hatch to our true home. There’s a short and narrow path that will take us there. There will be temptations and distractions, false lights calling us down the beach offering us empty promises.

Not all of us will survive. Some of us won’t make it to the end or fulfill our goals. Still for a brief moment, we have a chance. We have a purpose. We get to live,

So like the sea turtle we must remain focused. In this moment of migration we must march determinedly toward our destination. Whether we succeed or not should be of no concern to us. For all we can do is try – ignoring the distractions, not fearing the outcome, marching forward toward our home.

What Would Jesus Watch – 6: Saved!

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Welcome to “What Would Jesus Watch?”, our summer podcast series overanalyzing the over looked genre of Christian Cinema.

MV5BMTQ1ODM1ODU1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjI5MzA3NA@@._V1_SX214_AL_Can a cynical satire about a Christian high school starring Mandy Moore actually teach us anything about our faith? That’s the question we try to answer as we explore the movie “Saved!” on this week’s episode. 

Join Alex and Kate on the latest episode as they break down the cult hit from 2004 also starring Macaulay Culkin, Jena Malone and Mary Louise Parker. We talk about all the happenings at American Eagle Christian School including our conflicting opinions on Pastor Skip, the importance of prom and the real message of the movie. Plus Alex shares his theories about the original script and undercover Christians on the production team. All that as well as an in-depth analysis of the soundtrack in our new segment “KateTracks” on this week’s “What Would Jesus Watch”!

If you haven’t seen “Saved!” before you’ll definitely still be able to enjoy the podcast. But if you’d like to prepare before watching you can check out the trailer below and find the movie on iTunes, Amazon, or at your local video store:

Follow along on Twitter and on Facebook to see what movie we’ll be watching next

To Subscribe on iTunes click here or search for Pop God Podcasts on the Podcast app or in iTunes and Subscribe or listen on Stitcher or listen on Podbean

Share and leave a comment and let us know what you think. Tell us what movies you’d like to see us discuss on future episodes of What Would Jesus Watch!

What Jon Stewart Taught Me About Legacy

Watching Jon Stewart’s final episode of “The Daily Show”, I was struck by something truly wonderful.

It wasn’t the comedy of the episode, though it was as hilarious and irreverent as ever. It wasn’t the inspirational message from Stewart on seeing through the, ahem, bull”crap” of the world. It wasn’t even the powerful final “Moment of Zen” from Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

What got to me the most about Jon Stewart’s farewell was seeing the community Stewart built return to say thanks. 

 

The extended opening segment of the show saw nearly every “Daily Show” correspondent over the past 16 years return in a touching tribute. While “Saturday Night Live” is often hailed as the greatest breeding ground for comedians on televsion, the seemingly never-ending cavalcade of stars “The Daily Show” has certainly given it a run for its money over the past decade. Continue reading

Grace For The Gamer

maxresdefaultI can’t remember the last time I beat a video game. I can’t even remember the last time I won playing a round of a video game against someone else.

I was reminded of this fact last weekend as my brothers-in-law came to visit. They brought along their XBOX and we played a few rounds of Madden and Fifa. Although I put a few touchdowns and goals on the board by accident, I got schooled by my younger competitors.

You see video games have never been my thing. Continue reading

What Would Jesus Watch – 5: Marriage Retreat

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Welcome to “What Would Jesus Watch?”, our summer exploration into the overlooked and underexplored genre of Christian Cinema.

Ever want to spend a weekend camping with the 3 worst couples on Earth? Then have we got the movie for you. We review “Marriage Retreat” on this week’s episode! 

retreatJoin Alex and Kate on the latest episode as they try to counsel the all-star cast of couples who really seem to hate each other including “SNL” alum Victoria Jackson, Tommy Blaze, David A.R. White and Carl Winslow himself Reginald VelJohnson. Along the way they cover every bizarre feature of the “Marriage Retreat” including sweaty foosball games, uncomfortable janitors, confusing sleeping arrangements and the utter disregard for pregnant women. All that plus Prayer Requests, Listener Mail and a list of every plot point that didn’t get resolved on an all new “What Would Jesus Watch”!

If you haven’t seen “Marriage Retreat” before you’ll definitely still be able to enjoy the podcast. But if you’d like to prepare before watching you can check out the trailer below and find the movie on Netflix and other streaming services:

Follow along on Twitter and on Facebook to see what movie we’ll be watching next

Search for Pop God Podcasts on the iPhone Podcast app or in iTunes and Subscribe or listen on Stitcher or listen on Podbean

Share and leave a comment and let us know what you think. Tell us what movies you’d like to see us discuss on future episodes of What Would Jesus Watch!