Clinton or Trump? [psst, I have a secret]

Republican or Democrat

Everywhere I go people are talking about the US Presidential election. Everyone I meet has an opinion on the two candidates. The news is inescapable and the content is seemingly bottomless. It seems that much of this frenzy is driven by the peculiar nature of this particular election which is certainly unique in my lifetime and perhaps much longer. There is clearly a lot of anxiety and concern about the direction the United States is headed, and the path either of these candidates will Republican or Democrattake our country along when one of them takes office. But there need not be any concern because I have a secret and I am going to share it with you.

All of the frustration, all of the excitement, all of the nervous anticipation is about to be shattered because of my secret. Once you hear what I have to share there will be no more tense political discussions with friends or co-workers who do not share your perspective. Once you join my little group (let’s call them, “The Enlightened”) you will no longer lose sleep, or care about debates or lies or policies. You will no longer wait with baited breath to hear how the talking heads will spin the topic du jour. Yes, when you find out about my secret your life will return to normal, the sun will continue to rise in the east and the Broncos will still be the very best team in football.

[SPOILER ALERT, HERE IT COMES]

Ultimately the truth prevails, and neither of these two candidates have any idea what that even means. What is taking place in this current election — in this particular section of the world — is ultimately of little consequence. Presidents of the United States have little influence on the course of human events, and this is nothing new. There are 44 previous Presidents we can look to who were some level of indecent, selfish, scandalous, perverted, dishonest, inhospitable, braggadocios, ungrateful, egotistic, unethical, lazy, cruel or generally terrible human beings. In other words they were just like me.

Look deeply into the people who have served this country and you will quickly or eventually find serious personal flaws. I know this because “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23] Our current choices are no different. This could bring me great despair but instead I am reminded of my secret (now it’s our secret). The truth WILL prevail!

When his Disciples were confused and lost, Jesus comforted them by saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” [John 14:6]

On His final day Jesus told Pilate, “I came into this world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” To which Pilate asked “What is truth?” [John 18:37-38]

What is truth indeed? That’s a question we can ask in so many different contexts today, is it not? It seems that we live in a world where everyone has their own version of the truth. It seems that we are witnessing a Presidential election where nobody can lay claim to the truth.

But fear not because we know that in the end the truth will prevail.

This is not to say that we have no role to play. On the contrary. I hope that people of faith will cast their vote in record numbers this year. I hope that all Americans will take the time to research the issues and make an educated decision for the next President. I certainly will.

But what I will not do is pretend like this is the most important thing that has ever happened. I will not give credibility to a system created and perpetuated by wretched people. I will not place such great priority on a system that has been so thoroughly corrupted generation after generation. Voting is something I will do this year, but it is not the most important thing I will do. It may not even be the most important thing I do that month. Heck, I hope it is one of the least important moments of that particular day.

We have been given a beautiful gift. I am constantly surrounded by love and generosity. I hope that I can share some of that with others. I want to be a good Dad and Husband, neighbor and friend. I live in an amazing community that abounds with beauty and love. That should be my priority every single day. Our politicians are deserving of our ridicule and scorn. Our family, friends and neighbors are where we should focus our energy.

Take comfort in the truth brothers!

-Gavin

2016 Whetstone Backpacking Trip Update

Hi!

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve returned from the backpacking trip. I’m just now getting around to checking out the pictures. We spent three beautiful days and nights in the Wyoming back-country.  We hiked, fished, told stories, and made new ones.

Check out a few of the pictures from the trip below:

 

Want to be first to be notified about upcoming trip? Sign up for the newsletter on the right or here. I email before I post to social media.

Stay Sharp!

Matt Rise

Reading the Air

 

CommunicationHave you ever been surprised that your child or spouse didn’t understand something you thought you communicated very clearly and succinctly? In a book I’ve been reading lately, The Cultural Map, by Erin Meyer… she talks about high and low context communication. High-context communication has a lot of hidden meaning and can be understood by considering how and what words are used, body language, and many other clues… low-context conversation has little or no hidden meaning. So to be a good high-context communicator, you have to be able to “read the air.” Let me use a conversation to illustrate:

Me: Where would you like to go to dinner tonight?

Her: I don’t really care… wherever you want. We’ve been going out quite a bit so I don’t have any fresh ideas.

Me: (Thinking… did that mean she doesn’t want to go out? Should I go get something and bring it home? What is she trying to tell me… that I need to be more creative in where we go? I don’t have any ideas either… so what if I choose wrong? Maybe she’ll give me a hint…) Should we get Mexican or Pizza?

Her: I don’t really care… you choose.

Me: (Internally… That didn’t help! What do I do now????)

So, after many years of communicating that way… what I realized is she really meant what she said! She didn’t really have an opinion and anything was ok!

So, the idea of high and low context communication has really opened my eyes the last few weeks. What I’ve realized is that I grew up in a family that used high-context communication and that I was expected to “read the air” so to speak. What I’ve become more aware of is that I thought that all people communicated that way and consequently, I needed to look for moremeaning in all conversations. Even more disturbingly, I’ve realized that I haven’t been as clear in my communication for those who are low-context communicators… I sometimes have beaten around the bush and I’ve expected them to “read the air.” By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet by the previous example, my wife communicates in a low-context way… so most the time when she says something, there is no hidden meaning that I’ve got to get! Whew! No wonder I’ve been disappointed in my ability to “read the air,” so to speak, and the miscommunication that has occurred!

You see… lower-context communicators may think that higher-context communicators are secretive, poor communicators and not transparent. Vice versa, a higher-context communicator may think the lower-context communicator is condescending or states the obvious. So, what does this all mean for parents, spouses and family systems?

A simple answer… it may be a source of communication challenges for your family that can be improved!

So here are some suggestions…

  1. Honestly assess your own style of communication.
  2. Discuss this with your family and see where they are in this.
  3. Then… learn and work at it!

In The Culture Map, one of the people the author worked with said that when communicating with higher-context communicators:

“The best advice I can give is to learn to listen to what is meant instead of what is said. This means reflecting more, asking more clarifying questions, and making an effort to be more receptive to body language cues.”                              The Culture Map, Erin Meyer, page 50

When working with lower-context communicators, the author suggests the following:

“Focus on recognizing when your are expecting the other person to read your intended message between the lines and get in the habit of conveying it more explicitly.” The Culture Map, Erin Meyer, page 54

From a higher-context communicator… my hope, with nothing between the lines… is that we can all get better at “reading the air” when we need to and being more explicit when necessary!

James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

September 2016 Newsletter

tom landry quote

tom landry quote

Welcome to the September 2016 Whetstone Newsletter!  We’ve been busy around here. Since we last talked The Whetstone Backpacking Trip took place and we got the website redesigned (take a look here). We’ve got some great stuff for you this week: Football, Discipline, Busyness, Steve Smith, and David Boudia.

Enjoy!

Read

3 Reasons I don’t Feel Guilty About Watching FootballSam O’Neal

God is okay with my football frenzy. Actually, He’s more than okay with it. I feel confident that God is actively pleased with the pleasure I take in my favorite sport.

Now that football season is upon us, so are the looks of contempt from our wives for watching a football game (OK maybe it’s the 3rd game in a row). No this article doesn’t absolve you from sloth and gluttony, but gives us a healthy perspective on restorative activities.

Spiritual Disciplines and the Sinkhole SyndromeDonald Whitney

One small concession led to another; one plausible rationalization led to the next, until the devastating day when a tipping point was reached and the spiritual weakness developed by too many private compromises could no longer sustain even the appearance of Christian integrity. And into the sinkhole fell his reputation, witness, ministry, and perhaps much more.

Don’t give up on meeting with God in prayer and meditation on His word. You may feel burnt out, too busy, or apathetic, but keep at it. The answer is always, Discipline or Regret.

Busyness is Not the Problem – Bonnie McKernan

Perhaps feeling overwhelmed and inadequate isn’t such a bad thing if that is what brings me to my knees and shatters my false sense of security. To the place where I realize my planning and intelligence and coping mechanisms mean absolutely nothing if I’m not becoming more and more like Christ and resting in the strength and presence of my creator, the author of my day. More of him and way, way less of me.

Busyness isn’t the problem, self-sufficiency is. We think we can hack it, tweek it, survive it, or plan our way out of it. Our real problem is that we don’t let God be God. We try to take that title on ourselves. Besides, you’re not too busy anyway.

Listen

Withstanding the Liquor of Success – The Ziglar Show

One of my all time favorite authors and thinkers, Steve Smith, is the guest on The Ziglar Show. Steve is interviewed about his latest book, Inside Job. A book that I can not recommend enough.

Can we achieve great success in our work, and do it healthily? And if so, how do we go about it differently in our pursuit?

Watch

David Boudia on Suicide and Salvation

A great interview with a godly man on his struggles with alcohol, success, and suicidal thoughts. His willingness to share, so that others can be encouraged and pointed to his source of confidence, Jesus, is a testament to true manhood.

Check out David’s book here.

That’s it for this month!

Stay Sharp

Matt Rise

Brother, Be My Mirror

Got back last week from the Whetstone Backpacking trip to Deep Lake in Wyoming’s Snowy Range. Wow, what a great weekend! Beautiful scenery, fantastic weather, great fishing, and some awesome time with a community of iron-sharpening brothers. And kudos to Matt for an exceptionally well planned and executed trip, including putting me on some great trout! (My apologies to the rest of the group for missing out on some community time – I can get a little obsessed with fishing!)

Truth be told, I was looking for some writing inspiration during this trip (mostly while hiking and fishing). And of course inspiration isn’t something you can really go looking for. I think by definition it looks for you, right? The best you can do is put yourself in a position to recognize it when it strikes – and then do something with it.

So it was the last day of the trip as we’re breaking camp and loading up our backpacks that inspiration struck in the most unlikely way (isn’t it just like inspiration to mirrorsneak up on you when you least expect it?) Of all things I had just launched a couple of snot rockets, and was wondering if any residue remained around my nostrils (sorry for the visual guys, but stick with me….). Of course I didn’t have a mirror to check things out, and instead my mind wandered to the topic of this article.

To be sure, we’ve all been in that situation where someone we’re talking to has something hanging out of their nose, broccoli in their teeth, or even toilet paper dragging on their shoe. And why is it that we sometimes hesitate to tell the person, especially if we don’t know them well? (Hmmm, maybe he wants everyone to see that broccoli so they know he eats a well-balanced diet?) No, we don’t want to embarrass them and feel uncomfortable ourselves. Although who among us wouldn’t appreciate being told so as not to walk around the rest of the day oblivious to the hanger-on?!?!

But take note – the better you know a person, the more likely and quickly you’ll tell them about the offending spectacle.

Which brings me to the real point. I mean, sure, we should tell the unsuspecting victim when he’s got a cling-on, but what about other non-visible stuff? The really awkward, difficult and important stuff? What about when it’s sin that’s hanging out of our nose, or dragging behind on our shoe?

Of course we tend to be pretty good at hiding our sin, but there are typically signs and symptoms that leak out and are evident to those that know us well. And that’s where community and friendship comes in. True community and real friendship. Not just guys hanging out having a beer and shooting the breeze (although that’s good too), but real friends willing to go deep. Willing to share struggles, willing to hold each other accountable – and willing to be held accountable. In a word, willing to be vulnerable.

Yeah, I know. We don’t like that word unless it’s applied to our enemies. But the truth is, that’s exactly what we are (vulnerable and isolated) to our real enemy if we don’t have close friends that know our weaknesses. That know our struggles, that know our sin. Think about it. If we don’t have brothers that know our weaknesses, then how can they help defend us?

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16, NIV)

And brothers, this is an ongoing, lifelong discipline. Not a one-time deal. So I encourage you, even exhort you, to invest in real authentic friendship with one or more close brothers. Be willing to go deep. Be willing to trust, and to be trusted. Willing to be honest, and willing to let your brother be honest with you.

How about you? Do you have a close friend, a brother, that can be your mirror?

Peace