Archive for August 2013

Is Your Game Face On?

August 24, 2013

Is Your Game Face On?

By Steven J. Callis


Little Larry was a new student in Miss Collins’ kindergarten class.  She asked him if he could name the four seasons of the year.  Larry proudly replied, “Winter, Spring, Summer, and Football!”

Yes, it’s that time again for the bears and wildcats and rams and cougars and lions and bulldogs and pioneers and warriors to hit the gridiron.  The most common nickname in college sports is the Eagle, followed by the Panthers, and then the Tigers.  College nicknames tend to follow in line with traditional mascots, but there are some exceptions.  For example, this fall you might see the Scorpions, Blue Hose, Bonnies, Johnnies, Tommies, Trolls, Horned Frogs, Jumbos, Gila Monsters, and my favorite, the Fighting Pickles playing football.

However, I have not found a helmet or uniform that is adorned with a mouse.  I suppose that is reserved for online schools only.  Every student gets to hold the mascot during online class!

No matter how common a school’s nickname may or may not be, it does seem to serve as an identifier, and also a unifier.  We take pride in who we are, and what we represent.  We wear our colors, protect our mascot, paint our faces, and with raised index finger shout at the TV camera as it spans our section of the bleachers, “We’re number one!”

And among that fan-atical crowd we find distinctions in gender, race, economics, grade point averages, politics, and interests, all united under one name that we bear with passion.  We have rallied for a cause.

My senior year in high school was in a brand new school that merged 4 existing schools into one.  Few of the seniors were happy about having to leave their true alma mater for one year at a new school. There were many challenges, obstacles, and conflicts to overcome.  One event that helped to unify this befuddled and somewhat belligerent student body was the privilege of determining the school nickname from a list of 3 choices.  With overwhelming solidarity, we became the Raiders, and many years later that school still stands and bears the Raider emblem.  Our game face was red, white, and blue.

What does your game face look like, in life, that is?  What drives you?  What is the passion that motivates you?  What does it look like when you are living from the center of your heart?  More poignantly, how does that passion impact those around you: your family, friends, school, church, workplace, and community?  How does that passion effect your world?

In the past it was called “giving it 110%.”  Today, athletes are exhorted to “leave it all on the field.”  Oh, that it could be said of me when I leave this earth, “He left it all on the field, and he did it for the glory of Christ.”

The Problem with Oreos

August 9, 2013

The Problem with Oreos

By Steven J. Callis


The Oreo Cookie was introduced in 1912.  No changes were made at all until 1975 when Nabisco introduced a new Oreo Cookie – Double Stuff.  Do you understand what that means?  First of all, the original cookie stood on its own for 63 years!

Here’s my theory on that:  one day on milk and cookie break at the factory, some ordinary employee candidly remarked to his supervisor, “You know, after eating these things for 63 years, I’m getting kinda tired of them.  Why don’t we double the stuffing and see what that does to the flavor!”

The second implication is this: when they finally decided to make a change in the cookie, they did not change the coloring, or the recipe – they just doubled the amount of crème between the two cookie halves.  Brilliant!

Since then, they have tried several different ways to stay on the cutting edge of the cookie world.  They have even tried Cakesters – somehow it does not seem the same without the crunch!  Nabisco has made all of these attempts to keep Oreo on the top of the wanted list.  To my knowledge, however, Nabisco has never tried to sell a crème-less Oreo Cookie.

Think about it.  Without the crème, we would have a crunchy, dry chocolate cookie with cute little flowers on it to keep it from appearing to be a bland, chunky, dry chocolate cookie.  I am sure you’ve seen someone, maybe even yourself, twist the Oreo apart and eat the crème by itself.  I have even seen kids eat the filling and throw the cookie away.  On the other hand, I have never seen anyone eat the cookie and discard the crème.  And that, my friends, is the problem with Oreos – it’s the cookie!  Don’t get me wrong, the cookie is not a bad tasting cookie.  However, without the filling, it would not even be on the most wanted list!  Remember, Nabisco did not double the cookie in 1975, only the stuff!

Let me say it another way: it’s what’s inside that really matters!

The same may also be said for our everyday lives.  Human beings are imperfect creatures.  We make mistakes.  We sometimes choose poorly.  We can be unjust, self-absorbed, and lacking focus.  While I am responsible for all my actions, it does matter to me whether a specific hurtful action is intentional or careless – it matters what is on the inside behind that action.

As a child, I recall hearing it said of certain persons, “He/she has a heart of gold.”  This was a way to say that such a person would not intentionally say or do anything that would hurt another person; that nothing is beyond the limit of what he/she would do for someone else.

Here, then, is a twofold reminder: first, let us check our own motives, seeking to keep them pure.  Second, let us consider (but not assume!) the motives of others, and extend grace where the motive is innocent, even if the action caused hurt.  The Golden Rule is known inside and outside religious circles, and certainly it fits here: treat others the way you want to be treated.

I Could Use a Rest

August 1, 2013

I Could Use a Rest

by Steven J. Callis


I was in Gatlinburg when it happened.  Driving many miles and spending some time in Daytona and Jacksonville on my way to the mountains, I had been out of touch with the real world for a few days.

Once settled and having enjoyed a good night’s rest, I ventured out from my mountain chalet the next day, where it did not take long to discover that I had missed something.  People seemed obviously shaken, concerned, and saddened.  Eventually realizing that most of the people I saw seemed to be affected, I wondered if there was a national crisis, possibly the death of our president.  Even though I had been out of the loop, in the course of time I learned that the news actually surrounded the death of Elvis Presley.

It is unlikely that anyone could miss such a newsworthy event today.  We live in a connected world.  We feel lost without our computers and Kindles and tablets  and cellular devices on which we can talk to other people, write to other people, take pictures, play games, watch movies, and find information or answers to even the most obscure of topics and questions.  Some people are so permanently connected that their phone is worn on the ear like a fashion accessory!

One downside of our connected world is that once I have mastered the use of this device, then it begins to master me.  There is almost an addiction to being connected.  We listen to music or talk radio in the car, and carry our ipods or other listening devices whenever we can, and some schools are now allowing the use of smartphones in the classroom.

So when do we find time to rest?  Where do we find our down time, when our minds and bodies can appreciate silence and inactivity?  How do we disconnect in order to process what we have heard or experienced?  Without that rest, I become weary of the informational overload to the point that it all becomes a burden rather than a joy – even something as simple as listening to a song played on the radio.

We were created for work, but rest is a critical aspect of that function.  The rest is necessary for renewal; a break from the routine that reenergizes our mental, emotional, and physical capacities.  We must not allow our desire for connectivity master us.

The writer to the Hebrews speaks of another kind of rest, an eternal rest for the redeemed in Christ.  The warning is to hear and follow the Word of God, for those persons are the ones who will enter His rest.  Ultimately, we were created for this rest.

After You Say, “I Do”

August 1, 2013

After you Say I Do

By Steven J. Callis


Before you say, “I do,” much attention is given to even the smallest details of the relationship between a man and woman.  Considerable thought is given to making each date special: what to wear, where to go, and what to do.  Each is careful to treat the other with respect, consideration, and attentiveness, in hopes of leading to a deeper, more significant experience.

As the relationship progresses to the “I will” stage, primary attention shifts to marriage, and especially to the wedding ceremony.  Significant time, money, and energy go into planning all the details to make this event the perfect day.  While there are glitches in most every wedding ceremony, those uninvolved in the planning do not notice those imperfections – except the one when the ring bearer decides to army-crawl on his belly down the aisle, and even that made the occasion quite special.

Oh, if only a husband and wife could be so determined and focused after they say I do as they are in the months or years that lead to that moment in the ceremony.  However, we tend to grow comfortable with each other, and the demands of career and household chores and finances and other adult responsibilities – and eventually the time and energy devoted to children – all tend to distract us from the relationship itself, which was once the main focus.

It almost seems backwards, does it not?  It is as though we change our focus from what we can be for the other person to what we want the other person to be for us.  What happens to those earlier desires to demonstrate respect, consideration, and attentiveness – to impress the one who attracts us?  How could we let those desires slip away?  After all, who deserves that consideration more than the one who chose to say, “I do, till death us do part?”

The sincere desire to be there for the other person goes a long way in overcoming the obstacles and passages of a marriage relationship.  Willard Harley’s book, His Needs, Her Needs, reminds the husband and wife that mutual focus on the needs of the spouse moves both persons toward completeness; God’s design for marriage.  Oh, that a husband and wife could be so determined and focused after they say I do by demonstrating respect, consideration, and attentiveness towards each other in the quest of their happily ever after.

It’s a Small World

August 1, 2013

It’s a Small, Small World

By Steven J. Callis


My family and I just wrapped up a one week vacation at the beach.  It is always good to get away, and equally good to be back home.  The forecast called for isolated thunder storms every day, but we were blessed with mostly good weather.

There was one afternoon when thunder and lightning sent most of the beachgoers running for cover with their chairs and towels and umbrellas and coolers – by the time I had showered, the sun was out, and the skies had returned to their beautiful blue with white fluffy clouds, and some of the more determined beach enthusiasts were lured back to their favorite spot by the ocean, only to be caught in a second downpour.  I heard one of the locals exclaim that weather forecasters in his town have a very difficult job!

On another day I had engaged a family of three in conversation when the wife mentioned that she liked my shirt.  It was a gray shirt with “Walk for Life” printed on it, along with reference to a biblical truth, “He knows my name,” and a cross.  I explained that Walk for Life is an annual fundraiser for the Pregnancy Resource Center and Clinic in Douglasville, and went on to explain the services and ministry of PRC which I wholehearted support, along with my church.

I noticed their facial expressions grow from normal to a slight grin that seemed to increase as I informed them about PRC, indicating their pleasure and approval.  She finally responded that their church supports The Gabriel Project near their home in Charleston, West Virginia.  The description of that ministry included the very same characteristics as our own PRC!

We marveled together at how ironic it was to cross paths 7 hours away from home and have something like that in common.  That simple link to another family, discovered because of a t-shirt, gave us a connection that lasted through the week.  And on a grander scale, I have come to realize, as have you, that simple common bonds can be found nearly anywhere, serving to break down walls of isolation to offer a sense of universal kinship.

The only time I have lived outside the southeast was during my years as a seminary student in the Midwest.  Being newlyweds, far from our friends and relatives, an older couple in the church we attended invited my wife and me to their home for Christmas dinner.  Not only did we enjoy a great meal and a fun afternoon together, but we discovered in the course of conversation that we were distantly related!

These are only two of many similar examples I could list where threads of commonality run wide and deep to connect us with other people.  In nearly every instance, the discovery of commonality was made because someone took the risk to step outside their own little world and reach out to another person, which led to the idea that, in some ways, it is a small world in which we live.

For the sake of our community and our world, let us choose to build on our commonalities towards connection and unity.  It usually does not take much; a smile, a handshake, a friendly greeting while waiting in line at the checkout register – are you curious to know what you have in common with the person seated across from you in the waiting room of the doctor’s office?  Differences are inevitable among members of the human race, but discovering and building on our commonalities increases the strength of our unity.

By the way, among the last of our shopping stops was a place called Crabby Jack’s General Store.  The forty-something man behind the counter asked where we were from, which quickly led to the fact that he is a native of Douglasville, graduate of Alexander High School, and resided here all of his life until he moved to the coast two years ago.  It really is a small world!