The Journey

words from along the way by Keith Crawford

There ought to be a law against that…

I said I wouldn’t talk politics here… I lied. I’ll try to stick to ideals and perspectives and not punditry.

At times in our frustration we’ve all said “There ought to be a law against…”

  • People taking too long to write a check in the grocery checkout
  • bump its
  • Mosques

Freedom is funny thing. We will fight to the death to defend it but we’ll easily ignore it when convenient. Freedom doesn’t work that way, it is a two-edged sword. Ever encroachment is a precedence that will lead to future erosion.

The current debate centers around the proposed building of the Mosque near Ground Zero. A lot of folks are angry that city councils, governors, and now that dang President won’t legally block construction of this mosque. Well we still have a little thing called the 1st amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

I don’t have a law degree but I’m pretty sure that means just because we may not care for a religion we aren’t allowed to deny them freedom.

The Problem with Precedence

Does having a mosque near to Ground Zero rub me a bit the wrong way? Sure, but if I decided to legally punish every religion that has rubbed me the wrong way there would be a long list. The deeper concern is that if I restrict their ability to build and worship as they see fit then what ground do I have to stand in 10 years when the government comes after my church because they disagree with me?

None.

Freedom doesn’t cater to your preferences but if it isn’t protected your preferences won’t matter.

So if you really want to stand for freedom then take a stand for those whom you disagree with to enjoy that same freedom.

Finally

I know plenty of real conservatives that think the same way and a lot of the so called Republican’s are just posturing for the cameras. This is why you’ll always see me classify myself as a Conservative not a Republican. Let it be known that both sides of the aisle are quick to ignore the US constitution when it benefits their agenda which is why its so important to hold tightly to its principles.

So kudos to President Obama for standing up for the First amendment. Now if he’d just take a look at the rest of the document. My friend @erniebufflo called me out for this line since it seems as if I’m calling Obama ignorant of the Constitution. Let me rephrase it to say that I think many of his policies ignore the constitution. More accurate, less pithy.

0 views

Respect, Shame, & President Obama

On January 20, 2009 Barack Obama became my President.

I didn’t vote for him. I stand in opposition to 99.9% of his policies and ideals and I fully expect to oppose him in 2012 but today but he is my President and he deserves respect.

I’m sickened by some of the crap I’ve seen lately coming from conservatives and I will not be associated with that trash one day longer. Its high time someone shamed this nonsense and reminded us that politics should be about reason and ideas not personal slander and attacks.

Clinton, Bush, & a lesson repeated

In early 1998, the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke and I remember being in total shock. I wasn’t shocked at President Clinton’s actions because in these parts his wandering ways had long been known but I was aghast that Conservatives I respected and some whom I shared the pew with were openly gleeful that Clinton had been caught in such a disgrace. I strongly disapprove of his actions but the cheering and jeering at every scintillating detail left the young idealist in me forever changed. At the end of the day Bill was a man. A man that had hurt his family, his wife, and shamed a nation. I dare not revel in the troubles of others because I have been forgiven much.

Then during the George W. Bush administration I spent years seeing hate spewed from the left. I bit my tongue at bumper stickers and posters that I considered totally out of bounds and I lost a great deal of respect for a good many liberals.

I think healthy debate and discourse are essential for a strong Republic but the moment either side makes it a personal vendetta we are all the worse.

The lesson is the same. Neither left nor right is immune to nastiness.

Then we elected a black man

As mid-term elections approach after 2 years of a very liberal agenda the fervor on the right is high and the garbage is beginning to roll once again.

So what spurred this post? I received the following via email. (I apologize in advance but for you to understand my intensity concerning this matter I think you should see it.)

Leave him alone he be an American.

A recently released photograph of Obama in his cradle released by the White House proves Obama was born in the U.S.

ATT00037

I stared at this email in utter disbelief. I simply don’t have the words to express how angry this makes me.

Beyond the fact it is utterly racist and disrespectful of the President of the United States the sender shamed me. I’m ashamed they call themselves conservatives and I’m ashamed that they think I’d find this funny.

Furthermore, anyone that receives this email from this day forward will see my name in the recipient list and assume that I approve and endorse this hate. That is why I’ve taken it public so there is no doubt where I stand.

I will not be a complicit bystander. You will not drop this trash at my doorstep.

A final word

I’d discourage anyone from making broad characterizations based on the actions of a few. There is good and bad on both sides of the aisle and that is why it is important for all of us to stand up for what we know is right especially when we see it coming from within our own political base.

Allow me to share some words that I just can’t ignore.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority…

Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

There is plenty of fire and rebuke in this post but I write this as a reminder to all of us, self included, that Christians are called to a higher standard. It is easy to love those that I agree with and consider friends but Christ called me to love even those people I consider an enemy.

The position and title of the President of the United States of American demands my respect. My faith demands that I show love and pray for my President.

As an American citizens let’s choose to elevate our standards. As Christians let us choose love.

7 views

A love affair with a lady named Dixie

Every short bio I have contains a word that people seldom use in describing themselves, Southerner. It isn’t a reference to my geographical residence, it is a statement of identity. I’m in love with the South. Her culture, her food, her people, her checkered history, her inspiration, and her heat.

That’s right I said heat.

An Ode to Ovenlike Weather332346212_3b0baaa2fd

It’s late July and while many of my friends are becoming wistful for Autumn I revel in these days of scorching sun and sepia tinged skies. These are the days where the best antiperspirants abandon you by 9am and the 90 degree temps last well into the evening but these are the sweltering prerequisites for this amazing culture.

I might well be crazy but I’m of the opinion that heat has played a major role in almost every facet of Southern culture.

  • Food – Beyond heat being a determining factor in crop production the dishes themselves would have never been concocted in cold climates. Spicy and bold cuisine from around the world is the product of people living in heat. Cajun, Mexican, Indian, Thai, & Southern home cooking was forged in sweat laden kitchens and outdoor pits. I’m not an anthropologist but I’m confident that fried okra would never have been invented by the fine folks in Greenland.
  • Language – We talk funny and we’re okay with that. We abbreviate and slur to our heart’s content. Heck even y’all is in the iPhone auto correct dictionary. Why? It’s simply too darn hot to worry much about consonants down here.
  • Oral Tradition – This is a land steeped in storytelling and lore. We are but a few decades removed from a time when you spent the evenings on the porch talking to friends and family, perhaps listening to a St. Louis Cardinals game on the radio, due to it being entirely too hot to stay inside. That need for a summer breeze led to a very social culture of jokesters, writers, and storytellers that weaved the story of the South on hundreds of porches. Our penchant for talking politics, religion, and rain are direct descendants of this tradition.
  • Music – Blues, Jazz, Rock’n Roll, & Country music are all born out of this blistering sod. Can you imagine the longing of Son House, the licks of Jelly Roll Morton, the moves of Elvis, or the pickin’ of Flatt & Scruggs ever emanating from anywhere other than this sun soaked land? The heat built this hard scrabble ground and the music poured out of its survivors like the Mississippi River.
  • Religion – Dinner on the Grounds & Tent Meetings have disappeared in large part to air conditioning but rest assured when you live in this heat you are much more concerned about not spending eternity in it. #JustSayin’

The other beautiful thing about this heat? It makes Summer evenings so sweet. That magical hour when the temps begin to drop, the air is filled with the sound of locusts, and lightning bugs flicker in the field you are in the midst of one of creation’s astounding miracles.

A short note of History

No mention of South is complete without considering the role of the War of Northern Aggression. Next year will mark 150 years since the beginning of the American Civil War and it still holds sway in these parts. Right or wrong it bred an independent nature that would make the “Come and Take It” boys proud. In our loss we created martyr legends that still draw hushed crowds at their memorials. It’s part of who we are.

From the atrocity of slavery to the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement we’ve had some dark days but every one of them has contributed to this collective mystery of the South that we are still trying to understand. Let’s pause and be grateful that we were also home to brave men like Rev. Martin Luther King.

We are a story of cotton fields, mighty rivers, writers, eccentrics, soldiers, & artists.

As I walk through studios in Memphis, antebellum homes in Vicksburg, and juke joints throughout the Delta this land and her people call to me. That mighty muddy water runs deep.

I told my wife when we got married I could live anywhere in the world as long as it was in the South.

PostScript~ Let me go on record by saying we have more beautiful women down here than anywhere else in the world. Yes beautiful ladies hail from all over the globe we’ve just got a lot more of ‘em. If that ain’t proof God has affinity for the South I don’t what is. Amen. Pass the grits.

0 views

When not to sell Jesus

If you die tonight do you know where you spend eternity?

Not really a conversation opener is it?

Unfortunately I’ve seen too many Church outreach initiatives that rely on canvassing neighborhoods with the goal of asking this exact question. I don’t think it’s effective and it’s time that Evangelical churches give the boot to the hard sell.

Our approach needs a make over here’s why.

We live in a Do-Not-Call Culture

Any unexpected knock at my door generates an immediate response of “Who is that and why are they bothering me?” and I don’t think I’m alone. This face-to-face equivalent of a cold call immediately puts most people in a defensive position that doesn’t lend itself to a warm introduction.

While our intentions are good we haven’t earned the right to be standing there. That right is only earned when you selflessly serve someone or they’ve previously expressed interest. In the absence of these prerequisites you are a nuisance not an evangelist.

Let’s concentrate on meeting people on more neutral ground.

Hard selling isn’t helping

We’ve all been there. That time when you are walking into the mall and someone sticks a track in our hand and begins asking us about our spiritual condition. I’m very comfortable and open with my faith and even I find that off-putting.

That moment is when we confuse the introduction with closing the deal.

Don’t sell me something when I haven’t even bought the first something. Don’t sell when I haven’t really even come into your shop. Don’t sell me the bigger picture when I haven’t even bought the handshake. –Chris Brogan

Chris was using this as a lesson in social media marketing but the principle is universal. At our Church it is expressed as “Earn the right to be heard”. If I can meet a physical need then I might create an opportunity to meet a spiritual need. What Churches need to be creating are these opportunities to introduce ourselves.

What do these opportunities look like? (warning out of the box thinking may be required)

  1. Feed them and they will come – Set up a grill in a neighborhood or housing project and start handing out free hamburgers and hot dogs. Our church is in it’s 2nd year of our Grill Ministry and that plume of smoke is one of our most effective outreach methods. We are simply trying to say Hi, here’s a hamburger. We’ve got Frisbees and bracelets for kids and if you are interested we have Bibles and information about our church. The doors that we have seen God open have been tremendous.
  2. Dog Parks – Set up at a local dog park on a Saturday morning and hand out bottles of water and dog treats or toys. Just be there, be kind, be open. Be nice to their dog and you’ve earned a lot of good will.
  3. Cold Water – This time of year cold water goes a long way. Getting some water bottles printed with your info and setup on Bike Trails & Parking Lots. Heck this is almost Biblical
  4. Rake Leaves, Mow Yards, Paint Schools, setup Food Pantries, run Soup Kitchens, collect blankets, change the oil in cars… etc…

The opportunities are endless but they all require the same plan.

  • Be Kind, Be Helpful
  • Don’t be focused on closing the deal

A few of you will find this thinking heretical because the focus isn’t solely on sharing the gospel. What I’ve found is that if you make yourself helpful and available God will provide many experiences for you to share the Gospel of Christ in all of these situations. The key is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and really listening with loving ears when you find someone hurting or searching.

Meet people where they are. Physically, Emotionally, & Spiritually.

Finding our identity in Love

The final element of this introduction approach is understanding who you are so you can actually make an introduction.

What is your Church about? Why does it exist? What makes it different?

The last question is the real deal maker or breaker. What sets your Church apart from the world? What sets your Church apart from quasi-charitable socialization opportunity?

Love.

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” – John 13:34-35

Did you catch that? The way that all men will know you are a servant of a living God is by demonstrating love. Your Love-in-action is the only thing that sets you apart.

That is your introduction. “Hi I’m Church ABC and here is how we love others”.

TakeAway

The Gospel of Christ and making disciples is still our only mission but we’ve forgotten how to simply say Hi. Let’s earn the right to be heard.

From the Book of James-

“If people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save them? A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. If you say to that person, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,” but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing. In the same way, faith by itself—that does nothing—is dead.” – James 2:14-17

0 views

My Amazing Extended Family

If anyone ever stands a chance of truly understanding me, they must know this. In my life, there has rarely been any difference between family and friends. – @Amybhole

My friend Amy penned the line above and I immediately recognized myself. What is interesting is how differently we arrived at this common perspective. She was raised in a Bible-belt “hippie socialist commune”. I was raised mostly by myself.

I am an only child.

There are a lot of stereotypes associated with “only children” and I bristle at most of them because they probably hit a bit too close to home.

I was raised in the country without a lot of kids around so I spent much of my time entertaining myself. I’m a daydreamer with a vivid imagination so my four-wheeler and endless woods became my kingdom. (My childhood is the Faulkner version of Bridge to Terabitha). When I wasn’t alone most of my social interaction was with adults. There haven’t been any kids in my family in over 15 years so I learned to talk with adults. Keep in mind my family gatherings to this day are spirited discussions on politics, religion, and Razorback sports. I mean is there really anything else?

If I wasn’t with family I was sitting at breakfast counters and deer camps with my father and a bunch of old salts. These wonderful white-haired men that would continually give you a hard time but told the best stories and best jokes. I don’t think I knew a single quiet or reserved person till high school.

While being an opinionated daydreaming loudmouth isn’t always flattering I’m most thankful that being an only child helped me realize the value of friends. I take friendship very seriously. Someone once said that if you have one good friend in a lifetime you are lucky. I’m not lucky I’m blessed because I have so many good friends.

They know they are my brothers and sisters. It isn’t about genetics and blood relation it is love, one for another.

Extending my family 140 characters at a timephoto

A little over a year ago I got involved in a local meetup group called #LRtweetup. As more locals were on Twitter we wanted to bring people together to help grow these relationships. I’ve simply exploited this group to meet the most amazing people in the world.

If you aren’t on Twitter let me attempt to explain what you are missing. Facebook is for people you already know and Twitter is for people you’d like to get to know. In 2008 I knew none of these people but through thousands of tweets, meet ups, blog posts, & lunches they are now friends that are part of my daily life.

Sunshine and I are expecting our first child this August and my twitter family hijacked the last tweetup and threw a baby shower for us.

I honestly don’t have the words to express how moved I was by this show of love.

I usually expect Churches or families to throw showers but when friends that have no obligation do it for you it is truly humbling. It wasn’t just the gifts (which by the way were awesome and perfect because they all know me so well) but my friends took their time and money to think of us.

To grasp the enormity of all this you have to know this shower was the result of my friend @jgreghenderson.

I’ve been a bit conflicted when it comes sharing baby updates to this community because while we prepare to celebrate Claire’s arrival I’m mindful of the loss of my friends. Last winter 3 couples, all friends, found we were all expecting our first child. We laughed about becoming Geek Dads together and looked forward to the shared experience. The the unthinkable happened. Twice. Both experienced a loss that only those who have been there can understand. Sunshine and I have been there and it hurts like nothing else and I didn’t want our joy to be a source of pain to my friends.

Then one of those friends threw us a baby shower. When you shake the hand of the man that organized the baby shower knowing he is mindful that we aren’t having a triple baby shower you know you’ve encountered greatness.

I have many people to thank but I’ll never get over Greg’s kindness and grace.

I’ll never get over how many people I’m blessed to call family. Twitter isn’t all that special but the people you meet most definitely are.

To all of you. My heart is full. I am humbled and blessed to have as part of my life.

You are my family. Thank you.

3 views

Happy Birthday America

As I’ve grown older I’ve noticed that birthdays seem less important. We usually reserve big birthday bashes for kids, teenagers, and milestone decades. Another year just isn’t as big of a deal.declaration_of_independence_630

I’m 5-6 weeks away from the birth of my first child and I expect that my understanding of birthdays is going to radically change. My child’s birthday is going to be a big deal because it will be a celebration of the day that God gave us the gift of a child.

Isn’t that the point of birthdays – to celebrate the beginning of something wonderful?

I think this is why I love Christmas and Independence Day so much.

We do the 4th in a big way at my house. We break out the flags and decorations and host an Independence Day cookout with friends before heading to Pops on the River to enjoy two of my favorite things, the symphony and fireworks.

As I reflect on Christmas and Independence I understand they mean so much because one allowed me to be a Christian the other allowed me to be an American.

I get choked up just writing those words. God’s been so good to me.

This is an awesome country. We still stand as a beacon of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Fly the American flag today, say the Pledge of Allegiance, say a prayer of thanksgiving, and tell someone else Happy Independence Day just as a reminder of what we are really celebrating.

God Bless America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

0 views

Anything but another blog

How I got here

I started my journey into blogging almost 6 years ago as a 2 bit blogger ranting about politics on blogspot.  As a unrepentant geek I soon discovered a passion for writing about technology. A few name changes and a few thousand hours later and I’ve built a little tech blog called KnowtheNetwork.com

<shamelessplug> tech, social media, business networks and more go there </endshamelessplug>

The problem with building a blog around a topic like technology and social media is that as your audience grows you no longer have a personal blog. The expectations of your readers win out. It’s an awesome problem to encounter but I miss having a personal blog.

I need another blog like I need a hole in the head

So I solved this problem with little blogs scattered everywhere

  • a Mobile/Personal blog on Posterous
  • an interesting-things-I-find blog on Tumblr
  • a political blog
  • an the most recent addition – a family blog

It has just become too much, so I’m simplifying things and creating a space once again for just me and my voice.

So what will KeithCrawford.me be?

Me.

My life, thoughts, faith, family, and ramblings about becoming a Dad, a better husband, and striving to be a better me. This will take the place of my mobile blog and family blog but beyond the simplification I once again to have an opportunity to just write. I’m happy about that.

0 views