"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Losing the RACE: My Trayvon Martin Take.

Senseless: destitute or deprived of sensation; unconscious. Lacking mental perception, appreciation, or comprehension. Stupid or foolish, as a persons or actions.

Trayvon Martin
2.5.95 - 2.26.12

Track is a beautiful sport. 

Many times as I watch my son run track I'm amazed at the graceful athletic ability, mental toughness and unbelievable physical stamina one must have to compete in this sport at a high level. The true essence of the sport is embodied in the fact that countless hours are spent in training only to have fractions of a second separate first from last; winning versus losing. 

I believe the same to be true when analyzing the differences we have with our fellow man concerning most of the issues that hold our country hostage, depriving maximum growth; individually and collectively. 

We often have more in common than we care to realize or objectively recognize.

The tragic death of Trayvon Martin is no different.

Many of the people reading this right now are parents of a young boy, have a teenage brother or were a young teenager at one time. Some reading these words are grandparents to a high school aged boy, are the neighbor of a young boy or have had young teenage boys in their house.

In every instance - or at least it would be my hope - the goal is not to harm, but to love those children. Every parent is different, but we are all the same when it comes to our children; we want to insure their safety, provide them with the best opportunities to succeed and we never want to see them harmed or hurt.

I believe those qualities to be universal when it comes to being a parent.

We all want the best for our child. 
So as I reflect upon the tragedy that took place on February 26th of this year I'm saddened, perplexed and disappointed with the aftermath and the fallout from this senseless calamity.

In the end, I believe that there is very little that separates us as Americans concerning this issue no matter the reporting by the media stating otherwise or the agenda that is not so indirectly, or sublimely, peddled by those who would much rather divide us than unite us. 

I will say it again, "We have more in common than we realize"

Many, if not all of us, hold onto the same beliefs and entertain the same desires. The only difference is how we go about achieving them.

Much like the piece I wrote on Caylee and Casey Anthony last August my purpose and desire is not to spend time on the guilt or innocence of the gunman, the culpability of said gunman or victim, nor is it my intent to state my opinion as fact or as the final say, or provide a self-righteous judgment in the matter. 

I don't have all the answers and I'm pretty sure I don't have all the questions either.
My main goal is to share my perspective in a reasonable and rational manner, eliminating emotion as the only mental and logical faculty that I chose to entertain. In the end, if it's at all possible, I want to look at this horrible circumstance in a much larger context, not demeaning or brushing aside the death of the young boy, but gaining a greater understanding by evaluating if we really do have more in common when it comes to this tragic happening and in the larger subject matter; the issue of race in America.

When I look at the fallout from the Trayvon Martin death a few things come immediately to mind. 

Allow me to share.

The first thing that came to my mind when the story was first reported was the first thing that often comes to my mind when someone arrives at his/her final resting place and destination via avoidable violence; SENSELESS.
Whether it be Caylee Anthony, the 17 Afghans that were helplessly slaughtered by Robert Bales or Trayvon Martin, in each instance the violence was unwarranted and senseless; void of reason or any logic. Jeremiah 17:9 states; "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Matthew 15:19 goes on to say; "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Both of these pieces of scripture give me a tremendous amount of perspective and considerable pause during times of seemingly senseless violence. The human heart is evil. Does this mean we all will go out kill someone tonight? Absolutely not. But what I believe is important to note is that the human heart has the ability to commit heinous acts, and cause great pain and distress for its fellowman. 

The incident concerning Trayvon Martin is a sad example of this fact.

In many instances in America when an unfortunate circumstance falls upon an individual or a community of people there is often a passionate voice that will be heard above the roar and disappointment. Often a figure will appear that stands upon the foundation that is called courage and emerges as a strong personality that will lead with vigilance and focus. The unfortunate thing is that in the area of race relations, and issues concerning race, the exploitation, and political agenda, is as important, if not more, than the troubling issue or circumstance at hand. Too many times an unfortunate situation that occurs with racial overtones will often become the new rhetorical staring point to refine and define speaking points that promote an agenda of division and create an opportunity for a specific segment of society to embrace the victimhood rhetoric over a potential victorious outcome.

The "Misery Merchants", as Tammy Bruce refers to them in her book; "The New Thought Police", are people like Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and Congresswomen Maxine Waters who's constant message and theme is based upon "perpetual victimhood, the myth of rampant racism, the myth of hate crimes and the myth of a conspiracy among whites to keep blacks down."

I agree. 

Do I believe all of the accomplishments of the people I mentioned above have been self serving, void of any merit, and without any good and positive transformation? Absolutely not. Jessie Jackson, Julian Bond and Al Sharpton have been part of many positive movements that our country has benefited from. So with that being said, it is not my desire or intent to slander their character. At the end of the day, I don't know them personally and to cast stones of hatred and venom would be irresponsible, counter-productive and clumsy. Again, with that being said, I have also seen them operate in situations like Trayvon Martin before and I'm more than disturbed and disappointed by their actions, behavior and rhetoric once again.

Disappointed and disturbed, but not shocked. 
Do I believe there are people that have an agenda that is fueled by racism and have a desire to thwart the progress and success for people of color and for all minorities? Yes. Do I believe that there are hate crimes committed against minorities and people that are gay? Yes. The only difference is that I believe the people that think that way are a small portion of our society and represent what is wrong with America, and are in no way reflective of the majority of Americans today. The race demagogues of the 21st century would have you believe otherwise. Their agenda is based on a narrative that was produced during the 40's and 50's and the civil rights movements of the 60's. A narrative that was in pursuit of equal rights and a more color-blind society; a pursuit that was pure, noble and one that was greatly needed. The Civil Rights movement was I believe the greatest movement in our country's history, second only to the American Revolution. Both were movements; both were revolutions.

The problem today with the Misery Merchant version of a once noble narrative is that it is out dated.

There are no Jim Crow Laws, segregated bathrooms or schools. There are no wholesale "back of the bus" scenarios or illegal statutes concerning interracial dating or marriage. Are there still places in America that are unsafe for black person to go? You bet. Are there places that blacks are not wanted? Yes. But one must remember there are also places that are unsafe for whites to go and there are places other minority groups aren't welcome either.

Often we have more in common than we want to admit or recognize.

Today the rhythmic and rhyme laden divisive rhetoric that trumpets victimization is a dangerous model that is built upon division, hopelessness and helplessness; paranoia, and peddled by the Misery Merchants with the single goal being to hold onto the money, power and prestige that comes along with leading the supposedly downtrodden. Today's narrative doesn't work without a victim, sadly a black victim. 

Victimization has become an industry unto itself in Black America. 

I've always wondered where Reverend Jackson, Mr. Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan are when the little Casey Anthony's of the world and other white children of the country are senselessly murdered. You never see them taking up their cause? Why was it when the Duke Lacrosse team was unjustly and wrongly accused by a black female for rape the Misery Merchants didn't take up the young white male's cause when everyone found out the alleged victim was lying? In the end, not only did Reverend Jackson and his cohorts not speak out against the injustice, Jackson, to my knowledge, didn't offer a public apology for the tragic character assassination the young men at Duke endured in the media that was, part and parcel, of his doing. 

Chris Rock explained the reason we don't have a cure for the common cold is because there is no money in the cure. Our country spends $4.2 billion annually on over-the-counter products and that is 4.2 billion reasons why we don't have a cure for this annoying little health distraction. We can send an email to Australia in 5 seconds, but we can't figure out how to eliminate the common cold? The reason we don't have a cure is because it doesn't aid the pharmaceutical companies to create a cure; it harms them financially. 

Again, there is no money in the cure. 

The same can be said about the "Misery Merchants". They only come out when the (race) cards are stacked in their favor. They will always need a victim to create more victims and to divide everyone involved. When a white child dies senselessly the Misery Merchants don't see a victim they can use politically. Do I believe they are saddened by such a tragedy? Yes I do. Can taking a stand and a lead in the march against such atrocity(s) benefit Jackson and his partners? The answer is no. The reason being is because it has no ability to further their divisive agenda. This is also why little is done, very few opportunities are created for a photo-op and little grandstanding takes place when a black young male kills another black male (which occurs at the rate of 91% of the time in the African American community) because there is no money, power or political brokering that can be obtained, and because the agenda that is based upon racial victimization is canceled because the race card can't be dealt.

I will finish my beliefs of exploitation with this.

In order for the victimization agenda to be perpetuated there must be a victim and there must be a myth that is believed to be a reality. Case in point. Any media outlet that has a purely liberal agenda, and the Misery Merchants, will have you believe that most black people are poor, uneducated and in fear of racism. George Will, in his article "The Ultimate Emancipation", shared with the reader that only one in four black families is poor, and only one in five black people live in an inner city. It has also been reported in the past that there is an epidemic concerning the racist arson against black churches. The truth is there were seven times as many white churches burned as there were black churches burned during the time period of 1990 through 1997, the height of church burning in the last twenty years. Both instances are awful and unthinkable, but the only churches we heard about were the ones that ex-NFL great, Reggie White, rightfully spoke about.

Unfortunately, when we don't understand a situation or issue, and there is no search for the truth based on fact with the elimination of emotion, we often turn to our assumptions and ill-conceived perceptions when forming an opinion. And when we do that our opinion will ultimately lack credibility and validity right from the beginning.

In the end, it is a very dangerous platform to stand upon.

One last thing, in a 2000 National Opinion Poll, black American's, when polled about the issues that concern them the most, overwhelmingly stated that they were most concerned over poor schools, unaffordable housing and health care, crime, gun control and the economy. 

Racism came in at number 11 out 12 issues.

Racism is an important issue to tackle, but in no way should it define who we are as race or define every agenda we decide to pursue as a people. 

Agendas that are centered around the family breakdown in the African American community and a narrative that speaks adequately to the disturbing, and alarming, rate of black on black crime would be good areas to begin with. In order for this to take place accountability must be the clarion call of the day and it seems like no one, along with the Misery Merchants, wants to take a long hard look at some very troubling facts.

Accountability must be the first line of defense against continual failure in certain segments of the black community and it must be the new mode of thinking in order for healing to take place in many disenfranchised areas across this country.
In my opinion, another point that should be made, and vigorously reviewed, is the one that recognizes and acknowledges the issue of socioeconomic factors and the role they play. I like to refer to it as the "big green elephant that is in the corner of the room." It is my belief that if Treyvon was the son of Congressman Allen West, Dwayne Wade or Will Smith there would've been, rightly or wrongly, an arrest made in the case. As Bill O'Reilly would say: "that is complete conjecture, not fact", and with that statement I would agree, but the fact still remains the same; that is what I believe.

Most of the time the handling of these senseless and painful situations are more about money than they are about race.

Unfortunate, but I believe true.

In the end, I believe the death of Trayvon Martin to be saddening and sickening. I also believe it to be just as saddening and sickening to watch the Misery Merchants rushing to the scene to divide and capitalize on this tragic moment. 


I mentioned accountability earlier. The one thing that seems to be missing every time answers are needed and justice administered is accountability. Mahatma Gandhi once said; “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts.” In the end, none of us can claim to know exactly what happened that fateful day. What we do know is that choices and decisions were made and consequences followed.

Consequences that will last for a lifetime.  

What we do know is a man followed another person without cause or reason. We know that the police were called and neighborhood watchdog was told not to follow or pursue the other person any longer. Police reports show that he allegedly took heed and listened, and retreated to his vehicle. We also know that the victim had a choice to carry on, move forward and avoid any contact or confrontation with the person he correctly believe was following him. He allegedly decided not to do that and the ensuing incident created the ultimate, and unfortunate, consequence that lead to his untimely death. I know this isn't a popular stance or opinion, but both made choices that were incorrect and detrimental. And both will live with those decisions, and their consequences, for the rest of their lives.

Their loved ones will live with the consequences for a lifetime too.

It is very sad and awful.

Bryce & Laura (2011)

Yesterday I wrote these words on Facebook concerning the above picture:

This is my 16 year old son… I wouldn't know what to do if he wasn't here living his life and sharing his love with me. He is special, he is important and I love him with my entire heart! I love you Bryce. -Dad
The reason I posted those words was as I began to write this piece I couldn't fathom not having Bryce, or any of my 5 other children, here sharing their life with me. I can't even begin to understand what Trayvon's parents must be going through right now. 

My father has always said that no one should have to bury their own.

I agree.

When any of us lose a young child senselessly we all lose something. We lose a little bit of hope, a little bit of innocence and our faith in mankind is chipped away at. And in the same way the fractions of a second can separate runners in a race we soon realize even smaller fractions separate us as humans.

We all have the same desires for our children; we all want to experience life with health, strong finances and good friendships. We all enter this earth the same way and we all will leave this earth some day.

When you sit and reflect you realize we have much more in common than you might have thought otherwise.  

And it's because of this commonality I hope we learn as a society, and a country, that everything doesn't have to do with race.

When everything is viewed through the lens of race we soon find out that race is one "race" we can't win.

It's not even close.

And it never will be.

sbb 28.3.12


Saturday, March 24, 2012

No Socks, Great Style... (re-post 3.24.10)

Style: an elegant, fashionable, or luxurious mode of living.

This was the second piece I wrote for my website. Interesting to review and reflect, and take notice how far the site has come and the impact that it has had on the reader(s) and upon me. - sbb

The first thing I noticed when I glanced at this picture was those kids aren't mine. Anytime I see a picture with kids in it and their not mine I'm truly relieved. Get the picture? I have a lot of kids. Many evenings when we venture out to eat it's not unusual for everyone but the wait staff to call me dad...I mean really, it looks like a flippin United Nations meeting when we all sit down and break bread (literally & metaphorically). Secondly, I noticed  the "no socks"...a personal favorite of mine. When I lived in West Palm Beach, Fla. I would often see well dressed men with a tan that only Giorgio Armani & George Hamilton would envy wearing "no socks" with loafers and a blazer. Images of the Kennedy boys running around Palm Beach in their khaki poplin suits wearing loafers and "no socks" chasing women around with more than just bare ankles often floated through my mind. Those kind of guys always look so rich..."my wife says they look so rich because they are so rich."

She has a point.

Even though the guy in the picture is wearing saddle shoes (Loafers, saddle shoes...enough already...I'm starting to sound/feel like Carrie Bradshaw) he strikes me as a man that takes fashion serious. A man with a certain distinctive taste, a man that has style...add a bow tie and he would really be GQ. 

sbb 24.3.10


Friday, March 23, 2012

Have To Start Somewhere... (re-post 3.23.10)

 This was the first piece I wrote on mybabyroc; humble beginnings!

Start: to begin or set out, as on a journey or activity.

There has to be a beginning so there can be an lets start today.

     sbb 23.3.10
Start Me Up . Rolling Stones

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Temptation: the act of tempting; enticement or allurement.

Two things come to my mind when I see three capital A's in succession; triple A emergency roadside assistance service, and secondly, Ohio high school sports from the 70' and 80's, when high school sports were divided into three state wide divisions. There was A (single A), AA (double A) and AAA (triple A).

That's it. Those are two things that come to my mind.

That's until I sat in church this past Sunday in Cincinnati, Ohio at Crossroads. My wife and I attended Sunday's service along with my oldest son, Logan. Crossroads is the church that Logan attends... hopefully, often and without fail.

No, this isn't Logan (with hat) singing lead in the church choir.


The sermon's foundation was built upon the "three" temptations of Jesus Christ that are found in Matthew 4:1-11.

After I read the scriptures in Matthew I soon realized that Christ was tempted in three areas that are universal to all of us today. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the areas of appetite, approval and ambition.

Allow me to share my take away and thoughts.

Appetite: a desire or liking for something; fondness; taste: an appetite for power; an appetite for pleasure.

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
-Matthew 4:1-4

We all have appetites. The appetite can be for food, health, wealth and, or wisdom. It can be an unrealistic desire for sex, success or selfish pursuits, more times than not our appetites are visible for the world to see without a word in the affirmative ever spoken. Appetites can affirm us, and unregulated pursuits of any appetite can cause pain to ourselves and to those close to us. 

Appetites can define us and they can destroy us. 

Hunger that runs amok always involve something that God gave to us for our good, but man in his infinite wisdom, and selfish desire, distorts what was meant for our good with a unquenchable, and unrealistic, desire, and pursuit, that will eventually damage us at the very least, and at the most it will destroy us if we are not careful. In the end, appetites can become an uncontrollable craving that leads to greed and gluttony. 

The genesis for our longings can be many different things. Generally speaking, the impetus can be a lost relationship with a parent, a social disconnection throughout our teenage years and, or an insecurity of some kind. A past hurt or an early denying of a wanted thing can motivate a future desire. Our appetite can target the flesh with sexual experiences and conquests being paramount, it can be a desire to entertain our self at any cost or pursue material wealth to such a degree that our lives become ruined in the process. I think it is important to state that appetites in of themselves are not bad; it is the unbalanced pursuit to satisfy an appetite that isn't governed by reason and restraint that can, and will, lead to a destruction of some sort. 

Distortion is the key word when discussing an unhealthy appetite. 

Example, I love to play golf, some would say that I'm obsessed with golf, and those that are of that opinion are most likely right. 

-Yes honey, I said you're correct in your assessment of my love, scratch that; obsession, for the game of golf. Please, just let it go. There is no reason for you to parade around our living room like a circus clown displaying your joy concerning my admission for my obvious love for the game of golf. Please, just relax. -

Anyway, the point that is important to review is that having an appetite for a legitimate activity in itself isn't bad. The problem occurs that when we take a legitimate pleasure and distort its importance, all the while hurting ourselves and those around us. The point is I can't hold my wife's hand or spend time with my children at the same time I'm playing golf. I can't do both at the same time with any suitable quality. It's important to recognize and eventually acknowledge that any pleasure, appetite we entertain will at some point test our character. When we deal with a God given pleasure and appetite in a manner that it is pursued without restraint, and balance, they will eventually cause us pain and lead us down a path where destruction is the final destination. 

In the end, we have to pursue our pleasures; our appetites with the end in mind. What will it cost to get what I so desperately want? More important, what will be the cost for those around me while I chase what I perceive to be important? What will be the cost to others close to me if I satisfy my appetite? Only you know the answer. Remember, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." No appetite is more important, or better satisfied, than the appetite centered upon an intimate, and personal, relationship with Christ. When that appetite is satisfied everyone that surrounds you benefits.

Approval: the act of approving; approbation. Formal permission or sanction.

"Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
And said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
-Matthew 4:5-7  
Approval, we all seem to want it; we all seem to need it. Why? I think it's because God created us to seek approval; approval from Him, but many of us seek it in all the wrong places. We will often seek approval at the cost of doing what is right. All peer pressure can simply be described as a futile, vain and empty attempt to gain the approval of another human being. Satan admonished Jesus to throw himself down and prove that he was the Son of God. Satan wanted God to prove himself and in essence become approved by him with Jesus being obedient to his, Satan's, command. Good for Jesus, and for mankind, that He knew who He was and that He didn't need succumb to human, or satanic, pressure so as to be approved by Satan. 

A high need for approval is deeply rooted in insecurity. When we don't feel comfortable in our own skin and don't have a sober assessment of who we are we will become an easy target for peer pressure, mate manipulation and phony, and fake, friendships. The important fact to note is that Jesus knew who He was and that the only approval that mattered was that of His Father, God. And it is the same for us, when we realize who we are in Christ and that we were created by Him, and for Him, then we will become free of any longing to be approved by man. We realize through our acceptance of Jesus Christ that our approval has already been established through the blood of Jesus Christ that He shed on the cross. God loved and approved of us way before we were ever created. The only thing we need to do is acknowledge His love; His approval. When we give our life to God we immediately have a new identity, an identity that is based on Jesus Christ himself and not on anything we've done or will do. The fact that our identity is based upon a relationship that validates who we are at this very minute is important; who I am and who you are is of high importance to God. He might not approve our behavior, and He will never approve of sin in our life (the good news He will forgive us of our sin if we only ask and repent), but what He does approve of is us as His creation. He approves of us just as we are. 

In 1822 there was a 33 year old woman that was as beautiful as any women could ever hope to be. She was admired by many and was equaled by few. She was the daughter of a clergymen and cabinet maker, and the grand-daughter of Reverend Henry Venn.

Reverend Henry Venn 
(4 August 1834 – 4 April 1923)

Reverend Venn was well known for the fact that he supported the efforts of William Wilberforce to abolish slavery and that he was a man of God. His grand-daughter would eventually become a believer and follower of God too. The story has it that in 1822 patrons and invited guests had the privilege to hear a young girl recite verse and prose. Her voice was as beautiful as she was physically, and the clarity of her voice was crystal clear. And it was during this time a Rev. Dr. Caesar Malan of Switzerland met this most talented and physically beautiful women. At the conclusion of her performance many gathered around her to praise her performance. During this time the pastor waited, and at a private moment of opportunity, he introduced himself (Rev. Dr. Caesar Malan of Switzerland) and said, "Young lady, your talent and beauty are a thing of wonder. But, without Jesus, you are no better than the lowest prostitute out in our streets!" The young lady was shocked and hurt by these words and stated; "Sir! What you said is an insult beyond belief." At the end of the day, religion wasn't a topic she wanted to discuss. The 33 year old woman was Charlotte Elliott.

Who is Charlotte Elliott you ask? 

Please read on.

Charlotte Elliott

That night Charlotte was troubled, restless, and could not sleep. Ms Elliott had been very ill and was often bothered by severe pain, a pain that would eventually leave her incapacitated and would eventually render her to move in with her sister and her brother-in-law. It is reported that during this time of emotional hurt and spiritual darkness that she knelt beside her bed and prayed. It seems that the Holy Spirit used her abrupt and almost rude conduct towards God's servant to show her what depths of pride and alienation from God were in her heart. A few weeks later, she saw Dr. Malan and apologized, saying, "I am sorry for my rudeness. Actually I would like to come to Christ, but I do not know how to find him."  Dr. Malan looked at her and said, "Come just as you are!... You have only to come to Him just as you are," and with that statement she accepted Jesus as her savior that very day. Little did Malan know that his simple, but truthful, words would reverberate throughout the Christian world and in churches for centuries to come! See, twelve years later in 1834, Charlotte was in poor health and wanted desperately to help her brother, H.V. Elliott, raise money for a college that would support daughters of poor clergymen. And it was with this desire to aid her brother that her thoughts lead her one morning to be reminded of the poignant words Dr. Malan shared with her earlier; "Come just as you are." As she poured over the words her mind became filled with the words for a poem entitled "Just as I am".

The poem would be published two years later in 1836. Not realizing that Charlotte had written the poem, her doctor came by one day and handed her a copy of a poem leaflet. A tear streamed down her face as she read the six verses and was told that, "...copies of this poem are being sold and the money is being given to St. Mary's Hall at Brighton, England." It was the very school that her brother was trying to build. The school is still in service today and is considered one of the best schools in Great Britain. St. Mary's Hall is one of the oldest schools for girls in Great Britain, it was founded in 1836. 

Fast forward twelve years later, in 1849, Just as I am would become a song composed by William B. Bradbury. He was also the musician that composed "Jesus Loves Me"

William B. Bradbury
(October 6, 1816 – January 7, 1868)  

The words written by Ms Elliott and composed by Mr. Bradbury would become the great alter-invitational hymn that would be forever associated with Billy Graham's ministry.

The fifth verse in the song says this:

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Those words are our words of redemption; forgiveness. They're words that are about approval, and for all who choose to believe in Him, to claim as if they were written specifically for you; for me. Part and parcel of the good news is that God takes us just as we are. He approves of us no matter our past failure(s) or our current condition. He takes us just as we are... without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

God approves of us even if others, as well as ourselves, don't. 

We are marked with His blood; we are stamped with His approval.


Ambition: an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment: Too much ambition caused him to be disliked by his colleagues.

"Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him."
-Matthew 4:8-11
Christian singer and songwriter Rich Mullins, who tragically died in a car accident on September 19,1997 -he was 41 years old-, spoke some of the most insight words I've ever heard concerning the idea of ambition. Mullins spoke these words before he died: if my life is motivated by my ambition to leave a legacy, what I'll probably leave as a legacy is ambition. But if my life is motivated by the power of the Spirit in me - if I live in the awareness of the indwelling Christ - if I allow His presence to guide my actions, to guide my motives, those sorts of things, that's the only time I really think that we really leave a great legacy.

Ambition, like appetite and approval, as I mentioned earlier, are not bad in of themselves. It's what we focus our attention upon when it comes to our appetite, approval and ambition that will make all the difference.

Ambition can be an asset or it can be a liability, and the fine line that separates those two destinations is as fine as the hair on a horse's tail.

What we use as a standard for how we live our life will fuel, and feed, our appetite, set the course that we will travel in our search for approval, and ultimately determine and define our ambitions. 

If our ambitions entertain selfish behavior, succeeding and winning at any, and all, cost and carries with it any actions that incorporate the demeaning, and destruction, of another, then our ambition is no more than a childlike want that is centered around petulance, emotional immaturity and narcissism. The best ambitions are the ones that make everyone around you better. For those who play basketball, think of a point guard that passes the ball to open teammate for the best opportunity to score versus the point guard that looks to shoot first; pass second. The point being, no one wins if your ambition only concerns you.

At the end of the day, what we are ambitious about is more important than being ambitious.

1st Thessalonians 4:11-12 say's it this way:

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

Ambition, like appetite and where we seek approval, will define us, and if we're not careful it can, and will, destroy us.

Galatians 4:4-6
adoption jewelry

As I finish this piece I can't help to be reflective and acknowledge the fact that I've struggled with all of these areas at some point in my life. Some areas I struggled with more than others, and at times the struggle lasted much longer than I would've wished. But at the end of the day, the fact still remains that I struggled mightily with all.

There were times that my appetite for what I wanted was out of control. My desires were devoid of any conscious concern, or care, for how my actions would affect another while pursing and feeding my desires. If narcissism were a five letter word I'm sure you could've spelled it S-H-A-W-N more than a few times in my life. In the end, my appetite devoured me, my desire for approval through material things and from people left me empty, and my ambition that was insecurely settled around me, and my needs, would prove to be a failed formula.

I ultimately had to adopt a new way of thinking; a new way to live my life.

It was through my desire to adopt "good change" in my life that I realized that God truly loves me and has set aside His best for me if I would just be willing to follow Him; obey Him. Obedience isn't about perfection, void of failure, obedience is about choice; the choice to give the Lordship of your life over to the One that deserves to be the Captain of our lives; leaving behind our desire to live life on our own terms instead of fully depending on Jesus Christ in every aspect and area of our life. 

And because of that new adoptive desire and mindset I realized that God was interested in adoption too; my adoption.

Galatians 4:4-6 states:

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."

It's because of God's desire to adopt me that I understand more clearly that my appetites, need for approval and ambition(s) are better served centered around Him than me. God, and only God, can satisfy my appetite, stamp me approved and define what my ambition is to be while I live out the days of my life.

Finally, I find it somewhat ironic that as I write this piece I'm in the midst of reading one of the best books I've ever read. The book is entitled; "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson. The reason I find the timing of these two events interesting is because Steve Jobs was himself adopted as a child. His father was a Muslim and a Syrian immigrant; his mother, Joanne Simpson, was a Catholic from Wisconsin. It was arranged for the young Jobs to be adapted by a Lawyer and his wife, but plans didn't go accordingly as the couple eventually backed out. Thus it was a "high school drop out with a passion for mechanics and his salt-of-the-earth wife who was working as a bookkeeper" that would adopt Jobs.

Below is an excerpt from the book on the topic of his adoption: 

Steve Jobs knew from an early age that he was adopted. “My parents were very open with me about that,” he recalled. He had a vivid memory of sitting on the lawn of his house, when he was six or seven years old, telling the girl who lived across the street. “So does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?” the girl asked. “Lightning bolts went off in my head,” according to Jobs. “I remember running into the house, crying. And my parents said, ‘No, you have to understand.’ They were very serious and looked me straight in the eye. They said, ‘We specifically picked you out.’ Both of my parents said that and repeated it slowly for me. And they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.”

Abandoned. Chosen. Special. Those concepts became part of who Jobs was and how he regarded himself. His closest friends think that the knowledge that he was given up at birth left some scars. “I think his desire for complete control of whatever he makes derives directly from his personality and the fact that he was abandoned at birth,” said one longtime colleague, Del Yocam. “He wants to control his environment, and he sees the product as an extension of himself.” Greg Calhoun, who became close to Jobs right after college, saw another effect. “Steve talked to me a lot about being abandoned and the pain that caused,” he said. “It made him independent. He followed the beat of a different drummer, and that came from being in a different world than he was born into.”

Later in life, when he was the same age his biological father had been when he abandoned him, Jobs would father and abandon a child of his own. (He eventually took responsibility for her.) Chrisann Brennan, the mother of that child, said that being put up for adoption left Jobs “full of broken glass,” and it helps to explain some of his behavior. “He who is abandoned is an abandoner,” she said. Andy Hertzfeld, who worked with Jobs at Apple in the early 1980s, is among the few who remained close to both Brennan and Jobs. “The key question about Steve is why he can’t control himself at times from being so reflexively cruel and harmful to some people,” he said. “That goes back to being abandoned at birth. The real underlying problem was the theme of abandonment in Steve’s life.”

Jobs dismissed this. “There’s some notion that because I was abandoned, I worked very hard so I could do well and make my parents wish they had me back, or some such nonsense, but that’s ridiculous,” he insisted. “Knowing I was adopted may have made me feel more independent, but I have never felt abandoned. I’ve always felt special. My parents made me feel special.” He would later bristle whenever anyone referred to Paul and Clara Jobs as his “adoptive” parents or implied that they were not his “real” parents. “They were my parents 1,000%,” he said. When speaking about his biological parents, on the other hand, he was curt: “They were my sperm and egg bank. That’s not harsh, it’s just the way it was, a sperm bank thing, nothing more.”

I have no way of knowing if Jobs appetite for innovation, his high need for his products to be approved by the world at large, or if his uncommon, and at time insane, ambition to build the greatest products, that in it of themselves become "game changers" for how we live our lives, were breed out of the pain of not being wanted at birth.

I have no desire to speculate.

But, what I will say is that when one experiences abandonment, the deepest form of rejection, it is hurtful; it is painful.

I also believe Jobs legacy will be one of a visionary in the arena of great technological advances and products, and a legacy that was centered upon tireless ambition.

I think it is interesting to note what Jobs said at the very end of his life concerning an incident with his parents at Reed College:

 "When it came time for Jobs to matriculate in the fall of 1972, his parents drove him to Portland, but in a small act of rebellion he refused to let them come on campus. In fact he refrained from even saying good-bye or thanks. he recounted the moment later with uncharacteristic regret: 

'It's one of those things in life I really feel ashamed about. I was not very sensitive, and I hurt their feelings. I shouldn't have. They had done so much to make sure I could go there, but I just didn't want them around. I didn't want anyone to know I had parents. I wanted  to be like an orphan who had bummed around the country on trains and just arrived out of nowhere, with no roots, no connections, no background'."

So there it is. I believe with that one statement Jobs expresses his predominate life theme of; Abandoned. Chosen. Special.

The pain from his abandonment is undeniable. His belief that he was entitled to whatever he deemed valuable gave pause to his belief that he was chosen; special.

And in the end that is exactly the three words that apply to me; apply to you. We all have been abandoned by the false prediction of a dangerous appetite, even worse some have been abandoned by one or both parents. We all have chased many waterfalls in the form of unnecessary approval, needlessly tiring our self in the process, and each one of us has been left empty by the pursuit of poor ambitions.

But yet, in the end, we all were chosen by God before we choose Him and because of that very fact we all are tremendously special to Jesus Christ.

 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[ predestined us for adoption to son-ship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
-Ephesians 1:3-6 

Through adoption we are free to simply enjoy the appetites, the approvals and the ambitions that God has set before us.

We can do this because we are chosen by Him.

We are special because He is Special.

sbb 7.3.12