A Thousand False Starts – Endless New Beginnings

October 1, 2012

I see my hypocrisy best in others. I see their faults, and – when I’m lucky – catch a glimpse of me in the mirror. The hard part is staying aware that it’s all the same shit – that their faults aren’t worse than mine, just different. Pride tends to let me excuse my own.

I’m furious with a friend right now. I care about this person, which is why their deception hurts as deeply as it does. Naturally, I feel my anger is just. I have reason to be angry.

Until I stop and look at the bigger picture. Until I even up the ledger with my own debts, faults and weakness. Then I don’t have quite as much maneuvering room for my slick and shiny prosecution. Reminds me of that passage about pointing out a speck in a brothers eye while a log sticks out of my own. (Mt 7:1-5)

Now I have to consider forgiveness. I don’t want to do that. My anger is far too justified…except that I need to be forgiven too. Maybe not now, but trust me, I’ll need it soon enough. If I haven’t screwed up yet, the day ain’t done.

That same passage talks about how God judges us the same way we judge others. I better slow down and look at that again, maybe even pray about what that means. Taken at face value, I’d say that a whole lot of people are crying “Lord, Lord” but aren’t doing the work of our Father in Heaven. (Mt 7:21-23)

I’d also say that I better be forgiving.


Once Upon A Time – Fairytales Do Come True: Chapter Three

November 5, 2011

Cold wind cut across the park. Hungry people shoved their hands deeper into their pockets and tucked their chins into their collars. Numb feet were stomped to bring feeling back. The hot coffee quickly ran out.

The prince walked to his carriage and pulled out a thick, coarse shirt for a young man wearing nothing but a simple light shirt. When he returned to the park, he found the man standing in line for warm food. It had been a few months since they had last spoken.

A small smile was all the prince received when he warmly greeted the man. They briefly exchanged pleasantries, and the prince asked where the man had been. “Back in jail?” he joked.

“The hospital” came the reply.

The prince was not surprised. “Epilepsy or diabetes?” he asked.

The man shook his head. “Stroke.

The prince started to check in on the man regularly. He went out of his way to find him. If there was rain or high winds the prince would be up early the next day to go find the man. Soon the prince was picking the man up and bringing him to his home.

The days became colder, and the cold lasted longer. The man stayed at the prince’s house longer each visit. Then came the 13th of December.

The prince’s family baked a cake. His youngest daughter went with him to find the man. But the man was not to be found. The prince called the jailer and the physician. Neither had the man. They went all over town asking for the man. He was gone.

Unable to find him after hours of searching, the prince and his daughter went home and gave the cake to a sickly young mother – alone – caring for her sickly young child.

As darkness fell the prince build a fire and prepared to host his closest friends and family for dinner and study. However his youngest daughter insisted they travel once more to look for the man. The prince could not deny her.

After more searching on foot and by carriage – and already late for dinner – they gave up. Suddenly the prince stopped and jumped from the carriage. The man was sitting on the side of the road, sipping from a paper sack – alone.

Rushing home, the prince lit the fire while his wife went to buy a cake. Dinner was served, the Words of Life were contemplated and – with great love – cake was forced upon the diabetic man.

But the evening was complete when the youngest daughter spoke to the prince with grave concern.

“Daddy, can the man spend the night with us? No one should be alone on their birthday.

The prince smiled.

Once Upon A Time – Fairytales Do Come True: Chapter Two

October 23, 2011

The prince did not accept that he was a prince. He was blind, and had decided the world was beautiful and he was ugly. He did not act like a prince, unable to believe that anyone as flawed as himself could be royalty.

Soon enough he walked away from the Kingdom in search of a place where he might hide his imperfections. The prince tried to fit in here and there, with these people and with those. He hid his identity from everyone until he forgot it himself.

One day he heard a story about his father the king. The storyteller told of his great love and kindness, and the humility he showed in dealing with his subjects. The young prince listened to the tale of his father’s bravery and sacrifice, and came to understood the kingdom in a new way.

The prince decided to be a good and loyal subject. He would start by following the rules his father had enacted. As if for the first time, he studied the laws of his father’s kingdom. The prince was surprised to find he enjoyed his life more than ever he had.

In fact, the very first time he went to the public square to serve his village, he met an extraordinary friend -although he didn’t know it at the time. The prince came across a homeless man, both epileptic and diabetic, and neither had slowed his drinking. He was planning to kill himself.

The young prince did all he could for the poor man, he listened and offered a plate of warm eggs as a last meal. The man declined, he was in great despair and wanted no comfort. He would take all of his insulin that night and walk until he fell over dead.

The man dismissed the prince. “You don’t understand” he said, “I’m calling it quits.”

The prince replied, “You’re right. I do not understand. But I will listen if you’ll tell me.”

As his tale was told, the man’s tears dried and his eyes cleared. The prince offered food again, and the man again refused. “I can’t see.” The prince stood and extended his hand, which the man took. They crossed the street together.

When the plates had been cleaned and the cups emptied, the man stood to leave. Before turning away he said, “If you should ever want to know how many of the poor live, come walk an evening with me.”

Would I find you alive if I did?”

I’ll be around” assured the man. The young prince smiled.

One warm evening a few weeks later the prince went again to the park. He found the man sitting under a tree, listening to musicians play and sipping from a bag. The prince greeted the man, who spoke with him hesitantly.

The prince noted the simple, sharp knife laying close at hand, and understood that his new friend lived under laws of a different sort. The man was small and sickly – he would stab first and avoid a fight he could not win.

Over the next few years the prince and the man would cross paths and speak pleasantly. From time to time the man would disappear, and the prince came to expect this. The man explained he had been at times under a physicians care, others he had been under the jailers lock.

Still, they would part ways until next they met. However this all changed one cold October morning.

Once Upon A Time – Fairytales Do Come True: Chapter One

October 14, 2011

I’d like to tell you a story if you’ll allow. It will take some time, but I do enjoy telling a story. My mom says I’m good at it. I learned it from my dad.

He would tell exorbitantly long tales ending in the most terrible puns you’ve ever heard. But when I was a kid, he turned the kitchen table into the campfire and tell tall tales and silly stories to make my brother and I laugh. Ask me about the Rabbi and some Tridds…

One of my favorite stories is about falling out of a helicopter. It’s funny, and I tell it with action and movement, but it tends to lose something on the flat screen. Maybe one day I’ll get to tell you in person. Maybe you’ll even laugh.

But this story is going to be messy. I’m not going for fancy, and my editing will be, well…raw at points, but I hope you’ll find yourself drawn into my little tale.

But I have to warn you, if the Greeks are correct and there’s only two kinds of stories – either comedy or tragedy – you should treasure the few laughs along the way.

It starts, as many stories do, with a death…

The little boy was scared. He hated hospitals and sick people and all the noise. He didn’t understand them. Mamma had been crying all day, and then he found himself standing at the end of a hospital bed, looking at a lump of coal. They told him it was his father.

The ground is still unused and toxic, polluted, even today. Probably forever. The explosion soaked the ground, contaminated it. His father had been working in the field of gas tanks with a cigarette clenched between his teeth. The boy never touched the things.

His brothers were all older, so he hung around with the older kids. The nicer ones let him tag along as they drank beer and fixed cars. He learned his trade looking over the big kids shoulders. Some of his closest friends have been cars.

Life in that part of town was hard. There were no tar roads, all gravel and dirt. It had always been that way. When he was little, his daddy had shot a man right through the front window for pulling the fire-box and calling the fire brigade as a prank once too often. Had warned him, then shot him.

Years later he was standing on his buddies porch when his friends momma walked out, slapped the glasses off his daddy’s face, then shot him straight through the heart. He has lots of stories like those. Too many.

Then the family curse took effect – diabetes killing his brothers and sisters. When his mother died, he was the one who found her. That severed his last mooring. He drifted away, responsibility and hope always floated nearby, but just out of reach.

Panem Et Circenses – The Wool That Is Pulled Over Our Eyes

August 14, 2011

Who doesn’t like a circus?

Ya just gotta ask: Who's the ringleader??

And a good loaf of bread, is it not the symbol of provision?

Give us this day...

But Imperial Rome found a way to pervert these two items, to use them as a sort of slight of hand – a distraction from what was really going on.

“Panem et circenses” is the Latin phrase, first used by the Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 AD ), to demonstrate how easily people are beguiled into abdicating higher responsibilities in favor of having base needs satiated. The metaphor explains why people – as long as they had cheap food and entertainment – would let the politicians do whatever they liked.

This led to the gladiators, chariot racing, and Christians being fed to lions. Some circus…

It's all fun and games 'till someones loses an eye...or their head.

This leads me to ask about the state of the American church. Do you embody the doctrine you embrace, or have you been tricked into complacency with just enough truth and a good show on Sunday morning? Just asking the question….

Don't be fooled!!!

Calm in the Storm – Knowing His Peace

July 2, 2011

My wife has Lyme Disease. We’re also making hard decisions with major life kinda stuff. We also still haven’t figured out everything that goes into being an “adult”, thus we struggle financially far too often – not the sign of a balanced life.

We picked off dozens of these tiny little bastards.

And I still know that everything is going to be OK. I have that surreal, kinda funny feeling peace about it all. It’s almost as if I can actually trust God to deliver on that “I’ll see you through everything” spiel we God-fearing type typically spew.

Through all the pain of making tough decisions and having hard conversations, I’m finding that God constantly – and consistently – reassures me that He’s in charge, and that He’s good to us. He keeps reminding me of little nuggets of truth.

Today’s was: “The LORD God is Holy, and good to His people.” Can’t find that in Scripture, so I guess I’m combining Psalm 99:9 and Hosea 3:5. Or God still whispers crazy truth.

The other thing that’s never far from my lips is a prayer He gave me.

My Peace be unto you.
Fear not,
for the Spirit of the LORD is upon you
to do many great things
for which I will prepare you.
Live simple, humble lives
for this pleases the LORD.
You have nothing to do but this.
You have nowhere to be but here.
Stay the course:
Love God
Love People
Follow Jesus

That, combined with the sage advice of a dear friend, “In the light of Eternity, what does it matter?”, help me get through the days when tears lurk in the corners of my mind.

Pig Slop Sucks – The Return

March 31, 2011

The prodigal son metaphor is used too casually. Bad choices, blah blah blah come home to open arms blah blah blah. You must be part of a redemption story to understand the rich beauty of returning home.

I’ve been dry – that drought I was talking about earlier. But ask for water and prepare for a flood. Turn and reach, He’s here. Even at that last possible minute, when hope is gone, He’s there.

I haven’t gotten that far, but a friend of mine has. My own return was from a dense fog, a series of distractions, a period of poor focus. It feels like I tried to call time out in the middle of a firefight.

This life is often called “the daily grind”, and for good reason. Stop swimming against the tide and it’ll carry you away. Sit down for a rest and lose the race. As you well know, life can wear you down.

I went to visit a friend who’s in the hospital yesterday. She tried to kill herself. It’s a longs story (isn’t it always?) – and not mine to tell – but suffice it to say that things get dark when you feel totally alone.

I hope it’s not her last possible moment, but I also hope she finds Him in the middle of her storm. He’s there with open arms. But we still need to ask, to reach out for His endless love and grace.

Recently, and more than once, the debate over free will vs. predestination has been a topic of conversation. I believe in complete and total free will. We have the legitimate right to choose.

Without choice we can’t be held responsible by a just God – not my fault you see, I was made this way… Better understood that God KNOWS what we’ll choose, but that’s not the same as MAKING us do it.

I’m making a choice.

Yesterday I shook clear a few cobwebs and took a fresh look around. What I saw prompted me to get back to work. I’m asking the boss for another big assignment. I want my friend to come home.

He said He’s waiting for her.

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