An Everyday Kinda Question – Did Today Matter?

July 8, 2013

Did you live like your life matters? Or did you literally kill time, time you will never get back or see again. Another day of going through the motions? Survived, but not much more?

Sitting around after work listening to Fugazi left me thinking about the brevity of our time and the fleeting footprint we leave behind. How much is wishing for the past and missing the present? How much is weight from the past holding you back from trying again?

It also left me thinking about hypocrisy, the things we say and the reality of what we do. Why is that? What keeps us from seeing things through and keeping our word?

And if we’ve established that we’re not all doing what we say we’ll do, what are we doing? Where does our time go? How much of our busy schedule is busy taking care of our own desires, the wants far beyond our needs?

And for those of us who call Christ our King and declare ourselves His servants, how busy were we about the Masters work? Did you serve today? What works of faith would you offer if He called an account of your time today, time He allowed? We read the parables about the master returning unexpectedly and finding the true character of his workers, yet fail to discern the truth of those words. Most followers of Christ accept that He could return at any moment, and most would say they look forward to that day. What would He find if He were to return this hour?

How much more should we be about His work if we believe Him to be the Creator God, all knowing, all present and all powerful – the only true God? Face to face or “only” His indwelling Spirit taking account of your thoughts and actions today, should we not shudder to think of wasted time and opportunity?

Both Jesus and John the baptizer had the same message, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God in near.” If only we could grasp that truth, how might it change our lives?


Time Flies – Doing What Matters Most

November 18, 2012

I’m feeling acutely aware of how short our time on earth really is. Millions have walked these streets before I have and, if the Lord don’t come back soon, millions more will after I pass. Feeling this way, I ache for my time to mean something great for His Kingdom.

Photo by Rion Nakaya

I can’t bring anything with me from this world to the next, so, while I still feel want, I try to fight my love of material things. I treasure my family, and spend as much time as possible with them. This time is meaningful, something that carries on after me in my children and on to their children’s children. (WARNING: The bad stuff goes with them too! Be good!)

I hope to do great things for my God and His Kingdom. I ache for meaning and purpose beyond serving my own desires. Maybe this is pride. I wish I had more direction, and clearer vision. The one I have is too vague, too ambiguous: just love people. Too many days that’s a challenge, again due to my pride.

And because of that pride I wonder if I’d do better to work less on serving God and more on simply listening and obeying Him.

For now I wait, not always patiently, and try to listen.

Tom Waits demonstrates how to listen closely.

Love your Enemies – One Christians View on 9/11/11

September 10, 2011

I struggle with my military service. Compared with so many who have served in the past ten years, I did nothing but four years of glorified Boy Scouts.

I never left North Carolina, so don’t think I’m speaking as some war hardened vet. I can only speak as the soft North American comfortable Christian that I am. So don’t expect much, OK?

I was the prototype Red, White and Blue American who protested peace protests. I not only owned guns, but subscribed to gun magazines. Never joined a militia, but thought they were neat-o. Republicans loved Jesus and Democrats wanted to kill babies. Et cetera.

Then I realized that Jesus woulda cried over what Christians in both parties do in His name. We bought into this Empire, hook, line and sinker. With respect to Bad Religion, many have sold their immortal souls to an American Jesus that no longer represents me.

I don’t like the other version any better.

I risk sounding like an anarchist, but this American Jesus has it’s agenda. I no longer believe that it serves it’s peoples best interests, and certainly not mine.

My Jesus looks on the weak and powerless with pity.

My Jesus shows mercy and grace.

My Jesus says “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:44-45a)

As we approach the anniversary of such a terrible event I don’t presume to have all the answers. But I will challenge you: Who are you following?

If you claim Christ, join me and spend tomorrow praying for peace, and crying over the loss of life ten years ago, and every day since.

Don't get mad at me, I didn't say it!

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!!!

Serving The High King – To Brag No More

February 20, 2011

I got to wash another mans clothes while he lounged in my slippers. It was profound joy.

I also saw through a mirror so clearly that my reflection caused my heart to quake. It was terrifying.

I was on my way back from helping a few friends plan their wedding (Running sound for them. The guy with the blue Mohawk is NOT a wedding planner…), when I decided to swing through the city and see if I could run into Spanky. God helps me find him when I go looking.

In a day chock full of “coincidences”, Spanky was sitting in an unusual place, but was wearing his signature toboggan hat and I spotted him. Then Spanky, who has never asked me for anything, asked my help in getting off the streets for a few days.

So he crashed with us for the weekend. The kids were with their other parents, and Jenifer and I had opportunity to serve the High King.

I washed Spanky’s clothes, let him wear my warmest shirt and fuzziest slippers while he dinned on grilled chicken and corn with mashed potatoes.

Then he puked.

The reason he needed off the street was because he was sick, cold and lonely. A doctor at the clinic had prescribed the wrong med and he was terribly ill. He couldn’t eat much of the Valentines meal either. For two days we took care of Spanky and treated him like a king.

In return he helped us fix our truck and make some new crosses – one of which I’ve entered into an art show!! (Triple 7 Tattoo on MLK, Friday, Feb 25th if yer in Chattanooga and can make it out!!)

Funny how the harder I work for Jesus the more fulfilling my life becomes. I wonder how I could be any more contented than I am this moment. That’s the power of compassion; His compassion for us, reflected in our serving each other, makes our lives complete.

But while I was serving Spanky I took opportunity to examine myself. I know I’m hard on myself, but I didn’t like much of what I saw. I didn’t see much of a reason to brag about serving Christ. My compassion was still a… a “job” or a “ministry” – not a lifestyle.

I can be hard and unforgiving, demanding, quick to correct a wrong and slow in praise. I’m also pretty quick to judge. I’ve even been known to argue with my wife on occasion. It’s easy to show one face here – online – or at church, and be a completely different person in my home. That’s not integrity. I crave integrity.

I want to reflect Christ so clearly that you can’t even see me any more, and for that to happen I have to be one person with one mind. I want to be so full of compassion that it can’t help but spill over, and my family should be the first to experience that overflow.

The only way to do that is to serve them the same way I would Jesus – the way I tried to treat Spanky.

Time to go do the dishes….

Gravitational Pull – Nature, Family, And The Heart Of God

December 4, 2010

I’m not a physicist, but to my knowledge no force pulls on us stronger than gravity; in the end – it wins.

In death, gravity pulls your lifeless body to the ground to become one with it once again. We do not rest physically until gravity has been dealt with, either in bed or grave.

But we rest in the heart of God. Love is the heart of God. In Him we rest, knowing that our love for Him is complete, it is rooted in faith and made concrete through daily choices to put others ahead of self.

We know peace because we rest in the heart of God.

As we love others, we find His heart, and there is no greater gravitational pull than His love. It is the very essence of God. To be filled with love for Him and others is to be finally able to love self without ego.

To be able to love one’s self and still prefer the joy of others to that of self is to rest in the heart of God. That is where peace attends my soul. That is life more abundant. That is where joy transcends sorrow.

That’s where I walk with my God.

Newton contemplating weighty matters.

Stuff is a Four Letter Word (well, if you spell it wrong it is) – How a consumer came to see the New Economy

August 21, 2010

I love to read, and used to read a lot. It’s slacked off at times and picked up pace at others. But I blame my love of reading for my poor spelling. I was ABSORBING words, not LOOKING at them. I never learned to spell by seeing the words. I didn’t develop that learning ability. So if I spell “stuff” wrong, don’t blame me – blame the books.

If you’ve read many of my posts you’ve probably heard me talk about Shane Claiborne. He’s this weird hippy who lives in a commune in Philly. Shane is also a radical. He’s the kinda guy I’d have dismissed not long ago – had I not read his book. And his book was the tool God chose to use to further my walk with Him, to drag me deeper into His web of seductive Grace and Love.

Shane’s book Irresistible Revolution set the stage for me to question my heart and my understanding of grace. Once I did that I decided to try and follow Jesus in more radical ways. But like anything, I started slowly. The pace picked up rather rapidly, but we started with sorting through clothes and donating to the homeless. The first harvest was slim –just clothes than no longer fit or were out of fashion, stuff I hadn’t worn in years and probably never would. Also in that first wave went all the trendy clothing I had. I took the opportunity to clean out all the clothing that was little more than fashion – even if it was still “IN”. The punk in me may have had a hand in some of that.

Much more difficult was the second wave. Then I had to part with clothing that had become keepsake – clothing that had sentimental meaning but would never be worn. (Don’t look at me like that; I know you have some too.) When I finished that culling, my wife, having greatly reduced her clothing selection, showed me her empty wardrobes. She was then kind enough to point out that despite the grand pile of clothing to be donated, I still had over 60 t-shirts. Yes, that is correct: 60. And that’s after two rounds of elimination!

Terrible cellphone camera pic....but not even half the stuff....

A kind of frenzy grabbed us. Jenifer and I went through books, DVD’s and old VHS tapes and took them all to a used book store near us that bought stuff at a decent exchange. Getting rid of books was hard. It required another series of elimination rounds. I’d find something she’d pulled out to get rid of and snatch it back for the shelf, and she’d do the same from my stack. We’re a both a bit of a bibliophile. We also went through our kitchen. Five people in our family, a few guests every now and then, why have 14 sets of silverware? Why have 30 coffee cups and mismatched plastic cups? Why not just have 10? If there’s none in the cupboard – WASH ONE!!!

On right, one of three bins we filled, on the left, a truck full of stuff

And simplicity became a drug. We were hooked. It left things tidy and neat. We threw things away. We cleaned out kitsch. Our house became homey. It was nice, very, very nice.

Cellphone cameras.... One of three bookcases we emptied out!!

We were able to go shopping without having to buy meaningless trinkets to feel better about ourselves. We felt at peace, contended with what we had, and much more immune to the “gotta get it’s”. Our kids hear “NO” a lot more often, and for the most part I think they get it. Some things are harder to change than others…

We were able to cut back on our entertainment budget. Getting rid of the things has also led to us seeing the value of people. Without things in the way, the value of people jumped into focus for us. Our minds were clear to think about people, their feelings, needs, cares, and hurts. I could actually listen to the office bore and find myself interested in what he had to say – no lie!! We spent time with the homeless and found out that they’re actually people, not just downtown fixtures. What’s more is that despite the near incessant panhandling, they don’t care much about your money. There will also be some that are working an angle, but most would rather have a sincere handshake from someone who knew their name than a dollar to hold.

There’s more. There’s how we got rid of cable and started playing games together and how we rediscovered the art of conversation. But for now, let me leave it that cleaning out my closets was a very good investment for my family. It led to all kinds of great things. Maybe you’ll try it. Lemme know if you do, and what kinda things come from it.

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