There has been a huge influx of information about diet, health, and the environment lately, and I can't say enough good things about what has happened to our household this summer. I still await the results of yesterday's cholesterol screening, but frankly, even if it is not stellar, I'm not too terribly worried: I know that I'm much healthier than I was even two months ago, and the trend will continue, as far as I am able to nurture it.
In all the excitement, road races, movies, books, and sharing of information, there's a bit of sadness mixed in as well. I have been tremendously lucky because my wife has supported this mission the entire time, and the effort for me was actually minimal: the "bad" disappeared from the refrigerator and pantry, and the wholesome food replaced it, and my wife was mostly responsible for that. What I have also experienced is a fundamental shift in my thinking, and I don't know how much I can claim responsibility for that, either.
My sadness involves this: our society is controlled by the media, the government, and storefronts. Oh, I know, we're free, we're free: but are we, really? The media moustaches told us that milk is good for us, so now we drink it. We all wanted to jump high and Be Like Mike, so we bought the gear. And seriously: when did we suddenly become more aware that our pants are much more comfortable around the middle of our legs? Really, people, this is an act of our own intellect...and we admit that? Honestly, do we really dress like this of our own accord? Have you ever tried to run, or even walk normally, dressed like that? Not to mention the decency of it.
Anyhow, we are easily swayed by media (or, more accurately, inundated. I'm also a fan of the word "onslaught."). Compound that with the popularity of doing things quickly and easily, and we have food that has been prepared for us. Moreover, given that business is out to make a profit, and really doesn't care about the consumer's health (since we worship the profit here, don't we?), how can we expect anything else than the most cheaply-made food available?
My point is not to have Yet Another Rant Against The Man, but this: there has to be a fundamental change in thought and outlook in order to affect a change in diet in this culture.
I am a Christian, and have available certain Scriptural resources that support taking care of my body, but I didn't necessarily listen to them, even as a Christian. Treating my body as a Temple of the God who saved me, which it actually is, doesn't come naturally. Compassion for the environment can't be dieted into me, and the pain of the thought of factory farming and the slaughter of countless millions of animals can't be veggie'd into me, either. Entirely like spreading the Gospel, I can say and point out whatever I want to someone, and it won't matter at all: the person's heart must be changed, and that is a solo venture.
I love to "wow" the people around me with the story of how I changed, and walking the talk does help, especially if the other person has known me for over two months, and can see the change in my attitude and my body. I truly get excited about the races, and food, and what is happening to me. But what really makes a difference is when someone "gets it," and I have no way of knowing if, when, and how it happens.
But that's OK. I'm just doing my job of spreading the Other Good News. Wait a second: this would be the Other Other Good News, because Open Source and Linux is actually the Other Good News, after the Gospel.
So I share this in the hopes that somewhere, someone not only hears what I'm saying, but is listening, and their heart is opened to what they could receive. Then we would both be blessed.
I have seen many articles in the Christian community about the topic of relevance and what we need to do in the church in this day and age to be considered a relevant part of society. I don't know why, although I imagine that it is because of dwindling church numbers, and the gradual failing of society as a whole.
I have, since my conversion, always been somewhat put off by the church as most know it. Though I was drawn to it a couple of years into my salvation because I needed to gather with others of my kind and serve, I didn't recognize it as a permanent home, and generally dislike the institution. My reasons for this would easily fill a few pages, but for this entry I'll just say that I think the system is broken, and has been so for perhaps 1700 years...which I suppose means that I think that we've been "doing it wrong" for most of its entire existence.
If I understand what I've read correctly, the original word for "church" is "ecclesia," which means "calling out," "called out," or similar such meanings related to gathered people. Interesting that it doesn't mean "steeple," "sermon," "liturgy," "building," "robes," "bells" or what we consider the church today. Hmm. Also, I have not yet finished the New Testament in its entirety, but from the pieces that I remember, people gathered in homes, or wherever they chose to meet, for the purpose of worship and mutual edification, which I don't believe meant everyone facing the same direction for the weekly Sunday production. Hmm. I have read somewhere (probably Frank Viola) that it is difficult to fellowship with the back of someone's head. I love that statement.
Given this short snippet of the tirade against the church building, I'm struggling to find where the search for relevance is such an issue. Granted, my personal experience has been from a Catholic upbringing where I didn't actually become a Christian for 30 years after being in the system, and I'll tell you: I don't see too many examples of Christians in my immediate vicinity. I'm sure that I missed some opportunities for church work outside of Sunday, which may lead me to some erroneous assumptions, but I see the religious community as that which does its weekly duty on Sunday, and proceeds to work in a sufficient amount of poor behavior throughout the week, which of course necessitates Sunday cleansing. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Fruitless.
I fail to see a lack of relevance among the ecclesia because being a Christian involves emulating Christ all day, every day, in every situation. We are salt and light, and the indwelt Savior expresses Himself at every step. The New Testament Christian walking the walk can never be irrelevant, and Christ will never need to be reinvented, because He walks in the modern world. I suggest, rather than struggling with another way of trying to lure people into the church, that we behave more the way Christ intended, and flush them out.
This past weekend there was a comment made by one of the ecclesia (yea, I used that on purpose: we attend "home church" which is nothing more than the body of Christ walking the walk- no building, no sermon, no rites and rituals. Just Biblical teaching) about the laws of the land and of God, and how we should know better than to expect that we can do a better job at making laws and regulating ourselves than He can.
Something that sat well and deeply with me was the fact that I don't need to worry about what is right or wrong today versus yesterday. The lessons that we learn today are (should be) the same as historically: there is an unchanging set of rules that govern the world. We already have a clear set of instructions for how the world works, how humans should behave, and what to expect when we don't follow the rules. Science constantly changes over the years (careful that you don't fall off of the edge of the world), yet God does not. The Bible and what was recorded over the centuries has only been reinforced by science rather than contradict it, despite what you will learn in the media.
Oddly enough, man still continues to take apart the laws of God, rework them to the whim of the day, and eventually suffer the consequences. We are not the nation of Israel, but have established a set of rules based on godly principles, and can expect similar results. I don't think there is anyone who can argue our founding principles, as much as they try: the words "Creator" appear in historical documents, and there are multitudes of letters and commentaries made by the Founding Fathers, pointing to a general acceptance of God, and an acceptable behavior and set of guidelines.
As time goes on we continue to alter the rules and allow men "in power" to dictate what is right or wrong, and I speak of both within and without the religious circles. Wrong changes into acceptable, and laws are changed to accommodate what has become the norm. We have become inundated with such sin, corruption, and perversion that we can't tell what is right or wrong by looking around, and without a constant and unchanging ruleset we are doomed to continue this course indefinitely, until we fall. Which we will. Which we have.
What is sad to the extent of almost being hilarious is the latest fear of speaking any truth, historically proven or not, for fear of hurting someone's feelings or being called that latest, horrible "hater." Whatever the topic, nowadays standing firm on the truth, and speaking it, will surely earn you a label. Oddly, emotions don't even have to be involved anymore; just the notion that someone is wrong about something can summon the playing of the Hater Card. I wonder: will parents soon become haters for correcting their children for doing something wrong, or speaking the truth? Let's just change the definition of "wrong" to suit our behavior. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes for children to toss their parents into prison for attempting to establish rules of the household….
Anyhow, to reel it back in a little: there is a profound peace and stability in knowing what the rules are (any parent can tell you that a child is actually happier with boundaries). That stability never shifts, never changes, and will carry me through until I am with my Maker, and I am sure of it. I am grateful that I have been given the ability to follow the rules, my eyes have been opened to the Truth, and it is with the understanding that I, too, sin and fall, that I stand firmly on the Rock.
Another topic that has been on my mind is the role of the Commandments in a Christian's life, and my history of needing to perform deeds in order to keep on God's "Nice" list. This is only a small piece of an enormous topic, but an important one.
I found the following on the Vatican's site:
2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them;28 The Second Vatican Council confirms: "The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.
The site also relates the story of the rich young ruler to support its claims:
2052 "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" To the young man who asked this question, Jesus answers first by invoking the necessity to recognize God as the "One there is who is good," as the supreme Good and the source of all good. Then Jesus tells him: "If you would enter life, keep the commandments." and he cites for his questioner the precepts that concern love of neighbor: "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother." Finally Jesus sums up these commandments positively: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
2053 To this first reply Jesus adds a second: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." This reply does not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping the Commandments. the Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus' call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity. The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.
(Numbered sections taken from the Vatican's site.)
This story is only partially true: Jesus does indeed cite the Commandments, but the Scriptures relate a back-and-forth between the man and Christ, with a broader story to it. In the above paragraph the Vatican skips over the young man's second question: the young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack? (Matthew 19:20)" This part belongs just before where Jesus added the second comment. The entire story goes on further, when the young man is directed to sell his belongings, after which he turns away. Moreover, the apostles were astonished at this conversation and ask, "Who then can be saved?" to which Jesus replies, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
The entire conversation is an example of how man's efforts will absolutely NOT earn him anything. I can see how this can be interpreted as: the man was too reliant upon himself, or too selfish, to give up his own possessions and command, and let Christ lead his life. I can also see that, at the end, Christ did actually say that man can't save himself. After reading the entire story, however, I would never be brought to the conclusion that I must obey the Ten Commandments to maintain my salvation.
The issue of works/deeds for salvation is a monstrous topic, and I have only found this small piece of the entire story, but I believe that it is important in getting a clearer picture of the salvation that can only be gained by faith in Christ, and by what He has done, rather than anything we can do.
There are a few things that I have learned that I have tried to organize on a blog or two, some about what I have learned about computing and Microsoft in particular, and some things about what the food industry is doing to the people in the name of profits.
This line of entries will be about what I have learned of the church and religion, "for better or for worse." I write from what I have learned, and try to keep the source of my information the actual source of the information; I'm not too keen on hearsay.
I don't intend for these to be pretty or politically correct, but true. I'm logging these findings as much for myself as to "spread the word" because some of these topics I have been led to believe over the years.
The Catholic Church has come under fire for various reasons, and I have typically not felt too badly about it because of my Catholic origin; I was born and bred one, but became a Christian about 20 years later. That doesn't necessarily mean that I fault the church for it; God's plan for this fool was to let him wander for a couple of decades first. That's fine, and I am actually thankful for it.
I've been trying to debunk some myths, and found one right off the bat that amazes me: the apparent bodily ascension of Mary. Being a Christian, I appreciate the phrase that I've heard from a preacher once: "how can you know the God of the Word if you don't know the Word of God?" Well said.
I decided to check into this (actually my purpose was to check into the praying to Mary, which I consider pretty clear idolatry, but didn't get that far), and was amazed that this thinking was made into "dogma" by a man: Pope Pius XII.
On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, exercising papal infallibility, declared in "Munificentissimus Deus" that it is a dogma of the Church "that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." As a dogma, the Assumption is a required belief of all Catholics; anyone who publicly dissents from the dogma, Pope Pius declared, "has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith" (This paragraph taken from catholicism.about.com).
I am amazed at this for multiple reasons, the first being that no man is infallible: there is no one on earth that can claim to be so (I did read up a little on the conditions for papal infallibility, but that's for another time).
Secondly, a Catholic must now believe what this man has said, or be considered to have fallen away. I imagine, especially since this was just "declared" recently, that there is no place in the Scriptures that stated that Mary was taken up bodily. This is clearly false. Additionally, there is no authority on this earth who can possibly dictate what a person is to believe or not believe, especially on an apparent pious whim. That is absolutely ridiculous.
I apologize for the sloppy posting; my head is moving a little too quickly for my typing, and I need to keep this brief.
Being me, I can't help but comment about what I experience at work, and actually in increasing quantities everywhere. Enough talk: here we go.
I get a lot of, "Why are you doing that? What is XXX going to do later?" with a healthy dose of "That's not your job," usually with a healthy smattering of "You're just going to be taken advantage of." Now, I can be a little hyper at times, and perhaps might have some trouble sitting still on occasion, which would explain some of this problem. The rest isn't so apparent.
(As an aside: I'm having a little trouble putting together an amusing story here, so let me just spit out the short paragraphs as I need to.)
I am responsible for my own behavior: what XXX does is not mine to criticize or critique.
I am having trouble just doing a mediocre job at work (I am fully capable of doing a mediocre job at home, however: figure that out). I am fully capable of lifting, moving, sweating, sweeping, etc., so that is what I will do, regardless of where my pay grade is currently located. If I am going to complain about anything financial, I'd aim at where my tax dollars are being poorly used in public education.
I have also done tasks that have been technically assigned to others, and am fine with that. Funny looks abound, but that's fine.
I guess what this poorly-written entry is trying to say is that: I can work, so why don't I just do it. I am learning that it doesn't matter what I'm doing, but it's HOW I'm doing it that is important. I am also learning that I am actually reporting to my Father, and I get the feeling that He won't mind if I use my time more efficiently and effectively, right where I am, and whatever I am doing.
The biggest point which I feel right to the soul is this: there is no one, in any place, and at any time, who can take advantage of me when I am freely giving it. That might be the entire point I'm trying to make, right there. I can't remember now where that originates (movie? I would think that it sounds Biblical, but I can't put a finger on it), but it is mine now. I own that, and it fits...and is so unpopular. Sure: in the world's perspective someone else may be doing less if I do more, and "making out" because of what I might do, but really: who is hurting here? I'm afraid I don't feel too badly if I compared my way of life to that one.
I heard on the radio today that some lawyer was bringing suit against Toyota for "putting profits before people." I laughed out loud, then got a little more stewed as I drove home. I wholeheartedly agree: cutting corners, especially at the expense of someone's life, is wrong. What doesn't make so much sense to me is that the same person who would perhaps sue someone for this wrongdoing might be the same person who increases the price of home heating oil during the winter. Figure that one out. Soooo, Toyota might have gotten busted for cutting a corner- maybe- but we applaud the oil tycoon. We are exasperated about the economy, and how companies are fleeing to foreign countries with our jobs...while we wait in line to buy our foreign plastic junk from Walmart.
There are apparently no clean mirrors in that room.
As so much of what I write says: what if we stop what we're doing for just one day, and try something different? What if it is not all about us, and our endless grabbing for stuff, and the next texting smartphone mindlessness? What if there's something a little bigger?
There is something bigger. Something that will make your jaw drop, your eyes well up, and your head spin with the wonder of it. Something that is just screaming for your participation, your involvement: something that can't actually be done quite the same way without you. There are huge battles right now, a massive conflict, at this very moment, in a place you can't see, but I tell you that if you try just a little, you can feel it. There's a vibrance, a tension, in the air, and combat awaits, if you're willing.
So imagine for one second that the next dollar you scramble for, scam, or save, has more importance than you might know, and your actions determine your side in this war. There are only two sides, and one winner.
Now, I don't think that God cares so much how much you paid for that flat screen, but I'd bet that He cares about who you shoved out of the way to get at it.
Come, friend, sit down and let me tell you the best Story you'll ever hear. It is not as cold out as you might think, and I know the feeling of that intangible tugging at your heart.
Come, friend, put that down: there has already been blood shed for your sorrows, and the world has wept enough for the loss of the Innocents.
Come, friend, I have a Fire for you that burns hotter, brighter, and longer, and will never be extinguished.
Come, friend, put that away: that will only dull the senses and drown the sound of the Holy One whom you hear calling out to you.
Come, friend, refrain, for there is danger ahead: the Master of that Temple is never far, sees all, and deals a most severe punishment to those who would defile her. She is holy, as are you.
Come, friend, look at the sunset and know, as I know, that all things work out for the good of those who love the Lord. The glow of the land is more than the setting star.
Come, friend, open your heart to the Story I have for you, and be filled with the power of God. "I do" bonds the covenant, and "I do" turns the foolishness you have heard into Life and Breath.
This one is short and to the point. I suppose it's an...exhortation of sorts, but I think that I'd rather reserve that word for the professionals. I am simply an observer...with an attitude and a big mouth....
The message given to me this morning was clear, and it is in direct relation to some current events.
I pose: do the rules of Scripture suddenly change depending upon your job, or your age? Did the Almighty say, "These are the rules I have given you, until the government says otherwise"? When do advertisements hold more value in showing us how to behave than the Word of God? We can live life by a McDonald's jingle, but not by the Proverbs?
Take heed, and remember that the rules for life have not changed, and there is no age at which things become acceptable that were not so in the past. There is nothing that is not found in the Scriptures that has surpassed the Scriptures in importance. I know of no human government, and no organization, which can surpass the wisdom of its Creator.
Never think that because your government allows the slaughter of the children, and that sodomy has become legal, that you are not accountable, for God has not changed the rules. There are no Lost Amendments to the Bible.
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?"
--God, to Job
Stop, in the name of love...
Sometimes the lessons that we learn can creep up on us, in a most unpleasant way....
Even though we "Jesus freaks" are pretty vigilant about what we allow into our lives, we occasionally need a reminder that we will never quite be holy enough on our own, the world is not our friend, and need a nudge here and there... and wouldn't you know that I have a story about it.
I picked up a new book last week- a futuristic military-style novel. I was pretty excited about it, and dug right in. Well, naturally every Good must have an Evil to combat, but, as I read the book I started feeling a little...uneasy, I guess. Sure, I've "seen" worse, and played my share of video games that contained much of the content I was reading, but it didn't sit well, and I put the book down with 1/3 to go.
Now, being the ever-practical (cheap) kind of guy, I was going to put it on the shelf. After all, it was a three novel book, and perhaps the other two would be OK. My wife (much wiser in seing some of the stupid things that I do: a nice balance) asked why I would want to put that on the shelf, just to take it out and put it back later, and with that point in mind I sent it to the recycling bin. (This is the same woman who can't see why I would spend so much time putting all of my movies on my hard drive, but I'll try to look past that: she has a good point about the book).
She said that, with all of the more subtle sinning that we do in an average day, maybe it is good to take advantage of the open warnings I am getting about what I am doing. Point taken.
So, the book is in the trash, and I feel a little badly about it, or perhaps more humble: I don't exactly know. I really would rather not think at this time of all of the other lousy things that I do in a day, because I am reminded that sin is not only "bad," which I/we can completely handle nowadays without really thinking about it, but it is offensive and grieves God. I may as well spit on the Scripture, or some other more recognizably offensive act, because sin is sin is sin. We all "fall short of the glory of God," and I'm not sure that I like the idea that I undoubtedly do it more regularly and probably don't even realize it.
Yes, I can hear the hair rustling on those shaking heads, those who will say that art is art, and it is all to be appreciated, and how it is unique, or that what is offensive to one might be beautiful to another, and that to be worldly is to see different things, etc, etc. I have two points in answer to that, and I'm sorry if you're offended, but they're pretty simple. One is from a bumper sticker I read that spoke volumes to me, and I hope it will to you: "Just because no one understands you doesn't make you an artist." I know: that one is a little harsh, but I can't help but laugh.
And one is a little different, but not my fault: "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
That one is on my fridge (my wife again- isn't she something?!?).
Maybe it should be on everyone's.
Reach Out and Touch Someone
Do something to someone tomorrow that they would never expect, would you? Whatever it is, make it a point to just make something a little different out of someone's day. And here's why:
Today was a day of three meetings in three different facilities. It's draining. The topics aren't important, but the underlying presence is: the World. I am pained to sit around a table and listen to someone clinging to the stocks and their portfolios and discussing them as if they knew the secrets of Making It Big, and how important it is to this and that, and what it does to their Bottom Line. I ache for the poor guy who knows no other value, and has no other worth, than what is on a sheet of paper that will burn up as easily as the cash it represents. This golf course is greener, that airline has better service, and the other limo is whiter.
These people need a little Light in their lives. Why not make it some of yours?
Ask the chemical distributor- or whatever supplier you call- if they have any pecan pie available when they ask if your order is done. I used to do that regularly, and I could picture the face of the person on the other end of the phone. I'll tell you what, though: one day after that I opened up the office door, and there was a solvent manufacturer salesman with a blueberry pie for me and a smile on his face. It wasn't pecan, but I didn't tell him, and it hardly mattered.
If you see an office, a room, or whatever, that impresses you, stop and applaud. I just did that yesterday, and I saw the person light up inside. I also marked myself as an idiot, perhaps, but that's ok: I do that a lot, and it's well worth the effort. If you think it is easy to try to make the most off-the-wall joke or comment- it is not. It is hard work.
Offer to make coffee, clean something up, or how about this: just listen to someone when they talk. Really listen to them. A novel idea at times.
I'm not writing about myself here for a pat on the back; I just want to show you that it can actually be done with little or no pain- just park your vanity out back, put your pride next to it, and go in on a mission. The people desperately needs someone to do something for them.
Just make a little effort and let God do the rest.
...but my coffin has a room for this stuff!
Many of these latest entries have not necessarily been extremely enlightening or prophetic; this thing actually is looking like a diary....
This one isn't much different.
This life's walk has been nothing if not one great awakening after another, and this awakening is unfolding like it spent too much time with the bottle last night.... It is the radical switching over from "me me me" to selflessness. I mean, it goes against just about everything we see, doesn't it? We can make five thousand a week working from home (part time nonetheless) and vacation in luxurious Aruba while our network works for us. We have to drive a Lexus, and we most certainly can't exist with prepaid cell phones (unless the deal is really good) because we can't possibly be expected to drive down the street without talking about ourselves and what we're going to do or own next, now, can we?
This week's church service rang true during a couple of different times, but the one for this writing is what we're storing up, and for what reason. And, more importantly than the junk that will rot in the end, I'm talking about our talents and abilities, and our "being." I have some talents that could readily help some person on any given day, so what exactly makes me hoard them? I believe that this is more sinful and dangerous than hoarding stuff, because the stuff can't reflect God in any way, but I can. I have a Slice of the Savior (there- catchy, no? Does it make you want to get one?) in me, and access to the greatest power there is, right now, here, today. What if I did something nice for someone today? Whoah. ...and tomorrow, too? No way. Bruce Almighty's "Acts of Random Kindness" are chock full o' wisdom, I say.
Another way to think about this is to imagine God saying, "You know what? I spent a lot of time being holy in my day, and I think I'm pretty good at it. But I don't think I feel like forgiving anyone today. I don't feel like taking care of anyone today, either." ...and we all fall down.
Here is another one that might not be so popular in the days of acceptance and tolerance: there will come a day when you will face someone bigger than you are, and you will give an account of everything you have done- ever.
Sit on that one for a while.
To the point again: I'm trying to treat people to the smallest taste of selflessness, and I can tell you it is one of the most challenging tasks yet. I don't do it often, but I am more aware of it regularly. The "risk" that I will never be repaid (by worldly standards, mind you) is there, and I taste the bitter MeMeMine of selfishness and greed at times, but I am also trying to keep in mind that Christ was here a little while ago, and He set the example that I am to follow.
He's here now, actually, and I'd like to make Him proud. It's the least I can do, if we're talking about sacrifices....
I don't have any particularly deep thoughts again (uh oh, I see a pattern developing...); I just felt that today Pastor's sermon put an exclamation point on something that has been in my mind for a while- gaming. No, not football- video gaming. (Side note- there was a trailer at a local festival that was a roving video game trailer, complete with maybe 4-6 screens for gaming. PLEASE educate me in the sense of this: "Hey, son, let's put down the controller, get up off of the sofa, and go to the park festival today...to play a video game.")
I don't like speaking of things about which I have no earthly business "educating" anyone. What I write comes from the heart, experiences, or, to the best of my discernment, from the Big Daddy. I have no trouble writing about video games, since I was one of Digiland's great addicts. To sum up a potentially long story, my household only plays one game, an old strategy game from an old favorite genre. It is all that's left of the Digi Empire, and I feel sometimes that even it will disappear soon.
Anyhow, I am developing strong feelings against the current indoctrination of kids into the Happy Land of Gaming. I've already written about what I think of Guitar Hero (please, please argue with me how good a thing it is for our kids to sing about the Number of the Beast and Shout at the Devil. No, wait wait a second, parents, sing along with Metallica here: "Do my dirty work, scapegoat. Do, Do my deeds for you're the one who's shamed." Parents, time to get your heads out of the sand.) Ok, I'm sorry, I'm back now.
Something that we (I) have been sucked into is the graphics. We see things and can construct things digitally that are truly remarkable. But are they godly? My wife (bless her for her patience with me...) has an excellent thought on such things: would you be looking at this if, say, Christ was sitting next to you? Interesting. I don't need to add to that one.
A last point that just hit me today, and it's not so great, but I like to write these things out. Video games open up a world where we can do whatever it is we want to do, and we can be whatever we want to be. This is where things get a little tricky: combine amazing eye candy with fantastic (in a fantasy sense) images, lyrics, etc., and add a little be-what-you-wanna-be-ality, and you have a perfect opportunity for a spent soul, and time wasted. You see, I'm not so sure that I am supposed to be doing whatever it is that I want to do. Honestly, since when do I really know what is best for me? Just ask my waistline....
So then, the diversion is subtle yet amazingly deadly. I am doing what I want to do, which is undoubtedly not what I am supposed to be doing. The ultimate irony here is that if I did what I was supposed to be doing, the joy I would experience would be in multiples of what it is now. Go figure.
I beg you, and need to rethink myself, just what that "harmless" game that your child (or you, for that matter), just brought into the house. I've got $10 that says it is more than likely a wolf under that sheepskin.
What Did I Just Say?
Again, something is going on which is not entirely of my own doing. Who am I kidding: I have nothing to do with it.
Listen in as Lynne and I were standing in line at the store tonight.
I said, "You know what? I don't think Jonathan Edwards is my favorite anymore."
Lynne: "What? Why not?"
Me: "I don't think I should be in the business of condemnation."
Did you get back up on your chair?
Here's the deal: I don't think it's my place to do anything but look up, towards God: my own condition makes that pretty apparent to me. I am not the one to condemn others, nor shall I avenge myself. God has made it clear that everything that happens does so for the good of those who love Him, whether or not we see it, or will this side of heaven. He is keeping track of all things...including my things (uh oh).
What am I to do? Love the Lord. Look around at all that He has established for me. I need to communicate with Him, daily, by the moment, and learn His ways. He will always be faithful to me if I do His Will, and I will do that only if I know what it is. That will come by developing a deeper relationship with Him, which can only enlarge my capacity for, and my ability to, love God and others.
Don't get me wrong: there will be battle. There will be victories, and there will be (temporary) defeats. Where my focus is changing is that I don't need to worry about what verse I know and how it can be used to disprove evolution, or what Law exists to condemn various lusts. What I need is God. That's it. I need to be a conduit, a center from which God's love flows from Him, to me, and out to the world. Once that happens, all of the battle I could ever ask for will come, but that won't be my focus, and I won't need to worry.
There's a certain vigor that comes from worshiping God that I would have never seen coming. One becomes vibrant, energized, and filled with a zeal and security that nothing else can match. Men become more manly than they could have imagined, and women become absolutely radiant. Do you know why? Because that is the way it is supposed to be. The secret to life, full life, is living God's Will, via His love for us. No, it's not actually giving anything up: we get to gain what we are supposed to be.
So, again, I don't know what is going on, except one thing: I think I'm about to lose my membership to the Edwards Arrow of the Month Club. MAN, this month's was the Wrath one, too....
Any Ideas? Class? Raise your hands...
I'm not a hand-raising worshiper by nature (whether natural, or learned/forced, I'm not entirely positive at this point; I think Satan took the opportunity to kill my "hippieality" some time ago, and I now struggle to regain it). As a matter of fact, I'm pretty convinced that I've just recently been led to a more charismatic church (Pentecostal) for precisely this reason. What am I going to do about it? Well, probably what I do about many things that God puts before me with the intention of developing my potential for right living: I'm going to go sit in the park to study some kid throwing a temper tantrum (to refine my own skills), then go home and proceed to toss one myself. After I am done pitching my fit I will probably eventually attempt what I was asked to do, and find that it is not only pleasant, but actually adds more to my life, in areas that I never considered were even connected to the issue at the start.
I had a couple of pretty hefty discussions this weekend: what I am doing at work (a/k/a am I supposed to be doing this?); where my life is heading; what I have done for God, and what I can do; how my skills are being put to Kingdom use, if they actually are; what my "thing" is- you know, like soccer, trading cards, stamps, etc. I have many questions, and I'm sure that if I was actually paying attention and listening properly I would in all likelihood have much fewer of them. I am relatively certain that, for the finite amount of time that my brain is active, it is spewing out questions and more questions and situations and hypotheticals and theories and plans and schedules, while the answer is sitting directly before it waiting for the questions to stop flowing out so that it can have a turn speaking. As a matter of fact, the time I just spent writing this could have been spent absorbing some knowledge rather than complaining about the lack of it. Oh, great, here goes my head again...excuse me for a minute.
In short, here is my plan: stop thinking about the issue. In this week's sermon Pastor mentioned that we think too much (that statement, and the sermon, tie nicely into this point, but I don't want to go off course here), and I believe that it makes sense. If I was created to have a relationship with God, and that relationship involves serving His purpose (among other things), why don't I try spending more time actually discovering that purpose from its source? Interesting: more Word, more study, and more presence of God, and less fluff.
Regarding worship, I believe that a proper attitude and open heart will come naturally the deeper I get into Scripture. This will in turn help me to develop my relationship with God. This in turn will develop that "fear of the Lord," that awesome wonder. Back to Scripture. Interesting how that all works out, as if on purpose....
So stop today, as I will try, and look at: your spouse; your dog; your tree; your neighbor; your hand; the conversation you'll have with any one of those things (just be careful about talking to trees, your hand, or any volley ball named Wilson). Read a page or two of your Instruction Manual. Observe what is all around you, realizing that it is all part of a wonderful story made for you and your Creator, and knowing how solidly, deeply, and unconditionally you are saved and loved. Walk with God, talk with Christ, and be guided by the Spirit.
Hands will raise of their own accord.
The Big Daddy
Another victim day.
I don't like being the victim. I'm pretty intelligent, and I'm careful to do what is right, or at least honestly do what I think is right...usually. I am forever at odds with the business world because of its practice of lies, betrayal, and deceit, considered normal and all in a day's work. I love it when other "wiser" people call me naïve...but that's a story for another web page.
It's everywhere. So what does one do?
As a Believer, I have a few "fall backs" (for lack of a better term at this point. I'm a little weary, but need to get this out), some Truths. I'm not going to tell you that I like them all, all of the time:
Everything happens for a reason.
God's purpose is not to harm you.
God is beside you in all things.
The battle is not mine. Vengeance is for the Lord.
Bad things happen because of the Fall, and we suffer that sin today.
Our eyes are on eternity. This is temporary, a training ground of sorts.
Now that last one has something to it. The Believer's faith opens the door to eternity. We learn that these 70 or so years are to be cherished, for they are gifts from our Creator, and we are to be stewards of this planet, but our home is elsewhere. Granted, the vast majority of my pain has been mental and spiritual- I have yet to be homeless or without clothes or food- so I can't honestly say how I'd feel about this if I was without a place to sleep; I do know, however, that I have a Guide, a Companion, and a Father with me at all times.
The cool part about this stems from something I learned a sermon or two ago. We will be judged according to what we have done and said here on earth. We will be held accountable for everything we have done. In other words, that person I cursed last week- you know, the one who cut me off in line- that person is also a child of God, and I will have to explain myself in the future. The tongue that praises God should not be used to curse His children ("Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?!?"). Ouch.
Ok, that doesn't sound like the cool part. Here is the cool part: I am also a child of God, the Most High. I have the sword of the mightiest Warrior behind me, and the strongest Shield there is to protect my soul. Christ will not lose one of His faithful, and yea, that means me, so deal with it. I have a Comforter, and One who loves unconditionally. I have the ultimate Teacher, whose lessons will hurt from time to time, but who offers the best lessons nonetheless, for free. No, wait: not free. I get to love and be loved in return (oh, no! Not that!!): that is the fee. Let's face it: I am a turd (sorry about that, but I haven't found a word that quite describes how tiny, unworthy, unpleasant, and generally "looking up from below" I am. Please feel free to email me an adequate synonym). I am a sinner, yet have this tremendous opportunity? Slick.
Reeling it back in: I will hurt. I will suffer. There is no guarantee but this: I am loved, and will always be loved, and am always in the company of a most excellent and powerful God. I feel pretty good about that. And to those who cause me pain (I know this isn't 100% pure, but it offers some comfort to me now, today), you may be a power player, a bully, and a tough guy, but you should see my Dad...
I don't have any Deep and Important Things to write this time (and it can be debated whether I ever really do); I just have a thought or two about what I've observed.
I've been reminded this season of how we have turned rage, death and violence into things that are admired and praised. I see costume jewelry pentagrams (heartagrams- aren't they adorable???); black nails and hair; children who virtually shamble across the way, seemingly lost and aimless; the glory given to metal (both music and spikes), and the glamorizing of the symbols of death and disease (what have you seen lately that does not have a skull on it?). We flirt with demons on our t-shirts, dance with devils in our music, and overstimulate our senses with fantastic depictions of the undead in games and media.
Now, if I remember correctly, the devil's main goal is separating people from God. This separation results in misery, isolation, pain, and death, with a healthy smattering of various amounts of agony, abuse, neglect, suffering, anguish, tension, possession, and probably some itching. The crimping and/or severance of the lifeline to God is the point. My brokenness is Satan's victory. His ultimate objective is to drag us to Hell with him, then leave us in the fire.
So then, I can't help but think that in all of this dancing around Satan in the mall, movies, books and games, many people really are actually clueless as to what they're inviting, and with whom exactly the "Satanist" is claiming partnership. I've seen and heard: "Demons- cool!", "I'm a Satanist, yea!", or "I'm not afraid of Hell, or God." Who is that red tight-wearing, pointy-bearded, trident-toting... what? ...who? Who's afraid of that? I can take him- piece of cake! It's even easier if I have a priest or druid in my party, and that enchanted armor I received from that quest. The devil's not so scary. I'm not even sure he's real. And if he is....pfffft. No biggie. I lived through a broken home- what can scare me?
The Point? I don't know (I warned you). I guess it's this: live your life on your own, and reap the harvest of a season sown by Satan. If you already have, you might remember the first night you spent after your separation, in your empty home. No spouse, and the kids were taken away. Do you remember the first night that you couldn't kiss your children good night? I do. The Enemy was there. Or remember perhaps that huge fight, and maybe you were hit? He was there, too, leading the striking hand. Maybe you were the one doing the hitting: spouse, kids, stranger- it doesn't matter. He was right there guiding your aim, and laughing. There you go, buddy old pal o' mine.
That is the companion lurking behind the scenes in these end times. There is no added bonus, no power, and no glory. The Enemy's friends don't earn anything, meaning an addition of things considered positive or pleasurable: they acquire the lack of the things that bring life, and this void is readily filled with misery. This friendship is a disease that snuffs out the light of the soul. It is a restless, unquenchable thing, and it breaks the heart. It is the barren waste of endless unfulfilled needs.
But somehow I don't think "Buy Satan and Weep into Oblivion" will sell many t-shirts.
I can tell you this with much surety: God weeps for the Prodigal, my friends, and is waiting, bursting with a supply of hope and life for the ones who return Home. That tingling inside isn't just an emotional response: it is your soul recognizing a familiar Voice. It moves about sometimes, a quickening, as it senses its Father. It sings the song that resonates with its Source, and I can name that tune in two notes:
I am now reading Jeremiah, an outstanding book for someone (like me) who doesn't know too much about the prophets. The message is clear: you are in trouble, people. Imagine living back in those days. Israel was being taught, over generations, what their God was all about. Egypt, the Commandments, plagues, battles- all within a shorter time period than between Christ's time and today. Yet, time and again they fell, and turned to sin. They forgot their covenant with God, and paid the price, over and over. "This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the Lord; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood" (Jer 13:25). Uh oh. Imagine living in the days of the Old Testament, experiencing what the people of those days did, live and in person, and hearing, "And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things" (Jer 16:18).
I can't even imagine how Israel, with the lessons they were taught in their day, could relapse so quickly. "What were they thinking?!?" I say. "How can they be so stupid?!?" It simply doesn't make sense, when you have the rules right there in front of you.
Wait a minute.
Abortion. Pornography. Rampant divorce. My Precious 401K. Bail Out. Me Me Me.
Spare the Rod...
God's love is an excellent topic for outreach. Love can be felt and understood, but sometimes the most difficult thing to accept, or give.
It's also very politically correct and popular today, and that's not so excellent.
Love and acceptance can look a lot like affirmation and approval. And we like that. After all, who wants to be corrected? The danger, like we see nowadays, is that now everything is OK. "it's all good." As a matter of fact, I just might sue you if you hate me by, perhaps, telling me something I don't want to hear.
Love is kind, but it also teaches and corrects. We don't always appreciate our parents' correction, but we know it is for our own good.
I once read a statement that goes something like: is the Bible about something God did...once? Did He say, "oh yes, I did that and was like this, but it doesn't apply anymore, and not to you"? Of course not. So why would we think that we need to change some words around, lighten the blow, or skimp on some Scripture? Is it me, or is this blasphemy?
The Word of God needs no editing, no modernizing, and no spin for "today's youth." It reaches through all dialects.
In other words, it needs no help from you. Just speak it, all of it, in truth and love, and let it do the rest.
Church and State
I heard a phrase someplace this week, and though I can't remember the source, it left an impression upon me: "Church and State." Now, I know the usual context of the phrase...and I think that is what irks me.
What is the Church? Where do you fit in?
If you're a Christian, and if you're thinking about replying to these questions with an address, with a steeple in mind, and an envelope filled out, be careful. If that building burned tomorrow and your actions stood alone, without the support of an address, would anyone ever accuse you of being a Christian? Do you offer people a living, visible example of the Light you claim to represent (remember those little verses about the salt, light, city on the hill?)?
What have you done today, this hour, as one of God's representatives? How have you lived out your promise of new life, a vibrant life? This world is screaming for leadership and hope, people can't construct it on their own, and they need help. How have you helped shine some light on your slice of the planet?
We don't go anyplace to become holy. We don't gain forgiveness, godliness, or any points whatsoever by being in any building. We ARE the building. You, Christian, are a living Temple of God. Believe it.
Then act like you believe it.
As a Christian, I don't see how we can separate Church from State. Without God, there is no State. We are actually seeing it happen as time goes on, but we're not quite smart enough to look to history for the clues. Separation from God equals...well, the country today.
Amazing, too, that God has the most amazing, easily accessible, and fool-proof Bail Out Package....
Halloween, unknown year
Halloween again, and time to paint yourself bloody fang chin trickles, hang skeletons from signposts, and put demon sentries on your doorstep.
No, I'm not going with the flow for this holiday, either (surprise).
I dunno- there's something about the holiday that I am either seeing through, around, or failing to see at all. I am having a hard time taking out my little Satan doll, all cute and impish in his nice little red suit, pointy horns... and isn't that little trident so darling?!? I just can't see it anymore, and maybe it's because I understand that it isn't actually just a toy.
Sure, sure, I can see some amusement in masquerade parties- I think I'd be Spider-Man, myself. Bobbing for apples, socializing, etc. are fun: I get it.
(Fade to Overview)
Christians have what can be a pretty broad and easy principle to follow: either it's from God, or it's not. Just like Anakin said, "If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," or something like that: piece of cake. So then: there are things in this world that will either bring us closer to God's will and presence, or send us farther away, and our job is to try to steer away from the bad stuff. That is the not-so-easy part. (I'll be the first to admit: I've watched some movies that I wouldn't want to invite my Savior over to sit and watch with me, even with some nicely-buttered popcorn....)
In that light, what if someone dressed up as their sister, who happened to commit suicide by hanging? Oooooh, that's scary!
What about the drug addict, complete with needles sticking out of both arms? Ow, that's gotta hurt!
Do you have any gamblers in the family? What about dressing up as the kid who didn't have a good meal, or maybe suiting up as the bed with not quite enough covers to keep the child warm, because the gambler spent all of his/her cash on blackjack? Look, I even painted little shadows under each rib of the costume, for that cool hunger effect!
Ohh, wait, wait: a costume of the goalie that got a skate to the neck and bled out all over the goal crease, back-mounted goal included.
We love violence, wear pretty skulls on our clothing, and turn death and demons into fun playthings and romance movies. Satan isn't something to be feared anymore, and many think he's just an idea. Do this often enough, spread it all around long enough, and pretty soon we're dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight (the movie buffs will get that one).
Maybe it's just me, but I can't look at Halloween without seeing the unglamorous suffering part that the media doesn't glamorize. I can't say that I see anything funny about being kept up by nightmares. I wasn't amused my first night without my boys, during my divorce, when the Enemy was throwing a party for doing his part in breaking apart my family. I didn't particularly shriek like a schoolgirl with the thrill of having to sell my belongings piece by piece when I ran out of money for beer.
Paint me a party pooper.
This I Pray
Our Pastor is undergoing surgery tomorrow. I feel that I need to say something, although I'm not entirely sure what at this point. Please read on and bear with whatever course this rant takes….
I think that I need to pray for him, but additionally for everyone around him; and not that he doesn't fail to come out of surgery tomorrow, or that the surgery is successful in the long run, but that he, and all around him, will be at peace with the outcome, whatever that may be.
You see, I claim Christ as my guide and my God, and I understand that everything will work out according to His will, which is always better and more enriching than what I could ever accomplish on my own. I cannot pray directly for his safe return, because I feel that that would be immensely selfish; of course I wish it, but it doesn't seem right that my effort would be spent hoping and praying for what makes me happy. I know I know- that sounds cold, even for me, but it rings true.
The congregation prayed over him this Sunday, and it was powerful: God was there, and He smiled on all of us that day. Prayers were strong and sincere, and the Spirit was strong in the sanctuary. Pastor is a Good Man, a godly man, and a righteous leader- what I call one of the Church Heroes. He commands respect and authority, but also love and compassion. After the impromptu laying on of hands he said (more or less verbatim), "Now that is what the first century Church was like. Imagine what we could accomplish if every Sunday as like this!" He is absolutely right: what better way to emulate Christ and carry out His work than to actively care for one another. Novel idea.
So I pray peace for all of us. I pray peace and warmth for the Chief and his family. I pray that Pastor, and all whom he has touched in this world, be comforted in this time, and remember that photo that he has held up for us on occasion of the infant gazing at the person who holds him.
How Will They Know
Sometimes I ache. I might have mentioned it before, but sometimes I feel what seems to be the pain of my immediate area on me. It's very heavy, and not too terribly pleasant.
Why? I have no idea. I've had a bit of a "dry" summer (this site would've had much more content if I was "in a good place" this year. Maybe it was the Jonathan Edwards book I browsed through at the local book store. I can tell you that some of it originated from a pamphlet I received in the mail from an evangelist telling of the horrible state of the nation. I couldn't agree with him more; walk through your local mall and pay attention to what pictures sell all of the clothes, and the number of kids in the video game store compared to the book store.
You see, I think things are on a fast downhill slide, and I don't think people can see clearly enough to stop it. Oh sure, the economy stinks, but I tell you this: that reason is only a symptom, and no rebound from the recession will cure the illness. If anything, it'll make things worse: we'll see the money flowing again, be able to buy more plastic junk and tanning lotion, and think that this ability makes things A-OK. This will only lead down the path of more greed and more selfishness. Oh, and you better believe I'll sue the person who gets in the way of my journey to the Plasma Screen TV.
The point: how will they know that there is another way? Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with this because I'm new at this whole thing. I remember what it was like to sit at bars for hours. I know what happens at "bar time" and how people feel when it's over. I remember the Next Big Gadget to fill my emptiness. I see these things so clearly around me and want to scream at the masses because I know that it is just a small step to either side of the world, a hair's width between heaven and hell. I think someone said something like, "An eighth of an inch and heaven and earth are set apart." Where will they be tomorrow?
Where will that person you snubbed at the register be tomorrow? What will happen to that person, clearly in pain, after you tossed out yet another from that pocket filled with meaningless "How are ya" so that you wouldn't really have to find out?
I like the movie Crash for this reason. We don't know what will happen tomorrow (or in 10 seconds), and how what we do affects others.
So my point is How will they know? How will they know God, and His plan, if they never get a chance to see Him in action? A kind word, a polite gesture, a real "How are you?", an act of kindness to a stranger? Yes, it scares me, too, but you know what? Looking at it as I walk by with my hands in my pockets hurts, too. I get terrified sometimes of being left wide open, but there's that saying: "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for."
A new day, tomorrow.
Work, and perhaps an opportunity.
When the Incense Runs Out....
What do you do? I'll tell you what I did.
When all of the Paths to Enlightenment turn out to be dead ends, the Tao moves only in senseless circles, and I just can't store any more nameless rage away for that hapless person who crosses me.
The week of my conversion I spent talking to my father-in-law, my wife's pastor, and my wife at varying times throughout the week about the Stuff of Life: homosexuality, violence, evolution, etc. More endless questions: I am the Great Seeker of Things, and have been for almost thirty years. I accept nothing without proof, and must prove everything. I can debate anything, tear down anyone, and I don't lose.
That Thursday night we sat out on the porch and had a drink or two. More talk, more questions raised than answers offered- business as usual. My wife went in to take a shower, and I stood at the railing, tired and broken again, and I said, "OK God, I'm ready. Show me." And He did.
That night we wept, much as I am right now, at the joy of it all. I said repeatedly, incredulous, "I can have my peace now? I can. I get to have peace." So tired of searching for the Treasure. So much pain. Gone in an instant.
God gained another son, and I finally gained a Father. And all of the Answers I ever sought.
Ironically, my sister-in-law prayed for me all that day. She said that I was heavy on her heart, and that she needed to pray for me.
By the way, she was in labor at the hospital all day but wouldn't give birth until she thought she was done, if I remember the tale correctly.
I guess God gained two sons that night.
Show Me the Money
This is just a quick note this morning as I'm sitting here compiling some code.
All of the talk about money and the economy gets me wondering about the whole situation, and where we look for security. It's all around us: new stories abound with statements that clearly show that the world revolves around the economy, and that those little green pieces of paper will influence (determine) our level of survivability. As a side note: did anyone stop to ask, "Oil prices skyrocket? Why? Did it suddenly fall deeper into the ground? Did something happen that caused every oil-extracting machine to break?" It almost goes without saying that when demand rises, so do prices. Did anyone ever objectively sit down and look at that? "When you need it most, that is when we will make it most difficult for you to obtain." Wow.
Anyhow, take a look around you and find where the money is in your day:
When you harvested that tomato from your garden, where did the dollar bill fall out?
When you're around the dinner table with your family, sharing your day, where does the dollar sit?
When you walk over to your neighbor's to help him rake: what did that cost?
Where is the "Insert Coin Here" slot in the sunrise? Does the tree reach out its limbs for a donation?
Oh yea, I can hear the comments: "You can't eat without money." "Where did you get the table?" I'm not stupid, and I'm not trying to start a petty squabble over semantics. What I'm suggesting: there is another place to look for security: there is another source of happiness.
I'm sitting here looking at my new cell phone. It's basic. It's plain. It's a prepaid phone, which means once I exhaust the minutes I need to "refill" the phone with more. It doesn't have email (or maybe it does- I don't know) or a QWERTY keyboard like my previous phone. I have no idea of its features except that it has a "vibrate" mode, which is good because I think my hearing is not what it used to be.
And you know what: I don't need to know.
I remember the day when people knew where I worked, or where I was, and would reach me there (say...don't they still know?). I remember when it was ok to have to wait the ten minutes it takes to reach most of my destinations to tell me, or someone else, something. I remember, too, the day when people would deal with each other directly, even for the few minutes it took to buy a soda, without having to talk to someone else right then and there. I might also vaguely remember just doing one thing at a time...like driving.
As I'm reflecting on the past few months and what I've been led through, I believe that God has been pushing me through techno detox. I'm actually glad that I'm only now catching on, because I wouldn't have wanted the hassle of paparazzi or tabloids writing about how I didn't check my email on a given day. And, given today's world, I'd naturally have to label my situation some kind of Syndrome or other, and go into a Twelve Step Program complete with "Hi, my name is" stickers and all sorts of Prescriptions and Enya CDs- you know how that goes.
Some people, myself included, would not give a second glance at my previous lifestyle:
-my greatest goal not too long ago was to have enough computers so that my boys and I could play head-to-head online video games simultaneously;
-I spent countless hours eliminating all traces of Microsoft (successfully- yay!) from my computer and learning how to run all sorts of software and operating systems;
-there was hardly a day when the computer was not turned on at some point after work;
-I spent more countless hours researching various tools to "get things done."
(I think I've already outlined what's happened in the recent past so far, but as a quick recap: Xbox controllers falling apart; "loss" of Windows (and, thus, much gaming); discovery of archery; the Boy Scout Handbook; gardening; much more reading; two free pieces of exercise equipment; loss of Internet cell phone. Now I can add played guitar in front of a crowd- of course, I was only one of six guitarists in front of the congregation. Then again for a smaller group.)
"Well, it's the age of technology," you might say, and you are right: there are many benefits of this new age. But as I move through this period I can tell you that, truly, Satan is at work here. Just this weekend the boys and I were at a video game shop (buying trading cards) and I was almost repelled out of the store; there was some odd dark quality- desperation, a type of lust, or greed, not unlike what I've seen at a casino- that I can't quite pin down. Looking around at what I call "the pasties" I was almost overcome with the urge to run around and slap the games out of their hands and yell for them to run for their lives. Now I am in no way claiming any self-righteous "Oh my, I wouldn't be like those people" because I already have done it, or still do on occasion.
But things are different now.
What I have begun to ask myself is: how does this serve God and life? What I am doing, will it be/can I offer it up as a gift? Will it benefit anyone? Am I busy being productive, or just busy doing a bunch of nothing? I can hear those who know me laughing...or not, because of the hard and painful trip this has been for me and those around me.
I can't say that I'm the Gadget Guy anymore, nor am I the one who knows the most about the newest game, processor, or toy. And life is becoming sweeter by the day. (I made a new Flemish bowstring the other day, using a jig that I made by hand...but I did see the plans on the Internet: it felt like the first thing I ever made by myself. Another jig is on the horizon, and I'll use some dowels that the boys and I made from hand-stripped branches from the tree out back- pure sweetness.) I still have a multitude of traits that are, let's say...less than holy, but I still have some time left, and I'm not so sure God's done with me on this planet. Or He doesn't want me Up There yet. You choose....
For now, I will join the ranks of those who say, "You know, if we were supposed to..." by saying that if I was supposed to have an appointment book then everyone else around me would have a calendar of my appointments on their forehead.
Back to work.
Here's one for the Proud to Admit List: I rarely pray.
Now I mean real prayer, not the talking at God that goes something like: "God, please help me finish XXX: I'm having a hard time and need help," as we blaze along whatever trail we're traveling; or the "God, I'm behind on the bills. Please help the house survive through the winter," after we've spent way too much on Plastic Garbage for our annual Christmas idolatry. I mean a true, honest-to-goodness conversation with God. Not that my examples aren't sincere, but I have to wonder: if I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, would I have so much trouble that I feel enough desperation to send up a cry for help? And if I sought divine guidance before making just a few of my purchases, would I still be in financial trouble? Interesting.
Oh, now I know God is real and present, but, as my pastor says, do I know it? For, if belief means "by living," which he has also said (nothing like a pastor who tries to tell you what God is really like...sheesh), then would I really behave as I do? Is my busyness perhaps because I think I'm the only one who can do the job? Is my day a long list of the Conquerables, Measureables, and the Do-ables? Take a good, long look at that one.
No, I'm not happy about it, either.
I'm reading another John Eldredge book, which is rarely a "good thing" as it pertains to my comfortable Life Groove; he tends to mess things up for me. (My Christian life has been a series of weird experiences which I like to call God "blocking my nose and blowing into my mouth." I'll refrain from the story about that except to say that it leaves a lot of my (mis/pre)conceptions flying around for plucking from my being (as in clean the dusty house), and I grow a little "larger" I suppose, more aware of myself and the world, and God.) Anyhow, he discusses modern life and how perhaps we're distracted from looking inward, and we're increasingly busier and more preoccupied with useless things. It appears that the list of things we just "have to do" grows, and our available time shrinks.
This time, however, I have preempted the Ole Eldredge. I have already discovered this, and am moving out against it. Ha HA, Johnny old boy, I am wrecking my own groove this time!
Once again there has been a series of events in the past few months that I cannot ignore, not necessarily because they're odd per se, but because they're unusual in my own little life's sphere. I have to list them here because this thing that you are reading is actually my journal as well, for a while. These might not be connected, or even make sense:
No more Xbox
PC gaming to a minimum
Same operating system for more than a month
Gradual growing dislike of putzing around on a PC without a goal in mind
Dog almost got hit by a car (awesome story...for another time)- leash under tire
Making fire...almost. The smoke was impressive, anyhow
Plans to move to another, larger plot of land
Affinity for the countryside
Church youth ministry is important to our church (connected?)
Visit to Boy Scout store (connected?)
Whether or not these are connected, I can't say. What I can say is that this time I will take a step back to see these things before me.
There- much better. I have taken that step and now know nothing more than I did before I stepped backwards except that I have poor balance because I fell backwards and hit my head. Now I am clueless with a bump and a headache.
I would desperately like to have a guide here so that these aren't simply hobbies that will be dropped in six months, or yet another whim that I have talked myself into adopting for a time (yes, I love to learn, but my thirst in the past has not been easily quenched by a steady diet of any one thing. Good for the worldly type, but devastating to one who would actually master anything...).
I have heard of how God operates and actively in life today, right now, but I somehow think that I am missing the boat. I occasionally feel embraced by something huge, and can sometimes physically feel this thing I will call "hot" inside of me, in my chest, but I don't know what to make of it. I have a natural attitude of skepticism and doubt since I am gifted at talking myself into and out of things, such that I cannot tell what is genuine and what I have manufactured.
Sometimes I think that what I am getting is a little touch of God's love, and I don't yet know how to handle it. The tears that well up right now as I am trying to type which, of course, I am fighting, because that is what I do to protect myself (I am amazed at my own stubbornness and stupidity sometimes)- these evidence something great on the horizon. I am frankly scared witless, but not at things such as money or career. I fear the unknowns called security and peace. I fear stepping out, trusting, and being taken care of, and being cared for.
These are exciting times. I wouldn't yet call myself a man, but I am on my way. I have been called by the the Lion of Judah. I am brother of the Sons of Thunder. I am a father, husband, and a son of God. Some day I might even sing aloud in church, Pastor.
I'm going to pray, starting yesterday.
I've seen a couple of things this week that have caused me grief. Well, many things do, but one in particular stood out as not only a personal affront, but...a personal affront. Ok ok, so I took it a little personally.... Now for a story.
I witnessed someone doing what they weren't supposed to be doing, and then lying quite easily about what happened after they were questioned about it. "OoooOOOOooooh," you say, "like THAT never happens. Don't be so naive." Yes, I know it does, from Christians and atheists, pagans and priests. Let me tell you this as an aside- That--Never--Makes--It--Right, especially if you openly profess Jesus. That filth that gives God and us a bad name is everywhere, and it's infecting more and more people with increasing rapidity in our throw it away, anything goes society. This might sound self-centered-- or however it sounds, I really don't care-- but I (and other more "radical" Christians) have enough trouble keeping people listening to the Message without those who wear the uniform but forget which team they're on making life more difficult.
I imagine- no, I've spoken about- this very thing. People look around them at fast cars, computers, stocks, and jewels, and what others have done to get these things. They see the smiling gold-toothed grins of those reaping the benefits of the World, then look at the Bible, where often the only gold things seem to be the edges of the pages. Then consequences are weighed, and the Path is chosen. I know that the outer skin of life is not what it is all about, but the surface remains the same, and many people cannot get past that surface. We've been warned that people without the Spirit cannot see things of God, and it is so true.
Here's one approach in having conversations of this nature: I do good. I try to walk the walk and at the very least, if I'm not free of bruises, I can say that I can sleep well and peacefully. You scam, gossip, steal, and live to drink from one of those pinky-in-the-air champagne glasses that I can't fathom because I can't drink out of one without mashing my shnozola. You sleep in a king-sized bed next to the jacuzzi and dream of the Next Thing.
Now, I believe that only one of us can be right (that simple-minded black and white personality peeps out again), so what happens if I (the Christian) am wrong? Well, I rot. I could have had tons more stuff, done whatever I chose to whomever I wanted, with no eternal consequences. Nothing that I preached happens. End of the story. We can't say that I was miserable, because what I did throughout my life made me happy, so at least it wasn't a total loss. And I didn't miss out on any fun, in a sense, because I was content at the end of the day.
What if I'm right? Well, it'll be hell.
So we weigh it out simply, even making a pro-con list:
One day you're nicer to someone. It might lead to someone else being nice to you. Good deal. Good return on investment.
You swallow that lie instead. May taste foul and upset your stomach, but that day you discovered you'd been lied to- how did that feel?
Don't buy that Glittery Thing. Now you have a little extra moolah to spend on a trip or something. Repeat that thought a few times, then you have a bunch of extra cash. Now just keep forgetting to take that trip.
So you see, the things that the Weirdo Christian does don't make sense...but they do. Take one little step outside of yourself, and look at what you're doing. All of us, regardless of what faith, know what it's like to be hurt and stomped upon. We don't like it, and you know what? We are entirely capable of ending the misery, right now and today.
This rant totally sidesteps dealing with the actual issue of God and eternity, which are, of course, the real reasons for everything. I've been told that it is the Spirit that will open someone's eyes (or heart), and that nothing, really, is up to me. I have a difficult time with that sometimes (maybe today, maybe now) and need to grab at things, ways to make things better, and make people see. Just about every article I write includes some variation of "shaking people by the shoulders" so that they can "peek up and out" and see things differently. Am I arrogant? I don't know. I can tell you that almost every day I remember this phrase: "A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for." It actually gives me goosebumps. I crave the battle. Bring it.
...and maybe this is how God will work today.
I am not a prayer warrior, nor am I a nurturer. I am about as comfortable being like those types about as much as they are about being like me. I am an infant in this new world called Saved, and I'm not sure how well I am at doing in it. But I won't miss this chance to act.
"Better to ask forgiveness than permission." That is another of my favorites, and it probably will be the attitude that gets me into trouble, or maybe someone else will write about me saying, "You know what I saw this Christian do today"...
Everybody's doing it....
My hair bristles at that comment.
I have heard that a few times in my day: I have kids (although I could easily say that I have been around humans...). It came up until they realized how valuable I think being popular and going with The Flow are.
Let's take a quick survey. Relax: it's good for you, and at the very least it'll give you something to talk to your friends about later. Read the following keeping in mind this scenario: I just told you a story, and I am using the following reasons why the story is true.
A. It's in the newspaper
B. Channel 3 said it was like that
C. It was on The Oprah Winfrey Show
D. There was a documentary about it
E. Studies have shown this to be true
F. My dog liked it
I can sincerely tell you that I would be most likely to believe "F" over any other reason. Why, you ask? Ooooooh, I love talking! Here goes:
A. I have read articles in the past about an event that I attended, and the author ingeniously spun a web of subtle lies about what actually occurred there. If I wasn't there, I'd have believed the story myself.
B. ...is the video version of A. I would believe that the building was on fire if the reporter was standing in front of it while reporting, but little else.
C. Do I really need to comment?
D and E. I learned in college to be skeptical of any report or study because they are typically funded by someone. For example, a study of liver poisoning funded by a beer manufacturer might be slightly skewed or biased.
F. My dog has no motives more complicated than eating, pooping, and making me happy. Ironically the second motive counteracts the third pretty frequently, but hey, what can I do?
What? Only fools believe something because it's common or popular? It is obvious that something that is popular might not be a Truth?
A Great Wise Man named Jim Carrey said it best: "Nonsense, Poopypants!" Let me tell you just how obvious it is: today on the radio I heard that some part of Darwin's life's work was being released at blah blah and journal notes were available yaddah yaddah. The interviewer said (roughly), "Now, is it possible (meaning feasible/logical) to believe in God and evolution?" The interviewee's reply was (again, roughly), "Of course! Many people believe in God and evolution," as if that was a reason that they can coexist.
I am not in a position to argue evolution. What I am inclined to do here is argue the popularity angle. People, the fact that something has become popular with the world might very well be the first reason to question its validity (as it applies to Christians) in the first place! Think on this for a bit: how popular was Christianity say, oh, first century AD? Well, the lions were happy with it, I would imagine, but otherwise many many Christians were burned, beheaded, or otherwise martyred. If it was popular, would so much of the world, no- this country- be scrambling for a buck rather than a Bible? The stock numbers before the Scriptures? Wouldn't people spend more time looking up to God rather than looking down at themselves and how many fancy brand names they have tattooed all over their clothing?
Let me tell you that it may be funny that what comes to mind (to me) when you say "Prada" is that I think you have a cold and are talking about something that swims in groups and can devour a cow really fast as it crosses a stream, but I'm comfortable with it.
Please, people, please poke your head up and take a look around now and then. Compare what you think is true to the Scriptures, then rethink what you think you know. At least make a token gesture and read some of the red stuff near the back of the book.
I call on you to listen to the world around you with God's ears, and tell me what you hear. I call on you to walk your talk: "better is one day in Your house than thousands elsewhere..." yea yea, I've heard the singing- now prove it.
You saw that mother rip her child up at the store yesterday. What are you going to do about it?
Did you rave on about the newspaper article about that stabbing this morning?
Oh yes, the world is going down the tubes, and oh my goodness, it is so dangerous to walk around at night.
Oh my dear, the accountant was caught doing XXX with my profit sharing plan, how awful!
Look up, stand tall and firm, and know that one person- just you- canandwill make a difference on this earth. You may not get to know when it happens or what it is, but if you expect to know, then perhaps you should make a list of what the universe's Creator can do for you today. Rub rub, Genie.
What are you prepared to do about it? It's on now. I challenge you to do something about it.
My God can do it- can yours?
The New Geologist
Being a new Christian, I am often amazed at what I see and hear around me. Many days
I am hit with one "aha moment" after another. My days have also been filled
with great joy, and pain, as I walk among the crowd at the mall and marvel at
how life moves along. I like the ability of stepping up and out of the tedium
of life and looking around at the world (but I don't necessarily like the condition
of it itself), which is often accompanied by the urge to scream out, "It doesn't
have to be like this!!!" I fear losing this...zest, or zeal, or whatever you'd
like to call it. I don't want to be "normal" again. But I digress. (Note: I have always
wanted to use that little phrase, especially since I started wearing my new glasses.
There. I did it. I didn't really like it, and I don't feel that I have to do it again.)
Something that amazes me the most is that, since I began walking with God, things really appear
to be lighter, as Jesus said (go figure). My outward appearance screams otherwise quite frequently,
but internally I have been given this surety that I cannot fully explain, an internal compass and
advisor. Yes yes, I know, it's called the Holy Spirit, but I try to stay away from the "technical"
terms and phrases, and here's why: back in my day I could Catechism your socks off. Eleven years of
parochial schooling meant volumes of vocabulary words and more stand-kneel-sit than the ToughSkin Denim
Pants Durability Testing Robots do between maintenance. I will call it "chasing the wind." Also, using too
many words that everyone (should) understands takes away from the life of the tale. Those, however, are stories
for another day. (I appear to be accumulating stories for other days.)
Anyhow, my point is that not only have I been saved in the "traditional" sense, but saved from being tied up in the
apparent "complications" of everyday life. I am one of those "black and white" types (and soooo grateful for it) as it
is, but things are even clearer now, without a series of rationalizations. I can stand all day, every day, upon the rules which
I have been given; they will not change with the talk show host or the editor of the local newspaper. Now that is a Rock.
Oh, don't go saying, "Well, it must be nice to have such an easy life" (Yes, I've heard that before). Life is in no way easy:
try to stand up for yourself and for God and see where that goes; live just one day trying to apply godly principles to what you do,
what you see, and where you go, and what you say, then tell me it's easy. We were never told that it would be easy.
What we were told is that we would never be alone. If we chose, we would always have a Father and Guide, a Shoulder and Comforter.
We have the privilege of having a God that not only has given us rules that are established to help and protect us (in spite of, and often from,
ourselves), but has also died to supply the pathway to peace.
"...then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.... But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15 NIV)
You'd better believe it.
Microsoft does not exist. Yesssssss!
Those of you who know me (or have spent more than a minute navigating this site) know why I'd react like that.
Here's the reasoning: my programs don't always do what they're supposed to, and my computer crashes
whenever it feels like it; therefore, Microsoft does not exist.
Ridiculous! Why? Firstly, I do not run Windows, so I would not be complaining of a crashing computer
(heehee). Secondly, just because I have problems with the computer doesn't mean there's no operating
system on it. Of course there's an operating system on this computer, and every other
computer: I hear others yelling at their computers as well (heehee x2)!
So how can I make a statement like that? I can't. Now try this: there's war, violence, and hatred
on the planet; therefore, a loving God can't exist. I have had quite a few discussions about what's
right or wrong with the world, and why this and why that. "If there was this loving God..." and
"Well, if God really cared..." are pretty popular. These feelings are undoubtedly real, and valid.
The problem is that we bundle them all together, then throw God out the window along with the issue.
(Related to this line of thinking is the claim that there is no Being, no created Right or Wrong
which is separate from us and our existence, but it is not right to slap another person around.
Of course it is! If there is no Right, then I define it myself, just as you do. Neither is
better than the other, and both are fine. Slap away!)
To make sense logically we can say, "I don't like God because He allowed my friend to die." "I refuse
to worship a God that punishes me for obeying my natural, physical instincts." See, those make sense,
and they're frankly more honest.
This writing is a little disjointed; I'm having trouble piecing all of my thoughts together. I suppose,
if I had to summarize the whole idea, it would be similar to this: take ownership of your dislikes and
gripes. If you choose not to follow Jesus, own it honorably at least. It will only help to maturely look at
the issue and sincerely try to work out the problem. Don't blame the weather, the economy, or
vagaries like ignorance or education.
More on this in another sitting.
Light thoughts today, easy on the conscience: 1 + 1 = 2, and 1 x 2 x 2 = 4. I can
apply this to business: buy a good product, then tell a friend. They tell their friends, then suddenly a corporation is born,
from one bright inventor.
If your still with me, let's apply this principle elsewhere. This is fun; you'll love it. Choose from one of the following:
Hey, need help with that?
Nice work on that project.
You look great today.
No no- you go first.
What if you did one of those things on the list today? What if you really put yourself out on a limb and did it twice??? Here's the math: you help two people = 3. They help two people each = 7 (I'm not going any farther because my head will hurt). Seven people infected, in your immediate area, just because you gave a little extra twice. I like those numbers.
Somewhere in the world, right now, a little boy is crying, afraid and alone. You see, he's a little...odd, because he's good in school, and not so good in sports. As a matter of fact, the other day he had the misfortune of running in front of what would have been the Mightiest Kickball Homer Ever; he came to on the tar of the schoolyard a few minutes later. He's a little overweight, too, so the others pick on him. Today he was spit on by a circle of his friends after a game of basketball, and he's not sure why.
His dad tells him he's smart but, you know, you don't have too much common sense. I remember when I ... and the rest is lost. When blood denies blood, there exists no comfort. The first bricks of the highest, mightiest wall of the heart have been laid today.
Dad's not entirely to blame: he had a rough day; he was working on a project that fell through. His boss scoffed at his ideas, and he was forced to use the office butt-kiss' project plans instead. He knew his ideas were better, but he just wasn't "political" enough to win the admiration of the boss. No matter, an empty career can be filled easily enough by a full bottle. That Smitters, that brown noser...
...can't seem to find rest. Yesterday's yoga was relaxing, but the peace left with the night's sleep. Maybe I need to meditate longer. Or in the morning, too. C'mon, Smitters, positive thinking. I landed that project at work today; I just need to build my positive energies up more to last the whole day. Smitters again enters the trance that will bring Nirvana.
One kid says that it's OK, let's get an ice cream.
One father tells his son that he's got what it takes to make it, even if he fails.
One vote of confidence at the water cooler.
One person to tell him about Jesus.
Do math again, and tell me it's not worth the effort.
Where is God in this day? Where can you see God at any point in your world?
I sat in the waiting room looking around and pondering these things. Now, I am no sage by far. I have not studied
any history, in any depth, for the answers to the questions I will ask, so perhaps that makes me a fool. So be it.
Someone will surely email me with the answers to my questions to put me back on the right track.
I've read some religious fiction in the past, and in it I noticed that people (in "ancient times") appear to have walked
with the Lord, in public, nonetheless. I assume the author was at least a little accurate because I've seen such things in
movies as well.
I also recall reading some articles from more recent historical American documents containing phrases like "...endowed by our
Creator" and "God Governs in the affairs of men." I will assume that they are accurate since they are perhaps 300 years old
What happened? Did we grow up, or think we grew smarter? Was I the only one who was not given a Bible upon which to rest my hand during
the "Do you swear to tell the whole truth" part of the court proceedings, or do we all find them unnecessary today? Did
those (ancient and not so ancient) people actually walk around with God spilling out all over the place like that? Where
were their lawyers? Surely someone got in trouble for letting God spill all over the ground like that.
Did the truth change? Can we even pay God the lip service of closing stores for a Sunday afternoon?
I sit here looking around, and I do not see a single overt sign of God in this small chunk of life. Of course the fish tank
speaks of His creation, but nothing else. Where did He go? On the table I see People, Sports Illustrated, Woman's Day, and
Oprah. Where is the Bible? The Cross? The ichthus fish? Bread and a cup, perhaps?
I see Babel, a sprawling irreverence, our arrogance laid out along endless miles of terrain rather than a tower. Good thing
I'm not in a big city- then I would rail against the skyscrapers (I need a thesaurus. I really like that phrase). And
believe me, I wouldn't put it past myself to shake my fist at one in outrage.
Sure sure, the Church is in the people, not the places. I know. I've read the articles explaining that we are the living
Church, the evidence of God. Well, stand for 5 minutes in the middle of your local shopping mall and tell me I am wrong in saying
that I frankly am left wanting in that department as well.... We look down at the floor. Or we stare each other down,
daring the other person to get close to us, to our hearts. We stave off anyone approaching our soul, which is the very
thing that sends us out into the world, but we don't see. That surround sound system will not solve that hurting, Seeker.
We have lost sight of our Purpose and our Comfort, and are left scrambling for whatever makes us feel safe and happy.
I read Prophet
by Frank Peretti last year. In it is a man who hears the pain of the city, the cries of people's souls. I can't hear the
people at the mall, but I see them, and it doesn't take much effort to "hear" their cries. I once told a coworker that I
weep after every "religious" discussion I have at work, and there are many. (In them I typically take the role of Radical
Christian Zealot-- nobody wants that one-- and usually the other person gets to feel that they "won" because my views are
so naive and out of sync with the daily newspaper and Oprah that I can't possibly know what I am saying.) Sometimes it is
only internally, but no less painful. (I think God has done this to me on purpose, frankly. Thirty-six years of a hard
heart apparently calls for a crash course, Random Compassion Revelations).
I can tell you that if I were to stop and truly look around the mall, I would weep for them, too. And I have, but it is in
quiet, in the closet and the dark, because I am staving you off as well, my friend. Don't get too close.
...I can only imagine the weeping of God.
Can anyone who sees you in public accuse you of looking like a Believer?
(I apologize for that roller coaster there. After rereading this entry, which I probably shouldn't do, I noticed it wasn't
too terribly coherent.)
Recently a video was released of a teenage girl being beaten by six other teenage girls in
someone's home. The beating was purposely planned and videotaped, with the person recording the beating
occasionally cheering on. One friend was outraged: "What is happening to the world nowadays?!?
Can you believe what is going on?!?" This was joined by others tsking all over the place, while others announced what they would do in a situation like that, and how many options this girl could have explored in freeing herself from this situation, and what common household items could
have been employed as weapons (it didn't take too long for you to figure out that this conversation occurred in a room full of men, did it? I didn't think so).
Then back to life as usual. Back to Oprah. Back to the Scramble for the Ultimate Plastic Toy. Back to sin as usual.
I have a vision of grabbing people by the shoulders and shaking them, yelling, "Can't you see?!? This is here, now, and you can do something about it!!!" No no no, O Naive, Overzealous Christian, the world's problems are in the Out There. They exist in this External Thing that we rail against, feign exasperation, and then move along. We ourselves know better. We would never do these terrible things to people.
"Oh, I don't think God meant that."
"The priest never mentioned that part, so I don't think it's the truth."
"Well, I saw this documentary that said this, not that."
"I tell you what, I don't think God would say that. I don't think it's like that. I know better; I've been around, you know. I'm not naive."
We have taken God and run Him through our Life Mold, scraping off the parts with which we disagree, or are unable to face with a smile. We pull Him out on occasion, perhaps for a catchy Scripture verse, especially when we
agree with the verse (I really love the use of the "do unto others" verse, near the very top of the Hackneyed and Neglected Phrase List), then stuff Him back into our special Sunday Pocket...and sin. Our God has been torn up, molded, refinished, and repainted in our image. Idolatrous.
I'm all about repentance and wrath. I want to be Jonathan Edwards when I grow up. Just listen: "The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood" (from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741). Am I the only one with goosebumps here? How can you not at least appreciate that? I think today we are all concerned with love, and not concerned enough with justice and, honestly, fear of the Lord. But that is a story for another time. Today I will just breeze by the point, perhaps tickling your curiosity (or anxiety) enough to look deeper into life- your life.
My turn for a verse: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (Mat 23:37, NIV).
He is waiting for you now, and longs to comfort and instruct you. It just takes an open mind and heart, and the realization that oh yea, we sin too.