Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The key moment of Christmas

Assuming that my little but loyal readership is filled with adults, I ask this question...when and/or how did you learn there was no Santa.

I was talking with my wife, Mary, recently about such things and I looked into the far-distant past for this anecdote.

I was 8 years of age, which I think is somewhere about the appropriate age. I was in West Virginia for the Christmas season, maybe a week, with snow ordered and delivered. I was told to go down to the basement of my Aunt Elsie's house and get something out of the suitcase. There I found a transistor radio, which was my desire and my question of Santa. I thought for long minutes about this, and with my cousin having blabbed earlier and my parents having denied the cousin's statement, thing began to click into gear. I went upstairs and asked, and just like that there was no Santa. It was like a very quick, without drugs, operation. One minute I had Santa. The next I didn't.

My life wasn't changed. I wasn't a new person. The Christmas gifts didn't change; they still came. Only the one giving them changed, and that was only in my mind.

There's a bigger change I want to talk about. Does anyone remember with the same clarity the moment they came to Christ?

Isn't that what these holidays should be about? Shouldn't we be telling our kids, our grand kids, our friends and our neighbors about that moment?

Just asking.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Coming and then going

Today I'm going to begin a journey with my readers, a journey into the past, my past, everyone's past in some ways, as well as look ahead to the coming again of our Lord, Jesus. I'm going to muse about this journey we take together for the season of Advent, which in itself is a self-contained look back and a wistfully wonderful look ahead. Advent means coming, speaking of our Lord's first, then second coming. But there's no doubt that for me it's about reflection, coming and then going.

Five years ago last Friday, the 25th of November, I bent over, slipped through a barbed-wire fence and walked through pasture-land to the edge of a hill. The drop wasn't a large one, but the hill led to a huge, flat pasture split like a vein in an old arm by a creek. It wasn't painting-pure, postcard scenery, but I loved that look and had for years. There were times when, life being what it's always been, I almost crawled back there to take a few minutes to push reset, to reboot my being. When I walked back there the morning of the 25th, in 2006, I walked back there for the last time.

See, my mother was ill. Deathly ill it turned out. She had lung cancer. We sold her six acres, gave bits and pieces of her "stuff" to the kids and packed up the rest ourselves. The computer with which I'm doing this pondering sits on a desk that came from her house, a desk given to me when I was in high school eons ago. She had moved to an assisted living home just a month before we divided the property, and we sold her house, "our" house in record time.

We cooked and ate Thanksgiving dinner that year, a slimmed down meal at that, and proceeded to pack up life, or what had been all our lives, the rest of Thursday as we prepared for a Friday departure. U-haul was our friend.

So there I was on Friday, looking at the place where I killed my only squirrel (and regretted it to that day), the place where I went swimming in the creek with Lynn Pratt, the place where we called cows (before their "eat more chicken" phase), the place where we walked on pine straw and imagined space invaders, walked on grass with eyes wide and alert for copperheads or moccasins, the place where we grew emotionally and even physically over years of play. I looked at the land as mist lazily rose from it, covering the postcard with a surreal, even somber dusting on that cool morning. I tried, successfully it seems, to freeze it in my memory as if I had many mega pixels to work with in my tired, old brain.

Then I, we, walked and then drove away. I haven't been back. I don't think I really can, though my cousin I'm now told had purchased my mother's house as well as all the land.

My mother passed away about a month later, Dec. 23, 2006, and our lives certainly changed. No more driving to her house for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. No more dead-sleep naps, as my grandson Gavin described a cat's drowsy moments last week, on her couch after loads of heavy "dressing" and often dry turkey. No more moments with her. Holidays sometimes make me cringe, having lost my childhood home around Thanksgiving and my mother around Christmas. It is what it is.

And certainly no more gazing, peacefully, securely, wonderfully at that land crossed by a barbed-wire fence, dissected by tall oak and pine soldiers, and a creek that has become overgrown by bushes and tragically dried to to point that no one in his or her right mind would ever consider wading in it. Heck, snakes must have packed their tiny bags and slithered away rather than call Ponta Creek their home any more. We've all aged and weathered and moved.

Five years come and gone.
Five years.

Advent is a time of reflection, of staring at pasts good and bad and remembering. It's what I used to use the hill and the valley for. God promised, through the boy-king David's writings, that he would walk with us through those valleys.


Driving the grand kid boys home on Thanksgiving, I began a rousing rendition of "Over the hills and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go."  Four-year-old Gavin said, "I hate that song."

Everything changes, my friends. Everything. We come and then we go. We arrive and we depart. We are born, then we die. We are togther, then quickly apart. We are. We aren't.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday indeed

So, we've lived (apparently) through another Black Friday. My wife, sick though she was, left the house somewhere around 3 a.m. and returned somewhere around 5:30 a.m. The dogs decided barking at a complete stranger they see every day would be appropriate. It was seasonably cold this morning before daybreak, so said my wife the sick one, and she had to stand in line (have I ever mentioned how much I detest lines?) outside a JC Penney's to get monumental savings on a gift for a granddaughter.

My daughter and son-in-law are maniac about this day. They plan, like fishermen with their thoughts of where the best fishing would be, and keep totals of their savings as they march (run, fight, tussle, strike) with others who have done the same. I suspect the game-plans for the Saints and the Giants this Monday night are not as elaborate as their plans for purchasing at cut prices were. Each year they nap, rid themselves of children (no, they don't kill, just ship them off), and prepare apparently by doing breathing exercises and sit ups so they can fight off those other dastardly customers. One story was told of a dive into a pet pillow only to be covered in pet pillows as other customers thinking mistakeningly that the pet pillow was on sale when it was not began their dive as well. One can come up with a pulled hammy easily as one tries to save $19.95 a purchase. And one hears that the economy is dead because people won't buy things. One would be nuts in that regard.

I don't get any of this, since those savings are routinely available in July at a decent hour, but mine is not to reason why, I'm told. I still maintain that nothing good happens between midnight and 6 a.m. I remember those hourse vaguely through another set of red eyes from days gone by in another life that I, again, can barely remember. But my lot now is to support their wise, economical choices. So I'm doing that, while sleeping the night away (minus time going back to sleep with the dogs' coming and going).

I do wonder, however, (and this is the point) why this is called Black Friday if the savings are so good in a similar manner to why greatest Friday of them all, that day Jesus hung on the cross bloody and in tremendous pain before dying for all of us, is called Good Friday. Part of me thinks we should start an Occupy Friday movement and reverse the names. I'll dream about that tonight, possibly, as I get a full, complete, uninterrupted sleep.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Be REAL thankful

We pick out a day to be thankful, and most offer up thanks to something or someone of their choosing. We do. And things go swimmingly at the homes of families across the nation.

But today, for a few minutes as my wife lays in bed with a stomach virus and two loud grandchildren are pouring their voices into the leaves outside my office window and plans for a family sit down go awry, I want us to remember those who are thankful but have so little.

We in this country, as we have habit of saying, talk about what we're thankful for, but we really, really don't know need, even the poorest of us. Our entitlements and such give us a chance, a real chance, to live if not advance.

But in nations around the world today, they are hungry. Just hungry. As we give large turkey bones to the dogs, as we throw out what would feed a family of 20 in the Sudan, as we forget what we've been given by a loving and caring God, let us slow down for a second.

Today as we claps hands for the first time in a while and we lower our eyes though our children know little of what it is we're doing, let's remember that we have been blessed in whatever it is we have.

As Peter once said words to this effect: Where else would we go, Lord?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tim Tebow and Jake Plummer

Okay, maybe you saw (or care) about the comments former Denver Broncos (NFL) quarterback Jake Plummer said about current Denver quarterback (and wonderful Christian spokesman) Tim Tebow of yesterday.

Plummer said, "Regardless of whether I wish he'd just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates, I think he's a winner and I respect that about him," Plummer told XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix on Monday.

Sounds okay, so far, huh?

Then ...
"I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ then I think I'll like him a little better," he added. "I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff."

I could say a lot of relatively meaningless things, but I'll let Tebow speak first. "Well, first I'd say, thank you for the compliment of calling me a winner and then I'd also say if you're married and you're a [husband] is it good enough to only say you love her on the day you get married or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and have an opportunity? And that's how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the most important thing in my life so anytime I get an opportunity to tell him that I love him or give him an opportunity to shout him out on national TV, I'm gonna take that opportunity. So I look at that as a relationship that I have with him that I want to give him honor and glory anytime I have the opportunity and then right after I give him honor and glory, then I want to try and give my teammates honor and glory and that's how it works because Christ comes first in my life. Then my family, and then my teammates. So I respect Jake's opinion and I really appreciate his compliment of calling me a winner but I feel like anytime I get the opportunity to give the Lord some praise, he is due for it because of what he did for me and what he did for us on the cross for all of us."

I have to say that that is the absolute best defense of one's love of Christ that I've ever seen.
Absolute best.

I understand the reasoning of those who are not Christian who don't want "others telling me what to believe." I understand it. It's just wrong. No Christian should ever tell anyone "what to believe." Jesus himself didn't do that. He simply offered. Telling someone else what you so passionately believe isn't telling someone else they must believe it. Is it okay to believe that will help someone if you do tell them? Not only is it okay, but Jesus did tell us to go and make disciples. Will telling someone how very much we believe help them to believe it? I sure hope so. I should do that more with my children, my grandchildren, my neighbors, my friends, my enemies.

Tim Tebow has a stage, THE stage for a little while. For him to let everyone know how blessed he feels is to BE a Christian. He gets it. He gets that despite a large salary, despite getting to play a game he loves, despite three-fourths of the world telling him and everyone else that he can't do what he does successfully, he would be nothing without Jesus.

That's Christianity. And anyone who believes that should know there will be detractors, even haters of everything we are and everything we believe.

Just like football, Tim Tebow says bring it on in a gentle manner. So, frankly, do I.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Peace versus risk

Imagine a beautiful moment out on a peaceful lake. No murmuring of persons from your work about your work. No screaming kids, barking dogs, yaking yakkers. Peace. Maybe even a drip of fog as the morning sun rises above your tranquility.

Peter, bored, tired, worried, scared perhaps, wanted such a morning. Jesus had died, been buried and Peter's dreams had gone into the tomb with him. So, Peter decided to do what Peter does or did before the young Nazarene came into is life: he went fishing on Lake Tiberius (or as most of us know it today, the Sea of Galilee).

While there, he had one of those mornings. He was full of peace, though his nets were not full of fish. He understood this life. He knew what and how to do the next right thing when he was fishing.

But no fish. And it was noticeable. at least to a young man who hollered at the boat of fishermen, "young men, haven't you caught anything?" The man told them to throw their nets on the right side of the board and they would catch some. The men did. And like it had happened once before, suddenly they had fish.

Long story short, Peter recognized Jesus, the risen Lord, and flopped his way out of the boat and onto shore to have some breakfast with him.

My point is this: Sometimes even our greatest ministry ideas go belly-up. We fail. We risked and we were turned away. The question then becomes what to do next? Do we go back to what we knew before we risked everything? Or do we look for the young Galilean on the beach to restore us and prep us for new ministry, new ideas, new disciples?

The question comes up weekly, doesn't it?

Monday, November 21, 2011

A wonderful weekend?

Okay, I'll admit my stupidity, quite humbly I might add.

I don't understand the protests, the Occupy protests. So I went in search of meaning for my meager readership.

First, I understand that what started as Occupy Wall Street, a grassroots protest meant to draw attention to corporate greed and unequal distribution of wealth in the United States, has grown, with mirror protests popping up in Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Los Angeles.

To some, this proliferation makes the effort appear a bit more legit. Critics scoffed as they watched demonstrators gather in New York City’s Zuccotti Park with homemade signs opposing a broad range of issues – from tax breaks for the wealthy, to student loan debt, to nonspecific concerns like “unemployment.” To them, Occupy was a bunch of noise with no focus, accomplishing nothing – hubbub without substance. But as the protests have stuck around, and spread, the collective anger of those taking part has become more tangible.
Supporters say that even though the Occupy movement doesn’t have a formal list of demands, it has already achieved what it set out to do – a broad demonstration of frustration that’s as inspired as much by the sit-in protests of the 1960s and ’70s as it is by the “Arab Spring” uprisings that sparked revolutions against dictators in the Middle East this year. Organizers in New York initially planned their occupation to last for two months – almost a month in, they now say their stay will be open-ended.

So, the 99 percent (Americans among the non-wealthy) is protesting that the one percent is gaining and continuing to gain all the wealth. I get that. I do.

The point I don't get is what they hope to accomplish, what is the demand they want accomplished? Do they think their protests will result in the one percent giving up their tax loop holes or their wealth? Really?

With colleges protests, I understand the need to graduate with some freedom still available. Have student loans forgiven. It doesn't make sense that one can get overwhelming debts discharged through bankruptcy, but not student loans. Young graduates are the new indentured servants, working all their lives to pay off debt accrued before they get started.

But nothing explains to me why police are doing what they're doing with the protesters. The video of the police pepper spraying the students in California or the other video of protesters being hit in the stomach with batons simply runs chills down my spine.

The video, which shows the officer using the spray against Occupy protesters Friday, went viral over the weekend. On Sunday, the university placed two police officers on administrative leave while a task force investigates. The clip probably will be the defining imagery of the Occupy movement, rivaling in symbolic power, if not in actual violence, images from the Kent State shootings more than 40 years ago.

So what does this all mean? I'm still not sure, hence my stupidity.

I read this morning that one of the proposals to cut some of the budget, something that must happen no matter which party you belong to, was to eliminate a tax loop hole that the wealthy have for buying personal airplanes. The whole thing fell apart because of that.

Seriously, where are we in this country? Airplane loopholes and pepper spraying. What a weekend.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jesus weeps, still

The shortest line of scripture in the Bible is perhaps the most poignant: "Jesus wept." It when Jesus shows up after his friend Lazarus has died. Lazarus' sister, Mary, says to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."  Jesus' reaction? He wept.

What have you done recently that might have caused the Prince of Peace to weep?

Jesus weeps when children are abused, sexually and otherwise. He weeps when we're so filled with greed that the world suffers because of it. He weeps when we, the most powerful and richest nation on the planet can't make sure that every child in the world goes to sleep each night having been fed. He weeps when he sees how we've wrecked what he created.

Jesus weeps and will continue to weep until people look into their hearts and souls and resolve to become genuine Christians.

I believe Jesus weeps when we don't show him gratitude, when we don't show him adoration, when we don't obey, don't help, don't try.
When will we stop doing all we do that causes him to weep? Perhaps when, as Jesus did after weeping over his friend Lazraus, the stone is rolled away again and Jesus emerges as King of Kings.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beautiful words

In John's Gospel, we're told of Jesus' teaching about the Bread of Life and the subsequent teaching of this: "I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them to life on the last day."

The crowd went wild in celebration, right? Uh, you'd be wrong there.

The Bible says many of his followers heard this and said, "This teaching is too hard. Who can listen to it." Because of this, the scriptures say, many of Jesus' followers turned back and would not go with him any more.

We've dabbled in the past two years, since I retired on Nov. 14 2009 from another job, another life in journalism, in Jesus' teaching. Many who hear his teaching after 2,000 years still think the teaching is too hard and refuse to listen to it.

Here's the shocker. It is hard. There is nothing easy about the life of Christianity. I heard someone at a service I was preaching at last night for the community in which we live say that he believed there were raises coming for everyone there. Raises.

I wish I not only could believe that, but could find that in scripture. I don't believe it. I don't think Jesus teaches it. And as John Wesley said, reason would dictate that is not one of his tenants since so many not only have not have raises but no longer have jobs.

Instead, what I believe Jesus teaches is that though we lose jobs and don't get raises even that can be turned to the good for those who love our Lord.

If we simply wait for all the good things to come and they always come, that isn't a very difficult teaching at all. The numbers would swell. People would get behind Christianity in a new way, the way of the blessing. Oh, that's the prosperity gospel, isn't it?

Jesus asked his 12 disciples if they would want to leave because of the difficult teaching. Simon Peter answered, "Lord, to whom would we go. You have the words of eternal life. And now we believe and know that you are the Holy One who has come from God."

That's the prosperity that Jesus taught. He is the one, the only one, who has these words and they words are about eternity, not prosperity as the world sees it.

Tough teaching? Perhaps. But beautiful are the words of the one who brings good news...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Choices matter

It seems to me that in the very long run, life, religion, economics, finance, health, and everything I can't think of right now that will come to me later is about choices.

The best choices, I think, are the ones that keep us on the path that God has laid out for us. But ultimately, choices good and bad are what spur that life along.

Someone once said, There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it's easy."

This past weekend, the Atlanta Falcons' (NFL football team) coach Mike Smith had a choice. In an overtime game with the New Orleans Saints, he had a fourth-down and one yard to go on his own 29-yard line. In essence, the choice was go for it with the outcome being make it and continue to have the football in his team's possession or not make it and essentially lose the game or he could punt. After much deliberation, he went for it. And his team did not make it, and it did lose.

Now, having not made the first down, people all over the nation have called him dumb or reckless or names I can't use here. If he had made it, he would have been called brave and a real man and all sorts of names I can't use here.

I've thought about that much since. Is it only the outcome that determines whether a choice is a good one or not?

Someone once said, "Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely."

I think that with everything we have a choice. Some choices made are brave ones that fail. If we're really intent on growth, we try to understand why they failed and we put ourselves in a position to make those same brave choices but have them succeed. If we're not intent on growth, we simply play it safe the rest of our lives and never make braves choices.

Having said all that, let me point out that to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, not only as Savior, is a risky, rebellious, ragamuffin way of living. It is a brave choice, no matter the outcome. We choose to suffer. We choose to do the hard thing. We choose to carry crosses. And sometimes we even choose to knowingly, seemingly fail by the world's standards.

Jesus himself said,  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Today you have little choices. Pray or not pray. Witness vocally and physically or not. Do the right thing or not.

You might have a big one, or two.

In any case, the way to make good, correct, well-thought out choices is not to rely on your own understanding but have the mind of Christ. His Spirit lives in you so that you might live in this world in a right perspective.

Choose wisely by choosing Christ. The outcome isn't the answer. The path to the outcome always is.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prime judging material

I remember many times that the older persons in my life would caution me when I would say something about someone else that we are "not to judge." I would then, later, hear them talk about so-and-so for 30 minutes or more if so-and-so had done something they either didn't agree with or said something they disagreed with or simply didn't look right at the moment.

We've all been there. One person's "trying to help" is another person's judging.

In the time that Paul was the top op-ed columnist in the world, one of the hot topics was that what would the rules be in this new religion that was being called Christianity. These new members of the church, would they be Jews or would they be something else, some hybrid. Would the Law apply to them or would they get a pass and go straight on to this grace Paul was writing about.

I write that with a tone of humor, but frankly, the church today hasn't figured that out yet, so go figure how hard it must have been for those persons in the early church.

So Paul writes this in Romans, "Welcome those who are weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their personal opinions. Some people's faith allows them to eat anything, but the persons who is weak in the faith eats only vegetables. The person who will eat anything is not to despise the one who doesn't; while the one who eats only vegetables is not to pass judgment on the one who will eat anything; for God has accepted that person. Who are you to judge the servants of someone else? It is their own Master who will decide whether they succeed or fail. And they will succeed because the Lord is able to make them succeed."

All that is metaphorical, I imagine, but there are those who would not read that passage as being metaphorical and they would build an entire religion around vegetable eating. There are those who will read the sentence I just wrote and say to themselves, "My, isn't he being judgmental?"

It's a slippery slope that all begin to fall on.

When I began this ministry thing, one of the first things I was surprised to find out was that there were persons going into the ministry who didn't think like I did scripturally, philosophically, theologically, heck sports-wise. You name it. There was a great cauldron of thought. I immediately judged all those folks as being wrong. I was right. Clearly.

Nah. What I've learned over time is that God allows us to think and reason and ponder and muse all on our own. What works as grace for me, might be law to you. Does it make one way or another the correct way?

Let me put it this way: Jesus said he was the way, the truth, the life and that anyone who comes to the Father must come through him.

We've spent 2,000 years arguing and debating just what he meant by that. He could have put the footnote on it himself; he could have told us clearly what that means. He did not. Why? Why? Why would he not? I believe it is so we could continue to talk to one another about him. You say, well that's nonsense and I must be wrong.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Mob rule vs. majority rule

Mob rule is a terrible thing, isn't it? Well, isn't it? And isn't there a real, substantial difference in mob rule and majority rule? And isn't there a clear, substantial point of this in scripture?

My answers (opinion sign lit) would be yes, yes, yes, amazingly yes.

The Bible talks of such incidents (actually it speaks of them often, but let's center on this one). In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the apostle Paul goes to Jerusalem and while there, he attends a service at the Temple (as all Jews would do).

We'll let Luke, the book's writer, describe the action from there: "27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.) 30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul."

The key sentence, I think, is the whole city was aroused.

It wasn't unusual, I'm afraid, for Paul to be beaten. Seemed to happen all the time. Paul wasn't a shrinking violet. He believed with all his heart, mind, soul and strength that Jesus was the embodyment of the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. He didn't mind saying that, no matter the circumstances. Ironcially, this beating was incorrect. The mob was angry because it thought Paul had brought a gentile into the Temple (the ultimate no-no). He had not.

This year has been the year of mob rule across the planet. Mobs have fought and won rights of sorts.The so-called Arab Spring was part of that.

This year in various cities across this country, mobs of mostly young, mostly incoherent, often noisy and sometimes violent demonstrators are making themselves a major nuisance. Meanwhile, many in the media are practically gushing over these "protesters," and giving them the free publicity they crave for themselves and their cause -- whatever that is, beyond venting their emotions on television. This has happened in the "Occupy" movement and in protests in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin,  University of Wisconsin law professor  Ann Althouse viewed the events in the Capitol as a near-total breakdown of law and order. "How do you like this new democracy, that has a mob storming the Capitol and, with the aid of the minority party, blocking the access of the majority party into their offices and into the legislative chamber?" Professor Althouse wrote on her blog. "It looks more like anarchy to me."
The biggest thing I've noticed about mobs and what happens when they rule is that often they are, for lack of a better word, wrong. It's more of a get a bunch of people together and let's make a mess.

In the Bible, the mob is almost always wrong. Paul didn't violate the Temple law. But they beat him anyway. Jesus did nothing wrong, nothing, and the crowd shouted "crucify him." Stephen? Nothing wrong; beaten to death. The list could go on and n and on.

Some actually say that the difference in mob rule and majority rule is when God is removed from the equation. Actually, that sounds about right.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It won't make sense, but that's God

Finishing my thoughts in Ecclesiastes ..

Solomon writes (in the Good News Bible edition), "I saw all this when I thought about the things that are done in this world, a world where some people have power and others have to suffer under them. Yes, I have seen the wicked buried and in their graves, but on the way back from the cemetery people praise them in the very city where they did their evil. It is useless."

In other words, stuff happens. We live in a world where the 99 percent often are dealt evil by the 1 percent. It just is what it is. Stuff happens. Inequality happens. Bad things happen, even to good people, maybe especially to good people, maybe the bad things happen to especially good people and the bad things are perpetrated by the bad people. Stuff just happens, and it has been happening since, well, before Solomon's time. It just happens and happens and happens, and it seems prayer doesn't stop it from happening no matter how often we pray or how long we pray or even how sincerely we pray. Stuff just happens.

Solomon, supposedly the wisest man to ever walk the planet, spent a great deal of time exploring what it means, what all of this means. He pondered and mused about this entity we call life, about how we're mended and we're torn, about how it's okay to be lonely as long as we're free, about the relationship between God and man.

This is what he discovered after much, uh, soul searching.

"15 So, I'm all for just going ahead and having a good time—the best possible. The only earthly good men and women can look forward to is to eat and drink well and have a good time—compensation for the struggle for survival these few years God gives us on earth. 16-17 When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you'll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you're not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won't get to the bottom of it."

Well. That's disappointing at best, maddening at worst. We can ponder it all, load up on wisdom and shine the spotlight on all of it and the best we can come up with is it makes no sense at all.

Frankly, I can't accept that. Sure, stuff happens. But the love of God has to have meaning. Doesn't it? Surely?

Rich Mullins, a singer/songwriter who made a huge difference in my life, was John the Baptist to my, uh, well, to my Jesus I guess. He was the one whose words stung and whose words lifted and whose words made the kind of difference I hope my words do for someone, somewhere. He was a great, great man. Then one Saturday night coming from a gig in somewhere Illinois or somewhere Idaho or somewhere somewhere, he was in an automobile accident and he died.

Great man. Great words. Gone.
Me? I could be gone and it make no difference to anyone who isn't related.

I still don't understand how God thinks that is a good swap. Why not him instead of me? I've asked that question hundreds of times. Makes no sense no matter how I look at it.

Stuff happens, though, and I guess I'll get it one day. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Does my getting it mean that the answer will be easier to get? Maybe. Or maybe not. But what I believe is that God gets to decide those things, not I. What is clear is that our getting it is not the prerequisite for life or for living or even for equality. Get it? God is the keeper of wisdom and he lets it out in minuscule bits and tiny pieces, and that's going to be the way it is for eternity.

Would I do it differently? Youbetcha. But that's just the way it is. Stuff happens. Godly stuff. Does it always make sense? Nope. Seldom does. But that's sort of the way you distinguish Godly stuff from our stuff.  Don't let it give you a migraine, take a bit of a Godly pill and call him in the morning.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Life in a nutty shell

Ecclesiastes 7: 6, "When a fool laughs, it is like thorns crackling in a fire. It doesn't mean a thing."

Pondering this might take me the rest of my life, me being a fool and all, but on a cool November morning while I sat in front of a computer attempting to do what comes easy most days but was more like a challenge this morning, I attempted to get deep, to ponder the laughter of fools. 

I read this story on the esteemed Internet in answer to the search, "When a fool laughs." An out-of-towner drove his car into a ditch in a desolated area. Luckily, a local farmer came to help with his big strong horse named Buddy. He hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, “Pull, Nellie, pull!” Buddy didn’t move. Then the farmer hollered, “Pull, Buster, pull!” Buddy didn’t respond. Once more the farmer commanded, “Pull, Coco, pull!” Nothing. Then the farmer nonchalantly said, “Pull, Buddy, pull!” And the horse easily dragged the car out of the ditch. The motorist was most appreciative and very curious. He asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times. “Well… Buddy is blind and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try!”

Sometimes even the deepest of thinkers need a moment of laughter. Sometimes even those who have become the designated writer for the party, still need to be able to smile at the most unfunny of things.

Maybe we're blinded by life in the ditch in general, and we refuse to be the only one who continues to pull. Sometimes we need something more, something new, something different to get us out of the ditch.

Have you ever noticed that every life needs a little umph, a little goosey, a little something we didn't even know we needed, wanted or even that it existed. Sometimes even a fool needs to laugh.

Really. It'a like...

2) thorns crackling in a fire.

But even those foolish laughs are pretty meaningless. Really. The more fooish the laugh, the less sustaining, I muse. Maybe, however, that's the point.

They don't stay with us. Somehow pondering all of this has taken me to 11:20 in the morning. Trimming and editing and throwing away bad stuff in order to get a nutshell of relatively good stuff has taken all morning. It takes the same amount of time to write the meaningless as it does the meaningful, the same time to attempt the funny as it does to attempt to explain grief.
Ever thrown a pine cone into a camp fire? I have. the point is that it makes a quick fire, a little spotlight fire, a moment of fresh fire but ultimately it doesn't give you much fire, much heat, much of anything really. It's a moment of freshness, but then it's gone and you won't remember the moment much past its going. Sure, we all need those moments, those lifting, useless, funny moments. But sometimes we need a little more. We need extra cream in our coffee, extra cheese on our pizza, extra sugar in our sugarless drink. Sometimes we need to extend our hand in order to get extra, though it doesn't ....

3) mean a thing.

I'm write about things that matter a great, great deal most of the time. Salvation and grace and the mercy of a God who loves us enough to send His Son dominates my time.  I'm just saying....

Red Smith, a noted sports writer from a previous century, once wrote in answer to a question about writing..."You don't want to be lousy during the World Series. If you've got to be lousy, let it be June. And believe me, I was very lousy yesterday. I had nothing to say, and, by God, I said it."

But today, today this is what this blog has been about. I have nothing to say, and by God's help, I'm saying it.

Ultimately none of this matters a whole lot. Solomon asks the question. "Think about what what God has done. How can anyone straighten out what God has made crooked?"

The answer, of course, is no one. But Solomon goes on to write, "My life has been useless, but in it I have seen everything. Some good people may die while others live on, even though they re evil. so don't be too good or too wise -- why kill yourself? Avoid both extremes. If you have reverence for God, you will be a successful person anyway....

Solomon builds to a magnificent close: "I used my wisdom to test all of this. I was determined to be wise, but it was beyond me. How can anyone discover what life means. ... This is I have learned (he states after much thought and living through those thoughts): God has made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated."

Someone once wrote, Proofread carefully to see if you any words out."

Life is about looking back, looking less than deeply, about making wise choices with less than wise capability, making sure you don't any of the words out.

That's life, in a nutty shell.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Get wisdom and insight ...

In the fourth chapter of Proverbs, we read this: "My children, listen to what your father teaches you. Pay attention and you will have understanding. What I am teaching you is good, so remember it all. When I was only a little boy, my parents' only son, my father would teach me. He would say, "Remember what I say and never forget it. Do as I tell you, and you will live. Get wisdom and insight! Do not forget or ignore what I say. do no abandon wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will keep you safe."

Wisdom is a vital portion of our walk. She walks daily with us, even as peanut butter walks alongside a generous helping of jelly with us.Wisdom is a companion, a daily part of our trusting walk with God himself. Heck, don't ask me, ask Wisdom herself, and you will see that Wisdom has grand plans. Watch and see. With God Himself, Wisdom is the teacher

The scriptures themselves teach us: "Do as I tell you," the scriptures read. The scriptures are companions that make the journey with us. We are to pack them, prod them, pull and push them. Our father is to teach us using them. With the scriptures themselves as guide and as master, we will go forward. That's who and what wisdom is ...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fruit baskets anyone?

John Wesley often taught, preached, about Galatians 5: 22-23. He thought it gave (and it does) a pretty darn good look at what it means to have a life filled with and run by the third person of the
Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The passage makes it fairly clear that you know an apple tree by its fruit, an orange tree by its fruit, a lemon ... well, you get the idea.
The scripture (from the Living Bible today) says, "But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these."

There. Two sentences, two verses, one life, exceedingly well-lived.

Wesley called these things "emotions or tempers or affections." They embody Christianity. They are what one "receives" when one is led by the Holy Spirit. If one lives with the Spirit as a guide, one lives a visibly different life.

Wesley taught that "when people give their time to re-roof a grumpy neighbor's house in the sweltering summer heat, chances were that they were not filled with feelings of love as they fought dehydration and fatigue." Everyone would agree, though, they were filled the Spirit, that they were loving this neighbor. The fruits are best demonstrated in the "quality" of our relationships, not how often we are consciously aware of feeling them.

Love your neighbor as yourself and live by the Spirit. If one is able to do that, to any small degree, one is living a vastly different life. Today let us pray that we will be changed not by our own efforts, as positive and sure they might be, but by His Spirit, which we grasp as our hope. Bear fruit ... my friends. Bear fruit.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Save me a place

It appears today will be a reflective sports day. Sorry. It happens sometimes. You can take the man out of sports, but it's very hard to take the sports out of the man. Or something to that effect.

Case 1: Time and again, questions about an alleged cover-up of a sex abuse scandal at Penn State, circled back to one name: Joe Paterno. Major college football's oldest, winningest and perhaps most revered coach, was engulfed Monday in a growing furor involving former defensive coordinator and one-time heir apparent Jerry Sandusky, who was indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. The Pennsylvania state police commissioner said Paterno fulfilled his legal requirement when he relayed to university administrators that a graduate assistant had seen Sandusky attacking a young boy in the team's locker room shower in 2002. But the commissioner also questioned whether Paterno had a moral responsibility to do more. On the Happy Valley campus and in the surrounding town of State College, some were even asking whether the 84-year-old coach should step down after 46 seasons on the sidelines.

The answer is YES. There. Said it. Meant it. Joe Paterno should step down as head coach at Penn State. Why? Because, if I understood what I've read correctly, he knew enough to at least, at the very least, help cops begin an investigation into his assistant that would have saved at least one young man from being assaulted by this worthless sexual predator. How anyone could even wonder whether Paterno had that moral responsibility is beyond me. Of course he did. What, he forgot about it? What, he thought it was a dream of some kind? What, he imagined it? Sorry, folks. He should have reported it, maybe even helped by going undercover as it were. But to say essentially nothing? I don't care if the then assistant was, it seems, one of Paterno's best friends. He was, is, a sexual predator. Mary has made me watch too many of those SVU programs not to get  the absolutely heinousness of the crime and their thinking patterns. Fire them. Fire them all.

Case 2: The only signature I've ever asked for was Muhammad Ali's. But I admired Joe Frazier far more than I did Ali. I admire, and still admire, determination, guts, effort, overcoming lack of talent. Joe Frazier did all that, was all that. Muhammad Ali drew the crowds, charmed the media and stole the show. But while Ali is deservedly remembered as “The Greatest,” it was Joe Frazier who defined what being a fighter was truly about.Frazier, who died Monday in his Philadelphia home after a fight with liver cancer, is inextricably linked in boxing history with Ali. They competed in two of the most sensational bouts of all-time and defined an era with their fearsome rivalry. Ali had nearly all of the physical advantages, but in the fight that remains the most significant in the sport’s history, it was Frazier who threw perhaps the perfect left hook to knock down Ali in the 15th round, punctuating a victory on March 8, 1971, in what will forever be remembered as “The Fight of the Century.”  Down goes Frazier was a sentence that entered the sports lexicon with Howard Cosell doing the honors.

Case 3: A fired government worker with a protest sign dangled for hours from New York's Tappan Zee Bridge on Monday, backing up traffic for miles before dropping into the Hudson River and being hauled aboard a police boat. Michael Davitt, 54, of Garnerville, N.Y., had been angry about being dismissed in 2008 from his counseling job with the Rockland County mental health department and was well known to law enforcement, county Sheriff James Kralik said. On Monday morning, Davitt drove a van onto the bridge, lowered a rope ladder that was anchored to the van and climbed down, then sat in a harness for more than three hours about 65 feet above the river.

Today has all the markings of a beautiful start to a possibly beautiful day. It's warmish. It's cloudy but heading toward skies that are beautiful. It's humid, but today promises so much more. The weather promises to be good, much like Michael Davitt promises to be, much like Frazier promised to stop hitting Ali and much like Paterno promises he knew little about what was going on.

The problem with all that is promises that aren't kept are not truth. They are merely broken promises. Many of us have had to deal with broken promises all our lives. You know that those things amount to, don't you?

On the other hand, God's promises never fail, are never broken, always remain true. The Bible puts it this way In the 23rd chapter of Joshua's wonderful work: "14Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed."

Not one. Not a single one. So, while Frazier was dying, while Davitt was coming up with still another wacky plan, while Penn State's sex brokers were getting together with one more plan to keep things quiet, God's promises did the impossible one more time. Those promises met the test and passed. Not one has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled.

Monday, November 7, 2011

God it?

The most decisive theological issue in scripture is this: Will God's means of salvation (Christ, the one named Jesus) fail to save God's covenant people (Israel)? If so (the failure of Jesus to do so), does this expose "injustice on God's part (Romans 9:14...What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God's part? BY NO MEANS.")

We get very deep in theological realms when we explore the fact that though the Israelites still are the covenantal people of God -- by our own belief system (what we call Christianity) -- they have missed the Christ if they do not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Present Jewish disbelief in Jesus as the Christ requires some other explanation other than Jesus is not the Christ.

Paul argues in his letter to the "church" in Rome, there is irony in the fact that Gentiles who didn't strive for righteousness have attained it through faith while Israelites who did strive for righteousness through the law did not succeed in attaining that way,

Is that system then unjust? Unfair? Without mercy? I don't know. I do know that it indeed is ironic. Think of it this way: Jews who believe that they can find favor with God by doing the law, faithfully doing the law on a daily basis so that they might be DECLARED righteous must at some point or other think that God is an uncaring being who gives them more than enough things to do to be DECLARED righteous. Then when they can't do all those things perfectly each and every cotton-picking day (and they can't, they simply can't), they are unrighteous just like the ones who never try. Some system, huh?

But how about this system? They try to do all those things that will declare them to be righteous, knowing they can't but they try anyway. Then when they inevitably fail (big failure or small doesn't matter) they turn to the one whom God sent to be the instrument of righteousness. Jesus was sent to be the knife that spreads the peanut butter. We couldn't by ourselves. No one wants to spread the peanut butter, er righteousness, without the proper equipment (a knife, er, Jesus.)

God it?
I mean, got it?

What sort of system is it when mere disbelief is the method for being declared unrighteous when God knows himself that one can never do everything perfectly? It is an, by definition, unfit system, a merciless system, a system that is designed from the beginning to be declared.

Try this...a perfect God designs a system that only He can meet the requirements for. Therefore, only He can do it. He sends Himself to meet the requirements, and He does ... FOR US. However, the only way we can pay for this intervention by God, is death of the one we borrowed from, God. We can, then, only meet the requirements by paying God for his intervention, but we can't pay Him because, well, He's dead. It would take a resurrection for that to happen. He does that, resurrection I mean, so that we can pay Him for His work. He, back alive, is paid for His work on behalf of us, and all of us go along our merry ways.

In shorthand, we fail in a system designed to get us to fail. We borrow against an account designed to entice us to be unable to pay back for our mistakes. Mistake-filled, penniless, we are allowed to pay back our borrowed funds. We bring our accounts up-to-date and walk away debt-free. "We" are the gentile believers. The Jewish believers still are in debt, unable to free themselves.

Whew. At least it was easy to understand. You God it now?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Joy produced by the actions of others ...

The sun crept through the limbs of the Blond trees this morning, a lovely crisp November morning. A day before we fall back in time, the morning prepared us for those inevitable time-trotting minutes.

In our neck of the woods, a strange phrase at best, spotlights are pointed toward one thing and one thing only (though I disagree with that notion profoundly).  In our neck of the woods, Alabama-LSU is the thing. Anything else gets short-changed. Even the important New Orleans Saints-Tampa Bay Bucs Sunday game shrinks by comparison.

Alabama-LSU is the game of the century I read. It is the brawl for it all, I read. It is Bamagaddeon. It is all these things and much, much more. I, having gone to Mississippi State, don't quite care as much as do these purple and gold and crimson and white folks, but I, too, will be star gazing tonight. But I understand the game's importance nonetheless.

It is interesting to me that games of this importance shrink or grow church attendance. I wonder what Ahhhh. Games of this importance have impact on how the congregation will feel tomorrow morning. But they shouldn't. I used to work with a fellow who said that we should not live our lives through the lives of others, or we should not allow our own joy to be produced by the actions of others.

I believe that is spot on. It is fabulously important, too. If we allowed joy to be produced by the actions of others, then we stand to allow depression to be produced by the actions of others as well. We stand to allow anxiety, happiness, worry, hilarity and so forth. The better option is to allow our own joy and our own woes to be produced by our own actions and our own actions alone.

Watching Alabama running back Trent Richardson, a fabulous player, do his own thing is wonderful. But it is what it is. We should not take that for more than it is. Were we able to run the football as Richardson does, that would produce a great amount of joy, granted. But that should not give us more joy than raking leaves or weed-eating the yard of a poor person who has no weed-eater or rake.

Paul wrote, "19For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Building up

Oh, to have routine broken. It's terrible. It's horrifying. It's, uh, broken.

This morning I headed to the PC to get That's Life in the bank. I write in the mornings because I run out of living gas soon afterwards. But to my shock, there was no way to get onto the Internet. It didn't work. It gave me a stop sign. It wouldn't allow me to get to my blog site, and since I'm old and my memory has been slowly but surely going away, I couldn't remember the site name so that even if I drove to the office and signed on there, I couldn't get to the blog to do my thing.

Oh, to have routine broken and the horrifying become reality.

Then I rebooted everything and green lights appeared and here we are. We're rebooted. We've been given new bodies of work. We're reborn, as it were.

I was reading chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians when the horrifying appeared. I was pondering the fifth verse of the chapter, a kind of ranking of spiritual gifts. Paul writes, "Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up."

What do you think "building up" of the church means? Maybe, just maybe the first verse of this chapter lets us in on some of the answers. "Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy."

This pursuit of spiritual gifts is something I think we've lost effort on. We need to re-start that effort. If we were able to gain or loosen what we already have of spiritual gifts, perhaps we could indeed build up the church.

The formula is this: God gives spiritual gifts to everyone, according to scripture. Those gifts help us to build up the church.

Those gifts include tongues, encouraging, consoling, prophesying (preaching). Those gifts still exist today.

The idea is this...take what God has given and produce spiritual blessings from the spiritual gifts. Build up. Encourage. Pray for. Love on. Do what God has told us to do.

Even the terrifying becomes mundane when those gifts are used properly.

Let's start today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's this Gospel?

My question this morning is a simple one. Do you get "it?"

"It" is a hard to grasp topic. "It is the Gospel."

One can disagree and say that the Gospel is easy. Some would say it is Jesus' story, yet Jesus sent the 12 out to "preach the Gospel" before the crucifixion. Some would say it is the crucifixion and the subsequent resurrection and even ask why you would ever think this is difficult in the first place.

"I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready." The Apostle Paul from his letter to the church in Corinth.

Does that describe your walk with God? Still, after 16 years, it does mine at times. There are times when I simply don't get it, don't want to get it, can't get it. As Luke wrote about the disciples once, " was hidden from their eyes."

So, what's the Gospel? What's the good news? What are you teaching, preaching, reading, praying about?

As a lark, I looked up what is said on the Internet. This comes from the Alleulia Church of God in Cleveland, Tenn. It of course is the "true Gospel."

"Churches claim to preach the true gospel. But, most of them do not even know what the true gospel is. We think that the true gospel is that we go to heaven because of the death of Jesus on the cross. The true gospel is considered the good news. We think that Jesus Christ died in our place so that we do not have to die an eternal death. So it is good news, which is gospel. But, the Bible says that Jesus Christ has preached the gospel. Then, the true gospel must come from the messages he has preached. Jesus Christ never preached his death on the cross as the gospel even though he mentioned the fact privately to his disciples that he will die on the cross and he will be raised in three days. Jesus Christ preached his gospel and that is the true gospel. "Matt 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee … preaching the gospel of the kingdom…" His gospel must be about the kingdom of God. "

Whew. That's the true gospel, the Website claims.

But, on the Website it seems you can read, "The "Good News" of the Bible proclaims that the Cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ has benefited all people, not just some. The Scriptures teach that the reason God sent His Son into this world was to live a sinless life, die on the Cross and be raised from the dead so that you can have new life in Christ Jesus."

So, the Gospel is about the sinless life, death on a cross and the subsequent resurrection but not about his teaching? Glad we have that understanding.

This I know: Jesus taught much about what the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven was about. Certainly that is good news, hence the Gospel. Part of that teaching is that those who long to live in that kingdom will be rejected and perhaps even killed. One special man, Jesus of Nazareth, would die as part of that rejection but he would return in three days. Jesus taught that himself to his disciples. That was especially good news, one would think.

Now, did Jesus teach all the aspects of the Gospel that a reasoned theologian named Paul would? Not exactly. He left some of that to us. That's good news, too.

So, are you ready for the "Gospel?" The meat as opposed to the milk? Do you actually know what you're teaching, preaching, reading, thinking?

Maybe you should look it up so you can official say you have got "it."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

With whom He is pleased

It is officially adoption awareness month, or something akin to that. I'm not sure that has been celebrated before, but darn if I don't think it's a wonderful idea.

I am adopted, I have adopted and I have helped others adopt. I can think, truly think, of no endeavor that is more worthy of both praise and wonderment than when someone adopts a child. It should be the answer to those issues of abortion that amazingly keep springing up.

We should be, in my sometimes meaningless opinion, adopting children and pets at a much higher rate than we currently are. I do not equate the two, by they way, other than the fact that both are helpless and should be loved.

It's a funny thing. I used to be asked about adoption a lot more than I am now. When I was growing up, it was fairly common to ask how I felt about adoption, about being adopted. At the time, I didn't, feel that is. It just was what it was.

As an adult, I've thought long and hard about it, as I do most things. I've come to a conclusion, and I have never written about this, that it bothers me. I should be more grateful in all things than I am. Ingratitude seems to grow like a cancer in me sometimes. My adopted parents wanted a child, wanted me. I get that, and I am grateful. But there is a part of me that still insists that someone, some unknown persons, did not want me. That at one part I was, for lack of a better term, completely unwanted. That there is someone out there in this universe, if they're still alive, that chose to give me up. No discussion. No search for the lost child. None of that that I'm aware of. To this day, I've come to understand, that has driven me to either prove myself to some great unknown or to get some sort of great feedback from someone I'll never see.

I've never struggled to see all these persons I was "kin" to but wasn't as my true relatives. I've never struggled to see my upbringing as my own. None of that. I've simply wondered more and more about who "they" were, and I've thought a lot about what circumstances in the early 1950s (am I really, truly that old?) could lead to my, uh, being given up on before I ever had a chance to show my worth.

That's what makes scripture like these so important to "adoptees" I believe.

In Isaiah, "Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name."

In Isaiah, "I have engraved your name on the palm of my hands..."

In John's Gospel: "No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me ..."

Even in Romans: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

In other words, my worth must not, should not, be determined by whether a human being, any human being, cares for me or not. God did when I was in the womb of someone I'll never meet, and He does to this day. It is I who struggled, I who falter, I who wonder, I who doubt. Not Him.

Adoptees should understand that though they were released to be loved by someone other than birth parents, it is the beginning of their lives not the end of something else. Adoptees should recognize that in a strange sort of way, even Jesus was given up for, uh, adoption, open adoption at that. He always knew, it seems, who his heavenly father was who "gave" him to Joseph for safe-keeping. He watched over him, cared for him and twice said "This is my son, with whom I am well-pleased."

Truthfully, that is all I ever wanted, yet I will never get that. Seems to me that records should be open when you're past, uh, half a century or so in age.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What could I do?

Last night was Halloween, as many might have noted. I went to the West Bank of New Orleans, a cultural difference with my current home on the Northshore of New Orleans that only persons of residence in the two spots might understand.

We went to see the , or I guess four since Mia is now officially too old to do such things it seems, of the grand kids go out in a desperate attempt to procure candy and treats of all kinds from those who would give them.

We went to a neighborhood that is drastically into the, uh, spirit or spirits as the case might be. Fabulous homes decked in homage to the dead was this neighborhood, which somehow has enough clout or money that not only did two cops fly through the area on those standup scooters that would work so well my country setting that I immediately wished I had one, but they had a cop looking at tickets to get into the area. Tickets for a neighborhood for folks to get in.

I knew I was in a different land of cotton when the neighbors were walking around carrying red wine. At least I think it was red wine. Maybe they made all their money over a long, long period of time and the "red wine" was more like, uh, blood? Just saying.

There was a time when Halloween was my favorite holiday, just as there was a time when I would have been the one drinking, uh, something.

But the still relatively new me, after all these many years passed, could see but one thing last night as we toured the area. If these folks would take the money they had spent on dressing up their neighborhood, perhaps there could be one or two less homeless persons in New Orleans on this cool October night. Perhaps if they didn't spend quite so much on their meaningless dressing up and dressing down, perhaps some child somewhere in the world on that cool October night might have been fed. Just saying...

Now, I know in some ways that's apples and oranges, and you can't make someone give up their pay and I'm judging and all that stuff.

But the still relatively new me thought the whole time, what could I do with this money? What could I make, change, recreate? What resources could I turn this into?

Maybe the still relatively new me is still too much like the seemingly old me...