Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cool! I’m dead!




Cool! I’m dead!

I was standing at the sink in a men’s room, and another man was at the sink beside me, waving his hands under the sensor on the automatic water faucet trying to get it to come on. He looked up and indicated in a semi frustrated tone, that maybe he didn’t exist, and was therefore undetectable. Thinking back, at that point I should have pretended He wasn’t there. But, I just laughed.

The waters of this world - the rule book, can’t clean. I can wave my hands under that faucet all day, it just won’t work - frustrating.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:3 King James Version



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Quit While Ahead




This one might sound a bit coarse right off the bat.  The word "Beer" is used a lot. But anybody who “Strayed” in high school might like it. It’s sort of a composite of events, but they are true, fairly innocent and only slightly embellished.


Quit While Ahead
  
As a teenager, age 17 or so, one night after purchasing a deeply discounted case of beer out of an open car trunk in an empty lot—from an off-duty A&P employee—a gang of us piled into a car and headed for the city: Washington DC. Back then it was not illegal to literally drink and drive. And, that’s what we did—unwisely.

So, the memory is pretty hazy, but not too long after crossing the 14th street bridge into the city, we decided to relieve ourselves of some of the huge amount of liquid we’d consumed. So, we pulled into an alley—a dark alley—on gang turf.

As they appeared behind us at the alleyway entrance following us in, I heard somebody say quietly something like, “We gotta get outta here!” We scrambled like we never had before and managed to get back in the car, floor it and roar away, unscathed. Really lucky for us the engine didn’t stall, and the alley was open on both ends.

Then it was off to The Hayloft, our favorite club in Georgetown, car rocking and voices wailing to the blaring sounds of “Susie Q,” by Credence Clearwater Revival; where we did some more rocking to a live band—while drinking even more beer—before heading over to Old Ebbitt Grill. I found it necessary to get out my fake ID this time. Which, like the discount beverage purchase in the vacant lot, was easily obtainable for any high schooler with the right grape vine contacts.

I made a grand total of 74 dollars that summer, playing rhythm guitar in our rock-and-roll band: The Henchmen. I couldn’t believe somebody would actually pay me money to play my guitar at parties—and yes—drink beer. Life was good that year. Things did darken later, but how many 17-year-old kids have the sense to quit while he’s ahead? Some may—not this one.

So, the moral to this story—I seem to always have one—is quit while you’re ahead. Walk away. Just do it. Find a tether. Something to believe in. Something true.

Believing the man who roamed the Galilean country side—with a gang of ruffians—would be a good plan in my opinion. You won’t have to join the Christian culture or get a bumper sticker or anything. Pick up a New Testament and just start reading from the beginning, which happens to be the response I had—the step I took—after hearing the still small voice of God in my life. Do it.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Lock Stock and Barrel





Lock Stock and Barrel

It’s easy to let church become a conscience appeasing thing, something I feel like I must do to continue in life. What a breath of relief it is to realize this is wrong, and so easy to switch tracks. And, live fully in the present. Grounded, trusting - pressing on. For a few of us, not all I think, the church experience as a whole just doesn't satisfy - contain all that we are. We feel constrained, squeezed into a mold. But God wants all of us, as we are - lock, stock and barrel.

No I'm not saying leave church, just saying if you are jumping through hoops to not feel like an outsider, like me, you might not entirely fit into the human social dynamics there. And, it's okay.



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Wounded Soul




The Wounded Soul

Ashamed of their open wound
Turning away
Some among us
Feel leprous
Decay

Broken in spirit
Sobbing at heart
Fighting a battle
They don’t understand
Strangers
In a strange land

Oh God
Go with them
Let them never give up
Encourage them with peace
Help them go on

They need only you
Be their song
Fill them with hope
Tell them
They belong



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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weird Drama



                             Weird Drama


A few years ago, while at a church function, I saw something written on a ball cap worn by a middle-aged man. It said, “The more people I meet the more I like my truck.”

And, recently I heard a TV interview in which a teenage girl who was hiking with a small group in a designated wilderness area, said that out there, her problems were much more basic, and there was no “Weird Drama.” I think there’s a sermon in there somewhere.

Jesus of Nazareth stuck with us until the end, taking our all our “Weird drama,” with Him when He died. That darkness inside that makes life so hard.

Then He came back without it.

It’s our turn to stick with Him now.



Thursday, March 1, 2018

Home - Beyond the City Gate




                Home - Beyond the City Gate

A tenuous walk
For one prone to wander
Holding to His hand
Not veering from the path

Authenticity required
But not easily found
For the wayward heart
On shaky ground

Yet solid is the rock in Zion
Undergirding all who believe
Who fall there and are broken
Support unshakable
Source unseen

For if I live and wander
Only in the city of man
Never leaving my human boundaries
Or passing beyond the city’s gate
I’ll never find my wedding garment
And I’ll never find my path to home

So I’ll meet him there
Outside these winding streets
At a place called home
I can see Him now
Holding my garment as He greets

When strength I need
this place I’ll find
I’ll go without fear
And wait for Him here
Beyond the city gate



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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It’s Fear




                                  It’s Fear

Anyone who in normal everyday life gets what may be little panic attacks, can probably relate to what follows.

They seem to occur at random, and in my case usually went unnoticed by anyone standing by. They varied in intensity, with kind of a grip, squeeze and release scenario. Time, seemed to be the only answer to recovery.

I’ve always compared it to what happens to a small puddle of water, when suddenly out of the blue, a great big boot comes along and stomps in it, sending the water, (you) scattering everywhere. And, it takes a little while, an hour or two, for you to re-gather yourself as your wits slowly seep back into place.

My little “Momentary seizures” weren’t debilitating, in as much as I could still function fairly normally afterward, so I managed to do OK by just going with the flow. I’d fret a little, analyze a little, surrender at times, but in a while the water always seeped back into place, and all was back to normal.

Years ago, my parents told the story about how that once when they came home from a night out, and asked the babysitter how it went with me, a toddler, while they were gone. The young lady responded, “No problem at all. He spent the whole night standing there behind that door!”

In my late twenties, while in Germany working as a civilian at a military base, a strange thing happened. An older friend, a lady whose family I was visiting, was leaning over her kitchen sink, facing away from me when she said once, then confirmed it by saying again, “It’s fear.” It was as if she was answering a question that I hadn’t even asked out loud. I think the question was, what is the elephant in the room? That crazy thing that I just couldn’t figure out.

I dealt with this “Elephant” throughout mid-life using the “Tough guy” approach, gritting my teeth and pushing through. It worked, but the root problem went unattended. I believe we have to find, or more aptly put, be found by Divine Love, at our very core, which requires faith and trust on our part. Pretty much what it’s all about I guess. Strange that after having been a Christian for forty-two years, I feel like I’m only now beginning to scratch that surface. There’s always more I guess.

Lead us oh God, to trust from the heart, and to move freely without fear, knowing that when in your hands, there is nothing to fear.


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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Basic Trust





                               Basic Trust

One of the few college level courses I completed was Psychology 101, where I learned that “Basic trust” is formed in early childhood and is the foundation of the human psyche.

I believe God helps us deal with this matter of insecurity, by direction us to “Behold” the fact that our true foundation is found in Zion.

I think it’s safe to say, that the foundation laid by the hand of God, is far greater than anything my mind can contain. I love the scripture that says He is above all, through all and in us all. But when I look up over this iPad, through these reading glasses and out into this empty room, I realize that the foundation He provided is present and real, more real than I know.

This is hard to grasp when one is in the throes of a trial of some kind. But, I know in my case, when I think back over the last few years, and I know I can’t begin to grasp God’s purifying ways in my life, but those “Sink or swim” trials seem in my simple view, to have been at least partly about removing from me whatever false “Floatation device” I was grasping for. And, after flailing around in the open water for a while, finally trusting in my true foundation, which was there for me all along. I guess that's why God lovingly says “Behold.” Some things I just have to learn the hard way it seems.




Thursday, February 1, 2018

Alternating Current




Alternating Current

In a Church service I attended a while back, the speaker said that our thinking is like alternating current. The direction of flow constantly alternates between negative and positive. I believe that contained there-in is a gift from above: seamless open passage from the negative to the positive, no conflict, no judgement, no questions asked. As natural and necessary for health and life in this world for me, a fallen human being, as is the relaxing in-and-out nature of breathing.

I’m so grateful that because of the life changing nature of the cross, there’s not a scowling face of some kind there, with folded arms and tapping foot, waiting to hinder my passage at the gate, as I begin to look up, feel the sun, and breath the fresh clean air of new life.



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Apart from Human Effort




Apart from Human Effort

I and the crazy bunch of kids that I ran around with years ago, attended a church meeting back then, in which a leader stood up and announced that, “There is a reality apart from human effort.” That memory has surface in my mind from time to time over the years, and I believe it to be true.

Another time, just a few years later, a military pastor who was speaking to a small Sunday school sized group of us said, “We’re like a light bulb, the filament burns best in a vacuum.”

And again, from and elevated glossy oak pulpit, in a giant stained glassed urban sanctuary, I heard, “Reality is something we grow into.”

And, how about this from a district overseer of a well-known evangelical denomination, “Make a space, and do what you see.”

And, I could come up with other examples of things said just a few short decades ago, by mainstream Christian leaders, that today I think may be to “Mystical” sounding for us.

All that was just to get you ready for this:



A Brighter World - Musings in the spirit of laying under a late-night canopy or stars, looking up.

What if our psyche, or our soul, stood between our core being, or our spirit, and the wide world around us. And, what if, in the course of life, like a lens, it gets damaged, darkening our perceptions, and affecting how we relate to the world.

I’m finding that this shoe often fits, and when I slip it on, by keeping in mind that my take on reality is not always to be trusted, the lights begin to come on.



Childlike Faith

Somehow young children manage to live life and have their being, without the need to insulate, isolate, or protect themselves. I’m finding that it’s OK to let the defenses down with God and allow faith to fully be the mystery that it is, with that indescribable gift from above, a clear conscience.


About That

But, about that “Letting the defenses down.” Sometimes I need help with that. And, I supposedly have given God control of my life. But it’s no fun when the protective walls I’ve built around myself, that separate me from God, begin to come down.

Though I functioned OK until then, I’m thinking the deeper healing process didn’t even begin in my life until this began to happen.



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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Physics of Light





The Physics of Light


Not too long ago, I watched a 6-part series on TV called, “The Physics of Light,” mind blowing. The world around us is truly not as it seems.
 
So, if you leave earth, traveling at 99.99 percent of the speed of light, on your return, what will seem to you to have been 5.2 days, will have in reality been a year, earth time. This is called “Time dilation.” And, is calculated with something called the Lorentz Factor. Who’d have thought!

I had an instructor with the medical instrumentation company I worked for, whose favorite expression when explaining some electronic anomaly was, “All bets are off.” If certain variables all occurred at just the wrong times, he’d say with absolute finality, “All bets are off.”
 
Life brought me to a place where I found myself having to take a second look at pretty much everything. All bets were off, we’ll lots of them anyway. I did have an established base. Wife, family, and last but not least, a basic faith in an all-powerful God. If you’re a fan of the movie, “The Matrix,” the experience, (less intense now but still ongoing), was similar to Neo’s, just after he chose “The red pill.” Or, maybe it’s like being rebooted like a computer, after having several debilitating viruses removed.

Hikikomori

There’s something going around in Japan called Hikikomori. People, mostly younger people, are simply locking themselves in their rooms.

For years.

Some say, it’s due to perceived social pressures to conform, and perform.

I think that for some of us, the new star we’re called to hitch our wagon too, may not be nestled safely in with all the rest of the stars in the galaxy like before. And, all that open space is a really scary prospect. Also scary, is realizing that the safe nest we thought we were nestled securely in, was in some strange way, at least in part, an illusion.

It’s so easy for someone us, maybe with a fragile interior, to allow our connection to people, especially with those in authority, to interfere with our personal connection to God. I believe that if you are properly yoked with the later, the former will follow automatically. And, all will be in undistorted proportion, in proper perspective, and without inner conflict, or anxiety. His yolk is easy, His burden, light.


 
 

 

 


Monday, January 1, 2018

A High School Friend




I had a good friend, throughout high school and into my early twenties. We went our separate ways after that. He was a bit of a neat freak, and a tightwad. He’d say things like, “I go to high school, but I don’t let it interfere with my education.” And, when everyone asked him why he insisted on wearing a light jacket in the hot Virginia summer, he’d say, “To keep the heat out.” I still chuckle at the things he said.

 He died in his mid-fifties. Drank himself to death shortly after he retired. I think we had similar challenging experiences at that point in life. But, I had faith in a real God. He did not I guess. He always adamantly resisted Christianity. Looking back, it seems he only saw the human side. The bumper stickers, the music, the social aspects of the Jesus movement of the late sixties and early seventies. Religion only causes problems, he’d say.

 This was all that this logical, eccentric, cynical hardnosed friend of mine saw in Christianity. If he’d known the reality of God and His offer, he’d have not turned away it think.

 The God of this world blinds our minds I guess. He had a girlfriend at the time of his sudden death. Through the grapevine, I heard that just before he died, he appeared at her door with a bouquet of flowers, hoping to patch things up. I’d bet he clung to her, in a distant sort of way. Still clinging to life, still hoping.