Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Big Picture ?

If you are in a good mood and feeling cheery this wonderful day, you might not want to read my thoughts today without praying or chanting or drinking.  I never forget that my life is full of friends with  different faiths, no faiths, extreme faiths and confused faiths. So, I try to blog with that in mind..

So lately I've been on the telephone in deep conversation about politics and life and faith and God and Guns and War and Death and Patriotism and Conspiracies and Narcissists,Pacifists,Social/Communists and Capitalist. And, and do you know what?

It always ends in a mometary sick feeling of nauseous hopelessness.

Then i take a breath, pray, remember where my hope is found, remember the purity and innocence of     God in a childs eyes,  as they are viewing the world unstained.... before they quickly decide they want to own it (6months tops).  And then quickly the circle comes around again , and I know that like me, every child will lose that innocence,  that everyone will seek their own, that every mortal will live "fallen" and form and find groups that agree with them, and their views.
In the secular it will be country clubs or gangs,  political groups or anti-political groups (oxymoron-- ya think?) . And on the other end in the Sacred it will be.. More and more denominations and split denominations and, and, sectarianism and dogma. Splitting us into smaller and smaller insulated groups who find it harder and harder to find Jesus among us and across the isle.

And now we have social media to help us in the secular and sacred to figure out exactly who thinks and breathes like us, so that on our side and from our perspectives we can unite our smaller groups to become a larger more powerful, set apart, (self) righteous group.  While all the while, in the background, behind it all, those  global few, who plot and play to build these systems, can use our info,money and passions to sell us whatever they have pre-purchased to sell us in the first place.
Oh, like a court jester I'm laughing as I type..  Hey if i were one of the few who rule the world, and regardless of my faith, it is  the unfortunate byproduct of that wealth that makes man want more and more and more, I'm sure I'd be trying to find a way to be the winner as well. Whatever it took at the cheapest price.. And i'd Hire others to do the dirty work so I could put on my white robes and give away money through my charities, while others die creating it all for me. (would anybody like a potty break yet?)

And again, here I am, and it all comes back to that sick feeling. Why...

Is it winter?, the dreary cold and grey of January? Is it the incessant news cycles, rarely saying anything redeeming to us, except that 60sec. "life" story at the end of the news.
It is the global economy, and seeing your friends, family and loved ones losing jobs, homes,marriage and faith.
Is it possibly where I'm focusing my time and attention?

What am I looking for in my search for justice?  Some great solution. For God (or man)  to wipe out my enemies, my political and "whatever" foes. For my political, economic and social politics to rule and reign?  All to show the world "I" (and my small group) was correct; and that every time i called the rest of you names - for your views, well,  I am now vindicated?  Mooo Ah-haa-haa-haa-haaaaaaa.
If only they could see the truth "i say".( Ok, well me and MY friends say that... But the rest of the world, they are to ignorant or (add) rightwing or leftwing or chickenwing to really get it or see our solutions as the correct ones.)

Ya know, there was something in the 60's movement "all you need is love"  that was truth. Albit twisted and contorted to fit into a drug induced 5yr party. My generation - that generation,  through it all , at the core, I believe, was crying out for truth.  Few adults were listening or saw anything but sex drugs and rock and roll and it gave southern preachers one more reason to turn up the "fire" volume a bit higher.
Hey, we knew those two single beds with one Queen cover, were split much of the time. Ozzy and Harriet were hiding that, and no one was talking.  Television created such a false reality of life and what was really happening that I think it's part of the blow back to how far we've come to the other side of the street on TV and cable.

Were Ozzy and Harriet any less messed up  than Ozzy & the Osbornes.?    We mostly knew our fathers worked to hard and smoked and drank to much and went to church on sunday in a suit, at an attempt to find some redemption from their wives if not their gods.  We knew our mothers were living too much of life with un fulfilled dreams around an ironing board,  finding soap operas as one of the few fantasy drugs of choice. Hey forget about love, truth and justice, just obey the rules was the underlying thread. And really, honestly, Eddie Haskell was probably the most real person on family sitcoms at the time. God bless  Leave it to Beaver. I think The Osbornes is probably a pretty good look at what the Nelsons would have looked like 50 years later.

Imagine what the 60's would have been like if we had had the internet revolution after Sputnic instead of it dropping in the lap of Clinton and it's inventor from TN, 50 years later.
Nixon could have hacked the DNC from 1,000 miles away and would never have had to get caught lying.  Where would we be now.  Pretty scary eh?
Well, that's where were going, and the car might be getting 40mpg now, but it's still headed to the same end at a faster pace exponentially every day.

So can you stop it, or in the imortal words of Mr. Smith "It's Inevitable Mr. Anderson".
And what do we do in the mean time. While the world and man is crashing around you?

Because we are safe in a prosperous democracy, most never even think about this stuff.. But the time is coming when we all will have that reckoning in America, and with what's happening in the global economy i think more americans are sobering up each day to these possible realities.

As my last blog said. "My hope is found in Christ alone, and all that that entails". Yup, each of us must find that on our own. Every journey different, every moment changing how we view and accept it all.

For me, I can't live a day without His Grace, Forgiveness, Mercy, Peace and Joy.  Or the  knowing "in faith" that this is the beginning not the ending.  Heaven and Earth will pass away but His "Word" which has always been and will always be, which was in the beginning, and through it, all things were created from it, which was made to flesh, and dwelt among us, and lived and taught us and redeemed us from ourselves.  (all supernatural mumbo jumbo to anyone who doesn't study scripture, but it is "the living Word" none the less).
{sidebar} I know many people hate or don't understand all the Christian "catch words and phrases" used all the time. Sorry.. I do try hard not to quote scripture and use those words, but it can be hard truly explaining yourself without them sometimes.

A friend blogged lately of a dialog with God. He mentioned in essence, that for so many, when we pray or worship Him he hears ssodk, kdjjook ajdp c;lkjf kpldks a pl foekdj s vnkdolps lpleks because our motives in it all make our worship worthless.  Well,  I'm sure that without faith, much of the bible looks the same.  Confusing and worthless.  It sure did for me before I began a walk of faith. It was only then that those " aldk slkdj  9idjf ckkw tow". words became  "I have come to give you life and life more abundantly".

Solomon, oh Solomon.. in all the sorrow and sadness of money and power and wisdom, maybe you should have asked for only 1 wife and a house on a hillside with a cantor job in the synagog. After all, ignorance is bliss if you can live with it.

I look today at my family, children, grand children and friends. My father has gone, my mother is rapidly going. They will all go away. So too will I.
None of us taking anything with us, but a ledger of decisions and choices mixed with memories in our souls. As Don Henley so properly sang "Aint no luggage racks on the hearse down the block".

News Flash.....  none of us choose the best answer very often. I certainly don't.  Get over it.  Stop lying from high lofty places to yourself.. and others..    I'm really trying each day to lay it all down even though I fail so often.. but...
Yup. , again, that's where Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness come in to your life.  Replacing the fear of laws and judgement, that are used to make you stop and think if all else fails. Mercy does triumph over judgement.

And in the end it's Private Ryan again.
Yup, over and over I'll end blogs with that. Even knowing that Christ did it all, and paid the price. There will always be that mortal part of me / of us, that "is" Private Ryan in the final scene photo above. Asking, begging, for acceptance from the one who gave his live for him.

And as for the beginning of todays "rabbit trail blog" comments on American politics and what it does to my heart (and your's most likely)..
I must vote, I support democracy.  I want less Govt., (and all that means) I do love the American Experiment over all the others. I will try to respect others whom I painfully disagree with, by, not responding to things I can't change, and actually trying to listen to them when they won't listen back and hopefully the same goes for them.:)

I said in a Facebook post a few weeks ago that now with 800 million people all connected and sharing their opinions behind a glossy screen and a Mobi, that this is gonna get really ugly before Nov. elections in  the USA.

So my friends of faith, strap on a helmet, seatbelt, ear buds and get your heart ready to handle the onslot of onslots coming your way.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and He will never leave nor forsake me. (repeat as needed).
And for my friends who don't believe, but love me enough to still wonder what I'm thinkin...
I love you all regardless, and hope you return the favor :)....

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Living in the privacy of God"

Smiles are a precious thing to be shared. They are the outward reflection of an inward understanding.
So many types of smiles. Happy, loving, in love, scared, shocked, sad, sick, longing...
So here today is a photo of my mother and my oldest son. Taken in 2011 in my living room. I ask you, what kind of smiles are those.
I see in my son, "I love my grandma".  I see in my moms eyes, "I am such a blessed woman".

It was the last time she visited our home.  Now with advanced stage Alzheimer's she walks no more and lives in a facility with hospice care.  Solomon had it right in his later years. Life is not fair.
 Should we have to watch our loved ones live in gowns and not know where we are half the time, with people yelling and crying and hallucinating around you 24hrs a day?
Only the wealthy can take their loved ones home with enough staff to care for them in this state 24 hours a day. God bless all those capable of doing this.. it is the best way if possible.

And so we visit. For me, I dread it every time. I don't want to go see her like this.  The reality of what her 24 hour cycle consists of  (on the outside and in the natural)  is sickening. Yet she still knows most of us, most of the time. She will think my brothers or sons are me. Ouch.. But after the first time it's just reality. Leaving is the hardest. Like leaving a helpless child in a hospital.

Your mind takes you to the the little things.  My mom, Marilyn, used to be an Arthur Murray dance instructor. When you danced with her, she'd give you "about" two measures of a song, before she took over like a professional jockey and tossed you about the floor, whispering, elbows up , hand up, back straight. You didn't like her leading but you sure knew you were better by it.

And now.. I pick her up and set her in a chair. The irony.
Ironic, that is, as well, that those of you who know me, know I was in a wheel chair with "leg perthes" from 4 years old on, (told I would never walk), and my mom had to lift and carry me everywhere in the non handicapped world of the 60's. Never complained. Yup she'd grab me under an arm and put me on her hip like carrying a sack of potatoes out the door to the old Chevy with the "Everlast' wheelchair in the trunk, and then off to try to find some place to shop without any stairs to navigate. This photo was me leaving the Shriners Hospital in 1960. What a blessing that organization has been to so many who could not afford specialists, and, Shriners is still private, not a tax payer funded govt. run money pit. I'm so thankful for all the Shriners who have given so much for children and every time I lift my mom up I'm reminded of all their heavy lifting.

So here I am blogging about my mom today, and somehow it still has to come around to me. "squirrel"...   me, me, geeze, does it always have to be about me somehow in the middle of the circle. Hey don't you love blogs where you type your thoughts and leave them lying there naked and exposed. YES.  it's where people learn to be real and realize we all are so much the same with different coverings. From the most famous to the least of these.

ok i'm back now.. :)
Growing up, Marilyn used to read 3 to 5 books at a time. One at every chair, and cassettes of her favorite preachers blasting at the same time in the background from the kitchen cassette deck where the smell of old Folger's coffee was coming from. All day long. Robertson, Hagen, Felsdick, Graham, Haage, Seville, Copeland, DuPlantis, B. Brim, M. Hickey, J. Meyers and on and on. All the end times books strewn about.  I guess now in retrospect that kinda explains why at any moment she would also pick up the National Enquire and quote it like it was the bible.  So funny, the things that intrest people differently...

 Now, today, she doesn't read anymore. Can hardly imagine her not with a book or paper in her hand.  She would say to you today, "Why should I read, if I can't remember it in 5 min."

So what's my lesson here today. It's not to be sad or bitter or angry. Not to focus on the negative. That's not my purpose.

It's this..

Sitting with my wife and our youngest son the other night, Marilyn was more in the moment than usual. Getting ready for dinner she was wheeled out in the open area. We sat holding hands and she had those incredible swings of emotion from "where am I, I don't even know where I am", to, deep loving smiles and the words, "i love you so much". Ouch..

In that moment, she reached out to Janes hand,  and in a far away stare as she touched Janes ring, she said, "I'm living in the privacy of God".

Take that in for a moment. Think about it and each word in context of her current life.

She then said " is that written on your ring?" we said "no mom, you just said it". She responded with a  blank pondering stare, and we all sat quietly for a moment.. in the moment.

My friends, what if, in all of this, that is it.

What if we all in the end, when our minds and bodies go, enter a private  world with God. A place where on the outside we are bound and shackled to the world around us, but in our very spirits we live quietly, protected in the privacy of God. Waiting for our earthly vessels to give up, give out, and let us fly home to a place or space where there are no words to describe "being one" again with our dad and creator.

Thanks mom, I need to pray more. To seek that same place you've now found. That private place with God, where all things are laid bare, where nothing matters in the flesh anymore, but listening for His voice, waiting for His hand, and longing for the day to "being one" again.

Don't know about you my friends, but I just can't imagine a day or a moment any longer in life without  in faith "knowing" God's presence, peace and purpose.  To experience all the fears, failures, triumphs and victories without it, is, in the words of Solomon, "meaningless".

If you are young and reading this, i'm sure much of it has little meaning yet. For those older than I, you may see folly and error in my youthful words. For everyone, I just hope you take a moment and ask the question. "Am I ready to be alone with God. To sit and to listen to what He has to say to me about my life?"

Do you think it will be questions and finger pointing or praise and adoration?
And when He speaks, will you smile with joy or fear, happiness or sadness?
Be still, ask good questions, and for god sake, don't stop listening. I think He's everywhere...
 We just need to find the places where it's quiet and we can actually listen. shhhhhhhhhhh.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Red Letters of a Holy Umbrella

New Year, New Hopes, New Dreams, New Promises, New Victories, 

New Defeats, New Failures, New Frustrations. 

Same as it ever was, but what are you gonna focus on.  Where are you gonna hang your hat, What horse are you betting on. Is your glass gonna be half full or half empty.  For those following Christ, did Jesus change this last year, or are you seeing Him differently. 

All of us who are trying to live out a life of faith in a world where at least in the USA,  faith is dumbed down to right wing politics or left wing social gospels. 
We are struggling to find,  to relate to and to affect the world around us as Jesus did.

Well, my friend, what kind of Umbrella are you choosing to live under today.  Many around us, are leaving traditional  "AND" non-traditional church. They even questioning "what really is church". Does this surprise you? Why.
It's now, Social Change,  Rock Concerts, Small Groups, Home Groups, Satellite feeds, Video Replays in the coffee shop or school or theater, Back yard BBQ's, Camping trips and Random acts of kindness?
What is church, none or some of the above?

Someone said "if we are His people, following His words, then He is the church and lives in us, and we "are" the church where ever we go whatever we do, for better for worse.

So what about your spiritual covering then... Your spiritual accountability...  
Especially if you are a new or young believer? 
I like the above photo above. Men have created 1000's of umbrellas to park yourself under as accountability, or as a covering for your  faith. To be a "king" over you to protect and watch over you.  Do they look different from a distance. They eventually end up having the name or names of some men on them somewhere who honestly decided, or their people decided, that they were the Matix's "oracle" .   The list is long and bloody.  It involves more tragedy death and sin that anyone care to remember, all in order to claim to be "the" umbrella, and be separate from the rest of them protecting those under it.    Mans or better yet,  "MY" intentions may begin good in doing this myself, but are always flawed with pride and selfish ambition at the core; if you dig deep enough, or offer me enough or offend me enough... Well, I believe God knows this. I believe it's why he told Samuel "HE", was their king and they needed no other.. 
Have we ever really listened to God  much outside of our own questions and desires.. to His....

What did he say. What did Jesus say.
Over and over again I ask myself this.  What did He say, What did he do, What did He mean.

Everything else I can question at another level, but the Gospels and the Red Letter Words seem to be the best common ground in fellowship. I read and study it all, but keep coming  back to "what did Jesus say and do...

So with that said,  who do you believe when it comes to interpretation of even "HIS" quoted words. Do we listen to mens voices or Gods Holy Spirit speaking in our hearts as we study, pray and live it out, learning as you go..   "I" think both.  But, in the end you have to trust, pray and be willing to change, as we learn through increasing knowledge and life experiences, of the great  failure and victory, pain and pleasure in "life". 

There are so many divergent thoughts about "who's right", who has the best "whatever" on life as a believer. Who convicts or make me feel the best. Who's in  the spiritual Robb Report this year. Who plays and sings the best. Who can I follow this year....  and in the words of "Men at Work", "Who can it be now"...

Hey, i'm  more and more coming to think, as in all things of life, "it's the journey not the prize, not the quantity but the quality" that we really should focus on. The  eternal prize is there, and it's a promise, and I hold to it firmly, but, 
We should work for work sake - not for the paycheck
We should give for the sake of giving - not for the return
We should love for love's sake - not for the selfishness in Eros or payback.
Sure sounds simple eh..

You know the world is full of different people searching for the same meaning to life as you and I. All with their 5 senses wide open as they navigate this blue marble.   Jesus lived amongst them and around them every day. Who honestly accepted Jesus, and who usually rejected Him for his words and deeds.  Who was He trying to reach and who's business was He about? I think He'd hang with Kiss before me. He sole my heart already.
Today when the world see's Christianity as we live and breath it, do they see Jesus, and His abundant life, His unconditional love, His complete trust in the Father? 
Do they ever see this through us ?  How often? 

Ok, they may be looking for every thing wrong and nothing right. Yes that's true. They may fight, run and hide from truth and grace, fully understanding in their flesh what they will have to give up to follow Christ. 
 Oh and we may say "What you gain is way better than what you give up", but honestly they look at us, instead of Jesus,  and too often say "do I really want to be like that"?
We need to throw off the chains of self-righteousness,  

and expose our boots for what they are quite often covered with, as we go about trying to tend this messy garden. Put down the tools on occasion, and open our arms to those within our reach. 
We must  put on the whole armor of God, but  never forget that it is held together by the greatest of all...  "Love".

That might  also mean putting down your umbrella, exposing yourself to  more "problems" and letting the rain actually mess your hair and get you wet infront of everyone who you want to respect you. We might have to actually pray for understanding from You, Father, instead of expecting if from man every day, somewhere, somehow.   We might have to learn to worship without a leader in front or around us. 

We might actually go out every day and interact with other believers, breaking bread wherever we are going or working.  Playing and worshiping and encouraging sharing and admonishing each other, one on one, two on two. wherever we are.   Building each other up, supporting each other, each within their own means, as well as praying for each other and developing relationships to the point where accountability, and covering , becomes a natural outpouring of love between friends.  
Gee wiz what would we call that.