28 December 2012

We Have Choices, Not a Right

I was thinking about the choices we have. We have the choice to do what is right or what is wrong, but we don't have the right to do what is right or what is wrong--only the right to do what is right. There are laws that we choose to either break or keep, but we don't have the right to break them--not really. We have the choice to steal from people but not the right. We have the choice to be rude to people or polite--but we don't have the right to be rude. A lot of the times I think we get choices confused with rights. It's probably an American pride thing. Or maybe a human pride thing.

The same thing is true with God. We have the choice to obey God or the choice to sin. But, we don't have the right to sin. We and all of creation rightfully belong to God, who created it all for us--for Him. We don't have the right to sin, only the choice.

In a way, it sounds like we have lost something, like we are not fully free. Not sure why we would want to sin anyway when it comes down to it. But even if we have lost something, we have also gained so much more.

If we really think about it, we have the distinct honor of mattering before God. God made us and cares about us. We may not have the right to sin, but we have the right to God's love, mercy, forgiveness, and all the other blessings that come with the territory of belonging to God. We may not have the right to do whatever we want, but that means that we have the privilege of doing things that God wants.
Why do we want to do what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do, which happens to also be the right thing? I don't know. But I do know that I don't mind it all that much. I matter to God. You do too.

23 December 2012

Country Song

Carheart coats and baseball caps
Old pickup trucks and ammo
Late nights, old rusty coon-traps
Cricket songs and front-porch bands
Sunday services dressed in cammo
Big bear-hugs, and callused working hands

Cowboy boots and Copenhagen
Wrangler pants and a country swagger
Bumper stickers that are still votin’ Reagan
Deep tracks left from Bud’s mud-tires
Where a fancy drink is an ice-cold lager
Dirt roads with friends and bonfires

Bailing hay in boots and overalls
Where a good date is barn-dancing
Up at the crack of dawn, deer-calls
Living and dying for freedom
Respect is important as romancing
Looking forward to Christ’s Kingdom

The Life We Have

This life we have,

It’s our fields of wheat, corn, and clover
A Song of love that hasn’t grown colder
A song about us that’s never, never over
The knowledge that you can cry on my shoulder
Miles and miles of clear blue skies
The simple song of love in your eyes

It’s not much, but I can’t think of anything I need more
It’s a simple life, built by the hearts of two
It’s the holding the one that I would fight and bleed for
It’s believing in a love that remains true
It’s my favorite tune on grandpa’s fiddle
It’s so much love for a child that’s so little

Just me and you and the little life we dreamed of
Country sunsets, full-moons, and the smell of spring rain
Knowing the world’s better with us teamed-up
It’s feeling the weight of the world’s strain
Seeing your wide smile at the end of a long day
And never running out of words to say

You may like these Goes Without SayingTime is in the Way if you liked this

21 December 2012

Master of My Fate

What we’re told to do, that is what we spend most of our time doing. It is a crippling thing that robs us of the freedom that we generally as humans thirst after. Anarchy would be one way to literally fight against the system, but is really not any better than the problem it aims to destroy. I have been thinking what can be done to fight back against a system that is constantly telling us what to do. One thing has occurred to me, to but alone respond to circumstances is to make circumstances your master—to have the course of your life dictated by the daily chances that are thrown your way. I do recognize that managing chaos will always be a part of life, but it should never be the sole focus of life. There is a time to let things take their place, but there is also a time to fight back. It’s tempting to set a rule, such as twenty percent of time should be spent dealing with circumstances and the other eighty percent on intentional goals, but there is no cut-and-dry set-in-stone formula to rely on.
If we are faced with a forced decision by circumstances, there is still a choice. We do not have to choose the one that people would like or that we would like. There is freedom in the decision then. We always have a choice.
Another way we have a choice is to go beyond what the circumstances require us to do. From so many places we learn to do what is expected, no more and no less. But when we decide to do more than what is asked or required, we are choosing our own destiny.
There is always room for freedom even within the smallest box that anyone can ever put us in. We always have choices. We are impossibly free. Freedom is really the only thing which we can’t escape from. At best, we can give up our freedom to another, but that still requires a choice and a decision, and a the very same every day after. Freedom is never as far away from you as your will to choose is.
Having the courage to have a will that is a different matter entirely…

19 December 2012

It's Personal

“It’s not personal.” That is what people always say when they are about to do something that hurts you in order to benefit themselves. “It’s not personal,” they says as they treat you unfairly as though you are not as valuable as they are. Truth be told, that is actually kind of personal. It’s as though they are saying that you are not as valuable as they are, that they are justified in being selfish because they are worth it and you are not.
For a long time, I had this idea that I should never take anything personal. I have the type of personality where I can shrug off an insult with relative ease. I can take a slap to the face and walk away with a smile. But, I’ve taken a closer look at that way of thinking—is that really the right response? When people wrong us, isn’t it the natural response to be offended. Is that really wrong. Is it wrong to feel wronged when we have been wronged? When I word the question that way, it sounds obvious. Why would it be wrong to feel wronged when we have been wronged. If we slam our fingers in the door, we feel pain, why is this any different? The simple answer is, it’s not.
When we don’t allow ourselves to take things personal, we step away from one aspect of what it means to be human. We accept attacks and don’t allow ourselves the instinctive reflex that is meant to protect us.
Let me explain what I mean by that. When we deny ourselves the courtesy of taking things personal, we are not dealing with the wound. When someone hurts us, we are hurt. Ignoring the hurt won’t heal the wound. We need to face the pain—take it personally. When we accept the fact that we have been wronged and take it personally, we are acknowledging the fact that we are human, that we have the ability to feel and be hurt. We realize that we are hurt and that matters because we matter. It’s showing ourselves respect.
Although that is the main point that I was trying to make, I should mention that we don’t have the right to hold grudges and become bitter. We need to acknowledge the wound, and then forgive those who inflicted it or else the wound will never heal but grow worse and worse, perhaps even becoming infected and spreading. So, feel pain, and then forgive. Take things personally, but then forgive the person.

18 December 2012

Naked Before God, Loved by God

When Adam and Eve heard God in the Garden, they hid themselves. Whatever happened when they sinned, the realization that they were naked before God set in. There has got to be a deeper meaning than they realized that they had privates. Something about them changed to where they were no longer able to stand before God. They needed something to cover themselves up. They were no longer whole to stand before the God who is completely whole in every way. They had been separated from God. It’s really big  news that sin separated them from God. Later on in scripture that truth is reavealed along with God’s plan to reconcile us to Him once more. And inevitably that is what happens. And as great and amazing as that is to think about. The fact of the matter is we (most of us realize that Jesus has brought us back) don’t actually live like we have been bought back.
I was laying here trying to go to sleep, mind drifting from topic to topic as usual. Then the thought challenge occurred to me: imagine you without everything, just you. In a way, imagine the completely naked you. Just the who you are deep down. What  does that person look like? Who is that person? Then the realization hit me. We are still trying to cover up our nakedness from God. We are trying to conceal our flaws, faults, and failures. It’s different for different people. Some have big homes, others prestigious jobs. Some it may be family. But at the end of it all, we are truly naked before God. We can’t hide from God. He sees us. He sees us in ways that we fail to see ourselves. He sees the deepest corners of our hearts that we have hidden from ourselves and from others.
Imagine with me a cute little girl. Young and precious like children are. Her dad gives her a tall glass of milk and some of her favorite cookies. Sitting down at the kitchen table together, they share the time in mutual love—unspoken, but true and strong. Suddenly, the little girl spills the milk. Instantly her little hands go up to cover her face in an attempt to hide from her mistake. Of course, the good father who poured her the milk is not angry. He know that his daughter will spill the milk from time to time. Yet, the little girl still hides her face.
We may be adults, but we are still children to God. We are still tender young children. But, we don’t see ourselves that way near enough. We see ourselves as clumsy kids who stumble into sin and error, stupid kids. And we try to hide from ourselves, or rather hide ourselves from God. But we can’t hide from God. Worst of all, there is no reason to hide from God.
After the little girl spills the milk, the good father scoops her up in his arms and tickles her. He does not go out of the way to punish her, but reinforces the fact that he loves her even though she spilled the milk.
We can hide in so many ways, but we can’t hide from the truth that God sees. God sees children whom he holds dear and precious to Him. If you have any reservations in accepting this, try thinking of God as your father—a perfectly loving father who is literally love. A father who loves you, the you that is often hidden. 

17 December 2012

Underestimate Me

We seem to constantly underestimate ourselves in every way. When was the last time that you thought you could do something, that when you started to work on it with all you had, you were unable to accomplish it? Most every time I have ever tried to accomplish something, I have discovered that I am able to be successful at it. I suspect the very same thing is true for  everyone. When we were younger, our parents, if they are good parents, tell us we can do anything that we want to if we work at it—and we believe them. Somewhere along the way, though, we quit believing that we are enough, that we have what it takes to accomplish the challenges that we face. We start to buy into the lie that we are weak and unable no matter how hard we try.
There are some things that we can’t do. But most of the things that we think are impossible, are really quite possible if we are willing to put in the effort and  not allow ourselves to become bullied around by circumstances. There is a lot of talk about having a high self-worth, but it would really be better to have an accurate understanding of true-worth. Rather than try to convince ourselves that we are really valuable, which seems to say that we are not valuable, but it is important for us to think that we are so we need to convince ourselves that it is true, why don’t we figure out what our true-worth is—that we have what it takes if we work hard.
Everyone can become truly great or become truly pitiful. The difference is in large part realizing what greatness is and being willing to take the steps to reach it.
Do you ever grow tired of underestimating yourself? I know I do. 

When Words Are Not Enough

It’s so surprise that words are not enough some times. Words are limited. They are just representations of meanings. We can take words and build a complex meaning from the relatively simple meaning of single words by building sentences, but there is a limit. We have all been at the point where there are words that we know and use, and then there is the meaning that we want to communicate. When we go to say that meaning, the words are not enough. It usually happens when we are trying to say something really important, tell someone what you really feel about them, say sorry for something, ask forgiveness, or ask for an apology.
It’s as though the human mind to invent words is not as great as our ability to feel and experience meaning. It’s as though our hearts are stronger than our minds. We have amazing minds, but they are weak compared to our hearts, which can understand things that our minds can’t, feel things that our minds don’t understand, and know things that our minds can’t grasp. The human heart is spectacularly deep and powerful. It can experience great depths of negatives and of positives, of love and hate, peace and disharmony, and a million other things—some of which words can’t discuss—only hearts.

11 December 2012

Shadow of Sorrow

In the shadow of sorrow my heart beats slowly to the sound of tears falling to the ground.
In the starless dark night I search for you memory, the only light in my future.
In the silence staring/waiting/listening for your twinkling eyes to lift my heart’s fallen leaves. 
Brick by brick’s weight tall, the realization of your absence sinks me deep in melancholy.
The earth of my spirit is broken like clay music from the quake of your gone.
Only the grey-scale hope of past pictures turns back the pages of my life to a time of happiness.
All the light of my soul now rests within your memory, buried in a thick/sour dust of future alone.

"I think my goal in writing this was to write something that was sad, yet not quite understandable. I think that I succeeded at that"

04 December 2012

Authentic You

Being authentic is a rare quality. It’s tempting and easy to allow the expectations of others to shape us into something we are not. We do it to fit in, to be accepted. But truthfully, you are not really accepted if people are accepting you based off of a fa├žade. In the end, it makes us feel cheap. To not be authentic about who we are has a way of making us feel that we are insufficient in ourselves and we must become something else to be accepted. When we are accepted for being something we are not, we are truly being rejected. For a while it feels good, and we can convince ourselves that it is good. But it eats away at the soul and leaves it empty.
I’m not advocating that we should be able to say and do and act any way we want and be accepted by others regardless of that. That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that we should be authentic, be sure enough of who we are that we don’t need the approval of everyone in order to feel good about ourselves. When I say people should accept us for who we are, I’m talking about things like types of food, humor, level of introvert/extrovert, morning or evening person. There are things that people should reject us for, and things we should reject in ourselves—that is a different story though.
What I mean by authentic is knowing who you are. Understanding likes and dislikes, goals and ambitions, strengths and weaknesses, and then not deviating on those when people try to influence us to do so. If you don’t like sports, don’t pretend you do, if you don’t like poetry, don’t pretend you do, if you are out with friends and they are all acting stupid, you don’t have to.
We ought to know who we are, understand what we are doing in life, and not change that because someone else thinks we should. People are more valuable than that. It’s degrading to conform.
One of my favorite things is when I see someone do something that is completely uncool. I think it’s great because I know that they are not worried about others, that I am seeing who they really are. I don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who they really are. They just have the dignity to be open. They are strong enough to accept the criticisms of others. In one way they are vulnerable because people can attack them for being themselves, but on the other hand, they are strong because they are fortified within the deep-seated understanding of their identity. That is the way everyone ought to be

Commit to Commit

Some people complain that the Bible is too complicated and difficult to understand, that no rational God would communicate in such a way. I question that if he had written it in crayon or finger-painted out for us a nice little book that people would find any less occasion to complain. Had He written down a simple 100 
step guide, people would dislike the simplicity of it. If he randomly came out of bushes that burst into pink fire, people would ask why he can't just show up in person. If God showed up in person, they would question why a powerful God would reduce himself to such things. If he spoke only from mountain tops and clouds, people would be upset that he didn't come down in person to talk to them when he wanted to say something to them.
The critic can always find an excuse to act the part of a critic. Having a critical mind and making the effort to scrutinize things is important, but there comes a point where being a critic is a form of cowardice--a non-committal excuse to believe in nothing except the inability to believe anything firmly.
Perhaps there is a place in thought for decision and commitment to belief. Perhaps there is a reason to use reason--draw a conclusion even. I find it the ultimate paradox that people who fancy themselves as resting on a higher intellectual tier than others dismiss their ability to know anything for certain. Knowledge has a way of making people stupid. Wisdom has a way of making people smart. It's easy to get that confused.
Had God written down a theological defense of himself, people would complain that there is more to being human than crunching data and facts. I really don't mind the way God chose to communicate. It has worked for thousands of years.


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