Thursday, October 28, 2004

What a difference a day makes...

The past 24 hours have been quite a ride. Although this at one level is a mundane account of my life, some elements are weird.

About 24 hours ago, the Red Sox won. While I would ordinarily be a pseudo-Cardinals fan, I was actually rooting for the Bo-Sox.

About 23 1/2 hours ago a renter called to say her ceiling had collapsed. I was asleep when the phone rang and wondered if I was still standing with one foot in the land of Winkin, Blinkin and Nod, but I had heard her correctly. Her ceiling collapsed. I paid for her family to stay in a hotel last night and had a crew there by 8:00 this morning. They came to the conclusion that the ceiling had collapsed because the renters had a huge stereo in that particualr room and knew how to use it. There was no real danger. Only the sheetrock fell. Still, $$$$.

About 18 hours ago I woke up unable to breath because I cannot shake a cold I caught in Nashville. Still, I was already awake for...

16 1/2 hours ago my dad called to tell me his van had been stolen overnight. Obviously, given my ties to organized crime (referenced in earlier blogs) he thought I might know something. However, I don't know anyone desperate enough to steal that piece of crap so I was no help. Sorry, Dad. I think there may still be hope that the thieves will feel sorry for you and bring you something better than they took. That shouldn't be too hard.

16 hours ago I took my son to the dentist for a 7:30 AM appointment. That is adding insult to injury. It was his first filling, too. Oh well. At least he got to get a local. When I was a kid I was not allowed to use any pain deadener. One good thing about such an early appointment time is...

15 1/2 hours ago at 8:00 AM I dropped Connor off at school. He wasn't even late. It was sadistically funny to watch him try to spit a loogie (sp?), though. Next time, wait 'til you can feel your lips. Just say "no" to stringers.

15 hours ago I was in the office.

14 hours ago I took a friend to pick up her car at the shop and reclaimed the truck she had borrowed to go get supplies for the collapsed ceiling. I managed to enter Lowe's while on the phone, purchase all the items I needed, pay, and leave without interrupting the phone call I was on. By the way, today's count for incoming cell phone calls- 31. Buy stock in Sprint.

13 1/2 hours ago I used the aforementioned truck to pick up a large antique hutch and deliver it to the home of the friend who had bought it.

13 hours ago I gave a friend a ride to his job.

12 3/4 hours ago I went to the doctor for some relief (finally).

11 1/4 hours ago I finally made it back to the office.

10 hours ago I decided to go home and go to bed. On the way I dropped off my prescriptions to be filled.

9 hours ago, I got more supplies for the ceiling.

8 1/2 hours ago I got a call from another friend needing a ride.

7 1/2 hours ago I went back to bed, but got more phone calls than I could count.

5 1/2 hours ago I left for a meeting to support some friends engaged in addictive behavior. I sat on a concrete floor with low-grade commercial carpet for 2 1/2 hours and heard things that absolutely blew my mind. There was way too much pain in that room and I am not talking about my caboose. Still, it's cool to see Hope crash that kind of party. After a time, I think Hope will bring along Joy.

1 hour ago I came home and saw a cool birthday message on the computer that my wife and kids had left for me. Even after the last 24 hours, I felt warm fuzzies. I talked to my wife, took some of my new drugs and decided to blog until they kicked in.

1/2 hour from now I will officially be 35. Sometimes after rough days I wish that number were reduced by about 20 years, but in the final analysis, I am glad I am where I am around the people I am around. I am blessed. I just hope that tommorow I am blessed with calmness.


Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you don't move.

Monday, October 25, 2004

And Counting...

Well, I am staring down the barrell from which my 35th birthday will be fired later this week. I may try to duck.

It's been a little different this year. I have been busy with other things and had kind of forgotten about my birthday. But when writing a check today, the cashier told me happy birthday and I noticed that it is pretty close.

It's not necessarily what people think of as a milestone birthday, but when I was younger (pre-21), 35 was a mark in time I was planning toward. I was intent on following in the footsteps of my brothers and not being married until at least I was 35. I certainly was not going to have kids until years after that. I was going to travel and do things pre-graduates find attractive. Right about now I was supposed to be settling down and falling in love with whichever lucky girl I chose.

Out of all that, I only got one right. I am still falling in love with that girl, although I am not sure how lucky she is. I, on the other hand, have been blessed way beyond what that goofy young kid could have ever imagined.

It's funny, someone once said that "Life is what happens while while we are busy trying to make plans." That is pretty true. As I approach that magic age I was shooting for, I look back on the years and see that I have been married for over twelve years to the most wonderful, beautiful, patient person in the world. I grew up in a great family only to have one of my own now that is more perfect than I can even comprehend. I have three kids that are so amazing that merely thinking of them at odd times during the day brings me near the brink of tears. I have an awesome job and participate in the efforts of a great church. By any true measure, I am more blessed than anyone deserves- especially me. Happy Birthday? You bet. And because of the way I have been blessed, I need to respond by in turn trying to be a blessing to others.

Forgive me if this post has been dripping with sappy nostalgia. If you run your computer through your washing machine on the gentle cycle, it should be fine. Just make sure you allow it to drip dry.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Oh My Papa

Monday I called my dad and told him I was pretty sure I had had a much more productive day than he, as a retired person, had had. The humor in this lies in the fact that my dad, though officially retired, works harder than anyone I know. Nevertheless, he humored me and asked what I had done.

"I voted," I said.

"Well, I just think that's wrong," he said.

"You mean you think retired people shouldn' be allowed to vote or you think it's wrong to vote early?" I asked.

"I think it's wrong to vote early," he said. "If your candidate gets hit by a bus between now and the election, you will have ended up voting for someone you know nothing about."

"True," I said. "But if I get hit by a bus between now and the election at least my vote will have counted. Besides, if we haven't learned anything from the left in this election, it's not about voting for anyone. It's about voting against the guy you hate, right?"

I think he may vote today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Easley Does It

I have a friend; we'll call him Mr. Easley. I call him that because he spells his name E-A-S-L-E-Y. Anyway, Mr. Easley and I have known each other for several years. I think it is safe to say that he is proud of the fact that you might describe his personality as caustic. (I am not sure at this point if I am the pot or the kettle.)

Our relationship has been interesting. He has openly criticized me for my faith saying things like "Religion is for fools that don't know better" or "Christianity is just a crutch for weak people." When I was sharing with him how my sister was such a great witness of faith in the face of her death, he even ridiculed that. Another sign of the coming apocalypse is that I did not lash out in rage at him for saying such things. Instead I would usually just tell him I was sorry he felt that way and I hoped that some day he would feel differently. The fact is, he had a softer center than he wanted to portray. Through the years, I have seen him do many things to help others less fortunate and I thought there might be potential in him. I occasionally asked him to come to Highland. He quickly refused except for once when he knew I would be singing. He said it was okay but just not something he wanted to waste his time with. I continued with my approach of just being his friend and offering to be there whenever he needed something.

Well, the reason I am writing about this right now is that I think there may have been a slight breakthrough this week. You see, Mr. Easley called me this week needing some legal help with a situation in a case in a Dallas court. I am not an attorney, but for whatever reason, people think I have contacts. I keep trying to tell them that I only minored in racketeering becase ACU did not offer it as a major, but still they seem to think I am some sort of "player." Anyway, I agreed to help him as much as I could. After making some calls, I called Mr. Easley last night to give him an update. Before hanging up, I reiterated that I wanted to help him any other way if I could. He responded by quietly asking me to pray for him and his family. That was big. I promsised him I would and I have kept that promise. So, I am asking anyone who might stumble across this blog to do the same. I cannot give details, but please pray for this young man's family and that this situation will be resolved and that through it God will receive glory.

That would be cool.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Don't Electioneer the Reaper

If you, like I, have noticed the increased intensity of blogging over political matters, you may have felt tempted, like I, to jump into the fray. Let me tell you fray jumpers, it is impossible to stay unbiased. Try as you might not to be, you are biased. CNN is biased, Fox News is biased, CBS is... actually, I am staying away from that one.

Today though, in light of some of the newer polls (by the way, I hate polls) I want to offer some words of comfort and encouragement to the pro-Kerry crowd. I am trying to do this without any bias toward either side by merely relaying some historical facts, but if it encourages some reader, then I have brightened someone's day with my little blog.

Kerry-ites take heart! There is something you need to know if, in fact, George W. Bush wins this election. He governs in the shadow of the Curse of the Presidential Death Cycle. No, that is not the name of the next Harry Potter book (as far as you know). Rather, this refers to the fact that between 1840 and 1960, every U.S. president elected in a year ending in zero either died in office of natural causes or was assassinated. Even in 1980, Reagan's assassination was attempted and very nearly successful. Astrologers say something like a very rare allignment of the stars explains that. Whatever.

In contrast, only one of the 29 presidents not elected in the 20 year cycle has died in office in the same time period.

Ooooo! Chilling.

Let me give you some details:

William Henry Harrison (elected 1840), dead in 1841 after one month in office.

Abraham Lincoln (1860) fatally shot in 1865.

James Garfield (1880), assassinated in 1881.

William McKinley (re-elected 1890), fatally shot in 1901.

Warren G. Harding (1920), died in 1923.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (re-elected in 1940), died in 1945.

John F. Kennedy (1960), assassinated in 1963.

Ronald Reagan (1980), Shot in 1980

George W. Bush (2000), ???

The venom for GWBush I keep hearing in the political arena suggests to me that news like this brings hope to the left. Just think, even if he wins, he might die, so there's that to look forward to. Keep your chin up!

In related news:

Soilent Green is people!!! It's people I tell you!

Area 51 is an alien truck stop.

Elvis is alive and living in an arts and crafts commune with D.B. Cooper and Osama Bin Laden in rural Indiana.

O. J. is innocent.

Highland has female elders!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Everybody loves a nut

When I was a kid I had a Johnny Cash record where he sang silly songs. One of my favorites had the following chorus:

Everyone loves a nut
The whole world loves a weirdo
Brains are in a rut-
Everyone loves a nut!

In a related story, I love those commercials for Emerald Nuts. If you have not seen them, go to and watch their commercials online. The whole website is well done and endears me to this company even more. They do not take themselves seriously at all. Here are some other possibilities for future commercials.

Nail technicians












Any others?

Chito and the Man

I have a friend and colleague named Chito. That's not his real name, but everyone knows him as Chito. Chito comes from a world that is very different from mine. He is about 340 pounds of Hispanic gruffness until you get to know him. He has been involved in gangs. He has been behind bars more than once. We are as different as night and day, but the other day I felt it to be a great compliment when he said I was just like him. But let me back up.

I first met Chito several years ago when I sang at a wedding held at a premiere home in Abilene. He was the groundskeeper. This meeting was very brief and he did not even recall that meeting when he came to my office several years later for our next meeting. This time, I was a loan officer at a local bank and he was looking for someone to give him a chance. I made him a loan and he never disappointed me.

Eventually, our paths crossed again when we actually came to work for the same employer. We see each other daily and in the mornings we often meet to plan out his day. One morning last week, however, our conversation touched on other matters. He told me he had seen "The Passion of the Christ" for the first time and it had really impacted him; to the point that he had even cried. I asked him to tell me more. He said that it was just amazing to see how He was treated.

"I felt sorry for 'em," he said. I thought he meant he felt sorry for "'im" so I commented that He did really suffer.

"No," he said. I mean, I did feel sorry for Him, but I felt sorry for the guys doin' it."

"He went though that for them, too," I said.

"Yeah, but that's just some bad guys, there."

"There are a lot of bad things going on these days, too. Hussein, Hitler, others. If He could forgive the guys doing that to Him, what does that mean to us? What does that mean to you?"

"I know," Chito said. "I really believe that, too. But I just kinda do my own thing. I've been to church and grew up going to church (before he left home at age 14) and my mom made us listen to that stuff. But I quit goin' because it's more about money and I don't go for that stuff."

"Even if people have made church about money like you say, Jesus isn't about money."

He said he knew that, but that he had still been disappointed in "churchy" people. He told stories about how he had been introduced to people who went to my own home congregation, Highland. "They are all nice to me here but if I see them away from here and they are with friends they act like they don't know me."

"That does stink," I admitted. "But that's not Jesus either. In fact, that's another reason why Jesus went through what you saw in that movie." I went on to apologize for the way he had been treated and told him to let me know if he ever felt slighted by me. It was then that he paid me a great compliment by saying that I wasn't like that but just acted like I was no better than him or any of his friends. We went on to discuss faith for at least another 20 minutes or so even after another friend, Ismael joined in. Chito had to interpret much of this because Ismael is a Mexican national who speaks little English. I don't know how far all of this will go. I do know I told the guys that I would pray for them whether they liked it or not and with them whenever they wanted. They thanked me and said they knew I prayed and they thought that was cool.

It was a neat exchange and I learned some things because of it. First, I learned that living out things in front of guys like this go much further than preaching down to them. I know that we would never have had the kind of genuine conversation we had otherwise.

I also learned that "religious speech" has a very limited appeal to people outside our normal "churchy" circles. In fact, it does more to turn them off. This says a great deal about the types of worship services we currently cling to and just how effective they are beyond the point of "preaching to the choir."

Basically, all of this is a commentary of how evangelism in a postmodern world has a much different face than what we may be used to. Chito is not the only person with whom I have had conversations like this. But the most impactful and promising conversations have been those that resulted from a more casual approach rather than simply saying "let me tell you about Jesus." In McLaren's model of belong, believe, behave it is obviously addressing belonging first. I really think there is something to that. Therefore, my prayer is to that I will never elevate myself above others but instead form relationships with them where they are and then let the Spirit work. Try it.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

What's it all about?

I like for my blog to be all over the map. While the last one was pretty serious, I feel this pull drawing me back to the ridiculous. So, speaking of the Hokey-Pokey (previous blog), the old H-P transcends traditional boundaries of class, race and even time. In light of that, how might different people put their "spin" on it? Perhaps...


O proud left foot, that ventures quick within.
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Pokey,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heaven's yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely thou canst go, Girl.
The Hoke, the Poke -- banish now thy doubt.
Verily, I say, 'tis that on which the world doth spin.

A Redneck

Stick in them piggies
Sooooeee!! Come on back, pigs!
Stick yer piggies back over there.
Git 'er done and shake yer bacon!
Commence to Hokeyin' and Pokeyin' and do a donut better 'n' old number 3 (God rest 'im)
That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

John Kerry

You put your left- no wait, right foot. Well, maybe it is the left. Actually, it may be my perogative to put both feet in it, so to speak. Wait, it couldn't be the right foot. That one was shot off in Vietnam. Want to see one of my Purple Hearts? Actually, I think I may just hire someone to shake it all about. No. Well? Hmm...

Paris Hilton

Umm. Like, which one is my left?

Snoop Dogg

Yo. It's the Hizzle Pizizzle, Know what I'm sayin'? Put in the lizzle fizzle.
("Excuse me Mr. Dogg. Fizzle is a real word."
No shizzle?")

Johnny Cochran

If it's the wrong foot, you must not put!

The Hamburglar

Robble Robble Robble
Robble Robble Robble
Robble Robble Robble
Robble Robble Robble Robble Robble
Robble Robble Robble Robble Robble Robble Robble
Robble Robble!

Floyd the Barber

Oooh. The left foot, ya say?
That's gr- You know my mother used to say I had two left feet.
Did I ever tell you about my mother?
She used to make the best gooseberry pie!
Ha-ha! What if you stuck your foot in a pie?

John Madden

So anyway, he runs around this side over here and BOOM! He sticks his left foot in there. Sure that's good coaching, but if you ask me he just may be better at that than anybody in the NFL. And after that he shakes it all about over here like you can see on the telestrator. And then over here and then BAM!!; again over here!

Mary Katherine Gallagher

Sometimes I like to stick my left foot in and then I- (ssssnifffff) I smell it like this.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Put your left foot in there and hold... Keep holding girlie man! Feel the burn! Keep holding! Don't stop!!!


I can't take another step, Sam. My burden is too great. I must stop. I am going to fail. Why, oh why did I think I could ever see this quest through to it's completion? I cannot even raise my left foot.

Dr. Phil

All I'm sayin' is that your duty to yourself, to your family and to your friends is to stick you left foot in. I don't wanna hear none o' this nonsense or excuses about why you can't or shouldn't. You just need to belly up to the bar and do it. Then once y'all have accomplished that goal that you set for yourself you need to stick that left foot back out there again. The key, then, is to persevere and not give up and to shake it all about. Once you have reached within yourself and found that strength deep inside you that allows you to reach this level of performance, y'all can then reward yourself. That's right. Reward yourself. Y'all have done a great job with the Hokey-Pokey, so turn yourself around. The whole darn deal is just so pivotal.

Austin Powers

Are you ready, baby?! Then stick your left foot in, Baby! Yeah! It's lovely foot, too if you don't mind me offering my two pence worth. Rowr! What were we talking about?

That's the kind of stuff you come up with when you're home sick like I am today. Gotta keep my idiot skills honed in case I ever want to go into politics.

Any others?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My apologies to Andy Rooney, but do you ever wonder…? Do you ever just ask hypothetical “what if” questions? Do you ever ask some “what if” questions that may not actually be hypothetical? Do you wonder if this question is itself hypothetical therby putting whoever reads it in danger of some vicious loop? I do.

I presented one such “what if” scenario to the guys in my accountability group recently. It may perhaps be more than hypothetical and instead be quite possible or even likely. I do not pretend to know, but I think my notion that it is even a remote possibility might be decidedly unpopular; at least it was to the guys.

What follows may very well be a failed attempt to articulate an idea that quite possibly exists only in my own mind. Sadly, ideas in my head rarely translate to a train of thought that others may easily follow. As a result, these views may sound more controversial than they actually are at their root. But any time emotionally charged issues are discussed, people often make assumptions about the views of another party or jump to conclusions that neither party in the discussion may actually hold.

First, let me present to you the lyrics of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman.

And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most:
“I just don’t know.”
And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
‘Til I stand here on this stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall
Oh, but fall I must on the truth that my life has been formed from the dust

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture he’s painting
God is God and I am man
And I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God

And the skies begin to thunder
And I’m filled with awe and wonder
And the only burning question that remains
Is “Who am I?”
Can I form a single mountain?
Take the stars in hand and count them?
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me?
He is first and last
Before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
And I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God.

Oh, how great are the riches
Of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable
For to Him and through Him and from Him are all things
So let us worship before the throne of the One who is worthy of worship alone

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture he’s painting
God is God and I am man
And I’ll never understand it all
‘Cause only God is God
Only God is God

- God is God

I am a big Steven Curtis Chapman fan because I think his lyrics are truly thoughtful. In this particular song, he introduces us to the idea that the Wisdom of the Ages may actually have a better understanding of the universe than we do. It’s a stretch, maybe, but I can almost see myself buying into that notion someday. Doing so might yield a certain peace of mind in light of events that we witness in this world, but I do not believe that these views are merely a coping mechanism. I believe that these thoughts are not necessarily inconsistent with scripture and a strong faith. Do not misunderstand. I am not saying they are exclusively consistent with these standards because other views also stand firmly when held in the same light. Sadly, many things appear to.

First, let me tell you what I believe. I believe that God created the universe and everything in it. I believe that he is a loving God who wants great things for us- most importantly that we can have eternal life with him. I believe that Jesus is God’s son and that He became a man just like any of us but completely infallible. I believe the fact that He was a mere man is a critical point to God’s plan. I believe that God’s plan is an effort to reconcile a fallen world to Him because He loves us. I believe this love is manifested in many ways. First, He sent His Son to this world. Most importantly, He overcame the sin and lies of this world by sacrificing His son through a cruel death. In doing so, He gave us a hope and a promise that points beyond this world. Until that promise is actually brought to fruition I strongly believe- I know- that God loves us and that He cares for us; grieving when we grieve, rejoicing when we rejoice and leaving His Spirit here until our work on earth is done. That “work” is to carry on the example of love set by Christ while he was here on earth as a man.

All of that sounds pretty simple, and on one level, it really is. Those are basic tenants of belief that I cling to. But even in the midst of these basic beliefs- or basic truths, if you will- life can get complicated. Things happen in our lives that we cannot explain or in some cases even accept. And we wonder how, in light of these things we tell ourselves are basic truths, can the two co-exist. Not even two weeks ago an old college roommate of mine lost his wife and three young sons in a traffic disaster. Yet we bask in the glow of a loving God. Don’t we? I lost both my mother and sister to cancer while they were in their 30’s. But what about basking in the glow of a loving God? Children suffer horrible pain and disease. Wars explode around the world. People want to kill other people just because of where they are from. Planes fly into towers. Abusive relationships are everywhere. Suffering is rampant. But what about the warm glow of that loving God?

Several years ago when I was a banker I was in Atlanta for a conference. It was one of those trips that I was not enjoying. For some reason, one of the co-owners of our bank had decided it would be a good opportunity for his son to start learning the family business and he sent him with me. Essentially, I found myself serving as a baby-sitter to someone who should have been one of my peers. He had checked some rifles through to Atlanta because he was leaving immediately from there to go on a hunting trip but they had not arrived so I waited at the airport trying to find them between screams at the airline personnel. Giving up on that endeavor, we finally checked into the conference late. Less than ten minutes into the first class he disappeared only to be found later at the hotel bar which he used as merely a warm-up. In short, I was not having a good time and I was ready to go home. Then came the phone call from my secretary.

“Val, Nikki and Matthew were killed last night and Sue wants you to be here and to sing at the funeral.”

I numbly hung up the phone. Sue was one of my colleagues at the bank. Her daughter Nikki came into the bank frequently with her young son and we had all gotten to be good friends. But now Nikki, in her late twenties, and Matthew, age four, were gone. I flew back to Abilene and helped Sue work through some things and met with Nikki’s pastor. The funeral was as sad an affair as you might expect when you see a full-size and child-size coffins next to each other. I sang of hope and deliverance and the crowd got up to leave. Another co-worker from the bank, Nancy, asked for a ride back to office. I obliged and we got in the truck. Nancy was and is a strong, quiet, no-nonsense, tough-as-nails woman who reveled in the idea that she had the reputation as a “ball-buster.” She had become the CFO of our organization and ruled her domain with an iron fist and no apologies for her tough manner. In light of all this, I was surprised when she spoke.

“Do you believe all that sh**?” she asked softly.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“All that stuff you sang and the stuff the preacher said. Do you really think stuff like this would happen if any of it were true?”

“I guess you’re not buying it,” I said.

“Nope,” she said. “I am the only one looking out for me and that’s just the way it is for everyone.”

“Pretty hopeless outlook.”

“It’s just reality based on logic,” she said, nailing me with an argument I would normally use. It took me a moment to recover- that is, in the sense that I am still living in the moment. Still, I tried to respond.

“Well, using your logic, what is the point of anything? I mean, living itself is terminal. You’re dying right now and so am I. When it happens to someone we think of as young and vibrant it really stings but it still happens to everyone sooner or later. I just happen to believe that God has a way of healing all of that.”

I don’t pretend to understand God. To do so could be dangerous. I mean, if Moses could only look at His back as He walked away, what does that say about seeing His face? And how, then, would that extend to understanding His thoughts? Nevertheless, there are some things He has revealed to us. We know that He wants to reconcile us to Him. He wants us to give Him glory and it is for this that we were created. These two thing will come to fruition in eternity. In light of this, when we ask God for things to improve our lives here on earth, could it be that we are missing the point? If we think of God merely as a Santa Clause personality, are we only seeking to get from Him rather than give to Him? If we only pursue this relationship with Him to get what we can out of it, are we filling the role of mere vampire Christians (as Brian McLaren would say) wanting Christ only for His blood and seeking no other relationship beyond that?

What if God wants us to be people of “free will?” What if, beyond that, He does not involve Himself in changing matters of this earth but instead in offering their solution, their salve, their balm? What if He meant it when He said “In this world you will have trouble?” Why did He say He had overcome the world instead of saying He would fix the problems of it? What if Satan goes around like a roaring lion to kill and destroy but God wants us to rely on Him anyway and look beyond those things?

What if God set the laws of nature in motion and rather than serve as puppet master He serves as a counselor by sending His Spirit, pointing us instead to an existence that is not just a vapor? Could it be that the purpose of the Spirit is to guide our hearts and souls instead of performing otherwise visible miracles?

“Outrage! Blaphemer! You are trying to say God has no power to work in this world,” some might say. I am not at all suggesting God does not have the power to perform miraculous changes in our world. But why, with His heavenly perspective, would He want to? It’s almost as silly as the old notion of whether or not God can create a rock so big that even He could not lift it. What is the point? The point is not for God to prove His power in this world, but rather His power over it; even beyond it.

The simple fact is our logic cannot be applied to situations because we are mere humans. He has revealed to us what we need to draw near Him and He desperately wants us to do so and to help others do the same. After all, when we apply our own logic, we look at situations like Matthew 4 and say “God, you could’ve thrown yourself off the temple and really shown your power.” Meanwhile Christ often showed His power only to insist on confidentiality.

Where am I going with all this? I don’t honestly know. Do I still pray when people are sick for their healing? Sometimes I do- perhaps hedging my bets. More often, I pray for their peace, comfort and assurance. Still, I think that God’s emphasis on the eternal are not accidental-even as we concentrate on the temporal. I do not pretend to have an understanding of it all, but I rely on the One who does.

Here is how it was put by a friend of mine, Don Bowen, said shortly before His death:

“God is in control. I believe that with all my heart. I know that God can do any miracle He desires. I know that if it is God’s plan, He can heal me. But I want you to understand that I also know this: my physical well-being is not a test for God; it is not a test of God’s mercy; it is not a test for the faithfulness of this church; it is not a test for the power of your prayers; because God has healed me.

We know how this comes out.

That is the beauty of all of this. We have no confusion about how all this comes out. We see a lot of the power Satan in the world, but we know that the battle has been won by God. It is not a negotiated peace; it is over. God won. Whatever God’s plan for my physical health, I pray that my family’s faith will remain strong and that this church’s faith will remain strong.”

Then he blessed all those present by saying:

“May the spirit of Christ be renewed in each of us. May the saltiness of our tears wash away our doubts and all our fears. May we claim quiet strength in suffering. May we never, never lose our faith in You. May each heart here be filled to overflowing with God’s hope. May our united voices proclaim your healing love for each of our souls, no matter what happens. May we say to each other and the world around us, ‘God will take care of us.’”

Amazing testimony.

So, after all this, am I any closer to proving anything. Nope. I am not sure Christ was about proving right or wrong anyway. Am I any closer to understanding how we should pray? Well, not really. Christ's example says more on that than I could (very Spirit filled). Do I know what it's all about?
No, except that I have concluded it isn't really the Hokey-Pokey. Should I keep searching? Well, at least that's a definitive "yes."

Monday, October 04, 2004

Let me tell you psalm-thing

Like so many other bloggers, I just came off a great weekend at the Zoe Conference. As I considered the theme, "Desperate," it occurred to me that maybe something was missing. We discussed and attended classes on many things; elements of worship, discipleship and more. But I thought about how the psalmist expressed feelings when desperate and I thought, why don't we do that any more? Don't get me wrong, I am not a great poet and frankly I don't always understand such verse, but some people might really have a gift for that and I would like to enjoy those gifts. It's just a thought, but I would be interested in knowing if I am just being weird or does anyone else wonder about such things? I think my sister may have wondered the same thing, because shortly before she died she penned a psalm. Here it is if you're interested. It makes me want to think about writing some as well.

A Psalm of Peace

In the dark, quiet hours of the morning I will
listen for you God. I will sit in your peaceful home
by the open window to your heart and listen for your footsteps.
I will see your face in the eastern sun as it rises.
I will hear your voice calling me when the birds awaken.
I will smell the fragrance of your presence in the
freshness of the new dawn.
I will say good-bye to the sadness and failure
of yesterday, and fill my morning cup with the joy of
the wisdom you’ve taught me, and be strengthened
for the new day.
Reach deeply within me and stroke my heart today.
I’m ready to accept your healing touch and listen to your
words of love. I rejoice in giving my love to you.

By Vicki Dell