Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who's Your Boogie Man?

In the 1970's a musical group named K.C. and the Sunshine Band recorded a song that was extremely popular called, "I'm Your Boogie Man". The tune came into my head recently and stayed in there long enough to chase out the thought, Who is this Boogie Man? Yeah, I know. If I can remember the tune, I am close to being a relic of antiquity. I'm telling my age. But the older I get, the more I come to terms with life. Telling my age is just another thing I'm not afraid of anymore. But the "boogie man" is still a concept of my consciousness that needs to be addressed. The lyrics of this song are such that I wonder why people of my generation ever gave it a serious hearing. Well...I've just thought through that notion and answered the question for myself. We've never been the most clearest of thinkers. A few of these lyrics demonstrates that when language is used in general (rather than specific) terms, it leaves room for the mind to wonder...and wander. Check out some of the lyrics: I'm your Boogie Man... that's what I am...I'm here to do... whatever I can. What does that really say?? So here's the leftover thought, which came out of my head at nearly the speed of light, as far as I can tell. The "boogie man" concept seems to be inherent in nearly every culture. Almost everyone seems to have grown up with the knowledge that there really is a boogie man. At least in our minds. So, if he is really there, what does he really want??
The culture in which I grew up was primarily small town and rural. We altered the boogie man's pronunciation, and even the spelling. Our Boogie Man was called the Booger Man. Boogers are boogie terrorists. In my time, I've heard tell of some mighty scary boogers! Anyway, as children, we were cautioned and counseled (politically correct terminology for threatened and terrorized) to behave ourselves or the booger man would come and get us. We were never told what he would do when he got us or where he would take us. That part was left for the imagination. For a young mind to be so soon a-wondering about such things and a-wandering through life was pretty scary. Further looking into some of this song's lyrics can give one the impression that this boogie man is there to do whatever he could to please the listener. Kind of like the boogie man was some sort of genie, your-wish-is-my-command sort of thing. He was there to serve whoever is listening to the song. This is a rather seductive suggestion. Well, my booger man philosophical worldview goes something like this. The booger man is in our earliest memories because he is real. We are born with that reality in place. And he is not there in our lives to serve us. He is there to be served. His presence is not there as a deterrent for bad behavior...he is the source and originator of bad behavior. He dominates our lives because he is a strongman, who inhabits our thinking and intends to control our behavior. He is not our friend. He is our enemy. And he is the enemy of God. The Booger Man is the devil. And it is his intention to destroy our lives by holding us captive. Wow. If that was the end of the story, it would be sadder than sad. But consider Jesus. He has hope for this grim reality. The authority of Jesus is constantly being questioned. Always has been. But questioning authority does not change the truth. Jesus is ultimate authority. He is stronger than the strongman. He's the booger man's booger man! And on one occasion He had this to say: "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house." (Matthew 12:28-29) Jesus, God in the flesh, has come to destroy the works of the devil. The kingdom of God has come upon me when I fear God more than I fear the booger man.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Making A Bold Statement

More times than I have been willing to count I have been in the spotlight, and sometimes the hot seat, for making bold statements. As a child I would get in trouble with my mother when I would tell her that I was not going to do what she wanted me to do. She would often say, “That's a mighty bold statement!” That would be the last thing she said until she demonstrated what the result can be when you have a lack of discretion about making bold statements. You need to be careful who hears you make bold statements!
When you make a bold statement, it can be very costly to you and those around you. In the workplace, a bold statement that is in opposition to the boss's philosophy may cost you your job. Disciples of Jesus Christ will often find themselves with the opportunity to give credible testimony of God's incredible power. When that happens, there are risks associated with making bold statements. When we suffer for making bold statements about the favor of God, our questions become, is it all worth it? Why does God put us in these uncomfortable situations anyway? Wouldn't it be easier just to keep quiet?
When we have our head on straight, and our thinking is focused on eternal things, it makes a little more sense. Here's a news flash. God is not as concerned for our comfort as He is with the integrity of His name. He wants others to know about the faithfulness of His provision. Often that only comes from the mouth of a witness. We should not be ashamed of suffering for Christ. Consider what this ancient witness says in the Bible:
...we may boldly say, " The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me." (Hebrews 13:6)
Because of what God's word boldly says, we can make two bold statements:
This help is nearby and constant. I don't have to wait hours, days or months for help to come. His help is immediate. He is with me. He will never leave me.
Only fools will attack a superior force. With God on our side and at our side, whom shall we fear? The real danger is living our lives enslaved to fear. When we fear God, man is no threat.
Are you living in fear of suffering some loss of perceived status in the eyes of those people around you? Or are you concerned with what the eyes of the Lord sees?
Take the opportunities that God presents to testify about His greatness. See what God can do with your witness in the world and in the workplace. Fear God. And fear nothing. Be bold. Be free.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

I wasn't the only grandpa there, but we were certainly in the minority. I was asked to fill in for a dad in a preschool class for five-year olds. It was "Doughnuts for Dads" day. The plan was that the dads (or their substitutes) would spend some time sharing a doughnut and a small part of the first part of their day with the child. What a great concept. It was a sight to behold. All those men trying to sit in those tiny little chairs at those tiny little tables was hilarious, but in my case was hazardous. Once I got down that low, I didn't know if I could ever stand up straight again! The kids were so excited as they served the men their doughnuts and I could see that this day meant a lot to them. Then I saw a couple of kids that made me sad. They had no dads or fill-ins with them. They were just watching the others interact. I wonder what they were thinking. I silently prayed for them to overcome such a shortcoming in their early lives. I began to muse about the influence that a father has in the life of their children when they are present to share in their lives, or even when they share some doughnuts. There is also a huge influence when a father is absent...not only on "Doughnuts for Dads" day, but everyday and all day. Nothing compares with the lack of a father's presence. But here is one thing that competes with it. It's the father who is "there, but not here". I saw a few of those. At least five of the men were there with their cell phones in their ear, managing their business from a distance, while the children were competing for their attention, close by, yet far away. The kids tried in vain to show a couple of the fathers a favorite book of theirs or something they had made. "Doughnuts for Dads" only lasted a few minutes. In fifteen minutes we were done. I wonder how many of these fathers had gone to a movie lately or a concert where the cell phone was off limits, and they willingly complied. In ancient times, I wonder how guys like me ever survived when someone left a message while we were busy and we called them back later. I don't want to sound like I was the perfect father. But I am speaking from a perspective of one who may have been "there, but not here" more than I realized. We can waste the years we have been given to be a great influence when our priorities are skewed. The potential for damage is great. Communication works like this. When one person calls another, they usually have the option of leaving a message...or not. The person who was called has the option to return the call...or not. If there are too many unreturned calls, the day will come when there will be no more messages. There will be no more calls. The caller will talk to others, interacting with them and being influenced by them, for good or evil. For the fathers who are "there, but not here", I'd like to leave the following message: Hey, dude...listen up! Your children are calling you... They have left many messages... they will stop calling you sooner than you think...take the phone out of your ear and put it in your pocket...nothing is more important today than hearing your child's heart, interacting with them, and using your influence...for good and not evil. Consider the following:
"Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem; ...He did evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. For he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. So he forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD." (2 Kings 21:19-22)
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)
It's hard to argue with this kind of Fatherly wisdom, don't you think? Can you hear me now???
Blessings to you,

Friday, May 16, 2008

One Man's Trash, Another Man's Treasure

I guess I am one of the last holdouts when it comes to garbage pickup. Most of the neighbors have curbside pickup, although our street doesn't have curbs. They roll their trash carts out at night and the truck comes early in the morning to collect it, rather noisily, I might add. But I still take my trash to the local collection site. It's a state of the art facility, with different kinds of bins and dumpster containers for cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass, and paper recyclables. There is also one for metal objects. Lately, it has been a time-consuming and frustrating experience. I don't know how much longer I can hold out being a holdout. No matter what day of the week or time of day, there always seems to be a line of vehicles that stretches all the way out into the road. If you are the last in line, as one will always be at some point, it can be pretty hazardous for your health with the rear end of your vehicle sticking out in the travel lane of the passing traffic. Then, as I approach the dumpster, in absolutely no danger of setting any land speed records, my blood pressure goes up when I see the "garbage nazi". That's what I have decided to call him. He seems to wait until it's my turn to throw my garbage bags away to bring an already snail's pace operation to a complete halt. As I get out of the pickup truck, he decides to close the door to the dumpster and spend a few minutes compacting the trash. So I wait. Now I know the trash needs compacting inside the container. It's way more economical to transport compacted trash, especially with the high fuel prices, these days. But it always seems to be my turn when this happens. Isn't my time worth something, I ask myself? To make matters worse, this guy inspects what you throw away, spotting a plastic recyclable or a piece of cardboard in the back of the truck. So he informs me how to properly dispose of these things in their respective places. By now, I have identified him as the primary cause of the backed up line all the way out to the road. Sometimes, I have been so frustrated with the wait, I have gotten out of line and driven away, as a sign of protest. And while I'm thinking I really showed him, the wind in the back of the truck whips these bags around when I get up to highway speed. This causes me to wonder if these bags could blow out, becoming a traffic hazard, as I begin to imagine what it would be like if a tractor trailer truck ran over the bag of trash. Not to mention about what kind of mess this would make, I begin to think it would really not be in my best interests for my trash to be exposed to the world... I might have my identity stolen from some scrap of paper containing some personal information! So I experience no small amount of anxiety over a hypothetical situation. Since I don't talk to myself as much as I used to and my "self" no longer responds as wisely as I'd like, I have started to talk to God about this. It is amazing what happens when you pray. Lately, there's been another guy at the dump. I call him the garbage servant. Before I can get out of the pickup truck, he often reaches over in the back and throws my garbage bags away. He is pleasant and helpful and always tells me to have a "blessed" day. Here's my new perspective. The garbage dump in itself produces two kinds of folks. One who stays at a distance, pointing to the place where you must discard your garbage and really doesn't care about your scheduled and agenda-laden life. The other one gets involved with the process. He actually touches the trash, disposing of it himself. This one is a servant. We are born into a world that on its best day, is a garbage dump. I know the beauty of the sunset or ocean breezes and mountain ranges can be pretty awesome to experience. But this world is dying and cursed with the fallen nature of sin. And the only hope is that One came to this dump and bore the curse of all humanity so we could be restored. Creation is His recreation. He is personally involved in our lives, and cares about us. He not only tells us to dispose of our garbage, He helps us do it. Jesus came as a servant. He's coming again as Lord. His desire is to bring about a truly "blessed" day.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
This is encouraging for those of us in the garbage dump of life today. man's trash...another man's treasure. Is Jesus your treasure today?
Blessings to you,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Love's Language

The man kept talking to me all afternoon. He was so enthusiastic and I sensed his desire was very strong to have me comprehend what he was saying. Sadly, as we rode the same bus, traveling the same road, we failed to communicate. An afternoon of my life was shared with another human being and even though we were traveling life's road together, we never quite understood each other. We just weren't speaking the same language. Or maybe we were after all. But only one of us wanted to listen.
Back then I was a young American in the Air Force and he was an older Korean man. Every few minutes, he tried to speak slower so I would understand what he was saying. He even drew a couple of pictures for me of what appeared to be a large truck with two stick men standing beside it. About three hours into our journey, he flashed a broad smile, shouted something in Korean, reached into his wallet and flashed an ID card with English and Korean writing. Under the smiling picture was his name and occupation. I don't remember his name. But I never will forget what he did for a living. He was probably the most excited sanitation worker I have ever met!!! But he was also excited about something else he wanted me to understand.
Language can be such a barrier to communication. The language of love has many barriers to keep us from connecting. Because God is love, His language is love. He speaks out of His nature. Because He wants His people to speak love, there are many natural barriers. The language of this world is diametrically opposed to godly communication. The world’s systems are not supportive of the language of love. Now I’m not talking about how the world defines love. I’m referring to God’s love. A supernatural love…Love that communicates patience…while we live in a fast food, drive by world. God’s love speaks contentment when we are tempted to want more and more of what we have enough of already. Godly love is marked by humility and selflessness in a world filled with pompous braggarts and selfish pleasure, (and treasure) hunters. God’s love finds joy in right livng while the world celebrates and flaunts wrong ideas and attitudes. God’s love will motivate us to share it. It’s too marvelous to keep to ourselves.
I recall that the Korean man also had a book in his lap. It was a bible, written in English and Korean. He kept reading parts of it and pointing to the English translation, trying to get me to read it. I kept acting as if I didn’t understand. My problem was that I understood all too well. It was a time in my life where I needed God more than ever. I was a stranger in a strange land, alienated from God, and living as though I didn’t need Him. I was a living example of arrogance on display. But God was on my trail. Trying to break through with His language of love, using a trash man’s passion for the Treasure he had found, God was symbolically communicating in His language of love. He had placed me on a bus, sitting next to one of His people, sharing His language of love one more time. I can see it pretty clearly now. When God is on the hunt of a human, He will chase us until we follow Him. Listen to how God defines His language of love.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;... (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
What is He saying to you today? Who is He speaking through? Love never fails.
Blessings to you,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Holding Things Together

Humpty Dumpty makes me sad. Or at least the story does. I never knew Humpty Dumpty. But I have known some people who have "had a great fall". Imagine someone sitting at the highest place of achievement in their life. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. The imagery pictured here is that Humpty Dumpty is in a safe place. The wall represents to me a high place of relative security...maybe Humpty had built the wall himself. That would be another reason to feel secure. To have arrived at the pinnacle of a self-made life can bring one to think that we truly are the masters of our universe, the "captains of our soul". When we are sitting on the top of our castle wall or at the pinnacle of our Wall Street kingdom, it's kind of hard to see ourselves anywhere else.
Have you ever wondered what Humpty was doing there…sitting on that wall? Perhaps he (or she) was reflecting on how good life really was or maybe how life had suddenly become so complicated. Perhaps Humpty was contemplating jumping off that wall or desperately trying to muster the courage to face another Humpty Dumpty day. Whatever the reason, I wonder if the fall was a total surprise. I wonder if Humpty could see the fall coming or was he totally blindsided? Was the fall self-induced or did it result from the actions of another? The familiar lines of the nursery rhyme do not answer these many questions. But we are told two hard, cold facts: The fall was great…The damage was beyond repair.
The Humpty Dumpty story is so sad because it mirrors the human condition. Some of us fall from high to low places. Some of us depend on all the king's horses and all the king's men to fix our brokenness. What we discover is that indeed all of these could not put Humpty Dumpty or our shattered lives together again. The part that makes this human scenario so sad is depending hopelessly on the king's resources and the king's men to fix broken lives. The tragic part is that we forget about the King. In God’s word, the Colossian letter begins with the proposition of truth that Jesus, the Christ was, is, and always will be the King of the Cosmos; He is the King of the created universe, all we know about and all that we don’t. The words in chapter one expound on the power of Christ to create and sustain all of creation. These words are a great source of encouragement and hope for those of us who have had some of those Humpty Dumpty Days.
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
When the fall is great I can remember He is before all things. He knows about the fall before I have the great fall. Nothing can take place in my life that takes God by surprise. When no one can put my life back together, I can remember in Him all things hold together. He is the power that holds us together. He picks up the pieces and reassembles the parts.
Perhaps there is someone around you today that is in the midst of a Humpty Dumpty Day. You can spend a lot of time and energy trying to piece together what happened and who is responsible. Maybe they have tired out all the king's horses and have exhausted all the king's men. But instead of calling in CSI to examine the evidence to ascertain what went wrong, asking the never ending and seldom answered why questions, call on GOD to give hope and direction to the how questions. How do we survive these Humpty Dumpty days? Would you be the one to tell them about The Cosmic King who picked up your pieces and still holds them together?
Blessings to you,

Which Way Is Up?

During one of the spiritual mountaintop experiences of my life I was asked a question that I didn't quite know how to answer.
"Pastor, how does it feel to be an American today?"
The question came from the Filipino pastor we were visiting. A dream had come true. To be on a mission trip in some faraway land was something only God could have put together. To be there as an American and to hear the question was the most unpleasant part of that trip.
During that time in 1998, the worldwide, everyday news was about the scandalous sexual episodes of an American president. In the moment the question was posed, there was a feeling of shame within my heart for our nation. I felt a sense of being ashamed when I would hear so many people say that morality did not matter as much as a strong economy. Besides, some would say, what a man does in private does not affect anyone else publicly. Those folks ought to have to explain to a Filipino pastor how morality is irrelevant in a very public arena. What this president did in private was manifested publicly in our mission trip halfway around the world.
There was a whole lot of popular thinking that agreed with the concept of no absolutes in 1998. After all, we're only human and who are we to judge, right? What's wrong in one person's way of thinking is perfectly acceptable to another, some would claim. It was always amazing to me to see how silent the church was during that time. That kind of popular thinking is still very popular today. Shame is still a precious commodity in America. Someone has said we used to blush when we were ashamed. Now we are ashamed if we are seen blushing!
Living in a culture of non-absolutes does not change the truth that there is an absolute standard. It is found in the word of the Living God. Contrary to pop culture's value system, the standard is not the gold standard. The standard is God's standard. Holiness.
Not only collectively, but as individuals, we are held up and measured against God's absolute standard. The pain of resisting sin and being ostracized in our culture today is very real. We can easily feel the sting of being called a bunch of narrow-minded, intolerant, religious bigots. We can easily be trapped by compromising godly principles and becoming confused about "gray" areas of right and wrong. Sometimes God’s people don't know which way is up. If God occupies the high moral ground, where is this place? Is it the church? Is America still known as a moral nation? Ten years out from that mission trip I don’t see improvement. I see only degeneration.
Righteousness is to sin as up is to down. As a nation, we can either be exalted or disgraced. It may come as a huge surprise to learn the following spiritual truth: America is not the Kingdom of God!! America's political and spiritual leaders are accountable to a holy God according to His holy standard. One day the church will be judged on the basis of how we used what God has entrusted to us. Someone has said that America will not stand back up on her feet until the church gets back down on her knees.
Instead of lamenting about the moral darkness, what are we doing to be lights in our homes, churches, schools, workplaces, communities, regions, and nation? Let God clean your vessel so His light may shine the brightest. Instead of whining, why aren't we shining? Instead of hiding in the darkness, we can take back the night.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Proverbs 14:34)
I guess I had a lot of leftovers in my mind about that. Gives us all something to muse about for the rest of the day.
Blessings to you,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Who's Your Papa?

There was a popular country and western song some time ago that asked the question, “Who's Your Daddy?” The song was not so much about parentage as it was about relationships. As I study human behavior and the complexities of personalities, I am often struck as to how people's relationships can set the direction for their lives. This can be for better or worse. The pain that comes from not knowing the identity of one’s father can be damaging for life. Who among us would not wrestle with the questions as to why our fathers did not want us to know them. Unanswered questions can paralyze growth as children create fantasies that do not match reality. Growing up without a father’s love can result in having none to give away. Is there any hope for the fatherless child today?
The acknowledgement that our father did not love us or willingly abandoned us can be very traumatic. But it also can be liberating, when we realize that God wants to love us with an everlasting father’s love. He wants the world to see what a person can become when they are full of God’s love. Until I had grandchildren, I was under the impression that the relationship of “daddy” was as close as I could get to modeling the the Heavenly Father’s love. But I have discovered a new dimension in relationships. The word “Papa” is spoken on the lips of my grandchildren. They call me Papa!! They also use the nickname “Pa”. I don’t mind it and it really doesn’t make me feel too old. Don’t tell them, but I want to grow up to be the papa they already think I am!
God’s love can be shown in the persona of a papa. In the scriptures, I am told that the word “Abba” is a close translation of our word papa. There is something within me that prompts me to respond in a loving way when these children call me papa. A papa’s love is enough to go around. One of my grandchildren often says she will never run out of love. It's like she knows the source of love is an eternal, all sufficient God, who we can know as Father and Papa. In my relationship with my grandchildren, I have a desire to give them the best of who I am. And I hope some of the worst things will just drown in the gene pool!!
Those of us who enjoy knowing God as Papa and Father can understand that we have an eternal heritage and an unbelievable inheritance. God has given us His Spirit. He gives us Himself. That's how we know who we are and to whom we belong. The Spirit within us is the Spirit of God. The question to muse about today is not Who’s your Daddy, but Who’s Your Papa?
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal 4:6-7)
Blessings to you,

Monday, May 5, 2008

Truth About Truth

It is amusing to me when someone is asked to testify in court. The familiar scene is where we are asked to place our left hand on the Bible, raise the right hand, and solemnly swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me, God”. I have several observations about this process of finding the truth. We are solemnly swearing as opposed to casually. I would think anytime we swear it should be serious and solemn, don't you? Next, we are challenged to commit to telling the whole truth instead of parts of it. A half truth will not do. To be truthful, a half truth is really a whole lie. Then we ask God to help us tell the truth. Do we actually need God's help to tell the truth? I believe it is here that our civil and secular judicial system has stumbled upon one of the greatest truths of the human condition. We actually do need God's help to tell the truth and live truthful lives. We are natural born liars. The good news is that our lives can be transformed by truth. We are changed when we know truth and act upon that knowledge.
Have you ever been deceived and learned some very painful truth that you really didn't want to know? It may be similar to a man who learned his wife was unfaithful in their marriage. When she confessed it to him, he wanted to stop her in the middle of her confession. He did not want to deal with the truth of it all and pretend that it never happened. Sadly, he could not remain in denial and still know the truth. As long as he pretended to be in a healthy and happy marriage, he could not be a part of its restoration. He either had to be bound to the lie or live with the truth. Thankfully, some storybook romances, that are really fantasies and fables in disguise, can really be transformed into happy endings. In this example, the husband and the wife turned to the truth of the situation and experienced a restoration of their marriage. They found that when they learned to live by godly principles based on God's word, they could know the truth and be set free. God is glorified when we come into the knowledge of His truth. It is His secret that He freely shares. Truth transforms us. The question that man has sought the answer for since ages past is not what is truth, but who is truth. Truth is not found with our hands on the Bible. When we open our bibles, truth is found on the inside... in the heart of this book we will find the heart of God. He is Truth. He said so.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dust To Dust

Is there a connection between TV and tee ball? Yes. Something called dirt. Recently, I saw part of a television show that highlighted a sad human story. A family was having a feud...within their own family! A mother and daughter were squabbling over a parcel of land. They were next door neighbors and the conflict had intensified between them. They had built a fence that separated their two estates. Neither one allowed the other to tread across their respective property lines. They weren't speaking or interacting with one another at all. As a last resort, from the prompting of other family members, they agreed to appear on a popular television show, hoping to settle the conflict and possibly make peace. Trying to get these parties to solve the conflict was a seemingly useless endeavor until the counselor brought in a wheelbarrow of dirt. He dumped the contents of the wheelbarrow right into the middle of the living room floor as he stated that this was what they were really fighting about...a big old pile of dirt. The mother was shocked into a breakthrough. She later stated that it wasn't so much the dumping of the dirt that got her attention. It was the realization that we all are truly "piles of dirt" and we treat one another that way. The tee ball connection came as I watched a little boy at the ball park sitting in the dirt and scooping up a large pile in front of him with both hands. He molded it into a circular shape about four inches high, patted it frequently and garnished it on top with a few pieces of gravel. As his mother approached him I thought, uh-oh. This little dude is in trouble. He's getting pretty dirty. His mother asked him what he was doing. He said he was making a birthday cake. Then she praised him for being so creative. Somehow I don't think there will be any fences constructed between these two if they ever decide to be neighbors. After all, it was only dirt. And so are we. It has been somewhat of a revelation to discover that I am truly an old pile of dirt...emphasis on the old! When I think about my life and how I've lived it in the past, I discover that I could have treated others better. Relating to other piles of dirt can get pretty dirty. God's word says that we will return to the dust from which we came. When I understand that my earthly, physical body will pass away, returning to the earth, I know that there is more to my life than just dust to dust. There must be some meaning beyond the here and now. The meaning of my life is found in the time between my birth and my death. For my life to have any meaning, it must be lived for some purpose. And the only way I can ever relate to others in a more godly way and a more encouraging and meaningful way is to have something of God living in me. God's word gives us a glimpse of what He has in mind. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. From one pile of dirt to another. Blessings to you.


Bird Watching

The bird feeder in the yard gives me occasion to observe the many kinds of birds in our area. With the help of a quick guide reference book, I can identify them, read about their habits and habitats, identify whether they are male and female, (something not so easy to do in humans, by the way), and basically add to my knowledge of life on this planet. In perusing through this guide of North American bird species, someone has taken a lot of time to be able to give me information about birds. The least I can do is to study the material. I may find some benefit from bird watching. Have you ever seen a rooster strut? I have heard it said that the reason a rooster struts is because he thinks the sun shows up every day just to hear him crow. Have you ever known people like this? These are the ones who are convinced that the world orbits around them, believing they are the center of our solar system, or the universe for that matter! You can learn a lot by bird watching.
Have you ever heard the birds sing just before daybreak? Why are they singing in the dark and what are they singing about? Maybe they are singing about the glory of God, putting proper perspective on the rooster crowing, the creature in contrast singing about the greatness of the Creator, testifying to His mercies, which are fresh and new every morning. Maybe they sing while anticipating the day, because they are believing in the promise that Light has come into a dark world, remembering that the darkness cannot overcome the Light. Why do people use the words "bird brain" to insult others in claiming they have limited intelligence? The birds that sing in the dark seem to know more than many humans. Sometimes humans despair and become quite anxious about their lives, stressed out and fretting about what they should eat and wear, and fear for their future in general.
A wise Person said once that we could learn a lot from bird watching. He said "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" The advantage to having a Heavenly Father adds a new dimension to bird watching. Why is it that we can believe that God feeds the birds and will not feed us? Could it be that we believe that God is an adequate provider for birds but not enough for us? What is it that we believe we need that is beyond His ability to provide? When we think that our Heavenly Father needs our help, we have become like the strutting rooster who may think this world has been created to serve us. All of creation has been created to glorify God, including mankind. Look up and see the birds, knowing that we have a Father in Heaven...if we are indeed His children. God looks after His people. Remember in the dark what you knew in the day. And sing to our Father...after all, this is His world.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Who's In The Details?

As to the last blog's leftover thought, Can you tell me when it is time for the mountain goats to give birth?, I would think that one could consult a veterinarian, trained at one of the most prestigious universities in the world (such as N.C. State) and the vet may predict the general time of the kid (goat) delivery. This assumes that the time of conception can be known to have occurred in a general timeframe. General is the operative word. For more detailed information, there is One who is acquainted with specific information about issues concerning life and death. This particular question is asked of a person who had experienced much trouble and turmoil in living through some major life changes. You may have heard the expression "the patience of Job" being used to describe people who demonstrate the ability to move through a life crisis without breaking down or blowing up. The person Job was confronted with traumatic events beyond his imagination and control. Human beings are meaning makers. So to live with a sense of meaning and purpose, we often try to ascertain the meaning behind life changing experiences, seeking the details of what has happened, who is responsible, why it happened. and how it may affect our future. I would suggest there is One who knows the answer to the afore-mentioned question. In fact, He is the one addressing the question to Job. Job did not learn patience without trial and trouble. Job learned patience when He learned to trust that God had the answers and God could be trusted. The Living God knows the specific time for the mountain goat delivery because He alone knows the specific time of conception. The God of the Living knows when life begins and when death is appointed. Of every mountain goat...and of every human being. He is about living and dying, and every detail in between. This is the relevance of the question. It matters who we trust with the answers of life that elude our questions. God has answers for the questions that we aren't even asking. You can trust the One who knows the time when the mountain goats give birth. The real question is how will we answer the questions He is asking: Who can you trust with your life? What is it that gives your life meaning?
Blessings to you,

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Too Much Information

I've been telling some folks lately that I think I have a Windows 95 processor in a 2008 world. My Random Access Memory (RAM) seems to be pretty random and harder and harder to access. So from time to time, I will experience a memory dump. (I saw that memory dump message the other day on my you think I should be concerned?) Thus the title in the URL, samsleftovers. What you will see here is leftover thinking (Musing) that has no more room in my head. That's pretty scary!! What comes out is often the leftovers that my brain has been trying to process, unsuccessfully, I might add. Hopefully, the thoughts that are blogged will be evaluated and commented upon. Feel free to post your musings as well.
Here's the leftover thought for today: Can you tell me when it is time for the mountain goats to give birth? If you are stumped over this, who in all the universe can tell us? And why is it relevant? I'll talk more about this on the next post.
Blessings to you today.