Archive for August, 2016

Faulty Image

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

faulty-cause-effect-propaganda_454f953115eacc50A while back, I got a call from a man who was bent out of shape because he had just been stopped on the freeway and awarded not one, but two tickets — one for speeding and one for not having his correct address on his license — total fine $278! He could not understand it because he was just speeding a “little bit” and the ticket for the address deal was just because the “Trooper was unfair and was just waiting to catch him”.  Been there; done that.

If we are really honest about how we view God, sometimes our notion of Him is that of a spiritual cop hiding behind a bush, radar gun in hand, just waiting for us to screw up so he can sock it to us. Unfortunately, because of that viewpoint many of us tend to distance ourselves from Him.  It is faulty image of God, but it is an image that I carried with me for the first 39 years of my life. That idea drove me away from Him for 20+ years. The false portrait was painted by the church of my childhood.  Shame on the people who perpetrated that image then and now; it is a lie of the worse kind! It is the same one that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were peddling and the Neo-Pharisees continue to spread. The truth is that the big “G” in God does not stand for “Got you” it stands for “Grace”

1 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives,2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his  finger.7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11 (NLT)

Why would any thinking person believe that the God, who loved you enough to die for you, would have any use for a ticket book?

My book for free @ Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

Regrets

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016


6a00d8341c652b53ef01b7c7610e21970b-800wiFriday past Timothy Batts, the dad who shot and killed his little girl by mistake a few weeks ago, who was out on bail which was raised by many supporters, failed a drug test. Part of his bail agreement was that he would not use drugs. Now he has let many people down and is heading back behind bars. On the pain of regret!

A few Sundays back after church I visited a man in ICU at St. Thomas West who was in critical condition and not expected to live. I am not sure he knew I was there. I then attended a visitation for a dear friend’s brother. As I drove home I thought about the two men. I wondered what were their chief regrets in life? I thought about mine. I have a few, but thankfully not many.

What are your chief regrets? Do not most of them kindle feelings of shame, embarrassment, grief, anger, remorse or hurt? Those are the primary emotions that are debilitating to a healthy life. We have all screwed up. Regrets are inevitable, but unfortunately many people choose to live in self-constructed prisons of regret. If you want a life without regret, perhaps you need to do things differently. Talk them out and let them go!

Several years ago we built our first church facility. Whenever I would go to the jobsite there were two places I could park. One was an area right up close where most of the workers parked. It was mostly dirt, mud and at least two nails. Then there was another spot farther away that was mostly gravel and no nails. It took me awhile, but after a couple of flats, I finally figured out that I was better off if I parked in the other spot and walked a little bit. That is a metaphor for how life often works out. If you want to keep sticking nails in your life, keep doing what you have been doing. If you don’t, start doing things differently. I have found that it works!

My book for free @ Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

It Ain’t Right

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

poop-babyfaceFor the most part, I keep my personal opinions under control. Believe me this presidential race has put my control to the test. So far so good. After witnessing what I consider a ghastly misuse of perhaps the most overused adjective in the history of the world, I am speaking up. This morning at McDonald’s I overheard a conversation from the next booth. In a nutshell here is what took place: A young couple and their very cute baby boy, that I would guess to be about six months, were eating breakfast. Suddenly, I heard the guy say, to his wife that he thought the baby had “done a job in his diaper”. Mom took a whiff and off to the changing station she and baby disappeared. When she and junior returned, she laughingly said, “Justin that was the most amazing load I have ever seen”. Folks that was the final straw! I am taking my stand. What could possibly be amazing about a diaper full of crap? “Amazing” used to mean “so extraordinary or wonderful as to be barely believable”. It was a word seldom used, because few, if any, mundane things are in fact amazing. Now, it is used to describe everything from a bottle of beer to a diaper full of mess. That ain’t right!

It seems to me that we have taken a word that used to pack quite a punch and turned it into nothing more than a meaningless and misused adjective for the non-amazing. There are some truly amazing things: God is amazing in all of His attributes. Occasionally, sunsets are amazing. Unconditional love is always amazing. A few people are amazing, but a mess in a diaper is not even close! The bottom line is that few things are truly amazing and that is the very reason that they are.

My book for free @ Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

Happiness

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Girl drawing smiley face on to a wall

After a noticeable bounce, the elevator doors slowly opened.  Mr. Herman Thomas Jones, who was accompanied by his sixty-something daughter, shuffled out and began his slow but determined journey down the corridor toward room 215, which would become his new home. His wife of 70 years had recently passed away, making his move to the nursing home necessary. Hunkered over, Mr. Jones slowly scooted his walker atop the highly polished beige and white floor tiles, his beaming eyes darting from side to side with the enthusiasm of an eight-year old attending his first circus.  Suddenly, he turned to his daughter and, with his trademark, perpetual smile, said, “Honey, I am going to love this place”.  She replied, “Daddy, you haven’t even seen your room yet”.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it”, he replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged or the color of the paint, it is how I choose to arrange my mind. I have already decided to love it. It is a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend each day recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or I be thankful for the ones that still do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account.  You withdraw from what you have put in. So, my advice to you, Missy, would be to deposit a lot of happiness into your bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filing my memory bank. I am still depositing.”

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1…Free your heart from hatred.

2…Free your mind from worries.

3…Live simply.

4…Give more.

5…Expect less

My book for free @ Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

Doesn’t Seem Right

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

bullet_hole_PNG6063With all the horrible shootings of all stripes recently I though back to the day a few years back when out of the blue I was nearly shot. Cathy and I were driving in a very upscale area of Williamson County, Tennessee admiring the gorgeous homes and rolls of golden hay scatted like precious jewels about the lush, green pastures off Del Rio Pike. Suddenly, the tranquility of the moment was shattered when something hit the passenger side door, where I was sitting, with such force that I reflexively shouted, “That felt like a bullet”.  Since we were on our way to eat dinner, naturally we kept driving. Actually we did not really believe that it was a bullet, but probably a rock striking the side of the car.  By the time we made it to the restaurant, we had other priorities and forgot to check it out.  A few days later, as I was walking to the car, I was shocked to discover a bullet “hole” in the door about 18 inches below where my head had been stationed that evening. When I saw it a shiver went down my spine and I was flooded with numerous notions.

There may be some folks who want to shoot me, but that was not the case this time. The theory is that it was a stray 22 caliber bullet fired from a great distance or possibly a ricochet because it did not completely penetrate the door. From the impact point, the lay of the land and the fact that nobody had a clue we would be driving that road, it was apparent that it was not an “attempted hit”. Yet, having said that, judging from the sound of the impact and the damage to the door, there is no doubt that I would have been seriously injured or perhaps killed had the projectile struck my head.

Later, as I reflected on the incident, I had many thoughts. Here are a couple of them: First, never assume that you will get where you are going. Life hangs by a thread in the best of circumstances.  Second, had I been killed it would have been the lead story on all the local news.  Yet, when someone is shot dead in the “hood” it hardly merits a mention. Since I believe that God loves, values and grieves for us all, that doesn’t  seem right.

My book for free @ Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again