27 November 2011

Tis the Season to OWS- WTF?

I was driving home from church today and my mind began to formulate a blog article. I was listening to the news, percolating on the sermon I had heard, thinking about my friend's challenge to me to build some discipline and they all got jumbled up in my pointy little head. So I thought about Christmas instead.

I feel strongly both ways about Christmas. I love decorating the house, singing carols and in general all the warm fuzzies the holidays can bring. I hate the pressure to buy. I hate that I am separated from my kids, I hate that I have no one to celebrate the season with. Mostly I hate that Christians ought to celebrate Christmas and Easter every day and we don't. Many of us put more effort into Black Friday sales events than we do with the Advent. We read or listen to or watch the news nearly every day and we have plenty of opinions about what we see, read or hear. We all feign shock when the stores put out the Christmas decor in September but why? We say we are to live our lives for Christ 24/ 7 but we don't celebrate each day like it's Christmas. Our Messiah has come, He has conquered death and He has imputed his righteousness to us. That's something to celebrate with every breath we take. Don't you think?

What's OWS-WTF got to do with any of that? I am taking liberties here to get your attention and I bet it worked. OWS: Occupy Worship Services. If there is anything I wish folks would do during this holiday season it's OWS. I am sometimes not able to make it to church and am often content to OMR (Occupy My Recliner) on a Sunday morning. I avoid the hustle and bustle of the season. It tugs at my heart that I don't have my kids near or my grandson to spoil rotten. It's easier to cancel Christmas than to face it alone. Yet the point of the season is to remember Christ. Not with my credit card or shiny ornaments, but with my worship.

WTF? Where to Fellowship. Unfortunately not everyone can attend my wonderful church. I love my pastors, elders, deacons, brothers and sisters. I hope you have a place to go and fellowship with other believers. I hope you are a believer. Maybe you just want to go check out what Jesus is all about but you don't know where to go. Try to find a church that holds to either the London Baptist Confession of 1698 or the Westminster Confession of Faith. Call and ask questions of the pastor. Be selective and start with the conservative. Find a church that holds to the inerrancy of Scripture and the deity of Christ. Ask them if they agree with the 5 Solas. Pick up your bible and read about the birth of our Savior. Find someone who knows Him and ask them were to begin your research. Kick Santa to the curb and find out about Christ.


23 November 2011

Processing vs Ignoring

Recently a friend of mine gave me a writing assignment. My friend (one that wishes to be anonymous) challenged me to find 3 or 4 of my other well read friends and have them read something I penned in 10 minutes or less. I was told to find folks who would be honest with me, something I am happy to say is not difficult. My friends, God love them and so do I, are nothing if not honest. My task included and asking them to tell me if, after reading three or four paragraphs of something I'd assembled in haste, they would put the book down or turn the page and continue reading. I am all things curious so I took the challenge. Two out of three of my friends said they would continue reading. Reporting back to the friend issuing the challenge I was curious what their response would be and what point they were attempting to make. I wasn't prepared for their answer.

"I hate your guts."

My friend doesn't really hate me, of this I am confident. Armed with that assurance I was able to ask him/her why he/she hated me and what the point of this exercise had been.

"I hate you because unlike you I have to work at writing. I craft each sentence. I am an engineer and you, you just vomit words on a page and people like it." Eww, vomit words on a page? That sounded lovely. Now before you think I am taking up time and space on my blog to brag about my writing prowess, let me tell you where our conversation ultimately ended up.

My friend rightfully pointed out to me that I lack discipline in all areas of my life and for them it was a source of anger and bitterness. "If you would pay the slightest heed to your craft, your gift, you wouldn't take it for granted. You squander what God has given you and have the temerity to envy those who have gained skill, recognition and ability through discipline."

Ouch. I am struck through the heart and my flaws exposed bare. On a roll my friend continued with examples of how my lack of discipline has impacted my life. Then came the blow that was hard to ignore. "You are afraid of failure, afraid of intimacy, afraid to try, afraid to succeed, you are afraid to do anything but sit and watch your life go by and then bellow about the injustices. You're so full of self-pity there is no room for anything else. Quit lamenting about not having discipline and get off your dead butt and build it. You have to work for it. The discipline fairy isn't coming with a magic wand. Oh and if you pout over me telling you this, I am going to smack you. Hard."

So much for warm fuzzies.

My friend is not wrong and his/her correction was not harsh. Well, it was but only the truth of it was hard, not the delivery. I do envy my friend's abilities. I do think too much of myself. I am lazy and a bad steward. My friend was the second person in a week to point out to me that I have intimacy issues. Now the question for me is what to do with this new insight. I can't pout. I'll get hit. Hard.

I am not pouting or ignoring our conversation. I am processing it.

Proverbs 27:6

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.


06 November 2011

Fruitflies

Sometimes the oddest things will generate time spent in deepest thought. Today I was accomplishing some cooking. On my stove cooling as I write this are the following food items: Lentil, ham and split pea soup; barley chicken soup; browned bison and grass fed ground beef with sautéed onions, bell pepper and garlic; some basil tomato sausages and a couple more incidentals. I went shopping at a Whole Foods store yesterday and because it is so far from my home, I buy more fresh food than I can consume in a couple of days. I generally like to come home and cook things up and either freeze them or extend the time that they are considered good by cooking them and then nuking them as I go through the week.

I was thinking about the mess I was making and if I would have the energy to clean up after myself or if it would have to wait until morning. That led me down a trail of thoughts which can be dangerous for me. I can start focusing on all the things I can't do and how I need to find new ways to do old familiar things, which in turn can render me resentful and bitter. So before the bitterness could come, I starting focusing on things for which I am grateful. First thing I thought of? The change of seasons has killed off the fruit flies.

When I lived in Australia the joke was that the national salute was a series of waves in front of your face, warding off flies. There are a ton of flies in Australia-something I wasn't used to and didn't much care for, probably because I am such a yacker I swallowed more than one. Ick! I hoped never again to live in a place where keeping houseflies away is a full time occupation. Years later my nemesis on the premises are the fruit flies that plague Kentucky. During the summer they can be seen hovering over the onions and darting among the fruit at the local grocer. There are so many you have to inspect for soft rotten parts of the food you are going to buy. Inevitably they come home with you. The stalk you in the kitchen. They follow your coffee cup, they sneak into the bathroom and circle your head while you are otherwise disposed and unable to contest their presence. They are annoying to the nth degree.

You may be thinking that I hate fruit flies. Ha! I hate them so much that I anticipate their demise with great joy. The coming cold kills lots of creepy things, ticks and flies are two of my favorites. I was transported by the joy of realizing their death had come. Thinking I was having a holy "oh" face moment, I thanked God for killing the dagnabbit fruit flies. My mind skipped from that bit of good Christian behavior to singing the third chapter of Ecclesiastes better know to folks my age as the Byrds tune, "Turn, Turn, Turn". I was singing and rejoicing and thinking, "Oh yeah, I am a great and clever Christian!"

And then I started thinking about my seasons; my own mortality. What sort of fruit will I leave behind? Will I ever amount to more than being a nuisance like the fruit fly? Do I really appreciate the different seasons in my life? What changes have happened in me? Anything appreciable?

The thoughts got deeper. I started assembling experiences, traumas and delights, into a time line, trying in vain make sense of things and soon I couldn't remember what had facilitated the whole process. It wasn't until I was sitting in my recliner hours later that I looked at my dog and said, "Fruitflies." She thinks I am brilliant.