23 February 2012

Sleepless with Sven

One of my favorite lines from the movie Titanic is delivered by a baffled man in steerage. Jack and Fabrizio, overjoyed with their good fortune at winning a poker hand and receiving two tickets for passage on Titanic's maiden voyage for their gamble, come tumbling into their prize berth and introduce themselves to their unsuspecting roommates. Surprised at the arrival of strangers one of the men looks at his friend and says, "Where's Sven?" Sven, having been cold cocked by his companion for betting their tickets and losing their voyage to the land of opportunity is nursing a black eye and what I am certain was bitter disappointment. He must have been in absolute disbelief.

Titanic has been making the rounds on HBO and I confess, depending on where they are with the story when I bump into it channel surfing, I am likely to watch. The story line itself isn't interesting to me. In fact it is pretty despicable. Of course if it's early in the movie and I get to hear my favorite line, I am in for at least that long but if I don't stop there I will watch until they hit the iceberg. I am captivated by the costuming and reproduction of the architectural details of the ship. I wouldn't say it was Kate Winslet's best work as an actress but she has never looked so beautiful as she did in that movie. Her gowns were amazing. The hats, the shoes the hair, it all dazzles me. I am also spellbound by the way the men and women in first class comport themselves. I have always thought good manners are the epitome of elegance. Rich or poor it doesn't cost anything to be respectful and winsome, but I digress.

I have insomnia and between that and my neck and back pain, I got very little sleep last night. On top of all that I tend to be a light sleeper and my old buddy, Chet the Wonder Dog, was having a rough night. He made some strange noises, strange enough that I had to get up and see what was going on. He was out of his bed and on the floor sort of flopping around. I only had the glow of the television to see by so I turned on a light and saw him, rolling and rubbing his face on the rug... I think. I hope. It's a cute thing he does when he's happy. The alternative is that he was having another stroke or seizure and neither of those options are OK with me. Because I couldn't be certain what he had been up to I was afraid to go to sleep. I wanted to keep an eye on him. I entered more time on the sleep timer and began to channel surf. Of course I managed to bump into the Titanic. I have been thinking about it ever since. Sometimes you can see or hear something multiple times and it has little or no impact on you and then one day, whamo! It's all you can do to function without thinking about it.

Before Chet stumbled from his bed, I was sleepless because I was worrying. I have not made an easy life for myself. It's peppered with bad decisions, the resulting scars and obstacles. I am disappointed in the content and quality of my life. I am disappointed with the content and quality of my character. I wouldn't have chosen to be where I am or who I am. It scares me when I consider as flawed as I am now I am a far better woman now than I was before God called me to Himself. Sanctification isn't easy but it beats the alternative.

I don't pretend to know why God has designed this path for me but He has. He knows best. He knows each intimate detail of my life. Nothing catches Him by surprise. I may not like who I am and where I am right now but I have the hope that something better is coming. I look forward to a wonderful outcome in eternity which eclipses the discomfort of a few minutes of disappointment here. Really, this is a fly speck on the eternal time line. I was reminding myself to look at the whole picture. That's when it hit me and I thought, I bet when Sven heard about the sinking of the Titanic he wasn't feeling disappointment over losing his ticket in a poker hand. I bet his battered ego and bruised jaw were a small price to pay for being alive on April 15, 1912.

I need to keep a Sven perspective.

Romans 8:28-29
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Lamentations 3:31-33
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.

17 February 2012

Vain Idols and Bad Heroes

I read Psalm 31 this morning. It's given me a lot to consider.

There are people I admire; people whose character and accomplishments are miles above mine. Those are the people I would like to emulate but often can't get out of my own way or step over my own foibles to come anywhere close. I am not good at being good.

There are people who completely confound me. I can't work out what makes them tick. I'd like to poke and prod them a bit until I understand why they do what they do. Curiosity not animosity you understand. We all have our heroes and obsessions. I have always considered social history, crazes and trends a particular fascination. Pet rocks and Oobies were among my favorite phenomenons to ponder back in the 60s and early 70s, especially when juxtaposed with world events. It was apparent to me even then that we have some bizarre herd behaviors.

Are you like me in that you enjoy the old musicals? When most kids were watching animated cartoons on Saturday morning you could find me watching old black and white movies. I'd get up very early to start with some Abbott and Costello add some Bowery Boys then finish with Shirley Temple. If my parents stayed in bed long enough or if I had been left on my own, I would get to watch a musical. I loved musicals. Each time I went out in public I hoped I'd get to see a bunch of people jump up , start dancing and singing their hearts out. I even hope to witness a flash mob of singers and dancers now. They remind me of when things were simpler and our heroes were good guys.

I remember when I realized that we Americans had lost all sensibilities when it came to our heroes. It was when Magic Johnson was diagnosed with AIDS in the early 90s. I wasn't ignorant of AIDS like most people. I had already lost some people I loved to the disease. I worked in public safety and in the area I lived there was a great number of homosexuals who were dying of the "gay cancer." That's what they called it before HIV had been discovered. In one of the rare rescue calls I actually went out on instead of dispatching like I normally did, I got stuck with a needle that had been used in a failed attempt to start an IV on a dying man. I was afraid I would get sick but it was nothing like the terror I felt once they had identified the HIV virus and how it was transmitted. Not long after my needle stick I would be dispatching a volunteer fire rescue team to an orphanage of sorts that cared for HIV infected babies. The fire chief refused to respond. "No one has taught us how to deal with the infection and it's a death sentence. Until someone is willing to train us... " I had such mixed feelings about that call, we still didn't know much about the disease and its transmission but should that matter when a baby needs help? These were babies born to addicts who were infected, not people who wantonly continued in risky behavior.

When Magic Johnson's diagnosis made the news I was a bit flabbergasted at how the media and folks responded. All the hubbub and speculation and lamenting such a wonderful athletic talent being wasted.... and nothing much said about his infidelity to his wife, which is where he contracted the disease, and nothing said about the other women he may have infected. Women who were likely not millionaires and couldn't buy the health care he could. That's when I knew that we were a crazed nation and could no longer tell right from wrong. I was aware of it before but always seemed to muster hope we could snap out of it. Sadly, we have not.

In the last week each time I turn on the television I am treated to recycled information about Whitney Houston's death. She hasn't quite eclipsed Michael Jackson's posthumous airtime but she's coming close. I am almost as tired of hearing her songs now as I was in the 80s. The woman could sing, make no mistake, and if I looked like her and you had a feather in your nose we'd both be tickled. Her death is a loss and sad beyond words for those who loved her. I mean really love her; not just appreciate her music. Let's be honest about this- she was not and should not be seen as a hero. I don't understand why she should receive all this posthumous acclaim and adoration. Her life is not a good way to measure fame. Her gospel beginnings are not evidenced in the way her life ended. Her faith seems it overshadowed.

Hebrews 11 is known as the "Hall of Fame" for Christians. In it we don't see a list of perfect people, we see people whose faith surpassed their imperfections. We see them obey God despite their circumstances. Faith solidly placed (in Christ) is formidable, it makes heroes of prostitutes and conquerors of slaves. I don't find my heroes in sports arenas or silver screens. I find mine in the day to day workings of life when hard things happen and small people, empowered by the Holy Spirit, do great things. Things like trusting God when people take a whack at you for standing up for what is right or hoping in Him when your life seems to be in shambles and horrible things are happening.

Please, Lord, keep me safe from the desire to worship vain idols and bad heroes.

15 February 2012

On Being a Punk

Things I know about myself... and wish I didn't.

I can sit for hours on end watching a movie or chatting with a friend while waxing philosophically about obscure topics. My butt hurts in under 15 minutes when I sit and read my bible.

I can still recite the Preamble and the Gettysburg Address. I still know all my lines from being Yente in a production of Fiddler on the Roof. I remember the Pledge of Allegiance and know when the Lords of Leaping and Pipers Piping do their thing in the 12 Days of Christmas. I memorized Isaiah 6 at one time. Now? "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted seated on his throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple....and something something something and then woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips, something else more too."

When I did a post on Tommy Jordan shooting his daughter's laptop after she posted some hateful stuff about her parents on her Face Book wall? I knew what she'd done was wrong but I did not quickly and swiftly identify it as a violation of the 5th commandment. I pride myself on cutting through the fluff and getting to the heart of the matter. I also tell people if you identify a problem biblically, the biblical solution becomes apparent. However, I was willing to identify what she'd done as "wrong" or "disrespectful" and never thought beyond what she'd done to her parents. She sinned against God. Phil Johnson nailed me on that one. I hate that guy. Not really, but dagnabbit he convicts me with the stuff he writes.

My first response to conviction is not repentance. It's annoyance. I am also annoyed as heck if someone asks me a question when they know that I can't answer it. I will hold the transgression against them for a long, long time and when I can I will return the favor in the most humiliating venue I can manage.

If I have apologized and sought forgiveness for something and you bring the issue up again for any reason? I am done with you. Not only that but I will resent you for "making me" sin again by wishing for your skin to turn green and your eyes to fall out.

I am afraid of almost every scenario that involves transparency or intimacy. And what's more, I delude myself into thinking you don't know that about me already. Don't blow my cover. I am a formidable enemy when I am scared.

I am smarter than I let on and more ignorant than I will admit. I am honest only because I am too lazy to keep track of lies -but often wish I could. I don't like the immediate consequences of honesty much. By the way, don't lie to me. If I have to be honest and take the heat for it, so do you.

If you ask me two or more questions in a row about anything personal or to expand on what I have already said? You are suspect. If you can't catch the annoyance in my responses? You are either very evil and don't care or you are a dumb suspect. Dumb suspects are dismissed. Evil ones? They are marked for termination.

When I am lonely I think about blowing off my faith and running back to life I used to have. Yeah, the one that was so miserable when I was living it.
Why? Because I am just that stupid and focused on my temporal happiness.

You may be asking yourself what in the world would make me post something like this. I dunno. I take some solace in the fact that nobody reads this stuff anyway. If you do and you can identify with me in some capacity, I have this for you. My sinful attitudes and actions don't take God by surprise. He isn't slapping himself on the forehead and asking, "What did Rosemarie do this time!?!" When I trusted in Christ's atonement as the only way my soul could make it to heaven, all my sins were covered. All means all. So as horrible as I am, I am His. And as much as misery loves company I didn't tell you these things so we could sit sack cloth and ashes discussing what punks we are. Why don't we cut out all the lamenting, repent first and rejoice next?

1 Corinthians 10:13

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Philippians 1:6

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Galatians 2:20

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

1 John 1:9

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Proverbs 28:13

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

14 February 2012

My Funny Valentine

Twenty-six years ago today I lost almost everything I owned in the Valentine's Day Flood of 1986. In November of 1985 my mother died and my step-dad wasn't coping very well in his new role as widower. He asked me if I would move home for awhile. I did and I stored my household in the basement area under his home. Mom and Pop lived in an area of northern California that has been vacation community for years. It floods habitually in winter. The locals expect it and know what to do and where to buy in order to avoid being flooded out. Many homes are built on pillar and post, raising the living area out of harm's way. My parents home was in an area affected by the first rising waters. It was on a hill and they had it raised a story so while the street flooded the house did not. When they had the home raised I went from fearing floods to enjoying them. We were an island of warmth and comfort while the water lapped at the first level of stairs coming to the house from the street. The biggest inconvenience was not being able to park our cars in their normal spot.

I was working as a dispatcher for the sheriff's office and normally worked out of the main office in the county seat which was a 20 minute drive away from my town. We worked inside what was essentially a cement bunker and had no idea what the weather was doing. We knew it was storming but had no idea of the intensity of wind and rain. One of the sergeants responsible for the sub-station in my town called the dispatch supervisor and said they needed help answering the phones at the sub. The deputies couldn't answer the phones and do their patrol duties at the same time. Since I lived there and knew which areas flooded first I was sent to report to the sergeant.

The normal 20 minute commute took me 90 minutes. The combination of wind and rain was a near lethal weapon. Telephone poles had been sheared at their base or pulled out of the ground. Some lay down and some dangled from the wires at 45% angles, bobbling in the wind. Outside furniture, garbage cans, barbecues and dog houses blew past me like tumbleweeds. Deadly missile tumbleweeds. Areas that normally were not subject to flooding were flooded. I drove a sports car and as much as I loved it, I wished it was a 4X4 so I would have some clearance. I had to pick where I would drive very carefully.

My dad had gone away for the weekend which left me to care for the house and the two dogs. I called him and told him I was going to be home to work at the sub and he decided to stay put. It was Monday, February 10. The water came up, the normal places flooded, I answered phones and helped the deputies for long hours. The creeks backed up, the river rose and it was all very normal. I was glad we still had electricity. It was normal to lose power, telephone and cable television when we had storms. I was off duty and at home with the dogs. I had a fire roaring in the fireplace and a book to read. I was as happy as if I had good sense. Then the phone rang. It startled me.

"What are you going to do?" My good friend was asking. "About what?" She lives on the same street I did and worked for the same county but in the recorder's office. She had wisely opted not to drive home but to stay in the city. She had the benefit of television news broadcasts and knew there was another storm coming. "They're predicting the river is going to 48 feet." Now I understood the urgency in her voice. The river's flood stage was 28 feet. It had crested at 35 and had receded to about 32 feet. I had no idea that another storm was coming. "I guess I will move my car farther up the hill, not much else I can do." We both hoped that the predictions, which were normally much higher than the actual event, would be wrong. I barely slept that night.

In the morning I went to let the dogs out and saw the river was rising again. The rain was coming down like I had never seen it before. I went downstairs and found to my horror that although the river had not come up high enough to flood bottom level of the house, the run off from the hill had found a path of least resistance, travelling under the house in torrents. My furniture and all that I had stored were ruined. My mom had a workshop where she refinished and restored antiques. I began a frantic effort to rescue her final projects. Next came a knock at the door. It was a deputy. I was being remanded into duty. I left the dogs with water and food and hoped if the water got into the house they would be OK, and went with the deputy back to the sub-station.

Coordinating rescues with our deputies, fire departments and the national guard, I stayed for days at the office. I literally could not hang up the phone without it ringing again. I wish I had time to relate some of the stories to you. They are heartbreaking and heartwarming. They are examples of human beings at our best and at our worst. The Army Corps of Engineers had made a lake in our county. They said it would take 3 years to fill. It rained so furiously the lake was filled in 3 days. Buildings were unmoored from their pillar and post foundations and taken down river. Cars, propane tanks, natural debris and our filth all made their way to the ocean in record time. I got to get home once and check on the dogs.

I had some of the deputies and volunteers I work with ferry me home in the boat they were using for rescues. I promised them warmth and a dry place to sleep. On our way home there was a place the power company had a junction box of cables that hovered above the roadway. We had to lay down flat in the boat to fit under the power lines, which was scary enough, but in the morning as we returned to work I realized I couldn't see the wires. Thankfully when I screamed, "Turn around go back up! I can't see the wires!" there was no hesitation. We had to fight the current while I did my best to guess where the cables were. We had to lift the engine to keep it from touching the live wires and then put it back in the water quickly enough to fight the current again. The angry river was content to slam us against the redwood trees that stood straight ahead of us.

One of the deputies I had harbored during the night drove me home when the waters had receded. He drove right past the house. "That can't be your house, there are only three stairs going up to your house." There were 26 more underwater. The basement had flooded completely. My things were a jumbled smelly mess. All the things I had acquired to that point were gone. Yearbooks, letters, pictures, mementos; all of it gone. The Valentine's Day from hell was over and clean up needed to begin.

I still grieve for some of the things I lost. Letters my mom had written are chief among them. I managed to save couple of fragments, an odd page or two that delight me when I reread them. Today I was leading a group of women in a community bible study on the topic of instruction as part of worship and adorning the bride of Christ. I found an article on mongerism.com that I printed off to help them with their personal study times. The author lists 29 points in Bible Instruction, An Owner's Manual for the Word of God. In his final point he says this:

A final reminder: Enjoy reading the Bible.

This won’t always be easy. Your sinful nature will try to make it a chore. It’s not. (Funny, my sin nature never complains about my waisting hours watching TV, but ten minutes in the Bible can raise the firsest objections from my sin!) You have been given a wonderful love-letter from God. Read it, love it, hide it in your heart, and tell everyone else about it!

I wish I had thought to compare how much I cherish my mother's letters to me and how I should cherish the Word. Who would have thought that an event 26 years ago would bring a convicting lesson to me today. Funny Valentine's Day present by most accounts but a wonderful gift if you ask me now. Clever God.

Psalm 119:11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,

That I may not sin against You.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope

11 February 2012

What Happens on the Net Never Stays on the Net

There's a video that's gone viral in the last couple of days, it's one of Tommy Jordan taking his .45 to his daughter's laptop. If you haven't seen it, I will let you Google it or find it on You Tube on your own. You need to know that Mr. Jordan lets expletives fly and although I can probably cuss him and his daughter under the table on any given day, I can't in good conscience link to the video. I am also not willing to throw Mr. Jordan under the bus nor kick him to the curb. This post isn't about telling you what a jerk Mr. Jordan is or how I giggled a bit when he 5 X'd the laptop. I have no ax to grind or stone to throw. I do want to make some observations though.

First, let me say that I will never get the parent of the year award. I made some serious mistakes raising my kids. I sincerely thought at the time that I was doing the right thing, and may well have, except that I did it the wrong way. I think Mr. Jordan and I have that in common.

For those of you who have not seen the video let me give you some cliff notes. Mr. Jordan's daughter posted a letter of complaint, a list of offenses inflicted on her by her parents, on her Face Book wall. She thought she was hiding it from her father but he is computer savvy and saw it anyway. The letter was a tirade of her perceptions of her mistreatment. Apparently she'd been warned and disciplined before for similar rebellious behavior and Mr. Jordan had had enough. He opted to upload a video onto her wall where we see him reading the letter she wrote aloud, responding to it and finishing by taking aim at her laptop with his .45. He thought since she had publicly insulted and demeaned several adults, then her friends who got to read what she wrote ought to see what comes of such behavior.

I never took one of my weapons to my kids or to their favorite things. I did make my youngest take a hammer to her own cassette tape once. She knew the rules, she knew the consequences, she smashed it in front of me. She probably still thinks I don't know that she picked her least favorite cassette, but that wasn't the point. The point was she knew the next time she was losing two and I got to pick. There was no next time. Not for that offense anyway.

Apparently now Mr. Jordan is now a media sensation. He is being stalked by reporters and television news cameras. Gaggles of folks who think he's the worst parent in the word and herds of supporters are all trying to out squawk one another with their opinions on his parenting style. Good Morning America showed an edited version of the video and, if I am to be fair, they skewed things a bit with comments not quite in context. What is becoming of this world? Is Mr. Jordan's 5 minutes of fame or infamy really worth all this fuss? It was a laptop computer he shot; not his daughter. Frankly, I wouldn't have done it that way but I can assure you that had it been me at the parental controls, the laptop would have belonged to someone else or been equally dead.

Mr. Jordan has a Face Book page where he is answering critics and discussing the events. He seems articulate, funny and right about what he's said. I find his reasoning solid even if his delivery is questionable. His daughter was out of line. I think the laptopicide was done in a moment of exasperation. His daughter poked a tender area and provoked her dad a little more than she expected. He has been humble enough to admit it wasn't his best work as a parent. I am hoping that she realizes she pushed all the wrong buttons when she put that letter online. She is responsible for her posting and he is responsible for how he chose to discipline her. We, the public, do have a right to our opinions on it what we've been allowed to see. The wisest among us will remember that we don't know the whole story nor do we know the dynamics between the father, daughter and the rest of the family.

If there is anything that I really want to be on my soap box about it's that what happens on the net never stays on the net. It takes on a life of its own and creeps into the view of everyone, whether or not they have a computer. Young and old alike should be mindful of their words, deeds and pictures when they are hitting upload or publish. Mr. Jordan had no idea that his would be the viral video for the day or week. We have no idea who will take a fancy to or be offended by what we say or do here in the meta. Scarier still, we have no way of predicting how they will voice their opinions. So here's a verse and a video I would have you think about the next time you want to upload something.

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:36-37 ESV)

03 February 2012

Pestilence on the Porch

There are a few things about being single that I don't like and this morning I was reminded of one of them. Pest control. Pest control is a man's job. In fact I daresay men, in consideration for the amount of poo filled diapers women clean up, are by default in charge of all vermin and pestilence eradication. It seems a fair trade.

For the past several weeks my cat has kept herself entertained at night by watching a spectacle on the back deck. I knew something was getting into my flowerpots and gnawing away at my hyacinth bulbs but whenever I turned the light on to see what Mali Meow was stalking through the glass, there was nothing to see. Isn't that the way of it, light shines in darkness and creepy things disappear.

Last night I was on the telephone in the living room and suddenly the sounds of a cat launching herself into the sliding glass door and batting her paws furiously came resounding from the kitchen. The noise was incredible! It caused the dogs to bark, the fur to fly and my conversation companion to ask "What in the world are you watching on television?" I stood in the door between the rooms to see what was going on.

No longer able to contain herself the fabulous Miss Somalia Celeste had lost her mind and decided glass was not going to stop her from getting at whatever it was she saw. She looked like something from a classic cartoon, legs going in every direction at once and suspended in mid air. Unable to get traction her swipes came swifter and harder until she hit the ground. At that point she got traction she hadn't planned on and hit the cabinet by the door. What an amazing sight to behold. Her head stayed in the same position, her laser focus on what she saw outside the door while her body went from south of her head to north of her head all in one quick second. It was all very funny until this morning.

The weather here in Kentucky has been unseasonably warm and this happens to coincide with my back and neck feeling up to doing some maintenance. I went out on the deck to begin cleaning things up and there in the flower pot full of water by the door were two dead mice. Normally my softhearted side would emerge and think, "Poor mice! They must have tread water for as long as they could!" In truth, I am bothered by the way the little rascals met their demise. Surely a quick snap of mouse trap would be better than a long time swimming in cold water. That wasn't my first thought though. I felt sorry for myself first. I couldn't leave their little bodies there and couldn't want to reach in and get them out. Alas, no man in my life to take care of vermin eradication. Sigh.

Sometimes you have to choose between some unpleasant options. I could ignore them and let their bodies ferment in the water risking my dogs coming to investigate and possibly eat them. Ugh! Or icky option number two, dispose of them before the dogs could be enticed. Grabbing an old grocery bag and a trowel I went on a body recovery mission.

It wasn't nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. It was much less gruesome than extricating a smashed rodent from the jaws of a trap. In fact, maybe I will keep the water in the pot for a while longer, just in case any of the dearly departed's relatives come to pay a visit. Nah! Well, maybe.

01 February 2012

A Fair Question Answered

I took some ribbing last night from someone I am certain loves me and has my best interest at heart, which makes all the difference when you're being teased. In the middle of the feigned attacks and my mock protests a serious question was asked. "Why did what Bryan Loritts say get under your skin any more than the hundreds of thousands of other stupid things that are posted on the net?" (You can read my previous rant here.)

It was a fair question and one I had to do something thinking about. I went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it. Here are my conclusions.

Racism is a tender issue for me because I grew up in the East Bay Area during the 60s and 70s. My father was, for most of his life, a bigot. Not the sort of bigot that yelled the dreaded "n" word from the comfort and safety of his car. He was an amiable sort of bigot. He got along with most people but made sure I used my grandmother's address in El Sobrante so I could go to a predominantly white school instead of going to Richmond High which was predominantly black. Of course the world was changing then and I rode A/C Transit from a few blocks away from Richmond High to get to De Anza. It took an hour or more. While I waited for the A/C bus there were hundreds of young men and women boarding school buses and heading in the same direction. I don't know if he was aware that those black kids he wanted me to avoid were being bused into the same school he had me attend or not, but back then I thought it was funny as heck.

My dad and step-mom could have given me any of a thousand reasons to make me give up going to junior high and high school in the district I lived in; better scholastic record, better graduation record, better safety record, but they didn't even try. In fairness to them the 60s and early 70s were a tumultuous time in the San Francisco Bay Area. Riots, People's Park, Black Panthers, free love, drugs and on the nightly news protesters on school grounds; all families were trying to make the best decisions for their kids. My parents' decision on my behalf had two profound impacts on my life. The first being that I wanted to know and befriend anyone who wasn't like me. I became fascinated with cultural differences and history. When you read history you begin to see patterns. There is always a key moment before some horrific event where someone could have and should have said, "No!" to something evil and "Yes!" to something good. I determined to do my best to recognize those moments in my life and make the appropriate choices, even if it cost me something.

The second way their decision impacted me was not having any friends in my neighborhood. Having no one to hang out with I turned to books and music. Providentially one of those books was Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell. That book led to reading more and more books on Christianity and thus began my path from "Non-practicing Roman Catholic" to "Saved by grace through faith Reformed Christian." It was a journey fraught with spiritual danger and frustration as I was bounced around by bad doctrine and false gospels. I had lots of scars and bruises most of which were my own fault. I was influenced more by books about faith and what other people had to say about faith than I was influenced by the Word of God.

My childhood and young adulthood were easy on me. I approached middle age with a fairly significant chip on my shoulder, angry with God as I knew Him. A kind and benevolent giver of good gifts who, by my accounts, hadn't been kind or benevolent to me at all with the possible exception of saving me from hell. I had no idea what hell was, what I had really been saved from nor what I was saved to. I only knew Jesus loved me and I got to go to the good place when I died. I tried desperately to make myself like God and have warm fuzzies for Jesus like the "Jesus Freaks" and other Christians I knew. I figured if I could make God like me, that would be the first step in really liking Him and then He would give me all those warm and blissful feelings. I was a tortured soul who had an idea of the framework of the gospel but no doctrine to support me. Then I began to read my bible for myself. Whoa.

I now found myself with an entirely new set of problems. Most of the stuff I had heard from the pulpit was not congruent with what I was reading in the bible. More searching brought me in touch with reformed theology. I despised it but I could not refute it biblically. God's sovereignty offended me I stewed over it for a long time and then suddenly there was a new venue for me to vent my displeasure; the internet. Again, providentially a pastor on the internet was instrumental in my coming to terms with my sinfulness and God's sovereignty in all matters, including my salvation, sanctification and horrible childhood. That clever, economical and sneaky God! Imagine using the internet for such purposes. This pastor had me give answers for what I believe and support those beliefs from Scripture. Oh my but I hated him for doing that to me. He had me read books and I would dutifully buy them and read them, certain all the while that I would be able to refute the authors. When I could not I would throw the book across the room. In the process I found myself going from Arminian and not knowing it; knowing it and embracing it; being challenged to defend my Arminian theology; being unable to do the same; finding myself an unwilling Calvinist- begging anyone to show me a biblical way out- and finally coming to embrace the doctrines of grace wholeheartedly. Finally! Hope was more than a four letter word and peace was being able to lay my head down at night knowing it is well with my soul!

Having that background now let me make these points on why what Bryan Loritts said hit so many of my buttons and pushed me over the edge:

1) If I ignore racism anytime anywhere- I miss a "No!" or "Yes!" moment. I am bound by my conscience to not to knowingly ignore such events.

2) I spent too many miserable years because of bad theology. Years God says He will redeem and I believe Him. However, I remember the misery and torment quite vividly. If I can help anyone avoid similar years, I want to. If I can help anyone find biblical peace for their soul, count me in. I do not wish my agonies on anyone.

3) A false gospel does not save. To sum up criticism of a man holding to a false gospel as nothing more than an unbecoming form of racism is to give ascent to this false gospel. If by hearing Jakes' words and actions I am wrong about him being a profit seeking, prosperity mongering modalist, prove it to me with evidence. If your brothers and sisters in Christ cannot criticize Jakes and the folks who seemed by all accounts to embrace him as a brother, (meaning they see him as a partaker of the true gospel, for which I have no evidence based on his words or theirs) without being labeled as racists and you cannot see the peril in that action, then I may have just cause to question you. You give me cause to question your knowledge of sound doctrine at the very least and quite possibly your adherence to the true gospel if you are blind and cannot identify a false gospel. I am hopeful what I heard was some immaturity and ill conceived notions, those things are remedied easily enough.

I Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. ESV

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