Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, etc. etc, etc.  There are hundreds of super heroes.  Each one of them is unique in what they can do and why and how they help the world around them.  Why do we love super heroes because we all want to be the one that swoops in with that special ability, the cool one liner and saves the day.  But have you ever noticed how superheroes always have a price to pay for that?  They have to loose the girl, keep the secret identity, live a solitutude life. 

We all want the flash of being the hero. The one wearing the mask and the cape.  The one that has the awesome power or ability, the one that has all the cool tools and toys.  But you know what is really being a hero?  Making a decision to do what is right, being there for your family, being the one that lifts someone else up to the forefront when they do something great.  That takes more courage and strength than even superman had. 

Don’t desire to be batman, be a man of character. A man of value.  A man of purpose. A man of honor.  In today’s world. And stay true to those words when the world comes to do battle with you. These are the heroes.  Why not desire to be a hero?

I was listening to my favorite Christian Radio Station the other day, WAY FM, and the morning talk show hosts were having a discussion about a song that has a line in it that says the following (paraphrase) ” I found God on a street corner smoking his last cigarette”.  Now what the conversation quickly became was about is smoking a horrible sin?

Now I am an ex-smoker, and I am the last one that would preach about smoking or not smoking.  And if you think I am going there you are wrong.  The conversation on the radio became a comparison of smoking.  Ranking it with other sins.  Ad in the grand scheme of things do I think that smoking cigarettes should be on the same level of sin as say murder, or lying, or stealing.  Can’t say that I would make that decision. But there is a catch in that statement.

The catch is what “I” would say.  Me, the dumb bald one writing this post. I might not see smoking as “bad” sin, or one of the worst.  But when you start putting sin in a priority list you start down a slippery slope.  And before you know it you are in a dangerous space of legalism.  Where you say that it is okay to commit these sins because they are not as bad as other sins.  Sound like anyone from the Bible? 

IF, and I put that in big letters because smoking is something that the Bible does not speak clearly about, if you classify smoking as a sin you can not place it in priorty listing.  Once something falls under the catagory of sin it no longer comes under human perspective and automatically comes under God’s perspective.  And the way that He sees sin is simple, it is sin, and there is no other definition. All sin put Jesus on the cross.  And it is by His blood that we can have forgiveness of any and all sins, because all sins must be forgiven and brought under the blood.

To my friends whose last  name is Jones, don’t worry, read on, this post is not about you.  No, this post is about that old saying ‘Keeping up with the Jones’.  That old say that rings true every day when we look around us.  It hit me this morning and I had to stop and catch myself.  

I was taking my Siberian Husky outside before I left for work and I was walking around our yard. Just letting my mind wander for a little while during the time that Sapphire needed to take care of business.  After a 12 hour work day, and staying up till one thirty to finish the work that I didn’t get done at the office after everyone else went to bed, the fresh air, the sunlight and the gentle Tennessee morning breeze was very peaceful.  I let my eyes wander to the bird flying over the tree tops, the squirrel running up the tree, the sound of the creek running over the rock, for a moment I was back in my mountains of West Virginia. Next thing I know Sapphire runs up to me ready to go back into the house, back to reality.  And don’t get me wrong reality is a wonderful place for me!

As I turned to walk back in the house I noticed that my neighbor has cut her grass last night while I was at work.  Her grass is nice and low and trimmed, and while mine it isn’t tall it is taller than hers.  The first thing that jumps into my mind is that I need to cut my grass.  Grass hat I just cut two days ago, and is not in the need of being cut.  Well not at least until I saw my neighobrs yard.  Then occurs to me that her grass is bermuda , and mine is fescue.  And for those of you that don’t have your own lawns to cut; bermuda grass needs to be cut very low and fescue grows best when it is kept taller. 

Why do we do that?  Yesterday morning I was just admiring how green, well cut, and trimmed that my lawn was looking.  But then my neighbors yard on the other side of me was the same cut, but not my other neighbor.  The moment she cuts her lawn I have to immediately cut mine.  We have to keep up with the Jones, don’t we?  Don’t believe watch your neighborhood this weekend.  One lawnmower will start, very quickly there will be another and another.  You think it is because it is Saturday or something, no no.  It is keeping up with the Jones time.  And I can prove it.  Find the yard that the neighbors on either sid e have cut their grass, see how long it takes for him to get that grass cut?

Funny how we always worrying about how someone else’s yard looks as it compares to ours.  Yet our yard isn’t the same grass, with utterly different growth needs, and plans for care.  If we do that with our yards how much more so do we do that with our lives?

Don’t think so? How long does it take for a new fashion to consume you?  Or, for me, how long does it take for the newest technology toy grab your attention? For me usually it is about two minutes after seeing someone else have it in their hands. 

God never told me to worry about what my neighbor has.  Matter of fact remember that old line, don’t covet your neighbor’s house, wife, or anything? Coming back to you, huh?  What is important is my relationship with him and how my life measures up to his standards.  How my lifestyle reflects him.  So when the Jones try to keep up with me, they are actually trying to keep up with Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Who are you keeping up with?

Types of People

Posted: June 6, 2009 in Culture, Hmmmmm, Left field
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I enjoy watching people.  There is something very intriguing about observing those people as they interact with one another.  How they look and speak to one another says volumes to those who are watching. This afternoon and evening I was working an  information table at a local grocery store to circulate information about the need of children who need foster parents, and how adults who would be interested can become foster parents.  There are volumes of books that can be written by the observations that I can make on how people speak to people that are standing at a table, or how much they don’t even look at it. But I am not going to write about that this evening.  There were two other people that gave me a prime example of the spectrum of humanity that is in this town of Columbia where I live.

As I stood at my table this afternoon two people came by me.  One was an older lady that pulled up in a nice looking fairly new, white cadillac.  I noticed her at first because she drove around at least six times before she found the right parking spot.  But in her case it paid off for her. She got a front row parking spot, that was maybe fifteen feet from the door of the grocery store and mee.  As she approached it was dicfficult to assess that her dress was very important to her.  Which in itself is not wrong. What was funny was the fact that she was walking with intent as she headed for the door. Head up looking around the parking lot as she observed the rest of area and then she saw me.  And she would not make eye contact with me as she approached the door.  She was either looking at the ground but then when she got in speaking range she was fiddling with something inside her purse.  As she walked by I said good afternoon and nothing else, no sales pitch, and no request to take a flyer o pen or anything that I would normally do when someone walked past a table that I am working.  And as she was an older woman I politely took hold of the tip of my hat and titled by head as I said good afternoon.  But not even a grunt was uttered in return.  Instead she walked right past and when she got inside the door she must have found what she was looking for in her purse because she quick looking and that head came up. And her stride returned to its dedicated pace.

I will come back to her, but let me introduce the second person that I wanted to share with you.

The second person was a man, and now he must have come in the other door, or already have been in the store when i set up my table.  But judging by the items in the one bag I wouldn’t think that he had been in the store very long.  As he came out the door it was very easy to judge that he was a man that worked for each dollar he had earend by the sweat off his brow.  His clothes were covered in dirt, and oil.  His hands that were wrapped around his bags were pretty much brown and black with dirt.  The hat and t-shirt that he wore had numerous sweat stains all over them.  As he passed by I spoke by saying good afternoon. He looked at me and smiled and returned the greeting. He asked what I was doing there and I shared it with him as I handed him a brochure about our foster care program.  He politely took and reviewed it before slipping it into his bag with his groceries.  He shared with me that he and his wife had children that were grown now and he wished that they could take in some more children but they had purchased a msaller house now that the children had families of their own and he didn’t have an extra bedroom.  He said good bye and reached up and tipped his ballcap to me and as I returned the getsure I noticed his free hand moving to his back pocket.  He takes his wallet out before I can say anthing to him.  As I thank him, but politely share that I can not accept the donation he smiles and wishes me a good day and I do the same to him and he walks out into the parking lot.

Rember the other lady?  Figured you would.  A few minutes later she comes back out of the store her shopping cart filled with two of the small plastic bags that maybe had ten items in them together. Nothing large or overly heavy, but she was older and I can not fault her for using the cart.  She walks past me her eyes intently focused on the parking lot like she is searching for her car that is fifteen feet directly in front of her.  I wish her a good evening but she still doesn’t acknowledge my greeting. She moves past placing the two bags in the back seat of her cadillac.  Then turns to come back to the store with her empty cart.

Now let me stop and set the stage here of where my table is at.  All around the entrance to this particular grocery store are flowers that the store is attempting to sale.  Behind me is a small alcove area of the front of the store where they have set up a patio furniture display. 

Now the lady pushes her shopping cart the fifteen feet across the road. Instead of taking the cart inside the door that is in front of me and returning itt to the rows of carts that are maybe a few feet inside the door she turns slightly and goes behind me.  She pushes the cart up next to one of the patio tables and leaves it there.  She is maybe another five steps from the front door and the other carts.  Now she finally makes eye contact with me, and then quickly looks away as I smile and turn away myself.  I watch her as she returns to her car with that stride of confidence and then drives away.

I wish that I could say that I was making this up.  But why would you need to make up stuff like this when truth is som much more ffun.  Every bit of thsi story is actually true, you just have to decide which type of person you want to be.

Free Press

Posted: June 5, 2009 in Bible, Culture, Politics, Religion

Here is a quick thought.  I was sitting in the coffee shop this morning and the news was on.  There was  reporter that was trying to cover the story of the student protest in Tiamen Square in China. ( I know I probably spelled that wrong)  What was sadly hilarious as he tried to broadcast the Chinese secret police or whomever they are, were there.  Their job to hold umbrella’s up and try to block news  broadcasters that were trying to present a story.  They didn’t harm any of the reporters or lay one hand on it.  But they would get in between the camera and the reporter with their umbrella. As the reporters moved the secret service would move along with them.  Their ears are buzzing with the walkie talkies that are directing them.  They hovered like flies all around the reporters.

Made me not mind so much the bias of he media, but at least the media can broadcast what they want.  Thank God that we have the ability to be free in this country.  That is something that one day depending on which side of Christianity you are on could disappear.  No consipiracy theory, just a believer in the Bible.

It is so amazing the unending depths of God’s wisdom. I know that sounds so weird to say He is God, of course he is incredibly intelligent and knows everything, after all He is everything!  I am just in awe everytime I learn something new and my amazement is taken to a new level.  If you read my last post you saw where I was just loving the fact that I received a copy of the ‘Didache’ and beign able to dig into the writings of first century Christian writers.  But I have also been working on my next Sunday school lesson and studying the sixth chapter of Romans.

Now Romans is a deep book that has a lot of theology and God’s teachings for our life. But is so amazing the depth of wisdom, teaching and knowledge that is locked into one small word such as ‘old” or ‘newness’.  How we have one simple word but the deeper meaning holds so much knowledge.  Knowledge that many of us carry around every day in our Bibles but spend an entire life not knowing.

We know how to create a group on Facebook and send out a message to hundreds of people at once.  We can pick up an internet signal at Burger King or McDonalds.  We view websites and send emails from our phones.  We read books that are never printed, and are all on a handheld device where the book is downloaded over the airwaves and into a device.  We can do all of these things by the marvels of technology and revel in the things that it allows us to do. But we don’t understand the treasures that our placed in the Word of God.

Now don’t get me wrong I love all the technology.  I manage groups on Facebook.  I have a mini-laptop that I carry with me everywhere and I am on at this moment writing this post at a local Coffee Shop.  I have a blackberryy phone attached to my hip so when I can not have the computer on I can still get to facebook and my email.  And I am hoping that in the near future I will own a Kindle II so that I can read books digitally and order them and download them directly to the handheld.  But as much as I love these devices that serve me to allow me to do the things that I do more conviently or easier there is a greater tool to for life to function.

That is the Bible. The very word of God. The living word of God that I carry with me, like many of us, wherever I go.  But we look so quickly over words and take them at the worth and don’t study or dig into the word of God.

I know I have talked about this before but I am impressed everyday as I learn more about the Word of God.  Dig in to what GOD has to say to you through His Living Word.

How do you know that when you are a book geek.  When you come home from dinner with the family and as you walk in to the house your wife says one of your books came.  And immediately your heart skips a beat.  Which one is it? Could it be this one, could it be that one that I ordered, ooh I can’t wait to see.  You skip right past the other envelopes and pick up the package with the book in it.  Oh wait it is the one that was hard cover! Which one of the three from the most recent order was hard cover?  Tearing in to it like a child on Christmas morning.  The clouds part and the angels begin to sing, and it is my copy of the “Didache: Ancient Christian Writers” I am in awe I open the book and turn the pages running my hands over each page like it is gold.  My wife walks into my study where I am standing just oogling my new boook. Which is used, with a few notes in it.  And she just laughs. 

Am I geek, oh yeah! And proud of it.