Monday, December 24, 2007

for one more day

I received the book "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom yesterday. I finished it today. It has left me feeling oddly reflective. Its hard to explain.
You can google it and see what the plot is about. In short, if you could have one more day with someone that has past on...
It goes through the whole spectrum of feelings and thoughts one has when presented with this scenario: guilt. memories. smells. tastes. attitudes. feelings. guilt. oh and did i mention guilt?
my mom died tragically and suddenly seven years ago. huge blow. large guilt. much anger. pissed off at god. I remember our last conversion, the last time I would ever see her alive...and it makes me sad. If I had known, like the poem says, it definitely would not have been "those words" i spoke, "those actions" i took. I would have made it mean more. If "for one more day" I would change a lot.
so I have taken this view and have tried to apply it to my relationships now, with family and friends and just folks I know.
Its hard. I don't feel like doing that all the time. If my spouse were to die before I get through typing this line.... the last words and actions we had were not what I wanted them to be. "for one more day" i would change it....
but its hard.
Life gets in the way, with its weird and demanding self. It is determined that I should bend and respond to its every whelm. Sometimes, it pisses me off as well.
i don't like things the way they are, and yet I feel powerless to change them.
for one more day. if only. in only we got redo's. the chance to say "I'm sorry".
I am trying my best not to need "for one more day". but i'm human. I'm a screw up.
I don't think its possible to get it right all the time and not have any regrets.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

stupid emails

Stupid emails. I get them all the time. Mostly its spam about how I can enlarge certain parts of my anatomy, or I have won the lottery from Nigeria, or some such nonsense. Easy deletes.
However, some of the stupid emails come from people I actually know. (Come on, you know what I'm talking about). The "if you love Jesus you will pass this on to..." or "if you are ashamed of Jesus just delete this like the cold hearted person you are..." or "if you send this to 10 people a cancer patient will get 5 cents from AOL..." or what the heck ever. Please Stop!
I got this one today. "I made a bet with my boss that I could find 300 people who believe in God before he could. So add your name to the list and pass it on to others who are willing to stand up for God."... blah blah blah.
Yes. God cares whether or not you sign an email saying you believe in Him.
I am expecting a similiar email from Santa any minute now.

Here was my response (reply everyone button):
"Of course, the concern is not whether you believe in God or not. The concern is whether or not you are in an active relationship with God and listen. And if you listen, how do you respond?
You can say you believe in Santa Claus, doesn't make him real. You can say you believe in God/Jesus, but if you don't live it, its no more real than Santa.
Just my two cents."

I know, I probably over reacted to this email. but geeeez!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Nativity Scene

Often I reflect upon the nativity story and the images conjured up in my mind. Some are based upon my childhood and the stories we were told about baby Jesus, born in the manger, on a cold winter's night. I can see the storybook stars glistening in the sky above, with a rather bright star just over the stable. A small yellowish glow emitting from within - signifying a spectacular, holy event is taking place. My participation in small church re-enactments of this event as an angel, wearing a white flowing robe and a halo, which was made from a clothes hanger wrapped in tinfoil, standing on a piano bench proclaiming "a child is born" seems a bit hokey to me now as an adult - but as a child I meant every word of it. Like I was there and this was actually happening and I was a part of it and all was good.

As I grow older, I learn that it probably wasn't all that cold after all, as it was census time and the people had to travel great distances. And it wasn't on December 25th! And instead of a stable it was more likely a cave of sorts. No drummer boy either. Don't even get me started on the wise men and their gifts and showing up three years later at somebody's house. I swear they are at the manger scene!

I wonder what it would have been like to have been there that night. Admist the cows, sheep and donkeys, and the barnyard smells of hay and manure?
What would it have been like to witness Joseph trying to figure out what he was going to do with this whole situation. And Mary, a frightened teenager who was about to give birth in a strange smelly place, without friends or family to encourage them and assist in the birth a feedings and oh so much more. What would it have like to witness the birth of the saviour, the beginning of a revolution that would turn the world upside-down. I suspect it is much different than the nativity scene I have displayed in my living room.

However you envision this event, either from childhood memories of cute plays or bedtime stories, or factual accounts from historians, one thing seems to be remain constant: Hope. The whole point of the story, the event, is that God sent Hope into the world. If you've seen a baby born, you know that it is a miracle within itself. But this baby being born was more than that. Enter the creator, writer and director of the story, who inserts himself into the play and changes the course of mankind. It was God, at his best, fulfilling the unimaginable. Hope.

Hope arrives in the bundle of a tiny man-child. And I, standing on a piano stool, proclaim "a child is born!"

Friday, December 7, 2007

Left v. Right Christianity

I have always struggled with this concept of "Left versus Right Christianity", where people label their position on christianity as the right one, based upon their political beliefs. Even worse is when people try to label Jesus as "on their side" as well. I saw a bumper sticker that said "Jesus was a Liberal" and another that read "God is a Republican". Good grief. This is the kind of non-sensical thinking that has a us split by denominations and even congregations within denominations.

What makes one think they can put a label on God? I mean, God is what God is. There is no way to define Him this using our political views. The saying "Creating God in our own image" is not exactly what we are to be about. God created us in HIS IMAGE and we are to be about the teaching of the Christ - if we actually want to call ourselves Christians, or followers of Jesus, or whatever phrase makes you happier.

It appears somewhere along the way that we have defined ourselves by our belief systems. I think that some people say they are Christian (followers of Christ) but what they really mean is they profess the words "Jesus is Lord and Savior" but in reality just believe in God. The imagery of God is more "on a throne, judging, huge, distant". This God sets up morale codes and rules and is an jealous God and demands justice. Then there are those who follow Jesus and his teachings as more of a mystic or rabbi and focus on that aspect of their spiritual walk, and are about the work of feeding the poor, fighting social causes, and just loving on people.

And somewhere along the way we have forgotten that the two are the same, yet distinct. You can't discard the commandments of God or ignore the teachings of Jesus because ultimately they are intertwined.

I find bridging this gap, even amongst so called Christians, is sometimes difficult. We seem to get upset and unhinged on the things of this world that have been deemed "important" to us", that we transpose those things upon the Church. As if the church were a reflection of our political statement!

The situation I find myself in is that most of my spiritual friends tend to be liberal in most respects regarding secular activities. And most of my conservative friends are not right wing evangelical types either. What is interesting is that I enjoy the mixture of these two camps AS LONG AS WE DO NOT BRING UP POLITICS. That only segregates and divides. I was reading an excerpt from Brian McLaren's book "A Generous Orthodoxy" where he talks about these two groups and how the small stuff has divided us.

You know, if a Muslim and Jewish leaders can get their folks together to build a habitat house, which they did in my area... why can't we Christians get past the silly rules and doctrines that separate us and dilute our efffectiveness?

I think a liberal or a conservative can both stand side by side and feed a hungry person. Don't you?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


"It finally happened.
Couldn't take it anymore.
Something had to give.

These were the thoughts going through my mind when a car passed me on the way to work this morning. You know how people write "JUST MARRIED" on their back window and stuff all over the rest of the car?


this one had "Just Divorced!" on the back window. I couldn't help it. I started laughing so hard. I pulled up beside the car and a girl is on the cell phone. Written on the side of the windows are "Free at Last" and "Love U Stupid"...

Awe man, what a contrast. Was I wrong for thinking this extremely funny. I had never before witnessed this obvious mockery of the "Just Married" thing on the window. How cool. Good lordy be. There has got to be someone out there that can relate to that girl's sentiment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

some morning make you just go hmmmm....

It was cold this morning. Really cold for Texas. 26 degrees I think it registered on the window gadget. Brrrrr. My daughter had her first golf tournament ever today, of all days, and it was cooooooollllldddddd I tell you. So we get up early and I fire up the '66 Chevy Classic pickup I drive and we loaded up and headed to the school where I dropped her off to catch the bus.
I started my 14 mile trek to work and decided to stop in McDonald's to pick up some breakfast. I walk up and order my food "to go" and wait. I am watching the workers there. "Why do they work at McD's?" I wonder to myself. There are kids up to adults and I just wonder about their life circumstances. Was it a failed educational system that leaves them only this option in life? Is it a college job? Did a dysfunctional broken home decide their fate? or do they really like serving people in this type of job?
I dunno why I am thinking about this. I just do. Its not a looking down snobby thing. Good grief thats not it at all. I just wonder what crap life has thrown at people and how they got where they are today. I do it all the time. I mean, if you had turned left instead of right. Said no instead of yes and not got married. Picked this major over that one in college. Hadn't gotten knocked up in high school. just stuff.
So i get my food and I'm off. I drive through one of the lower economic areas consisting mainly of hispanics on my way to work - and I see this guy walking on the side of the bridge with a bag in his hand. Its cold. Still really cold. And his breath is coming out in those little steam clouds. And just for an instant - we lock eyes. Me driving my '66 Chevy and he walking along the side of the road in the coldness of the early morning.
and i wonder.
what got him here? why is he walking and not driving? is he homeless? is he doing the best he can to feed a family somewhere? somewhere in the past, did he turn left and not right or pick the wrong career field?
"There but by the grace of God goeth I" crosses my mind. Did God really bless me better than that guy? Some have more because God graced us more? Really struck me as stupid. Mine is more like the Sherly Crow song "Isn't it Ironic" I think.
I don't know. Just my rambling thoughts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Games We Play III

For those of you who read posts "games we play" one and two... here is the 3rd in the trilogy. Its the last as well. I got the promotion last week. Seems things went a lot differently since our last meeting. I am worthy. cool. On to bigger and better things with just a hint of more money mixed in to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
I do have to admit that I am not really sure what happens from here. its more responsibility, more headache, or whatever.... but.... i feel pretty okay with that. I mean, what is life except a series of unknown twists, bumps, and sputters mingled with the occasional burst of laughter and silliness that makes it all the more bearable.
In retrospect to where I have been, and most of you can identify with this, it ain't no big thang. It is what it is and what i make of it. or what those above and around me try and make of it.
I never thought God would have led me here to start with, and who knows, maybe he didn't mean too either... stuff happens. Like the Garth Brooks song "Unanswered Prayers". i could have been on staff of a fairly large church serving under an egotistical control freak which would have ultimately lead to bad bad things for one of us... soooooooooooooo.... we shall see. ~npp