Friday, October 31, 2008

another political season comes and goes

I was watching a young friend's facebook yesterday and she was excited that she was going to vote for the very first time. And she makes it very clear that she is a fan of Barak Obama. I remember my first time to vote and how excited I was about it. I am not so excited this time.

The bulk of the comments were from her friends, both sides of the political spectrum, who were saying this or that about her choice of candidate and she became very defensive, very fast. And the name calling and labeling began. Stupid Republicans, dumb democrats, sarcasm, the country will go to hell if you elect so and so... and I just sighed.

I wanted to tell them that this stuff has been going on since I first voted. The claims that if you vote for the democrats the country will go to hell and if you vote for the republicans they will starve little children. I wanted to tell them that the personal attacks and fear mongering from both the left and the right means nothing. I wanted to tell them that in my lifetime, both parties have held all the power (executive and legislative) at some point and we are all still here. I wanted to tell them, but I didn't. I think this is something they may have to find out for themselves.

In my spiritual growth over the last decade, I have learned a few things. Democrats are not evil. Republicans are not always right. That if you vote out of some misguided party loyalty, then you are doing yourself and your country a disservice. I have learned that liberals and conservatives and moderates and independents all have something to say. I have learned I don't have to agree with any of them. I have learned to value all of them. I have learned to "agree to disagree". I have learned that if you honestly believe a certain thing and can back it up, you should vote your beliefs. YOUR BELIEFS. Not something someone else has taught you. Something you have come to believe yourself out of your walk. It is important. It is powerful. It might make a difference.

I wanted to tell them that neither party is going to solve any of the problems we face. They are not interested in that. They both have agendas and power trips that they are fueling and feeding. Meanwhile, the issues we face are still present. Poverty, terrorism, the economy, health care, crime, life, whatever. And four years from now they will still be present. But no one will remember the promises that were made. No one will hold them accountable.

Don't get me wrong, I do have my own convictions, beliefs, theories, preferences. I think there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong, certain policy approaches that are better than others, and I will vote that way. But not because I think one party or one person is going to descend from the heavens and establish Utopia on earth, but because I feel that is the right thing for me and my country. Jesus tells us in Matthew that the poor will always be among us, and that is true. He also says whatever you do for the least of these... So we have our work cut out for us. We need a sense of balance. We need statesmen who will stand on principle. We need a government "of they people, by the people and for the people".

Hopefully the fear mongers and haters and nasty pundits will go away for another four years so we can get back to doing what is important: Loving one another.

Now go vote.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"dad, you are soooooo shallow"

These are the words spoken to me by my oldest daughter at dinner. She doesn't know I'm the wise nonprofitprophet. To her, I am just dad. And one of my jobs of being "just dad" is to annoy her.
My daughter is 15. She is very beautiful, both inside and outside. Both her mother and I wish we could have been more like her at that age. She is very confident and comfortable with who she is. I was miles away from that at 15.
So she has a boyfried. Okay, she is into recycling because this boyfriend was her original boyfriend from 8th grade. They broke up, she got another boyfriend, they broke up, now she's back with the original. Like I said, recycling.
And we are eating dinner and she tells us that another girl friend of hers from youth told her that one of the boys at youth really liked her... and the story goes on. I hear said boys name. Said boy comes from wealthy family so being my typical dad self, I say "what's wrong with that boy". And she just looks at me. I say, "hey, have you seen his grandparents checkbook?" and something to the effect that you can love rich people just as easy as anyone.
She just looks at me. Yep, that look you are imagining is the exact one. Like "what are you saying too me?" look. And she utters the words: "You are so shallow".
Of course, I say "what?" like a good dorky clueless dad should do to his teenage daughter and she just huffs and says something.
Secretely however, I am very pleased on the inside. Somehow, somewhere along the way, she has learned that money isn't everything. To follow your heart is important and not to like someone because of status. She hates labels and mean people as well. Just like her dad. And I like to think I had a little part to play in that. You know, as much as a dorky uncool shallow dad can.


It has really been busy and stressful for me the past several weeks. I quit a job a long time ago for many reasons, one of them being too darn stressful. For some of you who know me, I have stuggled for about a decade (and if I had been listening better probably my whole life) a calling to ministry. Its not something you really want to happen to you. I mean, you don't wake up one day and say, "Hey, I think I want to be a minister!". Who would want that. Good grief.
So I try this occupation or that job and it seems to work for a while, and then this little, uh, i don't know, pestersome feeling nags at you ... kind of taunting actually. "so you thought this would fill that void I created?"... etc.
and its frustrating. i am getting too damn old to change occupations. i actually did the official process in my denomination twice, got hired once, but had to turn down the position because, can you believe this, they lied about the salary. Some very wise pastor friends of mine gave me great advice, and i declined. Truthfully they told me the church would starve you if they could. Kinda crazy I know, but it was true. They also said you had to have the calling and you would know it. Well I do and I know it. What to do is the problem.
I live each day wanting the best I can get out of it. Doing something I am passionate about. And guess what? Its ministry. I envy those folks with jobs that don't feel like jobs. They say they love what they do and it doesn't feel like work. That'd be great.
so I ask God each day to just either help me get through this day or show me a path to take. it isn't always easy. sometimes I think god is waiting on me to get over whatever it is. leap of faith? trust? timing? who knows.
whatever it is, its frustrating.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

made for work?

I found myself the other day listening to a preacher who said that "we are made for work". I don't exactly recall how he backed this up, but his premise was that God made us for work. We were designed for certain functions, gifted in various ways, made for work. I guess being responsible, productive citizens was a large part of it as well. And casually listening I guess it sounded okay.
But for some reason it has stuck in my head, we are made to work, and I can't let it go. Are we made to work? Really? The more I thought about this the less sense it made to me. I guess God raises certain people up for what the moment calls for, like Churchill in WWII, Ghandi in India, and others... But is this what we were really intended/made for?
So I go back to the creation story. I play back the creation of man/adam and woman/eve and the garden scene and walking together, and I just can't see where one would gather that "we were made to work". It seems too me that we were made for relationship. God created us. God cherishes time with us. Just because we screwed it up doesn't change the intent of why we were created. I didn't create my kids because I wanted them to work, or get a profession, or whatever. They are created to be in relationship with their Father/Parent. Yes, they will work, but thats not why we are here.
I don't really know why this is bothering me so much. Maybe its because I am understanding that this, this life we live, is not what God intended at all. We are tied to systems and cultures that expect this or that and we dutifully comply with in order to survive the nightmare we created. And it didn't have to be this way. It could have been so much more. It could have been what God intended for it to be. And that makes me sad.
But man has created these systems for himself. To accomplish things himself. To put himself in a system where he can measure his worth. Where he can measure others worth. And sometimes we just don't measure up.
I wonder what God thinks of all this? And the older I get the less I think of it. God is working something within me all the time, its just hard to hear what it is. I get the impression, however, that he is trying to instill in me another way to view work. Possibly as a calling. To shed the old definition of work as a means to survive, or whoring out for a paycheck as I like to say. And work toward being a positive influence or helping others, not just to make money. But that goes against our system we have created doesn't it.
Created for work? I think not. Do a good work? maybe so if its relational centered. I'll have to give this some more thought.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

God of Wonders

This week has been busy. Really busy. With work and life and sick kids and stuff to do, you just get overwhelmed with it all. And on two separate occasions this week I have looked up to the heavens and saw the awesome wonder of God's expansive creation, and it brings me a temporary peacefulness. One was late at night when returning home from a meeting and the other was early this morning before 6 a.m. There is a certain crispness to the air, a clearness of the stars, and a fall-like coolness that seems to awaken something deep inside that says to me that I am part of a great and ever developing creation, an ongoing love song from God. And, well, the lines of the song "God of Wonders" echoes within me. And I catch myself singing the words of the song, rising from somewhere inside, to voice my adoration of it all. I have placed most of the words here for you.

Lord of all creation
Of water, earth, and sky
The heavens are Your tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on High

God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy

Early in the morning
I will celebrate the light
And as I stumble through the darkness
I will call Your name by night.

This is my 100th post on this blog. And it seems like a significant moment. In relation to it all, I am still humbled to try to understand that I am significant to God. Me, an ever so small being, whose time will be measured by years, which are but a blip on this current we call time which exists in the great unfolding universe.

Go outside. Look up into the heavens, and marvel.

God of Wonders.