The Line

Ah, it is nice to walk out the door in the morning and not feeling the steam bath that is the normal St. Louis morning.

Despite all the pumpkin spice everything that seems to pervade the fall season, I love fall. Not so much for the pumpkin spice chewing gum and coffee ruined with pumpkin whatever but more for the fact that the fishing gets better.

Wading into a clear, cold stream early in the morning with a fog hanging just above the surface of the water, feeling the current push against me, no one but the trees watching me clothed in wet, quiet leaves that are just beginning to put on their fall wardrobe, the air is fresh and brisk and clean as it fills my lungs, well, that’s pretty fantastical for my soul.

It is easier for me at this time of year. If I can’t go fishing, I can plan for the next fishing trip. I can’t just toss my responsibilities in the dumpster for the duration but those responsibilities and the drudgery of the daily routine are a lot easier when there is some fishing thrown in.

I don’t think everyone should love fishing like I do. I do think everyone should love doing something as much as I love going fishing.

If you turn your television on, there is someone on there telling you what NOT to love. In fact, there is so much of it that I sometimes feel no one is allowed to love anything.

There are even people out there trying to get fishing outlawed because they don’t like it that we catch fish.

I’ve even seen them throw rocks at the places guys are trying to fish. Now, if a fish hates being caught so bad that we should outlaw it, maybe we should jail those folks throwing rocks through the fish’s front window.

I suppose that when you hate something, you only hate to the degree that it personally affects you. That’s a convenient way to draw the line.

I used to think that was how it was with serving God, draw a line I don’t mind not crossing and then hate everyone and everything on the other side of that line.

That way, I can feel like I am grateful I am not over there in the bad place and rest comfortably in the good place throwing rocks and judging away to my heart’s content.

Imagine my amazement when the denial began to fall away and I saw that God’s line was not where my line was.

It was way back behind me. I was on the bad side of that line.

That was pretty scary. I mean, I had thought I was safely behind the line and suddenly I saw I was way, way far from the right side of the line.

And I had been just doing the whole couch potato thing vegging out on the wrong side of the line.

I was a hypocrite. OUCH!

But then, God had me look around. We were all on the wrong side of the line, every last living soul was nowhere near God’s line. There were a lot of folks that thought they were camped out safely on the right side but they line they were looking at was their own.

What does a person do now? Well, there were three kinds of folks, folks walking the wrong direction, folks walking toward the line and folks just sitting around doing nothing. Most of the folks were in that last group.

So, every day I get out of bed and kick sand over my line. I stop looking at that as a safe barrier between myself and the bad side and I begin marching toward God’s line.

I’ll reach it. It may take me till my last breath here on this earth to do it but I will make it.

But I don’t want to sit in false security watching when I should be walking.

Am I Good Enough?

Saturday Night Live used to have a segment by Stuart Smalley. Stuart liked to give daily affirmation.

“Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!”

Stuart was not good enough even though he repeated that phrase over and over again. It seems like in the comedy world, like in the real world, mere affirmation was not good enough.

I don’t know if Stuart is still around. I stopped watching Saturday Night Live a long time ago.

We laughed at Stuart for trying to talk himself into being enough. But, society today is affirming and confirming that we ARE enough. There’s no need for rules and morality. There’s not even a need for God because we are all we need.

Here’s a place where I think being as broken as I am has opened my eyes to the nonsense around me and made me perfectly content knowing that I am NOT enough and never will be.

There is not a single person on this planet that is enough!

Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

All of this talk about being enough, about living any way we feel like, about setting ourselves up as our own God, well, to believe that we have to toss out scripture.

This is where I feel blessed to have been through all that I have been through. I set myself up as my own God, followed my own rules which mostly served my wants and needs exclusively, only listened to my own voice for leadership and guidance and found myself wrecked, ruined and finished.

It was only when I gave it all up, destroyed my graven images of myself and turned my eyes from inward to upward that I began to be healed.

It was God and God alone that took this broken bag of bones and mended them. It was God and God alone that brought healing to a broken soul.

I am not good enough and was never good enough and I was never created to be good enough!

What a relief!

No one has ever been good enough except for the one that carried the cross in my place and hung my faults and imperfections along with him so that they may be covered in the grace and mercy of a loving father.

If you are carrying the burden of being your own God and that realization hits you that you can drop the whole act and take up the cross and follow Christ and let him fill you with goodness, BAM! That’s like waking up after a cold night to the warm glow of the sun.

Until God’s love broke through, I was lost in a fantasy, one where I was enough, where I was the center of the universe. But God’s love is so much more than I could ever be.

Yet the world around me rejects it more and more and is busy creating a place where misery and hatred are taking over.

There are haters, haters of the haters and haters of the haters of the haters. There is no middle ground. There is only us and them and everyone’s “us” is really a “me”.

When I make myself God, I disapprove of everything that goes against my theology and doctrine and I become angry and disapproving…all the time.

Today, my prayer is for God’s love to break through, for his light to begin to shine through a crack in the flawed allegiances of mankind and darkness to begin to give way to truth.

I also pray that I bow in humble reverence to the one that is good enough and chooses to dwell in me. I want to make his home a place that is worthy of such an honor.

What He Saw

I’m not often surprised by people anymore.

But, they still manage to stretch my limits of just how terrible people can be.

I think sometimes I don’t see how awful something is because I don’t want to see it.

I see a headline that tells about some horrendous act being carried out with a child or some other helpless individual that is done terribly wrong and I don’t let it really sink in.

I just think, “Oh, that is the worst thing! Who could do that?”

Then I move on.

I don’t let myself think about the moments, the hours, the days of unspeakable terror that person may have experienced or just how dark the soul of someone can get to carry out such atrocities and get some joy or satisfaction from it.

Nope. It would break me to let my mind dwell on such things. There are some limits as to what I can deal with inside my skull. Imagining a child screaming and crying due to abuse, hearing the thud of fists landing on a battered wife, whimpering in the dark nursing wounds both physical and mental in such pain with nowhere to turn for help for too long would just breed a huge amount of hate and futility to my life.

This world doesn’t need more hate and futility.

I have been given opportunities to help some of those people and lift them up even though I cannot bear their true extent of their pain.

I try to give love and hope.

John 2:23 Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.

Very early in Jesus’ ministry, John tells us about what Jesus knew about the evil in this world and how low mankind could stoop. He knew what was in each person’s heart. He knew the pain they felt and the pain they inflicted. He knew their perversions, hate, darkness and ability to break new ground in their evil desires.

He knew. He knew it all. He knew those things I run and hide from. He knew what I am not able nor willing to see.

If I knew, I think I would have found a way to go back to Paradise and sit out the end of the world from the comfort of my handy dandy throne.

But, despite knowing, despite seeing, he went on to finish the plan, the plan that allowed even to most evil, vile, scum of the earth to have a way to redemption.

Sitting here, I can honestly look at some people and hope that they never find a way into Heaven. My heart isn’t pure enough, my love isn’t real enough to do what Jesus did.

Just admitting to myself how far short of the heart of Christ my own heart currently resides somehow changes me. I can see the gap, the ground I need to cover, the transformation that is yet to come as I get off my laurels and begin to move forward into the future.

I’m so grateful that God has done what I could never have done for mankind. I often can bear to look no further than the evil in my own heart, let alone feel for those that experience the effects of evil in theirs.

There’s a lot of work left for me to do. There are so many that need rescue and have no hope of finding it. I can help some of them but I never will unless I begin to look deeper than my desire has allowed me to up until now.

On the Phone

Yesterday was a strange day. I wish I could tell you exactly what made it so strange but I really can’t and, to be honest, it didn’t seem like it could have possibly happened when I got up this morning.

But, it happened.

See, yesterday I tried to reason with a person that was unreasonable. Not only was she unreasonable but she was mean and angry.

She wasn’t angry with me when I first started trying to reason with her but when reason didn’t match up with her expectations, she was angry with me along with the rest of the world.

At one point I just stopped talking. I had to let that anger that was welling up inside of me subside before I opened that orifice that too often emits snarky, sarcastic, arrogant, self-righteous and angry conversation in response to her verbal attacks.

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“Are you still there?”

“Yes (feel free to continue yelling at me). Give me a second.”

There was another moment of silence.

“Are you still there?”

“OK. Yes, I’m still here (I just had to take a mental break from all the screeching and whining).”

I’m terrible with the phone system at work. I have got to learn how to use the hold button. Maybe I know how to use the hold button but I am having trouble with the un-hold button. Who knows?

Maybe I should have given it a shot.

All I know for sure is that I took a beating from this kind lady with everything that came out of my mouth for quite a long time. I started thinking I just needed to get off the phone.

The only problem with just getting off the phone without coming to a conclusion means she will call me back.

So, even though only God and maybe Warren Buffett could do anything to make her somewhat happy, I found one thing I could do to make her day better.

It was a far cry from Utopian bliss that she was after but it was something. I told her I would get it done.

She didn’t comprehend that and proceeded to yell at me about what I had told her I would get fixed.

So, I told her I would get it done…again.

She didn’t believe me and yelled some more.

So, I told her I would get it done…again.

This time it seemed to register. She was getting something for her efforts. It wasn’t everything she wanted. That was impossible.

But suddenly the crazy switch flipped from full out incoherent attack mode to grateful mode.

I thought she handed the phone to someone else. I hung up wondering what had just happened.

This morning as I reflect on all of that nonsense that went on yesterday, I wonder how many times I was the person on her end of the line acting like I belonged locked up in a padded room.

I hate to admit this but I have spent far too much of my life berating, belittling, defaming and angrily spewing out threats and insults.

It kind of makes me sick to my stomach.

I try hard to not be that guy anymore. But I wonder if just not being that guy is enough. Maybe I can do more than just refrain from being a super jerk on the phone.

Yep. There is a lot of room for me to grow more respect and to be more reasonable with my approach and expectations. I’m not special. I do not deserve more respect than anyone else and I don’t have a free pass to stomp all over others to get what I want.

God doesn’t call me to just stop being that jerk I was once so proud of being. He calls me to be more Christlike, not just less demonic.

I guess I could type out the golden rule here and highlight a bible verse. The sad thing is that we all know what the golden rule is but yet disregard it so often.

Today I need to focus on being more than just a guy that refrains from verbal assaults. I need to be a man that gives encouragement with this tongue that has so much power to help and to hurt.

Nip It in the Bud!

Yesterday I went to see my doctor. She took a look in my ear and said, “That’s not bad at all!”

I would have been all excited about the news but that was not the ear that was hurting me. Of course, the good ear looked good inside.

She looked into the ear that I went to see her for in the first place and her remark was more like, “Ooooh, that’s all kinds of red in there!”

That wasn’t exactly news either because at the time, that ear was pounding and had shooting pains that seemed to be trying to create a new opening in my skull for me to hear through.

Well, I was prescribed antibiotics to combat the problem.

I could have decided to just wait a few days and see what happens but I have had a few problems with my ears and once I get an infection, it tends to stay for a long, long time.

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Yep, when a problem comes along that experience says is going to turn into a bigger problem, it is good to follow Barney’s advice, “Nip it! Nip it in the bud!”

You know, get out the shears and remove the budding issue before it becomes fully bloomed, fully blown disaster.

But still, I am often tempted to see if that definition of insanity is really true, keep trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

I see poison ivy sprouting up but decide to let it go a while and see if I get roses this time.

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Barney knows better and I tend to think Barney is the stupid one.

See, there are little things that pop up in life all the time. They are seemingly harmless or slightly inconvenient and I am tempted to just let them go.

But giant obstacles start out as tiny sprouts.

The past is back there. Satan would like for it to come roaring back full of life and strength and allow it to overtake my future. Now and then I need to walk back through what was and make sure it is still in the compost heap and not sprouting up here and there.

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Those sprouts aren’t going to turn into joy and peace this time around. They are still venomous, soul-polluting weeds ready to choke the fruit out of my life. There’s no since in conducting that experiment again. Gravity still pulls down, the sky is still up and my past mistakes will still yield the same horrible results no matter how many times I try.

Nip it! Nip it in the bud!

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That’s why in recovery, continuing to do a daily inventory is so important. We’ve gone back and pulled the weeds and cleaned up the garden. We’ve dealt with being overrun and overgrown with bad habits, hangups and hurts.

We still need to check for buds and sprouts so that what we deal with in the future benefits from how we dealt with the past.

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My ear is better already. Got those antibiotics in me and they are chasing that infection right out of town, nipping it in the bud…lol. I’m pretty glad I feel better now rather than waiting till I felt really, really bad before I start trying to find some relief.

It works with a lot of things, anger, hurt, depression, hate, fear…it works. If you take a look around and see some familiar buds popping up around you, take this advice and “nip it!”

Hunker Down!

I’m not feeling great this morning. My stomach was upset after dinner last night and that turned into heartburn and somewhere along the way, my left ear started hurting.

I finally got to sleeping well and strange noise started coming from my phone. It was a tornado warning until 2:15 a.m. I rounded everyone up and we headed to the basement as the sirens began to wail.

We hunkered down until the storm, at least the dangerous part of it, had passed. My ear was hurting really bad and my heartburn was killing me as I dragged my tired butt back to bed.

In this part of the country, basements are mighty handy. I can recall living in a trailer park (some of these places are called mobile home parks but the one I was living in at the time was definitely a trailer park) when a tornado was pretty close and not having a basement to hunker down in.

Me and my buddy sat in the living room watching the wall move in and out against the wind wondering when the wall was just going to go airborne and hoping we didn’t go airborne with it.

So my thoughts are foggy this morning after a night of aching ear, painful stomach and weather interruptions.

All that really hits me clearly through the fog is that I had a place of refuge to retreat to when the sirens started blaring and danger was imminent.

I spent a lot of time in this life walking on the high wire of life through the storms with no net and wondering why my falls hurt so bad.

I didn’t have enough sense to come in out of the storm, maybe, because I didn’t realize that I had a place of refuge to hunker down in.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

I think there are times I forget that I have a refuge and I run in circles looking for a place to find shelter and wind up getting beat up by the storm because circles don’t do much to protect me.

I read somewhere to be still and know that he is God.

God is my refuge and my strength. That’s the two basic things needed to weather any storm.

At some point among the camping this past weekend and telling my grandson “no” eighty thousand times I heard him quote this bible verse.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I hope he remembers that as truth forever. Refuge is never far away. He’s never in a mobile home with not basement and no place to run when the weather gets rough. His refuge and strength is right there, right in his own heart ready to be exactly what he needs it to be.whenever he needs it.

Life isn’t so much about being Moses smacking a stick on a rock and seeing miracles happen. It is more about hunkering down when fear paralyzes me and finding the strength to weather the storm.

I hope some of this made sense today. I’m still trying to see where I am through the fog. Hunker down time is over, though and I have to face the day that is ahead of me.

The Heartbreak of Psoriasis

I can remember a lot of commercials about the “heartbreak of psoriasis”. Now, to this day, I don’t know what psoriasis actually is other than it affects the skin but I know that Tegrin claimed to be able to take care of it.

Do they still make Tegrin?

If not, what are all those people with eczema, seborrhea and psoriasis doing about their dry, itchy, scaly skin?

What about the heartbreak of psoriasis?

Maybe the answer is in this informational video!

Ok, maybe not.

It seems that the skin, when not in decent condition, is a source of shame. I can remember the shame of getting on the school bus with calamine lotion slathered all over the poison ivy on my face and being called “Frankenstein”.

It seems that bad skin has been a source of contention for a long time.

I guess the worst case scenario for bad skin is leprosy. A leper had to walk around shouting “unclean” so everyone could get out of the way and not catch his cooties or whatever could transmit the dreaded disease.

Heck, maybe all some of those lepers needed was some Tegrin. I’m pretty certain that it didn’t take an actual case of leprosy to get sent off to the leper colony.

Back in the time of Jesus, the best way not to spread the diseases wasn’t vaccinations, it was isolation.

Well, like yesterday, Jesus was coming down from a mountain with large crowds following him.

Did he like large crowds when he went to the mountains? I tend to go to the mountains with a fly rod in hand hoping no one else is around. I guess Jesus liked a nice view when he was teaching.

As he was coming down from the mountain, a leper showed up.

Matthew 8:1 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,”he said. “Be clean!”Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 

Back then, you didn’t get close to a leper and you certainly did not touch one.

Jesus not only touched him but he healed him.

A lot of people scratch their heads and wonder why the church is becoming more and more irrelevant. I know of a couple of reasons for that.

Number one, the bible prophesies it will happen. Persecution in some way, shape or form lies ahead for the church. Part of persecution is diminishing the importance of faith. Once that is achieved, it gets easier to really test Christians.

It’s going to happen. God never, ever promises us that earthly life is going to be puppies and kittens.

Number two, the church seems more and more afraid of catching leprosy. Oh, we have gotten pretty great at pointing fingers and shouting, “Unclean, unclean!”

But God forbid we reach out and touch any of those unclean.

We might be seen with that addict, adulterer, bigot or whoever else might sully our reputations. They might like us and come back again and again. They might intrude on our convenience.

Wouldn’t it be great if our churches had to stop their routine and actually minister to real needs right at the moment they are needed?

But we tuck our prayer into the finale of our services and feign a desire to interact and pray together while we are thinking about hurrying home to stuff ourselves at a restaurant or family dinner table.

I remember a song that used to popular that I always loved.

He touched me. Oh, he touched me. And oh, the joy that filled my soul. Something happened and now I know. He touched me and made me whole.

You know, I was pretty unclean. I turned my back on him and shouted out for him to go away and leave me alone.

But when I said, “Lord, if you are willing, make me clean” he touched me.

Who am I expecting to touch all the unclean around me every day? Billy Graham? Well, Billy died before he could get to everyone. Who needs to be reaching out and showing compassion? My pastor? The guy that sits across the aisle from me in church every Sunday? My wife? My kids? Who?

Jesus never once contracted leprosy or cooties or even the heartbreak of psoriasis touching those around him regardless of how unclean they were.

I guess today, it is a time of looking at where my boundaries are, looking at where I subconsciously (or consciously) believe God’s love will not reach and find a way to reach out and touch it.

There’s no better way to know the greatness of God than to push beyond the limits of what I know already. It is tempting to just stay in that comfortable grace and not venture out into the places where grace seems it may not be enough and touch those who live there.

I suppose I need to substitute compassion for complacency. Complacency makes me fat and lazy. Compassion keeps me a lean and agile.

This is a great day to touch what I have feared to touch.

No Time for Blind Guys

Compassion. What is it? Is it the tugging at my heartstrings when the pain of someone else resonates deep inside me? Is it the tear that sneaks down my cheek when I hear the struggle of someone I love? Is it just a feeling that sometimes makes me sympathize and be overcome with inner turmoil?

The dictionary calls it a noun meaning to have pity or concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others.

I’ve always adhered to that definition. But, Jesus seemed to stretch that definition into something more.

Matthew 20:29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Compassion, when it comes to Jesus, doesn’t seem to just be a feeling in his chest that cranked up the tears and tugged at his insides.

Here we have Jesus, hitting the road with his disciples and a large crowd. They were leaving Jericho. We aren’t told where they were going.

But these two guys could hear them, and probably someone had told them what was going on so they called out to Jesus.

The crowd didn’t like it for whatever reason. Maybe they thought the blind men were hecklers. Maybe they didn’t like blind men. Maybe they just didn’t want to stop and deal with blind men on the way to wherever they were going.

At any rate, the crowd wasn’t feeling much compassion as they followed Christ.

Here’s the deal. I look around and see the church lacking in compassion a LOT these days. Replacing compassion with judgment, anger, fear and all sorts of other things Jesus wasn’t too big on seems to be in fashion lately.

In fact, I made a career out of that for a really long time. I could judge, hate and be angry with the best of them. It took a “road to Damascus” type experience of getting a big, hard kick in the…pride to get my ship righted.

Still, it is a struggle not to join into the holy dog-piling going on in the world today.

It seems that compassion for many seems to be limited only to people that show respect, love and admiration for our cause.

We forget that compassion never left Jesus, even as he hung unjustly on the cross for the sins we have committed.

But Jesus did what his followers would not. He showed compassion to the two blind men.

This wasn’t just a feeling of pity and sympathy for their plight. Jesus stopped everything to do more than shed a tear for all that blind guys had to go through before he moved on to the next town.

He felt compassion. It wasn’t a noun. It was a verb that stopped him and then it moved him. He reached out and touched them.

He didn’t make them go take a bath or wash their hands and feet or bow before him or even confess him as Messiah. He reached out and touched their blind eyes and gave them their sight.

I need to be careful, every single day, not to follow the followers. Followers only see part of the picture. They thought they knew where Jesus was going and didn’t want to be distracted and delayed.

But they had no idea how Jesus was going to get where he was going. Only Jesus knew that.

I truly need to stay focused on where Jesus is leading. I need to allow compassion to do more in my life than make me pause long enough to dismiss it with a clear conscience because I shed a tear or felt some sympathetic pain somewhere deep inside.

I need to be moved into action, even if it is only a touch. God can do a lot with a touch.

But there is a giant trap laying out there called complacency where I can be content doing all sorts of religious looking stuff and missing out on my true mission.

I need to set aside my preconceived notions of where God is leading me today and be ready and willing to stop and be moved by something other than my own selfish view of what I think God ought to be doing.

This means that I may have to sacrifice some of my time, convenience and even money to help someone that may not appreciate it at all.

I have to remember that I don’t become the least to serve my own desires or even the desires of the person I am serving. I do it for Christ alone.

This hits me hard. I know how busy I am. I know how much I want to do what I want to do and I really don’t want to be all that compassionate.

I want others to show me compassion, though. I guess it all goes back to that “Golden Rule”. If that is what I want, then that is what I give.

Friday

It was sure tough getting out of bed today. This week has worn me out. I’m looking forward to clocking out of work and heading to the gym to work out and then going to my Celebrate Recovery meeting.

After a rough week, it is tempting to just go home and become one of them there couch taters.

But that doesn’t really address what made the week rough. It just puts me on the sofa taking care of one of the symptoms.

Before I call a halt to my striving this week and take a little idle time to let my tired recover, I need to take care of the things that caused me to get so tired in the first place.

First of all, I’ve been too busy to adequately take care of my body. I haven’t really eaten right. I am going to need to get some proper nourishment.

Our bodies, my body, is the temple of the Lord. I have to remember that when I decide that a McDonald’s mystery burger is going to take the place of something a little more nutritious and healthy. Eating that garbage not only affects the things floating around in my blood feeding my muscles and bones and organs, it affects my mind.

Just sitting in the drive-through making a suggestion to the person behind the crackly speaker on the big screen is enough to make a person get into a recovery program. Actually getting the food and looking into the bag to see everything you could imagine except the things you ordered turns it into a crisis.

But eating that mystery burger puts a lot of weird chemicals in my body that treat me like a science project gone wrong.

Hey, if you love fast food, have at it. I used to love it to and sometimes I still do but I really have to stop being in denial that it is good for me. Sometimes I am better off not to eat at all.

Then there is the gym. I’ve been going to the gym this year. I’ve done pretty well but the last couple of weeks have been so busy, I have had a hard time getting to the gym more than once or twice a week.

I need to get back to the point that if things go sideways, once or twice a week is what I fall off to. At the moment, if something comes up I fall off to no times a week.

You may think this temple maintenance isn’t all that important. But, I’ve come to understand that using the excuse of not being physically able to do something God calls me to do should not be because I have abused and neglected the body God gave me.

The gym is top priority, along with some good nutrition, after I get out of work today.

I’ll probably get some of that nutrition at my Celebrate Recovery meeting tonight because we always start off sitting around the table talking while we eat.

Second, I’m going to get all I can out of my Celebrate Recovery meeting. I’m going to participate, lead, worship, share, all the things that make my recovery work are going to happen tonight with people I know so that I can more effectively continue like that throughout whatever next week throws at me.

I know. That last sentence was a long one. Right?

A lot of people are looking for the hands on the clock to align today to signal the beginning of the weekend. They are ready to do what makes them feel better.

Maybe you are one of those. But maybe, just maybe, before you run out of the office or job site or factory or whatever it is that has will be fleeing at the end of the day, you should get better instead of just feeling better.

Maybe instead of celebrating getting out of a bad situation, do something that makes things actually get better and celebrate the beginning of a good situation.

My celebrations begins at six o’clock when I walk into Celebrate Recovery and throw some more boulders on the walls of my recovery.

Then, at the end of this day, I’ll crawl between the sheets tired and sore and fall asleep with a smile on my face.

Make ‘Em Grumble

Here we are, sitting in the midst of politicians using tragedy to further their own agendas.

Some guy named Beto is on camera every chance he gets blaming Trump for rhetoric that may have led to a deadly massacre here in the United States.

I think he is half-right even though he is far left.

ALL of the venomous hate in this country should be blamed, not just the hate one party doesn’t agree with.

I’m not going to even start on who is right and who is wrong in all of this. I’m just going to say that what is truly right doesn’t lie in the hearts of Trump or Pelosi or the smorgasbord of self-righteous lunatics running for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Things are moving fast in the world. This country it swinging away from what it was founded to be, a republic and running hard toward a socialist society.

There is some real arrogance in American thinking that we can successfully do what countless others before us failed in using the socialist platform for all future endeavors.

Social media is turning into socialist media as censorship of democratic ideals and Christian values are deleted and banned.

It can sure give way to some pretty big fear for people.

In fact, every effort is being made by both parties to divide us into one of two groups.

If we lean a little one way or another on an issue we are quickly labeled as an extremist, either godless or racist bigot.

Middle ground is being eradicated here at an alarming rate.

We feel as if we are the first ones to be here, caught in a trap that offers no way to escape.

But this has all happened before.

In Jesus’ time, if you didn’t follow the letter of religious law, you were labeled a heathen, heretic or demonic. If you didn’t follow Roman law you were, you know, killed. People were pushed and pulled and their allegiance was tested and tried constantly all the time.

Along came Jesus that brought a new law, a law that cost him his life but has brought a lot of life over the centuries.

Sure, we have had some people that tried to turn this new law into Pharisaic law and perverted it with death and hate, just like a lot of people are doing today.

What is a person to do in this day and age when the gospel is once again frequently diluted with hate and is under fire by people that loudly proclaim it to be null and void without a god?

I’m thinking I need to follow Jesus’ lead.

Jesus walked right into the teeth of everything that was wrong with the world he came to save and he didn’t spew hate and venom, judgment or threats of eternal damnation for everything he personally didn’t like.

Luke 19:5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

Jesus made the righteous grumble. He invited himself into the dwelling place of the sinful.

Some people that read the things I write may think I am too soft on sin, that I don’t draw enough lines in the sand and pass judgment on wrong.

There is already enough judgment in this world.

What the church needs is more grumbling. That’s a good sign that there is someone among them reaching those most folks just do not want to reach.

I’d like to see a half-dozen or so despicable losers, high-minded atheists and hateful political activists walk into my church on Sunday morning.

That’d cause some grumbling.

But, that isn’t going to happen barring a miracle from God.

So, just how will these people see the gospel for what it really is and not what some Woodsboro Baptist Church goofball presents it to be?

Do we pray that God beams Christian talk radio into their hearts as they sleep? Do we hope that somehow they come to know God randomly through some miracle?

Or do we give up and sit back and point fingers like the rest of the world is doing?

I don’t think any of that stuff would work. I don’t read about Jesus doing any of that.

No, the only hope there is for a lot of the people in the world around me is for me to step out of my comfort zone, my pew, my boundaries of who God can save and who he can’t and sit down with them and be Jesus.

They may not do the immediate one-eighty Zack did but we can simply put an exception in someone’s absolute. We can create a doubt where they had placed their faith.

That’s what truth does. It erodes the false reality people live in and as they try to repair it they see something else that stands firm.

I’d better stop here. But this is where we are today. We are not losing hope as Christians. We are being blessed with opportunity. We have a mission field at our front door. We have a calling.

I can be a witness to a world without God and a church that needs to be shaken up and made to grumble.

It ain’t gonna be easy. Jesus showed us that. But then, easy is way overrated.