Making Memories Isn’t Easy

Saturday I finally got to go do a little fishing. It was nice to be enticing trout to take a fly and feeling them tug on the line and make a straight rod bend. The weather was perfect for standing in a cold spring-fed creek and I’m good in the way of fishing therapy for at least another couple of days.

But, one of the best parts of this fishing trip was on Saturday evening when I took my four-year old grandson to the river for his very first time. He was armed with his first trout fishing permit and his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle trout net and one of my rod and reel outfits.

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He really didn’t have any of the casting stuff down and even struggled with the reeling. But he did a fine job of netting fish.

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This is his very first trout ever. I helped him quite a bit but he loved the experience.

Later he got a fish almost completely in and handed me the rod so he could go get his net.

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This kid has a fish-tention span of about thirty seconds. He was walking around playing with rocks, talking to people, finding fish guts to examine and all sorts of other things other than learning to fish.

I get pretty impatient. I even thought taking him fishing wasn’t going to work out. But, standing there in the water, I remembered being in that same spot I was standing in on Saturday fifty years ago.

I fished there with dad, Grandpa and lots of other people. I fished there with my buddy George and my pastor from when I was a kid. I had seen a lot of water flow down that river.

I saw a little boy that must have bugged the tar out of his mom and dad that had grown into a gray-bearded old geezer. But this old geezer had a head full of memories, memories of cold water and hot sun, pink-sided fish leaping from the water and the satisfaction of being a part of the noise the water makes as it rolls over the rocks.

It became apparent that I needed to relax and let this boy splashing around making noise and doing all sorts of stuff that isn’t fishing enjoy himself.

This boy needed to be able to look back on this day and be happy.

It isn’t easy to make great memories sometimes. It seems like it is important to try to wedge them in between a lot of “Hey, stop that!” and “Get back over here” and you begin to wonder if there is going to be anything good to get from all this effort except for the thrill of it being over and done.

So, in the midst of all the moments of frustration and thinking this kid was not going to pay attention to any of this fishing stuff, he had moments of reeling in his first trout, netting his first fish, feeling the impossible cold of the water when he fell in on a hot summer day, flinging fish guts into the water and numerous other things that I hope invade his memory someday when he is older and he steps into the water with a fly rod in his hand.

I hope he finds what I have found. I hope he can tie on a fly and let it drift in the current as his mind slows down and the racing thoughts ease into sluggish waves of contentment that linger and ease into each other covering the weight of the world and the worries of tomorrow.

I want to remember that taking this boy fishing isn’t about me. It is about crafting moments he can pluck from his memory when he needs them that bring a smile to his face.

Looking back at the pictures from Saturday, all the chaos of taking this guy to the river melts away and the memories of our success stand tall above it all.

These are the things I want to come racing back to him long after I am gone and he hears the word “Grandpa”.

There are a lot of things I want him to remember. I want him to remember me for being a godly man, for being a good man. But I also want him to remember that I was willing to share my time doing what means so much to me.

I’m going to rest up tonight. I need to store a lot of energy for our next adventure hitting the trout stream.

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No One Will Like This One

Back in the Old Testament, occasionally women got a bad rap. Like in the book of Proverbs. There are lots of things about immoral women and the pitfalls they create for men.

But, for the most part, immoral women attract immoral men so there’s no blaming one gender over the other here.

And no, I’m not going to go into identifying as an immoral man or immoral woman. I’m just going to stick with “X” and “Y” chromosomes and leave the crazy however many genders they’ve supposedly identified out there with Bigfoot and aliens from outer space.

I hope you aren’t offended but life is confusing enough with just men and women.

Ok, now back to the topic.

Proverbs 2:16 Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman,from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. 17 She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God. 18 Entering her house leads to death;it is the road to the grave. 19 The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life.

Is God saying that adultery is all the woman’s fault?

Not at all!

Proverbs is divided mainly between two types of people, wise and foolish. God is saying that no matter how great that woman over there looks, no matter how skilled she is at seduction, a man has no excuse for falling for her but his own foolishness.

We are responsible for our actions no matter how much we want to blame the temptation.

And no, today’s topic is not just about adultery. It is about a lot of the houses I am tempted to visit.

I used to visit the house of cocaine. It seduced and wooed me as much as any person ever has. I entered that house and found it indeed led to death and the grave. I became doomed.

I blamed a lot of things, my depression, I worked nights and was tired, I needed something to clear my head (what a joke).

The truth is that I tossed wisdom aside to engage my inner simpleton and charged full throttle into a place I was completely out of control, reckless and lucky to live to tell about.

Yeah, this part of Proverbs is describing a lot of places we can go visit but shouldn’t.

It really seems that in this day and age, if you decide you aren’t visiting this house or that house, you get called foolish and stupid. People are wandering around to places they have no business in just because they are shamed if they don’t.

Fools don’t have a lot of respect for wisdom. They like to get in a huge mess and blame the immoral woman for it. Then they ridicule the one that avoids the mess.

Staying out of the house of whatever brings you down is not hate nor intolerance nor judgment. It is simply wisdom. If idiots don’t like it, well, that’s what idiots are supposed to do.

Just because a moron calls me stupid, doesn’t mean I should act stupid.

I’m not getting political here. I’m not talking about liberals or conservatives. I’m talking about liberals AND conservatives.

In this day and age, there is pressure to be stupid from both sides of the playing field. Everyone has their house of horrors they want us to enter.

Every day I have to resolve to grow some wisdom, to engage more brain cells and throw aside the pressure of the seduction of foolishness.

I have spent to much time in the bondage of my own making to chain myself to the shackles of yet another prison made of silly thinking and trying to make wrong right.

I cannot help anyone if I succumb to the attractions of sin. I know what is wrong for me. I cannot compromise on that.

But, at the same time, I also realize that it is God that convicts man of sin and leads him in the right direction. No amount of me ranting about what is right and wrong on this blog, posting hateful memes on Facebook, taking everyone else’s inventory or character assassinations is going to do what God can’t.

I guess that’s why Jesus told us to love others and clean our own eyes before we go looking for trouble in someone else.

It is hard to love people that seem to blurt out stupid with every word. But, who is as smart as they think they are? Who is really wise?

I can only cling to the hand that guides me the right direction and love the way he commanded me to love. After all, it is the greatest commandment, not the great suggestion.

Good Things

Do you ever wonder why you are so dog-gone broke? I sure have. I wonder how, after working for all these years, decades even, that I can be still living from paycheck to paycheck.

Then I see that other guy over there that has more than he needs and he’s living life the way I wish I could live it and wonder, “Why can’t that guy be me?”

I really know the answer.

I don’t really like the answer but I know it.

A year or so ago, I got to know a guy that has all the extra stuff and doesn’t know what to do with it all.

Even when he tried to show humility with all his might, he was still full of himself. He still managed to take credit for everything.

Fake humility tastes a lot like bull manure. Someone starts tossing it around and the smell gets kind of overpowering and it kind of ruins your appetite for their company.

If God blessed me with a bunch of brand new awesome stuff and I still had loads of money in the bank and my job was to just be a genius and I was great at it, I would be that guy that is full of himself…and maybe a lot of that by-product of being a bull.

I’ve been that guy with a lot less.

In fact, I have more than I need already. I just always seem to be able to convince myself that I need more.

Sometimes, I convince myself that God owes it to me.

Matthew 7:7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Doesn’t that sound like the ‘Vette I’ve always dreamed of is only an “ask” away?

But Jesus chooses his words carefully.

Matthew 7:9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

If you take a good look here, these gifts are things of sustenance, things someone needs to be whole. He doesn’t mention parents dishing out shekels like they are going out of style. Nope. He doesn’t mention a nice new donkey to cruise the local Jerusalem Steak n Shake.

He’s talking bread and fish.

I have to be honest here. I’ve tried to corner God with this scripture to get what I want. But God promises “good” gifts.

I can sit here today and tell you that the best “things” I have ever had were never good enough.

Have you ever watched a TV show where people collect cars? They always end up selling that car that was the best there was because they become convinced something else is better.

I’m sure they regret getting rid of it at some point. I still regret letting go of some of the cars I have had and most of them were junk.

Having the best isn’t really a good gift. The best seems to always fall from its place of glory.

Do you know what the number one hobby of the wealthy in the world is?

Accumulating more wealth. The richest desire more riches.

Tons of money isn’t a good gift. There can never be enough.

So, when I discover what God is really all about, I want something good.

I’ve found that living life guilt free is a pretty darn good thing. When I lose my guilt, I don’t have to lose more. When guilt is gone, it’s gone.

I’ve found that love is a pretty good thing. Lots of it is great but it only takes a little to feel like a soothing salve on an irritated heart.

I’ve found a lot of things that when I ask God for them, they come out of nowhere like the rain has been coming from the sky around here lately, often and in abundance.

So, when God doesn’t seem to be giving me what I ask for, maybe, just maybe, I am not asking for good things.

Maybe Jesus should have added, “If your child asks for a nuclear bomb, do you give it to him?”

I think I should be more grateful for the things God hasn’t given me. Even though I did a lot of damage in this world, I never went nuclear and decimated things beyond what he can repair.

Well, I’ll call it a day on this one. I wish you many good things today.

Comfortable Shoes

I’m still wearing comfortable shoes.

New Hope for Dry Bones

I don’t know how many of you remember ‘Dingo Boots’. Back when I was in junior high, they were really popular. All the really cool guys had them so I started telling mom and dad all about how I had to have some too. Unfortunately, back then there was no internet and when you wanted to buy something, you had to go from one place to another until you found it.

First of all, we had to hit the one shoe-store in O’Fallon. They never had anything in stock that fit me so we would drive around to all the stores a dozen miles away in St. Charles. Sometimes, I could find shoes there that fit my short and wide foot but all the Dingo Boots in that city either wouldn’t go on my foot or they fit too loose.

Next stop was someplace in St. Louis, another thirty or…

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I Can See Your Problem!

Finding fault is a fun game, isn’t it? It seems like I have always been a great player when it comes to this exercise in the dissection of other human being’s endeavors.

I know that today I will have to resist the urge to discover the flaws of another person and announce them to all who may listen. I know if I do this that others will agree and we will all nod our heads in disapproval of the poor soul’s imperfection.

It may seem subtle sometimes, just a little critique of a friend or acquaintance, a co-worker or client, but in truth I might as well jump up and down and scream, “I’m better than you! I would never do something so stupid! How do you remember to breathe?” Sometimes, I manage to keep silent but I am still doing it. I am keeping a mental tally of all the faults another person has, filing them away neatly in a part of my brain that is fast becoming too full to take any more in, taking over the parts of my mind that should be full of other things.

I can honestly tell you that there have been times in my life when I heard a great idea, something that would have vastly improved the way I live, and I have instantly found something wrong with it and discarded it like yesterday’s trash.

How did I do this?

I became so focused on doing that thing I was so talented at, finding fault. Did I ever find fault with someone else or what they were trying to do and say, “Here, this is the problem. Let’s fix it!”? Not very often. Most of the time I just withdrew and figured I would get away from that mess and sit in my perfect world and let someone struggle on their own.

Matthew 7:3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”

I guess it is all about perspective. That log in my eye causes me to look at everything without depth. I skim the surface and if it isn’t perfectly smooth I begin to perceive every ripple as a flaw on the water. I can’t see that below the tiny waves that cover depths that there is still, clear water teeming with life. I have to fix my perception and allow myself to realize that there is more to every man and his ideas than what I can see.

Just a tiny bit of dust in my eye irritates and annoys me, yet often I am content to be spiritually blinded by selfishness and jealousy.

James 3:16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

So first of all I need to continuously remove these things from my life. They refuse to just go away and stay away. God gives me the basic plan for ditching these two pesky critters. Selfishness and jealousy must yield to God’s Word.

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

By allowing God to work on me in this way, through his wisdom, we become pure, peace loving, gentle and way less bull-headed! I am forgiving and do good things and not just talk about them. Prejudice falls away and I speak honestly and I strive for peace. If I strive to achieve these things, finding fault is a poison I no longer choose to taste.

Matthew 7:4 “How can you think of saying to your friend,‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

So now I can see the faults in the lives of others in a different light. I can be a helper. I can approach the faults of others by obeying what God’s Word says in James 3:17. Those things look differently when selfishness and jealousy don’t cloud my vision. The things that have brought me turmoil and worry can now bring me peace and righteousness. This is a life-long commitment. I have to renew my resolve daily. I must continuously assess myself to make sure I am ready to face the day and view others the way God would have me to see them.

God, cleanse me of selfishness and jealousy and help me not to feed those things which cause me to find fault in others. Help me see opportunities to help and build others up. Amen.

Good Morning!

Good morning.

Oh, it may not feel like a good morning. It doesn’t feel like a good morning to me.

Good morning anyway.

Usually, I sit down and start assaulting this keyboard and words flow like the mighty Mississippi which currently remains way above capacity.

Today, not so much.

I’m typing and thinking, thinking and typing.

Something is missing this morning.

My next door neighbor is missing to be specific.

Last week he went into the hospital and I was expecting him to be home any day now. I figured we had more jokes to tell, more time standing in the driveway talking a lot about not much, more waving when we mowed, more…well, just more.

I’m sitting here realizing there is no more.

I’m kind of stunned really. Like I said, I figured he’d be back home soon and be wandering over to our house with a cookie delivery for my grandson.

My grandson, Oakley, loved Russ. It was hard to see Oakley try to grasp the fact that Russ wouldn’t be there anymore.

Last night Oakley told me, “Let’s just go to heaven and see him.”

That does funny things to my insides to hear that little boy say something like that. Especially when my insides are already feeling kind of funny.

I’m also realizing that since I have lost a few folks that mean something to me, I’ve gotten kind of afraid to admit other people are important to me. I should have told Russ what I thought of him. I never did.

We shared kind of a macho, tough guy friendship. I think he would have either laughed or cried if I told him how much he mattered. I never risked crossing the cry line with him.

I guess I really don’t have much to say today. I guess if there is anything I’d like us all to take away from this little bit of writing it would be to be someone that little kids wish they could go to heaven to see.

I really can’t think of being anything better.

Good morning, Russ.

What’s an Othniel?

People are funny critters. It seems like the better things go, the less God they need. But, when things get real, real bad, prayers bombard heaven, promises of faithfulness thunder through the pearly gates and vows to never do that again cover the streets of gold.

Man finds a right place with God through their lack of faith and things seem to be going better.

Some folks say that this is a sign of the times we live in with all the entitlement, deflecting blame and denial of our human condition.

But when a person reads God’s word, we can see that man has changed very little. We still find someone to hate, still find a way to do terrible things. We are still able to repay grace with selfishness, love with anger and peace with war.

Judges 1:7 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. They forgot about the Lord their God, and they served the images of Baal and the Asherah poles.

Maybe God should have noted the word “Israelites” here with “Insert you name here.”

Here in this day and age, we may not worship Baal and Asherah but we sure find a lot of other things besides God to worship.

Money comes to mind. OK, maybe I don’t put a dollar bill on a pole and bow down to it but I do put the things money can buy at the top of my list of things I am working for and bow down to it often.

I bow when I ignore the homeless, sick, hurting, addicted and chase after something I don’t even need to satisfy something inside of me and ignore doing what brings me closer to God.

I don’t want to admit I do this.

That’s the thing though. I do it whether I admit it or not. I can only do otherwise if I stop denying my Israelite-ness and admit I am not quite doing all of this right.

Sin is eternal unless we confess and repent.

The Israelites began to worship other Gods. I don’t know if they wanted to fit in with the people that now ruled over them or if they wanted to score some brownie points. Maybe they looked around at the mess they had gotten themselves into and just decided God wasn’t enough or it was easier to worship false gods.

I don’t know.

There are a whole bunch of reasons I have compromised my faith in God. I guess the Israelites had enough reasons to rationalize their compromise but God didn’t even bother to put them here in the scripture.

Judges 3:8 Then the Lord burned with anger against Israel, and he turned them over to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim and the Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim for eight years.9 But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord raised up a rescuer to save them. His name was Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz. 

The famous Othniel enters the picture. What? Never heard of this guy? Most people haven’t. There are so many other more flashy judges that get the air-time in the Old Testament.

But, Othniel was an answer to prayer. After eight years of serving some king with a name too long to fit on his headstone, God gave Israel the answer to their prayers.

Judges 3:11 So there was peace in the land for forty years. Then Othniel son of Kenaz died.

Othniel led Israel to forty years of peace. Wouldn’t it be great if Othniel came to this country and worked that miracle? God appointed one guy and the king with a long name was no longer the biggest crown in the land.

My dad was a pretty tough guy. But we had four kids in our house and my dad had a hard time bringing peace to the living room for five minutes. Othniel bringing peace to the Israelites for forty years is pretty amazing.

You’d think that after forty years of peace, Israel would have figured out how to be pretty good at it.

But the peace only lasted forty years.

It would be easy to fault these people for their cycle of turning their backs on God, finding themselves in a mess, crying out for God, being delivered, forgetting about being delivered…etc.

That was my life-cycle for decades, though. I found myself bound to this false god and that false god, unable to extricate myself from the chains I had placed upon myself.

HELP! HELP ME GOD!

Here’s where I want to wrap this up. God has done miraculous things time and time again to rescue me from the disasters I have created.

What if, after being rescued, I kept crying out to God in desperation?

HELP! HELP ME GOD!

This time, not to be rescued from the mess I made but to do what God has called me to do?

What if I get the same miracle working power in my life to help others out of their messes?

I’m afraid that too many times God has brought me out of the fire and set my feet on solid ground only for me to find my way to the couch and rest a few years while I bow at the altar of television programming and advertising slogans.

God’s word is chock full of those who were like me, those that needed Othniel to come along and fight the fight, grab peace and keep it around as long as he lived.

I have so much more. God sent Christ to bring me peace that is eternal yet I launch myself headfirst into every puddle of turmoil I can find. Facebook and other social media are littered with puddles of turmoil.

It is so tempting to try to attack those puddles and vaporize them when in reality what they need is God’s love, even if that makes no sense to me, even if I deem them undeserving.

There is no other way to peace.

The Aroma of Life

The smell of fish frying is better, at least to my nose, than bacon cooking and coffee brewing. I’ll say right now that those two things are a pleasant and wonderful thing to get a whiff of in the morning but there is something extra special about fish coming up to temp in hot oil.

The sense of smell is a weird thing. I think we tend to pay more attention to it when we pass too closely to a skunk carcass along the highway or something rotten or when wondering who did that to the air in the bathroom.

But there are times when a smell hits my somewhat on the large size proboscis and I am carried away into the past remembering someone or something from the past.

The awful smell of catfish stink bait often takes me back to summer days when I was just a fraction of the man I am now sitting with Grandpa drinking Royal Crown cola and telling dumb jokes.

He’d probably rather I remembered him by something more classy and great than stink bait.

But the smell of fish frying reminds me of Grandma, going from the counter to the stove to the table to the stove to the fridge to the….you get the point.

Grandma was just a little woman but she cooked really big.

I’ve been trying to get someone to go with me to get a bunch of fish for a fish fry. I just don’t enjoy going out to the lake and sitting in a lawn chair drinking Royal Crown all alone and telling myself dumb jokes.

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That’s a pic from about seven or eight years ago of me holding up a catch for the Fourth of July fish fry standing in the front yard. I’m not sure if the Chesapeake/Lab behind me is pointing at something in the woods or creating her own smell for me to remember.

I really have to search my brain to recall the great smells. If I just go flipping through the aromas that really stick out, they are usually the really bad ones. The stenches and stinks.

I find myself often just savoring the smell of fresh popcorn for a few seconds before I go on to something else but I can remember vividly the last time someone at work burned some in the microwave.

At a glance, sometimes it just seems that life stinks. After all, that’s what comes to mind when I think of the fragrances of life just by sniffing the surface of it.

But that big bunch of fish I am holding in that picture didn’t smell real good while I was holding them for the picture. They sure smelled great later when they were in the fryer, though.

Maybe I am remembering too many stinks and not enough of the magnificent aromas of life sometimes.

Maybe I am not thinking about the times that were just good, times I had no worry, no care, no pain and recalling the times that life stunk.

Sitting here thinking of stink bait, that didn’t give me much. But sitting out there in the sun with the guy that helped me get it to stick to a treble hook, laughing for no good reason, talking about things that seemed silly to him but so important to me, sure gives that stink some pleasant aromas.

I don’t know if all this rambling makes any sense at all. I don’t even know what I am really trying to say. I just feel like tapping away on these keys and sniffing down memory lane and reflecting on how my silly brain works.

I hope your day doesn’t stink and if it does, some good comes from it.

Let’s Go Blues

I hope you don’t mind but I’m just going to write about hockey this morning.

See, here in St. Louis, by June thirteenth, the hockey season is usually a distant memory and Cardinal baseball is our next hope after another disappointing season.

By November of last year, it appeared we were destined to be on the outside of the playoffs picture looking in, again.

The team was in disarray. Our goaltending was terrible. Our players couldn’t score. Our defense had their minds out in East Egypt and didn’t seem to be even playing anything that resembled the game of hockey.

It was awful to watch.

I told myself after each embarrassing loss that I would not watch again.

But, I am not one of these band-wagon fans. I’ve been a fan for a while and this same thing has played out, in different ways, over and over again.

The coach looked confused and was totally unable to right the ship. Every move he made resulted in something less successful than the exploits of The Three Stooges.

I got tired of seeing him. I got tired of listening to him tell us everything was going to be alright as we kept slipping downward in the standings.

The playoffs looked out of reach by December.

Then, the General Manager, who was taking a lot of heat from a lot of disappointed fans and probably his own family and his boss, fired the coach and hired some guy that I had never seen coach but I had seen play hockey.

Craig Berube came and stood behind that dismal team and they appeared they would just keep on losing.

But then, a spark started to appear. Good players started to play like good players. Bad players stopped looking so bad. The team wasn’t winning a lot but they, at least, began to look like a team.

We still managed to find last place and had nowhere left to go but up.

Our goalie, which shall remain nameless, was never reliable. Nothing makes a team effort harder to come by than a goalie that allows goals like he has his eyes closed.

So, the Blues gave this guy a shot. He was what appeared to be a lifetime minor leaguer. He wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t a top prospect. He was unknown.

Jordan Binnington came to the team with low expectations.

He failed to deliver on those. He played like someone that wanted to be in the NHL and never look back. He played with intensity and discipline.

Suddenly, the slow moving Blues team got faster. They started scoring more goals as less goals found their way into the net.

The defense became more and more determined to stop allowing guys to even shoot the puck.

Things started to look better.

Before we knew it, a winning streak happened. This team of chaos won five in a row.

Fans began to actually start thinking, “Maybe we can win another one!”

The wins kept coming. The team won eleven games in a row with this no-name goalie in the net for most of them.

People started talking about this goalie. Binnington became a name we recognized.

The team set their eyes on a playoff spot. It would be an amazing feat to come from dead last to make the playoffs.

Well, they secured their playoff spot but they weren’t done. They began to push for first place.

For a few hours, they sat in first place in their division until a couple more teams played their last game.

If nothing else happened, this was a pretty great story. This mess that started the season and had managed to be in last place halfway through the season in January had really turned it around and made it to the post-season.

I was pretty proud of the boys in blue. I started to let myself believe they could even win a round in the playoffs.

Here is the thing I think is the most special about this team. Everything can go wrong in a game. The goalie can have an off night and the pucks can seem like they are being guided by some sort of cosmic power to sneak into the net, the wheels can come off the team’s game and everything that can go wrong does.

But this team will win its next game.

There were times in the playoffs where I was afraid the bubble burst and the magic evaporated into thin air. I’ve watched teams lay down an die after that happens.

These guys, however, virtually were guaranteed to follow up failure with a sound and rousing victory that often was the end of their opponent.

They bounced back hard and strong and God help anyone that got in the way.

It happened over and over in the playoffs and the Blues found themselves there again on Sunday night as they left the home ice for the last time this season after being blown out by Boston, blowing their chance at winning the cup at home.

They had gotten thoroughly thrashed by Boston and the momentum appeared to be all in the Bruins favor.

Last night, the puck dropped and Boston unleashed a fury of hockey perfection, putting the Blues on their heels and Binnington somehow managed to stop shot after shot.

Boston could not score even though it seemed they should have and then the Blues quickly deposited two pucks behind the stellar Tuukka Rask to end the first period 2-0.

This was happening. The Blues could win this, the whole thing, the one thing that had eluded the team for over a half century.

The second period was a hard-fought draw was Boston getting the best scoring opportunities but the Blues fighting them off.

I sat there as the third started expecting Boston to come out punching, ready to go down like the mighty team they are. But the Blues took control and the Bruins began to fade.

It became clear that the fight had left the bear and the Blues were in control. As the seconds ticked away, Boston had less time to work a miracle comeback.

The Blues were up by four goals and gave up one late to cruise through the last ten minutes with us on the edges of our seats.

The clock counted down to zero. The Blues had made history.

Sometimes, we make too big a deal out of sports. But once in a while something like this happens, something that teaches us all a thing or two about staying true to what you believe in and never giving up.

I really to have to say a lot about that. If you saw it happen, you know there is something there to learn about life in general.

So, today, I am just enjoying the ride that the hockey season gave me, maybe for the only time in my life.

Thank you to the Blues for never giving up. Thank you for some fun memories.

I’ll leave you with three little words today.

LET’S GO BLUES!

Here Comes the Judge(s)

When I read the Old Testament, there sure is a lot of killing. It seems kind of out-dated now to run around in your tribe and conquer the people on the other side of town.

But back in the Old Testament days, if you had an enemy in the land, it was about like a cockroach problem. Everybody that was anybody simply went to war and the winner got the land while the losers got what cockroaches tend to get.

I’m really glad that these things were recorded in God’s Word. It gives an accounting of history that shows simply packing up your weapons and taking them to Canaan isn’t going to put an end to war. It just changes where you fight.

One of the problems with war is that it takes a lot of might and power to win. When man experiences might and power, they start thinking they are as mighty and powerful as anything anyone could ever need and we really don’t need God.

I’m not going to name names but I can think of one country that fits this bill pretty well. I live there.

I realize that there are things worth defending and things we often have to fight for because the world is going to take advantage of someone unwilling to fight back. Ask any kid that dreads going to school every day because he is being bullied.

With all that being said, I am going to go along with some of what our church is studying currently, the book of Judges.

There’s a lot of war right from the get go in Judges.

Judges 1:1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?”
2 The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.”

God had promised Canaan to Israel way back when Moses was still around, even after Israel betrayed God, they got lost in the desert (God took away their GPS for forty years) and they got the ten commandments from a guy that always makes me think of Charlton Heston.

There was one big problem.

Somebody else called Canaan home.

Before Joshua kicked the bucket, he had a talk with Israel. He told them to serve the Lord with their whole hearts and they would receive the land they were promised.

Joshua 24:16 The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods.”

They said a whole bunch of other stuff they would not live up to besides this.

Here is something I will take away from this. God may sometimes give me enough rope to nearly hang myself so that from time to time I experience the need to call on him.

I am going to tell you some truth about me. Maybe you aren’t like this. I hope not but I’m afraid most people are. If God just sets me up for life, takes away my struggles and problems and makes everything work out just the way I want him to, I will stop seeing that he is doing all these things.

Yep, I’ll start seeing that I am doing all these things and become my own god.

When I read about Israel, I see myself.

They fought many battles, beat their enemies, served God and then….turned away, became their own gods, got themselves in a bind, seemed headed toward extinction and failed the same way they had failed over and over again.

Israel represents recovery gone wrong with relapse after relapse while they played the blame game to deflect their own responsibility.

When we go through Judges, we have to remember that the culture was very warlike and based on the survival of the fittest.

It seems foreign to us, yet, it is familiar…too familiar.

But God has gotten bigger since then, in a way. We have access to God Israel didn’t have. We have the life, death and resurrection of Christ and the Spirit living within us.

It should be easy, right?

But Jesus taught us that we don’t go out and kill a whole slew of people to get what we want but that we go to him for what we need.

But it is still so hard. There is war raging inside me. Some days the artillery inside my brain makes it hard to hear anything but eminent destruction.

Joshua 24:14 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve.

Every morning I decide who I am going to serve. Believe me, there are days that serving myself seems like the way to go. But, I have learned one thing through my whole history of behaving like Israel, choose to serve the Lord.

Then after I choose, I ask God what I should attack.

No, it isn’t ever people. It is anger, pride, selfishness, greed, hate and a bunch of other ugly things that are ready to defend their positions in my promised land.

So, in the next few weeks when I write on Judges, the battles are no longer against flesh and blood but powers and principalities. All the blood that needs to be spilled was spilled upon the cross many years ago.