Author Archive

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QUOTE – Tim Keller (12-5-21)

December 5, 2021

Wisdom is developed only in experience. No matter how hard they study, the graduate of medical school, law school, and business school will become truly wise in their fields only out in the open, that is, in real-life experince.

Tim Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life

This explains well the reason that I have a difficult time listening to the “wisdom” of someone in their twenties and maybe even their thirties. Wisdom comes from experience and experience is hard-earned and expensive.

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Promiscuous Mind

December 2, 2021
This is the time of year that Spotify provides the summary of your listening habits for the year.  I have started to see these posts from friends and family Instagram.  Therefore, the timing was perfect to run across this quote by Epictetus.    

I look at the hours devoted to specific podcasts and muscians and I wonder if we haven’t just handed over our minds. I have not gotten my Spotify summary yet, so I am not judging or confessing. I am making a plan. I know what I will be looking for when my summary comes in.

Have I had a promiscuous mind?

I am not against intellectual inquire, but let’s be honest, that is not what Spotify is primarily about. It is mostly about entertaining, amusing, distracting, and simply filling the time. Consider who you have handed your mind over to? Consider who has become your primary influencer? Before we ever offer the parts of our body to sin, we offer up our minds.

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Proverb-ish #1

December 1, 2021

I have been reading Wisdom In Israel by Gerhard Von Rad and have been inspired to see if I might be able to write something in the same genre. I have learned a couple things.

First, it is a little embarassing to blatantly admit that you’re trying to write something wise. In other writing, you can hide behind the interesting phrase or poetic license. There is no hiding your intentions when putting a pen to a proverb. Your intellect tends to be on display. I have found that disconcerting. My intellect is not the worst, but it is not the best. I land comfortably in the middle of the bell curve. Yet, I am still susceptible to the praise of men and the fear of being considered simple or even stupid. However, I have learned that intellect and wisdom are not the same. Wisdom is the application of knowledge to the real world. Therefore, my attempt is to share what I have learned through the years (knowledge) to my understanding of how the world works. I am more confident with this.

Second, this is hard. The whole point is to write a thought-provoking saying that conveys a world of truth in a few words. That is difficult to do. Good or bad, the process is rewarding. Attempting to write a proverb will force you to write in a concise manner. That is a good excercise for anyone working on the craft of writing. So, I will keep at it. Hopefully, they will improve with time.

I have delayed long enough. My disclaimers are hopefully sufficient. There are a variety of proverb styles. Here are my first attempts at proverb writing, presented as opposites:

Opinion rough hewn, set aside as complete.
Thinking continually crafting, refined through time.

Quick retorts, snide remarks, talking points, pass for understanding.
Accurate articulation of an opposing view, true knowledge.

Division and hurt excused by single-minded purpose.
A wake of kindness, people as primary, purposed defined.

Curiousity satisfied by a tweet.
Always more to know, curiousity grows.

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PICK YOUR PAIN

November 30, 2021

“You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” 

This is a saying in endurance sports. It seems that endurance sport is the rare place where suffering is exalted and even sought.  We praise those athletes that dig deep, feel the burn, and deny themselves to achieve their goal.

Sadly, the endurance sports’ lesson of suffering’s value fails to make it into everyday life.  Mostly, we want our everyday lives to be free from suffering. In fact, we not only want it free from suffering, but we also want it free from discomfort, frustrations, and general annoyance.

Not all pain is the same, but our reaction to pain, intense or minor, is the same.  Our inclination is to flee pain, avoid it, minimize it, remove it.  However, if everything that does not go our way is suffering in a degree, then it is pain on some scale.

Life is pain because life is a struggle with suffering. We struggle with all those disappointments that are not as we want; big and small; painful and annoying; consuming and distracting.

Perfection is the absence of suffering. 

Those who pursue perfection to escape suffering are the ones who suffer the most.  Humans are imperfect.  Society is imperfect.  Nature is imperfect.  If you demand perfection, you will suffer the more than anyone else.

There is only one who is perfect.

Therefore, life is a management of suffering in all its degrees while we await the perfection to come.

We don’t want to suffer the consequences of an immoral life. 
Therefore, we suffer the lesser pain of self-denial.

We don’t want to suffer want and need.
Therefore, we suffer the discomfort of self-discipline.

We don’t want to be crushed by the inevitabilities of life.
Therefore, we serve others and humble ourselves.

We don’t want to suffer eternal punishment for a sinful life.
Therefore, we lose our lives so that we might gain them.

Now, there is a paradox here for those who are in Christ. We are commanded to follow in obedience, to deny ourselves, to pick up our crosses and follow Christ. We are also told that it is God who is at work in us to will and to act in order to fulfill His purposes. This is the paradox that we all live. How does all that work? I am not entirely sure. However, I do know that within this paradox I have enough incentive and encouragement to endure. I have learned that when I embrace the denial of self, the power to preserve always comes through the Spirit, usually a while after I think I need Him, but in His time.

Suffering reveals our weaknesses.  It reveals what we value most.  Suffering is training.  It reveals perfection if we dare to look.  That is the knowledge that every “liver” of life needs to navigate through all the pain.

Suffering cannot be escaped, but we do have a choice in what we learn. 

Pick your pain or your pain will pick you; learn its lessons or pain will be absent of purpose.  So, dig deep, feel the burn, endure the race because perfection will have its day.

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QUOTE (Tim Keller) – Troublemakers

November 23, 2021

I have been listening to Tim Keller’s sermon series on wisdom. He referred to his devotional book during his sermon Knowing God. So, I bought God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life. Yesterday’s devotion struck me as so relevant to today’s issues that I wanted to share it. It is hard to make a case that our culture is getting wiser.

THE TROUBLEMAKER. Another kind of fool is the troublemaker. The mark of this person is constant conflict (Prov. 6:14). This is the opposite of the peacemaker (Matt. 5:9), the bridge builder whose careful, gracious answers (Prov. 15:1) disarm and defuse tensions. The troublemaker instead stirs them up. This is not the person who disturbs the false peace with an insistence on honesty. Rather, this is someone who always feels the need to protest and complain rather than overlooking a slight or wrong (Prov. 19:11). When troublemakers do contend, they do not present the other side fairly. Their corrupt mouths produce deceptive omissions, half-truths, and innuendo. Their body language (winking, signaling) creates a hostile situation rather than one that leads to resolution.

Troublemakers tell themselves and others that they just like to “speak truth to power”. But disaster will overtake the troublemakers (Prov. 6:15). As time goes on, it becomes clear that the troublemakers themselves are a reason that conflict always follows in their wake. They can be permanently discredited by events that expose them for what they are. But the ultimate reason for their downfall is that “the Lord hates…a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Prov. 6:16, 19).

Tim Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, Page 11

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Lost Meaning – Isaiah 1

November 22, 2021

What is this noise in my sanctuary?
This prattle sung in rythmic repetition.
Why these whispers during solemn prayer?
Hushed gossip of trivialities.
Where is My Word in this Sunday TedTalk?
Bells muting divine meaning and knowledge.

Stop bringing all this meaningless worship!

Light-shows manipulate emotions impure.

Your media productions are detestable to me.

Your striving for personal gain, purpose, and self-improvement, I cannot bear.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Where has the meaning in your worship gone?
Come now, return the meaning to your praise and worship.
Let you worship flow from true reality, from sins that have been washed clean.
Let your Sunday morn be a time of meaning in all sincerity;
Worship with meaning is pleasing to Me.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a prophet. I am not claiming to have a word from God. I am always hesitant in writing narrative for God or implying that what I have written is in fact from the mouth of God. The above is my application of the Word of God through an actual prophet, Isaiah. This follows along with the thoughts of DID ANYONE NOTICE.

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Baptism of the Holy Spirit – Mark 1:4-8

November 16, 2021

I had the opportunity to teach on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit . I hope it is helpful in understanding what is going on with the Holy Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit

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HUNTING SEASON – Psalm 91

November 8, 2021

Surely, O’ Lord, there is a season for a soul.
Are there boundaries for the hunters?
Are there times when you as the warden
declare some out of season?

He who dwells in your private reserve is free from pursuit.
Safe from those who desire his flesh.
I say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my preserve,
My God, in whom I trust.”

I am the elk hiding in the brush.
“Have I gone too far?”
“Have I crossed a line?”
Driven by forces, I cannot see.

Hunted by an intelligence greater than mine.
They desire my head; a trophy for their case.
They will tell stories of the hunt and boast of my fall.

Patiently pressing, I sense their presence.
They track me; oh, my careless steps.
A weakness to wander beyond the boundary.
Their calls inflamed my desires, blinded my mind.

Will I know when it comes?
When the trap has been sprung?
Pushed into a clearing for a clear shot;
will it be close or come from afar,
the shot that makes me fall?

I fear this day of terror,
When arrow, ball, or bullet might fly.

I must get back.
I’ve wandered too far.
O’ Lord, I am sorry. I need you now.
I am in trouble. I have no way of escape.
Can I make a break for it, before it is too late?

I will make the Most High, my dwelling place.
He will be my green pasture. There is none better.
The Lord will be my refuge; no harm will befall me.

I will not lose my head.
My flesh will be saved from the hunter’s banquet.
They will not boast over my defeat.

I hear the Lord’s triumphant call.
He has come for me.
He knows that I wandered too far.
Safety is in His presence.
I will cling to His side.

I will stay within the boundaries,
established by the shadow of His Holiness.
No longer will I listen to the false calls in the wilderness.
I love the Lord, I will never leave.

“Because he love me,” says the Lord.
“I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

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CREATING CRAP

November 4, 2021

I have been nurturing a little daydream. “What if I could write something truly meaningful.”  Most mornings, the dog and I sit alone with my coffee, Bible, and random thoughts. I write down whatever inspires from these solitary times with a sense that I have touched on something utterly profound.   I have been doing this for most of the year and the end of my journal is getting near. 

I have had a nagging feeling that something should be done with all the wit and wisdom that resides in this little journal of a book.  I thought of my children when I die; that they will appreciate the depth of my thoughts when they discover this little non-descript journal amongst all my clutter.  Then I was reminded about how life works. This journal might get saved for another drawer.  Maybe, handed down to another generation until at last a destiny as a recycled paper cup. 

I love the book, “Markings” by Dag Hammarskjold.  It is a collection of his diary reflections.  It was assembled and published after his death.  It is a wonderful collection of thoughts about God, the practicalities of life, and those intersections.  “Maybe, I could assemble something like that”, became my thought.  So, I have continued to put pen to paper in the morning hours, trying to think of something serious.  My plan became to write a book, a collection of prose and maybe some poetry, just like Dag Hammarskjold. 

I have daydreamed about this little book, throughout the year.  I have written consistently and most of the time I have been satisfied it was good.  “What would a publisher think?”’; “Am I brave enough to try?”; “What about the criticism, could I handle it?”;  “Maybe, an ebook on Amazon for $2.99”;  “A little extra income would be nice.”;  “What if it got popular?”; “Would I be viewed as a sage?” “Maybe, I will be ask to conferences and invited on stage?”

It is embarrassing to admit that I was concerned about pride from literary acclaim, before I prepared something for someone else to even entertain.

We are nearing the end of the year and my journal is three-quarters full.  I thought it was time to assemble a few of my profundities.  I had a plan of how I would organize them for ease of assembly, editing, and publishing.  I was ready to begin this historic pilgrimage.

I read a musing from earlier in the year.  I read one from a few days later.  I jumped around; months ahead and a few behind.  I was shocked in my conclusion, “they were mostly crap”.  “How can this be?” “I must be languishing in a morning fantasy.”

The confidence in my ability to write with quality evaporated in that little perusal. Mortified in my belief that I was creating something to sit alongside Dag Hammarskjold’s Markings. Clearly, I do not have to worry about pride in accomplishment.  My issue is more pride in delusional grandeur.   

I have lost my little daydream.  It is okay.  Obviously, it is for the best.  It was only a matter of time until reality killed it off.

It has made me reflect upon the reasons for striving to create.  I don’t do this for the money.  My ability to convey a thought in prose and poetry would be more important if it was associated with a paycheck.  I do it because I enjoy trying to write something in a way that is interesting (at least for me).  I do it because it helps me organize my thoughts.  I do it because, in many ways, it is how I pray. 

If we like to create, whatever that might be, why do we care what other people think?  It is irrelevant to the reasons that we do what we do.  I have created a lot of delusional crap.  I enjoyed every minute of it; absent any accolades.  It has been freeing to remember the joy of creating for merely me. 

Maybe, the greatest, purest, joy possible is the secret reward for those who create something that is never destined to be special.  The joy is in the creating not the creation.  That is what I need to remember.

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Dual Citizens

May 25, 2021

While I traveled along a narrow path
I crossed from the republic of conscience
Peaceful here beyond my life’s aftermath.
I could hear a Dove’s long call unconscious.
Immigration was a confusing ease.
An old man smiling wise my constant guide.
In his hand a list of names set aside.
Amongst those there written was mine in red.
Scarlet evidence of passage paid free
Freedom bought from a republic of dead.
Price paid with simple acceptance in glee
The first law in the land of adoption,
A response of love is not an option.

A customs agent asks me to declare
Homeopathic cures and charms for woes.
Remedies to justify are not rare.
Contraband these ways with no cure to show.
Banned what seems right in old republic eyes.
Yet, I sneak some in as if on a dare   
Testing my knowledge to explore red’s share.
Will power against words or thoughts impure. 
Contraband to a fee already paid
An add that contains a hidden allure
of earning an entrance the debt to evade
An abhorrent desire to claim a share
of the purchased glory dimming its glare.

Monarch’s commands reveals laws to observe.
Laws interpreted as burdens to bear.
No Sherpa to call. No other can serve.
You carry your own burden with fanfare.
Soon symptoms of creeping privilege show.
The right of an earned citizenship.
Entitlement transformed from kinship.
But what count of burdens borne is enough?
Is one offense sufficient to revoke
a name from the Custom’s list as a bluff?
Contraband declared should not provoke.
One cannot add to merit adoption.
A response of love is not an option.

Tempted to recline here at the border
Passport in hand, retirement at last
A chronic compulsion calls to order.
Wonder compels distance from shadows past
Progress hard won but must go on, go through
Only course is forward answers to find
Will not turn back, sorrows have been declined
Stumbles and falls all part of wonders draw
Every tumble dislodges a treasure
Useless trinkets, burdens progress does stall
Remorseless for trifles of displeasure
Should have heeded customs agent advice
Journey easier fueled by loves devise

The path I walk different than before
narrow, cobbled, disfigured by roots
Curious dust more at home on a shore
Troublesome filth that coats from hat to boots.
Not a fine dust that can be beat away.
Each step aerates more crystals minerals
Air full with particles not minimal.
I am covered with icicles of white.
Caked by the lands prized symbol salt.
New or old told by its reflected light
Encrusted clothing worthy of a vault
Evidence of citizenship granted
a walk into what love has transplanted

Ahead a statuesque form in motion
Reflecting a glow ever growing
Beyond yet beside in full devotion
Chronic surprise astonishment owing
Kindness presenting an ideal as real
Salt constantly swirling and alluring
Drawn to one with no false assuring
Truly disclosing custom’s hidden hoard
No loss shown by robed riches gained
Every illicit trifle long ignored
A man of stone matured through years sustained
Expert nurturing particles of taste
Clothed in treasure attracted without haste

My companion and I journey along
Old republic traveled in parallel
Saltless person we meet blind and headstrong
My companion heralds fear to dispel
The custom agent asks him to declare
Insults ensue, words viewed like death and rot
Guides sad note, at the border he is not
He looks me in the eye beckons me see
More new than old it is obvious now
Declared dual citizens both are we
Ambassadors to what love can allow
Sharing news of the land of adoption
Where love abounds desiring no options.

This is my first attempt at writing a sonnet; I hope I followed all the rules. My inspired came from “From the Republic of Conscience” by Seamus Heaney.


 

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