Blood Money

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Can you imagine a life lived with out guilt.  A life in which you are no longer affected by the consequences of guilt.  I am not talking about conviction, meaning that you have the opportunity to do the right thing and you have not followed through.  I am talking about guilt, carrying the weight of past decisions and actions that you do not have the ability to correct; or carrying the load of expectations that you or someone else has put on you to perform or behave in a specific way.

Can you imagine having a day in which you were not guilted into getting out of bed because you don’t want people to think you are lazy.  Guilting yourself into not having a piece of bacon because you don’t want people to think that you are fat.  Guilting yourself into going to work out because of the same.  Then guilting yourself into having a salad for lunch for again the same reason.  Guilting yourself into maintaining relationships with friends and family because they have convinced you that they need you, and you can’t leave them hanging; or they have convinced you that they will no longer talk to you if you change the rules of the relationship.

Guilting yourself into making sure that your kids are busy because you don’t want to be responsible for them not being successful.  Guilting yourself out of having hard conversations because you don’t want to be the one that causes the tension in the marriage.

Then there is the guilt, or rather regret of past decisions and actions, broken relationships, unintended consequences; and any times things that you did not have any control over.

This is not a call for lazy people to get lazier; If you have not gotten your life started, get moving.  That was conviction, not guilt.

I believe guilt is carried because a desire to be something that we are not, perfect.  Guilt comes from a lack of security in identity, otherwise we would not pause to say or do, or do not.  Regret is so painful because we know that we cannot change somethings, but in some subconscious way we are trying to pay penance through holding on to it.  I am not exempt from this.

Sometimes I think that guilt and regret are just counterfeit money that I am trying to use in place of the real stuff like love and forgiveness.

I am International!!

James-Bond

Because of the beauty of the WordPress statistics I can tell you that my blog has now been read around 2500 times in 14 different countries in 5 continents.  Don’t you love statistics, if you take that at face value it looks as though I am a hit.  However as Mark Twain said “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics”.  What is not stated here is that I have posted around 90 times for an average of 28 reads per blog.  What is also not stated is that 99% of the readers did read it in the US and Canada.  I have basically one hit per country outside of that.

Regardless of the statistics I would like to say that I feel as though this has boosted my self esteem.  If I had not started this blog I would not have realized that there were about 20 people around the world (probably US citizens that have traveled internationally, please verify) that felt my blog was readable enough to find an internet signal in a hotel in a third world country in order to view it; or that they were checking sports scores, the news, or their email, and saw that I had posted and decided to check it out.

I am being tongue and cheek of course, but seriously it is good to see that there are a few people that have found my blog readable, entertaining, and/or thought provoking (my ultimate goal).  If I could ask one thing it would be to hear from you by posting a response whether you agree or disagree with what I say.  I really will not be offended by disagreement.

Thank you Tolerance for Making My Life Easy

I just want to thank all of those people that have been pushing tolerance on me over the last few years, and its close cousin “coexistence”.  You have effectively put the bar so low that I am more in danger of tripping on it than struggling to get over it.  I can now ignore everyone around me and be considered moral in your eyes.  My plan is this:  I am going to get a stay-at-home job, order my groceries on Amazon, and wait until I die.  I can now divorce my wife and abandon my children and be looked upon with reverence in your eyes.  For those of you that are trying to reach me you can send me a letter or an email, but please know that I will probably not read it as it may have an effect on me in-congruent with my new philosophy.

Now you may not call this coexistence or tolerance, but these terms do not imply any sort of relationship so I figure I might as well just hole up here and wait of the end.  If I end up running in to anyone I will abide by your edict and keep a safe distance so as not to interfere with their existence.  I will tolerate them being in my presence long enough for me to get the Cinnamon Bears that I have been craving at Central Market and go home.

I understand where the words tolerance and coexistence get their traction, I am not naive.  People have been hurt either individually or as a people group, be it cultural or religious or otherwise.  From this point of view I see where people are coming from.  Coexistence and tolerance however really only allows us to avoid each other and avoid things that make us uncomfortable; ultimately to avoid truth that comes from anyone other than yourself.

So here is to love, respect, honor, and other words that imply that I have given more than a passing glance to my fellow human.  Of course love requires I give something of myself and it requires that I make myself vulnerable to being hurt.  The other side of the coin means that I am allowed to eat fried chicken in my underwear by myself.  Life on this planet was created to be in some sort of relationship, and if that relationship looks anything like coexistence I can tell you from experience that while you haven’t given anything, you haven’t gotten anything either.

Seasoned Well

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I am relatively new to the fire making game at the age of 38, my dad may not agree with this because I started a few fires when I was younger.  However my dad had a hook-up with a local saw mill in which he as able to get pine trimmings that were left over from milling.  Not only were these pine, they were all kindling; cord after cord of kindling.  We would burn mostly kindling all winter.  I remember the first time I tried to start a fire in eastern South Dakota with hard wood.  I might as well have tried to burn up a cinder block.  I could not figure out why I could not get the wood to blaze.  It was oak, it was not well seasoned, and it was thicker than kindling.

I am learning about seasoned fire wood now that I live in the northwest.  I have been cutting and chopping my own firewood for a couple of years and I have burned my fair share of seasoned and unseasoned firewood in the learning process.  It makes me think about the Azusa Street Revivals and the Great Awakening from American church history.  That was seasoned wood that was ready to burn, when the Holy Spirit swept through that wood was prepared.  It is amazing to see how God moves when the soul is seasoned to burn.

Watching unseasoned wood burn, or not burn, is a great teacher.  First, it doesn’t want to burn, so if you want to use it as firewood the seasoning has to take place in the fire.  This means that it burns slow and almost seems to fight the fire itself, I can’t tell you how much of my own wind I have used to try to get unseasoned wood going.  If it is not ready, it simply frustrates and does not serve its purpose well.

I have often thought that when I came to Christ as a 6 year old I was unseasoned wood.  I had a purpose but was not prepared.  I still honestly struggle with this because I see those that follow Christ and burn hot all the time like a fire that keeps getting fed.  I have also seen Christians that seem to be spent after one log because no one went to get wood off the back porch.  Many times I feel like I am throwing unseasoned wood on the fire and working my butt off to get it to burn.  I can’t season the wood myself.

Security and the Up and Down

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As I sit in front of the fire this morning and my beautiful daughter aggravates me through the phases of her development (she is currently having a temper tantrum as I write this), I am reminded of the same phases happening in all of my children; The Up and Downs.

If you are a parent this may trigger a memory that you may or may not have recognized as a phase.  Here is how it works, the child gets up and wants to cuddle.  Then as most 18-30 month old children do, they want to get down and play.  Here is where is goes from a tender moment to an annoyance.  She comes back and you cuddle her again and quickly gets down in order to go and play again, or just find a way to get your attention.  Once is expected, twice is an endearing moment, 10 times is a great annoyance.

Now I know the reason why she is doing this, but it doesn’t keep me from being annoyed.  She is trying to simultaneously explore her identity as an individual and maintain her attachment to her parents.  She is trying to, at the same time, explore a simple independence and maintain dependence.  I also know that when a child does not complete a phase satisfactory it usually comes back or gets suppressed for a later therapeutic session, at least that it the theory.

She will then do one of the following (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Realize that she has the security of her parents and can explore her world as her own person
  • Not feel secure enough to leave her parents arms and stunt her individual identity
  • Not get the security she is looking for from her parents and decide to go it alone
  • They will not leave the up and down phase because it seems to be working to meet their needs

How telling this is about how we approach God, or decide not to approach God.  I maintain that most everyone will approach their relationship with God based on their experience with their parents.  If I feel secure enough in my relationship with God I will move forward with my life in Him feeling the security to live out my identity while serving Him at the same.  If I never feel secure enough in my relationship with God, I will continually try to rest in Him without ever living out my faith.  If I don’t find my needs met in Christ I might decide to just live out my life without Him.  Or we never leave the up and down phase constantly looking for affirmation of God’s love while constantly testing the waters of my independence.

The interesting dynamic here is that the Up and Down might seem like a good phase to be stuck in, cuddling up with God and going out to explore.  However the essence of the Up and Down is insecurity and lack of Identity.  I do not strike out because I don’t need God anymore, I strike out because I know my identity is not lost because I go.  I strike out because I feel secure in His love.

Man, I Would Hate to be That Guy

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I will not bore or guilt you all this Christmas Eve by giving you the “Reason for the Season” lecture.  I used to hate Christmas Time, not Christmas, Christmas Time.  What I mean by that is that when it comes to Sunday’s and Christmas Eve we all put on our “remember Jesus” caps, but outside of that we put on our Santa hats.  I used to be frustrated by this to the point of anger, and I would love to say that it was all due to the fact that people had leveraged the story of Jesus into a consumeristic feeding frenzy, but the reality is that I am not really a gift giver or even a gift receiver.  I am very honest when I say that if people wanted to get me something they would make me the most happy with an Ebay gift card.

So that brings me to the title of this blog, I would hate to be the guy that thinks that God will somehow be cheapened by anything that we do.  I could not get in and out of Silverdale, Washington yesterday because the traffic was so bad.  Why you ask? because of people like me that had not finished (or started) their Christmas shopping yet.  People were swearing at other cars, other shoppers, themselves all because of an expectation in themselves or in the people around them that they would honor the season by giving gifts. And yet God is not changing, nor are his plans.

I do not like many of the things that have happened in this world and I do not like many of the things that this world and its cultures glorifies.  I know that much of this breaks Gods heart, but it has not changed his plans.  What is really different about this time of year over the rest?  Honestly in the place that I live there is no better time of the year to talk about God than this one.  The reason is simple, the name of Jesus is largely forgotten here and this time of year presents a great discuss starter.  Yet even if His name is being forgotten, he has not changed and he will not cease to exist if the reason for the season it lost.

That is what gives me hope, God is not changing and neither are his plans.  2000 years ago a woman said “nothing is impossible with God”.  God has the ability to recapture this season, recapture this culture, recapture the hearts of those that are lost.  He has not forgotten us, and He has not given up.  Don’t get upset about what people do, don’t give up starting conversations about God; and for the love of Christmas, don’t forget that God is not done here.  Hope does not reside in the hearts of man, but in the plans of God

Okay So There is No Standard, Now I Know.

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This may seem like a weird way to break my blogging silence but I have seen two articles lately that make me think that the wheels have come off.  I always thought that there were certain standards, boundaries if you will, that were assumed to be “as far as we go”.  Over the last couple of years I have started to realize that all standards, boundaries, ethics, morals, are up for debate.  Some of you may say “Bart, your a cynic.  There are still lines that we won’t cross”  and others will say “Duh, hey Bart have you heard of this thing called the internet.  Its going to be huge.  1987 called, it wants its epiphanies back.”  Whatever your opinion of me, I think you will find that I have a boundary when it comes to addressing certain issues, and these articles found that boundary.

Article #1

Monkey’s are being considered for personhood.  Say it out loud so that you can not only see how it looks but hear how it sounds.  I know that I might offend some of my animal loving friends when I share this hypothetical situation, but I think it “bears” saying.  I love my dog Harvey, I have had only one dog in my adulthood, I chose him, and he is a great dog.  My wife became concerned that I might run into a bear when I go hiking in the woods, so I started to take Harvey with me.  So when I heard a story about a woman in Gig Harbor that was mauled by a bear I decided to read on.  Come to find out, the bear was actually “put down” because the woman decided to try to protect her Shih Tzu from the bear.  So bear gets put to sleep for woman’s stupidity.  After reading that article I told several of my friends that I love my dog, but if I see a bear and it comes down to me or Harvey, I choose me.

So the standard for what it means to be human is slipping because people think that animals should have the same rights as us, because they essentially share the same make-up as us?  All I know if that I like my odds if I ever apply for a job and the other applicant is an orangutan, unless that job is breaking things with my bare hands, or tree climbing.  So my first controversial comment is that I would sacrifice my dog of 12 years in case of a bear attack, and my second controversial statement is that NO animal has the same make up of a human.  Although sometimes I believe that animals are better at living by a standard than we are.

Article #2

There is a college in the western United States that has a group among them that has chosen the term “ze” as a gender neutral pronoun for those that do not want to be identified by a gender.  I just noticed that my spell check underlined in red the term “ze”, oh look it just did it again.  It is only a matter of time until my spell check does not pick that up as an error though.  Here is where the article gets downright ridiculous, the group will take the extra step to ask what pronoun you would like to be referred to with.  So I have decided that I would like to be referred to as “it”.  Oh wait, that might make me sound like you are talking to an animal.  Oh wait, animals have personhood so we should refer to them with only human pronouns, never with something so objectifying as “it” .  I am so confused.

So a “woman” goes to this group and decides not to be referred to “herself” by the gender that has been biologically (and I would say divinely) assigned to “her”, bypasses the neutered option that has been offered her, and ask to be referred to as “he”.

How broken are we, when we deny who we are?  How broken are we when we lose track of what it means to be human.  No species on the planet is capable of greater things, and no species capable of worse things than humans.  Many of these opinions that are being expressed about animals and gender come out of someones honest search for identity, or honest desire to see animals treated with dignity.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to have your identity so distorted so as to deny what you were created to be.  Yet when we walk away from a standard, people start to live beyond that boundary and realize that there are no other boundaries to guide them as to where they should stop.  Can we please put our stake in the ground and say that humans are humans, boys are boys, and girls are girls.  I find it sad that should even have to say that.