I am human. That means that I make mistakes. It also means I have a heck of a time admitting that I made a mistake. Why is that? Why do we insist that we are right all the time? Why do we blind ourselves to the fact even when it is plain as day? The funny thing is; stopping, admitting we’re wrong, and backing up to try something else would get everything straightened out a whole lot quicker. Instead we hem, haw, and offer excuses, while we stubbornly continue doing the wrong thing expecting things to magically get better. We keep going, hoping we can somehow work our way back to the right path without anyone noticing we took the wrong road. It doesn’t matter that we have to work three times as hard to get there. It doesn’t matter that we suffer all kinds of woes by continuing. Maybe it is all part of the curse we (as humans) have brought on ourselves by disobeying God. We can go our own way, and God will let us. He will also allow us to reap the benefits of the choices that we make.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Gal 6:7 (KJV)
I have a not-so-well-kept secret. At times my mood tends to turn dark and everything I look at is pointless. For a while I thought I might be bipolar, but eventually I came to realize that I was just one of many people that feel that way I think they call themselves writers). I’m never really sure what triggers it. Everything is going along fine, and suddenly the good ship lollipop begins to sink into the mire and the rainclouds of doom and gloom move in. Over the years I have learned to recognize when I am descending into the ‘valley’ between the waves. If I actively look at all the positive things going on , I may not be able to stop it, but I can at least lessen the grip of despair that use to envelope me. I don’t always succeed, and I would like to give each one of my family a medal for putting up with me during those times. Times when they stand in front of the waves of despair bracing themselves behind shields of positive comments, and generous actions forcing a way through those storms to keep me from drowning. They really have no idea how much they bolster my confidence, how much they help me through the darkness. They are my best defense against the depressions of life. They are invaluable to me. If you know somebody that suffers these bouts, maybe you can remember this post and it will help you understand. Maybe you can be their invaluable friend or family member. Maybe you can be their best defense
I picked up one of the coffee cups my kids had supposedly washed the other day, and it looked clean on the outside. Upon further inspection I found a slight rim of discoloration in the bottom of the cup. After pointing it out to them I went on about my day, but the thought stayed with me. You see, it was the illusion of clean that fooled me into picking it up to begin with. Had I not inspected it further, it is possible that I would have had to suffer through a bout of food poisoning (extreme worst case maybe). Jesus warned the Pharisees about the illusion of clean in Matthew 23:25-28. It reads;
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matt 23:25-28 (KJV)
Scrolling through the social networking on the internet, we are constantly bombarded with people and things that have that illusion of clean. People that appear innocent as angels, and righteous as Jesus himself according to their posts and their profiles, but if you know them personally, you can see the real person behind the mask. So if you are one of these people, keep this in mind; you may be able to fool all these people into thinking you are that mask of good cleanliness, but YOU have to look at yourself in the mirror. You may be able to fool everybody around you, for a little while, but the truth has a way of coming out. And in the end, the only thing that will really matter is between you and the one you can’t hide anything from. Think that over for a bit and check the inside of your own cup. Does it need another wash?
I apologize for being late with this blog post (seems like I’m saying that more and more here lately), but my work schedule has been really crazy. That being said, if I hadn’t waited about writing it, I probably would’ve posted on something else. I started working on a new ‘digital painting’ for the month of October, and the theme is ‘supernatural’. So I started thinking of what I could make, and I came up with a pretty good layout in my head. Now I just had to start modeling it in my 3D modeling programs. The layout required that I make a supernatural monster, so I settled on ‘Death’ or perhaps a demon of some sort. So that’s what I started modeling. As I did, it occurred to me what I was doing. I was creating my own demon. That got me to thinking. We tend to create our own demons. Sometimes out of other people, out of circumstances, even out of mistakes and accidents. Oh, I know there are real ‘demons’ out there. Evil personified and malevolent people and things, but sometimes we create our own in our minds. That is troubling enough, but then we give it power, letting it limit our goals and abilities. The world is a dark enough place without us giving it the club to beat us with. We can either face it head on or let it hold sway over us, keeping us fenced into a life of mediocrity. Maybe that thing holding you back is all in your head.
I pulled into the parking lot at work, counting myself lucky as I did because I spotted an empty parking spot close to the building. I usually back into my parking spots so that, when time comes to leave, I don’t have to take time turning around. Anyway, I backed in like normal, using my mirrors to gage how far I was from the vehicle in the spot directly across from it. I also kept as close to perpendicular as I could with the car parked on my left. I know from experience driving my car how close I can get using my mirrors. It was a breeze. I pulled in beautifully and got out to double check my parking job, all the while patting myself on the back for a job well done. That is until I realized I had made a common mistake. I assumed the person who had parked behind me knew how to park. I’m not sure what was going through this persons mind when they stopped their vehicle, but they were about five feet away from the line. Now, because I was judging where to stop by the car parked there, I was three feet across the line into their parking spot. I probably should have noticed I was off by the car parked next to me, but it was a compact and even though it looked about right, it took up less space. Let me note here that I work an odd shift, and I knew that this person was more than likely going to leave before I got off work. That would leave me parked three feet into an empty parking spot, just waiting for someone to try to park there, and end up bumping me because they were trying to squeeze in. Not wanting that to happen, I got back in and pulled up into my own spot. The more I thought about it the more I realized that what I did in that situation is what a lot of us do in everyday life. We usually judge our own accomplishments by what other people have done, when really there is no comparison. What we have done is according to our own gifts and abilities. We should never judge our own worth by what other people have done. It will skew your perceptions and you will overshoot, or stop short of your own goals. Judge you by you. You may not hit the mark every time, but I’ll guarantee you will be a whole lot more accurate that way.
The gate has fallen and the outer wall is breached, my friends. We have been in a desperate war against evil in this fallen world since time began, and the enemy has broken our defenses. Today’s society is the product of my own generation’s sad misconception of ‘how’ to raise your children. Now those children are almost grown and preparing to take key roles in running our great nations and they have a skewed sense of what is right and what is wrong. Respect is an old fashioned way of thinking; an idea that really has no meaning now what so ever. Oh, there are still a few small bastions holding out, but even in those the poison of the enemy has seemed deep into the veins of our families. I think that is exactly how it started too; with disposable families. I’m not sure exactly when, but somewhere along the line family became a ‘fad’ or ‘fashion’ instead of a ‘responsibility’ and ‘privilege.’ There are kids out there now, as I write this that have no role models, and have no idea of how or even why they should show people respect. And it is all of our faults. We let it happen. We are still letting it happen. I think we may still have a slim chance to force the enemy back. There is a slim ray of hope that still glimmers in the dark. We have to lead by example now. Show people respect, because little eyes are watching and learning from your actions and reactions. They will remember how you treated others and they will emulate that as well. It all resides with us, so do what’s right. Be a role model.
I sat here tonight trying to come up with a blog entry to write, and my mind became a perfect blank. The first sentence I tried to write was wrong. I could feel it. So I thought some more, and still ‘got nothing’. As a fall back I looked back through my past blogs to try and give me some ideas, and I came across ‘Memory Lane’. I posted it back in 2009 and as I read through it, I relived what I was thinking when I wrote it. That was a good thing, and I thought it was worth reposting. So here we go; revisiting Memory Lane.
Memory Lane: Originally Posted the week of November 29, 2009.
Today I found myself taking a walk down memory lane. I don’t do that often. There are tender spots back there and I don’t particularly like who I was back then. I’ve been saved since I was eight or nine years old. I don’t remember exactly because I have been away from God far enough that I doubted my salvation. Thanks to a merciful God, He gave me the time I needed to realize how bad I could screw up. He stood there waiting patiently until I needed Him, and then He led me back to where I needed to be. All of that was before I actually had a relationship with God. I’ve heard people say that over and over, and I never really understood it until these last six years. My God was the Fire and Brimstone God, the God who waited for you to mess up. The God that you served out of fear. I didn’t know the other side of God. The encouraging God, the gentle God that wants you to succeed. The God that stands there waiting for you to return to Him. The God who waits for you to realize you can’t do it on your own, because sometimes the child has to touch the stove to realize what ‘hot’ means. He is not a vindictive God. He doesn’t wait with the hammer poised above your head for you to mess up like I believed in my youth. I don’t regret all those years of floundering about out in the world, because I realize that they were a necessity for me to become the man I am today. I had to travel that road to help form the tool that God could use to do His will. Yes it is tender back there on Memory Lane, but pain is a teacher I am well acquainted with. I know that I was really blessed all those years but was too blinded by pride to see it. I let the Devil mesmerize me with shiny baubles and parlor tricks. All the while my God stood waiting for me to call out for Him. All he needed was for me to call on Him and He was right there with me, showing me the way back. Memory Lane IS still a little painful for me, but I still stroll down it on occasions to remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned, and that I am not who I once was. My relationship with God began a scant six years ago even though my walk with God began when I was eight or nine. I still make mistakes. I am still just a man. I still fight with carnal side as much as any other human being, but I am not blind to the fact that I am not alone. I see the miracles God works for me everyday. I see the blessings He pours out on me as I journey through this world of tears. It gives me hope that I can be what He always planned for me to be. I don’t have to look far into the past or future. I can be content with what I am at this one moment in time. So don’t worry about the past. Try to be as perfect in this one moment as you can be. Practice this. Just try to be as perfect as you can be in this one moment, and before you know it you’ll have a string of those moments. You will mess up, but all God asks is that we try.
When I was growing up I checked a book out of the public library called ‘The Wizard of Earth-Sea’ (they eventually made a movie of it. I wasn’t impressed). I always loved to read, and had read enough that almost all of the books that the library had that I liked to read, I had already read. I usually chose them at random. A lot of times it didn’t even matter what genre. I read everything from westerns to sci-fi. When I would pick out a book, I would choose by how cool the artwork was on the front, barring that an interesting synopsis on the back, but ‘The Wizard of Earth-Sea” had neither. It was a plain hardback book, with a hideous green cover, and the title in small flowing, black script on the front. The only reason I picked it up was because it was something I hadn’t read that was in one of my favorite genres. I read that book through in one night. It was a short, but well written book, and I loved it. The writer had a way with words that swept you along through his story, transporting you in all but body to his world where heroes and dragons faced off. I would have really missed out on an awesome story had I judged that particular book by its cover. People are like those books. You never can tell what is hiding behind those covers, and if you refuse to read the first chapter because you don’t like the way the dustcover looks, you could be missing out on the greatest adventure of a lifetime. I know we have all heard this particular piece of advice before, but I felt like we could all use a little reminder with all the hate-speak and political correctness going on today. So before dismissing that person standing next to you in line, read the first chapter. You might be glad you did.
I read a mime (I think that is what they are calling them now) the other day that said; A man asked a Christian what he had gained by praying to God. The man replied ‘nothing, but let me tell you what I’ve lost; anger, ego, greed, depression and fear of death.’ I like the thought behind it to an extent. It didn’t really completely convey what I thought it should. I think it should have read more like; The man replied ‘that is yet to be seen, but I know what I’ve lost…’ I’ve heard people say that a Christian is crazy because he/she believes life starts after death. Every time I see that I try to correct it. We do not believe life starts after death, only that it gets better. Can I tell you what I’ve gained? Eternal life I know, but what shape will that life take? I can only imagine, but I do know all happiness comes from him. If you don’t have Him, then what you have is a pale imitation of happiness.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Heb 1:9 (KJV)
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13 (KJV)
11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalms 16:11 (KJV)
The cartoon character steps forward on to the end of the rake. His weight on the head of the rake causes the handle to catapult upward, smacking the character in the face. This in turn causes him to stumble backward onto the head of a hoe, resulting in a hoe-handle to the back of the head. Said character stumbles forward into the rake again. And so on and so on. We’ve all seen it. It’s a common gag used in slapstick comedy, and it’s funny. Except maybe for the character caught in the middle of it. Sometimes I feel like I am that character, bouncing from one catastrophe to the next. Or even worse; because I am focused on the last catastrophe, I cause the next one. Trust me, it’s not quite as funny after two or three whacks with that hoe handle. At those times, the only thing I’ve found that works is not to dwell on them. I just switch over to damage control and deal with what’s directly in front of me, and let God take care of the rest. I’ve found that if I do that, I have a lot better chance of spotting that rake lying hidden in the leaves.