The message yesterday was on Acts3. While I sat and listened to the preacher talk, the scene began to play out before my eyes. Those of you that have read and are familiar with the New Testament know the story I am talking about. The story of Peter and John as they came upon the lame man begging for money outside the temple gate, where Peter spoke those famous words; “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you also. In the name of Jesus Christ stand and walk.” Immediately the beggar’s legs were healed and he ran shouting the praises of God. As the story was played out on the screen in my head, I began to empathize with one of the players. This is one of the many ways God has spoken to me through the scriptures, so I waited with eager ears to hear what He was about to say. I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised, and astounded by the vastness of my ignorance, tho. I expected to see something of me in Peter, or for something to resonate between me and John. I did NOT expect to empathize with the lame beggar. You see when Peter spoke to him, the beggar paid attention. He turned to Peter and John expecting money, something to live on for the next day, or if he was lucky, the next two or three days. These men of God had taken pity on him, and were going to give him something. This is the way I feel when God speaks to me. He has had pity on me and is going to give me something to help me through the trying times of this life. So when Peter said his famous words, it confused the beggar for a moment, and then he reached and took him by the hand. That is when God worked through Peter. Not just giving the beggar money, but giving him something worth sooo much more! The ability to walk! No more did he have to rely on the generousness of others to live. No more sitting and hoping that some man would take pity and help him. He turned to Peter expecting money, and received his Life instead. If we count on men, at best we can only get enough to get by for a few days. If we count on God, we need never worry about it again. After the service I was in awe of how I could miss such a message in all the times I had heard and read that story. Then I had to laugh. I realized that I was going to have to go home and tell my wife that God told me I was lame.
There have been times in my life when I have gotten into arguments. No, really, I have. I know you find it hard to believe, but it is true. Nine times out of ten (or maybe eight, at least seven, I know) times it is because of miscommunication. More specifically on the definition of a certain word or phrase that I thought was a “given” meant something different to somebody else. I recall one time my wife and I got in a serious disagreement over the Bible. She said it was an ‘Instruction Manual’, and I corrected her (yep, mistake no.1) and said it was a ‘Guide Line’. When someone says ‘Instruction Manual’ I think of “place screw 15786509 into hole 344476349 and tighten until snug” or some such. You see it names the screw and the hole and tells you what to do with them. A Guide Line is more of “a good way to take connect these two boards with a screw. You may also use a nail or some twine, but the screw is the best way.” Do you see the difference there? It may only be a subtle difference, but there it is. It was enough that the Devil could stick his foot in the door and cause stress and dissention in the ranks. We argued over that particular subject for quite some time, and I had no idea why until much later. We were both saying the same thing, but using different words to accomplish it. The Bible tells you how to handle situations without getting bogged down with the specifics (like names of screws and pegs and what-nots). Now-a-days, with the advent of texting and social media we have to be extremely careful of how we phrase things, lest we give the enemy an opening. We as partakers in social media need to also keep this in mind and not take offense at the first perceived insult. It is really hard to apply the right ‘tone’ to some messages, and sarcasm often doesn’t translate well either (imagine that!) So when you read something you may find offensive, before you fly off the handle and start a three page rant about someone, and then unfriend them, you might stop a moment and try to figure out if what they ‘said’ was actually what they ‘meant’. (And to finish the story about me and my wife arguing, all was well as soon as I admitted I was wrong. There see how easy that was?)
Has anybody ever seen the movie “The Langoliers”? It was based off of Stephen King’s story. It was about these people in an airplane that slip sideways in time to yesterday, only to find out that yesterday was being ‘erased’ by these creatures. The premise of the story was that there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, there is only today. Time was just ‘now’ and all that happened in the past and all that was yet to happen didn’t exist. I don’t agree with the story on that point, but I do try to live like that. The Bible clearly states that we are not promised tomorrow (Proverbs 27-and to clarify the verse refers to tomorrow in these earthly mortal frames that we inhabit). Life is a fleeting thing, and we need to do all the good that we can while we are here. There is more than enough evil and sorrow in this fallen world, we need to stand fast and be bold in helping our neighbors. Tomorrow we may be gone and it may be our neighbors who are left to save those of our loved ones that come along after us. Just one act of kindness could mean the difference between a strong, joyful life and one lived in darkness and despair. It is never a bad thing to do good.
I took my son to the airport for his flight back the army yesterday. I truly enjoyed his visit. He has matured in so many ways, and I am proud of the man I see that he is becoming. As we waited for his flight we stopped by a coffee shop and I ordered the equivalent of a frozen cappuccino. They usually come with whipped cream on top. I don’t like whipped cream on my coffee so I specifically asked for them to leave it off. During the time that it took the girl to take our order one of the employees either came in to work or came back off of break. Apparently he missed the ‘no whipped cream’ order and I received my frozen treat with globs of the stuff on top. Yes I said something. I didn’t get irate, and I didn’t take it back, but I did say it loud enough that they could hear (It was a small shop, and there was only a few customers, so loud enough for them to hear was a normal speaking voice for me). My son thought I was being rude (he was paying so I guess he had that right) and said as much. This did annoy me a little bit. I rarely ever raise a fuss over orders gotten wrong at fast-food places. I totally understand that things can get hectic and people make mistakes. So I felt bad about it. I kept the coffee. I drank it all and threw the whipped cream away with the cup. The point of my little story was this; during the conversation the statement was made that we as Christians must set an example all the time, not just when it is easy and comfortable for us. I do agree with that statement, even if I don’t always set a good example. I am human, and as a human I make mistakes. I caution anyone who looks at a Christian and thinks that they are looking at a ‘perfect’ example of Christianity to remember that. Regardless of who it is you are looking at. It doesn’t matter who they are or how big their names are, they are only human and prone to human mistakes. They may do the right thing 149 times out of 150, but if you only see that 1 time they mess up, does that negate the other 149? There was only one perfect Christian that has ever walked this Earth, and He was the one that started it.
I have tried to instill in my children a sense of ‘family’. What is that?” you ask. It means different things to different people. Sometimes it depends on the situation. To me it means ‘safety net’. All my children are very independent. They have shouldered their responsibilities and tried to do it all on their own. They haven’t always succeeded, but that is all part of life. If you’ve never failed at anything, then you’ve never attempted anything. I don’t look at as failure as much as learning a way ‘not to do something.’ But family is my fall back. Regardless of what happens, I know I can always come back to family. That includes extended family, adopted family, friends who share a bond deeper than words can convey. I find it sad that there are people out there that the word family means absolutely nothing. Any endeavor you undergo requires a solid place to launch from. I have worked hard to make sure that the word family means that my kids will have that launching point. Just as my parents did for me. All that I have and have accomplished is thanks to God for placing me with a loving and caring family who support me in all that I do, and are always there to catch me should I fall. Can you make it in this world without family? Yes, but I don’t envy the person who attempts it. If you don’t have a family, maybe you need to start building one of your own. It doesn’t require being married, or having children. All it requires is unconditional love and being there for the people you choose to make up your family. Life is soo much easier when you share it with family.
Just a few moments ago I saw a thundercloud headed my way. The sun was going down and the cloud was between me and the horizon. It was beautiful. The rays of the sun spreading out from behind the dark thunderhead creating an almost magical picture of stark contrasts. If only I could have captured that moment in a picture. Yet, without the rain cloud, the rays of the sun wouldn’t have seemed as magical. Without the sunlight the dark cloud wouldn’t have seemed as powerful and ominous. Life is full of ups and downs. Dark days will come, but rest assured they will be followed by bright ones. This is the magic of Life. It was how God planned it. There is beauty in it all, we just can’t always see it. A lot of the time it is our attitudes that color the way we look at the world. And blessed be the person who can shift it at will. It takes work, and constantly reminding yourself that there is a bright side even when you are choosing to look at the most negative part of whatever the situation is. It is a skill I hope one day to master, but until then I’ll just have to keep reminding the both of us.
I remember growing up and seeing Robin Williams playing Mork from that T.V. Show Mork & Mindy. He was always acting so goofy and making people laugh. He was a truly talented and amazing actor. He fooled the world. Even those close to him had no idea how bad his depression was. They didn’t know that it was that bad. Perhaps it didn’t seem that bad to them. Sure, he had a little problem over here, or that was going on over there. The truth is we may never know ALL of what someone is going through. Chances are, if you see someone going through a difficult time its just the tip of the iceberg. The part that we see is just a fraction of the whole picture, because we are only brushing up against it as we pass by. Barely glimpse it as we hurry on to our next appointment. You never know how close someone is to the edge. Maybe yours could be the hand that pulls them back. Perhaps that one smile or pleasant “good morning” you offer them could be the anchor that keeps them from taking that last step into oblivion. Robin Williams will be missed sorely. He was loved by millions, but he just couldn’t find that balance that everyone needs to make it. I will mourn for him, and hope that he found the peace at the end of the journey.
I really like video games. They work out your mind with their puzzles while improving your hand to eye coordination. What I don’t like is video game deathmatches. These are competitions between players to see how many times one can defeat the other. I know I’m about to make a lot of football fans mad with my next statement, but please read on anyway. Competition is over-rated. I would rather play a game in Co-op (Cooperation) mode any day. Why? Because I don’t like being mad at my friend for beating me a gazillion times, or for him to be mad at me for beating him. It does nothing but promote hard feelings between you and your friends. Now, I know all you football fans are saying it pushes you to become better. It gives you something to make you push yourself harder. I dunno, maybe. In my case, I try to do my best at whatever I’m doing. Competition doesn’t drive me. Bettering myself and helping my friends and family drives me. When I was growing up, I was always living in the shadow of my older brother. He made better grades, was popular and had a lot of friends. And he seemed to do it without even trying. I was always comparing my accomplishment with his, and I was always coming up short. Then one day I realized it wasn’t a competition. I didn’t need to compare myself to my brother. He had his accomplishment and I had mine. I can be happy for him in all of his accomplishment as he is in mine. I am proud of him. I am proud of all of my family, and I really don’t want to play a game that is going to pit me against them and possibly stir up ill will. So you see why I think competition is over-rated. I drive myself to become better so that I’ll be a better person, not because I’m trying to beat someone else. This is why I win… regardless.
For those of you who do not know, I am an author. I love stories in whatever format they may come in. Movies, plays, audio books, paperback books, e-books. You name it, I like it. I like to think of life as one big story that God is spinning out. He sets the stage and works the cameras, and cues all of the extras. He does all of it that we, as the hero/heroine of the story do not see. The behind the scenes stuff that goes into the making of an epic tale. There are times in my life when I doubt myself. I second guess what I’m doing and yes, (Heaven Forbid!) I even question why He has me taking certain paths. When I come to those times in my own story I sometimes stumble. Then I think to myself “If I don’t do anything, how good of a story is that going to make my life?” I won’t God to use my life to tell the greatest tale it can be. So when I have those doubts and questions, I say a silent prayer and ask Him to guide my actions, and then forge ahead. I may not always choose the best course, but at least I am writing my story. How well are you writing yours?