Archive | June, 2013
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I Am a Newsie!

30 Jun

I Am a Newsie!

A friend finally got me to admit something a couple of months ago. I am a newsie (so is he). What that means is that both of us (along with probably a host of other people with ADD/ADHD tendencies in adulthood) can easily get wrapped up in the rhythm of the news cycle, which is not a cycle anymore, but rather a 24-hour stream of information.

Life as a newsie can be like drinking from a firehose, which at the very least should shield our brains from atrophying, as they are used in a multitude of diverse ways while processing the news.

However, there are at least four hazards to being a newsie that I have noted:
1) I have more of a tendency to be attracted to glitzy prepackaged stories, totally input from outside of myself, than ever before. Indepth analysis and synthesis inside of my brain (read: thought) can lag behind. I have traditionally been a thinker. Some of my current reading comes “predigested” and can easily lead me away from thinking for myself. Not good.
2) I am a reader. I have always been a reader. However, the fast pace of the news cycle can tend to make me a “sound byte” reader who skims the more indepth sections of things, reading lots of articles in a surface way rather than reading a few articles in depth. Not good. It is easy to make mistakes and misunderstand things while skimming. Then what is the point to reading if I don’t read accurately?
3) My newsie world has expanded so far in exponential growth that I read fewer novels than ever before. You know, novels–those things that have been written by people with a wonderful command of the English language. Novels originally taught me how to be a writer. I have often stopped to savor passages in novels–passages where the language itself is breathtaking. I should not abandon them now, as I seek to grow in my skills as a blogger.
4) The news cycle can also replace my serious study of God’s Word (with accompanying study aids). Such study is something that has provided me with delight all life long. It has also helped me grow closer to the Lord. If I replace a wonderful thing, the study of God’s Word, with a lesser thing, devotion to the news cycle, I don’t make the best choice I can make!!!

I am determined to get my balance correct! The news is important but so is reading classic novels and newer works. And studying God’s Word is the most important activity of all!

I will conclude by describing a Dilbert cartoon that caused several of my friends to crack up (me included). It involves a young intern switching to the iPad to read his newspapers. He was reading them in the executive bathroom at work, where many people have read the print edition of the newspaper for centuries. His co-workers then figured out that he was never coming out of the bathroom again due to the fact that iPad newspapers are on a continual update . . . Ha ha ha!

Happy reading!

I Am the Velveteen Rabbit!

29 Jun

A friend used the phrase this week “I am the Velveteen Rabbit.”  She used it in response to a person who needed a comforting shoulder to cry on.  We know, from the children’s story of that name, that the Velveteen Rabbit was probably the most comforting children’s toy ever!

I like that phrase–“I am the Velveteen Rabbit.”  I like it for lots of reasons, including the one my friend intended.

I especially like it because it describes what has hopefully happened to someone who has reached my age, 55, and has seen her share of highs and lows.  If she is a believer in Jesus Christ, she has, by then, found Him to be faithful in both the highs and the lows.  She has learned that both good times and bad times don’t last forever.  And she has mostly learned that she is not so much holding on to Jesus Christ as He is holding on to her!!!

Her scars are sometimes visible, like the scars left where my chemotherapy port was when I had breast cancer five years ago.  Those scars, and the invisible ones, were earned by going through hard times and emerging victorious at the other end of the tunnel.  But, most of all, those scars show others that I have become real over the years, like the Velveteen Rabbit whose velveteen fur was eventually rubbed off, only to be replaced by the real live rabbit fur of a real live rabbit!

For the Velveteen Rabbit is real.  In becoming real, we Velveteen Rabbits learn to value other people who can be real, too.  Those who sanctimoniously posture themselves as “holier than thou” are people we pity.  They are too afraid to be real.  Afraid to show others that they too have walked through some dark places, and sometimes are still there.  

The Velveteen Rabbits among us don’t rejoice in those dark places (no one does!), but they don’t hide them from others either.  

They realize that God is growing us to holiness, not through keeping our lives free of trials, darkness, and times of asking “Why, Lord, why?” but rather through His utter faithfulness at all times, in every trial.  

They realize we can be weak, because He is strong . . .  

Reaping the Whirlwind–What Idolatry Will Do to Us in the End!

28 Jun

There is a reason that gay marriage will never satisfy the people who enter into it.

It is against God’s design.  Therefore it is idolatrous.

It takes a person and puts him into God’s place, in the belief that that person can become not only our entire world, but also our god and our universe.  We fire God and try to replace Him with a human being.  It will never work.  It doesn’t work when heterosexuals try it either.  

Once we depart from God’s ways and God’s design, we are on our own.  And we make some huge mistakes therein.  Our hearts are built for worship.  If we don’t worship the true God, we will manufacture a god and worship it.  Right now, worship is being directed to the institution of gay marriage.  But it will not ultimately satisfy, and great will be the crash when the people who counted on that institution, and their partners in it, to satisfy them deep down inside, in that worship place.

You see, the suicide rate is not only high among gays because they are bullied.  It is also high because, deep down inside, they have a conscience with its alarm system going off.  They know that their desires are not according to God’s design.  They know that they are going their own way, apart from God.  And they sense that they will never, never be satisfied by the results of that sojourn.  

Even if they could force every other person in America to praise them for entering into a gay marriage, their own consciences would still affirm that something is dreadfully wrong.  And they would still face suicidal tendencies, from their own hearts, because their hearts are estranged from the true God. 

It is not a place I would wish for my worst enemy to be trapped.

And, you see, the huge difference between a gay idolator and a heterosexual idolator is that, if two heterosexuals marry each other in an idolatrous relationship, they can later get right with God and make that relationship work.  A gay couple can never, ever do that.

All idolatry is sin.  But homosexual marriages create a legalized sinful state that is going to produce some immense consequences for those who enter therein. 

No one wants to be estranged, not only from God but from their own souls.  And this is what will happen to gay couples who proceed along the road to gay marriage.

You can never, ever make a person god in your life and have your relationship and your life succeed.  You will live in brokenness, by definition.

I say this in utter sorrow, as today a friend since college is marrying his boyfriend.  I purposely did not tag this post to call his attention to it.  If he sees it later, that will be God’s intervention in his life.  

I don’t know what lies ahead for gay people.  It seems that programs to help them have heterosexual desires only work every once in a while, for certain people.  

So it seems as though gay people may need to purpose to be celibate, in order to serve God in integrity.

Not an easy life.  It is not easy for heterosexuals who don’t marry either.  Almost everyone wants to belong to someone in a physical relationship.  

But certainly, as Jesus said, it is far better to sacrifice certain temporal comforts than to sacrifice our immortal souls.  

Heavy things to ponder.  I am here to pray with anyone who needs me.

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Losing 110 Pounds in 20 Minutes!

28 Jun

Losing 110 Pounds in 20 Minutes!

I got my new base ID today and, with it, a new picture of me, replete in a new red dress. The ID I turned in had my picture 110 pounds ago, in a red jumper that was precisely 10 sizes bigger than the dress I wore today. In essence, I lost 110 pounds in the course of a 20 minute photography session!

I was thinking about the fact that there are no shortcuts to weight loss. And wondering why God designed the universe that way.

Weight loss (and weight maintenance in a healthy state) are decisions we make one mouthful at a time. And daily when we decide whether we can find a half hour to work out before we flip on the television or the Netflix stream on our computer.

With very rare exceptions, most of us carry weight that is mathematically related to the quality of what we eat, how much of it we eat, and how much we exercise.

I have learned to shudder when I see most snack foods–full of sugar and salt for cheap flavoring, full of preservatives so that they will last on a shelf for years, full of . . . zero nutritional value.

Never say never . . . but I want to make my consumption of processed foods a rare thing. It grieves my heart that they are the cheapest foods in the stores, even in the convenience stores where they are marked up pretty high. Teens and poorer people without cars often buy their food in convenience stores. Teens and poorer people without cars often don’t have access to education about the nutritional value of various foods (or, in the case of teens, they may hear nutritional information but choose to not process it!!!). And those poor brains, when all they get for nourishment is potato chips and Coke!!!

I am hopefully not becoming a food snob, but I want to be a voice of reason in a crazy world of idolatry.

You see, I think the reason God made it so that we have to partner with Him to lose weight, one small decision at a time, is because we would otherwise make an idol of our food, rather than worship the giver of that food.

We still can and do. I read in the paper today that 41% of Americans regard themselves as overweight or obese when . . . it is actually 68.8% who are! Seven out of ten. No wonder the American Medical Association just gave in and declared obesity to be a disease. There is no fighting a statistic like that. We love our food in this country!

I have spent years at weights far higher than what my body was built to carry. I could do it again. I am not home free till I go to be with Jesus someday, to that world where temptations, sin, and idolatry no longer exist.

In the meantime, I struggle, one mouthful at a time, one decision to work out at a time.

But that is good, for the struggle directs me to the foot of the Cross, where I see Christ, who triumphed in my struggles for me.

I truly believe that, if we could eat anything we wanted and never gain weight or if we could will ourselves to lose 110 pounds and have it come off in a week, we would be neckdeep in food idolatry. I believe the struggle helps free us from the idolatry.

Food is a wonderful gift and, in one way, I will always be a foodie! I love cooking and trying new recipes and trying new herbs and spices and trying new combinations of things . . .

I just know that I can’t eat high density calories every day of my life. Either I eat them in smaller portions or I choose to eat something else instead.

And God is faithful, oh so faithful.

I am so totally ordinary, if I can do it, anyone can.

You Stick Out, But Not Like A Sore Thumb!

28 Jun

I got into a conversation with the woman who was selling me my salad at Quizno’s today.  The proprietor of the place was gone for the day, so she was there from another Quizno’s, which she runs, to substitute for him.

I had had a new ID made on the base today, so I had worn a new red dress for my picture, a batik in a size 10 that is just loose enough on me to make me feel like a million dollars.

She picked right up on my joy at wearing a nice dress–within three sentences she was telling me about an upperscale dress shop that used to be next door to her Quizno’s.  

Funny thing though . . . I hadn’t mentioned clothes.  

How did she know that I would be interested in a top-notch place to buy them?

The clue was in the way I dressed and carried myself.  Without a word, she saw that I have high standards for myself when I go out in public.  

The more the world gravitates to the grunge look, the more people like me stick out.  I kind of like that.  We all get to choose our standards.  But we don’t get to choose how people react to them.  Those of us who believe that we show esteem for others by dressing nicely around them get a reputation for being people who value quality, and not just in our clothes.  When we go to church dressed nicely, we show that we esteem God, too.  Nothing but the best for my Lord and for the people who surround me!

I have heard several people say, within the last forty-eight hours since the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage were publicized, that people who marry an opposite gender partner and stay married for life, raising several children, will not long be the norm.  But those writers have gone on to say that there is an upside to that!  

They have stated that it is now becoming possible to sit next to a stranger on a plane and, by finding out that they married at age 20, while still in college, and stayed with their same spouse for the next ten years, while having three children, to take an educated guess that those familymembers are Christians!

Not bad–being able to be a  walking, talking testimony for Christ just by having a certain family configuration.  

It won’t be long, folks.  They say it won’t be long.

And, oh the chances you will have to speak of God’s grace in your life then.

For we Christians are no better than other people.  

We just serve an awesome God, the only true God, who is better than the alternatives in every single way!!!

A Post to Begin the Discussion of Race . . .

26 Jun

 

The below post, from Evangelist Dave Kistler, prompted a response from me (below his post).  See what you think!

He said:

“Immigration Bill Contains Provision For Free Automobiles For Illegals!!”

“Within the new Immigration Bill being touted by the Senate is a provision that could provide purchased, leased, or rented automobiles for youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Unbelievable? You bet! But since when has anything the elitists in DC have done actually made any sense? No doubt, this is nothing less than an attempt to secure all future votes by minority groups by providing them “freebies” (i.e. the notorious Obamaphones). As it stands, I pray that this bill is completely scrapped. At this point, it is very bad legislation that will, in essence, legitimize and legalize perhaps as many as 20 million illegals, filling the voting registers with people who came here illegally and now feel indebted to a particular party! This is hardball politics at its worst!!! For those Republicans who are attempting to insure that this bill has appropriate border security in it, I commend their efforts. However, they are being duped again by those on the left who promise all kinds of things they on which they NEVER deliver!”

I e-mailed him back and said:

Dear Mr. Kistler, 

 (A mutual friend) mentioned me to you yesterday–I am one of two people with whom she held a private conversation on Facebook about your column on the immigration bill.  I hope the other person will write you as well, as he is a C-Span fan who watches much congressional testimony realtime.  I read the paper daily and read many news items for my work, but I tend to have to look up C-Span information after the fact.  Just too busy to keep it on in the office!
 
I have not seen the C-span testimony you referenced, but saw the notes made on it later.  It seems that there had been discussion of helping young immigrants find transportation to their first job.  I would have to say that interpreting that as buying them all cars would be hyperbole.  Even if someone said that in Congress, it seems it would have been understood to be an exaggeration.  The way the bill reads implies giving them a bus or subway ticket.  
 
My only idea about that would be that, if young immigrants get that at taxpayer expense, maybe all young people should!  I am a conservative who is not eager to give away my hard-earned cash, but sometimes, I suppose, we have to help people who are motivated to work to be able to get there (as a temporary measure, not as a permanent entitlement).
 
It is far better for them to work, and pay taxes, than to collect welfare.
 
However, my main objection to your column was not your interpretation about the cars, but rather your idea that all minority voters can be swayed by giveaways.  That was one of your sentences, quoted almost verbatim.    
 
(The mutual friend) attends the same church that we do–we are a racially diverse congregation with perhaps 20% of our members African-American and another 10% a combination of foreigners (often missionary kids who come here for their education), Asians, and Latinos.  
 
I can honestly admit I would not show your column to my sweet (usually conservative) African-American and Hispanic friends at church.  I can see their faces now–how crushed they would be to find themselves called out for supposedly wanting goodies at government expense when they know, and I know, that they work hard at their jobs, pay their taxes, and often make great sacrifices to keep their children in our church school. 
 
Mr. Kistler, it is very hard to pastor a racially diverse congregation, but our pastors have worked hard to build that and to successfully pastor it.  It is hard because we have a history of suspicion between the races in America, and worldwide.  We have that history because Satan has worked overtime to thwart racial reconciliation which is presented throughout the Scriptures, but particularly in Acts, as part of our Lord’s great heart for missions.    
 
Unlike you, I am not a professional in the church (but I have had several years of seminary studies), but we both are involved in government issues.  My involvement was 27 years in the U.S. Navy, attaining the rank of commander in my field.  Just wanted to present my bona fides, in case there was any tendency to think that I am a crackpot who has never seen the government up close.  I am currently a contract employee on a naval base.  While race relations work pretty well in the Navy, I have never seen them work more beautifully than in the church of Christ!
 
Mr. Kistler, I plead with you to please temper your language on race.  We have come so far in the Body of Christ, but our racial reconciliation is made of delicate fabric and can easily be torn by people using intemperate words.  That is not to say that minorities are overly sensitive, but that sometimes we Caucasians are not nearly sensitive enough to how we sound to those who don’t look like us.  In Christ, Mary Martin 

No One Dies Before Their Time

25 Jun

Did James Gandolfini die before his time? Some good discussion here.

Don’t We all Want Unconditional Love?

25 Jun

When I was in high school, I got into an unfortunate phase in which I challenged the love of a wise older friend (my math teacher) to the breaking point.

I didn’t do anything illegal or immoral (I was a “goody goody” in high school); I rather beat her up emotionally by playing silly little games with her to see whether she would still give me love in spite of the emotional garbage with which she was presented.

She prevailed.  But she didn’t do it by sinking to my level.  She wrote me a pain-filled letter one day in which she challenged me to evaluate whether I still wanted and needed her as a friend or whether I had, perhaps, outgrown her.

Wise woman!  She made me realize that her love wasn’t the issue; I was.  My changing behaviors, never the same from day to day, made our relationship very unstable.  That instability was inevitable, considering the messy input I was shoving into the relationship on my end.

I stopped, and we are still friends to this day.

My situation brings up a common heart cry of our day.  We say we all want unconditional love.  I submit that we all want “agape” love (the Greek word for the love that God provides).  Our heart cry is really, truly for the love that God sends to us directly through His creation and through other people.

God’s love finds us at our worst, but does not leave us there.  It brings us to a better place, making us more like Him.  It becomes, in the end, the way to find our “better self” which is the self made in His image that He created us to become.

Agape love also contains the very power of God.  It not only shows us the changes that are possible in our lives, but it provides the power and the grace to attain them in Him. 

Unconditional love turns out to be a very pale, anemic thing in comparison to agape love.  Unconditional love is the demand of a child to be left alone to remain childish.  

Let’s walk unconditional love out to its logical conclusion.  In its most extreme form, unconditional love would be a person who never learned to do one adult thing as his body grew to adulthood.  This person would be a huge, adult lump of protoplasm, lying in a heap on the floor, crying for milk and a diaper change, and expecting everyone to love him just the way he is!  

You say that would never happen and you are right.  But with our demands for unconditional love, some of us do to others emotionally what that adult lying on the floor would be doing physically.  

I did that to my teacher emotionally, and I will regret that always, despite her love and her subsequent forgiveness of my actions.

The logical conclusion of unconditional love would be the extreme of thinking that it should not matter to a friendship if someone found out that his friend was secretly a child molester.  

Or that friends should remain just as close when it turns out that one of them is using the other to cover up deceiving her spouse.  

No, we all recoil from that and say that we could not feel the same love for a friend who turned out to be molesting children or deceiving a spouse.  And we are right to say that.

You see, unconditional love does not work.  Even God does not love unconditionally.  His love begins with us when we are every bit as fallen as that child molester or adulterer but it does not end there. 

And we pose an impossible dilemma when we demand that our friends love us unconditionally.  That they put up with every ounce of garbage we can fling at them.  

My teacher taught me a better way.  

Agape comes to the person who is being childish and challenges her to grow.  It then gives her the power to do so.

Thank God for His agape love! 

P.S. I think I will post this to my teacher in a Facebook Messenger post.  She will love that!

The Movie “Rebecca” Comes to Life For Me!

24 Jun

I have a recurring dream about an English country house, perched near the North Sea or the Irish Sea.  On a cliff, of course.

Yes, right out of my favorite Gothic romance movie “Rebecca.”  Since I am married to a Brit, you have to humor me a bit on that!  LOL!

The house has dozens of rooms.  So many that, although I am the owner and I live there, I don’t know exactly how many rooms there are nor where they all are.

In fact, I am always in the middle of discovering some dusty room that has been closed off and unused for months, if not years.  It is sometimes a whole wing like that, maybe a couple of bedrooms and a parlor.

The dream interpreters love themes like this because a house is usually a symbol for the self.  My self lives in my body, which can be called my house.  My dreams make it into a lavish country house because my subconscious, supposedly, believes that I have a lot of potential and a lot of good things ahead of me, even at 55.

The forgotten room(s) is/are supposedly talents/giftings that I have neglected but can rediscover again before it is too late.  I can dust them off and have them be usable talents without too much fuss and bother.  

I love optimistic dreams like this one.  I really do tend to be much more an optimist about life in this world than a pessimist, although I have a huge cynical streak (let’s just say, if I set my expectations low, I am rarely disappointed by what happens . . .  I have worked with all males several times in my career and their black humor about life has rubbed off!).  

How many of you have recurring dreams about the same house–a house you have never seen?  I understand from several discussions that this is a very, very common dream.  Some people dream of leaving the house behind, instead of living in it, and the interpretation of that one is quite different from mine . . . 

 

 

Beloved Enemy/Sexual Assault in the Military, Part II

24 Jun

I am helping a friend work through his thoughts as he writes a newspaper column on sexual assault in the military.  

One question we are asking is how the rate of sexual assault in the military remains so glaringly high.  I have seen 20%, but I also have seen 1 in 3 somewhere.

I believe that a definition changed during my career and that that may be related to the rate remaining high, even in an era when women are encouraged to report sexual assault (they were not when I first came in the military, thus I never reported the man who groped me in the top secret vault in Jacksonville in the early 1980’s).  

The definition is of the word “consent.”  It is now regarded (and rightly so) that a woman has to give conscious consent to a sexual act before it is defined as “consensual.”  If she is passed out from drinking, that is not consent.

Unfortunately, in the bad old days, there was a constant joke made about “getting you drunk and taking advantage of you.”  Almost everyone joked around that way, even husbands to their wives.  It would produce hysterical laughter in everyone when a husband said that to his wife.  

So . . . now we know that a woman (or anyone) has to be able to say “yes.”

But now we seem to be down into the weeds and seeds as to whether she can say “yes” and mean “no” because she is very, very drunk.

Or what if she doesn’t remember what she said the next day? 

What if she initially does not remember the evening, but then thinks she remembers the details about it several years later?

What if she initially thinks she was part of a consensual act (or feels pretty sure that she was, and is dealing with the emotions of a relationship that went haywire), but friends later convince her that the person must have coerced her in some way?  Maybe the man seems pretty manipulative and her friends decide he must have used her, even if she can’t remember the details of the evening . . . 

I believe examples like these are what is making the rate of sexual assault remain so very high.  I don’t think we have 20% of our women being raped by a stranger.  I think most of these incidents are cases where only two people know the details (he said/she said) and one or both of them may have been too drunk to be an accurate witness, if they even remember.

I am not making recommendations for how to handle situations like these.  Myself, I would get rid of the alcohol altogether, but that’s just me.  

Just sayin’ that it is difficult to piece together what happened when it was two friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend, rather than a rape by someone who was not involved in the servicemember’s life (or who was a power figure in her life and demanded sexual favors–that happens, too).

If you divide the categories and reask the question to separate out stranger rape from nights of drinking in which no one can be sure what happened, you may be surprised to find a bit more clarity.

Again, women must give conscious consent.  That is indisputable.  

But when the situation is he said/she said, the man should not be presumed wrong in every instance either. 

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Thriving with a Bipolar Friend . . .

24 Jun

Thriving with a Bipolar Friend . . .

P.S. As a post-script to yesterday’s post on Shapeshifting People, in which I surmised that many such people might be bipolar, I thought to present my credentials, which are not professional, but rather personal.

I believe that several of the most intense friendships I have ever enjoyed have been with bipolar people who were probably undiagnosed at the point in life when I knew them.

There are many good discussions of bipolar disorder on the Internet, one of which I may post one day soon, but the personal impact is that you are usually confronted with a person who is sweet, deep, intense, and very, very interesting. The range of interests may be almost as high as Mount Everest and the person will know a lot about all of them.

That can come from the manic phase, when they sleep very little and, in fact, are in a constant state of 100mph motion, and thought.

Bipolar people are probably over-represented among geniuses. They can be true jewels as friends, as you will learn much, and be challenged.

What they teach about friendship, though, is that they can very seldom maintain anything that remains consistent for more than a few months. They thrive on drama and, unfortunately, unless they learn to recognize their disorder and what it does to their relationships, they will create drama with everyone, even the people they call their best friends.

You may find they stop speaking to you, midsentence, for no reason at all.

They may then bound back into your life five months or five years later, as though nothing happened.

Or not. They may just vanish forever, again with no explanation.

You need to learn to not take these things personally. Once you do, you can have a very successful friendship with a bipolar person.

More than any other person, a bipolar person will teach you to hold your friendships loosely, the way that Christ taught us to count on no man except Him alone! It is a good lesson, actually.

If you befriend a person who is diagnosed with bipolar or whom you suspect has bipolar, just be prepared to be on a wild ride.

Hold on tight! And enjoy the rollercoaster.

Shapeshifting People (or How to Hold On Amidst the Chaos)

23 Jun

Shapeshifting people.  They used to be called chameleon people, but the term “shapeshifting” is more dramatic.  

It implies that, instead of just changing colors, they change shapes and all other kinds of characteristics.

Oh, and chameleon people were thought to change colors to blend in with their environment (i.e., they changed their hobbies, preferences, etc. to match the folks around them).  Shape-shifting people don’t fall into such predictable patterns as matching someone else.  They might.  Or they might not.  They can go off on a riff totally their own. The main feature of shapeshifting people is that they change who they are, with regularity. Not just new interests, but a whole different personality sometimes.

Some of them may still be crippled by childhoods in which they were mercilessly mocked for their preferences till they didn’t have any preferences left at all.  They change shapes with regularity, as a defense. 

 Others of them may have bipolar or some other diagnosable thing.  We certainly are seeing an uptick in things like bipolar today.  It may be more prevalent (in a fallen world, the DNA should be developing more and more mutations with each subsequent generation) and it may be that it is more acceptable to admit to such a diagnosis today, instead of trying to fake normalcy all life long.

I will admit, I love the idea that people are freer to tell me if they have bipolar now.  I will make allowances and try to help them.  Some, however, may use it as an excuse for never growing and changing at all, in their entire adult life, but just demanding that other adults accommodate their more outrageous behaviors.

As much as I see great hope for change for us all in the cross of Jesus Christ, I realize that not everyone will embrace that hope.  And some who have seemingly been genuinely saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ do not seem to feel a need to move on from that initial state, growing in their faith.

Can’t be helped.  But we can stay out of the way of their more outrageous words and behaviors. We can avoid being targets.

I believe it is possible to be a longterm friend with a person who is a shape-shifter (for whatever reason) without being emotionally bludgeoned by that person.  It consists in having standards for them (and for all friendships) which are plainly explained and  which they are not allowed to transgress.  

If they go over a line, I don’t believe in firing them as a friend.  I do believe in telling them that their behavior is unacceptable at that moment–to take a break and come back later when they are able to come up with a different tactic 

Maybe that seems cruel.  I am pretty sure it does to a bipolar person.  But is it kind to let her emotionally bulldoze me, knowing that no one else on the planet will let her get away with that?  To never clue her in on the fact that her behavior is universally alienating and needs to be checked? No, I will not do that to a friend. If she is pitching a tantrum, I will tell her, as I do my son, that we will talk when the tantrum is over.

I believe it is far kinder to tell a person, in exact terms, what it is that is offputting about him.  If it is offputting to me, I can pretty much guarantee that the same behavior has already lost him friends elsewhere.  And he probably never before had a clue as to why . . .

If he does not choose to do anything about his behavior, it will come around again in a subsequent cycle.  And I will mention it again.  Lather, rinse, repeat . . .

This will, at the very least, maintain my sanity instead of inserting me waist-deep in the drama.  

It will help maintain my integrity as a Christian, keeping me from getting into volatile situations with that person in which I say things I may later regret.  

That person is not the problem.  If he is a Christian, he too is a beloved child of God, as well as my brother in Christ.

But that is not a carte blanche to allow him to dump venom all over everyone in sight.  He needs to be encouraged to gain victory in that area, by the Holy Spirit’s power in his life.

I woke up the other day with the phrase in my brain, “Being forever friends with someone does not mean being his or her toxic waste dump.”  

There is a very real difference.  

One I hope to write about more as we all face more and more outrageous behavior in the world today.

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Motorcycle Mama Gets Gigged!

23 Jun

Motorcycle Mama Gets Gigged!

On the occasion of my 55th birthday, and not quite ready to stop acting silly on occasion, I offer the following tale from the summer of 1985 (when I was 27, if anyone is counting . . .).

Our squadron was deployed to Bermuda for six months. Unless you lived permanently in Bermuda, you were not allowed to own a car, so it was the practice of the squadrons that went to Bermuda to buy mo-peds, then sell them onward to the next squadron that came for six months, until they no longer worked and new ones needed to be purchased. This probably went on for decades, until they closed that base in the 1990’s.

I tremulously got used to driving a mo-ped, first on base, then around the island. I even got to do it well enough that I once was able to ride double with my friend Mary when her mo-ped conked out on a trip around the island. At night. It was a slow trip back to the base, but it worked.

However, even American citizens who worked on the base under the Status of Forces Agreement with Bermuda had to obey the Bermudian law and . . . thus it was that I once got stopped at the gate, coming back onto the base, because I had sandals on while driving my mo-ped. Open-toed shoes were not allowed in Bermuda!

I frantically called a friend from the gate, as the guards would not let me budge till I changed my shoes!

Since no one locked their doors in the BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters), he was able to get into my room and bring me a regular pair of shoes from my closet.

I was relieved. At least until he showed up at the gate and I realized I had been gigged (or, as they say today, pranked).

He had brought my flight boots!

Not only that, he had posted photographers out in front of the BOQ to take my picture as I drove up in my flight boots ten minutes later!

Ha ha ha! That friend who made the Bermuda deployment so much fun left the Navy soon after we returned so he could marry his love back in Ohio and raise his children near their grandparents.

I have not seen him since, but, hey, Brian, if you ever see this photo in the blogosphere, yes, I am still laughing about that incident almost thirty years later!!!

Happy birthday to me!

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Hilarious–King Solomon on Twitter!

22 Jun

Hilarious–King Solomon on Twitter!

I am not on Twitter (yet!) but I love this. I LOL’ed (giggle!).

Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Self-help Books

22 Jun

This is almost one of those “just a thought” posts.

I can say in one paragraph, or maybe in one sentence, why I don’t believe in Christian self-help books.  

That sentence, actually a question, is “Well, which way is it?”

Either we are able to help ourselves out of our own difficulties, just by applying the proper methods with the proper amount of determination, or we are not.

If we are not, and I say that is the case, then heaping self-help kudoes on a stuck sinner only produces a stuck sinner who feels mighty guilty that he can’t break free!

I believe that Jesus did not come to give us a list of principles for pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  Jesus came to give us Holy Spirit power to revolutionize our existence.  

The Holy Spirit, by divine power, breaks the hold of sin over us.  We don’t do it by our own will, grit, or determination.  

If we don’t understand that, we can’t help stuck sinners get unstuck.  We will try to clean them up under our own power (and theirs) rather than realize that the source of power, like a bolt of lightning, exists totally outside of us before we are saved.

Then, when we are saved, the Holy Spirit indwells us and internalizes His power in us.  

But it is still His power.  We have to remember that. If not, we end up worshipping the power more than the One who gives it!

Yes, I am starting to categorically reject any Christian book where I see that you could remove Christ from the text and still teach the same principles.

Dale Carnegie is a cool writer and his secular texts have principles for interpersonal relationships that are based on natural law.  They work.  

But if someone writes a Christian version of a Dale Carnegie text, claiming that his principles, based on natural law, are a checklist for our spiritual growth, I reject that claim.

Natural law is great, but there is nothing natural about the Holy Spirit of God.  

He is out of this world.  And His work in our lives is bringing dead sinners alive, not taking people who are already pretty good and making them better.

Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that there are natural things and there are spiritual things.  They can resemble each other, but they are not the same.  

Let’s remember to keep them separate.  When the Holy Spirit raises a dead sinner to life, His work is nothing short of miraculous.

Praise God!

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