Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Sharper Image

My family hunted and fished when I grew up. My dad a little, my big brother more, some of the uncles a lot. I was always more into ball games but did enough to pick up a few truths about life from the little hunting and fishing I did.

I had been told in various ways and differing times that a dull knife blade could hurt you more than a sharp one. In scaling bass, skinning a squirrel or even just opening a seed sack: sharp good, dull dangerous. It seems that a dull blade will bounce rather than cut into a surface.  When my dad or granddad gave a pocket knife if often came with a whetstone to sharpen it. I remember my older brother sharpening his knives for hours on that thing. He completely wore the thing out till it broke in the now thin middle. Being left-handed I did everything backwards so I had to manipulate the blade and\or whetstone to get it to work. And don't tell me that knife blades and whetstones are neutral.
They are not, they are right-handed implements, but that is another story, In the meantime just ask a lefty about other right hand prejudice.

One of the problems faced by the human race right now, and it doesn't seem to matter if you are of the American branch of the human tree, or the European, Middle Eastern, Asian, or African is that the value of humanity has gotten very dull. This holds true for many, many individuals as well as the governments that govern them. There is no really sharp focus, other than rhetoric, as to the value of human life nor to humanity's purpose. We serve ourselves, our nationality, our religion and in general "our side" even if acquiring soul blindness is the price paid. It is almost beyond imagination, and it would be except we see the reality of it every day, that people derive pleasure in terrorizing, profiteering, murdering, enslaving (often sexually now-a days), abusing, and directing the pleasures of this world to self. It could be that power has seduced some, noble starts change to selfish control  for others, riches engulf some, winning still others, and a sick arrogance that does these things because they figure they can (think bully, Stalin, Hitler) to prove themselves or their ideology superior.

Our dull bladed view of the human race and its humans, jabs when it should slice, bounces into the innocent, and no longer penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart ( Hebrews 4:12) no longer. Well, some think it doesn't.

What do we do? We need a sharper Image. Thankfully, we have one: "And God said, lets Us make man in our own Image..." Gen 1:26. That Image, scarred, marred, broken, (dull is the least of its problems) God sets out in Christ to resurrect. When we begin to view life and the people living it with the same view as God things change. Anyone ever needing glasses but not knowing it for a long time, can attest to the difference corrective lenses make. People who have had their view of humanity dulled with the ways and cares of the world will notice a similar change on the soul level. You never liked or understood "those people" (you know, cat people) but now you do. Another group was viewed with suspicion or prejudice but not you see them more as God does. It goes on as Christ continues His transformation of our character to conform to His very image.

Even what pleasures you changes or it should. There are many things you no longer do, not because you can't, but because you recognize it brings no pleasure to the heart of God. You do things now you enjoy that you couldn't imagine doing 20 years ago, but they bring pleasure to God and now to you also. You pursue the things God pursues:  a relationship with you, freedom, justice, righteousness to name a few. Gary Thomas in his book Pure Pleasure said, "If my pleasures don't give pleasure to God then eventually I will have to choose either to change my pleasures or change my God."

We do our part as the church with pleasure. We must view as pure pleasure to have God sharpen us until we conform to His Image.(James 1: 2-4) When the church does that, it gives the world its only real alternative- the Sharper Image that elevates every life to the purpose for which it exists: to glorify God, bring joy to His heart, and in so doing to ours also.

Still Whet  Behind the Ears,
Cos



Thursday, June 1, 2017

A New Normal

Hi! Remember me? No reason you should but I've been out of it for a bit. I don't want to bore you with old man surgery stories but I haven't had the energy to write on this blog. Thought I'd try one today about my new normal.

I will never be what I was, physically speaking, but truthfully none of us will be will we? I just accelerated the process. So, I have to adjust to a new normal. I haven't figured what all that means yet, that part of the new normal is still in process. I do know that the new normal is slower, weaker, a little foggier in the mind at the end of the day and gets fatigued more easily. The new normal can't touch folks as readily as I once did. But these may change again to a new, new normal in time.

My new normal is smaller by roughly 50 lbs. Clothes don't fit and the world doesn't yield to my touch as it once did. Some doors are very heavy to open now. Some packages I cannot lift. My new normal takes a lot of medicine and supplements. My old life was pretty simple- when I ate and what I ate; when I slept and how I slept; what I enjoyed and took for granted; what I wore was grab and go, now I have to find what kinda fits; when I went and how I went and how I got there.  I am so much better off than so many with deadly and debilitating diseases, but I still grieve my old, simple normal life. I had a presence in many places with many people that is no more.

Is there anything good about the new normal? Yes, as a matter of fact there is. The new normal requires intentionality. I have to think about what to do and if I can do it and how long I can do it.
The new normal requires a different way of measuring time and commitment especially with people, work associates and doctors.

This is often a frustration, but when applied to one's relationship with Jesus the new normal and its priorities actually enhance the relationship. In fact, all relationships benefit with the new normal causing you to prioritize time, energy and focus. My new normal helps me see more people struggling with their own new normals. It has helped me see the struggles of others through my own struggling eyes. The new normal hasn't added time to my prayers but it has added  a width and a depth that wasn't there, at least I didn't see it.

And that is the bottom line, the new normal helps me see things differently, not always better, not worse necessarily, but differently. I see that the Lord Jesus is the Lord of all our normals but our normals are not His normal. He obviously works in, through and with our old ones and new ones but his normal for us is Him; His character as ours; His love as ours; His service and commitment to justice as ours.

There is much about my new normal I don't like but even Jesus has a way of using it to get me to His normal and this is how it should be.

May we live for and aspire to the day when we are all normal like Jesus.

Cos

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Just In Case

I blew it. No excuses, no justification, no getting around it, I messed up.

Now let me tell you how I messed up, again not to give an excuse, just to explain the anatomy of a mess up. When my recent health crises started, I began to think of things that needed some attention.
Knowing that my upcoming surgeries would prevent me from doing things as normal with household chores, yard work, dog work, bill paying, and other odds and ends,  Pam and I got busy getting ready. The night before the big liver surgery I got to thinking there was one detail I hadn't discussed with anyone: what happens if this surgery doesn't go well? I could die and I haven't told anyone how to send me off. So I wrote a letter late the night before with funeral details, you know, just in case.

Here's where I messed up--I didn't tell Pam. I didn't want to put that on her at the last minute so I just put the letter in an envelope and stuck it in my miscellaneous drawer of my dresser and labeled it 'just in case.' I whispered its existence and location to my son just as they came to take me down for surgery. I told him of the 'just in case' letter and I knew the moment I told him I had messed up. I thought he would faint but he hung in there. Well, there were lots of complications and set-backs but I survived that surgery and another and the letter just laid in the drawer.

Then she found it while straightening and cleaning, "what's this?" she asked. "Well, I, uh, wrote out my funeral. I put in which preachers, what songs, and such." "And you didn't tell me?"

Well, like I said, I blew it. I had never written a 'just in case' letter before. I suppose if every one wrote a 'just in case' letter every one would be different. Mine focused on funeral details someone else might focus on family finances and another might say, "I'm sorry. Forgive me," and another might seek to express love to family and friends that he\she could not verbalize. If you're lucky you've said everything that needs to be said and all you have to do if tell where you hid the fortune you secreted away.

What would your 'just in case' letter contain? Maybe you should think about that, a least a little. Jesus taught that we should "not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both the soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28) He also told the parable of the rich farmer who had so much he had to build bigger barns to hold it all. The rich man said let's eat, drink, and be merry but Jesus said "you fool, this night your soul shall be required of you, and the things you prepared for yourself, whose will they be?" (Luke 12:20)

We need to think about our finances, final wishes, and funeral ideas and share them with loved ones. It's more important to think about what comes after that. It's one thing to mess up occasionally with your spouse by not telling them something important. It's an eternal thing to live a life that is not right with Jesus. Take care of that relationship first, you know, just in case.

Cos