Tuesday, October 20, 2020

What Are You Dragging Around?

Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis, is usually heavy on the snark and light on the poignancy, but this time...

Truth is...whether it's a dull, psychological heartache that thwarts all attempts to infuse lightness and joy into your life or the burden of unforgiveness toward another or yourself, you really do "gotta let that go."

The song, "Lay Your Burden Down", by seminal Jesus rocker Chuck Girard, may be just what the doctor ordered for you. Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

What Are You Hiding From?

What lies about yourself are you believing? And who told them to you?

I've been asking myself these questions since reading the following section of Scary Close by Donald Miller.

A few years ago I let a friend stay in my house for a weekend while I was traveling. She had some friends over for a party and I think one of them did something to [my dog] Lucy.

I didn't realize it for a few days, but one night when I was making dinner I realized Lucy wasn't around. She normally lies on the kitchen floor waiting for a scrap of food to fall, but she wasn't in her usual spot. I checked the living room and she wasn't there, and she wasn't in the dining room either. Finally I found her in the bedroom, hiding half under pillows, shaking. I sat down next to her wondering what had frightened her, but nothing seemed obvious. After an hour or so she returned to normal until the next night when I was making dinner and she did it again. After a while I realized that whenever she heard a pan being pulled from the drawer under the stove she ran into the bedroom and hid. Each night I'd go and sit next to her and rub her ears and talk softly to her, but the damage had been done.

I'm not sure what happened, but what likely explains it is that one of my friend's friends decided to teach Lucy to stay out of the kitchen. Probably some party trick he learned about dogs, that if you scare them you can get them to do what you want.

But it bothered me. I didn't like the fact somebody had trained my dog, somebody had gotten to her. I didn't like the fact that every night she had to experience terror over nothing.

I know Lucy's just a dog, but the experience caused me to wonder how many people have been made to fear something because somebody else had an agenda.

With a dog, it's pretty simple. You can just scare them and they run and hide. With people, though, it's more complicated. The way manipulative people train others is by attacking their identity. They clang pots and pans of lies about who they are, how terrible they are, and send their victims running into the bedroom, shaking.

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Truth is...I bet our heavenly Father doesn't like it when somebody gets to His children and scares them into thinking badly about themselves. Jesus thinks you're to die for! Get out from under the pillows and gleefully gobble the abundant morsels being served up from the Master Chef!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Holy Obsession: Jesus Quote #6

Before seeing the quote I'm about to share, I had never heard of Leslie Ludy.

Apparently, she and her husband, Eric, wrote a book, When God Writes Your Love Story, that was pretty popular around the turn of the century. It wouldn't surprise me if that book is the source of this quote:

"Until Jesus Christ is the obsession of your heart, you'll always be looking to mere men to meet your needs that only He can fill. Only when you make Jesus Christ your first love, will you be ready for a love story that reflects His glory."

That's a pretty bold claim. But then, Jesus is pretty bold, too.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I am the Door for the sheep, leading to life. All who came before Me as false messiahs and self-appointed leaders are thieves and robbers, but the true sheep did not hear them. I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved and will live forever, and will go in and out freely, and find pasture/spiritual security. The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows. -(John 10:7-10 AMP)

Truth is...That doesn't sound like the words of a "good teacher" or "an example of loving and accepting everyone." That sounds like someone obsessed...and someone worthy of obsessing over.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What I Learned by Painting Myself Blue

I've been looking through old posts in my humor blog, Almost the Truth, and found this little gem that turned down the humor and turned up the Truth, originally published June 24, 2008.

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I just finished the first of two weekends full of performances with Giant Step Theatre. (Current production: Aladdin's Lamp, in which I appear as the Genie.) It's always an interesting experience taking the stage surrounded by 70-90 3rd-10th graders, especially when your head is shaved and you've painted yourself blue, but I've actually been led into a slightly deeper mode of thought than normal because of something that happens fairly frequently with Giant Step. . .

It's not unusual (Tom Jones, anyone?) to enter the auditorium and be instantly confronted by a 2 foot, 10 inch, cherub-faced pixie sadly proclaiming, "Dewey? I can't find my prop. I'm supposed to have a rubber chicken for the market scene, and I can't find it." Translation: Dewey? I just remembered that I need to have a rubber chicken for the market scene, but when I stood still and looked around at my feet, I couldn't see it.

The solution is normally to encourage the treasure hunter to actually go to the backstage tables that hold all of the props (physical PROPerties that actors use as part of their onstage roles: a purse, a cane, a golden lamp full of genies, etc.) and look at the spot that has been outlined and labeled "rubber chicken" or "Persian gold" or "Shabeeb's whip." 99.44% of the time, the hopelessly lost prop is found right where it belongs.

This is what got me thinking about Real Truth and not just almost.

It strikes me as odd when people go off in search of themselves. Um...aren't you right there? Isn't it true that, "Wherever you go in life...that's where you are?"

Okay...settle down...I get it. Searching for oneself is actually searching for meaning and trying to find one's place in this gobbledy-gook mess we call life. And the serious point here is that to stare at your own navel and attempt to find purpose and meaning is like looking for a rubber chicken in the dressing room instead of the prop table.

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Truth is...there is a Creator, and it only makes sense that the Creator would have a better handle on what we've been created for than we do.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

How Hot Is Your Relationship?

Don't worry. This isn't one of those Cosmopolitan quizzes that promises to out you as a hopeless fuddy-duddy.

In fact, it's not a survey at all. It's a quote from an older gentleman named Vernon, whose short piece, "By the Fire", is in Philip Yancey's book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?

     We shouldn't expect a relationship with God to remain on a constant plane all the time. Not long ago I celebrated my sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. Believe me, when you've been married that long, you don't stay on a plane of ecstasy all the time. Romance starts as a blazing bonfire  -  you know, "You light up my life." After a few decades it settles into something more like a heap of glowing coals. Sure, some of the heat dissipates, but coals are good, too: you can roast marshmallows, or warm your feet. A different level of companionship opens up.

     For as long as I can remember I've spent at least a half-hour daily in prayer. There have been experiences when, as the old hymn puts it, "heaven came down and glory filled my soul." Those are rare. Most of the time I persist because I value the relationship with God, just as I value my marriage relationship. I gratefully warm my feet by the fire.

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Truth is...the comparison of a marriage and a relationship with God is apt. In both, what matters is not the intensity but the integrity.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Bull-headed Belief: Jesus Quote #7

It's a great, big "Can't we all just get along?" world.

It's a culture where "what's true for me may not be true for you."

It's a society where we "agree to disagree" and "celebrate diversity of thought" with no thought of absolute truth or undeniable reality.

Cartoon credit: Judy Horacek

And then along comes a quote from one of the most well-known preachers of all time that dares to suggest otherwise:

Depend on it, my hearer, you never will go to heaven unless you are prepared to worship Jesus Christ as God. ~ Charles Spurgeon

How dare he say such a thing?

Well...maybe because Jesus said the same thing?

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. ~ Jesus of Nazareth (John 14:6)

Truth is...Jesus didn't stop there. He also made it clear that the "worship Jesus Christ as God" part of Spurgeon's statement was totally appropriate:

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me." (John 14:8-10 NLT)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

What I Learned from Penguin-Watching

Consider, for a moment, the lowly penguin...

The penguins' farcical walk is quite deceptive. Those stiff feet, so ill at ease on land, act as a rudder underwater, allowing penguins to make hairpin turns at speeds of over thirty miles per hour. They are the fastest maneuverers and deepest divers of any bird; emperor penguins can reach depths of over sixteen hundred feet. These seabirds spend 80 percent of their lives as slick predators, but we only get to see the 20 percent spent staggering around on land like Charlie Chaplin.
     "Our perception of animals is based on where we are able to ob­serve them," Dr. Rory Wilson explained. "Seeing penguins stumble around being failures on land is like seeing the world's greatest athletes stumble around in the dark and never re­alizing what they are capable of. It's impossible to swim like a penguin and run like a cheetah on land." (From The Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke ©2018)

Take your pick as to what lesson you want to waddle away with from this:

  • You can't judge a book by its cover.
  • Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their moccasins.
  • Never compare your best moment to someone else's worst day.

Truth is...Yahweh is able to avoid all these cliches. "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

And the really good news is, even though God knows us so clearly, He still loves us so dearly. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31)