Tuesday, January 30, 2018

But Do I HAVE To?

Dustin is a daily cartoon strip created by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker. The title character is a 23-year-old college graduate who is horribly under-employed and so lives with his parents and younger sister.

The particular set of panels we're looking at today focus on said parents.

A perfectly reasonable solution to Dad's problem, right? Well, not according to his reaction.

In my somewhat twisted mind, this reminded me of Jesus' interaction with a guy who has come to be known as The Rich Young Ruler...

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:17-25  NLT)

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Truth is...It does no good to ask for an answer if you're not willing to follow it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pearls Before Swine On Marriage

The following panels from Stephan Pastis' comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, are certainly not Scripture, but they are certainly overflowing with Truth.

Pastis calls this The Six Stages of Marriage.

The relationship starts off full of idealism, but then reality begins to creep in.

It shouldn't be surprising, then, that things get worse before they get better.

But they do, indeed, get better.

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Truth is...Stephan Pastis isn't generally considered a sentimental kind of guy, nor a deep-thinking philosopher, but he certainly hit the nail on the head here. If you're married, may you reach stages five and six before there's a stone and six feet of dirt between you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lennon's and Harrison's Stage Fright

Having been members of one of the most popular rock bands of all time, you'd think that John Lennon and George Harrison would have been pretty confident in terms of feeling accepted by audiences.

Not so, according to Never a Dull Moment, by David Hepworth:

From the moment [the Beatles] broke up, George Harrison was uncomfortable with life on his own. The Beatles' performing experience had been as narrow as it was deep. When Lennon played the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival with his hastily assembled Plastic Ono Band in 1969, he threw up before going onstage because of his nerves. He'd spent thousands of hours onstage, but he'd never spent any time with anyone but the Beatles. He'd always looked to his right and seen the same faces. George felt much the same. Although all of them took every opportunity to describe what they had created as "just a band," at the same time they had great faith in the power of that band's brand and worried that people would not accept them as readily if they were out on their own.
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Truth is...we may say we want our lives to change, but that doesn't mean WE want to change. There is comfort in the familiar, even when we're not comfortable with it. Ever hear the saying, "Better the devil you know..."?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I Love You, I Love You, I Love You...

Having just written the above title for this post, I wonder how many folks immediately thought of an actor named Will and a movie named Elf?

Sorry to disappoint, but that's not what this is about.

I've written about Larry Norman before (for proof, click here), and I'm not sure if this is going to turn into a series highlighting the songs from one of the most influential albums from one of the most influential Christian artists that a whole lot of people have never heard of (of course, now that I've said it, it sounds like a pretty good idea), but for today at least...consider this song, "I Love You."

We can be together for now and forever
I love you
Hey, can you hear me, I've got to have you near me
I love you
I was lonely till you came along
Now you've got me singing your love song
I love you...

Life is a mystery, love is a dancer
I love you
I had a question, you brought the answer
I love you
Oh, but I need you so
I could never let you go
I love you...

I was lonely once, but then you came along
And I love you
And you gave me love, so I wrote down this song
Hey, I love you
I wanna spend my life with you like the angels on high
Hey, I love you
You're the morning star, you're the Son in my sky
©1973 Glenwood Music Corp.
Strawbed Music

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Truth is...it's not till the very end that a person can tell for sure that this is a worship song and not a romantic love ditty, but either way, it's a good thing to say.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

When You Open Your Mouth

I suppose in creating a blog such as this that I have set myself up as some sort of teacher...dispensing Truth to the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.

All the more reason for me to pay strict attention to these words from the third chapter of James, reprinted here from Eugene Peterson's The Message.

Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

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Truth is...the following prayer that I wrote in my journal on March 23, 2001 in response to this Scripture, is just as valid today as it was then:

Lord, may my mouth be consistently controlled by Your Spirit; not by my hunger for attention, affection, agreement, or applause.