Sunday, December 25, 2016

Packaging

I think packaging is designed under the forced labor of delinquent elves who failed rehab. My other theory is Satan, the Antichrist's contribution to Christmas. Packaging should come with a list of tools you'll need to open it just like complex furniture comes with a list of tools you'll need to assemble it. It's basically the same process in reverse, takes about the same amount of time and also promises to go better than it does. First you turn all the twist locks a quarter turn to the left to separate the plates of bullet proof glass that protect your item in the war zone environment of the store shelf. Once the plates are removed, you use your tamper proof screw driver to remove the even more tamper proof screws that hold the preformed display plastic; you know - that clear sheet of kryptonite that ensures the perfectly arranged pieces of that dollhouse would look just as tidy after a 15.0 magnitude earthquake. And just in case an eager child is waiting to promptly snatch one of those tiny pieces and choke on it as soon as their little hands can touch it, -not to worry!- every single piece is individually secured to that stupid little house by string that you couldn't cut if your life depended on it... and it does! Don't underestimate the wrath of a small child who has to wait more than fifteen seconds to get that damn thing out of the box!


So I might have exaggerated a little but there's a point to be made here. Don't let Satan or delinquent elves help with Christmas (or packaging in general). On second thought, maybe that's not such a bad idea. By design of the one who runs the whole show, that packaging goes a long way toward making sure that only the person who paid for the product gets it, and gets it with no nicks, dings or missing pieces. That packaging also gives you a good idea of just how much potential that dollhouse has before you trash it trying to get it out of the box.

Of course this is actually an overreaching, spiritual lesson that we're going to apply to Christ, the namesake gift of Christmas until such a time as we rename it and celebrate something else. He comes in the daunting packaging of The Bible, a man named Jesus and the laws of nature. Mankind has been working on unwrapping that packaging for thousands of years but we still don't quite have him out of the box. Most decide it's not even worth opening and the delinquent elves rejoice. But be patient. His promises are a gift received only by those who prove their interest by persevering against the evil packaging people.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Decade and a Turkey

Facebook suggested I share this photo of me doing a decade from something close to twenty years ago. I hope Blogger doesn't mind my social media hoping to do so and I hope the rest of you don't mind the point of view. I don't think Facebook took that into consideration when they recommended I share it. Maybe they thought you would like the mountains. It seemed more interesting than a turkey picture, anyway.


Speaking of turkeys, there's a scripture that says all creation has been cursed with us and, according to God's plan, is eagerly waiting to be redeemed with us. Among other creatures, I take that to include Thanksgiving turkeys, pets (that I liked), and dinosaurs. The new earth will be an interesting place, especially if you have to share it with me. Till then, scripture also says, "kill and eat", so enjoy that turkey or ham (or whatever animal you're responsible for killing this year) and be thankful this bloody mess won't last forever. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fake News

I'm particularly enjoying the current hoopla about fake news on social media sources. The latest claim, of course, is the assertion that it influenced the election. Really?! Is there any popular media that doesn't influence the election... or political attitudes in general... or what you have for dinner tonight? I'm assuming this is in contrast to the completely trustworthy networks that don't make up their news - you know, the ones who facilitate the belief that there are only two choices for president. That's coming from a "vote waster" who threw his influence away on a third party candidate so don't take me too serious. I didn't even watch the debates. I was too busy writing fake news for social media (I think that's still called a blog).


NEWS FLASH - U.S. Elects Perfect President!
A tiny minority of Americans rejoiced Friday morning at the outrageously suspicious victory for the Perfect Presidents Party. Besides the foreign voting machines, purchased media bias and thugs at the poling places, no one knows how they pulled it off. But the unexpected victory is one for the history books! If it makes good on its campaign promises, the incoming administration will secure perfect national security via border checkpoints fitted with the latest technology to scan for genetic predispositions to nonconformist behavior, theistic ideology and health problems. Entry taxes will be administered based on the risk an individual carries for these defects and the revenue will be used for corrective programs. Of course none of this personal information will be sold or illegally shared lest we end up with fake news tailored to each persons defective preferences.
In regard to the proposed perfect economics program, global financial markets have responded by convulsing violently and some have spontaneously combusted as everyone is uncertain how fiat currencies will react to accountable accounting.
Several world powers have already threatened nuclear attacks if a tolerable level of corruption is not immediately embraced by the new power and the Peaceful People Party who suffered a stinging loss this election has begun arming its members to forcefully reestablish the status quo.
Still, the Perfect President Party has been undaunted in celebrating the long awaited success of the delusion that a non-Antichrist will unify their chaotic and baseless efforts to escape the governmental mirror that keeps offending them. The transition of power is currently underway and will determine how to proceed based on how the outgoing administration responds to various kinds of death threats.
Congratulations to the Perfect Presidents Party and, above all, good luck!
-Reported by Splandorf exclusively for the Free Maniacs Press.

In reality, I'm looking forward to a perfect King, not a perfect president, and The Bible (the unfakest document in the world) assures us that, just like now, the transition will be marked in part by an abundance of fake news with faked authority. But the King I'm waiting for also happens to already be in power vicariously through the current spectrum of human governments and trains us through them. The short version is He's training us for obedience (to him, not mindless cronyism) and rewards us richly for it when his kingdom does come. Some of that obedience comes naturally. Wherever you fall politically, your natural inclination to pray for peace and wisdom right now is a good one. The obedience that's expected after we receive what we're asking for is more complex, but it's always to this end: "From one man he made all the nations, that should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their land. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out him for and find him, though his not far from any of us. For in him we live and move and have our being." - Acts 17:26-28

Saturday, October 1, 2016

New Rule

"You're it!"
"No I'm not. You can't tag somebody when somebody else gave their spot away and they can't get out of it."
"Yes you can!"
"No you can't. Besides, he still wants to be it."
"No he doesn't."
"HEY, Do you still want to be it?"
"Okay"
"See. I'm not it."
"Yes you are! He just said, 'okay' because he's little and he doesn't understand the rules."
"Everybody, let's make a new rule; whoever wants to be it can stay it, okay?"
"Okay."
"Hey. That's not fair! You can't make a new rule just  because you want to."
"I didn't make a new rule. Everybody else did."
...The game continues...


"Your policy on X, Y and Z are historically inconsistent. Besides, it's more historically significant if everyone elects me!"
"I'm not inconsistent. I did what was needed when it was needed, just like I've always done. I'm perfectly consistent."
"Then I am, too, and the fact checkers will prove it."
"The fact checkers just said your inconsistent."
"That's because the fact checkers have an inconsistent way of checking facts. If they checked them right, they would see that I'm right."
"No they wouldn't. I paid them to make sure they were consistent in their fact checking."
"Hey. That's not fair! It's against the rules to pay the fact checkers to be consistent."
"Hey everybody, let's make a rule that it's okay to pay the fact checkers. Then they'll always be consistent."
"Okay"
"Hey! You didn't even tell them what that rule really does! You just made that rule to benefit yourself!"
"No I didn't. Everybody else did." 
...The game continues...













source



The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun...

Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,

    whether it is good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 1:5-9 & 12:13&14

Monday, September 12, 2016

Breakfast After the Fall

I just got back from a week in San Diego, mostly La Jolla Cove, a prime intersection between coastal wildlife and pleasure seekers. While there was plenty of wildlife to enjoy, this is about the not-so-wildlife, namely the birds that make rooftop, continental breakfast (code for cheap but decent) a challenging experience. A short pretext from Genesis for the story goes like this; God made people and animals get along in the beginning (people and birds ate happily together). Then we sinned and he cursed them along with us (I can see some room for resentment there). Then, after the flood, God made them afraid of us and we went our own ways (especially after the ark, we probably needed the space by then and there was plenty of it). Today, the mistrust is still there but there's not as much space, especially on the San Diego coast, and we're unhappily eating breakfast togetherish.

Day one, we learned that you can't leave any food unattended, I mean not for one second. There's a hand rail around the entire roof top for them to perch on within fifteen feet of any table and it takes them approximately half an angry arm swing to dive in, grab your food and fly off. Thankfully they prioritize the easier targets, which means that if you listened to the staff's warning about them, you'll get the sadistic enjoyment of watching them steal whole eggs, English muffins and danishes from those who end up several angry arm swings away before they realize the threat.


Day two, their strategy advances with your own. If you're a repeat breakfast eater, they know you're on to them so they stand back and learn your routine - who goes in first, second, etc. - and what each persons plate is likely to contain. They don't need the table to be unattended. They just need half an angry arm swing between the target and the nearest plate watcher. Remember that while an angry arm swing can be understood literally, it's more of a time unit. It's about as long as it takes to bend down and pick up a dropped fork or put a bib on a child, predictable parts of the routine.

Day three. Have you seen all those wildlife documentaries where the predator picks out the weak or small one to go after? By day three, there's little option for the birds beyond direct confrontation and even the children are wise to their tactics so only the avian judo masters are going to get the good stuff. In this case that means landing on the two year old's head and gulping down her oatmeal directly out of her bowl while everyone stares in momentary disbelief trying to make sense of what's actually happening. And then, even if there is someone within half an angry arm swing, the swing comes just a little slower to avoid accidentally smacking the child, which provides just enough time to escape with the goods. Genius!

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Fountain of Childishness

Caution! This is one of those things tricky as a sword swallowing contortionist but equally impossible to not look at when it's put in front of you. It's a little preachy and you'll have to carefully sort it out for yourself. In front of us this time is the teaching that we should strive to be dependent on God. We could split hairs and churches over what that "actually" means (Oh, wait. We already have), but as usual, I'm going to tackle it from its over simplified face value to make a point.

My mom recently told me of a particularly nerve racking time when she was facing the possibility of three children in diapers at the same time. Thankfully, nature (that's code for potty training) ran its course and she narrowly missed that reality. The moral of that short story is that, from the time we're born, it's good to grow progressively independent, and ultimately to adulthood. It's foundational to the joys of watching children grow. Avoiding it is obnoxious like the ceaseless squawking of the adolescent bird that chased its unsympathetic parent round and round our picnic table looking for a handout the other day. Said from a more obvious angle, how quickly and universally do we recognize it as a disorder when someone, especially a child, fails to grow mentally or physically.


Now imagine a group who are spiritually "born again", enlightened if you will, and from the time of that spiritual birth, they are content or even ambitious to be as dependent as possible, to do nothing without being told, to be spoon fed every meal, to sit in their own waste until the stench compels someone else to take care of it for them. While this may suit those who profit from those services, it certainly doesn't suit those who need them. The very least you would have is an unprofitable person, precisely the opposite of what God has in mind when he encourages us through parables like the talents, the shrewd manager, the vineyard workers, etc. And while a small percentage of us are rightly dependent (children, handicapped and the like), the rest of us are rightly beyond it.

Let's add to all this that dependence on God is an inescapable absolute like gravity, and trying to be more dependent is like trying to be heavier by thinking about it. Go stand on your scale and try it. It's something that calls for humility, not effort. Our dependence is only valuable to God in that we learn our need for him as he perfects and grow us, like an accomplished lioness teaching a cub to hunt or a falcon teaching a fledgling to fly. And while the method is sometimes getting kicked out of the nest and told to fly before the ground hits us in the face, it's still the obviously good and natural order to life and happens only when he knows we're ready for it. So don't let religion trim your claws or clip your wings. God's ambition for you is independence, not to avoid being bothered by each other but rather to have much more to offer when we're together. Child like, not childish. Dependable, not dependent.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dead Birds

There's a passage in The Bible meant to help us not worry about life that compares God's value and care for the birds to His greater value and care for us. It struck me a little differently this morning as I admired the beautifully colored variety of birds on my house and trees adding a pleasant song to the start of my day and then looked to the ground and noticed one of those same pretty birds dead at my feet. Awkward.

I've had conversations along similar lines this week with several veterans I'm blessed to have in my circle of friends. One who worked as a sniper fondly recounted the day of his longest shot as, "... a beautiful, clear, still morning with low humidity, birds singing in the background and the sun in his eyes back-lighting his target." It struck me that one of his happy memories was shooting someone. Think King David and Father Abraham. Awkward.

Another group of believer veterans I talked with made the point that there definitely seems to be many more believers on the battlefield than in the safe zone. They had no doubt that many of the "enemy" their forces had killed were indeed unknown brothers in Christ as well. Along with myself, they all love peace and are very glad to be out of the fighting but can't avoid the logic that, perhaps, in the present world, nation against nation saves more eternal lives than peace does. Awkward.


I went back to the corner of my house when I got home from breakfast with a friend and looked for the bird. My guess is my cat also had breakfast while I was out. If the Bible is clear about anything, it's clear that our current reality is a war zone, physically and spiritually, man against man, cat against bird, whether we realize it or not. Now that makes quite a bit more sense of what I actually see even as it raises it's own set of difficult questions. A little less awkward... and, back to the point, nothing to worry about.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Water and Weeds

If you've ever pulled weeds, you know how frustrating it is when the tops break off and the root is left in the ground where you know it's going to grow a bigger, badder weed in a week or two. If you've ever had kids help you pull weeds, you know how hopeless the battle is to not break the weed tops off all over the yard you're trying to keep nice for them by pulling the weeds in the first place. Adding insult to injury is when the kids discover the whimsical, snowy looking weed blossoms that are so easy and fun to blow all over the place. It's a loosing battle.


Okay. So it's entirely possible that I'm too uptight about my nice little patch of green here in the Arizona mountains but it's a vice I'm not ready to give up yet. And doing it in the name of the kids (even if they're not so secretly working against me) is how I'm going to keep justifying it for now. But I do have an ally, monsoon rains. What's normally a steep, uphill battle (steep enough it would be more accurate to call it a wall I bang my head against) becomes a joyfully doable chore when the ground is thoroughly soaked. While the grass still holds its ground, the weeds slide out so easily even a kid can remove them successfully.

Our heart is easily compared to a yard full of weeds and the Bible frequently compares God's Spirit to water, an inexhaustible supply of it accessible through the spigot of prayer and scripture even when there's no rain. What's impossible to remove under normal circumstances and even made worse by our efforts becomes a satisfying and successful endeavor when the ground is well watered. But even after we've achieved a nice patch of green, keeping it nice still takes the diligence of watering and pulling weeds (You'd be surprised how much can blow in from your neighbors heart... I mean yard). You might end up wanting to offer them some water and possibly the help of your children... as long as there's no fuzzy blooms on their weeds.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Drawn and Quartered

Reading through some scripture as a family before breakfast, we were considering the passage, "Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain." As we recognized the obvious point that selfishness and Godliness are opposite directions, I made the point that we can't go both directions.
"Well, we can for a little ways," my oldest son answered pointing his fingers opposite direction and crossing them as far as reach would allow.

One of Christ's teachings was, "...unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." This time, that starts with acknowledging you can in fact go opposite directions with no negative effect (for about half your body length). But this truth has a rather abrupt stopping point, one that my children complain about daily when they yank or pull on each other too hard. A little harder still and the game is over on account of pain. A little harder than even that and you're in the realm of medieval torture.

Especially when we accept the new nature that God offers us, one that pulls strongly opposite of selfishness, we really do become the rope in a tug of war. Thankfully we also control which side has the advantage. It's when we avoid assigning that advantage that we risk being torn apart as both sides continue to pull in deadlock. A quick think through scripture takes me across Baalem, Jonah and Ananias and Sapphira as a few casualties of this tug of war. If it didn't kill their bodies, it killed their faith.

Sorted out at the level of crossing my arms as far as they can go, I usually end up letting go of things like uninterrupted hours of personal time, big budget toys and job satisfaction. They get replaced with serving others, serving others and serving others. While my new nature is gratified by that, my old nature is a sore loser and would like you to know how justified its tantrum is. Thank you to those who who follow Christ's example and endure being selfless friends with me anyway! You may have to yank on my arms pretty hard but I'll turn back to his statutes before my arms come off.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Worshiping The Shadow

Here's a fun game to play if you're a little obnoxious (yes, I am and, yes, I have). The next time you're with a friend in lighting that casts a clear shadow, acknowledge nothing but their shadow, as if it's actually them. Play it out as far as you can no matter how they react. Marvel at how the shadow sounds so lifelike when you didn't expect it to talk at all. Panic when they move and it disappears or gets obscured. Then be even more aghast at the voice now coming from nowhere. If they try to get your attention and their shadow becomes visible again, treat them as a distraction that's preventing you from getting to their shadow, the thing you really care about. Besides being fun for as long as you can keep it up, it also rapidly descends into obviously bizarre and irrational behavior.

If you actually try this, or at least put some honest effort into imagining it, I think you have the platform for some exceptional insight into why faith is such a troublesome topic. As Christ approached us in time, he cast a shadow that reached from Genesis to The Incarnation. A shadow so long that it was visible long before he was, and everyone got used to seeing him that way, as something that shifts with the light or disappears on a cloudy day, something stretched out so far across the landscape that no one could really discern the shape of of its source. Finally, they decided God was the shadow itself and they adjusted their religion to match.

What made this the bizarre and irrational game we started off with was refusing Christ as the source when he finally arrived. He marveled in person at how they accepted the scriptures (especially the prophecies) but not him. And just like our irrational game, that mindset should end if we're not truly deranged. But some of the prophecies themselves assure us we are deranged, that we tend to prefer shadows to real people or, especially, a real God. Shadows are quiet and immaterial. They won't braid whips or flip tables or rebuke you for not understanding them, all real hazards when the source arrives. But a shadow can't take you by the hand and encourage you either. When we need help and we know it, we go straight to someone real.

So here we are with our thoughts still largely revolving around the shadow. God is the shadowman that we shape and manipulate with "scriptural" reasoning rather than letting him speak and act for himself in person. Accepting the source means we don't have to guess how God would respond to many things. With very little extrapolation, we can look at how he actually responded. And even still, I think our comfort zone is closer to WWJD than WDJD (What Did Jesus Do). It keeps him a little more like a shadow. Love the Real.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Silly Little Boat

There was a lake just out of town,
Accessible from all around,
Where rules had all been voted down
And men did as they pleased.

Along its shorelines, one could find
Diversions of most every kind,
The basest to the near divine,
Where satisfaction teased.

And boats of course with pomp and bling
As bases for the basest things
Or bases where the moral cling
To all that’s good and true.

But best of all a boat could show
What you thought everyone should know
About how well your boat could go
About the water blue.

Of course, sometimes, a boat was lost
To storms or thieves or maintenance costs
And everybody’s nerves were tossed
In search of something stronger.

Some put armor underneath
And some on top for all to see
Or boats in boats in boats to be
In fear of loss no longer.

But one man knew the whole parade
Was shallower than where they wade
From boat to shore where he got paid
For fixing boats and barges.

He’d seen enough and done enough
To know that none were quite as tough
As all their window stickers bluffed
With much inflated charges.

He’d also learned a thing or two
About the water deep and blue
And thought he ought to share the truth
With all the anxious boaters.

But as he tried and tried and tried
With any he could pull aside,
They seemed to hear nothing besides
The sound of their own motors.

And so he took his little boat,
In view of those who loved to gloat
Who said, “That thing should barely float!”,
Out to the deep to show them.

“His test will fail,” they all thought
When he pulled out his gun and shot
A few rounds through the floor and brought
An ax out quick behind them

And chopped the rest to little bits
Until they thought he’d lost his wits
As, stroke for stroke, he didn’t quit
While everyone was guessing.

And then he stood where once it was.
The talk began to hum and buzz
About what must be left because
The boat was clearly missing.

He walked back and tried to explain
What now he thought should be quite plain
But found them rather vexed and strained
And bothered by the show.

“And reason says obviously
You have a boat that none can see
And that’s no use to flaunt what we
Think everyone should know.”

“And, still, it makes you walk about
As if a boat you’re still without.
That silly little boat can tout
Nothing that would sell us.”

And then his friends encouraged him,
“Continue not this silly whim.
Replace your boat. It’s rather grim
To hear this awful fuss.”

He let them finish. Then he spoke,
“Perhaps it’s better that I don’t.
Not that I couldn’t but I won’t
Forget about the water.”

His friends went on a little more
With arguments he’d heard before
Till satisfied that their implore
Wasn’t worth the bother.

And so he went on fixing boats
And fixing thoughts that didn’t float
But always found the common vote
Against what he would bring.

And rare it stayed that boaters cared
Of more than boats on waters where
Distraction kept away the scare
Of losing useless things.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Toothpicks and Legos

Like most most households with young boys, mine is full of Legos. Designated containers hold all the ones that don't fit in the nifty, see-through vortex chamber in our vacuum cleaner. I have come to regard them as the trademarked building materials of young, male life. Yes. I've seen and own the girl's sets but they don't seem quite so indispensable yet (though they're actively working on that). At any rate, the imaginations of any day take shape through them and get brought to me for display. I have a reputation for being tough on fragile things so they frequently come with special handling instructions like; "Don't touch this, Dad. Just look at it", or "Don't try that lever. It's not finished yet." More than once, the creation has been nervously snatched from my hands only to implode on its own. Thankfully, these are usually quickly built and easily repaired.

Scripture says our lives are likewise a building project that gets tested in the end. The goal is to build something that lasts into the Kingdom, something fireproof. We all start with the same foundation, Christ, and go by the same basic rules. But that is perhaps the end of the similarities. Some build mansions that blow away in a stiff breeze and some build sheds that double as bomb shelters. One clue we're given is to carefully select our building materials. Some burn. Some don't. Patience, generosity, selflessness, and the like are generally invincible. The more earthen things, not so much. But don't think the earthen things are automatically useless. Just like safety glass is made from sand (a bad foundation for sure), generosity and selflessness are often made from groceries and hand-me-downs.

Another clue is there's a careful balance between the earthen materials and the eternal ones. The resources we spend on getting and maintaining that bigger, better anything are resources generally diverted from generosity and the like. I say that on the assumption none of us are working with endless resources (If you are, I'd like a large, interest free loan). In our own favor, we really can do a lot with a little when we're devoted to it. I was always proud of one school project in particular where we had to build a toothpick bridge. Beyond a few dimensional specifications, the design was up to us and the finished bridge was tested for its strength to weight ratio. My instructor doubted my minimalist design but it went on to set the record with toothpicks to spare. In toothpick land, I could have built built a shelter with what I had left for the people who lived under my fantastic bridge. Get it? Got it.

To perhaps put you at ease a bit (though not too much I hope), when The Judge was here in person, no one got rebuked for being rich, though some got rebuked for being mastered by riches - their wealth determined their character. Another perk is you'll have trouble building anything eternal that doesn't benefit you now. You're basically plugging your favorite virtues into the "goes around - comes around" circle. But however we work the balance, we still don't get to turn in our project with special handling instructions. Some slide through the test with little more left than a red hot surf board and singed hair while others receive a rich welcome. Whatever you build, don't forget the foundation is Christ. Then, you'll at least have a place to call home, even if the test peels the roof off. You'll have have time to build a better one anyway.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Missing the Point

Growing up, church often seemed like a lot of strange fragments loosely connected through Christianity. Healing was one of those fragments. Everybody liked it. I did too, it was fun; lots of excitement and loud prayers bossing Satan and his sickness causing demons around like we were the masters of the WWE spirit world, "in Jesus name" of course. I can't criticize the excitement too much because Christ's first round of disciples were initially excited about it too, until he redirected their excitement to The Lamb's Book of Life. I imagine their transition was as difficult as ours. Legit or not, the natural sensationalism of miraculous healings is much more immediately gratifying than a guaranteed ticket to the good side of the afterlife.
My family and I have been sick in the last weeks same as many of you, not the worst but still the kind that makes you wish faith, anointing oil and group prayer where as magical a combo as we're led to believe. Misery really tests us. I do join the rest of you in praying for other people to get well, especially when it's close to home. It's a matter of obedience, and, despite my tone, I don't believe it's any more futile than it is predictable. But I do think we might be looking at it from the wrong end. As I hacked in bed and contemplated the credible healings from scripture, a striking thought recurred to me; They're all dead! In all the hope and excitement, I don't think that point ever stuck with me as well as it should. Christ even made it himself while he was healing people!

The fresh meaning struck me when I asked when sickness started, between coughing fits. I'm a young earth creationist so the answer is the curse...from God. Uncomfortable as that point may be, it makes solid sense of why scripture frequently connects healing to proof of authority to forgive. God put the curse (sickness and punishment) in place with his own authority and he alone can lift it (healing and forgiveness), as he pleases. And his earthly life was a preview of that bigger plan. As novel or necessary as a healing may be, The Lambs Book of Life really is the offer you don't want to miss. And with the authority of that greater offer already well established, miraculous healings for perishable bodies may be the dead horse God isn't going to beat much anymore. Guess I'll have to slum it this time and rely on his perpetual miracle of my immune system.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Your WHAT Hurts?

It's been a rough couple weeks...also really good...but rough. I say that with all due humility in light of the fact that I'm winding into the second half of an unprecedented six week vacation on behalf of a generous Paid Parental Leave policy from my employer (stop cursing me. I'm about to make you laugh). I repeat as a family man the proverbial sentiment, You can't make this stuff up. The "rough" comes from a few different sources.

1) Two of my children are (re)learning that they have to eat what they're served. It's an understandably bad turn of events for them when mom (the loving, gourmet, short order cook of the universe) has ever patiently indulged their every taste for last several eons of their lives. Perhaps, even worse from their perspective is that she seems to have been permanently corrupted by dad recently.
2) The children have gotten even. I believe the strength and perseverance of the crud they brought home to decimate our digestive and respiratory systems for the last two weeks was intentionally selected by them. They must know they're more resilient and we're responsible for the mess. I'm sure that some of the cough's from around the corners of my house have been covered up laughs at listening to me eject a partial trachea. No one has escaped it's wrath.
3) Spicy food. Normally harmless to the trained consumer, I have (carefully and responsibly of course) trained them in it's righteous usage. Sometimes nothing feels better on what's left of a partially ejected trachea than some plain old heat, the kind that makes you sweat a little even if the food is lukewarm.

So this ends up having a comic upside as well, starting with dinner and Mr. Bean's Holiday (Don't judge me. It's a good movie). Laughter really is exceptional medicine but it's also an exceptional headache when you can't stop and you've already been coughing all day. None the less, it helps clear the lungs... and a bit more than that apparently if you've had spicy food and stomach problems recently (Related? Nah.). My youngest son jumped up in the middle of the movie to use the restroom. Within a few minutes, we heard some nearly honest blubbering from the porcelain throne calling for the loving, short order emotional comfort of the universe (yes, same lady). She was holding an onion poultice to her ear to ease her own pain so I answered the call myself. I was as gentle as I could imagine when I opened the door but the tears and sadness vaporized the moment he saw me, like he was fishing for blue gill and hooked a shark. The next look was a perfectly composed one that said, "Everything couldn't be better. You can leave now." I asked what was going on just to be caring and responsible. Without breaking his composure, he took only a second to come up with a cheerfully delivered answer that would explain everything, "My butt was hurting. It stopped." Couldn't have said it better myself. Actually, couldn't stop laughing to say it at all.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Playing the Odds

Surveying my house after the last storm, the trend is obvious. Nature is trying to destroy it (and I'm a little slow to repair it). Some of the paint is cracking. A shingle has been relocated to the yard from the roof. And my recycle bin is a little more broken from another wind driven tumble down the street. But the odds still favor my house because I'm here to take care of it.

Yes. Of course this is a spiritual analogy so you can bail here if you like. In kind, it's a tired analogy too, a spin-off of the tornado-in-junkyard example where a whirlwind happens to assemble a Ferrari (or a Honda, depending on whether the junkyard is in Japan or Italy). Watching anything deteriorate at the hands of nature serves the same purpose, one that's still convincing and ironically encouraging to me regardless of how tired it is. It goes like this: In regard to home maintenance or the existence of anything beyond a perfect vacuum, the odds don't favor us (though they do seem to favor insurance companies. I think there's something going on there). Anyway, we cling to million-to-one odds (or much worse) as if the the rest are merely non-instances, non-events. We just need enough one-in-a-million successes in a row and we will get our desired result, say a house. And the infinity of numbers provides however many one-in-a-millions are needed to build it, so long as we pay no attention to the 999,999 shingles the odds blow off for every one they place correctly. But leave those out and it becomes believable that the house could not only build itself but could gain consciousness and decide how best to do it. We just need enough one-in-a-million's.

Let's cut to the point. My reasoning proves that I'm a marginalized, unscientific idiot. Wait...I meant my point, not everyone else's. I just read it in the funny's this morning. Moving on, at present, nature as we can observe it does not produce things like us. It produces things more and more similar to junkyards and black holes, and leaves us still searching for the thing that produces things like us or complexity in general. For me, this rationally leads to the conclusion that order of any kind is a supernatural product, even nature itself. And, again, not as we imagine but as we actually observe, we are the pinnacle of order and complexity in the natural world. A supernatural creator is indeed what we are rationally looking for. And whether I like him or not, I haven't found one more convincing than the God of the Bible.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hi Guy!

I have four children now! That's my good excuse for not posting in a while. Our nearly two year old daughter came home to stay last Saturday. Her history has made family titles a little confusing for her and left me with the simple title of Guy. I'm glad to have it. It's as cute as you can imagine to hear an affectionate "Hi Guy" from her quiet, high pitch voice when she sits up in in bed in the morning before anyone but me is awake. Needless to say, I'm wrapped around another set of little fingers. She's adjusting wonderfully.


Still, I've been reminded this week how being an adoptive family is unique from a child's perspective. For children too young for advanced reasoning, it's especially tricky. I noticed something amiss with my youngest son, five years old now, after Aria had been home a couple days. He was increasingly bothered by Aria stealing the spotlight and started competing aggressively for our attention. We anticipated his difficulty adjusting to not being the youngest anymore so I pulled him aside for a heart to heart when he seemed near his breaking point. As he sat on my lap with my arms around him, I was ready to hear how much harder than expected it was embracing a new sister. "Yes," he confirmed with that tremble in his voice that tells any experienced parent there's a lake of emotion behind a flimsy dam. "What's the hardest part?" I asked. He burst through tears, "I don't want you to get rid of me." My heart broke.

Perhaps we take it for granted that our family is our family. Kai doesn't. He know's very well that Aria came to us because someone else wasn't willing and/or able to keep her. And he's too young to reason that his own situation is any different than hers was. Perhaps we take relationships for granted in general. We expect something besides ourselves to make them work and last. It reminds me of a question my wife asked when we were newly married, "How do I know you'll never leave me?" I answered, "You don't. You'll just have to see me never leave you."

I had a wonderful father/son talk with Kai and he's better than ever now. He understands with new depth what it means when I call him, "son". At the core, it's devotion alone that secures any family. Natural family members abandon their roles all the time. And, though generally more conscious of being family by choice, adoptive families are breakable too. But there is a perfectly trustworthy adoption. The apostle Paul said it's not the natural children who's place is secure in God's kingdom, it's the adopted children, the one's who are his by choice, not default. That is matter-of-factly the only way God builds his family. I know an imperfect yet compelling version through the love I have for my own children, and it adds depth to joyfully anticipating my own adoption as his son. I strongly encourage anyone to adopt their family (children, siblings, parents, etc). Whether naturally yours or not - make the decision that they are yours no matter what and let them know. If you devote yourself to it unconditionally, it will try you in every way and it's the closest to understanding the nature of God's family that you will get on this earth.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Border Line

I avoid politics (except to declare that I avoid them and then write about them). That's like saying, "There are absolutely no absolutes". Except the person saying it would leave out "absolutely" because that makes the absurdity of the statement too obvious. So back to politics (that I don't actually avoid). What I actually avoid is being too judgmental about politics. I don't suffer from the delusion that if the whole world viewed things my way, everything would work out. That's my disclaimer to everything else I'm about to say here.



A friend recently asked me how I would handle the recent and ongoing topic of refugees, immigrants, stray pets, etc (yes, I'm blaming a friend for this post). More specifically, how do I think Christ would have us handle it. The old WWJD. Knowing very well that there's a tremendous gulf between ideas about how things should be done and actually doing them, here's how things should be done. Based on God being the one who establishes the times and places of nations for the purpose of leading their occupants to himself, we have the obligation to protect whatever Godly attributes underpin any particular nation. Our own underpinnings are transparently put forward in our Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

There's a lot of signatures on those statements, Christian and otherwise. What they established for our nation was a practical, nonreligious reverence for a singular, virtuous, creator God. The short list of virtues originating from him that needed official recognition and protection were life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those who signed it were ready to die for those and proved it. I am fully convinced that every detail of those statements is entirely credible to this day, and even more so in our scientific age. If you embrace the same thing for yourself and others, you're welcome here. It's the foundation of the superpower nation that followed and I do love being one of its citizens.

That's the end of answers that fit this format. However far away from those roots we are is how far we are from being able to govern ourselves with the success of our past. For Christians, the obedient times of Old Testament Israel are an example of good foreign policy. Aliens and foreigners who shared the national values provided by Israel's Creator God were welcomed and treated as equals, not stray pets. The everlasting kingdom we're looking forward to makes the same offer but it's immune to the selfishness that degrades all purely human governments. Till then, as long as it will have me, I pledge allegiance to one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.