Back on the Wagon

It’s time to write again.  I took a sabbatical and may explain it one day, but suffice it to say I’m ready to share again, to use this space for dreaming and ruminating and healing.  I’m reminded lately of the challenges that life brings.

I have a friend who’s marriage is spiraling downwards.  A friend who is having to deal with health issues that are very challenging.  A friend who is having to look inward and figure out what is driving some bad behavior.  I’m in a Bible study with a bunch of men who have differing viewpoints on church, politics, and life.  Very interesting.  I’m in another Bible study with a young couple who are early in a journey of pursuing Jesus.  My dad recently died and I’m worried about my mom.  My wife’s parents are battling illnesses.  I am battling challenges at work and working on what the future might hold.

Life has lots of challenges.  Lots of conflict.  Lots of suffering.  It is also filled with beauty and things that can bring us joy depending on how we want to view life.  What do you look for…problems, conspiracy, shortcomings, failure?  If you look for it you will find it.  I think we all agree that is not a profound statement but one that is often forgotten.  The people I know who look for the beauty in life, the blessings, the things they can be grateful for…those people seem to find it often.  I’ve spent a few years making the transition.  I can see a lot of problems in this world but I prefer to look for the gems and deal with the problems as they occur.

I’m back on the wagon and will likely address problem issues but it is because I see so much beauty in life and want to move forward past the problems.  It could be a bumpy ride.  I have a lot to sort out and think through.  I’m not a rocket scientist and sometimes it takes me trying things multiple times.  My only perfection is in how totally imperfect I am…but growing, dreaming and looking for beauty.

What are you looking for?

Grace and peace.

10 Fun Things About the 2016 Election

  1. I have fun reading what youngsters who haven’t had a real job, paid real taxes, had a mortgage or car payment or medical bills or tuition payments think needs to happen to make our country better financially.
  2. I have fun reading posts on Facebook from people quoting Fox News like it isn’t biased.
  3. I have fun reading posts on Facebook from people quoting CNN News like it isn’t biased.
  4. I have fun reading posts of people who say you have to vote because your vote counts.  Tell that to the folks who voted for Al Gore.  I ain’t no genius but the Electoral College seems to have more to do with who wins than I do.
  5. I have fun reading posts by people who read “Republican” and see “Religious Right” when several Republicans have got caught not acting too religious.
  6. I have fun reading posts by people who think the next President will have a major impact on prayer, abortion and a host of other issues and miss out on the fact that Jesus told his disciples to deal with all that stuff.  Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars doesn’t mean to expect the government to do Jesus-work.
  7. I have fun reading posts by people who think the Democrats will make life better for the poor.  How’s that worked out during the past few Democratic administrations?
  8. I have fun reading about different drinking games to play during debates and the election process.  They might be the most logical posts of all.
  9. I have fun reading about all the liberals and conservatives who say they are moving if one or the other gets elected.  No one really cares whether they move or not and I doubt any of them ever did anything they said.
  10. I have fun dreaming about a day when elections won’t matter.  Those are going to be the good ‘ol days.

In all honesty, most of those things aren’t really fun…or funny.  They are agonizing.  I thought about quitting social media but, like many things, have learned to skip over the parts I don’t like and move on to warm and fuzzy pictures of someone’s cat.  I’m 51 years old and I can’t tell how the outcome of any election has impacted my life tremendously.  I personally think Republicans are too worried about paying taxes and not concerned with the welfare of others.  I personally think Democrats are arrogant and think they know how to use my earnings better than I do.  I’m looking for that person who is in the middle, who wants me to pay less taxes so I can be more giving.  I’m looking for the person who will call out special interests and embarrass them into the holes they belong in.  I’m looking for the person who will call out the religious community to do what Jesus called them to and to leave the government alone.  I’m looking for someone who probably doesn’t exist and probably won’t appeal to at least 50% of the rest of the voting population, probably more.

Political elections seem to bring out the worst in us these days.  I’m sure our founding fathers would be ashamed of everyone involved, mostly the electorate that tolerates these buffoons reaching the top.

Grace and peace.

What if…?

What if we knew the problems the people around us were dealing with daily?  What if people knew my fears?  What if people knew the things that cause me emotional pain?  What if people knew I was scared they wouldn’t like me if they really knew my sins?

When I went through a divorce, I had several people surround me with love.  I could not have made it without them but it was always easier to think about the people who were telling stories about me.  Some were true, many were not and it scared me to think about how others would see me based on gossip and rumors.  Yet, it was the people who were empathetic to me who carried me through.  It was the people who cried with me and heard my pain stories.  It was the people who had walked in my shoes of pain and told me I would get through it, maybe a little battered and bruised, but I would get through it.

What if the world was full of empathy?  What if my community was full of empathy?  How much stronger would we be?  What if people who had a drinking problem felt like they could talk to someone about their fears or pains that caused them to drink?  What if people who had a pornagraphy or sexual addiction problem felt like they could talk to someone about their wounds that drove them to those things?  What if the person who has been abused sexually felt like they could tell someone how it made them feel?

I have been exposed to so much pain in the world in the past few years and my empathy runs wild.  It has pushed me to reach out to some folks I know who feel hurt by things in life and get to know their story and try to understand how to teach others to hear these stores and love on these people.

What if we reach a point where people really care about other people?

Grace and peace.

Omar and Orlando

An atrocity was committed in the early hours of June 12th.  A man went into a nightclub to kill and injure more than 100 people.  Their offense?  They were different than him.  Different lifestyle.  Different beliefs.  Different religion.  They were different than him.

Can you imagine killing everyone who is different than you?  I cannot.  It is more than sad, more than tragic, more than heartbreaking that someone would choose to kill because of differences.  Oh yes, it has happened throughout time and will continue to happen into the future, most likely, but that doesn’t change the atrocity of killing because of differences.

Those people who were murdered and injured are someone’s son, daughter, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, confidant, employee.  They are people.  Disagree with their lifestyle, disagree with their choices but do not kill and maim for it.  Do not let your fears drive you to hatred and then to destruction of lives.

Omar was not a good person.  He hated people for something that he didn’t like.  He was acquaintances with some really, really bad people.  Our FBI checked him out because of it but still let him have firearms and a security guard license.  (I don’t understand that one but little our government does resonates with my idea of common sense.)  He proclaimed allegiance to bad people, to ISIS, who kills and mutilates for their own agenda of what is right and correct…much like Hitler before them.  Omar wasn’t a good person.

Well hurting for the individuals and families of the victims, I struggle with the LGBT leaders.  They call their “community” to stand apart, to be singled out and yet seem shocked when they are singled out.  They want recognition of this event to shed light on their cause instead of being a reminder that we are ALL a part of this senseless killing.  A terrorist struck America.  Shouldn’t we all stand together as Americans?  Yes, he chose to strike a club catering to homosexuals but where should the focus really be.  On the smaller group or the larger group.  LGBT leaders are still trying to stand apart instead of claiming their role as a part of the national community.  One lady on TV last night who was labeled as the first openly gay commissioner in that are said she was frustrated by the people who chose to show up now to help the LGBT community.  Really?  Maybe all those people are showing up now to help their neighbors, their countrymen…not just a segment of the population.  Today, another person representing LGBT rights was sharing his thoughts on CNN that this event should spur Congress to sign legislation preventing employment discrimination.  Really?  Is this the platform to discuss that topic?

I’m sickened by the horrific crime committed against the people in Orlando.  I hope people will realize it is in these dark times we must be “a part”, not “apart” to combat these heinous actions by misdirected zealots.

Grace and peace.

Faith and Politics

Faith is belief in unseen things.  Politics is faith in unproven promises.

I’m not a Republican because they believe lowering tax rates and banishing illegal immigration will make our lives better.

I’m not a Democrat because they believe being inclusive to every thought and idea, except conservative thought and idea, will make our lives better.

Here’s what will make our lives better.  Eliminating pride.  Eliminating hatred.  Eliminating adultery and pornography and abuse of money, drugs and people.

Here’s what will make our lives better.  Giving.  Loving.  Relationships.  Compassion.  Empathy.  A burden for the poor, the hurting, the least of these.

If you believe a politician will make your life better, I wish you the best in waiting on the promises to come true.

If you believe living disciplined (disciple) lives following Christ will make your life better, I wish you the best as we wait together for the promise to come true.

Grace and peace.

I Like Dreadlocks

I’m sure I would look hideous with dreadlocks but I have thought I would have liked having them if I had the hair for it.  Then this article…http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/31/living/white-dreadlocks-cultural-appropriation-feat/index.html.

So, now there are folks who think their hair is a spiritual and historical part of their history who don’t want white people wearing dreadlocks.  Really?  Why is it people of non-white skin colors can claim racism at the drop of a hat and then say they are the only one who can say certain words, wear their hair certain ways, speak certain ways, enjoy certain benefits and community?

I don’t want to be a racist.  I really don’t.  But, there are times when I am excluded from certain things just because I happened to be born white that make me wonder why I tolerate things I do.

If you want inclusion, then be inclusive.

If you want tolerance for your ideas, be tolerant of other ideas.

This world is making me tired.

Grace and peace.

Conservative Christianity

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I’ve been thinking about conservative Christianity lately.  I’ve been thinking that I don’t find it in the Bible so I wonder why it is such a big deal with politics and those professing to align with the “Christian-right” or “right wing evangelicals”.

Jesus was radical but not political.  That was much of the confusion of his day, that he was here to do business at the local/national level when he was here to do business at the spiritual/supernatural level.

He was off being tempted by Satan.

He was healing and forgiving people.

He was telling people who wanted to follow him to GIVE ALL they had.

It just seems a bit strange to me that a political movement today that evokes self-responsibility and “good stewardship” is aligned with Jesus who told stories about the Prodigal Son (forgive without limits), the Rich Young Ruler (give and give some more), the Lost Sheep (the one who needs the most help is important), the story of the workers (the guy who showed up last got paid the same amount as the guy who had been there all day).

In Acts 2 we find the church coming together daily and selling all their possessions and giving to everyone as they had need.  That doesn’t sound anything like the Republican Party’s evangelical platform to me.  It doesn’t sound like socialism either.  It sounds like a group of people who were compelled to act individually because of Christ’s love, mercy and grace.  They didn’t wait on the government to act on their behalf and they didn’t tell those who were in need to get a job…they just helped.  Again, we see a theme of Christ-followers giving and giving generously.

I can’t align politics, Christianity and conservatism.  At the same time I don’t align with the liberal politicians either.  While I don’t think they should take my money and force giving, I also don’t think politicians need to legislate Christian teaching.  Take Roe v. Wade.  You see, I’m naive enough to believe that if the church really loved on single women who were pregnant, we would see abortions go down.  If we saw the church start adopting these babies and loving on them I believe we would see abortions go down.  I guess I see love as the way to combat abortion instead of the Supreme Court.  The people who do this now are people who are compelled to act because of who Jesus is, not who has political power.

We could also talk about the poor and immigrants.  I have had the conversation already with others and there are many different views.  I always leave it with them as “what do you think Jesus would have to say about immigrants if you were having the conversation with him?”

I can’t align Christ-likeness and this thing called conservative Christianity in political circles.  I’ve tried but as I really study Jesus I cannot imagine him giving a hoot about our political scene and I’m even further from seeing him line up with Ted Cruz or anyone else using the banner of Christ for a political office.

Call me crazy.  Call me soft.  Call me whatever…just please do not call me a conservative Christian.

Grace and peace.

Old Adages

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I’ve often heard (and probably guilty of saying) “they got what they deserved” when something bad happens to someone not well liked or looked down upon.  Whatever bad thing happened to them…well, they deserved it.

I wonder if people ever say that about me.

I wonder if people say it about the United States.

I watch Donald and Ted and Marco digress into name calling while our country suffers and can’t help but wonder if we aren’t getting what we deserve.  When shows like “The Real Housewives of Wherever” and a slew of other trashy, conflict-driven offerings continue to collect viewers is it any wonder we get the Theater of the Absurd from the people running to be the “leader” of our country?

I wish we had great debates about the needs of this country.  Instead Donald calls Ted and Marco names and they fire right back…because too many people enjoy it.  We wonder why we battle over #BlackLivesMatter and #CopsLivesMatter.  We wonder why there are so many people living on the streets and so many others living in poverty who need health care.  We wonder why there are so many problems with our country and then we see so many encouraging the junk we see on TV from people who want to “make America great again.”  Really?

Sadly, it seems love and concern for our fellow man is quickly evaporating while I want a nicer car, bigger house and more of everything grows.

In a conversation about political correctness yesterday, one wise gentleman made the comment that our failure to know each other, to enter into meaningful relationships with people we don’t know or don’t agree with is the cause for political correctness and spending time with each other is what will eliminate it.

We have a country that is deeply divided in so many area and this is what we get for folks who want to be President.  We may just be getting what we deserve.

Grace and peace.

What I Learned Soaking Up Politics

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Several years ago I was a politics fanatic.  I knew all the players the state and national level and got to spend time eating with and talking to some of them.  At one point, I even looked at a political run that was (fortunately) preempted by a friend who decided to run for the spot.

Here’s some things I learned:

Most of the people in politics care.  Most of them do, both Democrat and Republican.  Talking to them one-on-one, you gain an appreciation for what motivated them to start off in politics.

None of them are as bad or as good as people say.  I remember when Jimmy Carter was running for office and hearing a man say, “I’ll move to Mexico if he’s elected.”  Well, he’s still living in Texas and the world didn’t implode.  It’s the same with Bill and George and Barak and Hillary and Donald and Ted.  They are all swayed by big money.  They all forget the one-on-one conversations when the campaign is over.  They all do what the votes tell them to do.  None of them go in as statesman but politicians.

Democrats can spend money and don’t let a budget stop them.  Well, a bunch of Democrats do anyway.  When I lived in Fort Worth I met Charlie Geren, a Democrat representing that area.  He was a good guy and I thought had a pretty good fiscal policy.  I’d vote for him again.

Republicans spend too much time fretting over money.  This world has problems and this country has a s$#tload of money to help with those problems.  It should be the church doling it out but too many churches can barely make it as it is with people giving so little.  It’s a little bizarre when the Democrats look more Christian than the evangelical right.

Whoever wins won’t have a big impact on my life.  The super rich find lots of loopholes to avoid paying taxes.  The middle class will pay what they have to pay and just try to keep the kids in college and the house together.  The rest are too poor to do much about anything and keep getting poorer.  With a recent unemployment spell and 4 kids in college I don’t have any money so they can’t take much more from me.

All of them scare me!  There’s not a person in the race I would vote for right off the bat.  Bernie may be a little crazy.  I think Hillary is a bad person and has done some very bad things.  Trump is an egotistical lunatic.  I wouldn’t trust Ted Cruz as far as I could throw him.  He’s as big a whiner as Donald and I get the feeling he would sell his soul for the vote.  Rubio, Kasich and Carson all have me wondering but they still scare me.  I appreciate Kasich’s aim to run a clean campaign but he doesn’t say enough at times.  Carson is too quiet.  Rubio, well, he’s on the edge of brawling and I wonder what power will do to him.

It’s a crazy world out there and no one in politics to be in politics is going to change it.  One day a change will come.  One day.

Grace and peace.

Where Are We Going?

When one group rises up, other groups go on the defensive.  I think it has probably always been that way.

Black Lives Matter.  No doubt, it’s a good cause but it is a group that defines itself and by the first word of it’s name/motto.  All lives matter.  Black, white, brown and all the other colors matter.  A white guy just got shot in Saginaw, Texas because he was acting stupid around armed policemen.  His life mattered too.  All lives matter.  So, when Beyonce uses the Super Bowl to promote Black Lives Matter when she could be inclusive to all lives…well, it’s just sad to me.

Believe In Love.  The Super Bowl was held outside of San Francisco so what a great time to promote the gay-rights agenda.  However, one one group rises us, others will get defensive and it will happen here too.  Next year the Super Bowl is in Houston.  How will America feel if the organizers use that time to support gun ownership rights?  Will there be a bunch of folks on the field promoting open carry?

You get the idea.  Whenever we organize into a “group” we become inclusive to some degree if not completely.  I wonder if the day will ever come when we unite under the group called “One” and we all matter.  We will never all agree but can we unite under one banner?

I want to express my message just as much as the next group.  I want to share the good news that Christ died for all of our sins, that there is hope and grace and mercy for all.  I want to share how simple life can be when we live the way God intended and anything outside of that makes life harder, more complicated, burdened.  Of course I won’t get a Super Bowl spot to do that because most people want to live a different way.  It’s not about choice because I make the choice to try and live the way God has called me to live.  Yet, for some, they become defensive about my beliefs and get defensive.  The call me a homophobe.  They call be a racist.  They call me all sorts of things just because they don’t agree with my message.

I get it.  When the Christian message was first being shared, the leader was killed.  Today the killing is often done to character but it doesn’t change that much.  One person makes a statement for their group and the divisiveness begins.

All lives matter.  Love whens in the end.  Peace is possible.  All those things are very real and very possible but not all of them can come to be within the framework of my own agenda.  So, where are we going?  A growing world.  Growing problems.  Growing agendas.  Do we ever lay down our own banner and start walking together as one?

Grace and peace.