Saturday, April 21, 2012

My hope

I took a little road trip this past weekend with Julie and two of our kids.  We went up to see her parents for a quick visit.  They're both getting up there in age so we think it's important to see them when we can, which is not often enough. 

So we were on our way home when Brad Paisley came up on the shuffle of the MP3 player.  The song that came on was "When I Get Where I'm Going".  This song gets me every time.  As a Christian, I believe in an after life and I believe I will get to see those who have left this earth before me.  The part of the song that really hits me hard is when he sings "I'm gonna walk with my grandaddy and he'll match me step for step and I'll tell him how I missed him every minute since he left. Then I'll hug his neck." 

While both of my grandfathers died before I was born so I never knew them, my father died way too young.  I was 33 when he died.  My dad had a stroke about 6 years before he died that left him partially paralyzed on his left side.  This obviously affected his ability to walk.  He walked very slow after his stroke.  Whenever I hear this song at this point, I get choked up remembering how my dad struggled to walk and I think that when I see him again, he'll match me step for step.  And I'll tell him how I missed him every minute since he left and then I'll hug his neck. 

I don't dwell on the past, nor do I wallow in self pity at the loss of my parents and other loved ones.  In fact, I have never gone to any loved ones grave site.  My reason is because they are not there!  The grave only holds their bones.  What I do find is that I miss their company.  The conversations.  The friendship.  My dad and I had a very close relationship.  While he was my father and I was his son, we were also good friends.  It's those times like today when you remember how much you miss someone.  And so I take comfort in the thought of the future I believe in. 

That is my hope.  My hope of a new beginning.  That's what I cling to when I see all the evil in the world.  Like the first line of the last verse, "So much pain and so much darkness in this world we stumble through.  All these questions I can't answer, so much work to do." 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A little bit of yourself.

Relationships are a funny thing.  I was thinking about how we all intermingle with each other to create individual, unique relationships with one another.  It got me to thinking about all the different jobs I've had in my life (I've had a lot!) and all the people I've met in my nearly 47 years and how many relationships I've had/have.  I like making friends and having fun, but I'm the kind of person that trusts almost too easily, and this can be a bad thing. 

Some people are pretty reserved, slow to get into a relationship, some people seem to be a bit wary while others give almost no thought at all about jumping into a relationship.  Me, I may not jump right into a relationship, but I tend to be a "benefit of the doubt" type of person, thinking that the other person would not mean me any harm.  This has gotten me into trouble many times.  I find out too late that the other person was only looking out for themselves. 

The other day I said something to a friend that was meant to help, but my friend took it as insulting, thinking I was being patronizing.  This was the furthest thing from my mind.  I apologized for my comment and tried to explain, but my friend shut me off.  I really felt unjustly convicted of a crime I didn't commit.  I hate that feeling.  I would never purposely hurt anyone.  I like people to like me.  It's my personality!  If someone doesn't like me, I keep thinking, "Why don't they like me?  What can I do to change that?" 

The following morning we were able to talk things out and all is good, but it got me to thinking.  Why did it hurt me so much?  Seriously, I was miserable.  I've known some people that couldn't give two hoots about what others think of them.  Frankly I've never understood how those people do that.  It seems impossible to me.  So what's different? 

I think it boils down to what I mentioned earlier.  It's what we put into the relationship.  If you put yourself into a relationship, you are putting a piece of your character into that relationship.  I look at it in the way it hurts when you stub your toe.  You know how much that hurts and it seems to resonate pain throughout your whole body?  Why?  It's only your little toe!  Much like that, but on the emotional side, you have a part of yourself in that relationship and when it gets struck, it stings.  And it seems, the more you put in, the more it can hurt when it goes wrong. Some people never put much of themselves in while others jump in yelling "CANNONBALL!!!".  It's us cannonballers that are the most susceptible. 

It seems the more you care, the more you give of yourself and the more at risk you are for pain.  But on the flip side, you are much more apt to have a very rewarding friendship.  That's why I treasure long relationships, because there is so much more of me in there!  That may seem self centered, but it's not.  It's the amount of me I'm willing to expose, to engulf in this relationship. 

I believe that God has blessed me with an innate ability to "get along" with people.  If you had to classify me, I would be the proverbial "people person".  There have been times I've questioned whether this is a blessing or a curse, but I know better.  I try to leave a mark wherever I go.  If I can leave a smile on someones face, it makes me happy.  Trying to leave a bit of happiness.  A little bit of myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It ain't easy...

Ugh.  That's what's on my mind right now.  Mainly because I have a lot on my heart and mind and what's sitting there is a touchy subject.  So how do I breach this subject?  To anyone reading this, take warning.  This is not an easy note for me to write and may cause offense to those of differing views.  It is downright painful to me, but I see many in the world going to hell and frankly, it scares me.

I read an article where Pastor Rick Warren was interviewed recently and the subject matter was same sex marriage.  Therein lies the touchy subject.  This subject leads to a deeper touchy subject, that being modern Christianity in general.

I'm not here to judge anyone, but as I interpret what I understand as the truth of God's word, there are many "Christians" out there not living a Christian life.  So here is my dilemma.  I believe God's word where it says in Matthew 18:15 that if your brother sins, bring it to their attention so that they will turn from it.  The problem is that in verse 17, it says that if they refuse to listen, treat them as you would a non-Christian.  I read that as losing friends.  It's a tough sell, but I think God was also trying to make a point.  Sin is serious.  Serious enough to warrant losing a friend over.

At the same time, God wants us to be Gentle as Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:24-25.  We are to be kind to everyone, not resentful.  Verse 25 states that "opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth..."

This has been on my mind for some time now.  Struggling with the right words to say.  It's especially difficult when it is someone close to you.  Someone you love dearly that you see walking down the wrong path and you know that saying the wrong thing can cause a divide not easily mended.

I struggle for words then I read 2 Timothy 4:1-5.  "1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry"

We as Christians are to "Preach the Word, correct, rebuke and encourage" and we are to do it with great patience and careful instructions.  I believe Paul wrote it this way to say "Don't torque people off".  So how do I tell the ones I love that they need to stop sinning without losing a relationship with them?  At the same time, Paul tells us part of the problem.  They are allowing themselves to be convinced that what they are doing is "OK", finding someone out there to condone their sinful behavior.  All the while, someone like me gets painted as judging.  I guess that puts me in the same category as Rick Warren.  Unpopular.

I have had a number of friends that get in a relationship and start living with their friend.  Not married and living together in my eyes is a sin.  I am not judging anyone, but from what I've read in God's word, sex is for after marriage.  So seeing as how where there's smoke, there's fire, I would assume people living together are also having sex. This falls into the category of gay marriage.  God's design is for a man to leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, to become one.   

I've seen many people claiming to be Christian and at the same time promoting homosexuality and gay marriage.  God called homosexuality detestable in Leviticus 18:22.  In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us about God's wrath, stating that God gave them (Sinful Humanity) over to shameful lusts. It says that "even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."  I read this to say that it's wrong and a sin. 

God said in Hosea 4 that His people "perish for their lack of knowledge".  I find that a profound statement.  I read that to mean that people die because they didn't know better, or because they refused to learn.  All through the Bible you will find God telling His people to remember, knowing how easily we would forget Him.  If you've ever studied the Old Testament, you will begin to see how quickly His people forgot what He did for them.  How He has patience with us I will never understand.

So I pray.  Asking God for wisdom and guidance and all the while, it seems all I hear is that I need to stand my ground.  To stand up for what I believe is right.  And at the risk of losing a friend, or alienating a family member, I need to do what's right.  I don't claim to have all the answers.  That's never been my point, but I would feel remiss if I didn't say something.

I know someday I will stand before God in judgment and I need to know that I did what I thought was right in His eyes.  When He asks me what I did with my life, I want to be able to answer Him that I did what I knew how.  And when He asks me where my children are, I want to be able to tell Him, "following You".

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Good Old Days

I have always been a fan of radio.  Since I can remember, I was fascinated with radio.  Not just your normal everyday music station either.  Oh, I love music and listen to it daily, but other types.  I would listen to my dad's shortwave radio, trying to tune in far off stations from around the world when I was merely 9 or 10.  I would try to find a station far away that was speaking English to see just how far away they were.  I got really excited when I would hear stations in Europe or Asia.  I was also a fan of radio theater.

I was introduced to radio theater when I was pretty young, listening to WCCO radio late on Saturday night and they would play the CBS Radio Mystery Theater.  The series ran from 1974 to 1982.  I suppose it was around 1977 or 78 when I found this genre.  If there was a reason for me to go to bed early on a Saturday night, this was it!  I could lay in bed and listen to the theater.  I always enjoyed it while I drifted off to sleep.

To this very day I enjoy listening to the radio.  Still as fascinated as I was back then to hear a station thousands of miles away coming in like it's right next door.  I also still enjoy radio theater.  It is a little harder to come by nowadays though.  Not enough visual stimuli for the modern age to not have 3D, much less no pictures at all!  So how do I feed that need for the stimuli I crave?  I found that the Internet is awash with what is called Old Time Radio (OTR).  So much so that I bought an "Internet Radio" to tune it in!  The Internet radio basically just uses your wifi and has a basic search engine to find Internet radio stations.

One thing that is kind of weird and fascinating all at the same time is that many of the stations playing the OTR programs will play them unedited.  This means that they play the commercials as well.  Most of the commercials are for soap, or cigarettes, or some other odd item, usually for the lone sponsor of the show.  You can probably guess what the Campbell Soup Theater program had for commercials.  It's funny how advertising has changed over the last 75 years.

I was sitting here listening to an old Red Skelton radio program tonight and it got me thinking.  Is today's generation "missing out", or am I just being old fashioned?  I hope we're not losing the ability to fantasize, needing constant visual stimuli.  It seems that every movie coming out today is in 3D.  What about story lines?  What about plots?  What about a screen presence carrying the scene?  Do we need the 3D and computer imaging?  Could you improve on many of the movies of old by 3D or computer imaging? 

We used to be entertained by simple things.  Now it seems we are only satisfied with awesome special effects rather than a good story line. 

I guess I'm getting old.  It's just that I feel I'm too young to long for the Good Old Days...