Monday, September 22, 2008

Drying Out

The more I experience self awareness and observe people the more I am convinced we live in a desert. I don’t mean a global warming issue, weather patterns, or melting ice caps, but a society that is drying up. The desert is a dry baron land that life is reduced to pure survival. Politicians running office shout the theme of change but revert to the same method of politics. Advertising bombards us with messages that we need products, services, and goods that make us fill better about ourselves. Economics experts give us not so beautiful scenery for the future. We are drying up on life, creativity, adventure, and hope. So where is God?

The desert has always provided a vital setting though out the Bible. The Israelites wondered in the desert before God brought them into the promise land. Jesus was taken to the desert by the Holy Spirit in order to be tempted by Satan. In the desert everyone is exposed, unprotected, and vulnerable. It is not a pleasant place to be. It causes every individual to be tested, battered, and pushed to the limit. Being in the desert exposes our true character and personality to all around us. While we are in the desert, we desperately need to feel and see the tangible evidence that God is with us. We need the reassurance that God has not forgotten about us. The Israelites were thirsty, complained to Moses, then to God. The desperately wanted the commodity of water to replace their thirsty. The commodity when delivered seems to replace their need for the presences of God. What commodities do we replace for the need of Gods presences in our lives? In our advertising it is the "commodity" that becomes the substitute for God and provides the answer, whether it is the answer to loneliness, depression, popularity, joy well being etc. Maybe we would not be drying out if we separated the commodity for the company of Christ in our lives. Christ tells us that when we drink from His water, our thirst is forever eliminated, and we will realize exactly the content of our character. That’s something to think about.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Forgetful Memory

I have come to the realization that I have a forgetful memory. It is not that uncommon really. I can recall in great detail experiences, moments, and situations that I have lived through in my life. I seem to forget the impact or the emotional impact on each event. It seems time erases memories from us. My memories of my younger athleticism do not perhaps match the reality of the impact of the player I was on the court. My band was almost certainly not as well-known as I want to remember. But that is fine. We as a society do the same. When we as a nation paused last week to remember the tragic events of 9-11, we quickly forget the outpouring of patriotism, unity, compassion, and a need to serve others. Same can be said of other such tragic events as the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, and Katrina. As time passes we tend to misplace our focus and energy.

Sometimes we are tempted to live in the past and think that those good old days were better than anything that is going on now or anything that might come in the future. We tend to falsify the past. Not intentionally, but because of our human psyche. The Israelites had the same problem. When faced with the difficulty of passing through the desert after being freed they forgot what it was like to be in bondage. They even complained to God that they were better off. They boasted to God that they had more food and better food while being slaves. This was not true. But God listened to their pleas and granted them the food they requested. It is a reminder that God’s goodness, compassion, and ability to provide for us transcend in spite of our memory defects. We like to cling to what is familiar, comfortable, and predictable but that does not prepare us for the future. The promise land was only a promise, they had not seen, touched, or inhabited the land God was to give them. They were focused on what had been compared to what could be but did not pay attention to God’s activity in the now. Caught between two destinations, one known the other unknown, they didn’t take pleasure in God’s presence during the journey. While we find ourselves between destinations let us not neglect God in our midst. That is something we must not forget.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Father's Black Book

When my father passed away the hardest thing to do was to go through his keepsakes. Looking at the things that he had held on to and collected all his seventy two years of life, seemed almost like an intrusion. One of the things I found was his little black book. It was not full of old girlfriends but was filled with quick notes, sayings, and lists. He kept it when he was a young boy serving on the USS Franklin during WWII. His ship was attacked off the coast of Japan, which lead to the greatest fatality in naval history. While I can not imagine what he witnessed, felt, and lived through, this book gave me a clue. In the book was a list. One was titled: My Buddy List: which was a list of men’s names. Not one looked familiar to me. I assumed these were men my father battled for their life with, who were brave, courageous, and responded to each other in that horrific time. Then there was another list that read. My S#@T List: here was another list of men’s name that also was not familiar. This list I assumed were men who did not fall into my father’s good graces. I was happy that there were more names on the first list than the second.

But why did he keep a list? Maybe in the time of crisis, he wanted to record in a hasty way those who acted bravely so he could show his gratitude later or just recorded it in case he did not survive. He wanted to leave something that would record their acts of kindness.

In a way we keep a conscious list in our minds. We can recall with freshness everyone in our lives that have touched us, made us better, showed us kindness, and invested in our lives. Those people who really showed Christ love to us. We might not have known at the time, but they positively influenced us for a lifetime. Then we have another list, those people who have angered us, messed us over, did us wrong. We can quickly recall every one who has hurt us, caused us pain, or embarrassed us. We hold on tightly to both.

Jesus tells us that we are to not keep track of the times we are to forgive someone. He touches on the fact that our souls are cleansed when we forgive. It is not about the other person's well being but ours. Are you willing to forgive those of your past? See what Jesus tells us about the two lists. When you meet someone in crisis, which list will your name be on? Don’t wait until tomorrow to forgive or act to help someone in need. Forgiveness makes us whole and complete people as we are no longer bond by anger. Make a difference in someone’s life. I’m glad our lord does not keep such lists.

Go make a positive influence on someone’s life.