Saturday, December 13, 2014

Charlie Brown - On Perseverance

I grew up in an ancient time called the 1970’s, when America was a land of mystery and confusion.  Fresh off the end of the War That Shall Not Be Named and deep into Nixon’s throat, there was little to be excited about or hopeful for in the Land of the Free.  

Dodge gave us the Dart and my dad coasted the truck as much as possible in order to avoid the lines at the pump.  Throw Jimmy Carter into the mix and it’s not a far stretch to imagine America as a dystopian wasteland.  It was worse than that actually – there were bell-bottoms. 

In 1972, I was 8 years old.  I wasted time watching Hee-Haw reruns and despairing over Redskin losses (what goes around…).  There was a small saving grace: it usually came in the form of the Sunday funnies.  Most notably the colored funnies, and especially catching up with the round-headed kid – good ‘ol Charlie Brown.  Having sprung for the Weekly Reader book club offers of a wide variety of Peanuts paperback classics, I knew the whole gang and all their proclivities.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Teach Me

Is. 1:17 Learn to do good

Being good is not natural.  The way of goodness is not my inclination.  Once we perhaps were all good.  But upon the Fall, our best goodness was not good enough.  Sin is now my long constant companion.  I can feel its weight and know its face.  As I drift away from Christ in the busyness of my days, its face becomes clearer.  But we can learn to do good.  It is a conscious act.  We can make good things happen.  Yes - they may remain tainted with sin and bear the dirt marks of pride.  But the paint-by-numbers art is still cherished by the Father.

Being in the image of God carries with it a desire for justice.  To see justice, rebuke the oppressor - defend the fatherless and plead for the widow.  Is that how we learn?  God grant me the your eyes to see injustice and the courage to confront it.  God grant me the heart to drive out sin and cleanse my spirit.  God teach me and let me learn.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's a dangerous business...

After considerably longer than it should have taken, I am down to reading aloud the final two chapters of the Lord of the Rings to my daughter, Sarah.  We began our journey well over a year ago and Tom Bombadil and Ring Wraiths are distant memories.  All that remains is taking care of business in the Shire and then goodbyes on the shore.  I am certain tears will ensue as we approach the end – as they did when I finished reading to my son.  They will be mine.

I don’t know why I buy in so much.  I read the books first in high school – now more than thirty years past.  As an awkward and insecure young man, there was something in the story that held sway against a seemingly dead-end future.  More than just an adventure, the books drew me into a world that where the lines were cleanly cut.  In our fallen world, we struggle with decisions, not knowing what the ‘right’ thing to do is.  We get caught up in keeping up appearances.  We set aside higher ideals for the mundane – often because we’re just worn out at the end of the day. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hip Check

This is the fourth night in a row that I have spent sleeping on a hospital sofa just a few feet from my mom's bed.  Last Thursday I picked her up at 6 AM and by 11 AM, she had a new hip joint installed.  After 80 years and 4 months, the cartilage was shot.  Countless articulations of the joint had eventually created a condition that was simply no longer tenable.  She had been walking hunched over for months and we'd all held our collective breath waiting for the fall and subsequent broken bone.  Thankfully, we've avoided that.

Today she tooled around the hall test driving the new connection.  That is pretty miraculous.  This little hospital on the side of the hill in Marion does a couple of these operations each week.  Extrapolating this across the country would have to tally to thousands each week.  Like many procedures now, its practically a drive-thru operation. 

The thing is that I can't shake the whole industrial approach to medicine.  Its not that I am not grateful for the advancements - I am.  And the staff here has been excellent.  But it comes down to the numbers.  Vital signs, drip rates, blood tests, schedules, etc. all lead toward mobilizing bodies toward self-support.  And I am sure there are loads of statistics that drive care and procedures.  And don't even get me started on the lawyers. 

I guess I am weary of our misplaced faith.  Its a fine line I know.  And I am trying to take care in selecting words (recognizing that I'm tired and need to tread cautiously).  But if God is sovereign - which I believe He is, then I need to see Him in this.  He has allowed our illnesses.  He weaves our sores and cancers into a tapestry of suffering that glorifies Him - or can if we will let it.  The seeds of death are planted deep within us and will in time blossom.  I wish I was bolder in a faith that set God in the proper place - that of the center.  Jesus healed.  Jesus touched and spoke and raised up.  He hasn't stopped doing it.  But when I pick up the phone and call for an appointment before I raise up a single prayer - well, then what does that say of my faith? 

One day, not long from now, it will be my turn.  I hope that when I get the call with the bad news that my first thought is one of joy.  Joy that Christ is leading me.  Joy that there need not be any fear.  Joy that any suffering I will face will bring me nearer to Jesus in a mystical way.  Beyond understanding.  Until then, may God bless the suffering.  May He guide the surgeons hand.  And may I never doubt His grace.

Friday, January 17, 2014


I recall a wonderful story from my youth concerning a British military school for young men.  As it goes, there was a bit of a coup in the ranks  - and the cadets had actually taken control of the buildings.  [Bear with me.  I know that sounds implausible, but for the moment, let's roll with it].  Anyway, the cadets pretty well had secured the perimeter and were calling all the shots.  Needless to say, the (former) administration and some more-than-interested parents were ready to storm the gates.  One of the cadet's father was among a group that was selected to meet with the young men and negotiate a resolution. 

The meeting was set to take place within the walls of the school.  The emissaries were escorted into the room and were set to lay down the law in no uncertain terms.  When the young men entered the room, the father recognized his son, rose and walked across the room.  Upon striding up to his son, he looked into his eyes, rested a hand on his shoulder and issued a one word directive - 'Steady'. No condemnation, no judgment.  Just a reminder to remember who you are, what you can do, what you cannot.