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Slapped Silly for Our Own Good

After finishing the modern equivalent of being a hunter-gatherer who had returned from a dangerous foray into the wild to secure food (yep, went to Wal-Mart & Sam’s), I was in our kitchen basking in the glow of appreciation while Frances and I were putting away the “kill.”

I know, I know, many of you guys are thinking “Oh if I could only be brave enough, and strong enough to do something like that!”  May I say (ahem!) I didn’t do anything any red-blooded, living and healthy husband anywhere wouldn’t also do if they were told to go get food – or else!

So there I was, fully appreciating my skills as a modern day hunter-gatherer.  I was oh, so carefully putting away my extra-large box of Lucky Charms (this is a necessary part of the “Real Men Eat Lucky Charms” diet).  I vaguely remember looking into the eyes of my adoring and appreciative wife, then, bending down to retrieve my box of Animal Crackers (you know, the ones in the box that looks like an animal cage) and while I was about to say something pithy and wise to my wife, my whole world suddenly came completely unhinged!

For one brief moment, I thought perhaps I had a stroke, or at least some kind of cerebral infarction!  I remember hearing and feeling the air pressure change right before my world exploded into a cacophony of sound and light!  As I picked myself up off the floor, struggling to remember what day it was or if I knew my phone number, Frances informed me there was a mosquito on my cheek and knowing my aversion to bugs and insects, she killed it.

Of course, she had to slap me silly in order to rid the world of this blood-sucking threat!  Struggling to see the crumpled remains of this microscopic menace, I remember her telling me how thankful I should be that she loved me so much to spare me the agony of the beast’s vicious bite.

In the days since my recovery from this “near death” experience (Hey!  This is my story and I’m sticking to it!) I recalled a very important principle in this.  For anyone other than my wife to have done this to me (yes of course, she has cart blanche and can pretty much get away with anything because I adore her), this would have caused a fight and a big one!  What enabled my understanding of my wife’s motives is the relationship I have with her; our relationship allows us to care for one another—even when that care can be, uh . .  er . . . “painful” at times!

God tells us in His Word, “The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son He receives.”  There are many times in our lives when God punishes us not only because we are doing something we should not be doing, but also because what we are doing will cause us harm.  We know the circumstances we face are from God through our experience with Him and the presence of God’s Spirit which indwells every believer who knows Christ as their Savior!

What motivates God’s discipline is His love for us.  Often when God disciplines us, we might think He has overreacted and perhaps been heavy handed in our discipline.  “It really wasn’t that big an issue, right?”  Often it isn’t that God was heavy handed but we think far too little of the travesty of the sin we have committed.  We want to “laugh it off” as some small mistake; but we habitually overlook the price He paid for our sin.  We place great value on cars which decrease in value, on homes which can burn or be destroyed in a storm, but we overlook the cost associated with the removal of our sin so we might have a relationship with the One who created everything, God Himself died – for us and in our place—when Jesus Christ died on the Cross!

We can do unbelievable damage to ourselves: we can drink ourselves to death, overdose on drugs, catch untold diseases by having sexual relationships outside of marriage and we can be hurt physically and emotionally.  We must remember it isn’t the degree of the sin that is evil; it is the fact we have sinned at all!  Whether it is a small lie, a stray thought or an uncontrolled action – any and all of these will keep us away from God!  If it were not for Christ’s death, we could never experience the forgiveness which gives healing and life.

Here’s a bizarre thought: we should want discipline.  No, no, I do not want to experience the life-saving efforts of my lovely wife anytime soon, but I do desire a relationship with her.  Discipline is not always corrective; it is sometimes willfully taken for future ability.  Runners discipline themselves through exercise in order they might compete and win.  God disciplines us—sometimes through allowing us to “reap” whatever we have “sown”—to correct us and to demonstrate we are His.

It would be easy to desire to simply avoid all pain and inconvenience.  Yet as desirable as having “no pain” would be, it loses its luster if it means I no longer know I have a relationship.

Being slapped silly every now and then isn’t so bad now is it?

Rolling a Cat

{Think Stallone's voice} "Hair is the disease; meet the cure" (a la Judge Dredd)

“Dogs have owners; cats have staff” seems to be the defining phrase of my world these days!

 

Now those of you who are familiar with cats are also acquainted with cat hair.  One of the unpleasant experiences of being “owned” by a cat is the ever present challenge of corralling the hair cats seemingly shed at will.  If they choose to do so, they can brush up against your leg as you are preparing to leave for a meeting and deposit a few metric tons of follicle debris on your clothes.

 

Enter the necessity of the “sticky rollers.”  What has prompted this need is the propensity of these furry, follicle-d terrorists to deposit hair on clothing, bedding and furniture.  Now the guy who invented these “sticky rollers” is laughing all the way to the bank—in reality they are nothing more than masking tape on a roll with the adhesive side out.  For the inventor’s keen insight—not to mention his financial acumen—those in need happily pay a premium of four to five times the actual value of masking tape!

 

A few weeks back, I was busily removing cat hair from the sofa when one of these pelted jihadists jumped up on the sofa to see what I was doing.  As he was undoing all of the work I was trying to accomplish and purring in the meantime (I also believe the purring sound is nothing more than the whirring of an internal hair ejector), I thought, “Why not just address the source of my difficulties?”  Grabbing the unsuspecting furry militant, I began to sticky roll the cat!  Not only did I remove an immense amount of hair directly at the source, the cat actually liked it!

 

As people, we often find ourselves in a similar quandary: we are constantly addressing the results and symptoms of our problems—our sins, but we rarely going to the source and seek to attend to the root cause of the “symptoms.”  If we are constantly thinking “junk” thoughts, saying the wrong things or doing what we should not, these are just symptoms of the real problem.  We cannot merely put a “band aid” on a symptom!  We must fix the cause of the problems and change who we are.

 

The teaching of Jesus makes it clear it is what comes out of us which defiles us and causes sinful behavior.  While a new coat of paint will make a wall look great, if it is infested with termites, it is still rotten.  This is what motivated Jesus to call the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” in Matthew 23—they looked good on the outside, but inside they were filthy with sin!  They were always concerned with symptoms, but would never address the causes.

 

In our personal lives, the greatest symptom often occurring is the problem with what we say.  Too often we choose to overlook those who are constantly negative, always complaining and critical or those who claim to be Christians yet lack any identifying Christian characteristics.  If someone is always cranky, irritating, negative and just a phenomenal “pain,” this just might be who they truly are.  If being “nice” is the exception, then perhaps being unpleasant is who they actually are!

 

In Romans 14 the Apostle Paul states, “each of us will give an account of himself to God.”  When we stand before Christ, we will not be able to give the excuse, “Well, I wasn’t aware,” or “I never really thought it through,” or “I was having a bad day!”  God has given us leaders and people who are responsible for our spiritual well-being.  The writer of Hebrews informs us to “Obey your leaders . . . [they are] those who will give an account [of you].”  At that moment when we are before Christ, we will be without excuse: He has given us spiritual leaders (in the form of pastors and church leadership) and has placed His Spirit within every believer who is truly His.

 

I know, I know, this is not an overly acceptable position in our society!  Yet I ask for some leeway here; while it may sound cool to think we are the “king of our domain,” and we relish the idea of “going it alone,” are we also willing to be cut off from sound advice and counsel?

 

Our society bristles at the thought of having to answer to another.  Yet we live in a tough world.  Even some of those who rebelled the most in the 1960’s have sung, “people who need people are the most wonderful people in the world.”  Granted, this was sung from the perspective of the one who needs “to be needed,” it yet speaks volumes regarding the independent attitude of our culture today.

 

It is not weakness to need others.  It is not vanity to seek.  There exists for those who seek and those who recognize their need a God who is not merely willing to respond, but rather, He has already responded and He waits on us.

 

Allow me to caution those of you who are more “literal minded”: it would be unwise to enter our churches and workplaces carrying sticky rollers so we might “sticky roll” those offending persons who live unkempt and offending lives!  Granted, it would be both enjoyable and funny, but I can guarantee it would not be well received!

 

Rolling a cat is workable and even fun.  If we want to roll a person, we have to start with ourselves!

New Year’s Resolutions

Well, Christmas is now officially over.  Some of you are trying to decide whether or not those decorations on the outside of the house really need to be taken down or if you will just rationalize keeping them there gives you a head start on next Christmas!

Most of us are not overly concerned about Dickens’ “ghosts of Christmases past”—instead some of us must deal with the “waist and hips of this past Christmas!”  That’s right sports fans!  The really cool rack on which you hang your shirts and place those laundry baskets actually has another use: the dictionary refers to it as “a treadmill.”  Scientific study and observation indicates those who use a treadmill for its intended purpose will actually reduce those ever-growing waists and hips received during this past holiday season!

New Year’s resolutions invariably require a certain amount of self-discipline.  In fact, the word “resolution” comes from the same Latin base as “resolute”—“resolute” means, “having or characterized by determination.”  We easily understand this in our culture today.  Those who are resolute in their convictions, those who are not easily moved about by circumstances, are characterized by our society as being firm, strong, or negatively, stubborn; it really depends on who is doing the analysis.

Yet there is something more here.  The Latin root also communicates something much more precise.  The root resolvere has the meaning “to loosen up” since it has at its root the word solvere where we get our English word “solvent.”  In other words, to be truly resolute we must be able to grasp the difference between what we need to loosen and what must remain unmoved.

So how do we make these choices—what to keep and what to lose?  It is not wise for us to trust either our feelings or our culture either.  In some cultures it was considered appropriate to love one’s neighbor, yet in others, it is perfectly fine to eat him—how one feels determines whether one’s neighbors is either well-loved or well done!

There are accepted norms stretching across all cultures and societies.  While there are individuals psychologists may refer to as “sociopaths” or “psychopaths”—those highly aggressive and violent who have no trace of guilt or empathy—no culture or society can survive under similar conditions.

All believe murder is wrong, if not evil.  All cultures place a high value and importance on the marital relationship, though many do not understand the damage done to the institution and family by redefining it.

The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans contends when those “who do not have the law [a moral understanding], instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law.  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts.”  Paul is here referring to what many unbelieving people refer to as morality.

If “those who do not have the Law” (those who are not in a relationship with God as Father through Christ) have a conscience, what excuse do we have, who claim a relationship with God and Christ, when we do not follow His commands?  Too many Christians (and those who claim to be Christians) forget it is not those following the tenets of Buddhism, Islam, New Age or even those claiming to be atheists who give Christianity a bad name!

Those claiming to be Christians do this to themselves.

G. K. Chesterton observed, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”  Peter had a similar experience with Jesus.  After witnessing the miracle of the fish catch when they obeyed the command of Jesus, “he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!’”  If you look closely at this passage, you will see Peter’s realization occurred after he obeyed and witnessed the miracle of his obedience and Christ’s commands.

All too often, we rob ourselves of seeing Christ’s miracles in our lives; we lack certainty and resolve.  We fail to believe and we fail to loosen ourselves and the hold of this world on us.  David’s cry in Psalm 51 for the Lord to create a clean heart in him occurred after he felt the Spirit’s conviction of sin.  It wasn’t the flu, it wasn’t an anxiety attack.  David felt real, no-kidding conviction and recognized it for what it was.  If we desire this same ability, we must discipline ourselves to pay attention to the Spirit when He convicts us and speaks to us about what we are thinking, doing and believing.

It may be an epiphany to realize that your laundry organizer is really a treadmill.  It is even more important to be able to distinguish the conviction of sin God’s Spirit brings from any other excuse we find convenient.

So, who wants to loosen a New Year?

 

Hairballs in Heaven?

Lily, Murphy & Fritz

My wife and I do not have children: we have cats.

Actually, Frances and I are the permanent staff for our cats.  As far as jobs go, this one is enjoyable.  That is, if you think cleaning up the remains of something unrecognizable on the floor – left by “The Phantom Puker” – as something considered “enjoyable.”  Overall, the cats sit on our lap, desire to be held when they choose, eat food we buy and prepare, and if we are particularly deserving, they will gladly allow us to collect metric tons of shed hair on our clothing, bedding and furniture.

Owning a cat is not for the faint at heart.  You have to be a very self-confident and self-assured person to love a cat.  Your cat will judge your worthiness like an art collector judges a fine painting.  It is only after much study, observation and internal debate that an art collector will be motivated to buy a painting or sculpture.

A cat will do the same.  He will look deeply into your soul.  He will drink deeply from his water dish – or your cup.  He will then inspect the litter boxes and determine if his toys still have any amusement left in them.  Then if the positive values outweigh your personal idiosyncrasies, you will be counted as worthy to be shed upon.

It is difficult to imagine how deeply someone can love an animal with a brain the size of a meatball but with a personality encompassing the whole house.  December 2011 was a difficult month.  We had to put our oldest female Siamese, Lily, to sleep.  Lily would have been sixteen years old in August of 2012 which is a considerable age for a cat.

Death, in any form, is never easy.  We find ourselves yearning for another moment, for different circumstances or simply a desire for life to continue.  Death deprives us of the one thing we seem to love and loathe with equal parts: time.  Yet even with all of the difficulties of life, even with the degeneration brought on by time, we cannot ever convince ourselves death is “good.”

The hardest part of saying goodbye to a pet is the Bible makes no clear reference to where our pets go when they die.  There are many lessons God has taught me as I have watched my pets die over the years.  I have thought about how God has prepared a place for those who know His Son as their Lord and Savior – and by “know,” I mean a real, living, personal experience which changes your life.  If you really “know” something or someone, it will change how you live.  Trust me; Lily changed how we lived our lives.

In the last book of the Bible, Jesus returns to this earth on a white horse to set up His kingdom.  From this, I know there are horses in God’s kingdom.  God in His wisdom also allowed John to use the symbolism of animals throughout his descriptions of Christ’s kingdom.  God chose to use animals as part of the sacrificial system—the innocent dying for the guilty.  Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians tells us all of creation has been subjected to tribulation and difficulty because of human rebellion and sin.  I believe if the animal kingdom has played such a vital part in God’s creative order, it is reasonable to believe it will also occupy a place in God’s eternal kingdom as well!

So will I see my cat in Heaven?  I certainly hope so.  Is this a theological stretch?  You bet it is.  However, I believe since God chose to maintain fellowship with man through the shed blood of “innocent” animals, this sacrifice on their part is also valued by God.  God also chose to save the animal kingdom through the salvation provided by the Ark to Noah and his family.  Is this “proof” I will see my cat in Heaven?

Nope.

It just is a comfort to know God loves animals as much and more than we do.

Freedom to Choose

The Goal is in Sight!Several years ago, I was out running errands after some early morning meetings.  It was about 11:30AM and I could tell that my blood sugar (I am diabetic—“glucose”) were “in the tank.”  I decided to make a quick decision to eat at McDonald’s while I could still function and pass as “normal.”

I stepped into Micky Dees at about a quarter till twelve.  The counter had already filled up several people deep, so I made the choice to get in line behind this rather kind-looking grandmother with a child of about five years old.  My reason for choosing to get in line with her was simple – if not simplistic: my blood sugar was low and screaming to the floor.  She did not look like someone who would take a long time making a decision.  I thought I was safe and soon, life-giving food would be in my mouth so I could once again prove I had an IQ higher than my Pet Rock.

I was wrong—really, very, sadly, wrong.

As I stood behind “Grandma,” I heard those words no adult on some kind of schedule ever wants to hear.  She bent down to “Billy” and asked, “So what do you want Grandma to get you today?”

My inner child (and every other voice in my head) began to scream an anguished “noooooo!”

She was going to give a five-year-old a choice?

At McDonald’s?

Today?

I was desperately trying to cling to lucidity since I could hear my blood sugar and sanity screaming to the ground like some kind of evil dive-bomber.  All I wanted was a Quarter Pounder with cheese (I would scrape off the onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard – I like mine “plain” but no time for niceties), fries, an apple pie (hey, you get the munchies when your blood sugar gets this low) and a drink.  Now the Grandmother who I thought was so sweet (and decisive) is playing twenty questions with a five-year-old!

Luckily, I was able to appear calm, collected and sane on the outside, but inside I was having a major apoplectic fit.  After what seemed to be an eternity, Junior made up his mind.  Trying to maintain my equilibrium, I stepped to the counter as the nice lady asked me what I wanted.

Too late, Jimmy-boy!

My blood sugar was so low, I forgot what I wanted!  I ended up with a Filet-O-Fish, fries, a soda, a huge headache and probably five people behind me wondering if the local Mental Hospital had early-released another one of their patients!

Our ability to make choices is a powerful and wonderful freedom.  As we study Scripture, we come to understand only those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ actually have the freedom to choose.  In 1 Peter we who are a “chosen race” were also called “out of darkness into His [Christ’s] marvelous light.”  We were stumbling around in the dark before Christ brought us into the light.  In Ephesians Paul tells us before Jesus Christ brought us to Him we were spiritually dead; unable to make any choices because, well, dead people don’t make many choices.

If a choice is truly great, then where is its freedom?  Paul wrote to the Roman Christians those who refuse to recognize God – and Paul states the evidence of God’s existence is everywhere in Creation – God removes from them the ability to “choose” Him when they are again in the presence of the Gospel message.  They refuse the obvious evidence of God’s existence and then God will “deliver them over in the cravings of their hearts.”  There is one thing always worse than not getting what you want: it is getting it.

Paul reveals in 2 Thessalonians there will come a time when those who have refused God’s offer of salvation – God’s offer to give people their only “real” choice – will no longer have a choice.  Paul tells his readers “lawlessness is already at work” in this world, but the time will come when “the one now restraining [the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives]” will be taken “out of the way.” When this occurs, those who have refused the offer of salvation will lose their ability to choose!  They “will believe what is false” because God will send “them a strong delusion.”

Spooky stuff – downright frightening actually – but all of this highlights the power and importance of the choice God gives us now.  God is a God of second chances, we see this demonstrated over and again in the Bible and in life.  Many people can testify to the fact they have received “second chances” and the ability to “choose again.”

The ability to choose is a great freedom.  Unfortunately, we rarely recognize something as a “freedom” until it’s gone.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

 

In the spring of 1942, a painter named Edward Hopper created a painting, which he entitled Nighthawks.  It depicts a counter waiter dressed in a white uniform behind a triangular bar in a diner, a man in a suit and hat with his back to the observer, and a younger couple to the left of that man.  The painting is a picture of lonely emptiness, which was exactly what Hopper was trying to capture.  It was the mood of the country immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

The most recent incarnation of this painting is Gottfried Helnwein’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams.  In this painting, the characters of Hopper’s are replaced with Elvis Presley as the bartender, Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart as the couple, and James Dean, whose back is no longer toward the viewer but is turned and taking his characteristically “cool” stance while seated.  Everyone in Helnwein’s work is striking a pose most recognizable for those stars, yet the message is the same: lonely emptiness.

 

Now Helnwein is one seriously messed up mind.  Yet even if you were to acknowledge this about him, he does possess a talent to communicate emotion in his works.  The overwhelming conclusion you would get viewing any of his “art” is humanity lives in a world of violence, loneliness, emptiness and has no lasting meaning.  In Boulevard of Broken Dreams he communicates they all died senseless deaths.  Pressley died from complications due to extended use and abuse of alcohol and drugs; Marilyn died from an apparent drug overdose; Bogart’s death was attributed to alcohol abuse and James Dean died in a tragic auto accident.  All were avoidable, all wasted life and talent, all were meaningless.

 

The Apostle Paul speaks prophetically about our culture in his opening chapters of Romans.  There Paul describes a culture rejecting God and His commands but instead has chosen to worship the creation of God rather than the God of creation.  Paul writes in Romans 1 the unrighteousness of those who are enemies of God suppresses the very truth of God, the very thing offering them the life and meaning they seek.  Since their activities are not right, or are unrighteous, they are unable to see the truth God has placed about Himself in all of creation.

 

Paul’s conclusion is very unpleasant for those who refuse to come to God through submitting to what Jesus Christ has done for them: Paul writes, “As a result, they are without excuse.”  Those who claim Christ and Christianity is nothing more than a recycled and repackaged psychological rational to “deal” with life, have made their choice.  These people know God, they have seen His wonders in this world and in the lives of people, but they have refused to glorify “Him as God or show gratitude.”  Paul’s thought continues: “Instead their thinking became nonsense . . . Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of . . . God for . . . man, birds, four-footed animals and reptiles.”  Today, we have chosen to substitute choice, materialism and the environment and therefore claim a greater sophistication over those silly ancients who worshipped the “idols” Paul describes.

 

Yet all of this is merely a conclusion of what “is”—which is a description rather than a prescription.  In John 10:10, Jesus is “painting a picture” for His listeners so they might understand the difference between what they could find on their own and what He is offering them.  In this passage Jesus tells them He is the door through which everyone who enters can find salvation – in other words, completion, meaning and communion.  He concludes, “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.”  Jesus Christ promised to all of those who were seeking fulfillment and not finding it, the very thing they sought: real, lasting, fulfilling life with meaning and no loneliness!

 

As a pastor, I find it extremely difficult to watch people fill their lives with everything but Jesus Christ.  This is true of those who claim to know Christ as well as those who do not.  Unfortunately, their dreams will not be broken in some late-night diner.  Instead, their brokenness will be realized before the throne of Christ hearing the words, “Depart from Me.”  It is also sad people often do not even know they are lost or on the wrong road.  In all of our “going,” we do not realize we have made a wrong turn.  For too many people, the awareness of going down the wrong road will not occur until we reach the end.

 

The “dead end.”

Road or Ride?

Back in the early nineties there was a song called “Life is a Highway” by a guy named Tom Cochrane.  Now ole Tom used to be with a group called Red Rider, so I guess Tom thought if he stuck near to the riding theme he would continue to see success.  Tom was wrong.

Tom Cochrane

 

“Life is a Highway” was a one-hit-wonder dead-end for Tommy!  Besides, every guy knows life is not a highway, silly rabbit, it’s a tool store!

 

Tools are just simply way cool.  Most of them are heavy, so they have substance.  Many are quite useful, so they have purpose.  If they are a well-known brand they have reputation.  Many are customized to fit a specific task; in fact almost every imaginable task out there has a tool made just for that task.  And perhaps the most important thing about tools is they are costly – and every male of the species knows if you have a lot of really heavy, expensive tools specifically made for specific tasks all of the other guys will stand in awe of your tool collection . . . and your wife will expect you to do something useful with them!

 

Yet no one wants to live for either tools or a “driving experience,” whether speaking poetically or not.  When we find ourselves living for things or even other people, we will come to a rather quick understanding there is no happiness in either things or people.  Things break, they depreciate and they can be stolen.  People disappoint us in so many ways.  So if life is not a highway, a tool store nor a person, what is it?

 

Jesus in the Gospel of Luke taught a lesson on anxiety.  In it he reminded His listeners their lives were so much more than food and their bodies were designed for more things than clothing.  Now why would Jesus take the time to tell us to back away from the food bar and the clothing sale?  Because anytime we place our self-worth in anything other than Him, we will come face to face with disappointment, worry, fear and anxiety!

 

So how do we balance these “things” that we will need to live our lives?  We need clothes, food, shelter and a way to get to work so we have to have things, but what we do not want is for those things to have us!  The Apostle Paul in Corinthians stated if we have placed our hope in Christ in this life only, we should be pitied more than any other people alive!  Why?  We are those who have come to Jesus Christ for salvation and were forgiven by Him through His work on the Cross.  If we then forget there is an eternity out there ahead of us and for which we were created, we are then living far below our means as believers.

 

I have met very few believers these days who are too heavenly minded for any earthly good.  Yet there are many believers who are too earthly minded for any heavenly good.  Life is not about things or just living for the next moment; life is about our realizing we are created for an eternity to come to live with the God of eternity.  If we can catch just a glimpse of the wonder in this fact then people will want what we have and we will have blessing beyond our imaginations – both now and in eternity!

 

Life isn’t a highway, but man oh man, can it be a great ride!

Are We Really Rationally Rationalizing?

Sigmund FreudFreud was really the “Father of Rationalizing.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many have benefited from psychoanalysis over the years, yet the “compartmentalization” Freud offered to the thinking world has disturbing consequences.

Our world seethes with emotional and physical difficulties in which we can conveniently categorize into compartments in which we have no responsibility.  If we think of something uncomfortable, our ego is reasserting itself.  If we engage in wanton sex merely as a means to “still the urge,” well this is nothing more than the expression of our libido.  Of course, we have no desire to acknowledge our “id”–“it” merely exists for its own self-fulfillment and who could fault anything for just existing?

In case anyone has not noticed, humanity has issues.  People everywhere are trying to find meaning in order to make sense of their surroundings.  We have sought meaning in power, in wealth, in change and even in personalities–network television makes millions, if not billions, off the visceral need for people to live out their lives vicariously through characters in “un-reality shows.”

Secularism finds it rather unsettling to embrace the evidence of a “higher power” which surrounds everything.  The first response is to look inward.  This in itself can be unrewarding since what is “inside” is usually demonstrated on the “outside.”  There are some very fine minds who seek to guide the masses by centralizing all thought and motivation on the Self through positivism relying on the belief we have the power to “change” our circumstances.  Some circumstances can be changed by us; Newton’s Law demands a reaction to every action and observation surmises this also works in society.  I believe the Bible reminds us of this as well: we will reap what we sow.

Now if we are indeed the “center of our being, our reality,” (not a new idea, China used to call itself Chung Kwo or “Middle Kingdom” because it thought it was the “center of all”) does this mean we are then willing to be responsible for our actions?  Claiming our egos drive thoughts, emotions and reactions argues against this.  Claiming to be the center is nothing more than the rehashing of the “Big Bang” theory–everything started from a single point, we don’t know how it got there and we have no idea what made it go “boom!”  It did, we’re here and I’m in charge!

Really.  Seriously?

I have a relatively good memory.  Having this, I remember most, if not all of my actions and thoughts, though I have relegated many to forgetfulness.  I have noticed having this memory produces many things: guilt, fear, loss, humility, arrogance, pride, love, joy, hate and kindness among many others.  Granted, not all at once, but these all lurk in the shadows of my memory.  If I desire to be honest, these emotions can be overwhelming (literally they can cover me like a flood) and they are convicting.  Herein lies my dilemma: why out of all my memories do I consistently have problems with those being most negative and destructive?  It’s not that I never think “good thoughts,” but why do the “bad thoughts” cause so much pain and anguish?

Secularism attempts to build a world detached from the foundation on which all that “is” has true meaning.  The Self can satisfy for a short time, yet the wisdom of maturity convinces us this is silliness–or as one ancient scholar remarked, “This too is vanity.”

My challenge is this: there exists meaning not in a thing, an event, an ideal or ourselves but in a Person.  Such a person must be beyond my own limitations, peccadilloes and idiosyncrasies in order for me not to eventually be disappointed with Him as I have (and all humanity) with other people.  This Man came into this earth in the manner of all humanity, yet He lived a life of perfection and died an unjust, undeserved death.  He is familiar with all of my weaknesses, He knows how I am tempted to do wrong, yet He loves me in spite of it all.  He told people He was the embodiment, that from which all meaning is based, of the Way, the Truth and the Life.  If I trust Him, believe Him through the actions of a life changed by Him, I can experience meaning and eternity beyond this moment, the next one and all of eternity that follows.

In spite of my imperfection, He loves me and I have trusted and love Him.

Have you?