Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Cure For Classic Narcissism

What I, personally, would have scripted to begin with the ushering in of the season, actually began with an episode of Backstrom (I’ll skip all the details, disclaimers, blah, blah, etc.) and ended with a letter from the pope.1,2

It was supposed to start with Ash Wednesday, my quitting.  

I just honestly didn’t know what it was I would quit. 

See, I think the last time I fasted for Lent, it was from coffee, but I wound up feeling so much better physically that there was no sense of sacrifice.  I’d only benefited from the process in such a way that it left me feeling more remorseful than clarified, and so I was pretty sure the practice just wasn’t for me, and the years have passed, and my observance of the season has become a lesser and lesser thing.

I can’t remember if last year I even remembered the start of Lent. 

There have probably been other little things iggling at my conscience, but it was after watching that one episode, at the very second that I thought, “who wrote this?” when I heard myself asking it with an air of elite-est ownership, as if I were the only person on the planet who knew anything at all about this kind of suffering or that or whatever ... that I knew.   I’ve turned way too deeply inward.

I’ve wallowed in this for three days now, trying to write every sentence perfectly.

I want to make sense.

I want to make a difference.

I want to do no harm.

I want to be different.

Pope Francis wrote a letter.

He told me to quit the indifference.

The rest is personal.3

For at least a season.

1 You know, if those two weren’t friends with each other ~ and I don’t know that they wouldn’t be ~  I do know, at the very least, the pope would wash the bad detective’s feet.  

2  It ain't "ended" till He says it's ended.

3. Epitome of sentence with which I've striven.  It hardly makes sense in context.  But I relinquish it now.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Musical Interlude

Got a thing I gotta write, but until I get the nerve to do it, it's like I've got this music in my mind sayin' it's gonna be alright.

So I've just recently discovered T-Swift, and when I say "recently" "discovered", I mean, did y'all know that girl used to sing country music?!  Yeah, see I didn't show up till shake it off.

Woah, hold up.

[elevator music]  (okay, all shook off)

So anyhow, in the interlude (and procrastination) I'm on this ponderation about the contrast/comparison of my musical interests to my Gospel devotions.  

photo swiped from the nets
Swifty's kinda sweet and maybe not much cause for pause; however, she's on the rather innocuous end of my spectrum, I reckon.  So, for the sake of a blog post, I'll do here what I will later - inevitably - refer to as art. And maybe, just maybe, by the end of it all, you'll have heard it the way I hear it.  

Ya' heard?

Everything's changing around me
And I wanna change too
It's one thing I know
It ain't cool being no fool
I feel different today
I don't know what else to say
But I'm-a get my $#!* together
It's now or never

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out.

I'm sick, sick of waiting in vain
Tired of playing the game
Thinking of making a change
Finally breaking the chains
Every phase, every happening craze
When it's said and done
My head is right back in a haze
I'm ready for the next chapter and page

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.

People say the light shines once in a lifetime
Is this mid-life kind of crisis a little bit like mine?
I'm thinking not now, but right now
I need some kinda sign that the future is bright now
I [mess] around, do the right thing like Spike now
The quick and the dead--which is my look-a-like now
I'm moving ahead

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Yo, opportunities lost because I blew 'em
On the sunniest days of my life I cried through 'em
Mom's out the picture and Pops, I barely knew him
And I would pray to God, but I'm tired of lying to him
Tired of trying to run from the things inside of us
Got a lot of fam' and a lot of admirers
Who tell me that I should aspire to be changed
But when I think of changing, it's like why even try this $#!*?

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

My mind hazy and my thoughts they get distorted
I know my good and bad deeds both get recorded
You do right so your soul can last
But my role was cast before I even auditioned for it
So I don't really see an end to my vice
It's just false reformation, no end of my strife
Feel the evil overpowering
You can go ahead throw the towel in
'Cause, [homey], that's the end of the fight
When you can only see the tunnel at the end of the lights
Lights out, party's over, it's the end of your life

I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

When I look into the mirror and see my own image
It feels like there's something else far off in the distance

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Something I wanna see, but something that's resistant
And every day the haunting is growing more persistent

What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to what your spiritual nature wants, and what your spiritual nature wants is contrary to what your corrupt nature wants.

I never noticed it before, but now I can't miss it
And the constant pounding's driving me ballistic
I ran from it for years, but it's still next to me
And it's growing stronger taking even less of me
I can't fight it now; I know it's just destiny
And I just wonder what's gonna happen when it catches me
Will it leave me face down in the Chesapeake
Or will it just start bringing out the best of me?
But is the best of me really just the worst of me?
And if so yesterday could be my anniversary
In sinners' court, it's important to have church with me
I'm trying to get rid of these ghosts that's cursing me

I feel that change is an absolute certainty

'Cause what's going on is a state of emergency

Everything's changing around me
And I wanna change too
It's one thing I know
It ain't cool being no fool

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

I feel different today
I don't know what else to say
But I'm-a get my $#!* together
It's now or never

It's now or never

Indeed, the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  

And the payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.  

If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved.  For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved. 

"Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me." Jesus

Ya' heard?

Just in case it's not clear, I've cleverly combined Now or Never by The Roots and various Bible Truths.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

These Are The Days

My recent pneumonia wasn’t crap compared to what some folks have been through, but it was a pretty significant deal for me.  I don’t know if I was really just that sick, if I was sick for longer than I realized, or if it was something else entirely. You know, something that would make for a really good conspiracy theory or sci-fi network flick. In any case, I’ve come back from it different.

Or, more specifically, it’s as if I’ve been given Ben Franklin’s super special glasses and I’ve flipped a lens.  I see things differently.  More specifically, I see things more acutely.

And something else ... there’s this one hand on which I feel as if I’m coming back strong.  A little stronger every day.  More aware.  More prepared.  More ready to jam.

And then there’s that other hand.  The one on which I just feel so tired.  The more I see...

tiredyou may recall, was the most notable expression of my ailment.  This last month or so, as I’ve reflected, I'm sure that tired was a large part of my becoming ill. Tired is what nearly completely overtook me.  And now tired is what continues to plague me.

Tired has been a battle, for real, and I’ve really nearly waved the flag, and more than once.  But then, true to form, I heard a word.

“You know, Elijah was a prophet, and after he’d had great success in defeating the prophets of Baal, he went from this high to a real low, and he was just down and out, and he just said, “God, I’m the only one in the nation of Israel still serving You.”  And God challenged that.  He said, “No, you’re not.  There’s thousands that still haven’t bowed to Baal.”  Elijah, the prophet of God, was wrong about why he was feeling so bad, thinking he was the only one.  He was just tired.”1

Okay.  So?...

Get up.    

Get up and what?  
I’m only good at shoes, Man.  

Get. Up.

And so the neo-battle begins.

And this next part needs a heading.

Surprise Twist That Nobody Saw Coming

(And would really be even better if it were narrated ... listen: 
The Surprise Twist That Nobody Saw Coming, doon doon doon)

Not even me.

I'm beating around the mulberry bush.  I dread this part a li'l bit.

Skipping much of my early childhood and getting right to the weird part, (okay, one of the weird parts), I spent some of my formative years in a tee-tiny Southern Baptist church seated in the foothills of Georgia, and during an era that some of the grandest Biblical/political conspiracy theories of all time were being ... can't settle on a word here.

Anyhow, my youth group got training.  It’s like....they told us all this stuff:  the days are coming when the government’s gonna do stuff.  Crazy stuff.  And you’re either gonna go along with it or you’re gonna get persecuted.  And you’re either gonna carry on for Christ or your heart’s gonna go cold.  

These. are. the. days.

That “heart could go cold” bit .... that eventually got to me, pissed me off, drove me away for a time, but now I’m feeling like time’s too precious to even tell about it. All I know is that I held one of my grandbabies the other day and I wondered:  is there any possibility that tired could be equal to cold.

Get. Up. 

I have to shut this thing down with a movie scene* because I just do.  There's probably something that makes more sense, but I couldn't come up with it.

youtube link, Matrix, Get Up Neo

Do I think I’m anything akin to Neo?  Aw, heck no.  (And come on, now!)  But I do see some of the code.  And I am going to get up.  And I’d really like to kick some hmm-hmm now.  Oh, wait.  That makes me quite a bit like Neo...

But in all seriousness, privately, I’m kind of freaked out.

Red pill, blue pill?  Red pill? Blue pill?!!  
Oh, wait.  I already took the red pill.  

God help me.  God help us all.

Days of Elijah

These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the word of the Lord, yeah
And these are the days of Your servant, Moses
Righteousness being restored

These are the days of great trials
Of famine and darkness and sword
Still we are the voice in the desert crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

And these are the days of Ezekiel
The dry bones becoming as flesh
And these are the days of Your servant, David
Rebuilding the temple of praise

And these are the days of the harvest
The fields are all white in the world
And we are the laborers that are in Your vineyard
Declaring the Word of the Lord

Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

There's no God like Jehovah!

Transformed message series, Emotional Health, Reverend Rurel Ausley