Life from the rear-view mirror

“Skin deep” success… VOL 117

A Shallow Success…

At 61, I still do my fair share of planning…looking ahead, setting goals…even a little (sometimes a lot) of dreaming.
But honestly, I spend more time these days reflecting. Thinking about things I wish I had done differently…dealing with the scars of regret. Trying to wring some sort of wisdom or perspective out of life for me, my kids and anyone else who might read these ramblings.
Most of my working life has been spent in sales. Many people would call that career path “lying for a living.” Sadly, I know too many people who lend credence to that thought.
If you are going to be successful at anything…it has to grow from integrity…a sense of self and what’s right that is shaped by family, friends…but mostly faith. If you aren’t careful, if you disregard these values, the periphery of life can get really screwed…er…skewed. It can get skewed so much that those core values are lost…or at least well hidden. I see these things magnified in a sales career. I struggle with this disease. This distasteful anomaly. And yes…sometimes I even resemble the remark.
How something or someone looks is not often a good measure of what is really there. I’m not going to explain that…you know what I mean. Looks are skin deep…if that. As the saying goes appearances can be deceiving.
As believers, we are sometimes tempted to think the only people who are truly loving, giving and full of integrity are other believers. That is far from the truth. The fact is that God made man/woman (ALL men and women) in his image. If we just look we can see glimmers of godliness in most people. Not all the time…but enough to notice. More than enough for God to work with. More than enough for God to use us to reach them.
There are games we play in sales. Looking the part is one of them. How that plays out kind of depends on what you are selling…but we are likely to drive a certain kind of car, wear a certain type of watch. Join a health club, a gym or become a member of a country club to communicate “success” at some level. That alone doesn’t have to be an “integrity killer”…but it can be. Some take such a big bite outta this “faux” success they begin to develop a self-worth based on what they are able to “project” to people as opposed to what they really produce or who they really are. They develop a life strategy that breeds a life-style that demands (and relies on) a “threshold of success.” What I mean by that is the stuff that was always optional now MUST be in their lives for them to feel good about themselves and to keep up the “appearance” of success, whether they really have achieved success or not. In the name of appearing successful they make misguided sacrifices and excuses. They exercise bad judgement in the name of this false success … and in the name of success (and image) they often create an unintended consequence of financial disaster or worse, a failed or failing life. And it might just have started just by wanting to “look the part” to gain some sort of advantage in sales or stature. That is the integrity killer.
After many years of playing, I understand the game…but it’s a dangerous one. Perhaps it can be played without selling your soul… but it has to be played with great discernment. I wish I could say I play it well all the time. I don’t. And the consequences of collateral damage to yourself and your family are very painful. Trust me.
For the believer, the danger is transferring your sufficiency from God to stuff or to pride. From what God thinks of you and requires of you to do and to be…to what people think of and require of you. One path finds its measure in personal character…the other in “things” that fall away or get burned up in the end.
It might take a lot of therapy to uncover all the “whys?” of this behavior. As someone once said while surveying the mess they were in “I didn’t start here..but “here” is where I am now.” We don’t get to “here” in one decision. And if “here” is a bad place for you…chances are good that it was never your original destination. We didn’t wake up one day and decide that our life sucked and we were going to create a “make-believe” one. It’s a multitude of small decisions that gradually move you in a particular direction. But once you are headed that way, it can be very hard to turn around. Very hard…but it can be done. You can change priorities. You can choose to be content, to be honest, to be successful on God’s terms (whether the money and success follow or not..) You can lift God up in your life and see how God lifts you up in return. Again…it may have nothing whatsoever to do with material things. Because the “show” of your life and mine, should be evident to people by seeing “Christ in us.”
I’m not there…not even close… but I’m on the path…still too close to the edge for my own good…but moving toward the safety of the center of God’s will. How about you?

Prayer matters… as a matter of fact! VOL 116

prayPrayer matters to God…Prayer matters to people…Prayer matters to me…

There are few things in life I take as seriously as prayer. I’m not talking about some “shout-out” to the universe. I’m talking about getting a-hold of the “God of the universe,” knowing that the same God who fashioned and created it, cares more deeply about us than we may ever fully understand.
I realize that this may sound foolish or naive to some. No matter. I have experienced the POWER of prayer as folks have prayed for me and I for them in desperate circumstance. I have experienced the COMFORT of prayer …crying out to God in tragedy and loss. I have experienced the PASSION of prayer…whole-heatedly seeking God in desperation for someone or something that has broken my heart. I have experienced the FELLOWSHIP of prayer…daily communicating with my creator who lets me know in his word that he is my Savior, my Lord and my friend.
Prayer is powerful and purposeful. I would say that our prayer-life is an incredible indicator of our relationship with God. If the word prayer sounds too religious…talking to God with purpose is sort of the same thing.
Today I asked for prayer from the guys in my community group. I just sent them a group txt message, and a few minutes later I see the texts start coming back. “…praying” “I’m praying for you” and others. This wasn’t a 911 “all hands” call to prayer. This was me struggling with something personal…and it was them, keeping an open heart and an open ear to a brother who needed them go to God on his behalf. Whether I’m anxious about something or have a real pressing need…sometimes all it takes to relax about it is to know that guys I trust, respect and love, have my back in prayer. Sometimes…they have been the answer to prayer themselves. God has often used them in some material way or with some wisdom or life experience they have passed along to meet my need. That’s important to understand. Prayer doesn’t always have to be (and shouldn’t always or only be) about huge things like “please heal my wife’s cancer” or stuff that miracles are made of. (An important note here…what we would consider a miracle of God is no big thing for God…only a big thing for us) and believe me I have prayed for some big things and looked for miracles in life.
God is just as interested in hearing about the small things in our lives, the thankful things…the praiseworthy things, the joyful things. He is interested in everything about us and can listen to all of us, all at once and respond to each of us in our individual need, all at the same time, without breaking a sweat…more accurately without expending any energy whatsoever. He is God after all.
“Answers to prayer are ALWAYS about his will for you…and NEVER about his ability to accomplish anything you ask.” Did you get that? I’m going to repeat it for effect…”Answers to prayer are ALWAYS about his will for you…and NEVER about his ability to accomplish anything you ask.”
That makes it both easier and harder when we hear a “no.” Easier in that God could have said yes and perhaps our will would have been accomplished…in which case we are most always happy with God. Or he could say “no” and leave us not understanding what his ultimate will is for us in a particular situation. Believe me…”no” was hard to hear when I asked for Lori’s life. But I believe that ultimately God accomplished, and is accomplishing his will in my life. I am the only barrier to him using me to the full extent of his purpose.
So I hope you never forget that God wants to hear from you often…all the time in fact. But please be mindful of your heart when you pray…don’t allow a threshold of sin in your life.
Last time I looked God was not speaking out loud to anyone these days, so look for his answers to come in many different ways. Even in the timing of things. And when you see God at work…(and you will) and you see answers coming…(and THEY will) be thankful…and continue to trust God in every area of your life.
I have just undertaken a very hard and long struggle. This is not the first time I have taken on this personal character issue. But with God’s help…I hope it’s the last. I’m so thankful his grace and mercy are unending.
Long obedience in the same direction. I don’t know if David Whiting coined this phrase or not…but I heard it again from him last Sunday. That is what it’s going to take for me and of me…and I know it’s impossible for me without prayer and making the next right decision.
You know…I bet someone is praying for you right now. To meet a need…to mend a broken heart…to turn a child’s heart to God…to meet financial needs…to heal a marriage…to calm anxiety…to help find a job…to repair a relationship…maybe that you yourself would believe the gospel message and become a true Christ follower.
Real life is only found in life with Christ. And that life begins and ends with prayer. Don’t miss it!

dugz4 July 9, 2016 1 Comment Permalink

Decision making past the end of your nose……Vol 115

Rarely does the implication of a decision stop at the end of our nose. It often takes on a life of its own far after we have achieved what we thought we wanted from it.

I think we’d call that being shortsighted. I think we’ve all been there a time or two.

Part of the challenge of parenting in the “influence” stage of our kids life is helping them understand the potential “unintended consequences” of their decisions. What does that mean? In short, it’s the “what if?” component that lives beyond every decision they make. A potential chain of events that they may have unwittingly put into motion because they didn’t think a thing through.
This kind of decision making is really evident to those of us who are still parenting teens… but it’s certainly not limited to teens. I know plenty of adults, including me, who do the same thing. We can’t see past what we want in the moment. We are blinded by our greed, pride, you name it. Sometimes we dodge that bullet of unintended consequence…sometimes it hits us right between the eyes…or worse…it hits someone else.
We can’t escape all unintended consequences of the decisions we make. But we can make a much higher percentage of good decisions by stopping to think past the end of our nose. 

Proverbs 15:22

Check your spiritual vision…can you see your sin?…..Vol 114

For some, abuse of relationships is purely accidental. For others it is purposeful…manipulative. We’ve all seen it both ways. Chances are we’ve all been the abuser at times.

I accuse my younger kids of “not thinking past their noses” at times…while I abuse relationships and do the same thing. Maybe not with the same consequences…sometimes worse.

As believers, our integrity and consistency is key to a life that is blessed and a life that is used by God.

I’m guessing, but we probably all have a story we could tell about an incident where we didn’t do the right thing and lost our credibility with someone we wanted to talk to about the Lord…but didn’t because of it.

I think that’s one of the reasons why the Bible implores us to keep a clear conscience.

This morning there is something I want to say to a friend. It’s important…but I don’t think he can hear it from me. So I’m praying he will hear it from another.

As for me and for those who have things in our past that we are forgiven for, but can never make right…let’s make the NEXT right decision. Let’s choose integrity. Lets not throw stumbling blocks in the way of God using us to do something great for him. (It’s not that he can’t use us anyway…it’s that we think he won’t and we don’t attempt them)

This is a word of wisdom to me this morning…I guess if it fits you too…put it on.

Do your prayers get past the ceiling?……..Vol 113

prayer-2Bpraying-2BhandsAre your prayers effective? I know that’s sometimes hard to know as God is always working behind the scenes. But maybe you’ve felt that you’re in a dry spell. Maybe you don’t spend as much time in prayer any more. Maybe it feels like you just keep tapping God on the shoulder…but he never turns around and you’re not sure if he hasn’t felt you tapping…or he’s just ignoring you. That’s an interesting thought…could God be ignoring you? What? I’m his kid, he made me in his image…there’s so much going on in my life and others. How could God ignore me? How could he NOT listen? What would make that happen?
Check your heart.
Let me answer one of the questions I posed. The whole did God “feel you tapping” or better yet “did God hear your prayer” thing. The answer is a resounding yes. Of course he heard you…felt you…whatever. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be God. But that’s not the real issue here. The real issue is will he answer you? We’ve all heard at times that God answers all prayer. And, the answers are Yes, No, and Wait. And that sorta makes sense…if you believe that God was “listening” to you at the time. Not just hearing, but “listening.” If you don’t know the difference…ask your husband/wife…or take away the smartphone…
So if God loves me (He does!) and wants the best for me (that too!) and wants to talk with me (He sure does!) Why in the world would he not answer me?
You aren’t going to like this…
It’s the same reason that Christ had to die on the cross…sin.
I thought when I asked Jesus to come into my heart and forgive my sin.. He did it… Yes he did. We’re not talking about whether you have a relationship with God through faith in Christ and what he did on the cross for you. This is not about whether or not you are in the “Family of God” and going to heaven.
This is about whether you and God are on “speaking terms.”
The Bible calls sin rebellion…and rebellion towards God loosely translated is…wanting something different for ourselves than what God wants. If our lives are in rebellion because of sin…that creates a situation much like when you are on the “outs” with a family member… and you need something from them. You have to mend the relationship first. Then they are more likely to help.
I know that’s really over-simplified…but I’m confident you get the point.
If you have a minute, read I John 5:14. If we want our prayers to be answered, we have to pray “according to his will” or “want the same things that God wants for us.”
If we are in rebellion (sin) are we really wanting the same things that God wants? No…we’re in rebellion! We’re wanting something else…something selfish, something we think will make us happy. Rebellion is shaking our fist in the face of God. Now you might say…I don’t believe that. Or that is too strong a statement. Is it? You’re not gonna like this either. There is no such thing as a little rebellion…it’s like being a little pregnant. You either “is” or you “ain’t” Again…check your heart.
Here’s something you will like. This condition is fixable.How?
Glad you asked.
If you have another minute, read I John 1;9. Boom! There’s your answer to being answered. That’s how we “mend the fence” with God.
I can’t tell you how often I pray that prayer…because I’m so often in rebellion…so often going the wrong direction…and yet…so needy. Not just for myself, but for those I love in my family and the larger family of God.
I know God always hears me…but I want him to listen too. More than that, I want him to answer in a way that I know it was him. In a way that Yes, No and Wait are meaningful because I know my heart was not in rebellion when I prayed.
It only takes a minute to make sure our hearts are right when we go to God in prayer…and doesn’t he deserve a clean heart? A heart not in rebellion but in unity with his?
“Yes” is always easy to hear. But the “No” and the “Wait” are easier to bear when we know God was listening. When we know our heart is in tune with His.

Fallen Angel…….Vol. 112

JeffI have always loved the Blue Angels. They are thrilling to watch and inspiring on so many levels. I’m sure the team had a lot to do with me wanting to become a pilot.
I love the Marines…who they are and what they represent to our country. I have a cousin and a nephew who served proudly…and as I write, there is a friend of my son in our home who will be joining the Corp when he graduates from High School next year.

I never knew Capt Jeff Kuss, but his loss has hit me hard.

I have watched and re-watched a particular video of the Blue Angel Number 6 crash. It’s the only video I’ve seen thus far that had the perspective to allow us to see most of the flight up to the accident. It was tough to watch. I had heard reports that Capt Jeff Kuss had entered a Split S maneuver prior to the crash. I didn’t remember seeing that in other Blue Angel solo flights, but this video showed it clearly.

When I was much younger, I flew aerobatics in a high-performance piston engine aircraft, a Pitts S2-B. The Split S maneuver is something we did in training. (And something I did a version of a lot later in my piloting to scare my buddies) It is a common flight transition to change direction or enter a different maneuver (if you happen to be doing a flight routine). A Spit S, in simple terms, can be thought of as the bottom half of a loop. It is a positive g transition that is a lot of fun (and relatively easy to do) for a then novice to aerobatics like me. We usually entered the Split S from straight and level flight, rolled the plane inverted then pulled back on the stick to start the move. In the aircraft I flew, it was rarely more than a 2-3 g tug on the stick into your gut. From there it was just keeping the wings level, controlling RPMs and airspeed then leveling out at your intended altitude.
(Note: In an aircraft, positive g’s feel like your bottom is being pressed into your seat. It’s sort of the same feeling you get under rapid acceleration in a car…except that you feel your back being pressed against the seat.)

As I watched the video, already knowing the outcome…I realized that there was a point in time in that particular Split S maneuver, when Capt Jeff Kuss knew he wasn’t going to complete it. Something had gone wrong. And now, all the skills he had used to thrill people, were being used to save them. It was a choice he made. It was an act of complete and total sacrifice for folks on the ground he didn’t even know…but in that moment, cared about more than his own life.
It was a sacrifice of the highest order.

The loss of Capt Jeff Kuss was a tragedy. The lesson of his sacrifice for others was legendary.

Semper Fi

There was another sacrifice in history. A sacrifice that would change our eternity. A sacrifice that Jesus made once and for all to save men and women in this life…and bring them to life with him after death. It’s hard to not draw a parallel when you witness something as selfless and heroic as that of Capt Jeff Kuss. If you had asked Jeff  if he would have been willing to die to save some folks on the ground that day…he might have had to think about it. Weigh all the options. He’d be widowing his wife, orphaning his kids…changing his families future forever. That might have been a hard choice not knowing what his next flight would bring. Now we know what he was made of. He is truly a hero.

Jesus knew from the beginning he was going to die. That’s is what he had come to earth for. He knew that his Father, God, was going to forsake him as the sin of the world was placed on his shoulders at Calvary. Jesus death was no accident. It was planned before time…before the foundations of the earth. God knew that we humans would need a Savior because of our sin. And Jesus knew that his death would pave the way to heaven for us.

John 15;13 – Greater love has no man than this…that he lay down his life for his friends

God can hit a moving target…. Vol 111

target-on-back-300x300Once upon a time in the land of Rochester, a father was working hard at his desk selling Medicare Insurance. (Wow! That’s a coincidence! I sell Medicare insurance too! And, I live in Rochester… this father sounds a lot like me!) About three o’clock in the afternoon this father gets a call on his cell phone. He looks down at the caller ID and sees it’s from his oldest son.
“Dad?” Do you know where my car is?” “What!?” his dad exclaims… not quite believing the question. A car is not a sock…(which his boys lose plenty of…) You don’t lose a car…easily.
That was not a good question to hear under any circumstance…but because of some issues he was having with a different, younger son…the father knew the answer…but had to ask anyway. “Is Bart home?”
His elder son didn’t know…but the dad suspected, and ended the conversation by telling his son to sit tight and he’d get right back to him after he thought about what to do.
About a minute later he got another call, ” Bart just pulled into the driveway with the car.” That would have been a sort of an innocuous statement except for the fact that Bart didn’t have a driver’s license or learner’s permit or any kind of permission to do something as dumb as take his brother’s car…or any car… ever…for any reason…anywhere.
As it turned out…Bart, who was home on suspension from school… (Wait a minute…I have a son who is home on suspension from school…) anyway… young “Bart” was bored, the keys were hanging on the wall like they always are…so he just helped himself. It was a “Damn the Torpedoes!” moment if there ever was one. Thankfully no one was hurt in the making up of this story…no cars dented, no property damaged
Bart didn’t have to put himself, the car, or the neighborhood-at- large…at risk….but hey…he was bored…and reckless…and isn’t that reason enough? Why not risk it? What could possibly happen? Who has any torpedoes around here? It’s no big deal. But Bart was very wrong.
Just like Adam and Eve were wrong so long ago. Today this Bart fella outran a speeding bullet.
But here’s the thing about God…he doesn’t have any trouble hitting a moving target. When he has you in his sights you want it to be for blessing …trust me.
He got Adam and Eve right between the eyes. He blew past their excuses and arguments. We are still feeling the consequence of their “Damn the torpedoes” moment in the garden…their willful disobedience. It could be argued that their disobedience so long ago paved the way for young Bart’s misadventure yesterday. But discipline was NOT what God wanted for Adam and Eve. Nor did God (or Bart’s dad) want this for Bart either. It is coming nonetheless.
Sometimes I feel like whatever wise words I may speak on occasion just barely make it past my lips to fall off into the ether… taking all their meaning, admonition and love with them…never to be heard.
As I try to reach my son across this valley of misunderstanding that has been created between the two of us, I hear his words again and again…”It’s no big deal dad” and you know what? it isn’t for him…right now. Soon it will be.
The consequence of disobedience catches up and can slap you very hard. As moms and dads we often bear the brunt of consequences we didn’t earn or deserve. Sometimes that’s the price of loving your kids. But there comes a time when the son’s consequence must fall squarely on the son. It seems that time is now.

Motorcycle Madness……..VOL 110

HD1For most of my life I have had at least one hobby that had some element (or a LOT) of risk in it. Aerobatics, Helicopters, and Motorcycles are the ones that come to mind first. Activities that if not performed correctly, and with great care, could quickly get me into a situation where me and breathing could part ways.
There were a few times in my life where I was engaged in a couple of those activities at the same time. After a couple of close calls I finally had to admit that the odds of life were diminishing if I kept it up. I had to choose. I gave up the bike for about 20 years.
Now, Flying, is pretty much behind me. A heart attack about 8 years ago kind of put a quick stop to that hobby, and for a while, I didn’t do much of anything except try to get better. But then I started talking to buddy at church about motorcycles. It had been 20 years since I’d ridden with any consistency…but the thought of the open road, the possibilities of seeing the country on two wheels and quality alone-time compelled me to own a motorcycle again. I had to have a bike. Through a couple sneaky moves I’m not proud of, and with a loan from my buddy, I found an old 1986 BMW K100 in really nice shape out in the Boston area. After an unfortunate accident coming back home that left me walking for nearly a year…I found a different bike and for the next few years I enjoyed my time on the road… with a few different bikes. But all that isn’t really my story.
Motorcycles by themselves are unstable. Don’t believe me? Just stand one up without holding it or riding it or putting it on it’s kickstand…within a few seconds you will see that gravity is a cruel taskmaster…and… you will learn that motorcycles have to be parked or moving to keep from scraping the paint off them and bending things. And that’s the story right there. That is, if I can equate life with a motorcycle for a couple of minutes.
You would think that after learning how to ride a bicycle at an early age… keeping my balance would come easy…and it does if we’re talking about bicycles. Put anybody on top of a thousand pounds of metal and motor with two wheels and balance becomes a bit trickier. We’ve all seen the motorcycle dude in front of us come wheeling up to a stop weaving and wobbling all over his lane trying his best to come to a stop without falling over…looking all uncool and stuff. And then you’ve seen the riders who seem like they defy gravity before they deftly put their foot down to balance…their “cool” safely intact. In both cases the riders saved their paint jobs…but one just looks like he belongs on the bike…and we’re pretty sure the other is going to be a statistic one day.
There (can) come a point in riding a motorcycle when gravity wins despite your best efforts otherwise to thwart it. You get distracted, you’re not looking or someone else is doing the same thing… and both gravity and rapid deceleration slap you very hard.
There have been a few of those moronic episodes in my riding. One happened at a thruway rest stop not too long before I sold my Harley a couple of years back. It was a dumb thing. I hadn’t zipped up a coat pocket and a stray accessory cord had worked it’s way out. It had been bouncing around in the wind, slapping me and the bike for the past several miles till I couldn’t stand it anymore. I pulled into the rest stop determined to fix this annoyance.
Now my normal procedure when I come to a stop is to reach back with my left foot and put the kickstand down. Then gently lean the 800lb bike over onto the stand, and get off. Well…that particular day I only got part of that right. I was annoyed and distracted with the cord and when I stopped I could have sworn I put the kickstand down. But as I gently leaned the bike over, anticipating it coming to rest on the kickstand..something went terribly wrong and the bike simply accelerated from the upright position directly to the ground with me hanging on for dear life…The kickstand hadn’t broken…I had just forgotten to put it down. Well… the bike ended up on it’s side in the parking lot and I looked like the buffoon I was for letting it happen. I stood there for a moment, stunned… surveying the situation (and to see if anyone was laughing at me). Luckily I hadn’t bent or scraped anything and as far as I could tell…there was just the raw embarrassment of it all plus the job of getting the bike upright again…which proved to be more of a challenge than my 60 year old body was up for. Thankfully a young, well-muscled youth nearby took pity on me and helped me right the beast after which I promptly and carefully, set it on the kickstand and took care of the dangling distraction before I got back on my way.
There are times in our lives when we are aware of “tipping points.” Situations, that if left unattended, will take us down. Times when we can feel ourselves falling, unable to stop, and circumstances that take us completely by surprise. Sometimes we are able to catch ourselves… sometimes not, and we hit the ground…hard…wondering if we have the strength to get up. And sometimes the fall is softened by the support of friends and loved ones there to help us up again.
God sees it all…he’s known about every challenge…every tipping point. In fact, he’s been there with us. He sees us when we are negotiating a challenge. He’s encouraged us from the sidelines… he wants us to wake up, pay attention…watch out!
I think he smiles when we hear and heed his warning and make course corrections. I think he’s saddened when we ignore his voice and crash to the ground.
One thing I’ve learned through “avoidance grace” as well as from the “crash and burns” of life… Wisdom is golden whether it’s gained in advance of, or on the wrong side of a tipping point. The question today is will we listen? Will we heed warnings? Will we make corrections? Will we make the next right decision as much as it’s up to us.
I pray that we will. I pray that any bruises and broken bones we suffer are the result of worthy sacrifice, not foolishness. I pray for a heart that is willing to listen and do right. I’m so thankful for our God whose grace and mercy transcends it all.

Ouch!….my brain hurts! VOL 109

bangEvery once in a while I take an opportunity to listen to the Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias. I can’t do it very often…it hurts my brain. But when I do take on the challenge, I’m always glad I did.
God is the author of intellect and he has blessed many men like Ravi with a unique ability to communicate a higher disciplined Christian thought to an audience whose brains are tuned to receive it. Or maybe just tuned-in enough to be able to hear it. There is a difference.
Whenever questions about theology or God get too deep or too complicated for me, I run to “Because God said it.” That’s my default rationale, my bedrock. It works for me. I can get to that absolute without having to tackle any of the bigger picture stuff that stumbles the real thinkers. I don’t dismiss the hard stuff like election or omniscience, or eschatology…but I rarely wade into those waters with people. Mostly because it’s a great place to get bushwhacked…to pick an argument with us “shallow thinkers” who can be easily overwhelmed with partial truth that is (often aggressively) presented as fact.

My younger brother is a pastor of a small local community church. He went into the pastorate later in life after a successful business career. It took him 5 years to get through the education he needed. It was a long hard road…but he made it though. All during that time and still today, I benefit from his education too. Our monthly lunches are often a source of theological discussion, education and sometimes correction. That lunch-table education helps me to at least appreciate some of the diverse thought around the academics of theology.

But at the end of the all-too-often self-righteous, complex arguments and debates surrounding theology… is the simple truth of the gospel. A truth that even a child can understand and believe. The truth that God loves us with a love bigger than we can comprehend…and that he wants to be known by us and have a relationship with us. I don’t fully understand that…I know I don’t deserve that kind of love or the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for me. But by faith I have made that truth my own and it has changed me internally and eternally.

I’m very thankful there are those like Ravi who can discuss, debate and even persuade the thinkers of the world to consider the concepts and claims of the Bible on a much higher level than I will ever be able to.

But I’m also very thankful to be able to understand, receive and live out the simple truth of the gospel that still changes lives for all of us. Those who live in the heady clouds of academia as well as those of us down here in the trenches.

Life in-between the lines…. VOL 108

Here we are at nearly 3am. I just polished off a bowl of cereal and hopefully I’ll be able to get a couple hours of sleep before Kathy has to get up at 5:30am and drive to Troy, NY for a meeting…

but probably not…

I had a bit of an epiphany whilst eating my Special K (with berries…) Just a wee bit of one…kinda like an “epiph…”
Anyway…as I prepare to turn 61 in a couple of days and looking back on my life…it’s been pretty interesting. I guess that can be both good and bad…I’ve been told you don’t want to get that sentiment in a fortune cookie…”interesting” can me a LOT of things. At least the Chinese think so…or whoever makes fortune cookies.

Over the years I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool stuff, meet a lot of great people, and made a lot of friends. I have had some great jobs and some pretty awful ones…and for a couple of years made some pretty good money. I’ve seen God do some amazing things in my life and in the lives of others. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife…(twice) and have 4 kids who I love with all of what is left of my heart *                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
That would have been funnier if you had all known that I had a heart attack a while ago…

I’m not trying to be too spiritual here…but on rare occasions I can learn a lesson from me.  That’s the benefit of hindsight I guess. So…some of the richness in my life has simply been serendipitous… kind of like “common grace”…but much of it has been because of two things. First… that I was available. Second…that I was willing.  Please trust me when I say I am NO spiritual giant. But I do try to be aware of God working in my life…especially in the lulls* of life when it doesn’t feel like God is there.
*note from the author: A lull can be very important. A lull can be a segue to a “thing” and so on.

*(I learned about lulls from Jerry Seinfeld on “Comedians in cars getting coffee” It’s on Crackle…worth a watch.)

History with God is no small matter. It’s often when you do pause and reflect that we see his hand in situations…his guidance and direction…his mercy and grace…his unconditional love. I hope you already know that. But if you don’t…believe me…It’s worth the time to take a backwards glance. It will often influence your forward direction.

OK…on with it…well no…I guess that’s it.

My brain just informed the rest of me that we’re closed for the evening.