Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pleasing Others

There was an old man, a boy and a donkey. They were going to town and the boy was riding the donkey, with the old man walking alongside.  As they rambled along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade.  One of the women called out, "Shame on you, a great lump of a boy, riding while your old father is walking." 

The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.  Later they ambled by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river.  One cried out in protest, "How could you make your little boy walk in the hot sun while you ride!"

The two travelers decided that maybe they both should walk. Next they met some young men out for a stroll. "How stupid you are to walk when you have a perfectly good donkey to ride!" one yelled derisively.  

So both father and son clambered onto the donkey, deciding they both should ride.  They were soon settled and underway again.  They next encountered some children who were on their way home from school.  One girl shouted, "How mean to put such a load on a poor little animal."  

The old man and the boy saw no alternative.  Maybe the critics were right.  They now struggled to carry the donkey.  As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the confused animal and he fell to his death in the river.  And the moral, of course, is that if you try to please everyone you will never know what to do, it will be hard to get anywhere, you will please no-one, not even yourself, and you will probably lose your ass.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just Say No!

You can do it!

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.

Thomas Merton

Friday, October 04, 2013

God of Great Affection

The Old Testament tells the story of God rescuing fallen humanity and even when he had to break into human history to deal with the destructive power of sin and preserve a line that could receive his grace. People saw God’s passion and its occasional severity as proof that he was angry with humanity. I used the analogy of my wife bridging a relationship with battered, stray dogs that showed up at our house in Visalia. Instead of rushing to us, they cowered in the bushes or in the darkness, afraid we would harm them, too. Winning a dog that has been abused takes some time. You have to work with their hunger to invite them closer to you until they can begin to believe that you are not out to hurt them but help them.

And then this thought came to mind, “The Old Testament is the story of God’s rescue told from the dog’s perspective.” I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but the more I’ve meditated on it, the more I like it. That’s why there seems to be differences between the Old and New Testaments. While God has not changed, our perception of him changes greatly through the Incarnation of Jesus.
Before we saw him through our eyes and our mistaken conclusions. Just like the Old Testament writers who saw God through their grid of shame and fear and deemed him a terrifying judge. Their words reflect it. We’ve got to understand they write from a place of fear and rejection, which only makes it all the more miraculous when they get a glimpse of the loving and gracious God whose “love never fails”, whose “lovingkindness is better than life”, and whose “mercies are new every morning”. They were torn between a God of great affection and the blindness of their own guilt and shame.

Thankfully, Jesus comes to tell us and to show us what God is really like. He’s not angry with us for our sin, but sees us as harassed and helpless and wants to rescue us from our bondage into his life. He woos us into the Father’s affection and prepared a way for us to be at rest in his presence, confident that he wants us there, as he untangles the mess we’ve made of our lives. The writers of the New Testament tells us that same story of rescue told from the dogs’ perspective who are now inside the house. In Christ they found peace with God and no longer needed to cower in the bushes as they had become at home in him.

We all undergo that same process, don’t we? Abused by sin and fearful that God would either ignore us or punish us, we cower in our own self-effort or self-pity, hoping against hope that he’ll be good to us, but too overwhelmed by fears to come to him. And yet, he keeps reaching out to us until we can finally be won into his affection.

Then when we are won into his affection, we can hold a more complete view of God and even in those moments where God is intense and severe in setting us free or keeping the world in check, we see that as an expression of his love, not his anger or rejection of us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future.  Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.

Thomas Merton

Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't look back

You can laugh at my behavior
That'll never bother me
Say the devil is my savior
But I don't pay no heed

And I will go on shining
Shining like brand new
I'll never look behind me
My troubles will be few


Monday, July 22, 2013

Down Around My Place

Awesome song by John Hiatt. 

And I put my faith in you
Did you make that error too?
Bound to fail that he might show his grace
Down around my place

Monday, June 03, 2013

Let me be your God

God says to you, "I love you, I am with you, I want to see you come closer to me and experience the joy and peace of my presence.  I want to give you a new heart and a new spirit.  I want you to speak with my mouth, see with my eyes, hear with my ears, touch with my hands.  All that is mine is yours.  Just trust me and let me be your God."

Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Don't know what they are saying, but catchy tune...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Your heart is greater!

The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart.  In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, coin words to speak and write about them.  But no final healing is likely to come from that source.  You need to let your wounds go down to your heart.  Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you.  Your heart is greater than your wounds.

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, May 02, 2013


Idleness? When a violent storm is raging; when our enemy is so close that our very lives are in danger; when everybody else around us is frantic with hyperactivity; idleness is not a natural  response. Yet surely it is indeed to an “idleness” of sorts that we are all called.  For the person who wants to know triumph in the struggle, this idleness is indispensable. Those who are weary with fatigue are in no position to strike the fatal blow against the enemy. It is in a certain idleness that we find our strength. It is the spiritual practice of sitting still, silently staring into our Father's face. It is from that place that we find the strength we need to face the tasks life presents. It is from that place that we move into action out of supernatural power. Indeed, it is from that place that we find our very identity and destiny for time and eternity. 

Steve McVey

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Love gives

Faith receives, love gives. No one will be able to receive without faith. No one will be able to give without love. Because of this, in order that we may indeed receive, we believe, and in order that we may love, we give, since if one gives without love, he has no profit from what he has given.

Gospel of Philip

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shelter me

Everybody needs a little place they can hide 
Somewhere to call their own 
Don't let nobody inside 
Every now and then we all need to let go 
For some it's the doctor 
For me it's rock and roll 
For some it's a bottle 
For some it's a pill 
Some people wave the bible, cause it's giving them a thrill 
Others point their finger if they don't like what they see 
If you live in a glass house, don't be throwing rocks at me 

We all need a little shelter


Friday, April 05, 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wisdom from Hollywood

There is wisdom in old Hollywood westerns that has application in life, for example:

One should always ride low and in the middle of the posse.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cat Fights

Cat fights are always fun, but this fight was pretty much over when one cat demonstrates his ninja skills and threatens to deliver a Chuck Norris round house kick.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bad Ass


Dare to be grateful for every good thing.  And dare to know it’s all good.  That’s what God does: God works everything for good.

Dare to never make pain invisible but dare to say injustice is intolerable.  This takes courage.  This takes Christ.

Dare to give up clarity — because God gives a call.  Dare to give up life road maps — because God gives a relationship.

Dare to live without answers — because God gives His hand.

Dare to live by faith — not by feelings, formulas, facts or fences.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Ann Voskamp

Saturday, March 16, 2013

First Things First

God’s first priority is not to clean up our sins; it is to help us learn how to live in his love. His cleansing makes that possible even where we still feel entangled in sin. Certainly he wants the cleansing within to untwist our self-indulgent ways, but that only happens as the fruit of living loved. Because we are clean we can live in him. As we live in him his fruit grows in us to displace the waywardness of our old ways.

Wayne Jacobsen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Rascal Flat's song, "Broken Road" meant a lot ot me when I first learned about grace.  This song speaks to me as well...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beyond the walls

Throughout the world an unrelenting hunger to know the life of Jesus is inviting thousands of men and women beyond the structures of religious performance into a meaningful relationship with him that is transforming their lives. And even though they’ve been marginalized by false accusations, they are learning to follow the Shepherd instead of the voices of those who want to use fear to draw them back into dependency on religious structures or leaders.

Wayne Jacobsen

Monday, February 25, 2013

Life Everlasting

The justice of the scribes, who perfectly understood the letter of the law, was not sufficient to gain anyone admittance to the Kingdom of Heaven.  It was necessary for the law to be fulfilled in spirit and in truth.  It was necessary that men should be perfect in the law, not by exterior observance of precepts but by the interior transformation of their whole being into sons of God.
In Christ we die to the letter of the law so that our conscience can no longer see things in the dead light of formalism and exterior observance.  Our hearts refuse the dry husks of literal abstraction and hunger for the living bread and eternal waters of the spirit which will spring up to life everlasting.

Thomas Merton

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wild Kingdom

If animals had my problem...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oh Yeah!

My mind is aglow with whirling transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Because of Love

The proclamation of the gospel is the proclamation of the forgiveness of sin, not a promise of the potential for forgiveness based on us and what we do.
One thing is certain: Jesus didn’t tell us to love our enemies while He won’t love His own. He has loved and so we love. He has forgiven and so we forgive. Thank God, grace doesn’t require an invitation. Instead, it rushes right into the place where it is needed simply because of love.
Steve McVey

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Lord, have mercy

You wonder what to do when you feel attacked on all sides by seemingly irresistible forces, waves that cover you and want to sweep you off your feet.  Sometimes these waves consist of feeling rejected, feeling forgotten, feeling misunderstood.  Sometimes they consist of anger, resentment, or even the desire for revenge, and sometimes of self-pity and self-rejection.  These waves make you feel like a powerless child abandoned by your parents.

What are you to do?  Make the conscious choice to move the attention of your anxious heart away from these waves and direct it to the One who walks on them and says, "It's me.  Don't be afraid" (Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20).  Keep turning your eyes to him and go on trusting that he will bring peace to your heart.  Look at him and say, "Lord, have mercy."  Say it again and again, not anxiously but with confidence that he is very close to you and will put your soul to rest.

Henri Nouwen

Few really know

Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel.  Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hope in His love

We can either love God because we hope for something from Him, or we can hope in Him knowing that He loves us.  Sometimes we begin with the first kind of hope and grow into the second.  In that case, hope and charity (love) work together as close partners, and both rest in God.  Then every act of hope may open the door to contemplation, for such hope is its own fulfillment.

Better than hoping for anything from the Lord, besides His love, let us place all our hope in His love itself.  This hope is as sure as God Himself.  It can never be confounded.  It is more than a promise of its own fulfillment.  It is an effect of the very love it hopes for.  It seeks charity because it has already found charity.  It seeks God knowing that it knowing that it has already been found by Him.  It travels to Heaven realizing obscurely that it has already arrived.

Thomas Merton

Boldface text mine.

Perfect Love

Perfect Love is within your reach!  Only you have to remove jealousy, expectations, prejudices and greed from what it is that you call Love first.

Alexander Groseth 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Gun is Civilization

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat – it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed.
People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.
Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.
People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.
The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation… And that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.
By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NRA responds to The Big Zero

I thought this was a good speech with some great points...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Claim the victory

You are still afraid to die.  That fear is connected with the fear that you are not loved.  Your question "Do you love me?" and your question "Do I have to die?" are deeply connected.  You asked these questions as a little child, and you are still asking them.

As you come to know that you are loved fully and unconditionally, you will also come to know that you do not have to fear death.  Love is stronger than death; God's love was there for you before you were born and will be there for you after you have died. 

Jesus has called you from the moment you were knitted together in your mother's womb.  It is your vocation to receive and give love.  But from the very beginning you have experienced the forces of death.  They attacked you all through your years of growing up.  You have been faithful to your vocation even though you have felt overwhelmed by darkness.  You know now that these dark forces will have no final power over you.  They seem overwhelming, but the victory is already won.  It is the victory of Jesus, who has called you.  He overcame for you the power of death so that you could live in freedom.

You have to clam that victory and not live as if death still controlled you.  Your soul knows about the victory, but your mind and emotions have not fully accepted it.  They go on struggling.  In this respect you remain a person of little faith.  Trust the victory and let your mind and emotions gradually be converted to the truth.  You will experience new joy and new peace as you let that truth reach every part of your being.  Don't forget: victory has been won, the powers of darkness no longer rule, love is stronger than death.

Henri Nouwen

"It is your vocation to receive and give love."  Pretty simple isn't?  Why do men (church) have to make it more complicated than that?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Can Do!

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!'  Then get busy and find out how to do it. 

Theodore Roosevelt 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's all about me me me

File:Narcissus-Caravaggio (1594-96).jpgHere is an interesting article by Dr Keith Ablow about how we are raising a generation of deluded narcissists.  It may be getting worse, but I think the beginnings go back several generations.  Here is an excerpt from the article that talks about something I have personally witnessed.

On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”

Monday, January 07, 2013

God Knows

the gate where the stone path starts...Syrrako
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows: His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

Minnie Louise Haskins

Pumping your way to health

113743815It looks like the inventor of the Segway has invented a way to help you lose weight.  It's kind of a reverse feeding tube that sucks food directly out of your stomach.  I guess it is high tech bulimia, but without some of the unpleasant side affects.  I think I'll stick with trying to eat less.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

My faith

My faith wasn't arrived at by logic and scientific proof of God and, as such, it can't be defeated by logic or science.  I won't use either to justify my faith and it is useless to use either to attack my faith.

My faith doesn't depend on a particular version of the bible or how men may interpret it.

My faith doesn't depend on the bible being inerrant or interpreted literally.  I know that puts me at odds with most of Christiandom, but so be it.  I'm open for God to change my mind.  For example, I don't believe God ordered the Jews to kill anyone, especially women and children.  I believe they attributed it to God in order to justify themselves.  I also don't buy into the intellectual contortions people have used to try to explain it away and make God seem less evil.  And no, I'm not calling God evil.  There are some that say it is dangerous for a person to decide for themselves what to believe and not believe about the bible.  However, is it any less dangerous leaving it up to man to decide what an inerrant or literally interpreted bible says and means?

I wasn't frightened into faith by fear of hell or even lured in by the reward of heaven.  I don't even know what heaven and hell really are, anymore.  There is much angst in me about the way men have interpreted the bible to define each place and have used both as a weapon to manipulate others.

My faith didn't grow in church, it only helped me become a good actor.  However, it was the internal conflict that the "performing art" that is the modern church created within me that ultimately led me to walk away from it.

My faith is a fluid thing.  Sometimes God occupies the forefront of my thoughts and other times it seems like I don't know Him.  Many times my faith is complex and exhausting and at other times there is the simplicity that is devotion to Christ that the bible promises.  Those states of my faith bring good feelings and bad, but each are couched in the deep trust that God is always with me no matter what I may be feeling or how badly I may be acting.  I have things to learn from each experience.

Where my faith will lead me, I do not know...

Friday, January 04, 2013

The riddle of the gun

This is an interesting blog post by noted atheist, Sam Harris.  It is very well written and I agree with most of his points.  Here is an excerpt:

However, when a massacre is under way, nothing can substitute for the presence of other armed men and women who have been trained to fight with guns. That is why one bothers to call the police. And those who are horrified at the idea of stationing a police officer in every school should be obliged to tell us how long they would like to wait for the police to arrive in the event that they are needed. Declaring schools to be “gun-free zones” makes them especially good places to commit mass murder—this is more NRA propaganda that happens to be true. With the exception of the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every mass shooting since 1950 has taken place where civilians are forbidden to carry firearms.

I do disagree with his interpretation of the second amendment, but on balance it was good.