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Not My Place [*]

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

“Didn’t his mama teach him anything?” “Doesn’t he know he shouldn’t be doing that?” “Who are they to tell me what to do?” “You do your thing and I’ll do my thing.” “I know I’m going to the good place when I die. I’m a good person. …Most of the time.” “Hey. You. Those two guys you were just talking to. They’re gay.” All these statements have at least two things in common. The obvious commonality is that they are statements about right and wrong and about impressing one’s sense of right and wrong on another person. More than that though, I heard all of these statements at the same place from the same group of people during the course of the past few weeks. Take a moment to think about where I might have heard this stuff… In a church perhaps. At the state capital building. At a dance studio. In a bar. Downtown. A pool hall. The gym. One of these answers is correct but probably not in the way you think. I heard all these statements at a church, during their weekly homeless outreach event. All these statements were made by homeless people about themselves and their peers. Read more…

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Dance as a House – A Metaphor for Life

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Silhouette of DancersEver watched a really good dancer and thought to yourself “I could never do that.”? Or have you ever looked at an exquisite piece of architecture (or a piece of furniture from IKEA) and thought “I could never build that.”?

When I was in the fourth grade my family of five moved in with my grandma, into a two-bedroom house. Naturally, there wasn’t much room for all six of us so plans were made for us to add more rooms onto the house. Due to money constraints the project took nearly two full years to complete. It was a very slow and painful process to say the least. First, our backyard was transformed from a small green orchid to a brownish trash heap. Then one side of our house became like a slice of Swiss cheese. For a long time several walls of our home were made of large thick sheets of clear plastic. We lived in a windy desert, which means extreme temperatures and lots of dirt. Imagine trying to sleep in a 90 or 50 degree room! Also imagine the frustration of perpetual dusting and vacuuming. Not fun. The bright side was that I got to see many of the oft-forgotten elements of a house being put into place. I saw the plumbing, the wiring, the air ducts, and the placement of things like heaters and bathtubs. Our house was not so much a home as much as it was a construction site. It wasn’t until the painting and flooring were complete that it finally began to look and feel like home again. Before that, I and others in my family had numerous moments of “F%$# all this! I’m so done with this stupid house! I don’t even want the extra rooms anymore!”

For the past few weeks I have been taking dance classes. Before moving from California to Texas I had virtually no interest in structured dancing. My second week in town, though, some new friends invited me to go country dancing. I had no clue how to country dance but had nothing better to do so I accepted. I danced exactly one dance and was horrible. That night I mostly just stood and watched as guy after guy walked up to a seemingly random lady, asked her to dance, danced to one song, said thanks, and then repeated the process with a different lady. As I stood on the edge of the dance floor (on the outside looking in, so to speak), I thought to myself “I have to learn how to do that”. Read more…

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Living Above the Garage

June 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Apple iPadI like money. I use it to buy stuff. Mostly, I buy food and gasoline. If I had more money I might buy an Apple iPad.

My son is an outfielder for a local Little League baseball team. Twice this year, we had a team party at the house of one of the coaches. I’d like to think that I am not materialistic, but as I surveyed the driveway, garage, living room, and backyard, I found myself being a little envious. A lot actually. Jacuzzi, pool, R.V., flat screen TV, ATVs, pool table, hybrid SUV. Yup, they had all that.

I kept telling myself that I didn’t really want any of it, that it would be fun for a while but that the fun wouldn’t last. I am sure this is true and I am sure that once the fun ran out I would just want to go and buy more stuff. Still, though, I wanted at least some of it. A taste, anyway. A better car, perhaps, would be nice. As my grandma used to put it, “Just a smidgen.” Read more…

Science Proves God Can’t Exist

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment
A few weeks ago I was browsing my local video store when I stumbled upon a DVD entitled “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. I had never read or watched any of his work before but I had heard positive things about him, so I picked it up and took a closer look. The price was really good and the synopsis on the back of the box sounded good so I bought it. I just wasn’t sure how long it would be before I got around to watching it. After all, documentaries are not exactly a Saturday night popcorn and kids kind of movie. When I got home I set the bag containing the unwrapped DVD on a shelf. That’s where it sat untouched for several weeks. Read more…

My Daughter, the Unchristian

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment
This weekend my daughter told me that she didn’t want to be a Christian. Before I get to that though, let’s rewind a bit…

My parents raised us three boys to be independent. This was both intentional and unintentional. Intentional in that they wanted to make us into adults that could think and act on our own. Unintentional in that they both had to work long hours to make ends meet thus leaving us to fend for ourselves a lot of the time, beginning as young as 8-years-old.

Overall I like how my parents did things because I think I turned out okay, eventually. With my own two kids however, I am trying to minimize how often they “fend for themselves” while still empowering them to be free thinkers. My daughter turns seven in a few days and my son just started middle school. He is eleven. To facilitate this free-thinking-ness, I encourage honest conversation about the things we all three do wrong personally, from lusting to lying. On the whole, I am very strict about the movies we watch, but I use any “bad” moment in a movie as a teaching opportunity. Read more…

Last Night I went to Watts…

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment
Last night I went to a church in Watts to deliver a carload of balls and art sets that will be handed out to the children for Christmas. 

The first time I ever visited Watts was two years ago as part of a 5-day/4-night mission trip. That’s a whole other story. Needless to say, at that time, I was terrified of the idea of going to Watts. Visiting Watts was literally on my Top 10 List of Things I Don’t Want to Do. Jumping out of an airplane, being burned to death, and drowning to death were also in that same top 10. On our team’s last night in Watts we walked through the neighborhood to get to a local restaurant that had food to die for – pun intended. As our team of mostly white people walked the streets, I felt kind of like we were a militia in a foreign land and the enemy was lurking behind any one of the windows on either side of us. I thought for sure that at any moment we would be fired upon and would have to duck or run for cover.

We did make it to and from the restaurant without a shot being fired. Read more…
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A Random Encounter with a Homeless Man

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment
On most weekday mornings, before I go to work, I head into the local Carl’s Jr. for a breakfast burrito and a coffee. I order my meal, fill up my cup, sit down, pray with my eyes closed and head bowed, and then open my Bible to whatever page the Spirit leads me. Today I read a few stories about Jesus including one where he encounters a man who had been crippled for several decades (John 5:1-15). When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed, the man’s reply is something like “Of course, but I don’t have anyone to help me. Everyone else is always getting healed.” Jesus heals the guy and tells him to get up and walk and carry his mat. Then Jesus disappears. It turns out that the healing took place on The Sabbath, a day on which no work was supposed to be done, including healing or the carrying of one’s mat. When the self-righteous religious leaders notice that the long-time crippled man is carrying his mat they become indignant and question him about it. He immediately shifts the blame to the man who had healed him. “He said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” But when they ask who the mysterious healing lawbreaker is, the man doesn’t know. A little while later, Jesus reappears and tells the man “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” As soon as Jesus leaves him again, the man runs off (on his newly healed legs) and rats Jesus out to the religious leaders. 

The healed man in this story screams out to me, “Victim! Victim! I am the victim! My debilitating circumstances are completely outside my control and therefore I do not have to take any responsibility for anything. You -all of you- owe me.” The Bible’s account of the story pretty much ends off where my version ends off so we don’t know what happens to the man later, but the end of the story as made available to us shows that the man was not only ungrateful for what Jesus had done but perhaps even resentful. He didn’t want to be healed! He was content to wallow in self-pity and to shift blame when possible. He had probably spent the last several decades perfecting the art. Now he would have to do something with his life. All of his blame-shifting tricks would no longer work. At worst, he would have to come up with new tricks. At best, he would have to learn an actual trade. Read more…

Categories: Snapshots of Me