Archive for the ‘Soap Box’ Category

Knowing and Being Known [**]

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Have you ever been to a party or large gathering where you felt like you knew everyone? You showed up and looked around and realized that you recognized every face? You then made your way around the room getting involved in nearly every conversation? Have you ever experienced all this or something like this and then realized that you didn’t really know these people and they didn’t really know you? If you were, for example, to tell one of them what you did as a hobby and what you liked about it, would they be totally surprised? Would they be surprised to learn your greatest fear or deepest desire? Would they be surprised to know that you were a Christian who regularly read your Bible and went to church?

I attended a relatively small private Christian high school for four years. By the time I was a senior, I “knew” almost everyone in the school from freshmen to senior and they “knew” me. I could get into a conversation with just about anyone about just about anything: music, sports, teachers, homework, dating, etc. I did all of this without really letting anyone know me. Even my “best friends” in high school didn’t know me and I didn’t really know them. That would probably explain why, although we haven’t completely lost touch, we haven’t talked in several years.

I am going to tell you all a little secret about me that almost no one knows. Once this is posted, of course, it won’t be a secret anymore, but I think that making my point is worth sharing my secret. Read more…


What Fire? Shut Up and Play! [***]

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment
House on FireWe often have large fires during the summer here in southern California. They last for days -even weeks and months-, burn hundreds of thousands of acres of land, destroy hundreds of homes and other buildings, and even take a few lives. Every time such fires occur, large call centers are set up so that local residents can call and talk to people who know how to properly cope with the fire (both during and after the fire). Often times, the calls are along the lines of “I am at work but my home is on such and such street. Is the fire anywhere near there?” Other times, a caller might ask, “I can see the fire from my kitchen window. What should I do now?” During a recent wild fire, a friend of mine was working in one of these call centers as an operator when she received a phone call that went something like what I have detailed below. 

Caller: Hello, I am at my house right now, and I was wondering if I should leave or not.

Operator: Are you somewhere near the fire?

Caller: Yes, I think so.

Operator: Can you see the fire from your home?

Caller: Yes.

Operator: How close do you think the fire is to your home?

Caller: It appears to be a couple of streets away. I can see some of the other houses burning.

Operator: That sounds very close. Fires can move very quickly. You should evacuate immediately. You probably don’t have time to pack anything up. Just grab whatever is most valuable to you and is easy to carry and get out now.

Caller: Hmm… I have a lot of valuable things. Too many to carry. …but you know what. I don’t think I really need to worry about the fire. Are you sure I should leave?

Operator: Yes ma’am. You are in danger and you should leave now.

Caller: [Pause] I dunno. I would be leaving all this stuff behind. I don’t think I am in any real danger. I think I should stay. Do you really think I should leave?

Operator: Yes ma’am. Please forget about your possessions and get out now. Your life is in danger.

Caller: [Pause] I dunno. I think I should stay here.

Operator: No one can make you leave. That is your decision, but you should leave. Now!

The call ended with the caller still in the house. I have no idea what happened after that. Perhaps she came to her senses and left in time, or perhaps she didn’t! What would cause a person to disregard their safety, their well-being, and even their life in the way that this lady did? I have some answers, but before I get to them, here is another story of sorts. Read more…

F3AR and H8 [***]

August 7, 2009 Leave a comment
What happens when an animal is confused and cornered? I found out many years ago when my family and I house-sat for a friend of ours. Besides watching the house, we also watched the friend’s dog, a Cocker Spaniel. He was a friendly dog, but he wasn’t really sure what to make of us. Instead of seeing his owner who he was familiar with, he saw only us strangers for several days. He never fully adjusted to us being in his space. He did eventually accept that we were responsible for feeding him and letting him in and out of the house, but I wouldn’t say that he was ever comfortable with us. 

Being as young as I was and having grown up with several dogs of my own, it seemed natural to me to attempt to pet the dog, which he hesitantly let me do. My own dogs were always comfortable with me and so I could get away with things like wrestling, pulling tails, barking at them, and getting in their face. Well, this dog naturally was not that comfortable with me, and so when I put my face right up to his and made silly baby noises like “goo goo” and made silly faces, he didn’t know how to react. He tried to back away but since there was something behind him he couldn’t. I didn’t notice it in the moment, but the dog quickly began to panic. As much as a Cocker Spaniel can, this dog had an expression of fear on his face and in his physical demeanor. He started to freak out, and yet I persisted with my nonsense. So, the dog did what virtually any creature would do in a similar situation: He struck my face with his fangs and then ran away! He got me pretty good. There was blood but no long term damage.

Years of experience, starting with this incident, have taught me that neither dogs nor humans like to have unfamiliar people up in their face or in their business. Read more…

Beware the Judas Goat [***]

July 30, 2009 Leave a comment
When it’s time for the sheep to be slaughtered, a “Judas goat” is sent in to lead the herd. When the goat confidently struts up the ramp into the slaughter house, the sheep blindly follow. At the last minute, the goat exits through a side gate, but the sheep continue up the ramp and to their death. 

The “Judas” title comes from Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, part of his inner circle, the one that betrayed Jesus to death. Unlike the sheep, Jesus knew what he was walking into. He did not blindly walk into his death. He boldly walked into His destiny.

How many of us, though, are like the sheep? We are not God and so we do not know the future, nor do we know the hearts of men. Every day, we are forced to trust people (to a certain extent), not blindly like the sheep but not with full knowledge of their hearts either. We trust people according to past experiences- with them, with people like them, etc. A 1999 survey by the New York Times revealed that those polled were almost three times more likely to trust that someone would give them “fair” treatment if they knew them (90%) versus if they didn’t (35%). Generalizing these numbers reveals that once we “know” someone we are more likely to trust them. Have you ever heard this statement? “It’s not that I don’t trust him. It’s just that I don’t know him.” When we feel that we know someone, we are automatically apt to accept their advice or follow their lead even when it contradicts our own judgment. Does this next statement sound familiar to you? “I didn’t think it was a good idea, but then I saw so and so doing it, so I went ahead and did it too.”

Read more…

The Lion Outside [***]

July 28, 2009 Leave a comment
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13 NIV) 

At this point, you might be wondering the same thing I did. “Eh, what’s a ‘sluggard’?” Fortunately, provides a quick answer:

sluggard (n.): a person who is habitually inactive or lazy

So, the proverb is saying that: a) Lazy people use extraordinary excuses to justify their laziness. b) Justifiable fear can cause otherwise active people to become inactive.

I have seen this played out in a great number of ways. I have seen perfectly healthy men justify not looking for work. I have seen women justify not leaving their abusive husband or boyfriend. I have seen addicts justify their habits. In this article, I’d like to focus on this passage as it pertains to doing the work of God. The following is an Aesop’s fable entitled “The Son and the Painted Lion”.

There was a timid old man who was afraid of his only son’s passion for hunting, for the son was full of courage. In a dream he saw that his son would be killed by a lion. Dreading that the dream would come true, the father built a dwelling for his son of great magnificence, set in a high place where he could keep his eye on him. In order to distract and please him, he had commissioned for his chamber paintings of every kind of animal, and among these was a lion. But looking at all these did not distract the young man from his boredom.

One day, he approached the painting and cursed the lion in it:
‘You damned beast, it’s because of you and my father’s lying dream that I am cooped up here in this prison for women. What can I do to you?’

And, as he said this, he struck his fist against the wall to blind the lion. But a splinter got lodged under his fingernail and he could not get it out. This became greatly inflamed, brought on a fever and swelled up to an enormous size. The fever raged so fiercely that the young man died of it.

The lion, even though it was only a painted one, had indeed killed the young man, just as his father had foreseen.

Building on Sand [*]

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment
House on SandArchitecturally speaking, sand has at least two potential problems as the foundation of a house. First, it can liquefy under certain conditions. Second, sand becomes unstable when it is shaken, such as during an earthquake, wind storm, or heavy flood. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to build a house on sand. With some clever planning and implementation you can certainly use sand as the foundation. Heck, people have built houses on marshes, swamps, stagnant water (see Venice, Italy), muddy mountain slopes (see Malibu, California), rocky cliffs, and more. Most houses, of course, are built on flat rocky soil. The reason for this is simple: Building a house on flat rock is safer, more reliable, and more cost effective than building on any of the aforementioned foundations. Read more…

Hope in a Time of Darkness [**]

April 22, 2009 Leave a comment
The financial institutions are failing. The governments are raising taxes and making questionable compromises. Both public and private educational systems are being clobbered. Unemployment and debt are skyrocketing. The moral fabric of society has been almost completely replaced by political correctness and “hope”. 

Where then shall we seek refuge in this chaos? I heard this story years ago:

There once was a farm where there lived a hen and her chicks. One night a fire broke out in the barn where the hen and her chicks were at. As the fire spread, the smoke thickened, and the heat increased, the mother hen frantically called her chicks to her. She said, “Hurry! Come here my little ones! Take refuge under my wings and I will protect you.” So that is what the chicks did; they hid under the wings of their mother.

The fire was of course too much for the hen and so she died. After the fire had been extinguished, the farmer walked around surveying the damage. He came across a blackened clump that he recognized as his now diseased hen. He then kicked the hen’s blackened corpse. To his surprise, bright yellow spots began to emerge from the blackened hen. The hen had given her life, but it was not in vain! Her chicks had been saved!