Quatrain of Faith … April 23, 2013

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new mountain

I cannot see it

It needs to be

I’ll pursue with hope

I’ll build with effort

 

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Published in: on April 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Earthy … April 22, 2013

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mother earthAn interesting thought: what if it ends up that God welcomes people into heaven based upon how they honored the earth?

What if all the religious practice, doctrines, commandments, orders of service, liturgy and religious shenanigans were unimportant, and what really matters is what we’ve done with our home–earth?

There is basis for it, you know. The Bible says  “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Jesus said that the lily is more beautiful than the wealth of kings. He pointed out that not a single sparrow could fall to the earth without God’s full attention. Of course, we should never forget that even the Lord’s Prayer, which is a basic staple of religious function, states clearly that God’s will is to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Yes, what if Father God is most concerned about how we treat Mother Earth?

We do know that He arrived to find earth without form and void. Can I be honest with you? Sometimes that’s the way it appears to me. It just seems that nothing is coming together correctly and often no one cares.

But rather than giving up on it, conceding defeat and accepting it as formless and empty, God moved across the face of the waters. Is that what He wants me to do? Does He want me to leave my perch of piety and interact with the earth with my presence? Am I sitting around waiting for Him to change the world while He is waiting for me to do the same?

And then, God said, “Let there be light.” Am I going to be evaluated on how much light I bring to the darkness? Am I going to be questioned about how I treated the earth, loved the people of the earth and even about how I took care of myself while on earth?  And do I have the patience to work with this habitat around me until something good happens? (Of course, I would still need to be able to discern good and bad.)

On this Earth Day, it is well worth considering that perhaps this entire adventure we call human life is about producing evidence that what we feel and believe actually can affect our environment.

I’m not so sure a prayer opens the gates of heaven. I’m not positive that just believing in God, without loving people and honoring Mother Earth, will make me a candidate for eternal bliss.

So while we believe in grace and we’re thankful for salvation, it certainly wouldn’t hurt us to take a moment to honor Earth by bringing the light of hope, the presence of our passion and the willingness to see good … to this ailing planet.

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Peter Thomas … April 21, 2013

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I speak boldly in the shadows and whisper in the light

I proclaim the goodness of God, yet pout when it rains

I am a fisher of men, trapped in my own net

I pray for miracles while growing weary in well-doing

I am a voice crying in the wilderness, complaining of a sore throat

I hurl rocks at the castle and quickly run away before the giant eats me

I love my neighbor in theory as I challenge him on the facts

I am outraged by the atheist while frequently ignoring God

I believe in the whole Bible and dust it off each month

I am the beckoned explainer who arrives confused

I am the singer of the hymn and the doubter of Him

I am an insecure expression of belief

I am a concession of faith

I am Peter, the preacher

And Thomas, the tongue-tied

I am both, as ordained to be

For too much faith makes me obnoxious

And an abundance of doubt renders me powerless

I am as God would have me

Sentenced to be an exclamation point

Sitting next to a question mark

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“A Little Piece of …” April 20, 2013

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church Wimberley betterI am off next to Wimberley, Texas, which touts itself, in its town slogan, as “a little piece of heaven in Texas.”

I’m sure I will soon find out if there’s any validity to the proclamation, but to be completely fair, I would have to clarify what the attributes of heaven just might be, let alone its manifestation in the Lone Star State.

I am told that heaven is a place with “streets of gold.” Although I’m sure the folks of Wimberley are very kind and generous, it’s rather doubtful that their pavement is actually golden. (Matter of fact, gold would make a very poor road surface. It’s too soft, would crumble and can you imagine the difficulty in getting the city workers to fill those potholes??)

Likewise, I’ve heard rumors that there will be “gates of pearl” in the eternal home. I suppose that would have been impressive to someone in a foregone time, but I don’t know that much about gates, nor do I know very much about pearl–except it would sadden me think that a bunch of oysters would be overworked just so I could have a spectacular vision.

Traditionally, we have the story of angels singing and strumming their harps. I’m just afraid if I heard harp music, I would be waiting for a dream scene in a movie.

There is that scripture that tells us that we’re all going to be living in mansions. Here’s my problem with that–I don’t want to have so much room that I have to clean it all the time or move the clutter around so I don’t trip over things, so I really don’t think that everybody in Wimberley has a mansion, nor would they promise such to incoming citizenry.

There is some sort of buzz about heaven being a place of “no more tears.” That, of course, does have immediate appeal to me as a mortal. But I have to be honest–some of my best discoveries in life have occurred in the midst of tears. Matter of fact, I don’t know who I’d be if I hadn’t learned to mourn over some things from time to time.

So I’m curious about what Wimberley, Texas, thinks “a little bit of heaven” would be.

Perhaps it’s a place where people stop judging each other and each person believes that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” You see, the power of that is that we get a chance to rise and fall on the merits of our talent and passion instead of the cut of our jib, our lifestyle choices or the color of our skin.

I guess that’s what Wimberley, Texas, must mean. They must be offering a location where human beings can come in and not be judged and NoOne is better than anyone else.

That truly would be a little bit of heaven, wouldn’t it?

So I’m going to make my appearance there tomorrow under the assumption that this is what they’re offering rather than streets of gold, gates of pearl, harp music, mansions and a tear-free environment. Because basically, if we give one another a chance to do good things free of prejudice, all these other things just might come our way.

At least,  that’s what I’m going to share with those heavenly folks in Wimberley.

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Marching to Zion … April 19, 2013

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Jiffy LubeCan I tell you that I learn much more sitting in a waiting room at Jiffy Lube than I ever do running around doing stuff or kneeling in prayer?

I have nothing against work or piety. It’s just that we occupy this space and time with other human beings, so every once in a while, it’s a good idea to listen to them, enjoy them and fellowship with them instead of merely viewing them as friends or competition. Because in the process of procuring friends, we eliminate other people who don’t make the cut. And if you take too much time eyeballing other people as “competition,” you will soon lose sight of your own abilities and become paranoid about their intentions.

What happened in that Jiffy Lube was that I listened to three people, strangers to one another, having a conversation as they waited for their oil to be revived. It was remarkable. Nearly everything they said, talked about, referred to and mentioned I was familiar with and basically was in agreement. It made me wonder how we ever got to the point that we believe we are all so unique and different from one another–separated on islands by ourselves or entrenched in camps. Apparently there are some nastier individuals in this world who take pleasure and make profit by keeping brothers and sisters, men and women, Republicans and Democrats and religious and non-religious people at odds with each other.

I am going to make a bold statement: I would say that everyone on earth–whether in China, Canada, Argentina, England or Wyoming–share about 85% of common values and likes. How about that? That means that more than eight out of ten things in the human family would be agreeable to us all. So why do we spend time focusing on the two things that might cause conflict? It’s mainly because we insist on establishing our value based upon our uniqueness.

Not me. I was so blessed by the experience of realizing that I am part of a much larger clan of Homo sapiens than I thought, that I walked out of that Jiffy Lube whistling (even though they charged me too much for an air filter).

And as I climb into my van today and head over to Fredericksburg, Texas, to a place called Zion Lutheran, my mind drifts to the idea that the word “Zion,” although usually referring to Israel or Jerusalem, is also defined as “a harmonious community.”

We really DO live in Zion. If 85% of what we feel and think is common to us all, then we have much more reason to march towards Zion–a place of unity–than we ever do to trudge off into the desert alone.

In that spirit, I will go to this community tonight and celebrate that 85%. After all, the 15% of disagreement always has something to do with religion, politics or our particular taste and preference in entertainment and food products.

I guess if I just stay away from those topics, I can “march to Zion” … and have a truly harmonious experience.

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Balder … April 18, 2013

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hatI like hats.

I think I always have liked hats, even though I don’t remember wearing one until I was into my mid-thirties. Before that age, I took great pride in having hair. Matter of fact, in my twenties I grew it down to my shoulders and flipped it in the air when I sang, pretending I was Roger Daltry from the Who onstage at Woodstock, although obviously metabolically challenged.

But as I lost my hair I started wearing hats, the premise being that if you covered up the disappearing area of locks, people would not know that you were actually bald and you could still pull off being extraordinarily youthful and virile.

But I always ran into one problem: sooner or later you have to take your hat off.

Even though I would arrive at my engagements and set up for my show wearing a hat, it was generally considered inappropriate to sport one during the presentation. So actually, donning the beanie on top of my head for the first part of the event made the removal of the same more noticeable–and truthfully, I ended up looking … balder.

I know that sounds odd. But if people don’t know what’s under your hat, when you do finally expose it, it’s even more shocking. So about four or five years ago I stopped wearing hats so as not to send unnecessary electrical waves through the minds of those who meet me. Instead I establish my baldness from the beginning and never have to appear balder.

It’s a powerful idea–and can be applied in so very many ways.

About eight years ago I lost eighty-one pounds. I was VERY, VERY fat. I succeeded in shedding enough tonnage that I became just VERY fat. At that point there was one remaining goal–don’t get fatter. Traditionally, those who lose weight put all their weight back on. So even though I may be fat my whole life, I don’t have to get fatter. There is a certain regality to that which I shall rejoice in, even as I attempt to address losing additional ounces.

You want to know what the problem is with being angry? No one takes the advice of the Bible, which states, “Be angry and sin not.” So instead of getting angry and getting over it, we try to put a hat on it–a lid–and in the process, we become angrier.

Have you ever been hurt? If we’re not able to express the emotion of that pain, crying out some of the frustration, there is a great danger that people who are hurt become hurters.

We have a decision to make. Are we going to take what we are and share it from a pure heart, unashamed, or are we going to put a hat on it and pretend for a while that we really don’t have a problem?

Because I will tell you, I sin–but I am not a sinner. A sinner is someone who attempts to hide from what is done by sporting some fig leaves over the problem area, and end up looking more ridiculous.

  • I am bald–but I will not wear a hat, cover up, and end up looking balder.
  • I am fat, but plan on being conscientious enough not to become fatter.
  • I have been hurt, but I am going to work it out to keep myself from becoming a hurter.
  • I can’t lie to you–I do get angry. But I express it so I don’t become angrier.
  • And God and I both know that I sin. But I like to let my Daddy know when I break a vase in the house, so I don’t become a sinner, hiding out in my room and missing out on the blessings of the household.

So I am bald. But ironically enough, if I try to hide it under my hat, it really does become … a hairy situation.

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Resurrectional Vehicle … April 17, 2013

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Delighted man I was when I awoke this morning, looked at my calendar and realized I was going to be traveling to the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in San Antonio tonight to meet some inspiring folks.

It thrilled my soul because I love the word “resurrection”–and not simply because I am a believer in the emergence of Jesus of Nazareth from a tomb. It is also because resurrection sets in motion a manner of thinking that is necessary to maintain human health and well-being.

Candidly, to be successful on this planet we call “earth,” one must be able to distinguish between what is dead and what is living. It also helps if you don’t despair over the demise of certain things to the point of becoming immoveable. And it is beneficial as well if you don’t bury good things alive, suffocating them under your fear, tradition and culture.

So as I go tonight to experience the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, I will certainly and willingly impart to them my teaspoon of understanding about life and the power of coming back from the dead.

It is a four-step process–because sometimes you come across things in your life that are ailing and failing, and with a quick step and some good cheer, you:

1. Let it die. Here’s a little saying you might want to adopt for yourself: if it ain’t growin’, it’s dyin’. When I owned a house in Hendersonville, I had two projects I took on to train myself to be a domesticated land owner. First, I filled my walk-in closet with clothing so I would have choices on what to wear from day to day. Secondly, I went out into my front yard and decided to try out my green thumb by planting flowers and such.

First the closet. In no time at all, through the generosity of gifts from others and my own purchases, I had garments aplenty. One day I noticed that I was only wearing about five different outfits each week. The rest of my clothes hung in the closet, gathering dust and occasionally growling at me when I passed them by for my more preferred choices.

Now to the flower bed. I think it could be stated that my flower bed was dead. I don’t know what goes into pursuing botanical projects, but that gift seems to have eluded me. Soon I had quite an array of brown flowers.

So I went out, dug up my flowers and planted bushes (more durable) and I took all the clothes from my closet that I was not wearing and gave them to someone who might put them to work. It wasn’t growing; it was dying. So I let it die.

2. Bury it deep. We forget to make our changes obvious. For instance, I let everybody KNOW that I was abandoning becoming a clothes horse, and that I was no longer pursuing gardening. It’s important. Otherwise for the next several months, people will continue to give you seeds for your garden and clothes for your closet. Make it obvious by burying it deep.

3. Wait a spell. Jesus was in the grave for three days. Why? Because sometimes the trauma of letting something die and burying it needs to be separated from the exaltation of starting over again. I did not immediately leap into a new project to replace my closet and my flowers. I simply began to enjoy my life. Folks spend too much time on the clock and not enough time enjoying themselves, giving air to their lives to prepare for the next task.

4. And finally, roll the stone. That’s right. When it’s time to reappear with a new project after having waited a spell to recover from your last “killer event,” come out victorious. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Sunday morning, the doors of the church burst open and people emerged with smiles on their faces, clapping their hands and hugging one another? A resurrection SHOULD look like we enjoyed it. Coming back from the “grave” circumstances we are in should put a smile on our faces.

So–being a great lover of resurrection and understanding the four steps of the “resurrectional vehicle,” I go to visit these dear hearts tonight. I will tell them not to be afraid to let some things die, bury them deep, wait a spell and then … roll the stone.

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