Tag Archives: patience

A Plague of Indecision

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

We all face a plethora of decisions, every day of our lives; no matter the job, no matter the circumstance; and actually it’s more of a plague of INdecision rather than decision; an inability to choose between two or more directions that lay open before you.

Mine at the moment certainly isn’t an earth shattering choice. Actually, I simply can’t decide where to take the direction of the fifth Drifter Series book. I’m stuck at a certain point with two main characters and a villain, and can’t decide where to go from here.

It’s just a temporary case of writer’s block.

What led me to this writer’s block…aahh, these are the choices behind the choices. Continue reading A Plague of Indecision

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The War on Christmas? We’ve Already Lost

starbucksCan I just say that I’m more than a little disheartened that the first volley in this year’s “War on Christmas” seems to be over a red coffee cup.

I hate to be the one to say it, but for me, this so-called “War on Christmas” was lost long ago; a beaten and bloodied casualty at the hands of a free market society and retail commercialism as we see more and more displays of Santa, reindeer, green and red baubles, and candy—always the candy—showing up on store shelves and display windows even before the ghouls and goblins of Halloween have been tucked away. Look no further than the ever-increasing creep of “Black Friday” sales now encroaching on Thanksgiving dinner…even into that particular Thursday’s breakfast and pre-dawn hours.

Further, I don’t see the War on Christmas as so much an “us vs. them” conflict as I do an internal civil war. A war created by a master deceiver, drawing our attention away from what should be truly important to us and instead toward such superfluous bickering like what is or is not on a secular corporation’s coffee cup.

Wasn’t it Christ who said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls”? (Luke 11:17)

Didn’t the Apostle Paul also write, “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law (or coffee cups, cashier greetings, window displays, et.al), for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:9-10, with a bit of editing)

Paul continues: “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11, and I’m looking at you Josh Feuerstein)

And didn’t Jude, the brother of James, write, “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage…It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear…” (Jude 1:16, 19-23, emphasis mine)

None of these were written against the world, but against those within the church itself; as Jude puts it, those “certain people (who) have crept in (among the faithful)”

With rare exception, retail stores like Starbucks, Target, and any other who chooses to put up neutral displays, or says it’s employees are to greet customers with a hearty “Happy Holidays”, are not Christian companies. That’s not a slam, that’s a simple fact. Why in the world are we getting offended when they fail to uphold our misguided expectation of adherence to Christian beliefs, or to express Christian language? They’re secular organizations trying to appeal to the widest swath of customers possible in pursuit of market share and profit. You know, the ‘Murican way!

If anything, they are a prime example of who we should be “the light of the world” for.

Light doesn’t produce offense. Light illuminates. Light guides. Light holds back the darkness and, as such, should be a relief and comfort to those caught up and blinded by the darkness.

Yes, Jesus is the “reason for the season”. But that sentiment needs to be spoken in gladness with family around the dinner table, talked of in grace with friends over a cup of coffee or pint of beer, preached as “good news” from the pulpit in the weeks leading up to the day. NOT ranted into an I-phone with venom and arrogance and posted on social media.

Josh Feuerstein, and other ‘certain people’ who think that saying your name is “Merry Christmas” so the Starbucks barista has to shout it out when your order’s ready? You’re not helping.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another (Starbucks) and, if one has a complaint against another (Starbucks), forgiving each other (Starbucks, and, by all means, buy a cup of coffee for the stranger behind you in line and wish them a “Merry Christmas”)
As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15)

To An Anonymous Parent II

change“What was that that just walked in…”

The lady was standing with her husband in my check-out line. The entrance doors opened and she walked in: Mid- to late-teens, black hair, bright red lip stick, black cropped top, black short shorts, pale skin, waist-length leather jacket even though it was pushing 90 outside, and knee-height boots (black, of course). What most of us would think of as full on Goth. I’m 6’1” and with those boots she could look me in the eye.

Striking would be the word I’d use.
Not glamorous. Not ugly. The girl was striking.

She was also with her mother.

The reaction of the woman in my line—under her breath and after the eye-roll—was, “What was that that just walked in?”

I don’t know if she was talking to me or to her husband, but neither of us answered.

As karma does, within about a minute, the mother and daughter circled around and came to stand behind the couple. Again, another side-long glance. Another whispered comment. Again, neither of us, the husband or myself, heard it.

 

What was that that just walked in?

The what was a who. A girl. A teen. With a story. A past. A history.

One that this unfortunate woman will never know because she had already written her own for the girl. And even more unfortunate, the woman had already condemned her for this ‘history’; the one of her own creation, without ever knowing or talking to her.

Without ever talking to her mother, either; who was with her by the way. Pleasantly talking to the girl the whole time. Without fear or condemnation.

Oddly enough, her mother seemed to accept the girl’s style choices.

Yet, still, this other woman couldn’t. That young girl’s upbringing had already been written and she just couldn’t overcome the preconceived notion of who she thought this teen to be long enough to even look at her. Or smile. Or nod. Or say ‘hi’. Or ‘boo’. Or whatever it is that those people say to each other.

It’s something we all do; I suppose it’s human nature, this innate need to judge others around us. I suppose it’s some form of inner insecurity that compels us to see some as “lesser” so that we can see ourselves as “more”; to see some as “worse” so we can see ourselves as “better”. Our history is riddled with this type of condemnatory thinking. We’re riddled with it, every time we come across someone with a different speech pattern, different skin color, different religious views, or different “lifestyle”. Every time we see someone without a limb, without certain mental faculties, wearing ratty clothes and curled up in a doorway in one of those neighborhoods, someone with different facial features or a speech impediment.

As a society, we’ve become so hardened in our own images, and with the images we project on others, that we no longer even see what we’ve become in the process: marblized, immovable, lifeless. We’ve gotten so calloused that we are no longer even concerned about expressing our judgmentalism in front of others. Or about others. Others who have lives, histories, pasts.

Stories.

And mothers.

 

As a people, and especially as Christians, we encounter those who Jesus saw as “the least of these” all the time. More often than we’d like to think. Or know. They’re pretty much everywhere. They’re pretty much everyone.

In fact, they’re us.

And each and every “least of these” have, or at one time had, mothers. And they still have a Father, whether you choose to see it (or Him) or not. And, whether you choose to like it or not. Even whether you choose to care. Or not.

So the girl was striking. She was also really nice. Kinda shy, soft spoken—you know, like a teenager.

And the mother was nice, too. Friendly. She probably would have talked to this other woman if there had only been some acknowledgement.

But that would have shaken this older woman’s world: The world she had created for herself, and for others.

That’s a scary situation to place yourself in, having a well-manicured, perfectly ordered world thrown asunder like that. But it’s also incredibly freeing. And it’s the right thing to do.

I can only pray that your world is shaken some day, that you’re rigidly formed mindset is thrown asunder, and that you come through as a better person for having it done.

A Small Clarification (or Muddying, Either Way)

I got a fair amount of feedback on my previous post, the meme I coopted from James McGrath called “Certainty is the Enemy of Faith”. I loved it! The dialog mostly centered around the single word, “enemy”.  Maybe this will clear up how I understood Ms. Anderson’s quote (or not) 😉 :

non sequitur