Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Battle Ended Some Hours Ago

The battle ended some hours ago.
Each side took their casualties,
but by the time the blood stopped flowing
we were victorious.

Now the sun rises behind rain filled clouds.
I wonder if this was the last battle.
But wondering like that degrades the dead.
This morning we won.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Holiness, Perfection, and the Unraveling of an Ideal

My son made a comment while I was talking to him before bed. I can't remember what it was exactly, but it elicited a question from me.

"What does it take to be saved?"

"Be a good person. Don't do bad things.."

My heart hurt at these answers.  "No, Bud, not at all." (Yes, I say things like "Bud", especially when I'm getting all fatherly.)  I know why he gave them, and it wrenches me inside.

"Do the things God likes? Have God's Spirit in you?" Now he's giving answers with a questioning tone. He's searching for the answer I'm looking for. 

"Sort of."

Then I bring out the big guns.  I lock and load John (I almost inserted "freaking" right here. Felt like the right vibe. Couldn't bring myself to do it, and so I instead write this entirely too long aside that completely ruins said vibe. Continue.) 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  I even went old school KJV (which, as it happens, always reminds me of saying KGB).

This is not the first time I've had similar conversations with my son. He was born into a fundamentalist church where the way to get into or out of the good graces of God was solely dependent on how closely you fit into the mold of that particular church. Every sermon for us, and every Sunday School class for him, emphasized the local news headline message coming from the pulpit. (For those who don't know, that particular style is summed up in Pay Close Attention to This or YOU WILL DIE!

My wife and I almost caved in that environment. We came so very close to just stopping. Was this really the way the omnipotent master of the universe was wanting to communicate? Did I really have to condemn so many great and wonderful people that had touched my life to eternal damnation because they didn't meet a certain level of belief. We wrestled for years before leaving, and when we finally did we took some baggage with us.

And my wonderful, introspective, passionate, hilarious, and literal son is also carrying it. He's living with assumptions about Salvation that need to be unraveled. Complications that need to be simplified. I tell him what I've found. That it's about belief. It's about an acceptance of our unrighteousness and of Christ's ability to make up for it.

I remember what he said now. (Non-chronological representation of the facts. That's how I roll) He was asking me about a book of his, ostensibly a Bible, that we'd gotten rid of when we found that it had some inappropriately vulgar visual representations (at least for the Children it was being marketed to). He was saying that if he had it he wouldn't be able to call it "The Holy Bible". (which, btw, is exactly what he calls his Bible)  I explained to him that Holy is just a term to indicate something separated for the purpose of God. It's not the object that is Holy, it's the usage.  

We are commanded in 1 Peter to be Holy, though we are incapable of being so. We are told be Perfect, though none is perfect and all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. HOW??? How do we be good enough? 

That's the question everyone is asking themselves. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Humanist, etc., etc., you are asking yourself that question. Maybe your god is entertainment, or maybe your vanity.  Maybe football, writing, SciFi, eating, ping pong, Politics, or TV. We are all asking ourselves how to be good enough.

And I finally realize that Christ has always answered each person exactly the same way.  

You don't have to be.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reconciling Abundant Life with Daily Death

Wrap me tight in my prison of death.
Trade my mundane for the blessed.
Tear me down, bring me down, oh so down
that I can't see.
But my ears can hear and they know my wind is blowing
and my morbid flight is at hand.


Christ tells me that he has come so that I might have life, and that my life will be more abundant than a normal way of living. That's exciting.  I can get behind that idea. But then I turn and the church's mentor Paul is there saying he dies daily.  He's telling me that for God to increase I must lessen. How do we reconcile abundant life with daily death?  It's into this dichotomous faith that a Christian walks.

We can't take only one side of the argument. My childhood was largely shaped by the Holiness movement in small East Tennessee churches, where the rejection of self was the ultimate sign of being Holy, and where abundant life was more for the By and By than the Here and Now. But neither can you embrace the promise of abundant life without accepting the loss and struggle that must be intimately intertwined.

We exist on Earth as imperfect productions of a perfectly individual mold. We come to God through faith and belief, and we are saved. Then we begin conversion, from sinner to saint, and we go not from our imperfect self into God, but rather from our imperfect to our perfect self that is made in the image of God. We do die daily. We die to the World, to Sin, to vain ambitions, to lack of self-control, to depression, and to all the layers of unrighteousness that are covering our perfection. We die so that God can rebuild us. A broken sword can't be mended. It must be melted down and reforged. We are each broken, and the method to reform us is a process full of death and life.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Tail of a Turtle

You may not be aware, but the lowly turtle is actually the first known purveyor of the stars from Planet Earth. Within the turtle’s squat tail lies the aftereffects of a weekend long party by the Borganzines around 5 million B.C. Due to the drunken exploits of a particularly wild group of physicists, a tiny interplanetary gravitational distortion field is housed in the tip of each tail. The result of this field is that the tip of every turtle’s tail is constantly gallivanting through the galaxy. A fact much to the chagrin of the Luvian Emperor, who choked to death when he accidentally bit one of the traveling turtle tails.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I Murdered a Man

I murdered a man
in a cold blooded flood of
passion/anger/frustrated peace.

I didn't look back until I did.

I saw him rise
and he declared my victory lie.
Then I bled and my water fled 
and I bowed to him that was dead.

That moment made of many lives
and weights pulling me to the ground.
There in the dirt I found the truth
and his flesh gave way to bone. 

Time over time he dies. 
My breath has never stopped.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Story Never Told

a voice I'll never know
a hand I'll never hold
a cry I'll never comfort
a story never told

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Setting of Failures

So, where was I?  I remember some goals, something about being thirty, and for some reason Darth Vader fighting Jean Luc Picard (which would be awesome, btw). It's been some time since I wrote here, and frankly some time since I wrote more than a couple of sentences. 

I was reading through my old posts, and I saw one from 2012 where I turned 30. I looked at the goals I had set and was confronted with failures. It reminded me why I might simply be done with goals of that type...

I've got a bug to write this morning. After seeing those goals, I was tempted to slant negative. However, I don't want to be negative, so instead I'll focus on some accomplishments and other positives so that the next time I go perusing the past it'll be more fun. 

- I got a new job. It pays more, challenges me more, and has better people to work with. 
- I yell less. I've learned to better control my emotions. I've learned to better understand the root causes. 
- I bought a new car. 
- I firmed my belief in God and my desire to be a Christian. 
- I learned a ton of new IT skills. 
- I redeveloped my gaming hobby and beat a video game. 
- I fixed a pipe. 
- I faced some really deep lows but never gave up. 
- I reconciled with some family members. 
- I flew a helicopter. ( it was a toy)

So as I look back and rethink hose goals from another me, I realize I didn't fail at them all. I succeeded in becoming a better Christian, husband, father, and geek. I think my mistake in setting goals has always been putting the proverbial cart before the horse. I focus on the product instead of the tools.