Saturday, September 29, 2012

On My Last Day of Twenty

I'm twenty-one tomorrow,
but today I'm twenty.
Divide twenty by twenty,
life by life,
and you get one.
One day, one instant.
One chance to make the proverbial difference.

Mine came,
and went.
It come and goes.
Hollow without action.
Messed up inside yet burning
with passion.
Equal lashings, it seems,
for both failure
and success.
So is it such a blessing
to be blessed?

You would say yes.
You always did.
Your doubts were always hidden away.
A pillar? Yes.
But unshaking?
I doubt it, even though
I couldn't see it.

The rain is rapping its fingers,
lulling me to sleep
with its belladonna touch.
Much like your pillowed arm
beneath a small boy's head.
Or your ever bouncing knee,
that was so often my favorite bed.
I wish those years had lasted longer.
All roses have their thorns.
In my garden it is no different.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

James 1:22

But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. ~ James 1:22

But don't - Another admonition is coming.  James isn't letting up.  I wander at his emotions while writing.  Was he worked up, feverishly scratching the pen across the paper as the Spirit brought him words?  That sounds good, so I'll just believe it :).

just listen to God's word - Following up from verse 21, where the word is planted by God in our hearts, here "word" does indeed seem to be Scripture.  I always wonder at passages in the New Testament that reference the "word" or "Word".  What was the writer intending?  Regardless of present day application, was he meaning just the Old Testament, the Old Testament and writings that were already in circulation, or was he prophetically reaching into the future's consolidation of the Canon?  Either way, he's saying that we shouldn't just listen to God's word in the same way my daughter listens when I tell her to go clean her room.  10 minutes later she's still dancing on the ottoman making up a song. 

You must - This is the Holy Bible, and the words "you must" are not negotiable.  Lends some weight to what's coming up.

do what it says - We must do what the word says.  Again, non-negotiable.  The hard and the easy, the good and the, well, not as good (at least to us and our carnal nature).  Jesus said it, "If you love me, obey my commandments."   But even as I look at that immense wall of "I Can't" that accompanies "You must", I feel his Spirit tugging me with, "My grace is sufficient."  Grace is not an excuse for sin, or for lack of effort.  But it is the balm that sooths the weary spirit.  It's the second wind in the race of our lives.  He commands that we must, but he provides that we can.

Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves - I've feared some days that I was running this race in vain.  Paul feared it (Gal 2:2).  James feared it from his audience here.  Let's not fool ourselves.  It brings back to me a song from my early years in the Holiness churches of the East Tennessee mountains:

Guide my feet Lord,
While I run this race.
Oh guide my feet Lord,
While I run this race.
Guide my feet Lord,
While I run this race.
Cause Lord I don't want to run this race in vain.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

James 1:21

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. ~ James (1:20)

So get rid of - I wonder if the people reading the letter were getting a bit anxious here.  He just finished telling them to stop talking so much, listen more, and stop being so angry (or self-passionate).  Now he starts by telling them stuff to get rid of.  I can see the rich man getting a bit nervous...

all the filth - Filthiness, dirtiness, trash, garbage.  Those things that leave us spiritually icky (deep words).  The things that dirty up the temple, crowd God out, keep him from taking his rightful place.  Taking time to be Holy (a phrase we heard this weekend and that Pastor Dan Scott wrote about) is, among so many other things, a process of cleaning the temple.  Sweeping, mopping, and clearing out the filth so that God can fill up the cracks and corners.

and evil - God is beauty, perfection, goodness.  Evil is the carnal perversion of that goodness.  It takes what he wanted us to cherish and butchers it with fleshly desires.  The list of what is filth and what is evil is bound to be subjective, but we can be assured that it isn't God. 

in your lives - Not his life.  Not her life.  Your life.  My life.  Take responsibility for your own temple, Brandon.  It's the only one that God will ever give you.

and humbly - Wow.  In a world of pride, to be humble is a cherished state.  James told us what to get rid of.  He's about to give us something we should take, but first he's setting the stage for how we are to receive.  Definitions for 'humble' (via, emphasis mine):
  1. not proud or arrogant; modest
  2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience
  3. low in rank, importance, status, quality
  4. courteously respectful
accept - There is a gift for us to take.  It is up to us to do the taking.

the word God planted in your hearts - Here's what BlueLetterBible had to say about 'word', since I was curious.   There's a lot of possible definitions, but the essence seemed to be what God says.  Maybe that's encompassed by the Old and New Testament.  Maybe it goes beyond to the thoughts and impressions the Holy Spirit brings on us.  Maybe it simply means God himself, which would be intimated by the next line (for salvation comes through Jesus).  This word, God plants in your hearts.  To me, that signifies active intent.  "For it is not God's will that any should perish"  "For I will draw all men" "For God so loved the world"  God is actively interested in planting his word, his seed, his holiness, his essence, inside your heart, inside your soul.

for it has the power to save your souls - Enough said.  But since I'm blessed with a great verbosity, I'll say more.  As a fallen human, we are depraved, corrupt, and perverted.  We are forever seeking a perfection that can never be attained.  But here James is showing us that Jesus (the word God planted in your heart) can make the proverbial beauty from our ashes. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

James 1:19-20

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James (1:19-20)

Know this - He's imploring here for his listeners to know what he's going to say.  He is grabbing their attention

my beloved brothers - It's always good to preface what (as it turns out) will be a hard hitting message with kind words.  James loved the people he was talking to.  He loved them enough to push them, to challenge them.

let every person - He includes everyone in his statement.  This isn't for only Aunt Sue or Uncle Joe.  However, since he first addresses "beloved brothers", he's talking here to Christians.  Everyone should do what he's about to say, but it's to the Christian 'brothers' he's directing his statement.

be quick to hear - I've read many times that one secret to being a success, or to being a leader, or a good manager, or a good speaker (ironically), or a good father, or a good husband, or a good anything, is being a good listener.  James is repeating that to me here.  Quick to hear.  Quick to let someone else speak.

slow to speak - I have nothing to say... (pun intended).  Seriously, it's the opposite of above.  And one begets the other.  If we are quick to hear, we will be slow to speak.  If we're quick to speak, we'll be forming our words even as the other person is trying to talk to us.

slow to anger - I just listened to a message from Daniel Bell on this, where he spoke about this 'anger' as being akin in the Greek to Passion and Intensity in general.  Not only the emotion of angry.  If you take that and the next portion:

for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God - he (Daniel) said that it's saying that through our own passions, our own pride, our own abilities, we cannot produce the righteousness of God.  That's not saying that God cannot use our passions within his plan, but it can't drive the plan.  The head will set the vision for the body, not the other way around.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Marriage Raised to the Power of 2

Here is a quote from the Bible I've heard often in my lifetime:

"Where one can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand."
The context being used typically for inciting the congregation to further zeal in spiritual warfare and/or the unity of the body.  Both true and noble pursuits.

But today I brought the statement home.  For three days my wife has been sick.  For three days I've attempted to be the Uber Geek I'm paid to be (and I should get bonus points on this article for using the word "Uber".  In fact, I hearby state that all uses of the word "Uber" in the correct context are valid for 20 CHFG points.  If you are now looking for how you use CHFG points, then you have obviously missed the witty satirical essence of this aside.  Or is it witty sarcasm...  I digress), Husband (the Biblical kind that treats his wife as Jesus did the church.  In other words, gives of himself for her), Mom (which for this family means Super Woman who cares for three children while teaching two of them (and somehow providing her needy husband with clean underwear and towels.), and Dad, which we all know is a bit of Captain America mixed with a lot of Superman. 

After three days of effort, I've barely moved my projects at work forward and had to miss all of today, my wife will have to speak for herself as to how good I've done at husbandry (the Biblical kind again, not the raising of livestock, lest my wife slap me), I had a large dishtowel to dry off after my morning shower today, and my wife pointed out that my son's outfit was the same that he had on yesterday.  And the day before that.  Sigh... and the day before that.  Second sigh... 

I felt low by today.  I was trying.  Really hard.  But it was like trying to blow a hole in a fortress wall with a small caliber handgun (I use the term "small caliber" here as a shroud to cover up my woeful lack of knowledge when it comes to guns.  I then mention the cover-up in a parenthetical statement because I'm addicted to parentheses.).  It'll make a dent, but that's about it.

I talked to my wife about my struggles.  She mentioned that I need her.  Yeah, I need her.  I need her because a marriage and a family is not a 1000 foe task.  It's a 10,000.  1 can make sure that the kids are fed, the cat's fed, that there is coffee for his wife in the morning, and that possibly nothing's burning at work.  But it takes a chord of two to tackle life and move it forward.  I need my wife.  She needs me.  And together, we will put 10,000 to flight, and subsequently provide all of our children with both food and a change of clothes.

P.S. After writing this, I proofread it before sending it to my wife, because usually she catches all kinds of mistakes.  I wanted to send her something polished.  She found 4 errors.  Yeah, I need her.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Coalition of Hopping Fried Gators

The Courage of a Father

Being a Dad takes a bucket load of courage.  Why?  Because it takes courage to see the first kid get sick, then the second, then the third (for those of us who have three), then the Mom, and not run for your life against the approaching menace.

I had courage.  I didn't run.  I. am. sick...


Monday, September 3, 2012

So Today I'm Thirty

So today I'm thirty.  I've lived 10,592 days and most of another on this spinning top called Earth.  Several months back, I looked into a mirror and reflected on my last decade.  My twenties were, to me, a disappointment.  Not because my life was lacking, but because I knew looking into the mirror at that bearded, overweight, bespectacled man... I had underachieved.  I had taken my Potential Glass and only filled it part of the way.

I said then that I would do things differently in my thirties.  My goal was to look back at forty and believe that I had achieved all that I could achieve.  Not perfection, but saturation.  I spent the remaining months of my twenties figuring out how to solve some problems.  I knew I'd suffered from some emotional issues, but was very reluctant to seek help (lots of backstory there, but I'm saving it for a book one day :) ).  So, with the ever listening ear of my sweet wife, I started looking for ways to lessen the anxiety of life that seemed to overwhelm me at times.  By God's grace, I found a natural treatment that, at least over the course of the last several months, has completely changed my emotional state (also, lot's more to tell there, and I'll probably post about it one day).

Aside from my own emotional inconsistencies, my wife and I identified several other areas that we needed to change or work on in our lives.  Some of them were big, others small.  The big ones we've at least got behind us, so it's time to move forward.

And so I find myself on this first day of thirty with a list of goals for Decade Three, Year 1:
  1. Write a Fiction Novel
  2. Write a Non-Fiction Book
  3. Lose 60 lbs.
  4. Build a Website
  5. Build a Shed
  6. Prepare My Finances to Start My Own Business
  7. Build a Business Plan
  8. Be a Better CHFG (Christian / Husband / Father / Geek)
There we are.  An ambitious list of goals, but I've always been an ambitious person. :) 

Thank you Jesus for making me who I am.

Sunday, September 2, 2012