ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS

(FEB 7,2018)

The conversation started with a question.

“So, you don’t think it is possible for a Christian to be gay? What would you say if I told you I have been in a committed, loving relationship for over ten years.”

“Well, that says a lot about your loyalty and strength of commitment….”

“What about a Christian that overeats? Isn’t he just as guilty for indulging himself, for giving into his desires?”

Good question, don’t you think?

What about one who is sexually immoral, or commits adultery, or puts some thing in has life ahead of his commitment to God (idolatry), or one who takes stuff that doesn’t belong to him, or one who still likes to get drunk, or high, or someone who gossips, or someone who is still a little bit shady in his business dealings?
Can this one still be a Christian?

Could we be asking the wrong questions?

C.S. Lewis would say that we are happy sitting in the mud in our backyard making mud pies instead of spending a holiday at the beach.

A Christian is one who has received a gift from His creator, a gift of life that goes on forever, that cannot die, that gives him the ability to see God, to see His kingdom, to drop his chains and become free to be what he was created to be.

Why would I want to live in the old way, desperately searching for a tiny morsel of pleasure in the dirt, when there is a path laid out for me that leads to a life of inexpressible joy?

If I am happy with life the way it is, the way it was before I “became a Christian,” then, maybe I haven’t yet received a new life.

Maybe, the questions I should be asking are, “Do I belong to the One who made me?
Is He still changing me into what He made me to be?
Do I want to please Him?
Or me?”

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6)

You will like the new you!

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CHURCH LEAGUE SOFTBALL, 1958

(FEB. 5, 2018)

I really loved baseball. I started playing when I was young, playing catch with Dad in the back yard, while my little dog, Jose, would run back and forth between us, every time we threw the ball, barking, turning , barking, turning. Sometimes, I marveled that he didn’t die right then of a heart attack.

Dad played outfield on the church team. They played in a fast pitch softball church league.

This was serious stuff.

The pitcher, Jerry Cone, told me some years later that teams would try to steal players from other teams. He said, he played on a business team in Garland, and a bank offered him a job, where he really didn’t have to do anything at work, as long as he pitched for the team.

But, when I was young, 6 or 7 years old, I didn’t know any of that stuff. I just loved the summertime night games at Central Park.

There was something magical about being out (not at home) after dark, when we would normally be in bed, and those bright lights around the field would bring a sense of a wonderful artificial daylight.

Foul balls were the best.

Whoever got to it first would take it back to the umpire, then go straight to the snack bar for a free snow cone.

We didn’t really watch the game…I liked to watch my dad bat…but we would usually run and laugh and play, until we heard the THRUUMMPP that sounded like a foul ball, then, our eyes went up, and the race was on.

But, there was one game that sticks in my mind.

Not because of the game, but because of the kid at the game.

We weren’t at the regular field. I was too young to know where we were, but, we had the lights, and the kids.

We were playing chase, running, laughing, running until my side was hurting . (Remember when you used to run so much, you would get a sharp pain in the side, you would stop, grab your side, and bend over until it stopped?)

There was this girl there, probably a couple of years older, who ran like the wind, laughing joyfully, running the whole show. She was the leader.

I had never seen her before.

I can’t remember her name, or what she looked like.

But there was something.

I was bewitched.

We had so much fun, the group of kids playing together. I don’t remember any faces, any names, only the joy of playing.

But, I remember one thing.

We had stopped for a bit to rest, and we were all standing around in a group .

This girl, this bewitching beautiful sprite was doing most of the talking.

“I have this rare disease,” she said, “and in a couple of days, they are going to have to cut my leg off.”

I never said anything, we went back to running, laughing, and playing.

I never saw her again.

But, this made me sad

I told my mom about this sad, sad thing, and she didn’t say much.

Just recently I remembered this event, and I wondered whatever happened to this girl?….

Wait a minute!

She probably made the whole thing up.

How could she run so fast, if she had some disease in her leg that was so bad that they would have to remove her leg?

In a couple of days?

But, she was so brave.

Or some storyteller.

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LAYERS, IQ TESTS, AND DOG BITES

“How many shirts are you wearing?” Wendy asked.

“I don’t know. Four? No, five.”

“Seriously?”

“It’s cold outside.”

“Randy, it’s in the forties. Seriously?”

“Well…I would much rather be hot than cold…I can always take a layer off. ” (I seldom do)

“Wimp, ” she said in a non judgmental tone.

“Why does it matter to you? I just don’t like being cold.”

“You look kinda lumpy.”

Well, I guess that may be true.

Couple of weeks later…

“I want you to take this IQ test,” she said, a little too enthusiastically.

“Oh, I am way too tired to take a test tonight. Maybe tomorrow.” Maybe she will forget.

The next day, we drove to McKinney, then Frisco, then back home, arriving home about 10:00.

Changed clothes, settled down on the couch before I began my customary nighttime doze off, and Wendy says, “Take that IQ test….You will probably do way better than me.”

I picked up the box, took the three packets of cards out.
The first was the instructions.
60 questions, 45 minutes, answer all the questions.

Plenty of time.

“Tell me when you’re ready. I will set the timer.”

Why was she so serious about this? Something is fishy.

I numbered my paper 1-60. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“45 minutes…go!”

Man, I was streaking through the first few. Piece of cake.

Wait, what, what the heck does that mean?

I was stuck.

“30 minutes.”

Already?

There were two questions alike, and I couldn’t really feel certain about any of the answers, so I answered them, put a star so I could go back, and moved on.

I remember feeling a little bit of stress…I do not like failing tests, and some of these questions were really tough…and Wendy…well…let’s just say we are both competitive.

“15 minutes.”

Are you kidding? I kept getting stuck on questions.

“5 minutes.”

Aaarrrggghhh.

I finished with 1 minute to spare.

“Finished!”

“Okay,” she said, “now get the answer key and count your mistakes. Don’t read the correct ones yet…just mark the wrong answers.”

Why is she so controlling?

“I missed 8.” I told her my IQ. “How many did you miss?”

She wouldn’t look me in the eyes, but I could tell she was something other than disappointed.
“7.”

Her IQ was two points higher than mine.

The next day….

I was trying to figure out how to raise the water pressure at the lake house. Wendy’s brother, Craig had told me something to try.

It wasn’t super cold, so I just had on a thermal shirt and my expensive Rice University hooded sweatshirt.

I turned the water on at the meter, then I had to walk past the neighbor’s devil dog to turn on the faucet.

Back past devil dog to meter to increase the pressure valve.

Back past devil dog to check on the faucet.

I wasn’t looking at him as he lunged at the fence, and as the fence lunged toward me, his head, now over the fence, bit me on the upper arm.

Didn’t hurt that much, but I could tell there was blood.

But, to be bit by a dog behind a fence when you are three feet away from the fence…how does that even happen?

Wendy drove up.

“The devil dog bit me…I need you to take a picture of my arm.”

“Oh my gosh,” she said,”that looks awful. How did he bite you?”

I told her, we called the sheriff, and a little later I drove myself to the clinic just so they could check it out.

“Just a surface break,” the NP said,” We will get it cleaned up and get you some antibiotics. You were really lucky it wasn’t deeper than this.”

Lucky?

I don’t think so.

And, it wasn’t my IQ that saved me.

It was the layers.

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ANGEL OF LIGHT?

February 3, 2016

(still true)

First off, I do believe in a real being we call Satan. I believe he has a personality, thoughts, desires, and pride.
That said, I believe that He will display himself to most people in deceptive ways. He will make his ways seem to be good, caring, and to be looking out for the well-being of others.

Moving in the shadows, Whispering to your thoughts.
“Can you believe she treated you that way. Oh, yeah, she will be sorry.”

Obscuring the light, filling the silence with noise, replacing awareness with distraction.

“Let’s turn these lights down, turn on some music. Here, try these. These will definitely make you feel better.”

He will even appear to be religious at times.

“I believe in God, too. You have been misinterpreting the scriptures. This is what that really means.”

He will demonize those he considers to be his enemies, slander the one his enemies follow, and do everything in his power to destroy those who oppose his plans.

“You didn’t really lose. He cheated. You are the only one smart enough to figure that out. You need to tell them.”

He doesn’t need people to believe in him to succeed, only to have people fall for his message.

It is happening. Has been since the beginning of time.

What used to be considered good is called evil.
What used to be called evil is being called good.

The new idols of the world are the idols of self. If I want it, I have the right to have it.

“You deserve this. Go ahead. Taste it. This will make you better, stronger, smarter.”

In the last days, men will be lovers of self….

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SEPARATING CHURCH AND STATE

When “free country” starts to mean anything is okay because it’s a free country, as long as you don’t hurt someone…I wonder if we are becoming nearsighted or blind.

Years ago, as new Christians, Wendy and I went to a seminar to learn more about this “new life” we were entering.

One of the statements that I have always remembered is that “what one generation tolerates in moderation, the next generation will indulge in in excess.”

I remember when President Clinton said that he desired for abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare.” We used to hear the stories about the brutality of “back alley abortions with coathangers” thinking all along how wrong that must be.

Well, abortion did become legal.

One out of three, that’s okay, right?

Well, it never could be safe if you realized that someone would have to die.

But at least, now, it was legal.

And, I guess, as long as it’s legal, it doesn’t really need to be rare, right?

So, since the government has legally allowed this practice for anyone, then, obviously those who may be opposed (philosophically, or “religiously”) don’t really have a leg to stand on.

Freedom to choose.

So what used to be tolerated in moderation in the early stages of pregnancy is now being demanded to be allowed up to the moment of birth, maybe even a little bit after.

(You see the truth in that statement about moderation and excess?)

So, my question is, if we believe something is “wrong” or “evil” as people of a church, are we supposed to live and let live and to separate our church from our state?
After all, it is a free country, right?

As long as you don’t hurt someone.

Oh, yeah, there is that!

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MUSCLE MEMORY

It had been a long day, rising early, heading to Mckinney to meet with Zoë and Evan and a banker.

Of course we went to IKEA…it was just a few miles away.

And, when you go to IKEA, you walk and walk and walk.

Cheesecake Factory for dinner, and a quick walk through Stonebriar Centre, a bargain on a sport jacket at Penney’s I have been looking for , (yes, it even has patches on the sleeves…very professorial) and we were on our way home.

As we approached Greenville (I like to go the back way), Wendy said, “Oh, the back of my neck…I really need that massage heating pad.”

(Back of my neck, summer in the city, Dallas morning news paper route, waiting for papers one morning, dozing in the car, waking up to a horrifying scene in the car next to me, one of my high school friends whaling on his younger brother in the front seat of his car, punching and punching…we never did this in our family…my brothers and I NEVER EVER hit each other!)

“You know what I just thought of when you said ‘the back of my neck’? “Summer in the City”.

We started to sing it together…
“Hot time, summer in the city, back of my neck gettin’ burned and gritty”

“No,” Wendy said, “dirty and gritty. Isn’t it?”

“No, summer in the city, burned…like sunburn.”

She said I was probably right. (She actually said that…can you believe it? I know!)

“You have to realize,” she went on, “whenever I got a new album, they didn’t use to have the words on the cover, so I would play it on my little green suitcase type record player that I named Malcolm, listen to a line, pick up the arm of the record player, write down the words, try to put the arm back down in the same place, listen to the next line, pick it up, write it down…it took a long time and a lot of work to learn a song. Did you do that?”

“No, I just sang it the way I heard it. Never really thought about the words.”

“Sing it,” she said, “sing “Summer in the city.””

And so I did…without thinking…just plowing through.

“Hot time, summer in the city,
Back my neck gettin’ burned and gritty,
Cool cat, lookin’ for the kitty,
Gonna look in every corner of the city.

All right, people at the bus stop
Walkin’ on the sidewalk, strikin’ dirty matches”

Her laughter was infectious.

I couldn’t sing any more.

I couldn’t remember the rest of the words, anyway.

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PRO CHOICE? HMMM? MAYBE I AM

One Year Ago

PRO CHOICE? HMMM? MAYBE I AM.

From the first breath we take, we are making choices.
Cry. Stop crying.
Obey. Disobey.
Laugh. Don’t laugh.
Turn right. Turn left. Go straight. Back up. Turn around.
Tell the truth. Tell a lie.
Get out of bed. Stay in bed.
Go to work. Stay home.
Stop at a stop sign. Run the stop sign.
Report a crime. Commit a crime.
Eat to live. Live to eat.

Do I need to keep going?
I can if I choose to.

You don’t have to read this.
You have a choice.

The right to choose was given by God.
That’s right.
He told the first man, the one He made in His image, the one He gave a mind – to think, to reason, to weigh the consequences, to make decisions – that he could eat from all the trees of the garden.
Except one.

“Wait,” you say, “you said he had a choice. Sounds to me that his choice was limited.”

Hold on there, buckaroo. He did have a choice.

“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Did you get that? When you eat of that one I told you not to eat from, you will die.

The choice is there.
But, there is a consequence for making a poor choice.

Today, the pro choice movement would have you believe that their choices are limited, but that is not completely true, is it? The choice is not the issue. No one can keep you from choosing something. The real issue is the consequence for making an immoral choice. Just take away the consequence, and everything is fine.

A bit later in the Book of God, “…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you may live….”

You don’t have to choose life.
You can choose whatever you want.
If you want to drive to the Rocky Mountains, but you just hate driving through west Texas, so you decide to drive east because it’s so much nicer, with the trees and all, you are not going to get to the Rocky Mountains.
You may enjoy the drive.
You may have a great time during the drive.
But this is not the way to the Rocky Mountains.

Yeah, you can settle.

“It’s not the Rockies, but it’s close enough…”

You can do what you want to do.

I can’t guarantee that you will like where it gets you…

But, it’s not up to me.

It’s your choice.

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