Saturday, March 19, 2005

"I'll Pray for you" and other LIES

I read Betsy Hart's Sunday Sun Times editorial on the opinion page Sunday March 20. Here's the same article in another newspaper.,1983,KNS_350_3629374_ARTICLE-DETAIL-PRINT,00.html

She shared something that has been bugging me for years. I believe it's akin to taking the Lords Name in Vain. Maybe not but close.

How many time have you heard celebrities and newscasters say "Our Prayers are with you". It's become so rampant that people you know aren't ever on their knees lifting people up before God are using it like "have a nice day". My late friend Pastor Dan Rothwell in Fargo used to strongly advise that if you say you are going to pray for someone that you do it. There were people in that church that if they said they were going to pray for you they did. You know because they had a little black book they wrote your prayer request in. They meant what they said. I wanted to be in their little black book. They did what they said.

PLEASE: If you aren't really going to pray for someone, don't promise or offer to do so. You are making a vow before God you aren't going to keep.

There is another aggravation in this area which is an offshoot of this. I have people I know who like to take credit for the work of God. It goes something like this,

ME "I was struggling with the flu but I'm better now". THEM "I was praying for you".

ME: "I go all my bills paid this month bless God". THEM "Halelujah, I've been praying for you".

ME: "My mom was really sick but she got well" THEM "We've been praying for your mother".

I don't believe them. I can't understand why they have to piggyback
on the mercy of God seeking undeserved glory or credit. I think they are playing a dangerous game.

Do I want people to pray for me? Do I want others to pray for my friends and relatives? YEP. I just hate the self aggrandizement which come with "I've been praying for you". It's funny, I never hear this when I don't have a good report. I guess prayer credit only counts when you are over the top. "Don't bother me with praying THRU with you". Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.

I love the whole Body of Christ. I just which it would lose some flesh.

The 10 Ages of Man

Because I just crossed a Rubicon in my life (Birthday) I think a bit more about age and it’s implication.

I heard a report on NPR that defined old age.
“Young old”, “old”, “old old”.
I process things. What follows is my opinion based on my own observation and experience. No scientific studies were involved in any of the subjective opinions that follow. Wait, that’s my normal policy. Oh well, that never stopped me in the past:

0-15 years. = Childhood
I know some 14 yr olds will argue about it. But consider a man of 20 who asks a 14 year old to marry him. Now consider the same with a 15 or 16 yr old. It’s about puberty and transitional age. 6 year olds can play with 11 yr olds as peers.

15-25 = Youth
This is an age category that is changing. People are young longer. Of course youth of 21 in Iraq at war are thrust into adulthood with vengeance. Most youth don’t take on adulthood until 22-24 years. This is the age of blooming in every way. Educations completed. Who am I is a question being asked. Political and spiritual values centered.

25-35 = Adulthood
Coming into your own. These are the years where careers are carved out. Families formed. Taking the plunge. No longer young. Responsibility becomes serious. Your promise is all ahead of you. Peak consumption years.

35-45 = Early Middle Age
Raising Children. Doing and acquiring. Financial success is developed. Marriage struggles. You are in your promise years. You already have what you will have. Buying slows.

45-55 = Middle Age
True maturity. Now children are growing up. Some leaving home. Marriages solidify or dissolved. Financial change. Can be peak earning years. New start. Chemistry changes in your body. You buy less and upgrade more. Discover that it means less than it did. What I have doesn’t define me.

55-65 = Late Middle Age
A transitional time. Bodies change shapes. Gray hair. Mental acuity changes.
Life becomes clearer in the rear view mirror. Signs of health issues you will cope with until you die. Financial issues start looking forward. End of life becomes a reality. Marriages deepen as the body settles down. A rich time if lived well. Children become parents and grandchildren begin to develop. Your technical skills freeze right here. If you haven’t learned to program your VCR you never will. Materialism stops cold when you realize everything you buy or get from this day forward will be given away, thrown away, or sold at auction. You can’t bear to throw it but you know that someday someone will. So you stop buying. That’s why you are no longer a marketer’s key target.
Examples: George W Bush 58, Roger Daltry 58, Glen Close 58, Ted Koppel 64, Tom Brokow 64, Geraldo Rivera 61

65-75 = Young Old
Relationships become critical. Many lose a spouse in this time. Friends pass. Your own health changes. You value your days more. Difficult to make the transition from being “in charge” to something less. You develop friendships with younger people. You feel too young to be old, too old to be young. Hanging on to those things of youth are more and more important. Supplements, face lifts, Spas. Put off Travel is finally taken. Examples: Michael Gorbachev 74, Paula Prentiss 66, Kenny Rogers 69, Larry King 71, Barbara Walters 73

75-85 = Old Age
A mixed bag of living. Your children are now adult to middle age. Lots of grandchildren. You don’t remember all their names anymore. You say goodbye to friends for the last time more than say hello. I just can’t do that anymore is your mantra. Chances are you will be alone in these years. You have nothing to prove. You hope for the best and live each day as it comes. You are reminded of the trek of time. You think of it with mixed feelings. If you have health issues they have potential of being serious here. Scaling back and disposing of stuff becomes your venture. Examples: George H W Bush 80, Carl Reiner 83, Harry Belefonte 78, Ed McMahon 82, Alan Greenspan 79,

85+ = Old Old
The quality of life here depends on friends, relatives, health and spiritual dimension. You see every day as a gift. You scale back to the essential few things you need. Sleep too much. Watch too much TV. Feeling well is all. Simple things matter most. Hearing a bird, seeing a flower. They matter. Nearly every day someone you knew is gone. Death is not your enemy. Being relevant is. Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are the genetic legacy that exists after you are gone. Examples: Walter Cronkite 88, Karl Malden 93, Gerald Ford 92,

Eternal Life
Stepping from time into eternity. That’s the best. Don’t miss it. It makes the other ages worth it all. It all makes sense, there’s a plan. You’ll understand it better by and by.

I would appreciate insight or contribution if you have anything to share on these observations. I haven’t yet lived thru the last phases of life. I am only sharing what I think I see. Help me understand. If you don’t want to do it via the comment line do it by email.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Who am I, Do I matter, Do you like me??

Am I what I do? Or what I eat? If you identify me is it based on what I might do or have done for you, am I OK? NOPE!

Here's something I have learned along the Royal Path of Life: My identity is not based on what you or anyone else thinks of me. It can't be. I'll live on an emotional roller coaster otherwise. If I rise or fall based on your approbation and approval I'll be hopeless and useless to you and to me.

Do I like to be known, respected, and considered successful in my generation? I hope to be. But I must be first respected in my own counsel. You might consider that self centered. I submit it's the ultimate in selflessness to not expect you to love me or even like me. If I can't appreciate me I can't expect others to.

If I get praise for my work, writing, wisdom, ability,(or good looks) it doesn't hurt. But it doesn't control my life. I do what I do including this blog for me and my unique perspective. I am ignored in spades. Criticized. Lambasted and rejected.

I'm in good company. (You knew I'd end up here). Despised and rejected of men.
Jesus. If he was and I am then that identity is all that counts.

Every other source of approval and acceptance is a poor substitute and can be a tool to help me feel inferior (beatdown). I am what I am, I will strive to be the best me I can be, I hope that's OK with you. I will try very hard to maintain my own counsel and be my own worst critic without being transparently self deprecating; like I'm fishing for nice things for you to say to me. I'm not.

The more I strive to be like myself the less I will be like anyone else. That's true holiness. UNLIKE ANY OTHER. If I capture my unique factor in HIM I'm Holy.
Join me. Be you. Don't try to be like any other ever. You'll fail. Be you. Be in Him. He'll reform, reshape and renew you to his very image. That's not all bad.

It's all good!

Why I'm against Drilling for OIL

I like to drive. Got gas?? Don't much like $2.30 regular. So, in the wake of our discontent nationally we are going to go wake up a polar bear or two and run off all the caribou.

I am not against that. Drill away. I am against the idea that this matters. Anwar is window dressing. It doesn't solve the problem. It's such a drop in the bucket globally that it makes no difference at all.

Texas light crude based fuels are on deathwatch. So are some of the other methods. I worked in Brazil for a while. All cars there run on 100% alcohol. It works for now. We could do that. There are better solutions.

I'm against drilling because it masks the real problem. I'm against drilling for the same reason I mourn when good crops and good prices put off the eventual and ever more painful restructuring of agriculture.

It's like waxing the 73 Impala in hopes it'll repair all the rust spots. The car looks a little better but it's still a rust bucket. There are solutions. They exist. Political will. Look at the steroid hearings. Makes you nauseous. If that's the political framework to solve our petroleum problem in this country the obesity crisis is solved. We'll all walk.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Aborted for Nearsightedness

Aborted for a cleft lip. Slippery slope anyone? Read all about it at the link below.,3604,1439312,00.html

I’m glad my folks didn’t know I would be nearsighted (I’ve since had laser surgery). I might not have made it.

In a letter to the editor someone asked why 2005 feels like 1984. Genetic screening will keep "defectives" like me off the planet.

Hitler would have loved our age.

The master race lives.

No Bad Weather is Bad – Useless Winters

North Dakota. Grew up there. Loved to skate and ski. Ice fishing. Snow Angels. Sitting under a tree in the woods in a foot of fresh snow with a deep silence unknown anywhere else in the world.

I read in Julie’s Blog that there was supposed to be a real blizzard there this week. I haven’t experience a legit blizzard where I am snowed in since I left ND nearly 20 years ago. I do miss winter’s charms in ND. I enjoyed winter there except for the cold and the wind. Come to think of it I don’t miss the wind and cold at all. I’m confused.

So I moved to Illinois in 1985 – 86. I tell people I moved for the weather. HA

Half true. I do love the zone 5 horticulture. Redbuds and flowering dogwoods. Sweet bay magnolia and wisteria in spring.

But winter is Illinois is as useless as, well it has to do with male hogs and nursing efficacy. The winters are rain/snow/slush. We get one week where you might skate outdoors without falling to your certain death thru the ice. Ski? 2 or 3 hours north of here perhaps in a bad year. Otherwise can you say Colorado? Ice fishing maybe on small ponds IF you want to fish in the ice for non-edible fish.

And solitude and silence? Haven’t heard nothing in years.

We get one snowstorm per year. Seldom a real blizzard.

It’s not heaven, It’s not Iowa, It’s Illinois. Land with pretty springs, beautiful autumns, hot humid summers and 5 months of cloudy cool but not cold days.
Makes me think of what Jesus said to the Church at Laeodocea. Neither hot nor cold.

Spring will spring soon and I’ll quit grousing.

Monday, March 14, 2005

On Completing my Sixth Decade of Life

Spring is nearly here. So is my birthday. It happens every year about the same time. I was born and grew up in an agricultural family enterprise. Dakota. We farmed. There was seedtime and harvest. We watched others farm. I learned life lessons from these people.

There were big farmers with so much land that they forgot to sow full quarters of land (160 acres). Some years they planted full quarters with crops they later forgot to harvest.

It was a source of amusement and instruction. How could they be so rich or so stupid as to do such a thing? Sometimes “stupid” was planting crops that made no sense. Like Flax, or Sunflowers. “Stupid” made sense later at harvest.

There were some poor farmers who didn’t use good seed. They saved so much money on poor seed they went broke. They didn’t get good crops. When they saved money on seed cleaning they planted polluted seed and got a polluted crop that included a lot of weeds.

Out of these early experiences when I hear the truth “what you sow you will reap” it is very real to me.

I turn 60 today March 15th. I have lived many good and some bad years. These years have been the result of sowing and reaping. Not just money. They are years of discovering that what I invested my time energy and attention into I received back. That goes both ways. Some things I invested myself into I wish I didn’t or hadn’t reaped the harvest I did. I hoped for a crop failure. There are others I’m waiting for the fullness of the good crop to harvest from good seed I have planted.

I have many things I have invested myself into which are producing good crops in my life I am happy to harvest. My Wife Peggy. My children. My grandchildren. My work. My writing. Most important, my relationship with Jesus.

On a spiritual plane, my investment in the things of God has produced the richest rewards. The peace and joy I experience is the crop I harvested from my quest. That’s why they are called the FRUIT of the Spirit. They are a natural harvest of sowing our trust in prayer and worship. Knowing God means I have confidence in what He will do.

I recognize that I am still sowing. I also know that some sowing can be unto destruction (to the flesh). So if I visualize the harvest I desire in the future I must be more careful of how I sow in every area of my life. If I sow criticism I reap criticism. If I sow rejection I reap rejection. If I sow anger I reap anger. Sow fear I reap fear. Sow control I’ll be controlled. Whatever I am experiencing from others is in part a result of what I have sown.

Every desirable and undesirable thing in my life today is the fruit from what I have sown. This is not karma. Hindus stole this principle from God. This is a Bible truth that has 88 separate references (I counted). Several of them start out with Jesus saying, “the kingdom of God is like a sower……).

The Kingdom of God is best understood in seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping. Many pastors use this principle to extract money from their flock. That’s too bad. The truth of this principle is so important that we miss a great deal if we miss its pervasive application to our complete life.

So, on this new year of my life I resolve to sow less to the flesh and more to the harvest I look forward to in the kingdom of God on this side of the veil. I will sow more love, more friendship, more acceptance, more understanding, more compassion and more of the nature of the Spirit of Jesus who lives in me. As I grow in God my fields are becoming more and more white unto harvest. It’s time. I look forward to a good harvest as I enter the third quarter of my life. I will finish well.