Monday, May 22, 2017

Cliche's. Gotta love um.

As creative, imaginative beings, plunked down in the middle of a tiny planet in an unlimited universe there is so much to learn, wisdom to be mined and fallacies to be debunked. This world is full of things to be amazed by.  There are mysteries to explore, and truths to discover.

I did a brief stint in elementary/secondary education.  Several factors were involved in the decision I made to walk away but in all honesty, one thing would have kept me in the game. Curiosity.   I didn't try to force students to be curious about the things that fascinate me.  But the flint from my wonder-starter was worn smooth in just a couple short years by futile efforts to spark curiosity, imagination, creativity, and wonder.

I am sitting next to a seven and a half pound wonder-filled creative being who's desire to learn has yet to be euthanized. My prayer is for that desire to never cease and that I would be one who helps nurture its existence.

The Bible* instructs us how, when, and where to best educate our littles; when you are in your homes, when you travel down the road, when you are going to sleep, and when you are awake. I take that to mean anytime you are with a child - and don't have an audience you are trying to impress - it is a great time to talk with them about the wonders that make up their world.

I think it's interesting that the word 'talk' is used rather than 'teach' in this verse.  Talking is comfortable and congenial.  Talking is an organic way of learning many things.  Teaching is formal and demanding. Teaching requires cooperation between teacher and learner if it is to be successful.  It is formal method of learning.  This is not to say it is not effective or necessary.  It simply means that is the student and teacher must, at some level, agree to the process.

Any number of agreements can be employed: respect, desire, fear, awe, gratitude, satisfaction, adoration, appreciation, and desperation are a few that spring to mind.  Without agreement, there is little, if any, learning taking place.  Defenses are fortified by ensuing ignorance? Yes. But imaginative, inspiring, creative exchange of ideas and information? Not so much.

Curiosity killed the cat? Perhaps.  But killing curiosity is catatonic.  Fan the flame of curiosity if you are fortunate enough to locate an ember.

*Deut. 6:7

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Place to Belong

In 1982 the television show Cheers was launched. Here I sit, 35 years later, with the show’s theme song running through my head.  I also remember the 35 year past tirade of an angry preacher (who had recently been reassigned by the denomination’s HQ to our little parish) warning the tiny congregation to not be enticed by an empty desire for a place where your name is known, and people are glad to see you. 

REALLY?!?  Granted the details are fuzzy this far out, but the realization of how incredulous his statements felt are as strong today as they were then. 

Even though I was new to the ‘church game’ my young heart knew better than to believe what spewed from that pulpit that day. I’ve since learned authentic truths like ‘people don’t do well when isolated’ must be sacrificed to make room for religious dogma; something I’d been introduced to back then and had begun developing an increased tolerance for. So, I tried to make myself believe the angry man. One of my professors used to say, “this Gospel is so simple you need help to screw it up”.  Let’s just say angry preacher was all too eager to help. 

Thankfully the Spirit of God continues instructing, teaching, and counseling in spite of our insistence on listening to people who have no business trying to lead people to a God they have yet to meet, via a path they've never traversed. 

Today, I am a card carrying member of our local golf course.  It doesn’t matter that I am a poor golfer. Being a good golfer wasn’t a membership requirement.  Paying the fee and following the rules is all it takes to qualify. Membership insures a place I belong, where they are glad to see me, and the computer knows my name. All of us ‘members’ have the same troubles. We are bested by a little ball and a hole in the ground. And I am fairly certain, we are happy to have a place where we can say we belong.

God knows humanity’s need for a place to belong.  It’s not a design flaw. He’s made a place for members of the human race to belong. He calls it His church. Jesus paid your membership fee. Solid members might not know your name but they know the Father loves you. They might not understand your struggle but should respect you in it.  And they might get it wrong sometimes, but established members can communicate how valuable you are in this club. Cheers!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Big Accomplishments

Who doesn’t want to save big and sacrifice nothing?  But doesn’t  it seem as though the game has become to see how little we can invest and still demand the rights of the fully vested? As if how little one can get by with is the goal.  I’d like my clothes to look great but I’m not too keen on ironing.  I want to enjoy a clean house without ever having to get out the mop.  And why can’t the results of 30 minutes in the kitchen wow like a gourmet’s meal? I own my wardrobe, house, and those kitchen appliances.  I think that should be an adequate investment to insure an optimum return.

Sounds kind of ridiculous doesn’t it?

Fact is all that wishing doesn’t fill hearts with peace or lives with purpose.  So I plug in the iron, dig out the mop, and read a recipe or two and put a little more of me into the equation.  The result - satisfaction.  I stand a little taller, head a little higher.  I am a little more confident and feel a little more valuable and bring more to the game that is my life.

Look in the rear-view mirror of your life.  Aren’t the most satisfying chapters all written around the things that required significant investment, sacrifice and plain old hard work?  Things we chose to invest - not a token nod or few dollars - but our lives: heart, soul and body into?  There is an emotional high that comes from this powerful combination of valued accomplishment and fulfillment of purpose, a high deeper than satisfaction. It is a heart-felt contentment that only comes from an all-in commitment.

No one in history has ever demonstrated this more successfully and completely than Jesus.  His all-in-nothing-held-back commitment to the purpose of His earthly existence is what gives us reason to celebrate.   His life has made it possible for us to live all-in, no longer held back by past failures. It was for freedom that Christ has made us free.  Why? Because it is Our Father’s insatiable need to show His insatiable love that this game of life is all about.

His will was expressed so completely by the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Who is The Way because He alone made The Way for us to be able to know the contentment and peace of God’s presence in our lives.  

If you haven’t already, do yourself (and the lives of all you touch) an enormous service. Commit to bring more of you into everything you do. Receive, accept and honor His Truth  and the Power of God’s Spirit.  Doing so activates the life of purpose and fulfillment we all long for and life begins  the transformation from what we have been known and recognized for to becoming more and more like our Heavenly Father: people who, like our Dad, are full of mercy, compassion, kindness, patience, understanding, and love.  It’s a win/win proposition.  

Our Lord gets a maximum return on His investment, and you’ll enjoy a maximum return on yours!