Saturday, May 9, 2015

Random Thoughts, May 2015

image used under Creative Commons license, 
photo by S. J. Pyrotechnic, from Flickr
This is one of those posts of random thoughts, tied to some of our more recent posts.  But, unlike our previous random thoughts posts,  these are more cohesive, connected.  If you've ever given a kitten or cat a ball of yarn and watched what happens, you know what I mean. It's not separate pieces of yarn. Instead, it's one long piece and, after the cat's redirected it a couple of times, that strand of yarn crosses itself several times.  Like the picture at the right.  All kind of connected on some surreal kind of way.

If you read Monday's post, you got an eyeful on the kind of detail that goes into getting onto the mission field.  But I wanted to touch a bit more on the spiritual reasons for wanting to go.


I mentioned my COPD.  And how it kept me somewhat isolated for parts of the year.  In one way, I actually didn't mind that.  Some alone time with God is good.  And I actually like my own company. So, it didn't seem too bad for awhile.  But, if you've ever paid attention to some of these bombers and murderers, they tend to be loners.  I'm not saying I was headed in that direction.  But I don't believe God intended us to be in seclusion.  I could see periods where coming up with good spiritual content for my blog and books was tougher.  Each "dry spell" longer than the last.  Even though I was getting spiritually well fed from my pastor, online.  There's a spiritual reality that what we receive from God needs to be shared in some way,

Proper exercise helps fight the COPD.  Unfortunately, when I'm stuck at home, I tend to be a couch potato.  I tend not to go up and downstairs much for exercise and my set of dumbbells doesn't get used anywhere near as much as it should.  So, getting out in a climate where I'm out sharing the Gospel more often has its health benefits, too.

If you'd be willing to help support that, the funding site is here: http://www.gofundme.com/sxs68c .

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Thinking about being on the mission field and what might not be there.  I think we all get into routines of things we do, TV we watch, music we like, places we like to go.  I have  a few TV shows I like to watch, but there's one I think I'm addicted to.  It's "Blue Bloods" with Tom Selleck, on Friday nights.  I was thinking about why I like it so much.  It's like all the other police procedurals in that the police always win, Tom Selleck's wisdom as police commissioner is always exceptionally good, most of the police are always good.  Yet, for me, it stands out.  Why?

The first thing that strikes me with "Blue Bloods" is that it's real.  Sure, most PCs aren't ever going to see that many tough situations, but the circumstances on the show are very real.  In those, we get a pretty good illustrated guide to good leadership.  We get to see the kinds of decisions that comprise good leadership.  All the characters are played very realistically, even the bad guys.  We get to watch how relationships are effected by being in the line of fire.  And we get to see circumstances sometimes test spirituality.  That makes it one I'll either miss very much or finagle a way to watch it where I am.

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"Blue Bloods" actually got me thinking some more about our recent melee in Baltimore.  I wrote about it in my most recent LifeNote, In Unity - Baltimore Edition.  The officers involved have been indicted, marches have returned to being peaceful, finally ending, and media coverage is now just boringly excessive.  If you haven't read my LifeNote, it's worth doing.  But the whole crisis was handled interestingly by a number of people.

First, there was the mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.  I was reminded of the expectations we place on people.  If you follow the media, she could do no right.  The liberal press wasn't happy she wasn't immediately anti-police, the conservative press was all over some missteps and poor wording.  So, mayor Blake not only had to to do her job, but be on the defense, too.  But it made me wonder why we expect our leaders to be super human.  The last time I looked, Stephanie was going around town in a city vehicle, not by "leaping over tall buildings in a single bound".  We've had some important, high profile events in Baltimore since she took office.  Every one has been well managed to the benefit of our city.

Were there issues with how this was handled?  Sure.  But unless the entire city staff had some type of military like crisis training, where everyone has what they do in a given situation drilled into them, there are going to be awkward moments at all levels.  So, as much as our mayor and I are probably far apart in our political views, I appreciate what she's done for Baltimore, both in the best of times and the worst of times.



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If you're like me, you're wondering about the indictments of the policemen directly involved in Freddie Gray's death.  I don't wonder if there's real guilt, But I wonder if that short an investigation will end with all the charges sticking.  The Baltimore FOP has called it a "rush to judgement". Marilyn Mosby couches the charges in terms that make them seem like a done deal.  What I'm expecting is that some won't fly in court.  That the legal standards probably won't be met with all the charges.  

That means that some of the officers won't get the punishment deserved, others more than they deserve.  But what concerns me is the expectation of the public.  Most of us have no real background in the legal system.  So, Mrs Mosby's claims of guaranteed successful prosecution are taken at face value.  If that turns out to be not true, will we end up with worse riots because people have been misled?  Which brings me to some interesting questions for Baltimore's pastors:
  1. Are you teaching your congregation that it's their relationship with God, not their circumstances that are important?
  2. Are you teaching them that not all trials come from God and there's nothing wrong with improving yourself?
  3. Are you teaching them that improving yourself doesn't come at the expense of others?
  4. Are you teaching them that getting assistance can be good for dealing with immediate situations, but handouts are never guaranteed to continue?
  5. Are you teaching them the importance of prayer?
  6. Are you teaching them that God is sovereign, so His answer to prayer may be different than we think we want?
  7. Are you teaching them that God's answers are always right?  Sometimes an end in themselves, sometimes a goad to get us off our spiritual backsides?
  8. You marched in unity to calm the riots.  Is that unity still there when you preach that some doctrinal difference is important?  Are you making it an insurmountable barrier to brotherhood that grieves God?
  9. As people say "Black Lives Matter", are you showing them that it's not just true when a white kills a black?  That it should be even more important when blacks kill blacks?  That taking any life is wrong?  That "All Lives Matter"?
  10. Are you teaching them that not only is "All Lives Matter" true, but it's not just with killings. It's how we treat the living.  Are they learning that from you?
  11. Are they learning from your example?  Or are they being given hollow words?
Those are all important questions for our spiritual leadership.

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I had someone apologize because their funds didn't allow donating to my mission trip, but they'd pray.  As important as the finances are, prayer is actually more important. It's prayer that makes our connection to God.  While He's been covering all our comings and goings, our recognition of that has been less than perfect.  And our understanding has been flawed.  Too many times, we've prayed expecting a specific answer.  The problem with that is that God isn't like a trick pony, performing a trick at our bidding, every time we snap the prayer whip.

The reality is that every time I go to God in prayer, my relationship with Him deepens.  Even if I pray incorrectly or for the wrong reasons.  I can get in the way of the spiritual benefits of that, so that they're delayed or diminished.  But, at some point, the alarm has to go off that highlight the truth of Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.".

All of that's quite a spiritual piece of yarn, isn't it?  Which brings us to some closing strands.

  • Nothing in my life has been wasted by God.  Not the good, not the bad, not the ugly.  For each of us, it's brought us to where we are now.
  • I'm believing now is the time for me to go out.
  • I'm believing the place is Costa Rica.
  • If I'm wrong about Costa Rica or this being the time to go, the desire to go is, perhaps more important than where.  And especially the desire to be in the will of God.
If that leads you to support the goal, we'll take all the prayer we can get and the funding page is here: http://www.gofundme.com/sxs68c .

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Happy Mothers' Day!

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