Friday, April 27, 2007

Security, Identity, & Worth

Recently I had a public speaking engagement with a group of around 150+ people. As an application point, I shared some personal information which is rather important to me, and will have a long-term impact on those in the audience. As I shared the information, I was not necessarily expecting applause, nor was I expecting a flood of tears -- and that is fine because I got neither...

...but neither was I expecting what I did get:
an awkward pause and the sound of crickets.
At the moment, I chose not to let it distract me from my speaking engagement; chose to just let it go. Later that morning, after talking it through with a few key people in my life, I came to the conclusion there was a very good reason for the non-reaction. The audience was roughly divided into 4 groups of people:
  1. people who I told beforehand -- so they were not surprised.
  2. people who sort of expected it before I said it -- so they were not surprised either.
  3. people who need some time to respond -- so even if they were surprised, they did not react immediately.
  4. and
  5. people who don't really know me -- so they had no vested interest in the information.
This neatly explains the sound-of-crickets moment, but does not deal with my insecurity.

In the past, I might have used this (albeit well-rationalized) non-response as an excuse for having a pity-party and get all bummed out and self-focused thinking people don't care for me. In this case that didn't happen. I guess that means God has been answering my prayer that I would find my identity and security only in what He thinks of me.


And...why am I sharing this? Because it is cool, but also because it led me to some belly-deep laughter this afternoon as I reflected on it. And that is my main reason for this post! A friend & coach gave me this quote which started my laughter:
"We're always wondering
what people are thinking of us.

The truth is
they aren't."
Then I got to thinking how that quote would make a great poster for, under the heading: INSECURITY. If you are not familiar with their products, &/or just need a good laugh, I suggest you follow the link in the image below and take a few minutes to look through their posters -- very very funny~ Keith

Friday, April 20, 2007

People Kill People

Again we reel from yet another outpouring of rage & violence in our society. The recent shootings at Virginia Tech are awful. Some people say Cho Seung-Hui was the problem. Some people say the easy access to the guns were the problem. I say it was both -- and neither.

My internal struggle is this: behind the arrogance & narrow-mindedness; despite the misgivings I have with each one, I can still read a couple glimmers of truth between-the-lines of these editorials by Tom Pate & Ted Nugent.

Ted Nugent and the NRA say "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."
Tom Pate & others say "People with guns kill people."

I believe we should have gun restrictions which are much more strict than they currently are, but it also makes sense to me this alone is insufficient to solve the problem.

I say, simply but sadly, "People kill people." All the way back to Cain & Abel. In a very real sense, I suppose, Eve & Adam killed us all.A reimagining of the story of Cain & AbelMartin Luther King, Jr. said it better than I could, when he addressed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on 16th August 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia:
I'm concerned about a better world. I'm concerned about justice; I'm concerned about brotherhood; I'm concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I'm not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate.
Dr. King believed and lived this way because he learned it in his head and in his heart from The Master, Jesus. I see a progression in Jesus' teachings.

In John 8:12 Jesus said "I am the Light of the world"

In John 9:5 Jesus said "As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the World."

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said to His followers (and therefore, by extension, to us today):
You are the light of the world.
Now go live like that
so people will know God is love.
(paraphrase mine)
I'm not sure how it will look but I, for one, would like to quit cursing the darkness, and instead seek Jesus' heart for how I can be a better and brighter candle.

~ Keith

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ben's Beloved Beer

Beer is living proof that
God loves us and wants us to be happy.
~ Benjamin Franklin

You gotta love our buddy Ben!

~ Keith

Friday, April 13, 2007

SSDD? Maybe not.

There's an expression in Christian circles:
There's a big difference between
being a Christian for ten years, and
being a Christian one year and
just doing it ten times.
The implication is there are nine wasted years there somewhere, and we're doomed to repeat lessons until they are learned.

This has fueled my frustration and even depression at repetition in my life. If I'm facing the same lesson over and over, then the only possible reason is I must be thick-headed, hard-hearted, or both.
What if God is making me go through this again
until I finally get it right?
He is patient, and that is good
because I must be slow.
I learned something today that freed me from this notion.

I'm reading Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I'd give you the link, but you've probably already read it, or are reading it, or are about to read it.

In analyzing TV shows like Sesame Street and Blues Clues researchers determined: "An adult considers constant repetition boring, because it requires reliving the same experience over and over again." (125)

This made me think about something I learned once, having to do with ancient languages like Greek and Hebrew. Without punctuation, italics, or adjectives, emphasis had to be added in other ways: like repetition. When Jesus says "Truly, truly I say to you..." what He is saying (in our vernacular) is "What I'm saying to you is really true and therefore really important..."

Gladwell continues on page 125 "But to preschoolers, repetition isn't boring, because each time they watch something they are experiencing it in a completely different way.

This made me think of the places in the bible where Jesus exhorts us to be childlike; says, in fact, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless we become like a little child.

What if God, in allowing repetition in my life,
isn't trying to bore me, or call me stupid?
Might He instead be emphasizing something to me?
And then I thought of something else I've learned somewhere. Refining of metals, like filtration of water, is a multiple-step process. A single pass is not enough to produce purity.
What if God, in allowing repetition in my life,
isn't trying to bore me, or call me stupid?
Might He instead be purifying me?
What if God, in allowing repetition in my life,
is showing me how much He loves me?
~ Keith

ps -- another thing this freed me from was the idea that something was wrong with me if I like to watch the same movie or TV show over and over and over. No one ever told me that, it's just that I know so few people who like to do that -- except little kids. =O)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Grid::Blog::Via Crucis 2007 - Stations of the Cross

Last night, on Good Friday, in a dimly lit room with quiet ambient music playing 23 of us gathered to reflect and remember.

We spent an hour wandering between six stations, in no set order, experiencing as individuals, but also as a gathering, the last day of Jesus' life.

We held tightly to small loops of barbed wire, and thanked him for taking on the thorns for us, and for taking on the thorns in our life.We drove 16D nails and landscaping spikes into redwood timbers, feeling with our own bodies what it was like to drive the nails into his hands and feet, reflecting on our own sin being driven into him.We dipped Q-Tips into vinegar and placed these on our tongues, tasting the bittterness He tasted, and prayed for forgiveness and protection from bitterness in our hearts.We threw dice against a rough muslin cloth, considering the triviality of the distractions in our life as we remembered the soldiers' disregard for the death next to them of the Son of God, intent as they were on the wagers of their own.We dipped our fingers into red paint and touched a set of poster-boards taped together; the many becoming one. Some wrote their names, others left blood-like prints of their own hands. Together we created a collage of pain and grief; relief, joy & freedom.We pictured the earthquake, and the darkened sky. We imagined the confusion and tumult as the world turned upside-down. We marvelled at His desire for closeness with us, and tore small patches of cloth as we thought of the torn veil, ushering in a new availability between God and man.As the hour passed, and all had reflected on the stations, small tea-candles were handed out and we gathered together in the center of the room around a small table. With the lights dimmed further, we took a single white candle and from it lit others -- each of us symbolizing the light spreading outward from The Light. The background music faded out and we stood silently in the dark/light. When all the candles were lit, we sang a song about The Light, and one about His Love.Next, as prayers of thanksgiving were offered for His sacrificial gift, one by one the candles were blown out. When all but the last was darkened, we sang a song of thankfulness for His faithfulness. Then, we remembered all the pain He endured on His journey. The betrayal and arrest, abuse and scorn, labor and crucifixion. The abandonment by friends and by His Father. We blew out the last candle and together stood and knelt in the darkness of His passing. Even in the dark we thanked Him for His faithfulness when we are in the valley of the shadow of death.We brought the lights back up some, and allowed the background music to play once more. Some left, some stayed. Some continued through the stations to pause one last time.

The two hours we spent together were sacred and profound, and His presence and love were deeply felt by all.

~ Keith

Grid::Blog::Via Crucis 2007