A Poem- The Unhidden, Hidden Things


Stretched Black Bird

If fear that what must remain hidden will be found,

It surveys with frenzied sortie the land all around.

And finally found within the recesses of a typical tree

And there frantically fashions for its horde a treasury.

All this done with clever beak, claws and anxious wings,

Collected ’round from branches: twigs and leaves.

It hides within this dark place,

And here stands guard in a manic state,

Over the personal things it loves to hate

And while below pass foxes, rats, and snakes,

Near curious squirrels, and astute owls above,

This niche is perceived and found by none.

Throughout the summer, the other fowl outside,

Make a feast of the bounty that they find.

While within the bowels of his dark tree,

This one lone sparrow writhes in misery.

He will not leave this trove lest it be found one day.

And yet wants to leave, and questions the way.

How can I leave the things I only know?

How can I allow these long-guarded things to show?

For all from without of this one dark tree,

Cannot from its leaves contrive what really lies beneath.

If I were to make public, this secret hole,

This emancipation would bare the truth of my craven and enslaved soul.

NO! I will stay hidden! I am now even more bent.

I will not venture out, even if heaven sent.

In this tomb I’ll remain; truth’s slave I won’t be.

I will not let them in; through this façade they won’t see.

The secret is mine and mine alone.

So make I this kingdom my fortress and throne.

So all summer sat this poor sparrow “king”,

Surrounded by his self-chosen suffering.

But as none can stop Father Time, no matter how high,

Of summer came fall and then winter time.

When northerly wind cuts short sun’s soft warm rays,

And cause leaves to change clothes and then fade away.

It was during such a cold time that many came to pass,

The sparrow’s winter-stripped tree and now exposed nest.

The rat may have been first, to see the nest’s trove,

But it did not take long for all else to know.

Ironically his collection wasn’t the main cause for surprise,

It was the sight of the dead sparrow still grasping his big horde of lies.

Everyone chooses how his or her life will be.

But not all choose to live a life that is free.

It is easy for other birds to hear this and say,

“That will never be me. I will not stray.”

But we are all sparrows within,

The only difference is what we do with our sin.

Nest of Secrets

 

Dogma And Snark


Dogma And Snark. This blog post speaks so deftly to the point that we are not in a battle so much for ideas as for how those ideas are presented.  It is not a level playing ground or a democracy of ideas.  It is who can be the most cunning and crafty in how they market their own dogma while plying the same tactic of word smithing and schtick to discount the other.  Truth has no need of cunning, and those who use cunning have no desire for the truth.   Well said Rebecca!

The Chicken and the Egg Part Deaux


God is self sufficient.  This is not what He wanted from man when He created him.  If man, was created like God to be self-sufficient, he would not need God. Therefore if God was going to create something for himself, or someone in our case, he would have to create a being that was not self sufficient. He would have to create a being that needed something outside itself to survive.  When He gave man need, He created something that in the end could choose to try to fulfill that need from another source than Him.

 

Self-contained ecosystem

God didn’t create man to be this.  He created him to need.

He He provided the earth to provide for man’s needs.  By doing this He gave man dignity and the ability to have faith.  He did not want man to live his life waiting for the next handout from “The Great Pie In The Sky”.  He provided man with the means to provide for himself.

God create man to know Him this way either.

It was never His intention for man to see himself as the actual provider either.  No, He did not create the earth and all of its plants, animals, and ecosystems tell man to subdue and be fruitful and multiply, and then condemn him for doing it.  He wanted Adam and Eve after a long day’s work in the garden to kick back with the Creator during the cool of the day talk with God about all they had done in His creation.  He wanted to revel in their experiences.  This is why he walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. He wanted them to grow through His interaction with them. He wanted them to understand that they could eat the meat from the animals and eat fruit from the trees in the garden, mostly.

God wants us to revel in our experience of His provision for us.

When I take my family camping there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into it.  Anything done outside is at least twice if not three of four times harder to do.  I have to make sure that all of the food is purchased and packed along with all of the utensils to cook, eat, and clean up afterwards.  The tent, air mattress, pillows, blankets, toiletries, towels, clothes shoes, 46 pairs of socks and underwear for each child, flashlights, extra batteries, extra flashlights…and no matter how hard I try I always do not think of everything.  OH, PROPANE!!!  I do not do all of this for me.  I could easily throw a bag together and spend a few days out in the sticks on my own.  I go through all of this so that I can have the experiences with my kids around the campfire eating s’mores.  I do it so that I can wake up early in the morning get the fire going and watch each of them wake up and shuffle out of the tent and curl up in a folding chair around the fire and just stare.  Much of the reason I set up this entire experience is to see them experience it.  God did the same thing for us when He made earth.  He wants us to enjoy ourselves and have a blast in what He has provided for us.  And He wants us to invite Him to be a part of it.  This is how He gets His kicks.  But man did not always follow God’s intended plan.

God wants to enjoy us enjoying His creation.

It was not His design for Adam and Eve to make choices that worked against His will.  However if He wanted Adam to be in relationship with Him of his own freewill.  If this did not happen, it would mean Adam really did not not have a choice anyways.  Its like the father who asked his child, “Do you want hamburgers or hamburgers?”  This is not really a choice. It is actually a mockery of having a choice, and God would have nothing to do with it.

So, which do YOU choose?

Because He had to give us a choice, He also created a way back when the time came that we would choose the choice that was not Him.  And that way was for His Son to die for the sins of men. And God had this plan the moment he started to speak the world in the universe into existence.  When He was making the earth that would provide for man He had already made the decision to give His Son.  He came before us and provided a way for us to come to Him no matter how many times we fail in the process, but hey what would you expect from a father?

 

 

 

Offering Living Water to Those Who Prefer Coffee


Coffee cupThe Gospel is the most powerful message in the universe.  Its story holds the answer to all of life’s problems.  It is the way that shows man his true purpose.  It gets him back to the place where he parted from God, offering him a new beginning with the Creator.  But there is a difference from the second meeting of his purpose and the first. Where once he only knew the living water, he now prefers coffee.

When God first created Man He was the only sustainer and source of understanding and Adam and Eve were innocents.  They did not know of any other way, nor did the thought even enter their heads that there could be one.  Looking at it now people may call their state of innocence naiveté and manipulation, but that is the perspective from the fallen side of the fence.  And we are not addressing them yet.  So Adam and Eve lived in the blissful joy of innocence, following without question the direction of God who walked with them in direct relationship.

Enter the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  As a side note, it should be mentioned that the tree itself was not evil just the instrument that would reveal the knowledge of both.  God offering this tree must seem to many like a cruel and, dare I say it, evil act.  Why not just allow them to remain in innocence without introducing the very instrument that would destroy it?  These are the same who would also devalue Adam and Eve’s naiveté, claiming forced ignorance to maintain innocence.  The placing of the tree in the garden is proof positive of the intention behind God’s design of man.  It shows that ignorance was not His goal at all.  God desires the best for mankind, but not at the expense of making him an automaton.  He did not need another animal running around that demonstrated His glory.  The rest of creation already reflected His glory and still speaks of His splendor and majesty.  The tree showed that God intended man to be in relationship with Him not a showpiece of Him.  He made man in His image to know Him, the image of the rest of creation was a show of Him.  It is spectacular to behold a herd of buffalo at full gallop, or the Bald Eagle as it sores the thermals of the stratosphere.  In the beholding of His creation God is glorified, but God has chosen man’s the independent obedience to His way as his method to glorify his Creator.

God’s intended relationship with man had to have worked for awhile.  But eventually the serpent, Satan, did his work and Adam and Eve made their choices.  For the first time they acted outside of the umbrella of God’s direction tasting, literally and figuratively, a different source of knowledge.  In eating the fruit while being fully aware it was forbidden allowed the knowledge of good and evil to be imparted.  I don’t think the particular fruit had anything within.  Instead the knowing came with the doing.  Experience begets understanding.  Until that point there was no need to distinguish good and evil.  Before there was only the way.  But forever more, disobedience, best named sin, made the way fork into the right way and the wrong.  Choice drove a wedge between God and man.

For the rest of time man has been on a different path than was intended.  It is in this state that the message of the Gospel comes.  You would think that man would accept it with open arms.  That man knowing what kind of existence he had, and that God was offering a path that would one day lead back to perfect intimacy, he would jump at the opportunity.  But the condition of man is not the same as it was in the garden.  He has not known blissful innocence.  All that is known, is his own way.  He only knows the deceptive and addicting taste of the “independence” of sin.  Though unnatural, sin is his nature and norm.  Where sardines or buffalo heart, are an acquired taste and take some commitment to get used to, this way of sin has become instinctual.  It is in this state of man, again, that the offer of another way is given.  And it is no wonder why so many reject it outright before even giving it an honest thought.

This is not the case for all man.  To be fair Adam and Eve, along with many others after them, returned to God.  Sure they hid in the bushes, but they did not run from Him and out of the garden.  And God, through a blood sacrifice,  atoned for their sin.  It was already too late for mankind though.  A deviating trajectory had resulted from man’s disobedience to the way.  From then on there have been two options for man to use as his source of knowledge.  Whatever the choice would also dictate the path.  Any other way than God’s was a rejection of His.

So the question is what will move man to drink living water when he already has a preference for coffee?

The Gospel affords mankind a chance to revisit God’s original purpose.  But he is not the same Adam at this second meeting.  He is from the fallen lineage of countless generations who have already tasted the seeming freedom of man’s knowledge apart from his Creator.  It is like being in a car for the first time without a parent in the passenger seat.  The Father’s knowledge that was passed down through man driving lessons of life is put on the line and it is up to the him as the new driver to follow or use the knowledge the way he sees fit.  This time around man does not have physical body of the Father.  He can go anywhere he so chooses.  If he follows the instructions of his Father he will not get lost, but he does not and he is lost.  And now there are no past instructions that will help as they are for the way not what to do when out of it.  Little did man know, but the Father in His wisdom already knew man would eventually choose the other way and get lost.  And for this reason there was already a plan in place.  The Gospel tells of that plan.  Jesus is the payment for is and the Holy Spirit is man’s connection.  And through choosing to follow this leading like the voice of the GPS guiding the driver the son will get to the next waypoint in the journey of obedience and submission to God’s way.  This is what the Gospel does.  It shows man how to get from wherever he first hears the voice of the Holy Spirit to the next waypoint that God has for him.

This second time around man’s choice is the same but made from a different perspective.  No longer is he innocent.  No longer does he  choose unaware of the other way.  Adam and Eve were aware of the consequence before they ate of the fruit.  They were told that they would surely die.  The difference of the second visit provided by the Gospel is not the absence of ignorance presumably found in the first.  The difference is that innocent man had not tasted the consequence of disobedience and the liberating power that it afforded.  And because of this it was impossible for him to understand the horrific result this power would have on mankind.  Man now brings to the table both the consequence and power of disobedience.  When the Gospel offers the cure man must now knowingly give up the power of choice to escape the consequence of it.  This is the miracle of salvation.  Man looks at his state, realizes his power, and by the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit is moved upon to submit his power to choose to his Creator.

Until the Gospel came, man thought that the power of choice he wielded was simply a part of his nature all along.  And many opponents of the faith who would read this would baulk at anyone giving away his/her own will to choose to another, even a supposed Creator.  To do so would be to give away one’s very human essence.  The issue is that man is blinded by his death grip to his own sinful independence because he fails to understand the purpose for which he was created.  Man was never made to function on his own apart from God.  He was created to live in the peaceful and rewarding role of obedient offspring of his Heavenly Father.  Because of this, even when he seemingly escapes the requirements of that relationship he will always have a master.  If it is not the Creator he serves, it will be the wanton craven desires of his flesh.  Because these are his choices and seem pleasurable to his fallen palate, he will think of himself a king while the whole time he is only living in the squalor of slavery.

The very opposite picture of God’s way results.  This is a new and twisted naiveté.  One that any whole person passing by would pity.  And it is the job of those who were once slaves, but are now free to shine the light on the hideous conditions of the naïve sinner.  Not out of mockery, but love.  This is also why it must be done in relationship, so that the fallen understand the true intention of the those who have now been restored.  They must experience the saved sinner’s unconditional love through relationship.

How do you convince them to stop drinking coffee and choose instead living water?  Show them that it is not coffee, but their own sewage that they drink.  Live close enough that they smell the sweetness of the transformation that the blood of Christ has made.  Let them understand that peace and contentment come from choosing the freedom of submission, rather the chains of independence.

How Easy It Is to Ignore Their Stinky Feet


It’s another day gone.  Another meal conjured together of what is left in the fridge.  But, that is done and now all that is left to do is to peel the two-year old BOY from the ceiling and then wall and then the older sister and finally the younger sister.  Earlier peeling done, now in the bathroom it’s time to peel the remnants of his meal from him…then to the room for pajamas and …AHHHHH…UGH!…back to the bathroom, muttering, “How can feet that small contain such a stench?”

As I sit him on the edge of the sink, with him looking on, and attempt to separate  the bottom of his foot from the stench and YUP!, from in between the toes as well, a thought perculates through my mind.  I do not usually get spiritual thoughts or insights while washing my toddler’s feet, but maybe the stink is what brought it bubbling forth.

The Biblical image that came to my mind was that of Jesus, who after a meal with His disciples one evening, put a towel around His waste and went around and washed His disciples’ feet.  This shocked these crusty men who recognized the actions of Jesus by what in the culture of that time was a duty of a servant and not a master.  All were shocked, some embarrased and still another defiant.  Jesus, however, would not be swayed in His act saying that those who wish to be the greatest in the Kingdom must be a servant.  He went on, also to say, that we too must wash each other’s feet.

So, as I sat there scrubbing the unknown crud from my son’s feet, I asked myself a question.  “Do I take on the attitude of a servant with my son, my daughters?  Am I more concerned about the little things that develop in their character that are not in line with God’s Word than I am with sitting in the chair and being too tired to address the situation?”  That is the small impurities that take ahold as they grow and pass through the stages, soon developing into a young man and young women?  I am sure there was some time today when his feet did not smell as bad as they did at the end of the day.  The culprit could have been washed out then and never been allowed to progress to the level that it did.

Stinky feet are just a part of life and not a life changing event.  But what about the patterns that develop because of small actions committed by my children that go unchecked when they arise?  The flesh, if allowed to take hold, will be a cancer that will proliferate throughout the spirit, mind, and body of a person.  Those small pieces of leaven left alone could multiply over time and consume the whole.

I have found it is easy to develop blind spots that whether chosen actively or passively when raising my children can one day become habits of sin and the sinful habit of denial in me.  This would be a true stench in God’s nostrils and offensive to His nature and Will.  I am reminded of King David and the lack of a role that he played as a father in his son Absalom’s life.  The boy got a little carried away as he was growing up, but instead of addressing it and setting him right, David left it alone and it progressed to Absalom attempting a coup against his own father.  If it weren’t for Absalom’s vanity and those low hanging tree branches, David may have lived a shorter life and enjoyed a more diminished role in the Bible than he did.  That is not to put all of the blame on the father, for the son did choose to do what he did.  But I wonder how things would have been if David took as much passion in his familial role of father as he did in his national role of King of Israel.

Thank goodness God makes it possible for people who are dysfunctional to still have a part in His Will.  David was enlightened to this a day too late and only because he came up short, but yet is a part of the lineage of Christ and achieved incredible works and writing many as well.  By considering his dysfunction I would like to learn from his shortcomings and seek to diminish my own.  I sometimes take the same thinking  as the father David.  I adopt the mentality sometimes that  I take with my lawn.  Sure it could sure do with a trim, but I let it go, because once again, I am too tired right now to deal with it.  It will still be there tomorrow.  And then tomorrow it rains and then I find the yard that was once slightly long  has now become an overgrown lot whose accusatory tones declare my guilt to the rest of the neighborhood whenever I pull up into the driveway.  “The Growth” can no longer be ignored.  It becomes more than just a 45 minute job of maintaining.  No, it results in a two and a half hour battle of my will against that of the jungle that was once my front yard.  And so also, the “minor” thing that I put up with in my child’s behavior  grows beyond my ability to be blind to it.  It is foolish to choose to ignore or deny the potential inertia of the little foxes in the garden of our children’s development.  No unchecked manifestation of the flesh stays small for long.  It will get bigger,until it has grown beyond just a little thing and gotten out of control and will take significant conflict between my son and me and significant focus and energy for a consistent and extended time on my part to address what could have been mowed down a few days earlier or washed out from in between my son’s little toes before the reek set it.  “I am too tired”?  That’s just the excuse of the flesh giving me permission to allow my feet to stay dirty along with his.  I can appease myself and my son with those same words, and as his father, set up a trajectory for my son and myself that sends us away from the Father and guarantees the impurity on our feet will spread all over us and take control.

Spanish and Spirituality and a Turtle on a Leash


Mr. Gomez was my Spanish I teacher in high school.  He helped me fall in love with the language and it has been with me throughout my life.  I went on to take Spanish II, and then talked the school counselor into letting me take a self taught course in Spanish III when I found none was offered.  That same school year during Spring Break, I went on a missions trip to Mexico and then the next year became a short-term missionary there, thus further melding the language and passion for ministry to my DNA.  Afterwards, I went off to college where the teachers insisted on speaking only English.  And though I used the language for a year long stint off and on translating for employees at Taco Bell and then customers at Home Depot I got out of practice.  I started by forgetting words here and there.  I would, other times, stumble over what I once could fluently say.  Then came the awkward silences when I would forget a common word while I was having a conversation.  This really got under my skin, as I always prided myself in being able to communicate fluently in two languages.  It was then I made a concerted effort to get back into practice.  Now I have made a life-long commitment to Spanish by marrying the love of my life who claims Spanish as her first language.  It is not just in my pores.  It is in my soul, but if I were ever to not to keep it in practice it would slowly slink away like a turtle off a leash, leaving me wondering:

1. “How do you say that word in Spanish again?”

AND

2.”Why do I have a turtle on a leash?”

Interestingly enough, around the same time that I was in Spanish class, I also began to grow in my relationship with God.  I began to make it a habit.  Like Adam and Eve, I took walks with God in the evening, but unlike the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden, it was the humid mugginess of north Louisiana evenings.  These walks, the leadership class  at church, the discipleship, and ministry that was done in the incubator of my local church, Family Worship Center, and in the youth group there were what set me on the path of lifelong relationship with God and living my life for His work.  This was continued in my stint in Mexico and then at SAGU, a Christian university in Waxahachie, Texas where I made legitimate the “teacher” in the blog handle “Mrwhiteteacherman”.  When real life started for me, as a married man I was still able to take my walks and grow in my walk.  As we added children to the mix, it began to become more and more difficult.  And my prayer time happened in the car on the way to Wal-Mart or the grocery store, or in the bathrooom.  Though these are all great places to find Him, they became my only places.  Though I hid His Word in my heart, it seemed that it became harder and harder to find it there.  And like Spanish, though He had bec0me the essence of my DNA permeating down to my very soul, I hardly took the time to search for Him there except at random or as a result of guilt.  This is not how a true relationship is supposed to work.  This is not what I invisioned or desired my relationship with Christ to be like.

As I almost lost Spanish, I was now losing my close relationship with my Maker.  And in the same way that I regained my command of Spanish I realized I could now rebuild my relationship with Him.  I only lost my proficiency in Spanish because I did not arrange my life to make room for it.  I only lost the close touch with my Creator because as life added a ring on my finger, a full-time job, and title of “Daddy” I did not make sure to arrange it to fit around my King.

It is amazing how subtle can be the movement from being in His Will.  The who time I could be working and ministering f or Him, touching others’ lives and miss the close have intimate connection that got  me there.  And as a result of this,  I have missed the next step at times and had to search for Him again.

I had used the words of my memories of Him to justify my current relationship with Hm.  Words represent a man’s life.  They may even mask the current state of it to others for a long time even to himself.  But a man is not measured by his words, or even intentions.  God measures man by a man’s obediene.  He who wants to do God’s Will and dreams about his future in it, but after years of growth and discipleship has nothing to show for it is not an obedient man.  That individual is a selfish dreamer who does not have enough faith to even get off the couch.

This is not a brash rebellion.  Even an intentional one.  It happens over time like the losing of a language.  It starts when a life changing event happens  and the limited space that is a man’s time starts to get filled, and monopolizes space that was once only for God.  Mostly it’s just the events in daily life where exceptions are made, even with good intention that add that much more seperation between the man and the Father.  King Solomon called them, “…little foxes that ruin the vineyards.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)  It is when a friend calls needing help with something or just to see a movie, or vacation, or being too tired to stay awake or get-up, or…or…or.  Whatever a combination of the big or small, if no correction is made God is moved or better said the events of life are allowed to shift the center of the man’s life away from God as the focalpoint.

And after a few weeks, a few months, a few years… I find I can no longer speak Spanish and the man speak to his Savior.  And all he remembers is a time when he walked with God in the cool of the day, or the humid muggy air of a summer night so many years ago in Louisiana and asks where God is and wonders what is His Will.

It’s t…


It’s that time of the evening again as it always is.  My oldest daughter has finished her generic knock-off of a pepperoni Lunchable sans pepperoni.  These she has relegated to her four year old sister who loves the stuff and yet will only eat the circle slices of ham and some of the cheese squares of her meal leaving the crackers to languish in their flimsy plastic tray .  But this is a step-up from the one and a half year old bundle of testosterone locked into his high chair by the removable tray that is sprinkled by the little bits and shredded morsels of what might be cheese and other parts of his decimated meal that did not deserve such and end now only destined for the trash can and garbage disposal.  Their teeth are brushed, medications given, hugs handed out and excuses for staying up denied.  Now is the part where my boy sitting in my arms turns off the light to the room and then leans into me giving me the good night hug that will last for the duration of the prayer on the way to his crib where he will fling himself onto his dolphin Pillow Pet and fight the inevitable grasp of sleep.

Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

     It is this time of the day that I can dream for my kids.  It is this time of the evening that I begin to realize once again the immense role played by the father in their upbringing not just in the tying shoes, killing spiders, and showing them the finer points of skipping rocks across the water of the drainage ditch skirting our neighborhood park.  As I pray for my son and then when he is asleep my daughters, asking God to watch over them, draw them to Him and teach them and show them the way to live their lives that they may please Him and follow His will and way, I can’t help but realize, once again that though these are all things that their Heavenly Father supports and is a part of, it is their earthly father and mother who must instill it in the children.  I can not pass it off to God and then walk away from it.  God will teach the willing.  He will discipline all of those who are willing to stay around to feeling the lick of His all consuming fire.  But it will be me who at the appropriate time talks to them about the things of God.  It will be their mom and me who live out the mature Christian life that we expect of them.  It will be my hunger for the things of God that will be the benchmark for theirs.  They will look back on how their mother treated them with kindness and how I their father taught them the grace of God by showing them the grace of their father when they blew it on purpose or otherwise.  They will see their Heavenly Father as severe if I am.  They will believe His love to be as unconditional as they find mine to be.  The confidence I show I have in them to not intervene but to let them make choices and be creative in their own right and express themselves will be a great part of the confidence they will have in God that He loves them the way they are and does not seek to alter their identity only to show them the unique way He created them within their personality and identity to serve Him and impact their world the way only they can.

     My professor who I looked up to the most in college said that we as parents should wet the appetites of our children for the Lord.  We should introduce them to Him as their source.  This will set them on the right course for the rest of their life.  We are to introduce them to Him, the Source aim them down the path and then send them on their way.  If we have done our part, though they stray and  sway from side to side on the road of faith they will not be able to depart from it for it is as much a part of them and become ingrained on their identity so that they can no longer disown Him as they can their own reflection.  When they find Him as their source nothing else will be enough.  What an incredible work.  What a challenging goal.  But, OH what a worthy one!