Who Would I Rather Be?

As a child, I don’t recall wishing I was someone else, although I admired Roy Rogers enough I wished I could be like him. I was too young and immature to think my parents would take my desire for a horse seriously, however, especially since I’d never been on anything more than merry-go-round ponies.

I don’t recall wanting to be someone else as a teen, either. But, while I spent hours mastering the guitar–if indeed one ever masters it to his own satisfaction–and watching various folk singers on Hootenanny, I feel certain I had dreams of being admired on the same kind of stage. But then the “folk fad” dissolved, and “folk rock” took over. That wasn’t my thing.

Adulthood tends to make some interesting changes to our wishes and desires over the years.

Just as my first two careers, which added up to almost sixteen years of my life, failed to fulfill me, I turned more and more to writing–poetry, short stories, monologues, short plays. And songs. Christian songs that were, uh, very folk-flavored. That was something I couldn’t get out of my system.

I don’t think I truly began to appreciate who I was, however, until I went to Australia on my first volunteer overseas mission trip. I discovered that there are still people who appreciate and are moved by my kind of music.

Nonetheless, it’s taken a number of years to recognize that being a published novelist and an ever-improving musician who’s written over two hundred songs aren’t really who I am. My ability to do those things is a gift from God. I can’t even begin writing a new song until He gives me the idea. And then I must count on Him for the guidance to perfect it to whatever degree I’m capable of. That’s recently become true of my novel writing, too.

What I’ve discovered more-and-more in my old age (I hate to refer to seventy-one as “old age,” but it’s certainly not “middle age”) is that the heart of everything I am lies in the fact that I’m a Child of God, desirous of pleasing Him in using the abilities He’s given me.

So the question “Who would I rather be?” is irrelevant. A better question is “Who would I like to be more like?”

That’s easy to answer. I want to be more Godly. More Christlike. I want to be more loving, more generous, more patient, kinder, more understanding, bolder in opposing things that are wrong and more willing to just shrug my shoulders at things I don’t simply don’t like.

Christ was and is perfect. I’m not. So wanting to become more like Him seems like the most desirable thing I could ever wish for. Who says I’m too old to grow in that direction?

What about you? How about leaving a comment?

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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The Most Different “Person” I Know

We are told that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, and I marvel at that thought. How can it possibly be true? How many trillions of snowflakes–is there even a word to describe numbers that huge?–have fallen over the centuries in various parts of the world? And none of them have ever been exact duplicates? How can that possibly be?

We’re also told that no two fingerprints are identical. So that logically means that no two people are exactly alike, either. They might look alike, but the fingerprints would still make them individuals. That thought amazes me as much as the individuality of snowflakes.

Because I was adopted and know virtually nothing about my heritage or my birth family background, I don’t know whether I have any siblings. Or whether we would look sufficiently similar for people to look at us and say, “Say, are you brothers?” or “Are you brother and sister?” No matter how much alike we might look, however, we would still be individuals.

It’s weird enough that, while working at Target, another fellow whose job apparently took him to various Targets looked so much like me that I label this picture “Target twins.”

Yet, despite our similarities, there’s no telling how different we were in every other way.

The Bible talks about God knowing the hairs of our heads. If He knows that much about each and every one of us, He’s even more amazing than my ability to comprehend.

He designed each one of us to be the way we are, and I don’t believe He even had to stop and think about how to make us all different. God is that creative. As if the existence of the world we live in isn’t proof of that.

The Bible says He made us in His image. Not that we look like Him; God is spirit. But we have many of His attributes. But none of us has any of His attributes down as perfectly as He does. Even though I like to think of myself as creative, my creativity doesn’t begin to match God’s.

So, no matter how different human beings are from one another, how much more God differs from us. It’s no wonder we can’t comprehend Him perfectly. He’s too far beyond our ability to understand. We don’t have the words or the numbers or the concepts to describe God adequately.

I can’t even understand how He could love us enough for Jesus to die on the cross to pay for our sins. Yet, though Jesus, I know God as well as I’m capable of knowing Him. It’s no wonder I think of Him as “the most different ‘person’ I know.”

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Political Correctness or Political Silliness?

Gracious! Am I really that old? Ancient!

I must be. Whenever I see the initials PC, my first thought is “personal computer.” I recall when an inheritance from my mother enabled my family to buy not one, but two personal computers. That was in 1994. I don’t recall the cost, but it was huge compared to what something comparable would cost today.

And those were desktop units, not laptops. That was before the days of flash drives, but those small “floppy drives” that weren’t at all floppy were still in use. And of course we still needed to use a dial-up modem to reach the Internet.

Nowadays, of course, nobody bothers with the “personal” part of PC, and only a few of us probably think first of computers when we read, see, or hear a reference to PC.

A few days ago, I was passing through Penney’s on the way to walk in the mall when I noticed that only one woman was holding down the fort at a gaggle of registers where two and sometimes even three women normally worked. My first thought was to pleasantly and sympathetically ask this lady if she was manning the fort by herself that day.

Manning? Oh, me! My bad! How thoughtless!

I didn’t say it, though, and I doubt seriously that this lady would’ve thought twice about my of “manning.” Why should she? Was I to have used–or even just thought–“womaning” or “personing”?

I don’t question the need to refrain from using offensive words. I’ve never used the n-word to refer to a black person. I’ve never even thought it, and I get upset if I hear it used.

So, is “African-American” the currently acceptable term, even though not all black people come from Africa? Nor do all of them live in America. How silly to refer to a black person in England as African-American? And if a word isn’t universally true, why should it be used at all?

Don’t get me wrong. I feel a very strong compulsion as a Christian to refrain from offending people knowingly.

But, gracious! Don’t I also recall a time when referring to a homosexual as “queer” was frowned on? Yet now, we have “LGBTQ,” if I recall the letters correctly, and I’ve probably left out some. Yet “fag” is apparently still considered offensive. (The Words with Friends dictionary doesn’t allow its use, even though it has definitions not related to homosexuality.)

Hmm. I’ll never be able to keep up with gay political correctness. Will the (very) old Christmas song referring to “don we our gay apparel” need to be rewritten, along with so many other things?

And don’t even suggest that we have to start referring to God as “She.” I can guarantee that the sperm that united with Mary’s egg to create Jesus did not come from a woman.

Yes, maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I still believe in calling things what they are, avoiding anything that’s overtly offensive, but not fretting about much of the silliness that falls under the PC umbrella. Yet I’ve caught myself avoiding saying everything I want to say on this subject because I never know when the PC police might be watching and call me down on it.

I also grew up during the time when “you can’t legislate morality” was a popular saying. Designating certain behaviors illegal as one thing, but true morality is a matter of the heart. Or is it? According to the liberal PC-ers and other post-modernists, everyone’s morality would be different since they claim there’s no such thing as absolute truth.

Hmm. I think I’m better off continuing to think of PC as “personal computer.” It’s safer and less frustrating.

What do you think of political correctness? Do you have any particular dislikes? Please share a comment. We can all go down together.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

At the breakfast table this morning, my wife and I were discussing the article I’d just read about the movie Mel Gibson wants to make. The Resurrection would be the sequel to The Passion, which we have both seen and been moved by. The new movie was described as being the “biggest movie ever made,” even though it is still years away from being begun, much less released.

But the Movieguide article made us scratch our heads in amazement, wonder, and perhaps even concern. It said the movie will be about the three days Jesus spent in Hell.

That threw up an immediate red flag for us. Whereas The Passion was based on the Bible–the best we can recall, it was true to Scripture–the Bible doesn’t give any information about what happened between the crucifixion and the resurrection. If Jesus shared that information with His disciples after the resurrection, it didn’t end up in the Bible.

As Evangelical Christians, we don’t believe in Purgatory. But if Mel Gibson is a Roman Catholic, he undoubtedly  does. According to the online dictionary I checked, Purgatory is “the place where those who have died in a state of grace undergo limited torment to expiate their sins.”

Not exactly the kind of place Jesus would deserve to spend three days. After all, He lived a sinless life.

Ah, but as the Lamb of God He died for the sins of mankind. He “became” sin. So spending time in Purgatory might fit if the definition were “to expiate the sins of the world” rather than His own, which there were none of.

But there’s another issue at stake here, too. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that in traditional Jewish thought, the soul doesn’t leave the body until the body has been dead three days. Would The Resurrection go against that–or would it claim that Jesus’s body (with His soul intact) spent that time in Purgatory, only to be returned to the grave on “the first day of the week” to then break free from the tomb?

I firmly believe in the death and the resurrection of Jesus. My salvation depends on the relationship I have with God because of what Jesus did for me and for each one of us. But I can’t claim to have any knowledge of what happened between His death and His resurrection. At best, any effort on my part to explain it would be pure speculation.

I don’t think speculation is necessarily a bad thing.

But if it’s the basis for the “biggest movie ever made,” I’m a little concerned. Especially because that would make it so different from the more biblically accurate The Passion. I wonder if Mel Gibson even realizes that Evangelicals and Protestants might not be very supportive of The Resurrection.

If you agree, please join me in praying that he will have second-thoughts about what he wants to do. Your comments are welcome, whether you agree with me or not.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Walking Sticks

I’ve seen enough pictures of the Holy Land to appreciate how important a walking stick must have been in biblical times to anyone traveling by foot. Not only for stability, but maybe even for defense against robbers and wild animals.

I’ve been reading from the Old Testament the past few weeks, and I’m in Exodus now. It’s been interesting to read once more about Moses throwing down his staff–I’m assuming that’s the equivalent of  a walking stick–and having it turn into a lively and rather frightening snake. And then God telling him to pick it up  and turning it back into a staff.

Later on, when the Children of Israel were complaining about the lack of water, God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and that made water flow from a rock. If I remember correctly, Moses got in trouble with the Lord later on when he tried to do the same thing on his own initiative and not because God told him to. In fact, wasn’t Moses’ disobedience the thing that prevented him from being permitted to enter the Promised Land when they finally got there?

I’ll bet Jesus used a walking stick, too. He certainly did a lot of moving around from village to village, and He and His disciples had to walk. I often wonder what His walking stick looked like. No matter what kind of wood it was made from, I suspect it had a well-worn look by the last time He used it.

I often use a walking stick, too. Not because I can’t walk without one, but because I can trip over a line in the floor. So it’s especially important for me to use one when walking at the mall or in the neighborhood. In addition to adding stability, it helps me keep my rhythm in walking. Unlike walkers in Jesus’ day, I doubt I’ll need it for defense, but you never know.

Even though a physical walking stick like you see me with in this unusual selfie adds stability to my physical movements, what’s ultimately more important is leaning on the Lord for my overall walk through daily life. David knew what he was talking about when he wrote in Psalm 23, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Those words of assurance are comforting and good to lean on.

How about leaving a comment?

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Fog and Haze

 

Life is full of problems, isn’t it?

Sometimes they’re little. Things that irritate or distract us, but aren’t terribly important from the viewpoint of eternity–oversleeping, burning the toast, having to scrape frost off the windshield, bogging down behind slow drivers who’re hogging the fast lane, forgetting one’s wallet.

And that’s just the beginning of the day. The list of other possibilities is endless.

No matter how small those things are, they tend to get us off to a bad start. If we’re realistic, however, we would admit that none of them is apt to change our lives for the worse permanently.

It’s like driving through a patch of fog. We know we’ll soon come to a clear spot and the rest of the fog will eventually burn off and disappear.

Too many people feel like they’re living in a haze rather than simply passing through foggy spots. Whatever they’re enduring seems endless. And hopeless. Whether their problems are financial ones that seem to keep binding them tighter, relationships that make life painful or unbearable, or a persistent physical problem the doctor can’t determine the cause of or treat successfully, those people can’t seem to see beyond the haze surrounding them.

They’re very much like these two Nicaraguan villagers. No matter how far or how fast they peddle, their road is dirt, and peddling through it will always make everything around them appear hazy.

They don’t have the power to change their situation. They can only dream of a ride like this that’s at least a little clearer:

It’s actually the same road, though, and it’s still dirty and dusty. The difference is one of perception.

God views our problems far differently from the way we do. He sees solutions we can’t even dream of.. He doesn’t enjoy watching us suffer. He wants to help.

We just need to reach out to Him in faith.

If solving the problem and removing the haze is His will, He will do so. But sometimes He seems to prefer helping us  deal with the haze rather than providing an immediate solution.

Of course that’s frustrating. But acknowledging that He’s in control can change our perception.

Rather than feeling totally overwhelmed, lost in our haze of worry and uncertainty…

 

He wants to help us see our situation more clearly:

I can’t imagine any Christian waking up each morning and saying, “Lord, give me more problems so I can depend on You more.” But I hope every true Believer begins the day with a prayer that says, “It’s all in Your hands. That’s all I need to know.”

For some reason, this blog post has been a hard one to write. I hope and pray that it’s made sense and has perhaps even spoken to a personal need. Your comments will be welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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In Other Words

 

Okay, I admit it. As a writer I pay close attention to words. Obsessively close at times.

Everyone’s words. Spoken and printed. Live and recorded. Loving words and hateful ones. Kind words and unfeeling ones. Sacred words and blasphemous ones. Uplifting words and depressing words.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I have several pet peeves regarding words and word usage. Maybe more than several, but several illustrations will suffice.

In a couple of my novels, a character expresses frustration about the use of the word awesome to describe anyone or anything but God. It’s bad enough when non-Christians are describing something pretty insignificant–“This gum is awesome”–but since they would never say God is awesome, their use of that word is simply inappropriate. Or at least a horrible exaggeration.

I have yet to find a, uh, a more awesome way to describe God’s indescribable qualities than to call Him awesome. So when a Christian says God is awesome and also describes other things that way–nothing comes close to being as awesome as God–it strikes me as a sacrilege. What makes it worse is the fact they’ve probably never thought about what they’re doing when they talk that way.

Another of my verbal pet peeves is the word famously.  I’d never heard it used that often until the last several years, although I can’t prove that its use is getting worse. Nonetheless, I keep running into famously–I can’t even stand the way it sounds, and it’s an ugly-looking word in print. Particularly in news articles. Like this line I ran into a few minutes ago, the one that inspired this post:

It follows the famous case of Kate Steinle, who was famously shot to death in San Francisco in 2015 by an illegal immigrant (etc.)

If something is famous, it’s already too well-known to need to be pointed out as being well-known. And the sentence I quoted is an especially horrific example. The “famous case”? Sorry, news writer, but it is an all-too-famous case; you don’t need to tell us that. And then to add “famously shot to death” makes that whole part of the sentence sound redundant.

Enough said. I don’t want to start sounding redundant, too.

While I’m on this soapbox, however, let me share one other word-related pet peeve. Like awesome, this one applies mostly to Christians. I’m not someone who thinks of “darn” as a substitute for “damn” or “heck” as a substitute for “hell.” And I daresay  Christians who use the word “jeez” don’t think of it the way I do.

Nonetheless, I hear jeez as a substitute for Jesus. And it’s not used in praise or adoration, but as a common expression of…whatever.

It offends me so much I’ve asked my wife not to use it when we play Words with Friends. She usually honors my request, even though the ability to get rid of a J and a Z in the same play must be frustratingly tempting.

What about you? Do these pet peeves of mine make sense? Do those things bother you, too? Are there other words that bother you? Your comment will be welcome.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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