Monday, March 25, 2013

Wreckage of the Future!

Many of my friends have heard me discuss the fact that on most days, I live my life in the "wreckage of the future." I even preached a sermon by that Title one time. The week before, when I announced the Title of next week's sermon, a visiting Bible Professor from Abilene Christian University looked at me like he was having an aneurysm and said, "What did you say?" Bless his heart! That's the problem with Bible Professors at Christian Universities. They have absolutely NO idea how to take scripture and make an application that will mean something on Monday morning at 8 AM. But that's another Blog for another day.

I find that for the most part, people spend a lot of time of time trying to clean the wreckage of the past. But, they have no idea, and have never really given any thought to the idea that, in reality, they are living in the wreckage of the future.

I often assert (probably just denial) that I have given up on trying to have a better past! Oh, it hits me sometime. Mostly at night, when I can't get to sleep. I will fall into the trap of morbid reflection and play all the "what ifs..." and the "woulda, shoulda, couldas...." over and over again in my crazy brain.

But during the day, when I'm caffeined up and managing my day......TRUST me....almost all my thoughts project me right into the wreckage of the future!

What's wrong with the present? Why does the "here and now" unsettle me so? Why do I find it so hard to live right here, right now, and simply go about doing the next right thing in front of me?

Most of you who know me think that this introduction has all been a "set-up" to discuss my devotion to running. Oooh! I heard it....the collective sigh! No one can believe that I've been at this over a month and have not mentioned the running one time. No, I'm not heading in that direction. I think everyone is pretty "beaten" by my hobby! However, I will reserve the right to go there. Eventually, I'm gonna be out of material!

In fact, I'm headed just the opposite direction. Last Fall, my Yogi friend suggested that I would benefit greatly (since I refuse to do Yoga) from daily.......oh no! don't say it! please don't go there!.......MEDITATION!

She even sent me a link to a website where some Zen Buddhist would lead me through a "guided meditation." Well, we know a couple of things: 1) I'm not gonna pay Grasshopper to teach me to meditate! 2) But, I could not turn down the 10 Day Free Trial!

Oh, trust me! I have "played" with meditation over the years. It looks like this. Get real still. Breath real deep! And think, "Meditate, meditate, meditate, BILLS, meditate, meditate, meditate, JOB, meditate, meditate, meditate, SEX, meditate, meditate, meditate, FAIL! All that occurred in about a minute and a half! And it would dawn on me that meditation was not for me.

Well, let me say, that my experience with Grasshopper was just the opposite! He gave me permission to fail (it's okay if the mind wanders). He helped me to get into the present. Right here! Right now! And probably for the first time in my life.....for 10 straight days, for 10 minutes each day, I was in the present, simply thinking about the next breath. Potentially, this could have been a life-changing experience, if I would only put into practice what this dude was trying to teach me. But I think about it on occasion. And I am reminded of the certainty, that right here, right now, I am blessed. All my NEEDS are satisfied! All else are just WANTS! In trying to satisfy the WANTS, I am projected right into the Wreckage of the Future!

The Old Man in Farmers Branch says, "He who has one eye on tomorrow, and one eye on yesterday, is COCK-EYED today. Here's to eyes that look straight ahead today!

Monday, March 18, 2013

What the DUCK!

Okay! Okay! Okay! I am gonna find it impossible to put Spring Break behind me and get back to work unless I address the situation we VOLUNTARILY  found ourselves in West Monroe, LA.

In order to do so, I have to make a confession: I am a fan and I do watch the fine work of the Roberston Family on A&E's Duck Dynasty. I kind of hate to admit that on the World Wide Web. But it's true. I was pretty much drawn in from Week 1 and even find myself watching reruns when A&E airs their marathons as they are so prone to do.

If you've never seen the show, you should probably just exit this blog and wait for another topic. I'm not gonna take the time to try and describe, explain, or pitch this Reality Show to you. Aren't they all the same, anyway?

Apparently not! I have no documentation to back this up. But I heard in an interview that Duck Dynasty is the highest rated "non-scripted" reality show in the history of ever. And I have no idea as to why! No, maybe I do.

Evidently, there is a TEMPLATE for reality shows that they all follow pretty closely. Show lots of dysfunction! Cuss, Cuss, and Cuss! (I mean really Cuss! Try to embarrass Sailors!) Stay pissed OFF! Make sure tension always exist among the cast! Have Sex. Lots of Sex! (Try to make jungle animals BLUSH).

Winning combination, huh? Trust me. It's there. I will not recommend that anyone watch these shows. But Jersey Shore and the new hit series Buckwild on VH1 are stellar examples. As a matter of fact, those kids on Buckwild (set in the Appalachian Mountains) make Jersey Shore look like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

But Duck Dynasty? None of the above. No four letter words. No animosity. They are married. The adults are the adults and seem to make the decisions. The kids are the kids and respect their parents. (Am I the only one that's noticed that, with the exception of Cosby, the kids are ALWAYS smarter than the parents and the parents are made to look like TOTAL baffoons in all television entertainment!) They pray at the end of every show and this Willie character always concludes the episode with a lesson learned.

And America LOVES it! And about a thousand Americans were just walking around the parking lot of that Duck Call business when we drove up over there last Wednesday. It was totally unbelievable! Church vans, youth groups, young and old were crawling all over this warehouse parking lot. There are no tours. There is nothing really to see. A small gift shop is there. And everyone is leaving with a couple hundred dollars of merchandise! But the rest are just standing there, hoping maybe one of these rednecks will poke his head out the door and say hello!

And seemingly, these travellers have journeyed to a parking lot because they remember! They remember a simpler place in time. They remember when they sat around a table for dinner. They remember when the parents actually ran the household. They remember their crazy Uncle! (Duck Dynasty does have the crazy uncle) And you almost sense, when they leave without meeting anyone famous, that they grieve a little.....but their grief runs deeper than we can imagine!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kids These Days!

In an earlier post, I stressed my intent to only speak from experience and try not to give my opinion.....well, of course....unless it was a GOOD one. Well, today, I will launch an opinion into the blogosphere.....and it's a good one!

Those of you who know me best may find this opinion a little shocking. It's been observed that I'm kind of a negative, cynical, "glass half empty" kind of guy. Maybe that's true. But I saw something on Tuesday morning that made a profound impact on me and has caused me to re-think my position on kids these days.

We toured Lipscomb University in Nashville this past Monday morning. We were excited to get to Monroe to visit our son, but decided to hang around until Tuesday, so that we could go to Chapel on campus Tuesday morning.

Chapel was a way cool experience! Lipscomb's Spring Break is next week and the theme of the morning's service was about the TWENTY-TWO different groups that would be leaving campus either yesterday or today headed to all kinds of places to try and make a difference in the world---just try to give some folks a little hope!

Islands I've never heard of. Places in Mexico I didn't know existed. The streets of New York. The inner-city of Atlanta.  Videos were played with students talking of their experiences and tears streamed down their faces as they described how they have spent every Spring Break in these locales and how their lives will never be the same. There's even a group headed to Panama City. There will be 500,000 students there next week getting sloppy drunk and groping each others' "toilet places." But there will be 14 kids there on the beach proving that life's not all about alcohol and toilet places!

So, here's the opinion. In general, this generation is less selfish, less materialistic, and much more concerned with making a difference in this world than my generation! Studies indicate that today's kids will be the first generation in this county to NOT make more money, live in bigger houses, or have a higher standard of living than their parents did.

And guess what? They could not care any less! I am finding that Tucker and Jentry's generation are actually even a little embarrassed by the emphasis my generation has put on the almighty dollar, climbing the corporate ladder, and trying so desperately to pay for that weekend getaway by the lake!

These kids want to make a difference! They want the hungry to be fed, the homeless to have shelter, and the hopeless to have hope. They are trying desperately to embarrass my generation into doing the right thing.

So, here's a big shout out from me to today's kids. Keep it up! Make a difference! Try to leave this planet a little better off than how you found it. God knows my generation didn't!

Friday, March 8, 2013

I May Be Insane, But at Least I'm Crazy!

For those of you concerned about my friendship with Stainless, we were able to get past that whole "God never wakes up thinking He's me" episode and remain very close friends to this day. Iron truly sharpens iron and, believe it or not, I'm not always on the receiving end. As a matter of fact, I once made a brilliant observation to him (about him) one day and he lovingly reminded me that he carries a weapon! But, that's another blog for another day.

Another occasion that comes to mind is one day when we were discussing the oft quoted and often misunderstood definition of insanity. You've all heard it. Albert Einstein gets credit for it, even though no evidence exists that ol Albert actually uttered it. The definition goes something like this: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

It kinda makes sense, doesn't it? Truth is, I've been THERE. Whether you like it or not, you've probably been THERE. And even if we are unwilling to admit it, we can all certainly think of people in our lives who seem to be THERE. They just keep making the same mistakes time and time again, hoping against hope that the outcome will be different next time.

When this conversation occurred, Stainless threw me a complete curve ball. He actually postulated that Einstein's definition might be appropriate for most folks, but not for me. You see, I was right in the middle of it. I was making the same mistake, over and over and over. He backed me into a corner. Then, he forever altered my definition of insanity.

Stainless actually questioned Einstein's brilliance! He said something to the effect of, "Kevin, I know you've heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over gain expecting different results. But that's not REALLY insane. As a matter of fact, expecting, wishing, desiring, or hoping for a different result is actually kind of healthy thinking. But you sir, are doing the same thing over and over again, knowing PERFECTLY WELL, what the results are going to be! That my friend is INSANE!" (Actually, he didn't say PERFECTLY! But I run a G-Rated Blog)

WHAT? I get a different definition than everyone else? Apparently, I do. And friends, I am not the Lone Ranger! The traditional definition may be okay! It might serve as acceptable psycho babble coming from a shrink that's getting $100 an hour. But, let's get real! Making the same mistake day after day after day, while in our heart of hearts knowing "perfectly" well that  we are going to get the same negative results that we always get is just a little stupid, a little crazy, and a lot INSANE.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Self-Centered? You Have No Idea!

Well, it only took a week! Seven days! One Hundred Sixty-Eight Hours!

One week ago today, I started this blog with the first post of "Why Now?" Oh yes! I blabbered on and on like a mental patient about how I was bored with me, you were bored with me, and I really needed some cheap therapy without having to call a friend and wear him out with my stuff. Remember? I was just gonna do my rant and send it off into cyber-space! No harm, no foul! I don't like people anyway. Why should I care if I offend you?

Then, a strange thing happened! A couple of you sent me private messages on FB that you were enjoying it. Five or Six of you "liked" the link on FB. Once or twice, you've even posted a comment on the FB Timeline. Finally, I made the mistake of looking at the Stats this free blog provides. BIG mistake! I got a view in Germany. Then, Sweden. Australia. Oh yes! Indonesia! I'm done for. It's over! I mean most of you are friends of mine and are comfortable with my neurosis! You know better than to post a differing opinion. You are well aware of the fact that arguing with me is like wrestling with a pig in mud.....after a few minutes you realize the pig is enjoying it!

But what about this poor schmuck in Indonesia who may be just barely hanging on and his daily dose of "Cheaper Than Therapy" has given him the will to go on? It's only been in the last 6 years that I'm daily reminded that the world doesn't revolve around me! Now, this silly blog has resurrected that notion. Self-centered? You have no idea!

Here's what you didn't know. Last Wednesday, I spent the entire day fasting and praying about a certain situation. It's probably a sin to "brag" about that and it would be WRONG to inform you of the situation. But, the idea to start the blog came up during that day. Obviously, God-inspired! Right?

One Hundred Sixty-Eight hours later, I can see that it was just low blood sugar messing with my brain. So, apparently, I need to tap the brakes! Trust me! I'm not out of ideas! I've already jotted down the subject of the next 5 or 6. Someone in Indonesia needs me!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You Offend Me, Sir!

I will never forget the morning several years ago when a dear friend (in this post and in the future I'll refer to him as Stainless) looked me squarely in the eye and said, "Well Kevin, certainly you must know that the biggest difference between you and God is that god NEVER wakes up in the morning thinking that He's you!"

What did he say? That was the most ridiculous and possibly the most offensive thing I had ever heard in my life. He was normally a fairly reasonable fellow. We had spent hours together encouraging one another and building each other up. Then, out of the blue, this so-called friend accuses me of playing God!

The interesting thing is that Stainless was fully aware that I had done a little debating in my life. Did he really want to mix it up with me? So, I HUMBLY went into a full rebuttal of that assinine statement and in several LOGICAL points proved to him that never in my life had I ever exhibited the audacity to play God!

As a matter of fact, any idiot who knew of my background, education, time in the mission field, participation in church----any fool could plainly see that I had been serving God all my life!

It was only a few weeks later that I heard another friend quote the deceased mother of my good friend, Clark. She said, "I remember when Kerry used to say that she had been serving God all her life----mostly in an ADVISORY capacity!"

BAM! What a kick in the gut! Serving God in an advisory capacity. Was that what Stainless meant? Was he really just trying to point out to me that my main problem is that I try to advise God?

Several years have passed since that realization came to me. And some days are better than others. I fight the tempation to inform God of how He should handle some of you. The good news for you is that He NEVER takes my advice. That is a good thing. Trust me on that. Any God who needs Kevin's advice wouldn't be much of a God, would he?

Monday, March 4, 2013

There's a Difference?

I belong to a faith tradition which has historically discouraged the recitation of rote prayers. Oh, there's nothing wrong with the "model prayer", often referred to as the Lord's Prayer. But for the most part, I was lead to believe that I should pray from my heart and not just recite some memorized prayer.

The Serenity Prayer is probably in the Top 5 of "recited" prayers on the planet. Or not! I have no idea how many different prayers the Catholics recite on a daily basis and there's about a billion of them. But, in my limited experience, I know the Serenity Prayer gets a lot of play.

I've actually recited it a few thousand times myself. Apparently, I have no idea what it means and no inclination to let God do what I ask Him to do in this prayer.

Forget a discussion of serenity! I know as much about serenity as I do about quantum physics. Oh, I give lip service to the "things I cannot change" and the "courage to change the things I can." But, in the last week or so my prayer and meditation has involved the "wisdom to know the difference." Thus, the title of this post---"there's a difference?" I had NO idea.

The "wisdom to know the difference" is the key in this prayer. In fact, there is no prayer here without the wisdom to know the difference being on the table.

God is forcing me to learn the difference. He has put people into my life, that today March 4, are doing some of the most STUPID, most SELF-CENTERED, most DESTRUCTIVE things I can imagine. And God is absolutely insisting that I not "rob" them of the valuable lessons they are about to learn.

God grant me the serenity to
Accept the persons I cannot change,
The courage to change the person I can,
And the wisdom to know
That person is ME!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Opinions are Like What?

Back in the early 90's I met a man in Farmers Branch who never gave his opinion. His repsonse to any question seeking his advice was, "Well, it's been my experience....." Bill would only share from his experience. He simply would not give his oinion.

I want so badly to follow Bill's example. And this practicie of sharing only from experience is something I try to keep at the forefront of my thoughts as I interact with folks on a daily basis.

I can't imagine anyone seeking my opionion, anyway. But some of you do! And all it shows is your desperation to finally find someone who will tell you what you want to hear. Isn't that why we seek counsel from a number of people instead of only a trusted one or two? Aren't we really trying to find someone who will finally validate the stupid decision we have already made way before we decided to seek advice? (That's not my opinion.That's my Experience!)

Several years ago, a really good friend decided to do the whole Brady Bunch thing! He was divorced with two kids. She was divorced with four kids. But they knew this "must somehow form a family."

I cannot tell you how many times my phone rang with this guy asking me what he should do. (This was obviously, after they married! He never asked if I thought they should!)

So, I will share what my response typically sounded like:

"Dude! Are you stupid? Are you really asking me that? I am married to and have only been married to one woman. Both of my kids are mine! I have never done the blended family thing. I have never tried to discipline another man's kids! I have NO experience with what you are talking about."

Then I would say, "Have you prayed bout this?" When he would respond that he had not, I would simply hang up on him.

I love this man. But I cannot tolerate any man who will seek my advice when he's not even willing to take his oncerns to his Creator. Good grief!

So today, I only share my opinions when they are REALLY good ones! Ha! Ha! God isn't done with me yet!