Monday, June 24, 2013

The Golden Calf in the Living Room.

One of my greatest accomplishments as a Father is that my kids still refer to the television in the Family Room as Dad's Golden Calf. It's about 4 or 5 years old now. We had just gotten home from vacation. We had spent more money than budgeted. I hit the power button on the very old TV we had and a plume of smoke emanated from the back of it.

The kids were over-joyed that we were finally going to join the real world and get a big screen TV. Thus, the lesson of the Golden Calf!

My entire life I was never able to understand how the Israelites could have been so STUPID as to build a golden calf and worship it when Moses had just been gone a few days. They had been on the receiving end of  DOZENS of miracles. They had witnessed the Red Sea parting. They were being lead around by a cloud. They had groceries falling from the sky. Then,  Moses goes up on Sinai for a few days and they start dancing around a worshipping a golden calf.

MORONS! Are these the stupidest people to ever walk the Planet?

After purchasing our first big screen TV, I find myself being more tolerant of the Israelites. I NEED to sit in front of this big-screen TV, and RUN through more channels than I can count. I BOW to my golden calf. MORON! Am I the stupidest person on the Planet?

Idolatry. Pagan, idol worshippers. Aren't they on....what channel is National Geographic? Only illiterate, third world people from countries I've never heard of worship idols, right?

Sadly, I am embarrassed to admit that too much of my life was behind me before I was able to grasp what idolatry really looks like. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that in the 21st Century, we practice idolatry in ways that makes those Israelites look like beginners. Oh, do we ever have our idols! And we bow at their feet!

I am not going to go into much detail. I want to challenge the readers of this Blog to think about idolatry. I may address some of these idols on an individual basis in the future. Actually, this whole subject of idolatry could make for a series of posts.

However, I will name a few. See if you can relate to any of these altars.

We bow at the altar of education, career, fame, kids, pets, golf, hunting, fishing, fitness, politics, church (this one will definitely get its own post) fact.....just fill in the blank. Almost anything CAN and everything HAS become an idol for someone.

A friend once suggested that "Kevin, whatever you think about the most....that is your god!" In the spirit of true transparency, I defer on answering that question! I will say this. If I prayed a TENTH as many times as I check into Facebook on a daily basis......

My kids are grown now. I'm not sure I've taught them much. But, I hope they will always remember the golden calf in the family room and not be so hard on those Israelites.  After all, we are bowing down just as they did. I just hope we can be mindful of who and what we are bowing to.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Reality Schmeality!

This weekend was one of those self-pitying, woe is me, my life sucks kind of weekends. NO! STOP THAT! They are not ALL like that for me. But, I found myself reflecting on the "reality" of the situation and with my refusal to reach out to anyone to "keep me in check", I sort of slid into the abyss.

It was my first Father's Day in 21 years that I didn't have at least one of kids with me. One is living in another state and the other is traipsing around England. My wife was trying to get through her first Father's Day without her Dad. I could have gotten out of myself and tried to console and comfort her. But the self-centeredness WON again. No surprise there!

Shoe made me go with him to visit a dying man in hospice. One would think that a little gratitude would arise from that effort. Maybe it did. But it was brief and fleeting.

No, I found myself contemplating reality. I was attempting to do it by myself. I was alone in my head--- a very dangerous neighborhood. I was doomed to fail from the very start.

Stainless paints a negative picture of man and his ability to face reality when he unabashedly states that "People are naturally and perfectly capable of IGNORING reality in order to meet a personal desire." At the surface, the statement almost sounds like an asset. Not so much!

From marital vows, to child-rearing responsibilities, to job-related commitments, to participation in healthy life-style choices.....REALITY is often ignored and outright abandoned in order to do what we WANT to do. The consequences of this behavior cannot be quantified!

We all do it. No one is immune. It is the human condition. As always, you are no doubt thinking, "Well Kev, you are pretty good at the problem! Any solution?"

First and foremost I am committed TODAY (okay the next 10 minutes) to stop evaluating YOUR talents at ignoring reality. I've got a couple of friends who are "acting a fool." I'm giving them too much free rent in my head. They are on the precipice of reaping what they've sown. I must be willing to let that happen in order for them to learn the lesson they must learn.

Secondly, I am going to attempt to face and stay in the  reality of my situation. The Denton Yogi calls it "living in your truth." That makes me a little tense because you all know I'm afraid of "truth creation." But I think what she's trying to say was muttered years ago by Bill Shakespeare when he said, "To thine own self be true."

Finally, I'm gonna heed the advice of a dear friend who died a few years ago. Soon before her death, I was explaining to her how I was doing "just enough" to manage my life and just get by. She said something to the effect of "You poor, pathetic little man! It's God's job to manage your life! It's your job to go out and try to be a blessing to His kids."

Even yesterday, if I had simply tried to be a blessing to my wife in her grief, the reality of my situation would not have seemed so grim. In fact, gratitude would have taken over as I thought about what a great job she did with those kids and reflected on how proud I am, and how much I love that kid in Louisiana and that kid running around the UK.

Monday, June 10, 2013

In Consideration of Inconsideration!

I've never really understood the whole Road Rage thing. I'm not saying that I don't occasionally get the ever-living cr*p scared out of me and react in a negative way. But for the most part, I just go along with the flow of traffic without the need to control the road and think that I'm the only one out there that has some place he really needs to be. Shoe is the same way. He picks his lane and stays in it. He's one of about three people I know that I'm not afraid to be a passenger in his car.

I am a little troubled by those of you who do just the opposite. And it's not that you just think you are the most important people on the road. What bugs me is that you BRAG about it! You see this complete lack of consideration for anyone else as a positive character attribute and you wear it like a Badge!

In a men's accountability group, I made the casual remark one time that "They can't cut you off, if you wave them on over." A truck driver in the group turned purple and looked as though he wanted  to choke me to death!

CONSIDERATE. What does it mean? What does it look like? When did it go away? Will it ever come back?

I'm not even going to attempt to answer these questions. My guess is that the whole concept of being considerate, if it EVER did exist, is long gone and will never be recovered! CONSIDERATE.

I just don't know of a single example of consideration that I can even offer as a point of reference. I've hung around Christians most of my life. I'm trying to think of just one good example from among them. No! It's not gonna happen. In fact, in general, they continue to be some of the MOST inconsiderate people I know. Christians should be taking the lead. Not so much!

In my faith tradition, we are still very much into labels! We want to know if that bunch on the corner is a liberal church or a conservative church? We MUST know! And every congregation MUST take on a label! Now that I'm getting older, I am less and less interested in labels. I just want to know if that bunch on the corner is a considerate church?

In case you are wondering, chances are that they are NOT! It usually looks like this: At some point in their past, they have made some SIGNIFICANT change. I'm not talking about paint color. I'm talking about a  major doctrinal change! They act as though they prayed about it. They act as though their theology justifies it. But when they announced their prayerful decision, they said something along these lines: "This is what we have decided to do. Some of you are not going to like it and you are most likely going to leave. Please do not let the door hit you on the back-side on your way out." Are you KIDDING me? God told you to make an announcement without any consideration for others? God told you to run people off and split a church right down the middle? God actually instructed you to be inconsiderate?

INCONSIDERATE! Now, take that same situation and apply it to EVERY situation on the GLOBE! The living room, the bedroom, the classroom, the work place, the PTA, the booster club, the highways, the City Hall, the State Capitol, the halls of Congress, the White House, the Middle East, Moscow, North Korea.......I simply don't care what you put in the blank. Humanity's blatant refusal to be considerate of others is the undoing of our society.

With a complete LACK of consideration for others, from the bedroom to the boardroom, millions of DECISIONS are made EVERY day that keep all of us slipping down the mudslide to Hell!

Being considerate is easier to talk about than it is to practice. Trust me, I know. I'm the one who spoke of being surrounded by idiots just seven days ago.

But, let's just try to take baby steps. Let's try to at least stop bragging about this obvious character flaw. Let's stop being proud of rude, inconsiderate behavior. Let's just see what positive things might arise if we just wave them on over?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Surrounded By Idiots!

As I sit and write my 20th entry into this little social experiment, I am anxious as to whether or not I'm beginning to be repetitively redundant. I certainly am not going to go back an read the prior 19 entries. So, I'm in a position where I'm just going to write what's swimming around in my twisted mind.

As far back as I can remember in my life, the biggest problem I've had to endure is that seemingly, I have ALWAYS been surrounded by idiots. I don't know if you can relate, or not. I mean IDIOTS! I find it almost impossible to describe.

In grade school, in high school, in college, in church, on the job....I'm talking about the real deal here. I mean IDIOTS! I've asked the question time and time again. Stainless and Shoe no longer pretend to even provide an answer. I implore them, with all the sincerity I can muster, "Why are things so APPARENT to me, that are LOST on everyone else in my life?"

Some readers of this post will identify with me completely. A second group will surmise, "What a pathetic, sad life you lead, Kevin!" There is no doubt in my mind that the second group's conclusion is the most accurate.

I've already addressed the under-lying issues that plague me in this regard. Self-centeredness, egomania, fear. These three defects wrap themselves around an incredible inferiority complex and the result is just one hot mess.....minus the hot! Triple the mess!

Consequently, I DON'T DO YOU very well. The person in front of me with 11 items in the "10 Item Express Lane", the person in the car in front of me, the customer of my little company, the leader in my church, the preacher on the radio......and sadly the closest friend in my life, and the loved ones living under my roof.... I find it difficult to tolerate you.....whoever you are! It's really not that funny. It really is that sad!

One of the spiritual advisers from my past that I have yet to mention is man I'll simply call Lucky. Lucky used to end every conversation with the declaration, "Kevin, you are a beautiful child of God." It made me so tense and uncomfortable! I simply did not want to believe it. But, on the days that I do believe it, I have to believe it about EVERY person that I mentioned above.

The life principle of "Live and Let Live" is for me, the single most difficult principle I have to employ on a daily basis. I am much more fluent in the problem than I am the solution. Deep down in my soul, I am fully aware that after I've run into the 3rd or 4th idiot in my day, it might just be that I need to look in the mirror. I need to find the common denominator between me and all these idiots.

The answer is crystal clear.