Doubts, accusations, & other musings on a warm German afternoon…

Wrestled with writing & posting this blog, but hey, what’s the use of have the InterWebs if we can’t put our thoughts & feelings on it with great trepidation & the possibility of being grossly misunderstood?


I was feeling pretty good this morning, & the air smelled so fresh, so clean from last nights rain that I was lured outside into the nearby park for a run. Wouldn’t say I’m a runner, but I have been known to get out & gingerly & slowly move my feet at a pace slightly beyond that of a walk. Or at least beyond the pace of my walk. It is < 70 degrees F here, so I wasn’t even worried about getting too warm… just wanted to sweat. I’ve been wrestling with a low-grade burn in my gut (not related to the gnocchi or sickness… just some frustration.)

The problem with running for me is that as soon as I start, something engages in my brain. The place where my filter/processor/muser/pontificator is located kicks into gear, & I’m hit with a barrage of thoughts, feelings, DVR-like replays of interactions I’ve had, & the like. And somehow, someway running makes me work through stuff in a way that nothing else does (I’ve tried the elliptical, but it takes all my concentration not to fall off the thing, so it’s not just exercising that does it. Nor walking. Just running.)

As I dodged dog mess, puddles the size of Washoe Lake, & dudes on bikes, a specific conversation replayed in my mind. Just recently, I had an interaction with a person who used to attend TPLF, Hillside’s main church contact in Germany until the last 2 years or so. Something came up that I hadn’t expected: the person questioned my integrity & made negative accusations about my relationship to TPLF, specifically relating to both former pastors of the church. This person was convinced that my support of the pastors was an attempt to manipulate the people in the church to a specific behavior & to advance the pastors’ (secret, sneaky, & controlling) agendas at the church’s expense. And that some of the things I had said in support of the church & the leadership were lies.

To say it made me angry would be an understatement… in the situation, I was able to stay composed (or at least my version of composed. I tried. Last thing that would have been good in that spot was to go Vesuvius. Looking back I bet my face was mad. Or I looked tired. Which is the same thing. But I digress.) The rest of the conversation was short & awkward. Didn’t try to defend myself, just said, “If that’s what you think about me, then I guess you don’t know me at all.”

My pace picked up. I FELT the anger rise up in me again. This time, however, I had the opportunity to muse, ponder, process the WHY behind this situation & WHY it bugged me so bad. This is where I usually call my friend Chuck, & he asks very pointed questions that help me to uncover what I’m dealing with, as well as hear God’s voice in the midst of it. However, Chuck is 6 hours behind me, EST, & I know he loves me, but he wouldn’t appreciate a 5 a.m. wake-up call. So I dug in on it myself.


Turns out, one of my personal core values is authenticity – & as a result, I don’t knowingly or intentionally play interpersonal games. I say what I mean. I don’t carry a secret, uncommunicated agenda that I attempt to advance at the expense of others. I don’t conspire, bait & switch, or attempt to control others.  I tell the truth. I value my character, integrity, & what my wife & kids think of me.

And when THAT is called into question, it pisses me off. It strikes a nerve like nothing else does. And right now, in the aftermath of my workout, as I lay my head on the table, a sweat-drenched mess, I wonder… And I think back over past conversations, past conflicts, past situations where I’ve felt something similar… & the big ones, the ones that have been ugly & have left scars… & I see similarities. Without casting my own accusations or dispersions on others, I reflect on the fact that the worst conflicts I’ve experienced have always happened when my character/integrity/word is challenged. Because if I don’t have those things, I’ve got nothing, including no basis for a meaningful relationship. And if after interacting with me & hearing their questions answered, their assertions responded to, a person interprets what I’m saying/doing as an attempt to manipulate, control, harm, &/or lie, etc…, I guess we’re done.

Maybe I’m tired, & feeling a little dramatic. Maybe God’s trying to tell me something. Maybe I need to grow up, & develop a thicker skin. Not really sure.

I only know that I want to love God, love people & communicate as clearly, truthfully, & straightforwardly as I can. Not gonna blow smoke, use hyperbole, or attempt to manipulate.


Dr. Archibald Hart, a great Christian & a great man, once told me,
“75% of the problems people have with you Louie, as a pastor, will be related to their issues with other authority figures in their lives. Their parents. Bosses. Pastors. Leaders. You really cannot do anything about that. Focus on the 25% you DO have control over.”

I’m working on it Arch. I’m working on it.

Suffering…

My last post (more of a “sentence” than a post,) was penned late at night while I was pondering something – rejection – something I know that I’m not alone in having experienced. I even have probably dished out a bit of it myself, albeit unknowingly. Anyhow, I was thinking about rejection, both from the aspect of experiencing a recent & fresh dose of it, & also from the standpoint of Jesus Christ being intimately familiar with it Himself.

When I think about the sufferings of Christ, the first thing that comes to mind is His suffering leading up to the cross – being scourged by the Roman soldiers, beaten with sticks & fists, forcibly being fitted with a crown of Jerusalem thorns… & finally being nailed to the cross.

But Jesus’ suffering wasn’t limited to the cross… in doing a little digging, you can see that His suffering was something that was experienced in every area of life. I re-read Isaiah 53 the well known prophecy about the ‘suffering servant’, a passage that foretold the suffering of Christ on the cross. However, something else in the passage caught my eye:

My servant grew up in the LORD’S presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. vv2,3

He was despised and rejected? Acquainted with the bitterest grief? I dug some more – & read through the gospels doing a word search for “rejection” & “suffering” – what I found was:

  • Matthew 10:24-26 – on the subject of suffering – if/since Jesus (the master) suffered, all of His followers will suffer as well.
  • Matthew 21:42 – Jesus was the ‘stone that the builders rejected,’ the One who has since become the Cornerstone (the main stone of a building, upon which all of the walls are based…)
  • Mark 6:1-5 – upon returning to His hometown of Nazareth, & revealing Himself as the Messiah, it says that Jesus was rejected at Nazareth – by the people who knew Him best.
  • Mark 9:12 – Jesus prophesied to His disciples that He, the Son of Man would go through sufferings & be treated with contempt
  • You can see more on this if you check out Luke 2:34; 9:22; 17:25…
  • Other thoughts race through my mind – Jesus’ family thought He was crazy, out of His mind, & came to Him while He was teaching in order to “put Him away…”

    After pouring His life out for 3 years to His disciples, one of them, Judas Iscariot, betrays Him to the Jewish leaders/Roman soldiers for 30 pieces of silver, the going price for an ox. An ox! The Son of God sold for the price of livestock. On top of that, when He was arrested, every one of His disciples ran away from Him, abandoning Him. Worse, when confronted with the opportunity to be associated with Jesus, Simon Peter denied that he even knew Jesus, 3 separate times. To a servant girl.


    In Romans 5, we’re encouraged that we should “rejoice in our sufferings, because they produce in us endurance…” And Paul, a man well acquainted with suffering & rejection, reminds us in 8:18 that the sufferings of this present time, any & everything we go through, is not even worth comparing with the glory that is awaiting us in Christ… He even says:

    I want to know Christ & the power of His resurrection & the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like Him in His death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead… Philippians 3:10

    He wants to know Christ – even if… WHEN it means the sharing of the same sufferings Christ endured.

    Later, Peter, the same Peter who betrayed Jesus Christ, writes to Christ-followers going through life’s wringer, saying:

    Do not be surprised at the fiery trial taking place – to test you– as though something strange were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so you may be glad & shout for joy when His glory is revealed. If you are rejected & hated for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you… if you suffer as a Christ-follower, rejoice, because you bear His name…

    The rejection & suffering that Christ endured went far beyond the cross – & often came at the hands of those He knew best, those closest to Him – His family & the people in His hometown.

    It gives me great courage & encouragement, peace & faith, to know that Christ endured this type of rejection as well, being hated, & reviled, abandoned, & denied… & He endured to the end, through it all, & gives us an example to follow – one filled with grace, healing, restoration, & life.

    Rejection hurts -& we’re promised suffering if/since we follow Christ… yet in the middle of all of it, God gives us grace to endure; to persevere. To bring glory to Him.

    Denial, & other words that mean things…

    I wanted to post a “demotivator” for DENIAL here, but went to the site & found that there isn’t one there. I don’t believe it.


    I’ve got a mental replay going – but it’s not one of those ones that you wish would just go away… it’s Isaiah 50:7. Like flint. Like flint. Determination. Perseverance. Faith-filled. Faithful.

    First day of school for Pasty & Joey – Weez is on year round, so she’ll be out on break as of next week. The tide rises. The tide falls.

    Preschool rocks. I wish I could go.

    Went to Earl’s for smokin’ poker… Texas Hold’em. I don’t play (actually have only played once,) so I was an observer – an interested one, one who wants to learn how to play, without having to learn stuff the hard way, (aka 1 $5 buy-in at a time.) Me & theBean both went, along with Joey… turns out she was the only girl – fine with me (& with her… though we thought other chicas would be there too.) Joey played a bit, & learned the hard way about the flop & the river. Good times. Thanks, experience.

    spring break musings: swimming & sunning…

    Spring Break for Washoe County is officially “on” this week – in retrospect, it’s kinda nice that it falls right at the same time that we Spring Forward, so that somehow, the blow of losing an hour of sleep & having the schedule torqued has a week to be processed before the childrens have to return to the daily grind.

    I also think on the subtle shift that has occurred, with Spring Break moving away from being tied to Easter (& it’s former name, Easter Break.) Not ready to comment on that, but I’m just sayin…

    In former times, a week off from school was a joyous occasion, a time for swimming. And sunning. Even if (when) it was cold, we’d find a pool to spend our days in. And if we were lucky, we wouldn’t even need towels, because we could just dry off outside using solar power.

    I miss the simplicity of the swimming & sunning days. And I wonder how that kid that I was is doing with the life I live now…

    Roller coaster…

    I’m riding a roller coaster of emotions. Feels like I have a sunburn on my feelings – I don’t know if its because they’re regenerating after being buried for eons, or if they’ve been injured in an accident & need to call a personal injury attorney to take the 1st step.

    I’ve read CS Lewis & intellectually, believe that I have a grasp of what I’m facing. And feeling. And the beauty of it is, it doesn’t help to know that.

    Here’s to Jesus.

    Dead link & other musings…

    No sooner do I get an AWESOME Star Wars poster/pic, a virtual ode to Brint, than it disappears. I was indignant. Couldn’t believe it. I was legitimately borrowing this link, & the owner of the link killed it.

    So, I found it again. And reposted it. Who’s your daddy?
    Other thoughts on an early Tuesday…

  • The Bean & the Daro (12 year old son) are on an extended, 3 day field trip to SF. Bummer. And, they’re freezing. I miss them. I really miss the Bean.
  • The NBA playoffs are almost interesting watching the Suns/Spurs go at it. Go Suns.
  • The Master Cleanse is coming… Anyone done this before?
  • I found out that there is a musical instrument called a Euphonium – how cool.
  • I will be sitting in meetings all day tomorrow. Ugh.
  • Brother’s dog (Carter) is in heat, meaning Brother’s other dog (Higgins) is chasing it around, 24/7. Higgins is tired.
  • Found a book on my desk after Sunday’s speech called, The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Anyone know anything about this book? Anyone give it to me?
  • It is too hot to wear shoes, & my flip flops are uselessly thin. How does one go about purchasing new ones?
  • I’m off to Wild Oats to buy organic lemons, Grade B Maple Syrup, Cayenne Pepper, & Sea Salt. I think I’m going to make a smoothie.

    TTFN.

  • Ready for too much information?


    At the encouragement of Brintus Maximus… here’s a little pic from the downstairs TPLF WC… & a little story to go with it. I was takin’ care of business after a hard days meetings – the cardboard roll at left in the pic tells the story of the drama I faced. No mas.

    No worries. There was a handy little package of baby-wipes for just such an occasion – as you can see, the package is wholly in German, but the package resembles the one we use, literally, at our house. It even had a cute little puppy dog on the package.

    My first swipe w/the mystery wipes was effective, yet accompanied by a vigorous tingling, & not the good kind, in just the wrong place. My second swipe did the job, yet the tingling grew more intense… into pain.

    Checked w/Johannes on the contents of the mystery package. Turns out they’re BLEACH wipes.

    Duly noted.

    Saturday

    Made it to 5 today. Woohoo. More musings then. And, may I warn you now, it is deteriorating, though my mental acuity increasing with each passing moment.

    -Every long plane ride, I take my Tolkien – its like travelling with an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while. Didn’t finish Lord of the Rings (book) this time. I usually make it through on the plane trip home, but this time, Casino Royale was calling my name, thereby sabotaging my reading…

    -glad we missed the snow last week.

    -they’re everywhere. On our flight home from SFO to RNO, 2 German ladies sat across from Joni, coming to visit a relative in the Reno area.

    -2 Daylight Savings Time jumps forward in one 3 week period is lame. 4 March in the US, 18 March in the EU. Progressive.

    -Pondering & repondering Luke 9:23-25… still. The whole “deny your selfish ambition” makes me have to introspect – What are my selfish ambitions? If I’m going to deny them, I better know what they are or least what they look like… How deep does this rabbit hole go?

    On that note, 1John 2:15-17 comes to mind…
    “Do not love the world, or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world- the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches – comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world & its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.”

    Identifying selfish ambition: the 3 things mentioned in these verses are about me & fulfilling me. Like Indulgence. Accumulation. Self-exaltation. Gaining the whole world, while losing the soul. –> Denying selfish ambition. Its got to be more than mere asceticism, which can be done in the name of God, albeit with a selfish motivation.

    Maybe the “denying of selfish ambitions” can’t be separated from the “taking up the cross daily” – simple obedience. Makes me ponder some more –

    Has God really called me to do “great things” for Him? The divinely-ordered task of doing “great things” seems to hide in it lots of room for selfish ambition. I can see a trap here. My introspection continues… I can’t recall a time in my life that I have ever had God call me to do something “great”. Usually, for me, God’s call is a point of obedience that no one else finds out about. And it often seems to involve pain. And being misunderstood. And suffering. Standing firm somewhere.

    Something that comes to mind is God’s call to the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road HERE– esp. verse 16 – where God says, “I myself will show him (Paul) how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Interesting.

    Selfish ambition points to me, ultimately, no matter what flowery language or high purpose I declare that I am really pursuing – the taking up of the cross, daily, is a call to obey, but also a call to die. Jesus must have chosen the words carefully, loaded with imagery as they are, esp. in the context of the 1st Century Roman Empire. Lay aside selfishness & obey. It will hurt. We will suffer for obeying. But, we’ll be following in His footsteps.

    -time for another cup of joe.

    Cheers.

    Imaginations…

    The Bean & I had some interesting interactions last week, & through some time intentionally carved out for communication have ID’d a monster – the imagination. I’m not talking about creative thinking imagination that Mr. Rogers told us was good to use; its the one-sided conversations that happen in our heads where we ‘imaginarily” interact with another person & come to a conclusion, albeit a faulty or lie-based one, from the imagined interaction.

    Taking the time to articulate the imagination & to check in “for realsies” with the other person completely deflated the faulty conclusion.