weathering…

With it raining just about every afternoon & evening, coupled with the 5 nights/week of sporting events, we have had ample opportunity to experience the extremes in weather.

One night this week, our team, (sponsored by Armor Plate Ink,) had a softball game – it was pouring, raining horizontally (thank you Nevada wind!) But it wasn’t sooo bad. The grass got soaked (as did we,) the softballs were slick with the water, the dirt infield became just a bit muddy… but we were able to play on & make it through all 6 1/2 innings of the game. The storm was a good one, but we were able to play through it.

Another night this week, thePastyOne was out at Mackay Stadium for UNR football camp with his team. And it was raining. When I say raining, what I mean is that more water was coming down from the sky at one time than I have ever seen in my whole life (& I was in a hurricane in Georgia in 1994). The magnitude & scope of the storm was such that they actually stopped the practice/scrimmaging & cancelled for the evening. There had been some debate about trying to tough it out & play through the mess, but the combination of thunder & lightning (very, very frightening?) made the decision to cancel an easy one.


I love the rain. Don’t go away for long…

pride

This is a continuation of some thoughts I started processing through HERE.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires (cravings, lusts, & longings) of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1John 2:15-17 ESV

Pride. What I have. What I accomplish. Who I am, (or present myself to be?) based upon my job, title, education, place I work… Specifically measured against what Others have. Who they are. What they have done. Are doing.

Pride is insidious. It worms its way into the most unfortunate places. Disguises itself with the best of disguises. Undermines the most unsuspecting of persons.

And is common to all humanity. To me.


I read in Numbers 12…now Moses was more humble than any other person on earth… I remember that he was the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, meaning he most likely grew up with privilege. Education. Wealth. Position. And he left it to lead his people out of slavery to a land occupied by the Nephilim.

I remember that Moses is called the friend of God, a person whom confers with God face to face. That Moses has seen incredible signs, wonders, & miracles worked in & through him by the power of God.

And still he is humble.


I ponder… I think that there’s a special susceptibility to pride that christians have – without even giving 2 thoughts to it… it hides out in our using of our relationship & standing before God to measure ourselves, ranking ourselves against others. Glorying in our humility, our faithfulness. Measuring ourselves by the Great Things that we will do for God. By aspiring to do Great Things, even Greater Things than others do, all the while forgetting what God really wants from us is that we would ‘do justly, love mercy, walk humbly…’ Not that we admit to doing it, but it happens just the same…

CS Lewis writes:

Pride always means enmity – it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God. In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all.

As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you…Mere Christianity p.124


The more I think about the 1John passage, the more I see a root of discontent lurking, waiting to be planted in me. A discontent with what I am. What I have. What I’m doing. What God has provided. And this discontent rashly & repeatedly looks for its fulfillment in the world we live in… And then God becomes a tool that I use to further my reach – to indulge the cravings of my eyes, my flesh, & my pride.

Sigh.

flesh

This is a continuation of some thoughts I started processing through HERE.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires (cravings, lusts, & longings) of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1John 2:15-17 ESV


I ponder… “the cravings, lusts, & longings “of the flesh… with the word flesh meaning me, my physical body, & my human nature – my natural propensities, bents, drives, & inclinations. It’s not a call to live in denial of my humanity – can’t change that, don’t want to. It’s also not an indictment as ‘inherently unholy’ the God-instilled drives of hunger, thirst, & sexuality…

That’s important to note because there are places, pockets of belief really, where people get lost; places that equate holiness with abstaining from anything enjoyable or nice – that the more they would deny their ‘fleshly’ (see: human) desires, the more spiritual that they would be. And the converse would be true also – those that DIDN’T deny those impulses were less spiritual & holy.


Galatians 5:16,17 tells us to walk in the Spirit, & we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh… & that the flesh & Spirit are at odds with each other… What I see is that I will get into trouble if I put my natural drives & desires in charge of me, in the drivers seat if you will – letting them & them alone guide my thoughts, choices, decisions, & what I give myself to.

The ‘walking in the Spirit” is where self-control comes in – not me trying to keep myself in check, but living life under the direction & guidance of the Holy Spirit. Acknowledging, even declaring that there’s more to life than self-indulgence, doing what I feel, following my cravings – that even though I’m 100% human, the most important thing to me is obedience to God, & living the Christ-following life…


Here’s a thought:

To go to an extreme either way is destructive & displays the rotting fruit of a flesh-driven life….

Hmmm.

It’s easier to see the results of self-indulgent excess – wanton debauchery, the life of the Prodigal in Vegas, letting one’s proverbial ‘freak-flag-fly’… I believe that there’s just as much deadly flesh evident in the extreme ascetic lifestyle, though in christianity the latter is often held up as something desirable & to be aspired to…

I’m still pondering…

Down in a hole…

Down in hole, feelin’ so small… was how Brother & I spent our Tuesday. Not that we’d planned it that way. Sort of fell into it when I was greeted with the sound of many waters… that sound is a really good thing if you’re reading the book of Revelation, but it is decidedly NOT a good thing when one is standing inside a church building, hearing the echoing of running water through the pipes in the walls…

A call to thePlumber brought the desired result – a visit from an expert. Turns out our expert could only confirm that:

  • We have a leak.
  • It seems to be coming from outside where the main water valve meets the building.
  • In order to be 100% sure of this, & in order to repair the leak if it’s down under the ground, is to dig.
  • Digging is something that our expert could do, but it would cost. And since I have a thing about not selling my kids off, or auctioning arms & legs, I decided that I would dig. And so would Brother. And so we did. Even though Monday would have been a better day to dig, considering it was S/O weather, instead of the driving snow, biting wind, & occasional ball of hail falling from the grey skies…


    I know the hole doesn’t look so impressive, especially with the sprinkler box strewn so haphazardly over it to cover the work that we did until our friend Jim-The-Sprinkler-Man-Taylor comes out on Friday, but I have to say that I am proud of the work Brother & I did. It was so easy to dig in the lush Nevada soil. Made me so happy that unlike many other states, Nevada soil has no rocks in it. None. Just lush, rich soil that gives in to the shovel like ice-cream does to a hot ice-cream scoop.

    Actually, I must say, we worked for most of the day, & found that even with the water mains off, we still had a hole that filled with water in approx. 10 minutes. We bailed & bailed but couldn’t keep up with the leak. I got tired after removing about 75 gallons of water (in 5 gallon increments, don’t you know?) & still making no head way.

    That’s when my edu-ma-cation kicked in & I realized that there HAS to be a better Way of doing this… Images of water pumps rolled through my head & after a quick visit to our friends at Ahern Rentals we came away with a 2″ water pump & 50 feet of fire hose to Clear the hole of water in No Time. Turns out the pump worked well, but only kept us at EVEN with the leak… We were stymied, cold, & wet… so we cried out to the LORD. Truly. The ladies intercessory group in the parking lot (so fortuitously meeting on Tuesdays) prayed as well. And the LORD heard our prayers & sent us exactly what we needed: a foreman.


    When I say what we needed was a foreman, that’s just what I mean. Imagine if you will Brother & I, tired & work-worn, leaning on our shovels, resting, pondering what would come next. What I didn’t realize is that we hadn’t met the appropriate “shovels/workers ratio” to finish a given job.

    The arrival of our foreman, aka real NV Energy Superman John-the-Wiser took us up & over the ratio… Plus, he seemed to know a few things about Plumb-age… spotted a few things we’d missed, like an alternate water valve that miraculously turned off the water to the leaky valve, thereby allowing the pump to catch up & even surpass the water in the hole. Brother dug with renewed vigor, & found the source of our problem, that ancient evil known as “the leaky irrigation valve…”

    With the valve now exposed, we were confronted with something that neither Brother nor I had considered… it was suggested by John-The-Wiser that since the valve that was leaking was Good For Nothing, & fed nothing but a previously Vandalized & Broken line itself, that we should cut the valve off & cap it. Ourselves.

    After a few minutes of hemming & hawing, we agreed. In fear & trembling. Brother did the cutting, under the watchful, skillful eye of John-The-Wiser… we purchased a 1 1/4″ Brass Cap & applied it, with a little smidge of plumber’s tape. Tightened it up. Tested our work by actually turning the main water valve on. It held. (It must be noted that Someone said we should probably just fill the hole up with dirt 1st, & THEN test it, but Someone was overruled.)

    Victory.


    I want to give a big shout out of thanks to:

  • Jackie for calling John-The-Wiser to come help us in our time of trouble.
  • Jacqui, Pam, Helen, & Marta – the intercessory prayer group.
  • Brother – for being a good sport & going mudding…
  • John-The-Wiser – for his foreman-ing skills.
  • The LORD – for answering prayers, & for sending all of above people my way today…
  • eyes…

    For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been pondering a section of 1John that has come back to me a few times since reading it… & the next few posts are my processings through it, in no real order… First, the section:

    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1John 2:15-17 ESV

    In reading that, what grabbed me 1st was the phrase, ‘all that is in the world…’ As though the following statements are revelatory about specific ways that we are seduced into sin… I looked up the word translated as “desires,” & found that it is also translated as

    ‘craving, lust, &/or longing for that which is forbidden…Strongs Concordance – G1939″


    Desires of the eyes… what I want. Need. And seeing that I want, no, need what I don’t have. I sense an erosion of contentedness, knowing that my next bout of ‘happiness’ hinges on the accumulation of some thing, some material possession that will Finally put me over the edge into bliss. Until the next craving hits. This desire is never satisfied. It has a roving eye, portraying, promising an emptiness of life unless an attempt is made at fulfilling the craving. Which always returns. With a vengeance.

    Makes me contemplate what I’m looking at. What catches my eyes? Maybe its the studies I’ve been doing on idols & Idolatry, but I think this is a fleshing out of a visible, tangible idol; an idol whose face changes, that takes on different shapes. An idol that is hinting at, & occasionally flaunting ‘completeness of me,’ as seen through the jaded, jealous, & judgmental eyes of a nameless, faceless, yet oh so important Other person that will either accept or reject me based upon what I have. Or don’t.

    I can feel it in the pit of my stomach.


    So the extremist emerges – rather than accumulate, I will divest myself of this materialism, go ‘minimalist’ & detach myself from all of my possessions, & even from the desire to possess, choosing instead to subsist on the bare minimum… & maybe just a bit less. Yep. That’ll do just fine.

    But there’s a nagging sense that all I’ve done is exchange one side of the coin for the other. And that the comparisons, the cravings, the lurking enticement remains, though with a different face.


    I come back to think on what it means to be “content.” To be able to be at peace, at rest, with a little. Or with a lot. To not need an external ‘security blanket’ that can rot, burn, be stolen, be misplaced… (no matter how nice a Goodall Walnut Standard would make me FEEEEEEL…)

    To put my eyes where they belong. On Jesus Christ, the author & finisher of my faith… who was tempted in every way that I am, but Who didn’t give in to sin. Who saw through the empty promises of the lusts & desires, & chose instead obedience…

    pondering accountability & other thoughts…

    Maybe its the chili & cheese laced “Spicy Bite” from SEV, but I’m thinking deep thoughts, musing about days gone by, looking for answers & understanding…


    Way back in the day when scoeyd was just a lad in high school, I went to a Summer camp where the speaker encouraged everybody to get an “accountability partner” – somebody that we knew that would ‘help us’ not to sin. I didn’t understand what he meant, but I figured that it was probably just me, & that later on in the cabin I’d be able to ask a counselor (back when calling somebody that didn’t suggest that they were a psychologist or anything – now they are called Cabin Leaders to avoid any confusion… as if…)

    When I got back to the cabin, I asked a couple of friends if they knew what an accountability partner was. Nope. They’d heard of them before, but they, like me, had no clue. So together (there is strength in numbers) we went to one of our counselors, a guy that was probably 30 (ancient to me at that time,) & asked him if he knew what an “accountability partner” was?

    He said something like,

    “Yeah, dummies. Its a person more spiritual than you are that you tell your sins to. And all the stuff that tempts you. And then they ask you all the time if you’re doing those sins, & it keeps you from sinning because you don’t want to have to tell them about it…”

    Hmm. That didn’t seem like something I wanted to do – for one it didn’t make sense to me; for another, why would I want to talk to somebody about something that personal & private if I didn’t know them? (And I was pretty sure I didn’t know any Spiritual people that I’d consider close enough to get that gut-level honest with.) So I filed the “accountability partner” suggestion in the mental drawer along with all the other christian instructions that I’d gotten til that point in life, the stuff I had no clue what to do with – my own mental X-Files, if you will.


    Over time, I heard about accountability quite a bit more; that doesn’t mean I ever really understood it, & definitely didn’t have a clue how to be accountable, let alone “hold someone” accountable. Something just didn’t “click” for me – so I’d ask the person talking about accountability what they meant by it… what I heard (DISCLAIMER: remember this is me talking, processing, & wrestling through this, not making a definitive statements on my belief about “accountability” let alone God’s position on it…)

    As described at large by well-meaning christians everywhere – Accountability:

  • is a forced & inauthentic relationship – not naturally developing
  • is one of those spiritual pursuits that one has to be forced into, for my own good
  • is something that puts responsibility for my thoughts, choices, & behaviors onto someone else – the person who is supposed to be “holding me” accountable – perhaps meaning that it’s not really my fault if I choose sin… if only they’d held me accountable better… ?
  • puts that person in a role of spiritual superior to me – kinda like my own personal assistant to the Holy Spirit
  • Hmmm.

    Didn’t sound right. Doesn’t sound right. There’s got to be something more… something missing.


    To me, some of the things that have been the most helpful to me in growing, developing, & maturing in my relationship with God are:

  • the realization that Jesus Christ has already done the hard work – & now I am responsible for me, my thoughts, choices, behaviors, & relationships – the good, the bad, the ugly. And I can’t (& shouldn’t try to) pass that responsibility on to anybody else.
  • the cultivation of authentic, connected, 2-way relationships – friendships – with people that accept me as I am, faults & strengths; that want to know me & to be known in return; that are humble, not self-righteous; that listen first, & then are willing to speak the truth to me in love… & hear it in return; that want to live as Christ-followers; are willing to be real & to own their own junk, (their own sinful nature, & propensity to wander…)
  • a willingness to learn from others – young & old; to be a life-long learner, even if I’m not in school; to cultivate curiosity & to seek out & follow rabbit trails in my studies… sometimes they’re divine rabbit trails… :)
  • to relentlessly, continuously, & without reservation keep at it.
  • Maybe in that, there is something of accountability – but its not formulaic or forced. It’s 2-way. It’s personally responsible. It’s growing. It’s graceful. It leaves room for error & failure, & is quick to forgive. It’s love, in action.

    Hmmm. I am fortunate – when I look at my life, I see lots of people that know me, really know me, & that I know back, sometimes in differing degrees… And I feel rich, & know that I’m a better man, friend, husband, father, brother, & son because of them.

    something new…

    While waiting for theBean to finish her 2nd Thursday shift, I decided to experiment a bit with the layout of theConundrum… & try to expand my knowledge of html.

    It’s a work in progress, & there are several layout issues that I haven’t been able to solve. Yet. But what are days off for, anyway, if not for blogmod…

    Tuesday afternoon…

    A couple weeks back, I found out that my brother Moe had been diagnosed with HCM – I wrote about it HERE. This week is test week for me… meaning Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday I get to undergo a barrage of tests, pokes, & prods to see if this potentially hereditary thickening of the myocardium of the heart is something that I have as well.


    Yesterday, I had the EKG, which is a way (invented by the Germans!) to monitor the electrical activity of the heart. Eileen attached 11 sticky pads to my chest, & then hooked me up, one electronic tentacle at a time, to the EKG machine. She turned it on & left it running for a good 10 seconds, then switched it off, & reversed the tentacle attachment process. Then, in a swift motion, (& with nary a warning, I might add) proceeded to remove the sticky pads from my chest. As I’m not a manscaper, this hurt. 11 times.

    Then it was on to the blood pressure check, ala the arm cuff. Only this time, it was taken on both arms, also by the aforementioned Eileen.

    The doctor came in about this time, & placed the icy cold (is there any other kind?) stethoscope on my chest, back, neck, etc. & asked me to breathe. And flex. Cool. Day 1 of the testing was then over, with another round of tests to be set up for ASAP. And no real interpretation of the results of the day, other than, “Doesn’t look bad.”


    Today was echo-cardiogram day, which is an ultrasound of the structure of the heart. For those of you who have had an ultrasound (like when you’re pregnant) you know exactly what comes next… the goop. Keith applied the goop, liberally I might add, to my chest, & spent the next half hour doing his best to make sure that there wasn’t anywhere on my chest, neck & stomach that didn’t get covered with the stuff. Nice. Thanks. But the good news is, when it was done, he gave me a paper towel, 1, one, paper towel to clean myself up. Let’s just say that I needed to go get a few more. Like 12.

    And, no interpretation of the results yet. That comes later; next Tuesday actually.


    Tomorrow I go in to LabCorp, after 12 hours of no food, (which obviously makes us Oh so Hungry…) to get blood drawn – to test my cholesterol, among other things. After that, I eat (of course) then I’m off, solo :(, to Danville for the Fall Pastors’ Conference, which goes until Friday.

    Good times.

    faces…

    My friend Chumley use to tell me that after spending a few days at Youth camp together, people would come up to him & because he’s my buddy, would ask him about me:
    “Dude, what wrong with that guy? He looks so…………….” (Fill in the blank with your favorite ‘negative word-association’ – some that came up a lot were:

  • angry.
  • shut down.
  • frustrated.
  • anti-social.
  • scary.
  • cold.
  • intimidating.

    Chum would inevitably laugh, his big, infectious laugh, the one that makes everyone around him feel like a million bucks, & puts them immediately at ease, & he’d say something like, “He’s not ……………………, he’s just tired.”

    Thanks for that, David. Wish I had you around to give a primer on what the look (or absence thereof) means…


    Sigh.

  • Almonds, hair dryers, & other important stuff…


    I’m off today – which means doin’ laundry; dishes; vacuuming; book-selection; travel bag cleanup; & then time to pack. One of my chores in preparation for “the Trip” was finding out what sort of amenities would be in the mini-apartment where we’re staying.

    Coffee pot? Check.
    Ironing board & iron? Check.
    Hair dryer? Check.
    NAX? Check. And they are actually personalized according to what both the Bean & I like. Almonds, jerky o’beef, peanut brittle, & wasser mit koehlensaurer (bubble water.)

    Wow. Sweet.


    Next: directions to all the places we’re headed.

    To & from the airport? (Charlotte, NC is approx. 2:40 from Christiansburg, VA) – Check.
    To & from Salem, VA, home of the Salem Avalanche, Single A affiliate of the Astros? Check.
    To Monticello, home (or should I say “Plantation”) of vastly overrated founding father, Thomas Jefferson? Check.
    To the Cracker Barrell, probably the sweetest restaurant in all of the Southern US? Check.
    To Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech & discount Michael Vick jerseys? Check.
    To the nearest wifi connection so I can Skype my kids, blog, & change my Fantasy Baseball lineups? Pending… Hmmm.


    Found out yesterday that a good friend & his family are relocating because of a job offer. Bittersweet. It’s sweet, as we’ve been praying for a job for him… And yet bitter is because when one lives 90 minutes away, even in Nevada, life circles don’t seem to connect much. Sigh.

    One of the things I reminded myself is that in times like that, it is ok to grieve – maybe even necessary. And if grieving doesn’t happen, the emotions, feelings, pain, angst, etc. will end up coming out in other, less constructive ways. So I cried yesterday & didn’t try to stop it. And again last night. Hmmm. Probably got a couple more of those in me. & that’s ok.


    Not gonna drink the Sweet Tea. You could make Rock Candy from that stuff.

    Had a great coffee talk yesterday with Earl & Brother. Spent a big chunk of time talking through the burgeoning industry that has evolved around Church. And how this ‘business of Church” leads to Christian people coming up with all kinds of funkiness about what makes Church good. And how a ‘good Church’ or even better, a ‘cool Church’ has stuff like a ‘smokin’ hot band’ & ‘cutting edge speeches’ that make non-Christians want to alter their Sunday a.m. routine so that can come & feel the coolness.

    And somehow we think its really about Jesus & not about us… Hmmm.


    WIthout interconnected, authentic friendships & relationships, is it still Church? I wonder.

    I hope to blog our experience, but I am going to be at the foot of the Appalachians :)

    Ciao!