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.

O Holy Night #2 – A New Hope…

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is the account of the birth of John the Baptist. His parents, Zechariah & Elizabeth, were childless; they’d been unable to have kids their entire married life together, & now they both were way, way beyond childbearing years (Luke 1:7). At this point in their lives, the dream of having a child, an heir, had moved off of their collective radar, & now most likely just existed as one of life’s greatest disappointments & unfulfilled dreams. And then God intervenes, declaring a new hope, not only for their lives, but for the whole world.

God sent Gabriel the angel to proclaim to Zechariah that he & Elizabeth would conceive, & she would give birth to a son. And the best part was that he wouldn’t just be a ‘miracle’ child… no, their son John was to be the one promised by the Scriptures who would “prepare the way” for the Messiah, the Christ, God’s promised Anointed One. (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:3).

You’d think such a jubilant angelic declaration would be received with shouts of joy… but instead, Zechariah’s response was one of skepticism, negativity, & doubt. This is one of the reasons I love this story – not because I like Zechariah’s displayed lack of faith, but rather because I GET it. After years of hoping for a child, years of disappointment, & years of attempting to comfort his wife in the midst of her/their grief, the message of HOPE hit Zechariah’s ears (& heart) in such a way that revealed that he was “done,” & couldn’t grasp, let alone believe that God was on the verge of a miracle in their lives.

I love the angel’s response to Zechariah’s unbelief: “I am Gabriel, & I stand in the presence of God, & I was sent to speak to you & to bring you this good news. Now, you will be silent & unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which WILL BE fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:19,20 ESV). He basically tells him – “C’mon, man! This is good news! What I told you came direct from the throne of God – so because of your lack of belief, I’m going to shut you up so you can’t spread the doubt to your wife & others.”

Every time I revisit this story, I feel the Holy Spirit doing a heart-check on me – & I find myself examining where I am… am I open to God’s new hope for my life? Am I open to it even if it is in an area I have given up on? Do I really believe all things are possible for God, if I believe?

During this Christmas season, I’m praying that my heart will be prepped for God’s miraculous new hope for me & those my life connects with.

“You’re HIM!” & other fun stuff from the last week…

Thanksgiving afternoon, while theBean was working for theBux, I took theWeez & iDoey to the moving picture show. I happened to be wearing my Nevada polo; the special one that Opie gave to the PastyGangster for his birthday. It is the special one that I stealthily (& without remorse) took from his closet & owned by sheer will power. I wear that polo 2x/week, because I want to, and I can, and it makes it easy for me to decide what to wear when I don’t have theBean’s yay/nay sayer available. But I digress…

As we gave the nice lady taking tickets our stubs, she saw my shirt & said, “ohhhhh! You’re him.”

ME: “Hmmm. Who me? I’m who?”

LADY: “You’re the guy from the football team. The coach. The Nevada man.”

ME: “Uh, no. I’m not a football coach. I do have a Nevada polo, but that’s about it.”

LADY: “Oh, I know you people have to say such things in public, but I KNOW its you. You’re him.”

ME: “I’m not the football coach for Nevada. I promise.”

LADY: “You must be an assistant then. I can tell. You’re him!”

By this point, a line had formed behind me, drawing curiously (and uncomfortably I might add) close to hear just WHO the nice lady was talking to. TheWeez & iDoey were amused.

I just wanted to get my buttery popcorn & sit in the dark theater, eating to my hearts content. But the nice lady wasn’t going to let it go. So I said:

ME: “Ok. You’re right. You got me. I’m him.”

LADY: “I KNEW it! See (to everyone in the line) I KNEW it. It’s HIM!”

I thought that would be the end of it, but no…

LADY: “Soooo. Why did you kick that guy off the team?”

I knew she was talking about THIS STORY because I’d come across it earlier in the week. So I recapped what I’d read, and told her, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

My kids thought it was hilarious.

I got my remaining wisdom teeth removed on Monday, 11/21. When I was 16, I’d had the two from the left side of my mouth taken out, but time, $, and other things had kept me from getting the other two taken out. So, 24 years later, with many thanks to SBux insurance & God’s timely provision, I am less wise than I was before.

I have several stories from when I was under sedation… Perhaps I’ll share one sometime.

I remember vaguely, like it was a dream, that I talked during the procedure, but I don’t know what I said. Of course, I wondered if I had scandalized the very nice & sweet dental assistant due to the fact that my Oh So Powerful Thought & Word Filter was inoperative due to the amount & type of medication that I’d been given.

When I went into the office yesterday for my checkup, I asked her, wincingly, if I’d been untoward or off in my comments. She only smiled & said, ‘You like football. A lot. And I know more about the 49ers because of you than I ever wanted to know.” Dr. Pete asked, “You remember ANYTHING from the procedure?” And I said, “Nope.” And the two of them, Dr. & assistant, just smiled at me.


Over the last week, I’ve been pondering God’s promises to me & mine. This includes my marriage, my family, my friends, & my church family. Sometimes the circumstances of life threaten to make me afraid, make me doubt, make me worry… the accuser throws out his classic line, “Did God really say….?” and I’m driven to my knees & to God’s Word to remind myself that God’s promises WILL come about, not for my greatness, but for His. Not due to my goodness or worthiness, but because of His. He delights in blessing & caring for His kids, & I am one of them. And I am holding on to what I know to be true. No matter what.

So say we all.