Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

There’s an old saying, I don’t where it’s from, but it says, “Time and tide wait for no man.” I was reminded of this recently when I received a really nice letter from a reader telling me how much he appreciated a story I wrote in a local entertainment magazine.

The story was about motorcycles and motorcyclists, and although it heavily featured Harley-Davidson’s  – if only for the reason that the people I talked with had settled on Harley’s as their preferred bikes. The letter was from the PR Manager at Victory and Indian Motorcycles who saw the story I wrote when he was out here in California on business.

As I read his letter of appreciation and saw which motorcycle company he worked for, I was immediately transported back in time. I was 8-years old and my mom met, then married my step-dad. He was a presence whenever he walked into the room. He not only was intelligent and well-educated spending his career educating others, he was self-taught at pretty much everything he did, from woodworking to rebuilding cars, trucks and motorcycles. And everything he did, he did well.

Although he ended up riding Harley-Davidson bikes as he got older, it was the story of his experience on his very first motorcycle, an Indian, that forged itself into my wide-eyed 8-year old mind.

He would regal me with the story of how when he was just a young man, he and his Indian motorcycle rode from South Dakota out to California, and back again. In my mind’s eye, he was like the greatest of adventurers, fighting the winds and weathers, cruising across the country with the sun setting in the background while he rode on his white Indian motorcycle. For many years, I would get him Indian bike memorabilia for gifts on his birthday, at Christmas and on Father’s Day.

I realized as I thought about the memory I have of him on his bike, that I never really got the detailed story of his ride. I carry around an image of him as a knight of sorts riding a white Indian steed, with a backdrop of the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota as he rode steadily on a black ribbon of highway heading West.

You would have thought with me being a writer, a gatherer of people’s tales, that I would have gathered the details of that particular one, but I never did. My dad is older now and the place in his mind where the details of that ride live is locked away in the recesses of his memory. The key that would have opened that box in his memory is lost forever. So, there is no way for me to truly ever know what the details were, I waited to long to ask and now there is no way to coax it from him.

Yes, time and tide wait for no man, and in this case, no woman. Yet, the ride and the picture it draws in my mind, no matter how limited the details, in many ways represents the way that he has been in my life. A knight riding a white Indian motorcycle who rode in at just the right time.

In many respects we do the same type of thing with our own children, or others children who are dear to us, when it comes to telling them about the LORD and all He has done. We give them the basics of Him and neglect to tell them the details of His greatness, His love and His faithfulness. We leave them in the situation that if they don’t ask they don’t know, until it is too late to ask.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Deuteronomy 4:9

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Sencillez / Simplicity

Image by victor_nuno via Flickr

Just the other day I was reading a Twitter post and the first part of the post really caught my eye. It read, “God isn’t like us.”

Think about that for a moment. God isn’t like us.

The whole post actually reads, “God isn’t like us. God forgives and forgets, we remember and punish each other.”

On reading the whole post, I immediately thought about the verse that says He casts our sins as far away as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:11-12). A thought that most of can’t really conceive of if we really took the time to think about it. I mean where is the East from the West? It just doesn’t exist in our little world, but it does in God’s.

I mean how many times do we go back to the LORD and ask for forgiveness for the same thing? And, I don’t mean when we do the same thing over and over and have to ask Him for forgiveness and help with it, I’m talking about when we go and drag up the same instance.

Yet, when we go to Him there’s silence in response to our heartfelt request for forgiveness and we can’t quite figure out why. The answer is simple, when He says He tosses them away as far as the east is from the west it means it’s gone, no need to revisit it, no need to bring it up again because it’s gone.

This little tidbit itself should give us a clue that He is nothing like us, yet we continue to try and remake Him in our image. Instead of stepping into what He is doing and in the process being remade into a reflection of Him, we insist that He conform to what we want Him to be, whatever that may be.

Angry? Check. Vengeful? Check. Retaliatory? Check. And, this is the short, short list of things we believe He is because they are who we are. It’s kind of strange because the list of positive and wonderful things that we attribute to Him, like being loving, kind, gentle, caring, etc. we have a terrible time actually absorbing as true and real, maybe because they aren’t really like us and, even on a good day, we don’t have a very firm grip on them.

Plus, the way He expresses them are so foreign to us that they make us uncomfortable or nervous, or a little bit of both. I mean what god in his right mind would actually come down and sacrifice himself so that the innocent could have a chance at life, let alone the guilty? That’s a god that it’s hard for us to get behind and none of us in our right minds would make a god like that up for ourselves.

God isn’t like us. He is who He is, not who we are. Words we all need to remember on so many levels every day that we follow Him.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8

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Image by katietower via Flickr

Have you ever really thought about the decisions you make and where they might lead? And, I don’t necessarily mean the lofty great decisions we all make and take our time with.

There’s a scene that I love in the latest installment of the Twilight movies, “Eclipse.” In it the vampires from the ultra elite Volturi are standing looking down from a rooftop at an out of control newborn vampire army. The black caped Volturi are trying to figure out when the best time for action is, with the action being either they destroy the newborn vampire army and save the Cullen family, or they let them attack the Cullen family and possibly kill them, which is what the army was created for.

Jane, who is a petite blond vampire played by Dakota Fanning, tilts her head to one side as she considers her alternatives, then thoughtfully says, “Decisions, decisions.”

One of the reasons why I love that scene is it really shows how difficult and clear-cut some decisions can be. Pick choice A and you get consequence A. Pick choice B and you get consequence B.

There’s an old saying, ‘not to decide is to decide’ and that’s how some of us live, while others make very considered decisions about pretty much everything, while others of us live somewhere in-between those two extremes of letting someone else make our decisions and making every decision ourselves.

But, no matter how we make our decisions, it seems that most of the time in our lives once they have been made, we sort of float along not really thinking about the choices we make until there’s a definite negative consequence to what we decide, and, quite honestly in most cases that’s neither here nor there. We live with our decisions and the paths they lead us on because we really don’t know any different. This seems especially true when it comes to the things of God.

How many times do we decide to do something and not think about how it will affect our relationship with the Lord? Whether or not He would like us to do it? Or, basically even consult Him on anything except what we consider the ‘big stuff”?

I’ve talked to some people, that at some points in their relationships with the Lord, literally asked Him if they should make a left turn at an intersection, or a right. Although that seems a little extreme to most of us, it does make you think about the depth of that person’s closeness with the Lord and how that affects their decision-making.

Most of the time we miss the nexus between the decisions we make in our daily lives and how that affects our relationship with the Lord. Many times our decisions seem trivial, they don’t seem to have much of a consequence either way and the asking is just a way of including the Lord in our daily lives, a way of communicating with Him. While at other times, it’s absolutely amazing the clarity of the choice that we have, either we stay in the will of God, or we don’t.

Either way it’s all about the decisions we make and whether those decisions take us closer to the Lord, or further away.

“Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply.”

Isaiah 58:9a

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Fiery furnace by Toros Roslin, Mashtots, 1266 ...

Image via Wikipedia

Three times this week, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego interrupted my daily existence. The first was when I saw the post by Alicia over at Alicia’s Roses, The Furnace. Then the story of the three Jewish young men and their extraordinary faith came up again and again.

So, after the third time, I did a Google search about the three who were thrown into the fire in Daniel 3, and I found a liturgical poem that I’ve never seen before that is written from the point of view of the three while they were in the fire, which is nothing short of amazing. Take a look at the Prayer of Azariah.

Even though this is just a poem written about the event, and we don’t know what they actually might of prayed while they were in the fire, the 18th line really made me sit up and take notice. Azariah( Abednego), said “And now we follow thee with all our heart, we fear thee, and seek thy face.”

It draws a picture doesn’t it? These young men were thrown into a fire that actually killed some of the guards that threw them in. The king had commanded it be stoked hotter than normal because he was so angry that they would not deny their God. And, there they were in the middle of the fire, and what do they do? They follow God with all their hearts, they still are awestruck by Him and they seek Him out.

The three were joined by a fourth while they were in there, – some think the fourth may have been an angel of the Lord while others think it may have been God Himself – but it was before they were tossed in that they declared that even if God didn’t save them, it didn’t make Him any less God.

Their faith was intact before they went into the fire, they knew their God. They knew that whatever He chose to do that day would be the right choice, whether or not they individually survived that choice. Yet, they came out without a single hair on their head singed, their clothing intact and not even smelling of smoke. They went into the fire bound tightly with straps, and they came out walking upright and whole.

We aren’t even given their reaction to the miracle that took place, we’re told how King Nebuchadnezzar and his court reacted, not how each of them reacted.

And maybe, that’s how those with an unadulterated relationship with God, and the faith that’s born out of that confident bond with Him do react. Not with surprise or shock that He performs miracles and can do anything – after all God is God and He can do anything He pleases – but with the calm acceptance and assurance that no matter what He decides and what the results of those decisions are, He loves each one of us and the outcome will always right.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

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Image by hcii via Flickr

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5. Such a small sentence in the big scheme of things, but such a powerful indicator of our relationship with the Lord.

I come from a family of natural questioners, and by that I mean if one of us says that something is broken and can’t be fixed, it’s not enough to actually take that person at their word. We have to actually check it out for ourselves, and, many times we come to the same conclusion.

I was pointedly reminded of that when my father came for a visit. I told him my CD player was broken and that I had done everything I knew how to do to fix to no avail. “Well,” he said. “Do you mind if I take a look?”

Of course I didn’t mind because even though I work with DVD and CD players on a pretty regular basis, I don’t know everything. Even though I was almost 100 % sure that it couldn’t be fixed, a second pair of eyes is always a good thing.

As I watched him perusing the player it suddenly hit me how many times I do this myself. If someone says, ‘such and such’, or’ thus and so’, I immediately question the veracity of what they’re saying. Unless I know the person well, and really trust them, I usually need to check it out for myself, especially if it has to do with scripture or some sort of theological teaching.

I had assumed this particular trait came only from my mother who questions everything after the fact, but realized that I actually came by the trait honestly from both sides of the family tree.

And, not only do I have it, but I see it in my son as well. Even though he questions me on a great many things, at the end of the day he trusts what I tell him, something that he doesn’t do with most people. Just recently, his teacher wrote on his report card that he needed to trust her. This may seem like an odd thing to write, but I knew exactly what she meant, because I encounter the same issue with him when he does his homework. He doesn’t really trust that you’re telling him to do a problem correctly unless he can really wrap his head around how to do it himself. The problem is sometimes he just can’t figure it out on his own.

He actually causes himself a lot of undue frustration and stress when he does this. Why? Because basically he’s fighting the very person, or people, who may be able to help him with his schoolwork the most. It’s a battle until he finally gets it all out, listens to what he’s told and believes that he’s being given the correct information. After that, he’s done lickty-split.

After watching my Father over the CD player, my son over his schoolwork and myself in many other situations, I thought how many times do we do this with God? We need to weigh out whether or not He really knows what He’s doing, usually by trying to double-check Him from our own understanding, before we trust that He is more than capable of doing what’s best for us.

And, many times, we do more than try and double-check Him – which is laughable because He has all the facts and we don’t even have a fraction of them – but we actively fight Him until we either give up in exhaustion, or, He’s actually able to get it through our thick skulls that it’s okay to trust Him.

And, basically, that’s a huge part of why we fight Him. We have a fear of trusting. We’re afraid he’s not who He says He is. We’re afraid He’s not going to do what He said He will do. We’re afraid he won’t come through for us. We’re afraid to trust Him because for many of us our own trust has been so shattered over the years that we can’t conceive of someone who actually is completely trustworthy.

The catch-22 of this is the reality is that He is the only one who is completely and totally trustworthy. Why? Because He is incapable of being anything else.

“But I trust in You LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.'”

Psalm 31:14

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Sometimes the weirdest things catch your attention.

There’s been a can sitting on the side of the road that just happens to be centered on the easement that leads into my driveway for about a week now. When I first noticed this little blue piece of metal, it was whole and  just sitting , slightly dented, but upright, where someone had tossed it when they were driving by.

I thought about going out and picking it up, but by the time I ended up in my parking in my driveway with my son and I hauling in everything  from the big blue beast into the house, I had forgotten about it.

Until the next day, when I drove out of my driveway and saw that the little can had been smashed flat by some vehicle during the night. It was just about as flat as could be, reminding me of  the unforgettable “Flat Stanley” of elementary school fame who was flattened by a chalkboard at school and ended up having all sorts of flat adventures.

As I drove over the little flat can, I made a mental note to pick it up when I got home that evening. Needless to say, I didn’t. I saw it, drove right over it and thought ‘tomorrow, I should pick that up tomorrow’. After all it was a pretty cold and dark night, and in my little rural county you just never know what’s lurking outside, especially at that time of day.

This was repeated every day, morning and evening, until last night when I turned into my driveway and in the arc of my headlights saw the little can was gone! Someone had come along during the day and picked it up. I vaguely wondered who it was that would randomly pick up an aluminum can along the side of the road. Then I thought maybe someone was collecting them to turn in for extra money.

So, I was pretty surprised when I pulled out early this morning in freezing temperatures and saw the little piece of blue metal sitting exactly where it has been for the last 5 days. Obviously, no one had picked it up. I just hadn’t seen it last night. I had somehow missed it, even though it was there.

How many times do we do this? We see something that needs to be taken care of, but instead of taking care of it we just let it sit until we’re so used to it that we just don’t see it anymore. Probably so many times we can’t even count them. And, if these things are little meaningless things, like the little blue can in the road, it’s not a huge big deal if we don’t take care of them.

The problem is we have a tendency to not want to take care of things because they could be inconvenient, uncomfortable or just distasteful to us. We’re like this with the little things and the big things. And I don’t just mean things that we look around and see, I’m talking about behaviors and heart attitudes too.

How many times have you lost control of your tongue and literally machine-gunned someone down with horrible words over the very same thing, over and over again. And afterward you find yourself thinking, ‘I need to take care of this?’ But you never take care of it.

Then because you never take care of it, you start to think it’s okay and you don’t even see it as a problem anymore. It becomes a vicious circle. And, it may not be your tongue at all, it might some sort of behavior, response or reaction you have, that God’s putting right in front of you, dead center, to let you know you need to take care of it.  It’s just like that little blue can sitting dead center in the front of my driveway for days that I didn’t see after I’d gone over it so much. Sometimes you just waltz over something so much that you just go over it until you can’t even see it anymore.

God puts those things in front of us for a reason. Not so we can see them then forget them or hide them, but, so we can take care of them. So we will go out, pick them up and throw them away, if you will. Because we all have something that needs to be taken care of in order to have a closer relationship with Him and that needs to be addressed before we can move on to what He has for us.

“For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”

Mark 4:22

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Old, historical map of ancient Thrace, mostly ...

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Time and distance give you an amazing platform on which to stand and view the map of your life. It’s filled with a lot of wriggly lines including forks in the road, dead ends, backtracking, all kinds of different paths because, let’s face it, none of us have made great decisions all the time.

Many times we’re trying to straighten out the roads on our personal life map by trying to make right the less than stellar choices we’ve made, which seems to bring into stark clarity that more than likely in our lives the great decisions are a rarity, rather than a common occurrence.

This idea of the decisions we make, especially when we’re young, where those decisions grow from and the effect they have on our lives, came into sharp focus for me recently when a video was played at my church featuring the youth group’s recent trip to Tsunami, a conference of believing speakers and musicians focused on giving teenagers tools to follow Christ.

I hear a lot about how difficult it is to be young in this day and age, but I think it’s difficult to be young and a believer in any day and age. Although in this era, there are a lot of behaviors that are more acceptable in our culture than there were maybe 40 or more years ago, the basic battle between what is God’s will for our lives and what we want is the same. And, our decisions, then our actions, are based on the same question, do we believe God or not?

It’s not enough to just believe in God, to understand that He is and is on some level in control of things. The decisions, the choices we make as young people, or even older adults, that have a foundation of just knowing that He is, are weak and more often than not, follow our own desires and wants. We know on some level that our decisions do not conform with what He wants, but our relationship with Him is so weak that we choose what we want, not what He wants.

It’s all about the relationship. Making the right decisions is all about believing God, period, not just believing in Him. It’s about knowing Him in a personal way, knowing who He is through His Word, knowing that He’s crazy in love with you and believing Him. It’s about having the faith, born out of your experience in your relationship with Him, to know that He will do what He says He will do. It’s about having a vibrant real relationship with the creator of the Universe and understanding that He doesn’t just exist in some far away corner of the Universe that has very little to do with you, but that He’s got your back all the time, which is really what makes believing in Christ as the Messiah different from every other world religion.

The God who created the Universe has your back, what an amazing concept. It’s only when you really get that, absorb it and realize it’s real that you will find that you begin to make your choices based on it. And, it is only then that you will see the road map of your life begin to follow where He leads because you’ll realize there is no life without Him.

“Abraham believe the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

Genesis 15:6

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