Have you ever stopped in the middle of what you were doing, or paused in the middle of a conversation, and realized that you’re being a complete jerk? However it happened, however you got there, you are in the wrong. That happens to me frequently. When you’re generally mean, you have a higher occurrence of these sort of revelations proportionally. And don’t think that I’m judging myself too harshly, or being self-deprecating for the sake of pity. I recently had one of those moments as I made fun of a lady, to her face, because she’d had brain surgery.
Of course, I have my excuses. I’m really tired, I haven’t been sleeping lately. Money issues are stressing me out. When I am around people too much, I get ideges. Want me to go on? I could, probably indefinitely. But so what? That doesn’t change the real issue, which is that I’ve been laying about me with the kind of irony and sarcasm that has nothing to do with humor, and everything to do with malice. The sleep, the stress, the whatever, are just excuses. They aren’t reasons. The reason is that I’m a self-centered jerk down in my heart.
Chuck Smith says that the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. Circumstances may be good or bad, but all they can do is act on the nature of the material. And it seems that my heart is hardened clay. Jesus said that it’s the things that come out of us that ought to be our concern, Mark 7:14-23, not things that come in from the outside. Yes, I know that he was talking about food. But the point that I’m trying to make is the same thing one that Jesus made. It’s not about food, it’s about watching out for the things that come out of your heart.
So, the next time that you discover that you are the villain in this episode of your story, don’t turn and look for a circumstance that will make a good excuse. Own it. Apologize. Confess. Knock it off. And move on with life.
And, folks, sorry for the way I’ve been.
• The only thing that is ever described as being hazel-colored are eyes. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean, because there’s nothing else to refer to. What color is hazel?
• If I ever get into a situation where I have to decide between running over a bicycle, and getting into a head-on collision, I’m running over the bike. Sorry, bike riders. But if you ride on roads without a bike lane, you’re forcing the decision on me, and I will choose against you.
• A hawk woke me up, screeching repeatedly in my yard for about a half hour. What was remarkable was the silence of all the other normal morning birds. But you know who didn’t give a rip? The crickets. They kept on chirping like they didn’t even hear the hawk. Sometimes it’s good to be just a guy with a blog.
• Keane is kinda like this generation’s Elton John.
• I don’t know why, but I get more excited for anonymous comments on here than the ones from identified people.
I spent last night with one foot in the sea, and one on the shore. I needed sleep. I wanted sleep. But sleep fled from me. Today I realized that I should have expected insomnia last night, since I’m worshiping tonight. The full mind, body, spirit freak-out is one of the most predictable things about my experience of serving God. Yet, it always manages to take me by surprise. I’m a slow learner.
When I say that I’ll be worshiping tonight, I mean that I’ll be up on stage playing music for my church. I’ve had a hard time deciding upon the right term for that. It’s not performing, because it’s a group activity that includes every person in the room equally, not a performance. It’s not playing worship, because we’re approaching God and giving him a portion of the glory that he is due. There is no play involved. I don’t lead worship, because I’m really in a secondary, supporting role in the team. So I’m just worshiping, if you can ever say, “just” when you are talking about something as substantial as worship. And worship, for all it’s simplicity, makes me ideges. Ideges is a Hungarian word that is part worry, part nervousness, and part excitement.
I will admit, though I don’t like to, that part of my anxiety has to do with being in front of people. It is a small part, however. Thankfully, I don’t have the same measure of stage fright that most people experience. Another minor cause is the skill of the other people on the team. Now, we don’t have any rock stars in the rotation, (well, maybe a few), but it seems to me that a good majority of the other musicians are at least semi-pro. Some of them have even made music their livelihood at some point in their lives.
On the other hand, I am utterly amateur. I play a djembe drum. It’s slightly more complicated than tapping your fingers on the dashboard with your favorite song. I started out faking it. By now I’ve graduated to making it up as I go along. Most of my experience playing has been accompanying a single guitar. Translate that to a full band, subtract any knowledge of the musical terminology that everybody else seems to be familiar with, add in my reckless personality, and you have a pretty good potential for damage. Thus, I play with a quiet, underlying fear of throwing everybody off. I am much more worried about embarrassing myself in front of that small group of people than about the general congregation.
But my largest concern is the magnitude of what we are doing when we undertake to serve God. I am untrained, unlearned, and unclean. Yet, I am going to be part of the group that leads the church into God’s throne room. It’s too big of a job for me. Yes, I know that it’s not really me, but God working through me. But I still have to be there.
My body and mind break down under the task. I never sleep well, which increases my concerns about my skill level. My digestions system gets wacky. My brain has an even harder time focusing on anything. It’s like I’m taking it too seriously. But it’s impossible to take the matters of God too seriously. If I am filling in for somebody teaching, all those symptoms get multiplied by a factor of 10, and you can throw in a week of depression as an after-party.
I consider all of these things as a sort of price of admission. It costs me to serve God, and that is how it ought to be. David said the same thing, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24. Let it be a deterrent from me approaching the service of God too casually, or as a pretext for gain. It’s worth it anyway. Because I was made to serve him. In whatever small way, at whatever the cost, let me be his servant, because that is the fulfillment of my life.
Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, “Come at once and recline at table”? Will he not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink”? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” – Luke 17:7-10
One of the perks of working at a coffee shop/bookstore is the presence of books. Thousands of books that range from science fiction, to poetry, to car repair manuals. I absolutely love it. And since I’m usually there after closing time, I frequently find myself unattended with all these books. It is hypnotizing to someone with my personality. It’s quiet. The only lights that remain are dim. And books, books, books.
At least once a week, I’ll clock out and just browse. I tend to take one shelf at a time. I’ll read the names on the spines, looking for anything familiar or interesting. Quite a few great books have passed through my hands that way. And then, every once in a while, I find one like this:
I challenge anyone to find a weirder book cover.
• I’m giving in. These bullet-pointed lists of random association are going to be a regular feature on the blog. Many of you may have thought they already were a regular feature. I never intended that. But I did it once, and then I felt like I’d left some things out so I did it again. Thus, a habit was formed. Now it has official status.
• Somebody help me come up with a clever title for these things.
• No matter how thoroughly organized, no home, business, building, or life can function without a junk drawer. You need a place for things that don’t belong anywhere.
• J-B Weld is the best.
• I really enjoy reading Victor Hugo. But he writes some of the most guiltlessly skipped chapters of literature. I normally feel bad about skipping over any part of a book. But I’ve left vast swaths of everything I’ve read by Hugo untouched, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing.
• When you see a dude picking his nose, it’s gross. When you see a dame picking her nose, it’s hilarious.
• I agree with the decision to close the school. But I still mourn the loss.
• Who decided that it would be good to spread horse poop all over gardens? It’s so counter-intuitive. I eat the food that comes out of there. Is this some kind of joke that horses thought up?
I’ve got a lot going on in my mind lately that I don’t want committed to a public record. But the general idea is that I want exactly what I want, and I want it precisely right now. I’m sure that I’m not alone in this. It all boils down to doubt. When doubt crops up in our lives, all sorts of other garbage come rushing out right along with it. Confusion. Regret. Malcontent. Worry. Fear. And it almost always adds up to disobedience. All that because I’m not getting what I want.
The situation serves to remind me that no matter how stubborn, demanding, and self-serving I become, I still won’t be in charge. I can’t make my plans come to pass. I can’t make God do anything.
On the other hand, I could be trusting God. I could recognize that he is really the one in charge. Then I could rest in his goodness. I could take comfort in his love. I could have joy in the sureness of the success of his plans. That would be better, wouldn’t it?
• If you feel like you have some kind of criticism to offer the pastor in between services that concerns whether or not he’s doing a good job, it’s because you’re a jerk. Shut up.
• It amuses me when people join in on conversations or jokes, and they have absolutely no idea what it’s about.
• People sometimes ask me about my insomnia, if I wake up stressed or worried, thinking about life. The other day, I woke up wondering if a shark has ever eaten a skunk, and what it might have thought of the encounter. Most of the time, that’s the kind of thing on my mind.
• Bob the Builder is about a construction worker with Down’s.
• I wouldn’t want to have all the answers. I like questions too much.
• I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who aren’t afraid to let their hair go gray. Not that I don’t respect people with dyed hair. I’m going to get myself into trouble with this one. Age with dignity. That is what I’m getting at.
Full size pictures over on the Little Dane page, along with a few more graphic epilogue pics, if you’re into non-gore lego gore. Also, I’ve slowly been adding links along the right side over there. If you find yourself bored and lacking suitable diversion, I suggest you click on one or two.