Burnout

To burn out one must first be on fire, and if at one time on fire, what quenched the flame? Where was the heat reflected and what perishable things were consumed in the wake of this fire? Was this fire given fuel and air once it was kindled?

Can a person say they have burnout when they simply had no flame in the first place?  I believe most people who experience burnout get little sympathy from others who never felt the fervor of having something burning within that must find a place to vent.  If life covers up the drafts our fire vents through– we burnout.  Smothered by life, by death and any given concoction of situations.

So we have passion and vision, but without a place to burn we die.

 

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Call Me Bruce

I’m Chuck Norris with a 250 pound, 5′ 11″ 59 year old body,

Look me in the eye.

If I was younger and my physique was not so shoddy,

You’d see my fists can fly.

I’m Albert Einstein and Ravi Zacharias all rolled into one,

My wisdom known near and far.

Of course today I can’t even remember

Where the keys are for my car.

I am the politician with all the answers for mankind,

My popularity is soaring,

Yet while I preach from the pulpit on any given Sunday,

I hear somebody snoring.

Here I come just a walking down the street

With a million dollar smile.

Little do the people who see me know

I can barely walk a mile.

If I could only be the man up in my head,

I would be John Wayne, Tozer, and Carey Grant,

Of course those guys are dead.

Thanks for listening to me rant.

 

The Coward Within

This morning I got a message that my Daughter-in-law’s Pastor is now the Father of a suicidal son.  I wish I could tell you he got help but instead he took his own life at just 28 years old.  This family will never be the same.  Every year when February ends they will be reminded of their son who destroyed the most precious gift ever given to them.

Suicide is so common in today’s world that it hardly registers the top ten list of bad things that happen.  School shootings, opioid abuse, meth labs, and somewhere down the list: suicides.  Pair this with a constant barrage of media reports about scandalous and earth-changing events around the world and you have the basic breakfast for the twenty-first Century mind.

This young man was afraid of something.  He may have been afraid of everything, even himself.  His Father is a preacher in a small church who I am sure had to have all the right answers and have the right clothes and demeanor.  He managed to be as perfect as possible when with his congregation.  He blessed their children, performed their weddings, and buried their dead.  He always had the right words and made everyone feel better.  He spoke out against sin and prayed for the repentant who would visit his church office.  He served communion to them, baptized them and wept with them.  Now his son is gone.

Today he tries in vain to comfort his wife of many years.  She shares his pain as she has shared his ministry all this time.  She had written many sympathy cards to parishioners and get-well cards to the sick.  She has served meals to help poor families and swallowed her pride countless times for the sake of her family.  Today she is stranded on an island and her husband is on one also.  She can see him, but his touch is too far away to comfort her.  They are alone and sick, and now will carry the disease we will call “suicide affliction” for the rest of their lives.

The church and community is also in mourning and disbelief.  Their words of comfort are appreciated but will never bring their boy back.  He went an a journey that only he and God knows where to.  The church folk talk about the tragedy around the dinner table and their children hear their commentary.  Some say he’s in Hell.  Some say he was deranged and God will have mercy.  Some say it was his parents’ fault because the preacher was too strict or maybe a hypocrite.  Young ears remember these words.  They begin to understand that for others the issue at hand was failure and someone needs to be blamed.  Someone should pay.  This is so wrong; who can make it right?  They are scared, confused and angry.  The seeds are planted, let’s just hope they don’t find fertile soil down in their hearts.

There is a pattern with us that points back to our sin nature: cowardice.  Those parents would never say those words to the family of the deceased, but behind their backs they enjoy free speech.  Have you noticed that no one in their right mind ever really says things unless he or she is joined by others in agreement?  This is why gossip, slander and back-biting are so popular.  Take a look at facebook rants: these are what is in the heart of someone sitting alone behind their keyboard with no one physically present.  The same is true for angry letters-to-the-editor in newspapers.  Why do suicidal people and school shooters post what they intend to do in a dark corner somewhere where no one can stop them?

Cowardice has met anger– extreme anger pent up for years and pushed down by society, the media, the government, religion, science and you-name-it.  A suicidal person has one thing on their mind: this is all I see, therefore that is all there is.  What they see is a darkness: a deep hole that cannot be climbed out of.  Life makes no sense and they get rid of it.  They have believed the ultimate lie: life is worthless.

The rest of the world keeps on going, spinning fear into the hearts of our youth.  The barrage of hate, evil, selfishness, greed and lies, lies, lies comes raining down like arrows in a medieval epic battle through the mouths and keyboards of people who are self-proclaimed experts on life.  Our children try new things to combat this but everything they pick up is tainted with the curse: from their video games to their vegan lives, nothing is protecting them from the vile world we live in.

So we pretend.  Why? We’re cowards too.  We pretend that guns will save us, and we pretend that guns are the problem.  We pretend that politics will save us, and we pretend that politics are the problem.  We pretend that a strong military is the answer, and we pretend that the military is the problem.  We blame drugs, alcohol, race, sex, schools, prisons, religion, food, medicine and everything we can think of except ourselves.  It is always someone else, or something else that is to blame.

But if there we no person around to pick up the gun it wouldn’t have happened.  If there were no person around to find the syringe, find the liquor, prescribe the medicine, none of this would have happened.  Of course not.  How ridiculous.

This young man who took his life may have considered all the options but behaving himself was not one of them.  In his mind the problem surrounded him, but the problem was actually within.  This is an option that few consider: I need to get things straight and own my problems like a man.  I must fix this or else I will hurt the people I love.

Behind all the lies and behind all the trouble are ten simple rules, that hinge on two larger ones: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.  If you love God you won’t have any other gods in your life (just like a pure marriage); you will keep His Sabbath, you will not blaspheme His name and you won’t make images to worship (like porno, for instance, just in case you think we are too advanced for idol worship).

Then the last six commands are about how to love your neighbor, starting with honor your mother and father; don’t kill your neighbor, don’t lie to your neighbor, don’t steal from your neighbor, don’t covet your neighbor’s things, and keep your eyes and hands off your neighbor’s spouse.  These are meant for me to observe and keep to the best of my ability.  Do I fail? Yes.  But God also tells me why: I am a sinner and sinners fail regularly.  So I must stay in touch with God regularly, repent of dumb things I do and move on to improvement.  Improvement for me, my family, my community, my church, and my Country.

In the meantime we must do our best to help people like this pastor and his wife.  Their whole world has just fallen to pieces.  No one should talk of their failures (we all have them).  No one should try to judge the young man’s eternal destiny (though you may be right about it).  Words are very powerful. Be careful how you use them.  They can heal and they can hurt.  We’re made in the image of God according to the Bible.  God created by speaking.  Jesus rose Lazarus by speaking.  God will judge the world by speaking and only He has the right to do so.  You and I have His Word.  Pay attention to it, revere and obey it. You may be the only Bible some will ever read.

O God how the world needs you today.  Forgive our rejection of You and your ways.  Allow your mercy to fall upon us one more day.  You alone are our only hope.

 

COFFEE

COFFEE

When all else fails and life is glum,

When rain pours down for days,

When to weary feelings I succumb,

When colors fade to gray,

It is to coffee that I turn,

Black medicine of old,

From youth it was when I first learned

It’s worth is that of gold.

But please explain if you should know

The mystery so queer:

How that it goes in dark and slow,

But comes out quick and clear.

A Hole In One

Out he went with his dream to make the changes

And strapped to his waist was the old 45.

The star he wore was made of tin but his heart was gold

And from that heart his dream stayed alive.

But on that day when the sun stood still and the birds ceased their song

He drew that old black powder Colt a millisecond too long.

Oh it discharged a chunk of lead alright, about 250 grain,

But after one small ricochet it landed in his brain.

The whole town mourned for weeks and weeks o’er the grave up on boot hill,

“Here lies the man with heart of gold, and head with leaden pill.”

He may have been right you know, his heart and all that stuff,

But being the fastest draw in the West does not mean you’re so tuff.

He should made the ones he loved a safe place for to lodge,

Instead he spent his days in the sheriffs office in the the city they call “Dodge”.

Dodge he did, all his life, the bullets, cursings, kids and wife.

He was was known for keeping law, but his home was always absent, “Paw”.

 

 

Feathers & Petals

Can the cardinal be a jay?  Would he want to anyway?

Then why does man in the image of God, treat his heritage so odd?

He is not pleased to wed one wife, nor lead a thankful, fruitful life.

Instead his goals so hedonistic, takes something so divine, simplistic,

And turns his love for one another to covetous-hatred for his brother.

The cities that could shine with pride have caught mans’ cancer and hence died,

Replaced by tribes who steal and kill, yet never-ever get their fill

Of satisfaction.  Tell me what is your reaction?

Observe the birds who never strive, but always seem to stay alive.

Their feathered beauty taken for granted is some of the best upon this planet.

And see the flower in the grass, it never worries about race or caste,

Though often overlooked by man, is as fragrant and colorful as it can

Ever want or hope to be.  No it is not like you and me.

The solution that restores the nations, is worship Creator not creation.

Though He’s made this wonderful place, we have forgotten to seek His face,

And while we pray and make demands – to get the blessings from His Hands,

We seldom recognize our place, like birds and flowers who know His grace.

 

 

What To Do With Your Life

We are a race of gifted people throwing away our greatest blessings.  Like giving an exotic diamond to a baby who only wants to chew on it, swallow it and then deposit it in his diaper.  He grows throughout life never remembering the precious gift he wasted during infancy.  Along he goes finding ways to survive as he swims through his cultural swamp only to die with nothing, the same thing he came into life with.  Had he only the capacity to understand the value he was handed in that exotic stone, he would have been so much better off today, all grown up.

That’s us you see:  born into a race that has forgotten the rich heritage that belongs to them.  Spiritual amnesiacs putting great value on things that perish rather than investing their God-given riches into life.  Paying our athletes obscene salaries and accolades to entertain us as we stuff ourselves with false pride of a team that could care less about us.  This is why we watch the “elite” give each other golden awards for best actor, best writer, best dressed (or under-dressed), and most likely to go places.

We are convinced that becoming like them is a wonderful thing, so we buy their make-up, weight-loss plans, books and movies while feeding on corn-chips in front of some screen waiting for the next big thing to impress us. We serve an employer or lay-hold of public assistance to support our love affair with overpaid, unhappy, unworthy people who themselves have a bad habit of leading miserable lives, yet we watch them day-in and day-out.  We want to be them but  we cannot because they model a media-generated life of falseness that we were never meant to be in the first place.

As we dance with death with every lost heartbeat we waste away a second at a time, never reaching the lofty things we have been created for.  God’s image has been replaced with the face of a human make-over, covering the failing bodies and aging faces of our idols.  Our being cries out for help so we sedate it with an opium that promises “better days ahead.”

The best day however is today.  It is the day you can start exerting your energies on things that are profitable to yourself and all those whose lives you influence.  Decide first the value of yourself:

1Peter 1:18, 19 For you know what was paid to set you free from the worthless manner of life handed down by your ancestors. It was not something that can be destroyed, such as silver or gold;19 it was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw. (GNB)

Scriptures reveal that while we spend our time pursuing things that pass away, that God spent everything to set us free to be everything He intended for us to be. So if we are ever going to pull away from the gravity of the death star of human failure, we must come to grips with just how valuable we are to God.  Maybe you believe putting your faith in Christ will consume your opportunities to find more pleasure and success in life, but before you return to this belief consider the cost of such a philosophy.

Mark 8:35-37 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. (GNB)

Jesus was saying here that the energy man exerts in earthly investments will be lost (there’s physical proof for this), and once your life is spent you cannot get it back.  However if you will simply give your life back to God, through the sum paid by His Son, your life is now valuable again and that value cannot be lost because you gave it to God.

This gets better: although your life is God’s possession you still get to live it to the fullest here on earth, while you await your reception in Heaven when the threshold of death finally comes your way.  That’s right you are still you, though God’s property, and now you get the chance to truly invest in a future that will not pass away when your body does.  You do not have to play the game everyone else does.  It’s okay to be who God created you to be, especially when you live for Him!

Your artistic ability, technical skill, creative thought-life, and physical abilities are usable and on display to bring Him glory and bring you the joy of living.  Plus, as you mature in your life with God He gives you gifts that enhance your life in Christ.  Life is no longer about you, it’s about God.  The old you who tried to mimic and adore false gods and frivolous ways of living are now replaced by adoring God Himself and emanating Jesus.

What have you got to lose?  Pride for one.  That will have to go.  The reception of Christ in your life means agreeing that you are a sinner (just like me).  Along the way you will learn more about the things that displease God and will have to go also.  God is gracious though and has given us better things than sin to replace our old ways of living.  He replaces promiscuity with faithful relationships.  He replaces hatred with learning how to love.  He forgives us for the lies we told and lived in, and patiently teaches us how to be more truthful.  Most of all He gives us all the grace we need to be what He intended for us to be.

You may have watched Christianity and saw something that you did not like.  Truth be told: Christianity and Christ are not the same thing.  Christianity amounts to a religion that is modeled differently from group-to-group and place-to-place.  All who embrace the Christian religion are not always true Christians.  Like the human race we vary in ways that make us different from others because of our surroundings.  So if you enter a church building in California, you will likely experience something different than in Calcutta, but this has no bearing on what it means to be a follower of Christ.

When Christ comes for you at the end of life, you will shed everything that was physically yours in this world, and that includes your membership at First Presbyterian Church.  Yet, everything you have become for Christ, and everything you have done in the name of Christ will be waiting for us when we reach Heaven.  Let God lead you in your life in Christ.  Eventually, you will find yourself a place of worship with other Believers, but the throne of your heart is where true worship comes from.  Let God sit on that Throne.

So what about your life?  Must you be like everyone else? Or is there a passion within to be what you were created to be?  The beauty and genius of who you are is wrapped up in knowing God has placed great value on you. Don’t waste your life.  Give it to God.