the other end of the stick

If you ever have the opportunity of stepping outside your own bubbled world to either serve, walk alongside, or plunge headfirst into the other end of your proverbial stick, seize the moment bc it won’t last.

What is the other end of the stick?  It may be socio-economic, education level based, it may be a leap from congregating with privileged society to not so…or vice-versa!  What ever the leap, it spells diversity, experience, familiarity, empathy, compassion!

I got to do it perhaps initially by working in an inner city ministry that focused on serving the Latino community nearby.  I loved learning Spanish, but the greatest part is that learning the culture…well that will just never end!  I’ve also been able to do it relationally, being part of someone’s life that just aint from around here.  But at the same time, this person breathes the roots from which our stalks sprang.  What a wonderful opportunity, and I use that term loosely, to feel joy…and pain walking alongside someone who sees and has seen the world so undeniably differently from that of myself.  O yeah, and if you don’t suffer on the other end of the stick, stay a while longer.  It’s worth it.

Mother Teresa (just saw the movie) acknowledged her calling to serve the “poorest of the poor” to the point at which she deemed it impossible to continue to balance the teaching career she adored and the work she was called to.  So she wrote the Pope some letters, and got herself free of the convent.  My favorite line of the movie…a dying man in the hospice she founded in an abandoned Hindu temple said,”but how can you help me?  I am Hindu?”  Remember that Teresa was Christian as was her hospice.  She replied as she lay him back down to rest…”You may be Hindu but I see Jesus in you.”

First, identify your stick or at least your major one, flip it around and grasp it with all the might you are given.

Movie Review – Kick Ass 2

Has anybody else realized it’s not 1985 anymore when violence on tv was accompanied by subtitles like Biff and Pow?!  I took this film in with good intention to change the channel after 5 to 6 minutes.  What drew me, to my demise, was the gore associated with the violence.  I mean this was a movie about superheros right?  Yep, superheros that bleed and dismember….I suppose this is why the film was on at 11 at night.

The theme was bravery, taking action in a real life accompanied with real life and death.  To hammer this one home, the main character super heroine accomplished her first kiss at the end.  Yup that’s what real bravery is, sticking your neck out, closing your eyes and puckering up.

The super villain was out to, not blow up the city, or kidnap the mayor, but to kill, yes kill, the superhero KickAss.  Yes as you can imagine the movie had several curt one liners that reminded you of the intended teenage audience.  But back to the super villain…at the end he chose ‘death’ over the saving hand of KickAss himself.  He ended up surviving, barely, which taught him and us, a lesson which is…death begets almost death.

I’ll end with my favorite line from one of the co-conspiring ‘superheros’about his weapon of choice…”Heck no, it’s not a real levitating device.  It’s a baseball bat all dolled up but it sure does scare the heck out of you.”

The embittered waters of love

Love is a roller coaster.  We all know that.  But when it crashes it seems irreparable.  This morning I read of all the reasons why not all, in fact many of the Jews did not return to Jerusalem when their exile had ended.  For some, they were too old.  Others had small children that couldn’t make the journey.  Yes rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem seemed formidable but didn’t it inspire great hope?!  Not so for those of the holy people who sided with the comforts they had grown accustomed to in Babylon.  Maybe that’s a lesson on love, that we become so used to the elation of having someone and doing fun things with that person that we easily lose our perspective of where the truly sweet waters are when love goes south.  No, picking up the pieces will never be enjoyable, but love lost always makes room for other love or loves (friends and relatives).  And you learned from the failed relationship..hopefully.  And you start to think like how David Gray the singer said it…”this year’s love is gonna last”.  Hope springs eternal.  May God help us pick up the pieces.

Trauma begets trauma…So a recent breakin complete with revolver (maybe fake) has worked wonders on my psyche although prob the kind of wonders you see on the sci-fi channel. So here I am, in the “Night Before Christmas” story, rising to see what was the matter while my dog in his kerchief and cap (might as well be) was all spread out for his 42nd nap of the day. The alarm was on although ever so slightly so no need for caution unless robbers don’t have really good hearing. So is my house haunted and if so what poor soul caused it to be. What might be more effective to ignore the clatter, yelling out the name of Jesus or retiring to the other room to sleep on the couch? Anyway, I feel for our military with all the trauma that goes with the initial one. I am but a lowly homeowner. I can only testify to what I have seen and heard and also the time when that revolver forced me to lay stomach down on the carpet in my drawers.

Selah – clever singing group title, paper weight of the Psalms literature, mas?

So Selah was apparently inserted into various locations of the Psalms, to get the reader to stop, consider, weigh was was being stated, as opposed to just winging it off the tongue and going home to watch football.

Indeed a clever name for a musical group – stop and contemplate the wonder of our vibrattos.

But here’s a question: Why not place the selah at the end of every line, so as to make every line equally important?  Well of course in life we have to recognize greatness and goodness, as well as a poor attempt.

No, the Selah was an indication that it was time to search your own hearts, weigh the important of applying the statement to yourself.  “Search me and know me oh Lord, see if there is any unclean thing within me and lead me in the way everlasting.”  “Purify me!’  “Wash me with hyssop and I shall be clean!”  Remembering that in reading the Psalms, it is not for entertainment but admonishment.

David, being the author of so many of the Psalms was surely a wonderful example of what was needed to gain an audience with and favor from God.  Of course he had much reason for humbling himself, but let’s take courage that even a criminal can be an example if he allows his heart to really be made pure.

Exodus – Gods and Kings movie thoughts

well here we go, a college graduate with a biblical studies degree trying to make sense of this hugely inaccurate film.  I understand artistic license but I’m thinking to myself, post-viewing that considering the film’s poor performance at the box office, it would stand to reason it would have done better had it been more true to the Bible’s depiction from which the source claims to be.  The overarching theme I thought was (probably intentionally) omitted was that of faith.  Sure the Hebrews believe in God (their god) and even unlikely (according to the film, not the Bible) came to believe eventually.  But there were key omissions that seemed to say God is wreckless, even vengeful instead of just angry and these omissions were acts of faith on the part of Moses.  In the Bible we are taught Moses  went to Pharoah and somewhat brazenly announced each of the plagues.  In the film we are entertained to believe (maybe for brevity’s sake 🙂  that God just went into autopilot and reigned down plague upon plague, leading as we see from Pharoah’s chief advisor, that there might be some sort of logical connection in the flow of plagues.  Eg., the frogs came, then died, thus the gnats and the livestock died, and somehow summoned the locusts…and the hail heh heh.  The part I really didn’t like was the parting of the Red Sea which we know from Holy Scripture was something God told Moses to be a part of by raising his staff.   Here we get a sword flung into the deep, signifying Moses’ last parting with the ways of the Egyptians, but communicating to the viewer that maybe sacrifice really does hold the spot over obedience.  So I”d say it’s worth your time to watch if it challenges and drives you into a knowledge of Scripture.  O yeah, the wierdest thing is the burning bush is accompanied by a pre-pubescent child who acts as the voice and representation of God and who sticks around even to the scrawling of the 10 commandments.  The boy exhibits quite a temper with the mention of the Passover, which is indicative of the God of the Bible.  But innocence is not the picture we get of the Lord when we read the account of Exodus.  One last thing.  God turned the Nile into blood without any help from crocodiles eating men and each other.  He needs no help from man, but His plan is to involve man and inspire him to exhibit faith in the only one that is truly Lord of heaven and earth.

Friendship…not marriage

“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” That would be Jesus, or rather the Holy Spirit, because it sure ain’t none of y’all. Because it just isn’t in our DNA to be a good friend, or if it is it’s too marred by our fallen sinful nature to grow into anything substantial. Close friends may go deep but if they retain their buddy system too long, the deep will be all they know.
There IS marriage, legally binding and spiritually binding “til death…” In marriage, both parties seek to serve each other because they love each other, both platonically, physically, emotionally, spiritually. In marriage disagreements must be dissolved, to give way into problem solving techniques that both calm temperaments and attempt to resolve the issue…
But I’m not talking about marriage, because friendship certainly isn’t that. A friend gives space. A friend does not grow uneasy and thereby break into emotional instability when that space is given. No, a friend is teachable, not seeking to make sure the other party understands his own point of view, but rather seeking how he can better understand the other’s point of view. Not because the friends have to sleep together, but because at the barest reason, because having a friend is a good thing. It fights off loneliness, under productivity, and self-esteem issues. Secondly, although not so second in priority, being a friend is arguably more valuable than having one.
My mother is famous for telling me, “the best way to help yourself is by helping someone else”. Friendship is kind of an egoist thing, to borrow a term from philosophical ethics. That is, a person who is being a friend is ultimately seeking his own good with the unspoken law of karma at work. He realizes that being a friend will increase the chances of receiving friendship which is more what was wanted, more so than being a friend for the sake of the other.
Jesus not only promised he would be a better friend than any this world can offer, but he wants us to practice being a friend for the pure sake of the object of our friendship. “There is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for the sake of his friend.” So even to the point of losing our lives are we called to be a friend?! This is touch to swallow I admit. But as scripture reminds us that “sorrow may last for a night but joy comes in the morning”, we can rejoice that we will always have the truest of friends in us, working through us. And maybe that disaccord with that one friend will be different in the morning, or at least, after church. 🙂