A DESTINATION

a destination

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I rarely sit still for too long. I’m not very good at it, but I was in a different part of town waiting to meet someone. There I sat in my truck waiting for my appointment to show up, as I sat, I watched.

In this neighborhood there were a lot of pedestrians, people walking all over the place. I did my share of walking when I was young, but it was a different time then. I hitchhiked a bit, many people did, people were more willing to help in those days. In fairness to the generous in society, it just became too risky to help.

When I got older I picked up my fair share of hitchhikers. As I sat and watched all the people walking I remembered some of the hitchhikers I picked up along the way.

There was Arthur, he was old… I recall how nice and sincere he was. After I gave him a few bucks and whatever food I had with me, I wondered if he wasn’t sent by God. I seriously thought then and even now if he might have been an angel from God.

I remember the guy I picked up driving from Texas back to Arizona one time. He was from Pensacola Florida, on his way to California. He certainly helped break up some of the long monotonous drive. He even bought me some lunch and I enjoyed my time with this experienced traveler.

Everyone working their way to toward their desired destination… I wondered about these people, past and present, what is their ultimate destination? The one you set your target for in your heart. The one place we can’t visit while in this flesh.

I’ve come to understand the places we’re going on this earth are all temporary. Like a mirage, they will all one day vanish. I’ve also come to believe that all the people who cross our paths in this life aren’t a coincidence.

I watched a couple kids coming from behind me in my rearview mirror. One looked about 12 years old, the other I guessed about 10 years old. Both boys, maybe brothers. The younger one walked with a distinct limp, looked like a handicap from birth, he was controlling the wheelchair the older one was riding in.

The older was significantly more handicapped, his head was set to one side of his body and his hands were curled up unable to control his wheelchair. The young one was doing all the talking as he navigated his friend or brother.

Their destination was to the corner strip mall, maybe to the grocery store, Goodwill, or one of the small shops. I was certain the destinations in both of their lives would never be as easy for them to get to as the ones most of us will choose.

My hope and prayer is that their destination, the only one that really matters in this world is the same as the one I’ve got my sights set on.

I felt like God wanted me to do something for those kids, so I set out to do whatever God had in mind. I thought I might follow them and have them buy something for their mom… I didn’t know.

I reached down, pulled out my wallet, opened it up to see what God might have for me to help them with. Almost nothing… I didn’t even have enough to buy them lunch. Certainly God had me see these boys for a reason? Nothing happens by chance.

I watched them move along toward a destination, people walking back and forth, no one even noticed them. I watched the younger one navigate up the rolled curb getting into the parking lot, they were experienced, this wasn’t the first time they’d made this trip.

My heart broke for those young pedestrians. I’ve been short of compassion many times in my life, but this day wasn’t one of them. I wanted to give them a ride or help, but they weren’t hitchhiking or asking. They were more self-sufficient than I’d been many times at their age.

Where ever they were going on foot I’m confident they arrived, maybe I’ll see them again someday.

If not in that old neighborhood, maybe when we all get home…

A WRITERS VOICE

a writers voice

image courtesy of photobucket.com

It might be obvious that I like to read and I suspect not many people have a passion to write without first developing the passion to read. I’ve always enjoyed getting to know or find out about the person who’s writing I’m reading and it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they write. A writer’s voice. Although I knew that to be true, I never knew exactly how perfectly true it was until last Thursday night.

For the last couple of years, the church bulletin had a “creative writers class” announcement under the Calendar Of Events heading. I’ve been either out of town, busy or trying to be, so as to have and excuse for not attending.

To walk into a group of strangers and announce “I’m a writer, or at least I want to be someday…..When I grow up,” isn’t on the top of my list of fun dates. It almost makes me feel like when I was a kid being sent to a new school or church.

Oh no, I call the shots now… Well, maybe not exactly. I was beat, tired and had to get up early the next day and didn’t even have time for a shower between work and the group. My wife had made a special dinner, but I knew I was running low on excuses.

“That writers group is meeting at the church tonight,” I mentioned quietly to my wife. I thought there was a chance she might give me an out since the dinner and all. She quickly answered, “You should go.” One more excuse I couldn’t use.

I called one of the leaders of the group and asked, “Can you tell me a little bit more about the group”? She kindly gave an explanation. “How many people usually show up for this”? I asked, hoping for a large number to use as another potential excuse. “I don’t think we’ve ever had more than eight,” she replied. I gave it one last shot, “Can I show up in gym clothes”? She warmly answered, “Sure that’s not a problem,” or something to that effect. She added, “If you want to bring something you’ve written that would be fine.”

I grabbed my manuscript minus the first three chapters I sent to the last agent, my water, and some non-fat string cheese sticks from the frig and out the door I went. I walked in late after having to call one of the ladies running the group because I couldn’t find the right room.

Everyone was polite, friendly, and I was surprised how many in the group had been published. Two of the ladies are actually in the business. The truth is I went to learn and that’s exactly what happened. I learned some details about the industry and how it works, then when it came time to listen to what some of the other participants had written, I was blown away.

The talent was amazing and enjoyable, but even beyond that I was struck by how the writing was exactly who the authors were. The first hour and a half was spent talking and sharing thoughts and ideas. From that interaction time, I learned a lot about the people and more specifically their personalities.

The words of each person’s writings fit perfectly with their personality. Our written words are like our voices, they might be similar, but they are distinctly unique to each of us.

How fitting it is, our words even not heard audibly are unique like our voices. Designed by God and are the same in speech or writing, each with a specific purpose and desire. Without exception, everyone in that room has a desire given by God deep down to make a difference in this world.

Although no one asked what the desire was for each of us or what we hoped to achieve with our writing, it was pretty clear as I listened to the different personalities pour out in words. Some of the desires were to bring joy, purpose, laughter, companionship, inspiration, and encouragement.

My hat’s off to those writers whom God gave the desire to make a difference in this world, and they’re doing it. Talk is cheap, so is writing if the words don’t have a specific purpose.

However we’re heard, in speech or print, our voice is designed to make a difference, to fulfill our unique purpose for having been here…

What are you saying with your voice?

PLAGIARISM?

plagiarism

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I’m not proud to admit that I cheated on tests my junior year in high school. I turned in answers to tests that weren’t mine. I used them as though they were my intellectual property, but they weren’t.

It’s kind of stomach turning to watch someone take credit for something they didn’t really do isn’t it? Remember Milli Vanilli? The now-famous pop/rock duo who got busted for lip-syncing at one of their concerts. Shortly thereafter, information was released that reported the two guys who were the “Milli Vanilli” didn’t even sing on the albums. A talented studio musician did all the singing. They felt so much disgrace that one of the men actually committed suicide.

Even non-Christian people have the basic understanding of what constitutes a lie. Many of us justify our lack of truth for our own selfish reasons.

Have you ever had someone take credit for something you have done? For those of us who have, we understand clearly the feeling of betrayal and the reality of another person’s lies and deceit.

It’s one thing to enjoy the work, talents, or gifts given to someone else, it’s quite different to take those things and claim them as our own. This act is so looked down on in the writing and intellectual property community that anyone quoting or using an idea from someone else makes sure to never forget to note or mention it.

None of us want the title of “plagiarist.”

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the waiter or waitress tells you about the specials as if he or she actually made the food when you know for sure they didn’t? They might say something like, “I’ve prepared the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as our speciality tonight.” (Never Brad though!)

I think, “Do you have a magic wand in back or what”? They, while important to the success of the business are merely the deliverer of the special items. To be sure how the items are presented is a gift unto itself and can make a good item even more enhanced.

Sometimes many of us even as Christians “fall into our flesh” and become Milli or Vanilli. We pretend to be the beginning and the end of our gifts or talents. Even though, many of us know we were created by God in His image. We take all the credit for His grace, mercy, and blessings.

We are the delivery vehicle for what God has chosen to send others, to speak to them His truths. Often we get too caught up in the blessings we’re transporting for the glory of God, we forget that they aren’t our gifts, talents, or works.

We’re not the artist, His initials are the ones on our canvas for the world to find honor. “That’s a great painting”! “Who’s the artist”? Our painting should be directing traffic His way.

We aren’t the chef, He made all things, we’re just His designated deliverer chosen to deliver His most special item in a way that brings joy and honor to everyone involved.

For me, the other people I read, those of you who have left encouraging comments, thank you. I consider you and me the deliverer, not the author, printer or publisher. We are the vehicles created and chosen by God to deliver His words to the people He wants the words read to.

I believe we are the “orators” of His words.

In essence, the entire world is guilty of plagiarism. God designed, created, and sustains all of us. Everything we have belongs to Him and is for Him.

Lest we forget and become known as a “plagiarist,” or worse yet: “A cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.”

A PRINCE AND PRINCESS

prince and princessOnce upon a time in a land far away, there lived a young prince and princess. They looked like average people to everyone else. They weren’t born in a castle, they were born in their respective humble surroundings.

The princess and the prince attended the government schools like most of the population. Eventually, they married fine looking spouses who like them, were the people of humble and average looking lives, but were also unnoticed royalty.

The other seemingly average people the prince and princess encountered throughout their lives never had the inclination to consider them royalty. After all they “looked” just like everyone else.

The laws of nature that are visible and obvious are taken at face value by the world. Few of us take the time to contemplate the laws of the universe that cannot be seen. We assume the laws of nature that can be viewed is all there is.

Even when something happens in the world that can’t really be explained in physical terms, the world ignores it and chalks it up to just a fluke.

When I was in my late teens I got ran over by a 6,000 lb. forklift. It actually rolled up the back of my leg, over the back of my knee and hamstring area, up onto my buttocks, up my back about a foot before the back wheel of the forklift turned off my body. The place where it happened was mostly sand, except this location. My knee was directly over rocks.

I was hurt but not dead. The x-rays didn’t even show any broken bones. I would find out many years later the bottom vertebrae of my back had a hairline fracture and my knee cap was sheered in half long ways. I wasn’t down for too long, a couple of weeks with it elevated and then drained and I was on my way.

The physical chances of that much weight rolling over bones and joints doing only that little damage is absolutely impossible. So how could I explain something like that? At the time, I didn’t give the principalities possibility any thought or credit. Sure I knew God was powerful, made the earth, did miracles, but this, in my youthful ignorance I considered to be my invincible being.

Consider an underfunded, undernourished, outmanned, American army defeating the most powerful military in the world… Luck, chance, fluke, really?! Interesting the common denominator for these flukes is almost always faith in God. The Power over nature and it’s laws that can’t be seen by the human eyeball.

I wonder how many people who are Christians have fallen into the trap of the senses. Most of us use what we can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste to form our perspective of this world. We have faith in our senses until we witness or discover a miracle. Then like the world, we use those senses to desensitize ourselves from the reality we can’t explain through our senses.

We make up or listen to theories made up in the flesh to explain away a supernatural occurrence. Most of us know the teaching of Jesus Christ and profess it and His gift as our heritage. Our faith must be significantly smaller than the mustard seed Christ described as the insignificant amount of faith needed to move mountains.

The world preys on the senses of all of us as if laws of nature were the only laws guiding our lives. When the Creator and Lawgiver of all things tell us otherwise we should consider being obedient in spite of what we can see or hear.

What the people who wrote the prince and princess off as average didn’t know or comprehend was the other-dimensional world that surrounded all of us that they couldn’t see.

They didn’t realize the KING of all creation had chosen the prince and princess from before the foundations of the universe. The world couldn’t see with their eyes what the prince and princess knew in their heart.

They would live happily ever after… Forever!

We are that prince and princess…

A KICK TO THE SHINS

kick to the shins

image courtesy of photobucket.com

My buddy Curt and I were sitting outside having breakfast the week between Christmas and New Years. It’s a local, non-franchised little place that has a group of regulars.

The place was crowded so we sat outside to eat. It was a bit cold which deterred any other outside diners. The place started to get busy so the owner had the hungry customers sign in on a clipboard attached to one of the front stucco columns.

A dad and his two kids had signed the clipboard and were enduring their time outside while waiting to dine inside. The daughter was the oldest and looked to be about 10 or 11 years old. She was about a foot taller than her little brother who appeared to be 7 or 8.

It didn’t take long and the both of them were bored out of their gourds. They started to pick at each other to pass the time. The process escalated to the little brother giving an accidentally-on-purpose step on his big sister’s toes. Her response was less than subtle. She grabbed him by his shoulders and kicked him as hard as she could on his shin! Ouch! It looked painful… The boy turned away unfazed.

The both of us started bustin’ a gut immediately. We shared stories from our childhood that had similar results.

I’ve played both roles as a kid. I’ve been the one to pester my siblings, I’ve also been the one to administer justice. Being the youngest, I freely confess to the former significantly more often than the latter.

Generally the justice is taken from the instigator without retaliation. Interestingly that only usually happens with people we love or care for greatly. As kids, if anyone outside our family treated us the same way we treated each other we would attack to protect the ones we love.

As I sat laughing at the boy who reminded me a bit of myself a long time ago, I realized with years not that much changes. The ones we love and live with are the ones we have the least patience for. We know each other so intimately that we know which buttons to push in order to aggravate or get under the other’s skin.

The ones in this life who should be getting the best of our personalities, sometimes get the exact opposite. I know I’ve been guilty of wearing the talking mask of manners around all day long and taking it off as soon as I walk through the door. Sometimes behind that mask we hide a monster.

What were some of the adjectives Jesus Christ used to describe love? Oh yeah, patient and kind. Never mind the rest for now. If we can conquer with God’s power in us just those two alone, we begin to bring God honor and the loved ones He’s blessed us with as well.

We might be able to get an academy award for our acting throughout the day, but the people we live with know the truth. No one knows our strengths and weaknesses like our family.

I’m not condoning conflict, but we all get a taste of it in an ongoing basis. I’ve learned the last place and the last people I want conflict with are the ones God has placed closest to me.

These are my gifts. I can never possess anything more precious than these in this physical world. They are part of me with strengths and weaknesses just like mine.

I desire what they desire, love, peace, and happiness from a Biblical perspective. Isn’t that what all of us want?

Most conflicts in life are similar to that step on the toes, repaid with the kick to the shins. “You Get What You Give.” What are we giving the ones closest to us?

For the record, I don’t miss being kicked on the shins…