Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Over-exposure to Urine Nation

1 Peter 3:8-12
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

4 Free tickets and great seats - 0 Dollars.
1 Parking Coupon - 0 dollars.
T-shirt at the gate – 0 dollars.
Wearing spilled aaaaand recycled beer home from the ballpark – PRICELESS.

We were the recipients of a wonderful blessing from my wife’s boss (and our friends) the Moreno’s who gave us free tickets to the Texas Rangers baseball game last Friday night. We made it a guy’s night out so my son Caleb, my dad, and my uncle Jim all went with me to the game.

It was a fun night in spite of a poor showing by the home team. After a 5-3 loss the Rangers decided to celebrate with a fireworks display. Since I had to rise early for work on Saturday morning I suggested we skip the show and head on home.

As we descended the stadium escalator, it was evident traffic would be light as most folks appeared to stay for the pyrotechnics. Much to my chagrin, we were met by a State Trooper and stadium personnel at the entrance to our parking lot who informed us the Fire Marshall had closed it off until completion of the fireworks show. Great.

We tried to make the best of it and took some pics with our cell phones and ooohed and aaaahed with everyone else. Finally the show ended and we were allowed to proceed to our vehicles. So much for the head start and light traffic.

We had positioned ourselves on what we thought was the row on which we parked. After looking for a couple of minutes I decided we were a couple of rows south and headed that direction. I spotted my truck in the distance and called out to my companions that I had done so.

As I was making the trek toward my truck, at about 30 yards I noticed the silhouette of a shadowy figure standing next to the back passenger door on the driver’s side. My first thought was “look at this drunk, he’s waiting at the wrong truck for someone to let him in. I kept walking and begin to think maybe this guy was actually trying to break INTO my vehicle. THEN it DAWNED on me…

SON OF A **B#+CH**!!!!!!! He’s pissing on my truck!!! I took off into a dead run with the intent of way-laying him when I got there. It is truly amazing how many thoughts can pass through ones head in a very few short seconds. When plotting my strategy of what kind of justice I would inflict when I reached the peeing perp the progression produced 3 possibilities:

· Cold-cock him in the jaw with a right hook. This was my first and favorite option, but consequences could be rather servere up to and including arrest and law suit.
· Bust him with a head-first tackle analogous to a linebacker hitting an unsuspecting quarterback. The downside to this approach would be that I would wear his urine home all-over the front of me as well as likely having a good bit of road-rash from the asphalt and ensuing scuffle.
· Launch the punk by shoving him backward into oblivion and pray a vehicle pass by at just the right moment so he could land “softly” upon their side-view mirror...

I chose option 3 which proved to be somewhat effective with one small strategic weakness. When I arrived in a full run and shoved him, I had cups in my left hand, so it was a right-hand heavy shove. Well, he was standing at a 45 degree angle toward my truck, so this served to spin him toward me as he flew backward.

The unpleasant sensation of pee going up my leg was quickly realized. Did I mention I was wearing shorts? And with gravity apparently playing for the other team all night, the unpleasant sensation of urine traveling back down my leg was also quickly realized. Nice.

As “dipstick” struggled to his feet with his over-sized shorts around his ankles and “dumb-stick” in his hand, he informed me that we would be “going at it” once he got his pants on. I told him I was more than happy to oblige. I turned to my uncle and told him to get the cops while I set the cups down on the hood of my truck in preparation for the dance-with-the-dumbass. I’m not sure if it was the rage on my face or the fact that they knew they were in trouble, but piss-boy’s buds convinced him it was time to make their get-away.

I took out my cell phone to take a picture of their license plate all the while displaying the love of Jesus for them in my angry tone. I suggested they stop the truck and let me lay hands on him again. They refused, but the water spigot did lean out of the window in a display of adolescent wisdom and asked, “Why are you harassing a bunch of teenagers just out having a good time?!!” "Excuse me? Are you kidding?!!! You're a moron!"

About that time up rode two of Arlington’s finest on bicycles. Officer Rollins hopped off of his bike and pushed me in the chest while yelling,
“Don’t put your hands on me!”
[I was thinking “officer, if I could direct your attention to the jumbo-tron for a replay, you will notice that it was you who pushed me.”]
I yelled back at him, “I didn’t touch you! (Pointing to the now stopped truck) That @$$hole over there pissed on my truck!”
“Sir! Do you have any identification!?”
Noticing that the other officer (female) had extracted the fountain of youth from his get-away vehicle I calmly said, “Yes.” So I handed him my license.
“Now tell me what happened.” (In his now calm voice)
(You may not have been paying attention earlier when I mentioned this, but) “That @$$hole over there pissed on my truck!” (I don’t think I have used the term “piss” more in my entire life combined, than I did that night - probably because I was really pissed off – and on.)
“Show me your truck.”

I escorted the officer to my truck and showed him the puddle next to it and the still wet stain on the nurf-bar (step). He apologized for getting in my face initially and informed me he would “write him a citation for pissing in public.” Great – now I have him saying it. So that was very little consolation to me. I wanted vengeance and justice. I wanted to kick his ass. I wanted to inflicted pain on him then pee on him. I wanted all things non-loving and non-redemptive.

The Lord has been dealing with me about the concept of redemption lately. How can I be a redemptive force in the lives of others? What must I do to be saved from me? Do I really believe in “turning the other cheek”? Do I really love others like He does? What do my actions tell others? What is the balance of showing love and being a doormat for others to use to wipe their feet?

In two separate venues recently I’ve heard others speak on Jesus being the image of the Father. I’m still being conformed into His image and likeness. I’m obviously not there yet.
Most people would certainly have no problem with my actions of unrighteous urination indignation that night. The onlookers were plentiful and one lady ready to assist in taking him down.

The nerve of this idiot! How he could expose himself in such a setting with women and children passing by on the way to their cars? Justifiable homicide would have been well, um, justifiable. Apparently there was a lack of evidence on the whole matter of an indecent exposure charge.

So – what would you have done?

I’m not sure a do-over would have rendered different results for me, but I’m seeking God on what I should have done or could have done better. On the ride home the consensus was that I had done the "right thing." All I can say is it didn’t feel like it. Maybe it was my attitude, maybe my self-awareness, or the defense of my pride and property. Whatever it was, it wasn’t redemptive, at least that I could tell. I will say this however, it was an exciting trip to the ballpark for sure.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Twelve Volt Vasectomy

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Especially when He sends a helping hand).

I am not a car mechanic. I hate working on cars – hate it. Loathe it. I would rather endure a seven-hour lecture from Fran Drescher on knitting than work on a car. That said there are a few basic auto-maintenance tasks that a man should be able to navigate with no trouble whatsoever.

Among these are: Fill the gas tank, fill the washer/wiper tank, top off the radiator, check the oil, change the oil, change the oil filter, change the air filter, change the wiper blades, change a tire, and replace the battery. Until a couple of weeks ago all of those tasks were on my radar list of “easy-peasy” items I could perform. In fact most of the women I know could negotiate these tasks with little to no trouble. (Let’s save the gender role discussion for another day).

As circumstance would have it, my date with the automotive urologist had been scheduled. We have a 1997 GMC Sonoma pick-up that we had promised my youngest daughter she could use for her vehicle when she started driving. It had been sitting idle for about a year and was in need of a few things to get it running properly again. The first item on the agenda was a new battery. Pssssht. No problem. At least so I thought.

We let Katie get some “skin in the game” by having her purchase the battery. I, being the macho he-man daddy-hero would install it for her. The style of battery in this truck has the “recessed” posts on the side of the battery rather than the old top posts with cable clamps. I started by attempting to remove the positive connection, but it was really tight so I removed the negative side first. I went back to the positive side which is where the real fun began.

That connection was locked up worse than a cheese-tasting judge at a Wisconsin county fair. I tapped it with a screw driver which eventually lacerated my thumb. SON OF A!!! Perfect. Talk about "skin in the game"!!!

So back to the siezed-up battery connection...I poured 7-up on it. I poured baking soda and water on it. I sprayed it with WD-40. I yelled obscenities at it (and its mother). I did everything short of a rain-dance to try and get that sucker broke loose. Nothing. Not a squeak. Not a peep - just this stupid sheep.

In my frustration with both my lack of mechanical engineering prowess, and my depleted testosterone levels, I threw the channel locks at the battery muttering/grunting the f-bomb in slow extended and exagerated fashion as it flew towards its target. Crunch! Plastic battery housing flew into several pieces as the channel locks lay lodged in between what was left of the battery and the radiator. Like a menstruating adolescent I stormed into the garage to plot my next move and reward my lunacy with a cold beer.

As I studied the fallout from my fit of foolishness I noticed a new strategy had emerged. Seeing that the housing was so brittle I determined I could cut the post out and attack the post connection with channel-locks in both hands to leverage the post cap off. I tried the hacksaw first. Nope. Then I tried the serrated sheet-rock saw. Nope. Finally I attacked it with the pruning loppers which proved to be my first real good decision of this entire process. It went through the plastic like a food processor going through an avocado.

Once I had extracted the positive post from the battery housing I could now lift it free of the engine bay and concentrate my efforts solely on the cable/post connection. This proved to be every bit as frustrating as the rest of the task to this point. More soda. More WD-40. Less progress. Dammit!

On to plan C or D. Katie called one of her classmates who loves working on cars, batted her baby-blues and Voi-la! A spliced cable connection and juice route for the new battery. Wow. 18 year old kid shows old geezer the ropes on changing a battery – how humbling – how humiliating. What the heck!???!!! Eventually the battery was installed and the truck she runs...with issues.

What can we take from this malaise of machinery misfortune? We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and if we are willing, we can learn something from just about anyone. Over the years, I have learned many things from people several years my junior. Sometimes they took a real power-trip from it, others extended pity and disdain, while others were gracious and helpful. Regardless, I usually come out on the other side a better human being even if only in some very small ways.

And what was my Heavenly Father allowing me to learn personally from this grandiose experience? I think I walked away with a greater understanding that I don’t have to be the stud of every pasture. Sometimes I can just be the gelding grazing on some green oats letting the wind blow through my mane. What a joy to know that even in my worst moments He speaks to me, loves on me, and lets me live another day to try, try, try again.
Humbly His...still. I need more of Him...still.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Nocturnal Narcissism

Lamentations 3:22, 23 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning...

So I have this privilege of being one of the first people in our time zone to thank God for His mercies that are new every morning. I’m often walking out to my car a little after midnight and try to make it a point to do just that – Thank God that I am starting a new day with His mercies in full view.

As I ponder the mysteries of His love for me, it challenges me to greater heights and depths of my journey with Him. Some of it is based solely on scriptural application and revelation, but much of it just overflows from our walks and talks together.

This past Monday night I was heading down the aisle toward home when He spoke to my spirit and said, “You are entering a period of repentance.” Wow. I began to confess aloud my sin and it echoed the halls of a near empty production facility. It made me think how a “house of production” can still be void of life. Sometimes that is me.

Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

I often make the point that “activity does not equal productivity.” We can do the wrong things and cause set-backs. We can do the right things for the wrong reasons and erase the deed with motive. These are all things that challenge me in my journey. I can win many battles while losing the support of others. So with this simple “word” from the Father my confessions and repentance began to flow, starting with dead works.

Hebrews 6:1 …not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death.

Most of my sin, it seems, is about “self.” Go figure. My confession went something like this: “Lord I repent of selfishness acts, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, self-gratification, selfish ambition, self-sustainment, selfish pride, fear, lust, envy, gluttony, greed. I need You to fill the places and spaces of my heart that those things occupy. I realized in a moment in time that those things had crept in on me, even in small ways, like a snake slithering into a henhouse bent on theft and destruction – a nocturnal narcissism if you will. It is still all about me.

John 1 Light dispels the darkness.

Isn’t it interesting that no matter how deep the void, or dark the night, the smallest ray of light penetrates it and pushes it back? That is the relavent revelation of God. When He shines His simple Light on my soul, it saves, delivers, and heals. He brings life to the party. His blood filters my sin from His throne, and He makes me feel at home once again.

I know this is simplistic fundamental stuff for we “veteran” Christians, but we need these reminders to curb-check us back to the straight and narrow. It’s easy to let the cares of this life choke out our joy, or the decietfulness of wealth and riches keep us from being fruitful. Our soil can be soiled with rocks and weeds and deeds and me, so we must tend the garden.

Ground gained must be maintained.

As I enter another season of repentance, I am grateful the pursuer has never stopped chasing me. I’ve been tagged again to chase Him back. Like a Dad playing with his kids, He lets me catch Him pretty quickly and we tumble in a heap of laughter and love. What a Savior. What a friend.

Psalm 51

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on "Change"

Inauguration Day - A rare politcal/social/spiritual commentary for this space...

Psalms 75:7 But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

We have a great and wonderful tradition in this country of a peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another. People that were once political opponents on this day find a way to set aside those differences to change the guard. Even so, not all change is good.

Change for change sake doesn’t necessarily bring forth good fruit. Sometimes men trade in their wives for a younger model for selfish reasons only to find they (as my friend Byron says) traded in their “treasures for toys.” I fear we have done this as a nation.

Change should never be the goal. The goal for the journey is progress. Progress is not found in slogans or even “hope.” Hope is the passive emotion of most cowards. A message built on it alone is empty platitudes. Faith, however, is substantive. Progress is found in wisdom mixed with faith working in concert with corresponding action. Absent any of those ingredients, failure is assured.

Looking back at the Bush presidency, there were many failures that led us to this moment in history. For many conservatives, President Bush’s support of campaign finance reform, (illegal) immigration reform, and his unwillingness to openly defend the war effort cost him their support. These 3 points alone not only cost he and the republicans their base of support,but ultimately the congress and the Whitehouse. The other grave unintended consequence may be final dissolution of American capitalism. For a conservative this is unforgivable.

There are many things Bush did right as documented in this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/4241865/History-will-show-that-George-W-Bush-was-right.html With the promise of “change” starting today, we can be sure that the tectonic shift of political power will result in policies that will have the ignorant swelling with pride as our country swells deeper into debt. To some this has the sinister scent of a totalitarian conspiracy driving us headlong over a socialist cliff where only the centralized government can be the end-all answer to any problem we face. It seems we may have already arrived.

The young messiah is preaching his sermon of government bailouts and salvation to the masses, while the rest of us go about our business working and producing. The promise of free healthcare, free school lunches, free college education, free homes, free cars, free gas, free this, free that , etc., etc., is a myth that for some is too much to resist.

Anyone who is in the target zone of being told how to run their business, who they can hire, or how much more they will have to give to others understand the price. The very policies that brought us the economic crisis and failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the very policies that are being prescribed to treat the illness. That is like prescribing arsenic to treat arsenic poisoning.

So here we are at the place or “equality.” A President elected because of race and “destiny” unscrutinized and lionized by a biased media that I dare say will refuse to criticize when the real crisis takes place. Instead they will just blame Bush because after all, to them he is evil incarnate. Well, just so you know, I will be here as the faithful opposition to socialism and the advocate of capitalism. The former has never worked and the latter always has, so why we would try to “change” that is beyond me.

For my “moderate” friends who sort of shrugged and said “He sounds nice I think I’ll vote for him,” or whatever other “core convictions” that don’t drive your decisions, might I remind you that John McCain was very much the “moderate” you all supposedly desired. So what is it that caused most of you to vote for the other guy?

Regardless, the peaceful transition of power is a pretty unique thing in a world wrought with regime change and unrest. Unrest we will always have as long as the peoples of the planet look to a human being for their well-being. The “change” must come from within based on our personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. The created have fallen and we can’t get up without His eternal help. To look elsewhere for the answers to life’s problems is a futile exercise ending in frustration and disappointment.

I shall pray for our new President, first and foremost that his confession of Christ will be matched by his actions and policies. We’ve seen what professing Christian Presidents do when they compartmentalize their Christian ethics; we get such things as unregulated partial-birth abortion and an intern with a stained blue dress. Maybe this one will be better. I “hope” so.

My thoughts. I covet yours.


Monday, January 12, 2009

A Ruby Plus a Peppermint = a Gem

Matthew 13:45-46 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."

I have recently begun to be more active on my Facebook account, and in so doing have started “reconnecting” with some old friends and acquaintances. Waxing nostalgic is sure to lead to two conclusions: 1. Those were the “good old days.” 2. I’m getting old and I can’t stop the clock.

Growing old seems unfair in the grand scheme of it all. My buddy Barry and I were talking yesterday about the irony of having the energy of thoroughbreds and the brains of a brick when we’re young, but as we age and mature, our metabolism plummets like said brick thrown out of an airplane. Oh the gravity of it all. What a waste.

When we actually have the brains to make a difference, it seems our bodies relegate us to “supervision” as we try to convince the youngsters they don’t have a clue and should really listen to our instruction – you know – like we listened to our parents. Snort – cough. The only revenge is the “I told you so” and the threat of spending their inheritance, which in our case includes a box full of expired Sonic coupons and some old clothes the Goodwill wouldn’t take.

This past Christmas I had an opportunity to visit with some relatives I hadn’t seen in a while. My cousin’s widow Renay was there and she entertained us with a couple of stories about her mom “Ruby” who is 84. Allow me to share a couple of those priceless stories with you.

Recently Ruby needed to update her photo-I.D. so they took here down to the DMV to have her picture made and her profile updated. When it was finally her turn, the clerk asked Ruby if she was ready to which Ruby responded with a “flip-of-the-bird” and a hearty “yes!”

Holding middle-finger in place she sported a smile that everyone but the clerk appreciated. She apparently found the only clerk in existence that showed restraint. That is a pic that I would have taken immediately – just before the “do-over.” This has apparently become Ruby’s modus operandi as seen in this pic below of her and her great grandson.

Ruby’s other “new thing” is her ever-increasing fondness for peppermints. This has become such an issue for her that Renay and family have had to start rationing these little gems out to her. She has apparently begun hiding them from others to ensure the integrity of her stash and an uninterrupted supply.

On a recent trip to Carrabbas Restaurant, Ruby spotted the giant bowl of peppermints at the hostess stand as they entered. The plotting immediately went into motion on both teams. Ruby began to wonder how she could score some of those mints while Renay began to worry about the obsession.

As mealtime came to a close Ruby told Renay to make sure she got her some peppermints. Renay took the bill up front and asked the hostess to hide the bowl of peppermints so her mom wouldn’t see them on the way out. After she paid the bill, she brought back 3 (count ‘em 3 and only 3) peppermints for Ruby.

Ruby was having none of that so time to implement Plan B – The Frontal Assault. As they headed for the exit, Ruby executed the veer offense and headed straight for the hostess podium as fast as the walker would crutch along. With every step closer you could hear the scoot and plop grow faster until the scoot-plop scoot-plop rapid-fired into scooplop-scooplop.

Finally reaching the stand she, with the forcefulness that would have made Bonnie and Clyde cringe, demand the booty! “Give me the peppermints!” she ordered. With the deer-in-the-headlights look of a deer-in-the-headlights, the hostess responded with, “Um…we’re all out.”

Shoving her walker into the podium as a hockey player checking another into the boards, and raising her voice to the proper decibel level in which to gather enough uncomfortable attention from the other patrons, Ruby replied “The hell you are! I saw a whole bowl of them when I walked in! Now give me the damn peppermints!”

Hesitantly reaching beneath the podium, the hostess retrieves the bowl and hands it to Ruby, no doubt assuming Ruby would take a handful and be on her way. Ruby takes the bowl and empties the entire contents into her purse. Success!

While these anecdotes are funny there are many principles one could glean from them, one of which is to never underestimate the savvy ways of a grizzled veteran. What we lack in energy we make up for with shrewdness and/or determination. An old KLIF sports analyst Leon Simon used to say “‘want-to’ beats ‘can-do’ every time.”

Obviously there are things in our lives that seem insignificant to others that we find worth the fight. The challenge is determining whether or not they give us a real benefit or is it something that is truly a problem for us that we should eliminate or limit in our lives. So what is your peppermint? Is it fault or a gem?