i don’t do the whole twitter thing; to be fair, i do indeed have a twitter account, but only because i read somewhere that “people my age” are supposed to, and when looking for a job, it is suspicious to be completely absent from the social media scene. i literally sat on the floor in our house and created a linked in, twitter, and facebook page that night; years of my wife and friends trying to convince me meant nothing, but being told i was being profiled against when seeking employment was reason enough. that’s not to say i don’t use hashtags; you know, #, the thing we used to call the pound sign or number sign. i have a blog where i write and post pictures and whatnot. well again, one day i was reading about how to increase your readers for your blog, and it mentioned the importance of proper hashtagging, so since then i try and make one or two hashtags for every post. i know, it’s a pathetic trend really that i tend to only do things if i read it somewhere; but that’s not why we’re here. we’re not going to talk about my insane fascination with the written word; we’re going to talk about #mylife. eventually. i never cut to the chase.
hashtags are a curious part of internet life. they really came on the scene because of the influence twitter has had on the digital world, evolving over the past 6 years or so into the official way to find out anything about everything. just do a quick search on the internet, type in the thing you wanna know about, leave out the spaces, and put a # in front, and see what you get. sure, there is a lot of information that this will miss, namely anything at all official, academic, older than 2009, in print only, or otherwise “adult” in nature, but then, you shouldn’t be using the internet for the pursuit of “factual knowledge” without knowing these things are hard to come by in any world, virtual or otherwise. this ease of access leads people to start causes, like #helpmegrowmyhairreallylong or #wannagooutforadate. this has also led to businesses trying to exploit this for marketing like #ilovehamburgers or #eatatjoes but to no avail; funnily enough, most businesses that start hashtag campaigns soon find their hashtag is inundated with connections to complaints and disgust. pretty much, for corporate america anyways, hashtags are only a means of observation, not direction. a recent attempt by the NYPD is sign enough; check out #myNYPD and see how an attempt at a positive presence in the media turned into an outpouring of disgust and anger.
ok, i promise i have a point. sometimes when writing i forget it, and others i didn’t actually have one when i started, hence my rambling; but whatever the case, by the end of my writing, there is a point to be found. somewhere. eventually.
my life is complicated. to be fair, this is true for everyone, and for quite a number of people out there, my life isn’t complicated at all by comparison. one of the more convoluted properties of being an adult is keeping up with all the changes. kids are always growing, bills coming and going, cars having issues, the news just updated, job searches, groceries, random parties and get togethers with friends and family, don’t forget homework, did you finish that project… one of the real difficulties is just in trying to keep everything straight. in the hashtag world, you can set up a feed similar to a news channel. instead of tuning into CNN every day to know what is happening around the world, you could just check in with #Philippines and be up to date on what is going on in the pacific asian country with little to no difficulty. ok, get ready. i’m finally going to make my point here! i need a hashtag for my life, a way to be up to date at all times with my own life; a way to know where i’m at and what i’m doing, what’s important and what’s a waste, who i am and who i should be. sure, there are technology aids that can do some of this for me, but that’s not what i’m talking about. the Bible is my daily news feed, tuned into #k.a.w.-richée; or maybe, even more accurately, it is tuned in to #God with a k.a.w.-richée filter. either way, it is a concrete, universal means by which i can know what is really going on in my life. because that’s what hashtagging really is all about, usable information at an up to date speed. and there’s nothing in life more usable, more worthwhile, more relevant and to date than the Word God has for His people, His creation, His world. His message is timeless, His advice always sound, His updates are so current, their downright prescient!
there are evenings when i sit on the couch, scrolling through headlines as my wife and i talk about our days. i am catching up on life, on the world, on what has, is, and will be happening; many mornings even begin with this same ritual. my days are filled with endless perusing, digging, looking at what is going on. well, to be fair, not every day. the really good days are the days i’m too busy to “check in,” too busy to see what’s going on, as those are often times days spent not only being present in the moment with my wife and kids, but also being conscious in my walk in Christ, commutes listening to sermons, or better still, family car rides with all of us singing His praises. it is at these moments when i am tuned in to #God that complications fall away, and a thorough knowledge settles in; i know what’s trending, i know what’s going on. i need this. maybe you don’t get overwhelmed with a desire for knowledge, or the desire for at least an allusion of security in a world with so many unknowns, but i do. that’s why i need to hashtag my life; that’s why i need to check in all the time to see just what’s trending in the Word of God.
there are days in my life when my marriage feels like a war of attrition, the while day spent with a back and forth potty party. “woe is me!” “no, woe us me!” back and forth until we eventually seek slumber, lying next to each other, but not with one another. sometimes entire days feel like marriage is a heated armistice, guns drawn and aimed true until neither side can see in the darkness all around. some days my marriage drags on, an endless journey through conflict.
“mr. kamarr i have a loose tooth.”
“well i’m happy to hear your tooth will finally be escaping from your face.”
“but mr. kamarr, it hurts.”
“well tell your dad and maybe he’ll pull it out for you; dad’s are good at that sort of thing.”
“but i don’t ever see my dad.”
“well have your grandpa, or uncle, or older brother, or cousin- some man you can trust do it.”
“we don’t have any men in our lives.”
“you mean there are no men in your life you can trust and look up to? not even at church?”
“why do you think we come here everyday.”
i’m tired of being a medical doctor working as the assistant to a middle school nurse, running around like i’m crazy to barely make enough money to cover our bills and a little fun every so often. i want a career so badly, a job that i can just focus on and turn into a part of the greater narrative of my life as i grow in Christ and raise a family. i pray for this constantly, a new job, a new place to live, some sort of change that takes me from where i am to a place somewhat more like where i would much rather be. but then i have conversations like the one above, and i’m left shaking my head, wishing with every fiber of my being that i wasn’t saying the prayer that i actually am, the prayer that says: “thank You God for having me here, and putting me where i am truly needed.” the aforementioned conversation took place today during lunch time as 4 girls ranging from 10-13 in age looked over my shoulder at some of the pictures from what my family did this summer. every since i first started working at this school i have had a “fan club” of girls, and some boys too, who stop by 4 days a week (“no visitors on Fridays; i’m too busy”) during their lunch break to just talk, watch me work, bug me. my first year i felt like maybe it was more of a “girls with crushes” thing, but as the years rolled by, it became increasingly obvious that this was not the case; these girls weren’t drawn to me because they found me attractive, they were drawn to me because there was a blank space in their life they needed filled. some of the girls would talk to me because i reminded them of their father but cooler, saying the same things but with a handlebar mustache so it was more palatable; some of the ladies hated the men in their life, and enjoyed knowing a man they could respect and be respected by. but as the girls so plainly stated today, some of them come to my office because i am the only male figure in their life worth coming to. how sad is that? how sad is it that there are little girls, future mothers and wives, who are so desperate for a worthwhile relationship with a man that they will spend what little free time they have huddled in a health office with a guy they barely know? i told the girls that this fact made me sad, that it didn’t ruin my day or anything, but that i was so sorry to hear that they had no other men in their life. they had to leave, and i had to get some work done, but they will be back tomorrow, to bug me again, and i will certainly let them.
there are forces in the world that will have you believe that kids don’t need two parents in the home, or a mom and a dad, but if you asked the kids, not the jaded adults pretending that they are tougher than they really are, less scarred from traumas and memories than they really are, if you asked the kids they would freely acknowledge what having a mom and a dad means to them. like the young man who came by every day when his dad was stationed in Iraq, and still comes now because i’m like his “school uncle” or something, kids need a man in their life, not just somewhere in the universe; no matter how loving and caring a man he is, his physical presence is irreplaceable and totally necessary. there is so much i want to do in this life, so many things i want for myself and for my family, but at moments like these i must admit that the work God is using me for seems infinitely greater than the work i dream of doing. maybe these ladies will grow to walk the streets sleeping with men for money; maybe they will marry the first boy who says “i love you;” maybe they get knocked up the year after they leave here or end up on the streets, or on drugs; maybe they go to college and invent some new technology or eventually become president of the United States. whatever they end up doing with their lives, if even just one of them grows up to know what a man is supposed to be because of a few minutes a day, four days a weak spent bugging me in my office, then all these years of struggle and ego crushing failure have been more than worth it.
“the demand is for a family likeness: God’s son (the nation in the Old Testament, Exod. 4:22; the individual Christian in the New Testament, Roma. 8:14) must stive, just because he is God’s son, to be like his Father. this is what the call to holiness means; and the noun (in the New Testament, hagiasmos, sometimes redered “sanctification” I the English versions) denotes the state of being dissociated from the practice of sin and devoted to the life of Godlikeness.”—J.I. Packer, “18 Words”, on Holiness and Sanctification
before reading this, never knew that holy and sanctify were actually the same word in the original Hebrew and Greek languages. at one point he jokes that “holify” and “sanct” are such ugly sounding words that it makes since to have separate words for the noun and verb forms; either way, it is driving home the importance of the pursuit of holiness in the life of the saint, as the process of “holifying” unfolds in the life of the believer.
“God draws us into fellowship with Himself by different routes; it is a mistake to expect one man’s journey into faith to be a carbon copy of another’s. The demand that conversion experiences correspond only stirs up misplaced and distracting anxieties. We are all different people with different starting points, and God deals with us as we are where He finds us. Richard Baxter said, ‘God breaketh not all men’s hearts alike.’ But at one point all the roads to Christ converge: at the point of realizing that one is out of step and out of fellowship with God, and has no hope but in the reconciliation that Christ Himself brings. Different people express this in different terms, not all biblically adequate, but what is expressed- the sense of need for a new relationship with God, the exclusive trust in Christ to bring it about, the resting of all hope henceforth on Him, the risen Lord- is the same thing everywhere. Real Christianity- the life of knowing God, as distinct from the life of being prepared for knowing God- starts here, in what Paul calls the receiving of reconciliation; here, and nowhere else.”—J. I. Packer in “18 Words” speaking on the importance of the concept of reconciliation in the Gospel message
we all get hurt in this life. one could easily argue this to be the defining proof of life itself; only that which is living can be hurt. but not all pain is equal. even the toughest, manliest dude out there must admit that emotional pain hurts far more than physical. there’s something about the scars of the heart that seems to never decrease in its intensity , while mere “flesh wounds” seem to almost fade from existence in due time. i have known my fair share of both kinds of pain. despite my diminutive build, i am pretty durable. the thing though, is that i am largely immune to physical pain, but overly sensitive at time to emotional pain. i joking recount the time i got my wisdom teeth pulled with no pain killer because i literally thought it would take longer to have to wait for the numbing to take effect, so i just endured. but then there was the one time in college my mom said something, i don’t even know what it was anymore, and i almost killed myself. my wife and i got into it a little this morning. she was talking about some friends of ours being in town and wanting to get together, but i reminded her that it would be a little difficult for me. he and i had agreed that whichever of us managed to get a residency first would help the other. you know, some real life Genesis 40 stuff. well it’s been a few years, and i get the feeling that he is too happy where he is to risk self or spend time trying to help me. it hurts. my wife says i need to not be mad about it; that i need to forgive and move on. but i have. forgiveness does not mean you feel any less betrayed. forgiveness does not mean that it isn’t still awkward when you think about the other person and what place they hold in your heart. like the cousin i can’t see because of his betrayal to the family, this friend too is someone i have long ago forgiven, long since moved on from my hurt and pain, but the scars still rub against my shirt when i get dressed in the morning, the skin is still tight when the weather grows cold.
i alluded to a formula in the title, so here it is:
see, an enemy can cause you pain; but man the amount a friend can inflict is so very much more. let’s look at it in its entirety and try and see what i mean. the closer you are to someone, the more vulnerable you become. sure, you can shoot me from a distance and kill me, but you have to be right up on me to stab me in the back. and especially for someone like me, who maintains layer upon layer of walls between myself and those i interact with, you must be a real friend for me to open myself completely. a close friend lives in your heart, so there’s no effort needed for them to harm it. a close friend is always welcome in your home, so it is not a surprise they can also burn it down. but, and this is important, this is diminished by the openness of your heart. the more open you are, the closer people tend to be, the less painful betrayal of a friend. i imagine that the reason i am so closed off and guarded with my relationships is because i am so weak; then again, it could also be that i am so emotionally fragile because i am not exposed. the point is still the same. those who are open and loving are harder to hurt with betrayal, so the fact that you are close to them is less impactful than in someone who is guarded and stand-offish. last is time. this element is of great importance, and that is why it multiplies the potential for harm. the longer you know someone, the closer you become, but also the more vulnerabilities they have access to. they watched as you grew and changed in various scenarios. they saw old weakness go, and new ones come. this proximity could even give them the ability to predict future vulnerabilities you do not yet have. even the toughest of hearts can be laid low by a long-time friend; time is “of the essence” they say, but in truth, time is really the essence. time grants power.
my friend i talked about has all the makings of a real source of pain. i knew him about 6 years before the pain started. in that time i watched him grow, and he watched me too. he watched me go from a bachelor, to a husband, to a father, to a doctor, to a man of conviction, to a man of sorrows, to a man looking for hope. i have had friends longer than him, but the nature of our relationship was one were for most of the major events of my adult life, he was in a unique position of confidant. i truly loved him, and i still love him and his family. so when his head was raised up to a position of power, and i was left in the dungeon, i had no doubt in my mind that he would do the same as i would, he would advocate for me, he would vouch for me, he would stand up for his friend and fight to the death even. but he did not. it has been years, and still, he has not. “how do you know, kamarr?” because we are friends; i know him, and he knows me, and if he had given it his all, i would know it.
this equation isn’t one you should live by, it’s one you already do. and truth be told, i would do it all again, and so would you. the pain of a friend does not render pointless the joy of friendship. if anything, it just makes you want friends all the more. friends are worth the pain. friends are worth the vulnerability, the danger. in fact, sometimes it is the pain that lets you know a friend is a friend. i recall a time not long ago when a man said some really mean things to me. it hurt bad; real bad. now, not only do we talk, but i had to realize this morning that he may in fact be one of my closer friends. we don’t talk much, and we don’t see eye to eye on many things, but it’s been a long time since someone hurt me like he did, a long time since someone was able to. i realized that i actually valued his friendship greatly, the call he randomly gave me last week to encourage me and lift me up, his smiling face even when he takes you on. reminds me of another friend of mine i haven’t seen or spoken to in years, a friend who could show up right now and take every penny i have if he needed it. because a good friend causes the most pain, and when you find yourself writhing in pain from a poisoned dagger to the heart, you have to realize only a friend could do that; only a friend.
“eternity is not as long as it sounds. i know, that may seem like i’m making things up or something, but i’m not. see, from your point of view, it seems like an interminable period of time, stretching from beyond one horizon to beyond the next; but this is wrong. eternity is not a measurement of time, at least no more than light a measure of darkness, or water a measure of dryness. see, it is time that is the aberration here, for time is in fact the absence of that which makes an object truly permanent and thereby concrete; time is a measurement of the side effects of the absence of permanence. life was not always this way, though. there used to be no time. sure, days came and went, beginnings were encountered and endings naturally considered to lie in store for some, but time was not then as it is now. then time was a mere formality for addressing the created, because time was still thoroughly acquainted with the eternal. but soon, (i think that’s the right term for when something has yet to happen though it can be seen; soon) you will all be translated into your native form, a form both with beginning and without end. like me. one of the more beautiful things about this, as i am sure you will come to appreciate as well, is how one can step outside of the when to better appreciate the now, but also step into the now to more fully appreciate the always. i would never feign to know the mind of God, but i can’t help but feel part of His beautiful plan was indeed to allow His servants this pleasure in serving Him. while singing praises forever is beyond compare, the ability to at times appreciate what it is we praise Him for is still a treat and a joy. i’m going to let you in on a little secret: this is why Lucifer is so ornery, so miserable, and so very confused; he’s trapped in the now. sure, he can still stop by Paradise for a moment or two, but the music is so tough for him to stomach, he never stays too long. and when he leaves, there’s no choice of when to go, or where even for that matter. he must go back where he came from and when he came from. imagine being a full grown adult who was renowned as the most eloquent speaker, forced to speak in monosyllabic tones and broken phrases the rest of your life. you know what you’re missing, and you would never venture to say that true speech was something amazing and what drivel you spoke now the nature of normalcy. no, and the same with time. the devil feels time now, and every second that passes is in fact merely the sensation of lacking in eternality. like a ghost limb that aches long after amputation, so dose creation now groan for an eternal state as it ages. well, i will see you soon, once you’ve been translated, that is. for now, i must get back to reality. take care!”—a speech from a yet unnamed character in my novel I have been working
i know that the Bible warns us the world will do things in a crazy way, but i am still routinely surprised when i sit and watch just how the powers that be decide to respond to the various travesties around the globe. everyone is quick to criticize God for “allowing evil,” but no one seems to care about how human governments with potential and power chose to ignore the plight of some while engaging on a fool’s errand for others. the whole disaster with the lost airplane is sad; lives have been lost, others have been ruined or destroyed, and relationships and families lie devastated. i am sorry. the issue in Korea is no better. we see people who should be trustworthy abandoning their responsibilities, small children with lives abruptly cut off, entire governments being questioned in the wake. i am sorry. but what about the girls in Nigeria? w have a hashtag. we have a group of fathers in mourning. we have a few who escaped feeling guilty that they are free while their friends are not. and that’s it. no government response. no international workers on the way. nothing. why don’t we send in Seal Team 6? i mean, those guys are a Muslim terrorist group, surely they merit a response from our “international war on terror.” i mean, come on; a hashtag? that’s all we can muster? we do more for dead bodies than we do for tortured little girls, and as a father with two daughters, this disgusts me. crowds gather on beaches in Canada to watch a whale carcass decay, but no one is willing to take a risk to save the lives of these young ladies? we send dollars all around the world when buildings collapse or towns are flooded, quick to help because of the loss of life, but save a life? no, why do that? we’re spending millions to recover bodies from the ocean, bodies of people we know are dead. we’re spending thousands to recover bodies from a shipwreck, bodies that we know no longer are alive. but these girls are alive; they are being tortured and abused right now, and we aren’t spending a dime, or sending a single soul to retrieve their bodies. if we’ll spend millions to recover dead bodies, then we should spend billions to recover the bodies of the living. if we’ll send planes and submarines to look for the dead, we should send legions and armies to rescue the living. if we’ll devote weeks to staring at the screen searching for one lost plane, we should spend every ounce of our lives searching for lost little girls. that’s it. i’m done.
ten years ago today I almost ended my life. i was celebrating my 21st birthday with my “friends” and family in Las Vegas; i mean, what could be more fun than that, right? i spent a substantial part of the day hiding in the stairwell of my parents timeshare, crying uncontrollably as my then fiancé, now wife, tried her best to console me and convince me life was worth holding onto. to this day, i still wonder why she would marry someone like me. she’s always there, you know? i think if we could just communicate to the world how much it matters to have a friend who’s always there, more would get married, and more would stay married. i could never forge a bond with another as strong as the one i have with that woman, and i could never want to break it. her friendship has literally been the difference between life and death time and time again.
as a kid, i always loved my birthday. my parents made my sister and i feel like it was your own personal holiday. we never had a ton of money, but money was the last thing mentioned on your birthday. i remember going to Benihanas year after year for my birthday; we always got to choose where to eat for our birthdays, and that was the place to pick for a season. as an adult, i wonder if my parents secretly liked us choosing it, as i now know you eat there free on your birthday; no matter, really, because the feeling can’t be erased. not from my memory anyways.
i started to sour on the idea of my birthday in college, but the trip to Vegas helped to push me over the edge. when i was 20 i had friends that were fun, but by 21 i realized all i really had was some people on a similar adventure who had agreed to travel together for a season. in Mexico i tolerated my birthday. on the one hand i felt guilty for being so much younger than my friends, and my birthday only seemed to remind us all of that; on the other, i was always on edge, looking around the corner for that thing that would simply prove my point, that my birthday was no longer meant to be a time of happiness for me.
i am told my grandfather doesn’t celebrate his birthday really. i am told this is because the two men he loved and respected the most died on his birthday: Martin Luther King Jr., and his father. that always sounded so sad and romantic to me as a child. the idea of romance has been grossly adulterated in the modern mind. romance is not sappy love stories with Fabio on the cover; romance is an intense appeal to intellectual introspection in the light of overwhelming emotional influences. to lose your heroes on your birthday is romantic. four years ago was the last time i was truly excited about my birthday. i have the fortune of being born at the very same time that future physicians of America find out if they will or will not be hired on to finish their training and move forward in their careers. it is referred to as Match Week, and every year my birthday is either days before or in the middle of it. that first year i was sure, i would be moving on. that birthday in my mind was a culmination of so much hard work and a celebration of what lie in store. but four years hence, i have never again been hopeful on my birthday. i feel sorry for my wife. she loves me more than any other human on earth, and i her; i love pouring over her in love and showering her with affection, especially on her own special day. but she doesn’t get the same luxury. every year as my birthday approaches, i grow more guarded, more reserved, more difficult to give a gift to. i put on a show for my kids, they deserve to feel like their love is received by their father; but i don’t hide my heart from my best friend. in days like these, it often feels like she’s my only friend.
i had a follow up visit with a neurologist yesterday to discuss the results of my MRI and whether or not we had found a reason behind my debilitating headaches. no real answers, though my sinuses are quite inflamed. no tumors, no polyps, nothing to explain it. the doctor wrote me a prescription for a medication that is useful in migraines. i was initially excited, but then bummed. the medication is also used as an antidepressant, and i have determined in my heart to allow my Depression to be an instrument which brings me closer to God in service to Him. not only do the side effects of antidepressants scare me (and yes, when you’ve seen patients struggling with lifelong physical problems from these drugs, they will scare you), but the spiritual consequences do to. if i rely on this pill, will i rely less on God? will this change who i am? are these headaches really so bad to warrant such drastic measures? i almost feel like it’s a trick, like my primary care doctor wrote a note asking for help in getting me on antidepressants. remember, i’ve been behind the scenes, i know this goes on far more often than most realize. your doctor wants you to take something, but you refuse, so they send you to a specialist that comes up with some excuse for a similar one, and bam! they tricked you into doing what they want, not what you want. i don’t know, maybe i’m just paranoid. Match Week is next week.
in my life I have had a few birthdays and received a handful of gifts, but God gives me the best. He gave me my wife 14 years ago, my son 8 years ago, my daughter was in transit 4 years ago, and another kid, baby p, is cooking now. i don’t like my birthday; well, that’s not fair. i do. i hate Match Week, and i pray that one day soon either i’ll get that Residency, or God will have moved me to a different place in my life. then my birthday can be as it ought, no spectre of fear hanging overhead, no dread, no worry, just enjoying my family and real friends worth having, being thankful for my God who both created and saved me, and loving the fact i am a Spring baby, so the weather is almost always awesome and the sun usually shines. now if only i could no longer have allergies, so i can actually enjoy the weather without sniffling and sneezing all day.
“pride and luxury are the twins of prosperity… the common mercies wicked men have, are not lodestones to draw then nearer to God, but millstones to sink them deeper to hell. their delicious dainties are like Haman’s banquet; after all their lordly feasting, death will bring in the bill, and they must pay it in hell.”—Thomas Watson (a Puritan minister) in the book “All Things for Good,” where he spends 127 pages to expound on Romans 8:28. an inspiring and challenging read, to be sure.
“You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always labouring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.
“To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.
“Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written Word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible… Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible… Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?
“There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. Does your conscience tell you that you are one of these persons?
“If so, you are the man that is likely to get little help from the Bible in time of need. Trial is a sifting experience… Your store of Bible consolations may one day run very low.
“If so, you are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questions about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. The devil is an old and cunning enemy. He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases. Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to fight a good fight with him… Your sword is held loosely in your hand.
“If so, you are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life. I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about the company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals and sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar either with lighthouses or charts.
“If so, you are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of these clever, eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.
“All these are uncomfortable situations. I want you to escape them all. Take the advice I offer you today. Do not merely read your Bible a little – but read it a great deal… Remember your many enemies. Be armed!”—
got this in an email from Alistair begg. awesome. challenging. awesome.
so i broke a pair of headphones just now while playing with my son. not a big deal, since they were free for me, right? but still. it reminded me of what it felt like when i broke my Bose headphones that Laura got me, really the last pair i’ve had similar in cost to these. i was minding my own business, calmly walking home from class when a random license plate edge caught the cord perfectly and sliced it in two. this time it was while picking up my son into the air, catching cord on a foot or something and snapping them clean off. ironic, too, since we all got a free pair thanks to me investigating the matter and publicizing it to everyone, though now everyone else has a nice set and mine is lying in the trash. ironic is a term we use far too often; it isn’t ironic. ironic is when something happens and makes me laugh, or at least feel a slight rise in mood internally; no, this is tragic, because tragedy make me quiet, reserved, sullen, or fatalistic. “oh well,” i said, “no big deal.” how often have i wished that merely saying those words would make it true, as though speaking my own mood into existence. “let there be happiness! and i was happy. and light, and dark, and kamarr rested and declared it good.” then i wouldn’t need to write. then i wouldn’t feel like i do. but i do.
i need to tell you something, but i am afraid that if i do, the words will come out all wrong. sometimes it is better to address words to someone, rather than come up with words for them. so forgive me having to quote/paraphrase someone far wiser than i, but here is what i would like to say to you:
humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may lift you up, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you; and you will remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you. don’t be scared, stand firm, see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. you need not worry about those horrible people anymore because the LORD fights for you, and you have only to be silent. God is our refuge and strength, our help when trouble seems to surround us; so we won’t be afraid, even if the earth opens up beneath us, or the mountains crash into the oceans, or the waves crash at our feet, because the fear of man lays a trap for him, but if we trust in the Lord we are safe. see, God knows the plans He has for you, plans for your good, not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. so go and eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God has already approved what you do. your clothes will be clean and new, and even your hair will look awesome. enjoy life with me, the husband you love, all the days of your life that God has given you. do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. remember that He is always with you, even to the end of all time. that’s why in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us; for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
most of my really good stuff comes to me while i’m driving. i wish i had some sort of system where i could just dictate these essays that float across my consciousness as i drive; i guess just give tech a few more years and we’ll be there, right? well speaking of technology, that’s actually what got me thinking. tomorrow my family heads to Las Vegas to be in town for the start of CES, the biggest tech show on the continent. every year we go, and it is always a ton of fun. this year my wife’s parents are coming too, the plan being they’ll help with watching the kids and also enjoy the venue. my father in law, however, does not do well with crowds, and yes, it will most certainly be crowded. what caught my attention, though, was that i do. as i thought, i realized that a fact of myself is probably peculiar to most: i hate suburbs, but love cities and the country almost equally. i love being in the middle of nowhere, nothing but plants and critters for miles, and i love delving deep into the concrete jungle, surrounded by civilization and convenience. epiphanies are funny in how they are so similar to a slap to the face; not always painful or surprising, but always jarring. i realized that i love the country and cities for the same reason: they remind me of what i imagine Heaven will feel like. Heaven, a place where i am eternally isolated from anything not directly created by and praising the LORD; and Heaven, the place where we will be surrounded forever by innumerable crowds of the saints gathered together.
my sister has a nickname for me, as do i for her; i am mouse, colloquially referred to as mouser pouser or just plain mouser for shirt, and she is kitty. i have no idea when this started or why, though knowing us it is likely related to a cartoon somehow. but the funny thing is, i am not the country mouse, only at home in the field and lost in the crowd, nor am i the city mouse, perplexed by the simpler life and only content in chaos; no, i’m just plain mouse.
you hear that? tell me you heard that. tell me i’m not going crazy here… … …there it was again! if you tell me you didn’t hear it that time i swear i’m gonna… ok, that’s what i thought! see, i’m not crazy; you can hear it too. it’s like i’ve been telling you, the world’s gone to crap and we’re all doomed, man! doomed!… what? you don’t know?! you mean to tell me you don’t know what’s going on?… ok, i’ll tell you, i guess, but i can’t believe i would need to. i mean, how’s a guy make it this long and not know? well it all started with the dryer sheets… yes, you heard me, i said dryer sheets. see, for years we all used them to make our clothes smell good and whatnot; no one ever thought they would be something devious, something evil to the core. but they were! they were phase one of the invasion plan; first they make us smell a certain way, then they make us taste a certain way- that’s where the shampoo comes in… yes, shampoo! am i stuttering here or something?! see, once we smelled and tasted the way they had always wanted, they began to show up. first it was just the random odd celebrity, like that Michael Jackson dude, and the sad guy from Seattle, what was his name?… yeah Cobain, thanks. so these bums from the planet Crumbum – or whatever it’s called- show up and start setting up stores for their cronies. they say they’re just making music, but actually they’re starting specialty shops, kinda like how when you go into a grocery store the veggies aren’t with the bread? yeah, well they identified the angst flavors and the pop flavors; then came the Britney Spears and the Jay Z’s …. yeah, i’m getting there, hold your horses! so anyhow, by the time we get to last month, any visiting alien can just check in on what you listen to and know what you taste like; so when the space ship landed in Times Square two weeks ago, i was like “oh man! we’re doomed now!” but no one listened to the crazy homeless guy, after all, he doesn’t shower or wash his clothes; he doesn’t listen to the radio or have a My Book Face page! but who’s laughing now! ha! see, to them, i don’t taste good! i taste like cold, stale rice on a hot July day, or lukewarm flavorless Jello. and that’s why they leave me alone. so if you wanna stay alive it’s simple really: ditch all that crap you brought with you, put on this old jacket i found, and forget the words to every song you ever knew. they can smell the music in your brain… what? no, i’m not crazy! you said you heard the sound! that’s them flying around looking for more people to eat. they got a big feast coming up tomorrow; it’s like their Thanksgiving, but they call it the VMAs. i think that stands for Volumes of Man Appetizers, or something like that… yeah they want you to think it’s all about music, but that’s just the seasoning; that’s like saying your Kobe filet mignon is all about the pepper… … but you saw the space ship! everyone saw the space ship!… … …ball? what ball?… why the hell would someone drop a crystal ball from the top of a building on New Year’s Eve with everyone standing around?! that’s crazy talk! it was a space ship; that’s why all the tv’s were talking about it and people were cheering!… … well what about the sound then? … mosquitos?! no, that’s them! look, one’s eating you now! … get away before they find me, i don’t taste good, but i’m sure they’ll eat me anyways! HELP! ALIENS! RUN FOR YOR LIFE!
i know it is not a unique sentiment; nor does it occur in my mind in some preternatural, almost überman kind of fashion; but still, but still, i long to check out of life, if not the world, but don’t go calling me suicidal or immature, for i am neither. i am not going anywhere, and i am most…
i enjoy working in a middle school office for a number of reasons, not least of which is the new found insight into the inner workings of our “educational” system, as well as having a virtual finger steadily on the pulse of the changing youth culture. one worrisome trend was brought back o the forefront of my mind in reviewing some notes from a doctor today; the source of the title of this little rant, and the source of much trouble, not just today, but certainly in what lies in store for our nation.
when i was a boy, a trend which began really before World War 2 started to pick up momentum. this movement sought to redefine the ills of mankind, not as sin or evil, but as mere variations in intellect and psychological temperament. the belief was that “bad people” were not so much bad, as they were psychologically flawed, and if we could merely correct their train of thought we could in turn cure the species of ills. this is not anything new, though the “brilliant” men behind it would like to claim so. Jesus Himself addressed this issue on multiple points, reminding people that it is their heart that is the problem, not what they put into their body (Matt. 15:11, Mk. 7:15), and that the heart of man is rotten to the core (Jer. 17:9, Matt. 15:18, 19). after all, He came in the midst of the Roman Empire, crossroads of the Roman work ethic and the Greek philosophical might; if any system could right the man from outside, it would be them. but the truth was that you could not clean up the mess of man from outside, you had to get in.
in all fairness, this is precisely what made the “modern” psychological approach so compelling and promising; after all, how much more “inside” could you get than the very thoughts and intentions of the man? but the Devil is a liar, and he is a genius when it comes to burying the point beneath mountains of honey-coated rhetoric. in the Garden he sold us on the idea of “did He really say…?” and today, he gets us with “well the real problem isn’t that he’s bad, he’s just…” another example. last night as my wife and i taught the counsel time for AWANA, we were talking about sin and examples of some really devastating sins that took place in the world. as we talked about Hitler and the Holocaust, one student said something to the effect that Hitler was crazy, but i told them i think not; he was methodical and exact, and meant to do everything he did. the horror of what Hitler did is in the very intentional nature of it; he meant to do what he did, and then did it. this is the problem at the heart of the psychoanalytical movement. they seek to label and identify pathologies and behaviours, and in so doing, relieve the patient of the burden of sin, and simply re-educate them and rehabilitate them; but the sinner is not a sinner because they have sinned; a sinner sins because they are a sinner. no amount of labeling, no amount of therapy, no amount of medication or counseling will deal with the heart of the matter, because the mind and its thoughts are not the heart, but manifestations thereof. in this way the ancients had a far superior understanding of the human creature. they never mistook the mind for the heart. they always knew that there was the body, there was the mind, and there was the heart; but in our modern, or rather post-modern, brilliance, we have come to reject the notion of the heart as being as ridiculous as the notion of a soul or a tooth fairy. no, there is naught but mind and body, we say; and all of that can be boiled down to pathways and chemical reactions.
getting back to the impetus for this particular diatribe, the note i received was a simple one from a student’s psychiatrist stating that after evaluation and a thorough treatment, he has been found to suffer from anxiety issues, and not ADD or ADHD. i laughed at this. i remember the huge fight between administrators and the student last school year essentially forcing him to take medications for ADHD swearing it would resolve his behavioral issues; obviously it did not, as he continued to be a problem through the end of last year, and on into this one as well. now they were deciding on a new pathology, a new label to excuse his sinful intents. but when will they stop and ask themselves if the way to deal with an unruly and willful child is to give them pills to shove down their throat? or maybe, just maybe, there’s a different way; maybe even a better way? maybe instead of labeling the children, excusing their sinfulness, and then drugging them for the rest of their childhood, we should instead advocate on behalf of correcting them when they are wrong, teaching them about what is right, and loving them with the love of Christ until they are converted, and then empowered by His Spirit, reborn and able to live with their new heart. the answer to sin is not found in a bottle, in a label, or on a couch; it is found in Christ Jesus, cured in Christ Jesus, and overcome in Christ Jesus.