Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hold Me!

So I was sitting around and talking with God Monday morning before I went to the office. I told him that I felt like a "Duraflame." You know what a Duraflame is. It's one of those fake logs. A log wannabe. You put it in your fireplace and light the wrapper and it burns for about three hours all by itself. No other logs needed. You can't do that with a regular log. Regular logs need other logs. You light some kindling and then put other logs loosely around the top of the kindling and the logs catch fire and burn together. But a single log all alone? It might catch fire briefly but it won't keep burning. It needs other logs. Duraflames have wood in them but they also have waxy stuff that allows them to burn on their own. But when they burn out it's pretty ugly. They just turn to a bunch of smoldering and scorched dust on the bottom of your fireplace.

Christians are like logs. We have to burn together if we really want to burn for the glory of God. If we try to be Duraflames we will last a while. We might even make a nice flame that all those who look on will admire. But sooner or later you'll burn out. And it will be ugly.

Lately I've been a Duraflame, trying to burn all by myself. I told God that I recognized that and that I needed help finding the right logs to lean up against. Guys to be real with and burn with. About an hour later I got a call at my office. It was from a long time friend in a far away state. Actually, my friend didn't call me. His Administrative Assistant did. It seems he was wanting to set up a regularly scheduled conference call with me because he wants to be a log and not a Duraflame. Okay, she didn't phrase it that way but that's what it meant. We talked for about half an hour today. I have one log now and that's a start.

Then I was driving to a hospital today to visit and on impulse I dialed another friend up on my phone. He was driving between assignments on his job. I told him I am a Duraflame and that I want to be a log. I asked him to be a log with me. He told me that God had said the same thing to him on Monday of this week. Hmmm. God had a busy Monday. I have two logs now and that's more than a start.

And then after I finished working out at the gym today I was listening to the television above my head as I dressed. Some ESPN type guy was talking about Andre Agassi and how he has just confessed to using crystal meth and performance enhancing drugs in his tennis playing days. He retired in 2006. The ESPN type guy said that the problem in professional sports these days is that there is a difference between "Image" and "Reputation."

Now he had my attention. I sat on the bench and actually paid close attention to what he was saying. He pointed out that "image" is what people think you are. It is what you represent yourself as. It usually is not realistic when you look beneath the skin of "The Real You." On the other hand, "reputation" is who you really are. It is what you have with people who know you. People who have watched your life play out and understand your credibility ... or lack of it. He said that Andre Agassi had plenty of image and no real reputation.

I thought about being a Duraflame. "Human Duraflames" might start well but they finish lousy. They have plenty of image. They are beautiful, brightly colored, and fun to watch. Then they show their true colors and fall apart. I don't want to fall apart. Do you? I want to be a log among logs. You see, one log holds another log accountable for it's fire. For it's heat. Put several logs together, light them, and you have a mighty fine fire.

Accountability is so very important.

So I want my "log friends" to hold me. I want them to hold me accountable. I've burned out before and I don't ever want to do it again.

Andre, sorry you became the bad example. You made that choice. But perhaps something good will come of it if men ... people ... start saying to one another, "Hold me. Hold me accountable."

Just a little thing God's been reminding me about this week and thought you might like to know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stupid Picture Chronicles #41

Nobody wants to go to live in a nursing home. But if you HAVE to ... why not move into one that helps you pump up your biceps with daily work-outs? This is a nursing home I can live with! (And since when did "daily" come to mean "6 days a week?")

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It has been 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down. Twenty years. How is that possible? My kids were 9, 6, and 4? They probably do not even remember it? To me it was yesterday. Okay, maybe it seems like 10 years ago. But 20? No way.

I was playing with that number today and I realized that time is messing with my head. I think it's intentional but how can you be sure? Time is, in theory, passive. It is the passing of seconds but who can hold a second in his hand in order to show you what it is? So let's switch that up a bit. Time is moments. Individual moments. A dictionary has called it "The indefinite continued passing of events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole."

What does THAT mean? It sounds to me that time is defined not as an entity in and of itself. Time is, well it is what transpires. You cannot hold time. You can "hold" or at least "observe" the passing of events. So I suppose I am good with that.

I was born in 1955. June, to be exact. That makes me 54 years old. When I was born my father had been back from World War 2 for 10 years. I was probably 5 years old before I was seriously understanding that there was a history and a future. To me history consisted of the last chocolate bar I had eaten. The future consisted of the next chocolate bar I would eat. I didn't do much thinking about WWII. But when I finally became cognizant of the fact that it existed in history, in time and space, I was sure it was an eternity ago. After all, it had been 10 years. And now it has been 20 years since that big wall came down that separated East and West Germany. 20 years since President Reagan boldly stood at the Brandenberg Gate and challenged Mr. Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall."

And now it occurs to me, when I was born my father must have still felt the helmet on his head. The boots on his feet. The rifle in his hand. I know for certain that he still dreamed of the horrors he had witnessed. I don't suppose I expect anybody else to understand this, but it blows me away to realize how true this is.

I think this is all coming to mind because my dad has been gone for nearly 10 years. And I have been thinking about him a lot lately. In about 29 minutes it will be Veterans Day. My dad didn't talk much about his army years. His war years. He didn't begin to open the veil that obstructed the view of his curious sons until just before he died. Once the veil began to lift I understood why. There were horrors behind it. Bloody, evil, horrors. And he wanted to forget them. And he didn't want to infect our minds with them.

And now I find myself struggling with the concept of time. Who knows where that came from? I suppose it snuck up on me due to a variety of circumstances. All of my struggles have produced only a limited number of recognizable thoughts.

Time really does fly. Time really does not wait for any man. Individual moments seem to last for eternity while, at the same time, the whole seems to rocket by.

The meaning of all of this? I think that the meaning is that only one part of time counts. It isn't yesterday and it isn't tomorrow. It is now. What will I do with now? Because yesterday my current now was tomorrow. Tomorrow my current now will become yesterday. But even then, all I will have is ... now.

I am not sure what you can do with that. I'm even less sure that it will help you. And I am totally uncertain that you will understand where I am coming from or where I am going with all I have said. I only know that it has infected my consciousness and my heart and so I have to deal with it.

As that great theologian, Steve Miller, once said ...
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I'm free
Oh, Lord, through the revolution

Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution

Maybe time is to feed the babies, shoe the children, and house the people? Maybe somebody got something right in the '70s after all. Who knew?