Friday, May 07, 2010

Sometimes Screaming Like A Little Girl Is Appropriate

I hate spinach. I detest humidity. I cannot stand the opera. But today I found something that I hate worse than all of those put together.

I hate finding a snake in my house.

I had been sitting in my "man cave" putting the finishing touches on my Sunday morning sermon when Debbie came home. She wanted some help in her office area so I made my way into the main part of our downstairs. Our home has a finished walk-out basement with wooden floors. Our backyard borders a creek that is surrounded by trees and brush. It's a nice setting. I was helping her print something when I glanced down the hall toward her sewing room and an unfinished storage room. There was a long twig on the floor. I didn't have my glasses on but I thought I saw it move. Twigs generally do not move. So I walked over to see this marvel and the twig turned and looked at me. Then it stuck its tongue out at me.


I resisted the desire to scream like a little girl and wet myself. That was for the best because Debbie needed to scream. If we had both screamed, well, we might just have sold the house for five bucks and moved to Ireland where there are no snakes. She handed me a small oval trash can and suggested I put it over the snake. I knew it was too small and I didn't want to scare it and give it a reason to run (slither) and then we'd live for who knows how long wondering where it was. I thought about "manning up" and just grabbing the snake and taking it outside. Then I realized that I had no earthly idea what kind of snake this was (still not quite sure) and I'm not exactly adept at snake handling. I'm not that kind of Baptist. But this snake must die. Now. So I ran into the grandkids playroom where I knew there was an empty box. By the time I got back (like .... 10 seconds?) she had put the trash can over half of the snake.

Let me just take a moment to say ... Impressive. She might have screamed but she didn't run away! She actually went after the sucker. She did it while screaming but she did it. I put the box over the trash can and the remainder of the snake, pressed really hard on it and slid it to the patio door. Then I slid it onto a rug and out the door. Next I introduced the snake to the neighbors shovel that was sitting outside. His final resting place is in the creek from whence he came.

We are walking carefully tonight. Yes, I did look under the covers before I climbed into bed where I am currently pounding on my laptop while my half-a-snake-trapping wife snoozes beside me. (I "high 5'd" her before bed time and told her that, while it wasn't fun, we do have the satisfaction of knowing that the score is Ron & Debbie 1 - Snakes 0.) The next time I have a free day a tube of high grade caulking and I will be making a close inspection of the entire outside of the house. And I suspect a good friend who works for Orkin will be hearing from me as well. If that doesn't work I'll be burning the entire lawn and setting up a machine gun nest with a clear line of fire all the way to the creek.

There was a reason I never went to see "Snakes On A Plane."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

House Fly's And God

Do you ever wish that God had a web site? I know that the Bible is not kidding when it says that He is with us always. He dwells in us. We can go to Him anytime with anything. He loves us and He cares about all of the issues of our lives. I buy into that 100%. The problem is not in whether or not God is really present in me and available to me. The problem is in our (my) ability to hear Him when He speaks. And not simply hear Him but understand His Heart. I want to know more than the syllables He would speak into my soul. I want so deeply to understand His intent ... I want to "get" everything He wants me to "get." I don't want to drop the ball on Him. Not even one time. It just isn't acceptable. God is much more forgiving of me than I am of myself. When I blow it He still loves me and forgiveness is total. I, on the other hand, want to smack myself around the block a few times and punish myself for getting it wrong. Even if I didn't mean to get it wrong. (Don't misunderstand. I am perfectly capable of disobeying on purpose. But I want to disobey on purpose less and less these days. I really do want to please Him.)

I was just surfing through a few minutes ago. I wanted to check out a few things on my cell phone package. It's a pretty easily navigable web site. Lot's of drop-down menu's. Your personal information is available at the click-of-a-mouse once you've punched in the appropriate password and user name. It took less than five minutes to find out everything that I wanted to know, log out, and move on to the next on-line task.

And it all just reminds me of the way I spent my day today. I've been feeling a little spiritually malnourished lately. Pastor's tend to feed other's several times each week. It's part of the calling. It is as it should be. But the very nature of what we do makes it difficult to get spiritually fed yourself. When others are teaching God's Word, so are you. So you can't exactly sit under their teaching and "eat." If you are not careful it won't take long until you realize you've allowed your spiritual reserves to run a bit low. I try to be diligent to defeat this by listening to tons of sermons on podcasts, video casts, and I read more books than I could begin to list. But still, I've been feeling the need for more. If I'm going to feed others I have to be certain to eat enough myself.

It's kind of like when you get on an airplane and the flight attendants are doing their thing, telling you what to do in case of an emergency. At one point they tell you that in the unlikely event of cabin depressurization, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling above. Put one over your face, pull on the rubber tubing and air will flow. Then they make it a point of saying that if you are traveling with a small child you should put YOUR oxygen mask on before putting theirs on them. That is quite counter-intuitive for parents. We want to take care of the kids, make sure they are breathing, and then we'll take care of ourselves. But the truth is, before you can get their mask on you might well pass out from lack of oxygen and then everybody is in trouble. You have to have air before you can give air.

A teacher has to be faithful to learn before he can teach others or he will soon run out of, well, not just stuff to teach but the spiritual energy with which to teach it.

So I've decided to dedicate one day each week for a while to seeking God through prayer, bible study, silence, and solitude. I don't know how long I'll do that but for now I believe it is what God is telling me to do. I want to feed others well. So I have to eat. I work hard to get my regular office duties/outreach/in-reach/sermon preparation/bible study preparation/visits/ meetings/ counseling sessions/ etc. into four days so that I can dedicate one to being totally available to whatever God wants to say to me.

That is what I did today. It's been a while since I've given myself this assignment and you know what? It's harder than I remembered. MUCH harder. It's hard in the getting still. It's hard in the getting quiet. It's hard in the knowing what God wants to feed me from His Word. It's hard in the knowing what devotional materials will do me the most good. In the middle of the silence a mere house fly can tear my mind from the creator of the universe. What a shame to have to choose between a house fly and God only to find that God loses.

With God there is no web address. There are no drop-down menus. There are no pass words or user names. There are no "company representatives" to click a button and "chat" with if you need help. (Wouldn't it be cool to punch "chat" and get some clarification from Peter or maybe one of the Archangels? You don't suppose God would outsource ... nah ...) It would be a whole lot easier if there were. But there is just you ... and God. And He has the upper hand. The room can get small. The silence can get stifling. The words on the page can begin to look like a size 3 font. But you do what you have to do. Because not to do it ... unacceptable.

Eat or die.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

10 Things That I Think Makes Me Abnormal

1 - My "sleep number" is usually 100. Unless I'm really, really tired. Then I slip down as low as 80. I've never met another 100 before.

2 - I really don't care for breakfast or lunch but I can mow down an entire bag of "Baked BBQ Lays" in minutes.

3 - I would rather have a really good double cheeseburger (extra gooey) than a really good steak.

4 - God seems to speak to me most clearly when i'm walking. Not like ... to the garage. I mean walking like hiking.

5 - The older I get the less I like mornings. I have noticed that, in most people, the older they get the earlier they rise.

6 - I would much rather drive at night than in the daytime.

7 - I am not a fan of Christmas.

8 - I find no satisfaction in the mowing of a lawn. I find frustration. It's the same every time and it never stays done.

9 - When I can't sleep at night because my mind is too busy I think about being a truck driver getting in the cab to make a long haul. If that doesn't work I think about cruising underneath a hurricane in my own submarine. Yes, really.

10 - Every time I go into Wal-Mart everybody I see looks like they are from Arkansas. Even me. Seriously, I checked a mirror.

BONUS #11 - The one time in life that I feel most complete and in sync is when I am doing my pastor thing behind a podium.