Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Songs of the odyssey

The Odyssey is a centuries old Greek poem attributed to a guy named Homer. Not Simpson, but a guy much older and wiser. I digress. It speaks of a defeated hero returning to his family at battle’s end, and of other travails of life.

IMG_3219.JPG
The odyssey is an 10 year old mini-van that is the newest member of the Bing fleet.

We’ve put this recently acquired vessel to work transporting our entourage to points West this holiday weekend, and it is proving to be a worthy craft, indeed.

In getting ready for this journey, I found other ancient textnologie in the form of an old CD case and dropped it in the console. One of the gems in said case was an anthology of tunes dubbed “Chronicles: 1992-2004″ by a group known as Caedmon’s call.

I’ve spent this post Thanksgiving black friday listening to old tunes and tooling the streets of Memphis America, which is way west of the other Memphis, and all it cost me was a little gas and the cost of a post happy hour Coke from Sonic.

And I am thankful. 2014 has been an odyssey, indeed, so the afternoon has been rife with finding hidden meaning in words penned by others and remembering days gone by.

While all the tunes are heart fully renewing, one of the best is simply called “Lead of Love”:

Looking back at the road so far
The journey’s left its share of scars
Mostly from leaving the narrow and straight

Looking back it is clear to me that
A man is more than the sum of his deeds
And how You’ve made good of this mess I’ve made
Is a profound mystery

Looking back You know You had to bring me through
All that I was (all that I was)
So afraid of (so afraid of)
Though I questioned the sky, now I see why
Had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view
Looking back I see the lead of love

Looking back I can finally see (I’d rather have wisdom)
How failures bring humility (than be)
Brings me to my knees (a comfortable fool)
Helps me see my need for Thee

Looking back You know You had to bring me through
All that I was (all that I was)
So afraid of (so afraid of)
Though I questioned the sky, now I see why
Had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view
Looking back I see the lead of love

The 8th century BC Odyssey spoke of a 10 year journey home.

Life over the 10 years since the more recently stamped odyssey originally rolled off the assembly line has seen travels and travails for its newest owners. As we continue to chronicle life past, present, and prayerfully future, we will sing along to the songs of this odyssey of life.

And we will see the lead of His love…

IMG_3218.JPG

IMG_3217.PNG

IMG_3086
It was the dawning of a new era. More importantly, in that moment, it was the ending of a really great day. And yet, someone was crying.

There is a difference in the sunrise and a sunset. It could be as simple as knowing which side of the Sun you are standing on. Is it moving toward you, or is it moving away? The old saying goes “it’s always darkest just before the dawn”, but you have to realize that sometimes the dark can last for hours.

Sometimes hours can feel like days.

Sometimes days can feel like years.

May I suggest something here? Like the differences in a sunrise and a sunset, there is a difference in a response versus an answer. Like the rising and setting of the daily sun, a response to anything is a given. An answer is not.

One can respond without answering. One cannot answer without responding.

Which brings me back to my original story. It was the dawning of a new era. The year was 2000, and the 21st century was just beginning. There was talk of so much promise: world peace, a growing economic prosperity that seemingly could not be derailed, and the world becoming a brighter place. Another old saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The inhabitants of the newly minted 21st century quickly learned that, with wars, and recessions, and all the darkness that often comes with such storms.

But, on a personal level, that one day was almost perfect. It was the summer of 2000, and our family was together on a private ranch celebrating the 40th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. They day had begun early, and had included feeding buffalo, enjoying beautiful weather, and being together over good food and even better stories. As the day drew near to a close, a gentle breeze was blowing, my young kids were running barefoot through nearly perfect blades of thick grass, and there was laughter and joy. It is one of those moments that I knew right there and then that I would always recall. I can close my eyes and almost feel the moment even today. It almost felt like heaven, and yet it wasn’t.

When I announced it was time to go inside, I did not get an answer. When I called out again, the response included tears, even wailing. You see, she just did not want that day to end. I can’t say that I blamed her, but it could not be helped.

Life can be like that. Things feel like they are going really, really beautifully until they can’t any longer, and you are left to wonder why. The difference for us all, I would suggest, is do we simply respond, or do we answer the call that is within each moment?

Biblical history is full of prime examples.

Abraham and Sarah.

Moses.

Gideon.

Ruth.

Even Jesus, himself, took on our position in this world.

In each of these examples, life was happening. There was beauty, and there was pain. There were victories, and there were defeats. Hebrews chapter 11 has all kinds of things to say about those stories, and more, and God’s ultimate promises not yet being fulfilled.

In each of those examples, there was also a calling. You see, one difference in a response versus an answer is intentionality. Intentionality, following a recognition of who we are called to be while we are here.

Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.
Psalm 107:43

A person responds to every situation they are presented in life. A response can be passive. A response can be negative. A response can be “no”. A response can be angry.

Responses can be good, as well. So can answers. Answering a calling, to be more specific.

Abraham and Sarah were childless, for a time. They were called to pick up and move away from the land of their forefathers. They saw their nephew make countless bad decisions. They saw their neighbors be destroyed. They had internal family struggles. And yet, they responded with answers. They responded with faithfulness.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7

The same examples could be played out with Moses, and Gideon, and Ruth, and countless other examples. For each of them, life was happening. There was joy, and there was pain. There was accomplishment, often followed by hardship.

In the middle of it all, each had a calling to answer. I would suggest the same is true in our lives.

2014 has been the ending of an era, of sorts. More importantly, in these moments, it has included the dawning of a really great day.

As those moments have come, there has been little time for crying.

There has been change. There has been joy, and there has been pain. There has been sunrise, and there has been sunset.

The Thanksgiving and follow up holiday seasons of Christmas and New Years are now upon us. I went to sleep reflecting on these thoughts in the early hours of this morning after unintentionally finding myself watching the movie “Heaven Is For Real” just before going to bed. I woke up with these thoughts and the accompanying scriptures mentioned here courtesy of the little phone app that dubs itself as “Timehop”, and here I find myself today.

My father and I sat alone together in the darkness before the dawn this past New Year’s Eve. We talked about life. We talked about change. Without going so far as to say it out loud, we both knew the year we were about to share in the beginning was one that we would not finish together at its end.

2014 has indeed been one of those years, and then some. In the middle of it all, there have been calls to answer. Some have been easy, some have been hard, but the calling imbedded within it all has been undeniable.

Without a doubt, we are responding. To do otherwise would be impossible. But are we answering? Am I? Are you?

More importantly, how are we answering?

The old saying goes “it’s always darkest just before the dawn”, but you have to realize that sometimes the dark can only last for the amount of time you provide it with.

Sometimes years can feel like days.

Sometimes days can feel like hours.

There is a difference in the sunrise and a sunset. It could be as simple as knowing which side of the Son you are standing on. Are you moving toward Him, or are you moving away?

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
IMG_3090

I really don’t drink

paul-blart-rawk-band

I have a confession to make. I likely have several confessions to make, but will limit this to admitting I have a thing for cheesy movies. Spoofs, Chick Flicks (my weakness, to be sure), and clean B- comedies all strike a chord with me. It may have something to do with laughing with my kids, but I confess it likely goes beyond said moments.

A particular favorite of my kids and I is Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Kevin James has a unique brand of physical trauma comedy, and the movie contains a sweet and redemptive storyline. At one point in the movie, Blart finds himself making a mistake or two while seeking acceptance among his peers, and it leads to a most unfortunate (and large) tattoo. His only defense is to acknowledge his great weakness: “I really don’t drink“.

I don’t drink, in the physical sense of the term. Seriously. It’s a personal thing, one that I won’t burden you with the details of here. If you ever want to know why, there’s probably a time and place for that conversation.

I have another confession to make. I don’t drink, generally speaking, in the spiritual sense of the term, and that is unfortunate. Allow me to explain this analogy further.

When I was back in high school, one of my earliest “on my own” adult experiences was to drive myself to the dentist for some repair work on my teeth. The nurse got me all prepped before the dentist made his grand entrance into the room. After the cursory “how are you doing” conversation with me, he proceeded to put his hands into my mouth and began the requisite small talk with his assistant.

The conversation that followed almost brought me up out of the chair. His nurse asked about his especially good demeanor that day, and he responded by admitting “I’ve been drinking a new wine”!

Thankfully, he did not stop talking there.

You see, my dentist back in good old Shreveport, America was a man of faith, and on this particular Friday afternoon, he was feeling especially grateful to his Lord and Savior. It is a verbal exchange that I have never forgotten.

God is good, all the time. God is faithful, even when life seems too hard to understand. The older I get the more I see that everyday, in the lives of those around me, and in the blessings in my own walk.

The choice to truly enjoy His faithfulness is up to me, however. Psalm 34:8 says:

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Such joy is found in the little things: the sound of the rain on the rooftop, the sweet spirit of my cat as it climbs into my lap early every morning and after I return home every afternoon, the laughter of my children, and the wry smile of my wife when we are both quietly thinking the same thing. Sometimes, such joy even comes in the middle of a sinkful of dirty dishes.

This morning, the music of Brandon Heath’s rendition of “Shout to the Lord” was playing during a requisite loading of the dishwasher, and just hearing the words were like a new wine, indeed, or so I assume. You see, I don’t drink, in the physical sense of the word, and I’m not about to start.

However, I may take up drinking more deeply, in the spiritual sense. It seems like a good idea, and I’m likely not at risk of tattooing anything permanently…

My Jesus, My Savior,
Lord, there is none like You;
All of my days
I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love.

My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength;
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth,
Let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands,
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand,
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

jbinghamoc:

Good words

Originally posted on Mark's Blog:

Dr. Tim Spivey is my son-in-law, and not just because of that, I have great respect for his work. This particularly insightful post meant much to me today, so I wanted to share it with you. 

DontgiveupWe MUST orient our energies and ministry around health, not pathology. We must spend our focus, time, and missional energy on the spiritually growing rather than those who refuse to accept appropriate responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Let me explain.

It’s easy to spend most of one’s energy worrying about those who aren’t there, virtually forgetting about those God has gathered. It’s easy to spend too much energy focusing on disappointments rather than blessings, or negative feedback over calling and the encouraging voices and signs all around us.

This pulls us off mission as much as anything, because we focus on Satan’s accomplishments rather than God’s provision. It tears down our faith, beats…

View original 293 more words

Living a legacy

IMG_2072.JPG
Today seems to be all about tomorrow. Sometimes, it’s working today to help pay for tomorrow. Other times, it’s all about paying for what’s already been done, whether by you or by someone else. The results, the ones we can remember, see, taste, and touch, are known as legacy.

Our society today, big and small, is hung up on legacy. Will anyone remember me beyond the headstone that may or may not mark an eventual resting place for the carbon material on loan to me from planet Earth? Christian author Max Lucado recently wrote a book calling each to “Outlive Your Life”, and one is left to wonder how.

There’s a song by Nichole Nordemon that expresses the sentiments as well:

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Years ago, my family gave me a little book called “A Father’s Legacy”, its pages intended to provide a history of the person that was me. I’ve yet to complete it. In some ways, it feels like it would be just a collection of words and stories. Would it really equate to legacy?

Earlier this week, I was asked to say some words and prayers at our local church. As I pulled my late father’s Bible from the shelf, reading something from Jesus’ life recorded in Luke felt right.

IMG_2073.JPG

And there it was: the very words I was looking for had already been underlined years earlier by my father’s own hand. That is legacy. That, and so much more.

What I choose to do today may be leaving a legacy, be it good or be it bad.

What is say.

What I choose to not say.

What I take time to stop and do.

What I choose to bypass, put off, or ignore.

When I am kind.

When I am not.

When my deeds draw someone toward Jesus.

When they do not.

I will likely never be famous after my days are done, and that’s most likely a good thing. But living my life is leaving a legacy in those I touch.

Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?

Like words underlined in an old Bible, our actions tell a story that will impact others in days yet to come.

We are blessed to live, this day. We are blessed to bless others by how we live, both in this day, and from the ripples created by our decisions this day that will be felt far from our point of impact.

That same old Bible I mentioned contains an inscription written years before my birth by my father’s great aunt, a woman I never knew. And yet, her words reflect her larger legacy. May what I choose to do and to say this day be so worthy.

May that be this father’s legacy…

IMG_2076.JPG

Quiet mornings

IMG_1962.JPG

It’s been a quiet morning, like so many before, and we assume like so many yet to come.

And yet, another September 11 morning started in just this same way until the actions of a handful of angry misdirected men, and the responses to those actions, changed our world forever.

May we live, love, and laugh today and all our days as if they could be our last, and may the world be free of the type of evil that breaks quiet mornings.

Until then, one song rings true:

Jesus is Lord
My Redeemer
How He loves me
How I Love Him

He is Risen
He is coming

Lord, come quickly!
Hallelujah!

Winds in the east…

IMG_1876

Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
*

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I dreamed of things being different. “Once upon a time” was both long ago and possibly and unfortunately not so far away. Perhaps it was only yesterday. As the family and I sat down the other night to watch a few minutes of the movie “Saving Mr. Banks”, I was reminded of that and so much more.

Not so long ago, in a land much farther away, some friends and I climbed a mountain. But, things indeed were different: different from my prior experience, different from my visions of the moment, and different in the result. You see, you can’t escape the winds, no matter how hard you try. And, to quote another song, the funny thing is “It’s OK”.
IMG_1889I had been on this mountain before, but the chosen path was changed. In fact, were it not for the winds of change, we would not have been on this path, this day, at all.

It was just about a week ago that my friends were nearing the summit of our climb. I say “my friends were”, because I had long ago lost sight of them, and was beginning to wonder if I would ever reach the summit myself. The path was steep, I was likely not fully prepared, and there was the wind. As I hiked alone, knowing those friends had gone on before me to reach the top, the wind became suddenly and painfully strong.

The gusts were powerful. The sensations were cold. My mouth was dry, and my tongue was numb. It felt as if the wind would fill the very jacket I wore for protection and would sweep me right off the side of that mountain to an unfortunate landing below. I thought I wanted to quit, to sit down, to give up, and to hope my friends would be back for me later, having experienced the summit without me.

But, it didn’t. Quit, that is; the wind didn’t quit.

I didn’t, either. Quit, that is. I pressed on towards the summit, finally reaching it to the buffeted sound of cheering from my friends as they endured that very same wind.

As we descended the mountain later that morning, I reflected on what we’d just experienced, and was reminded about how life can be. Windy, that is. But, enduring the wind makes for a great story. Sometimes encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

As I said, I’d been on this mountain. My son and I have traversed its slopes twice prior, and the mountain has taught us to expect the unexpected. Fog, snow, lightning, hail, and rain from a sunny sky have all accompanied our experience here. Wind had, as well, but nothing like the wind this day.

Two of my friends from this day were supposed to have climbed a different mountain with us just a few weeks ago, but winds of change prevented that moment. My father entered his last days of life in the very moments that we were to embark on our journey with these friends, and we had to say no that day. But, you see, enduring the wind makes for a great story.

Sometimes, I might suggest, encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

Those friends went on to plan this most recent adventure, and they brought two new friends with them. Had it not been for one of life’s windier and most uncomfortable moments, we would not have found ourselves together this past week, nor would I likely have been inspired by the outcome.

IMG_1896
As we all drove home together, life’s winds continued to blow, this time in the form of car trouble. It blessed us yet again with the reminder of how other people will go out of their way to help when you need it the most and expect it the least.

Which brings me back to the inspiration from “Saving Mr. Banks”. Long ago I used to dream that life could be simpler, and wished that my days could be more like the 1950’s, when it seemed that life had fewer distractions, fewer interruptions, and maybe fewer hardships. But, as I often learn later in life, I was wrong to feel that way.

Mr. Walt Disney himself even had hardships back in the 1950’s. The demands and fast pace of today have only replaced the equally demanding world of yesterday, and there are things we have learned and overcome today that could not be said of a prior “simpler time”.

Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
*

Indeed. Let those winds blow. Life’s outcomes lie ahead, and I’m sure some great stories are right there with them.
IMG_1879

*lyrics from Disney’s Mary Poppins

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers