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Rhymes, and…

  

So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter…

Where does one begin to describe the turnings of the past week? And what are the reasons for something like this?   Thursday was a time of unexpected sadness.    The day seemingly began with all the promise and all the normalcy of any spring day.   But, springtime can bring unexpected storms.  Roses are a thing of beauty, but rose bushes have thorns, and thorns can make us bleed.   As my eldest daughter penned later that day, we all lost a friend on Thursday, and we grieve with friends that life’s thorns have made to bleed. And we wonder why.

As we wandered through the afternoon that day, my youngest daughter retrieved an old CD in the car and began to play the music of John Denver.  The song “Rhymes and Reasons” was both painfully haunting and stunningly beautiful, just like a rose bush, and as many who loved him will say, just like the life of Joe.

So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter,
The fear that is within you now that seems to never end,
and the dreams that have escaped you and the hope that you’ve forgotten,
and you tell me that you need me now and you want to be my friend,
and you wonder where we’re going, where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason?
And it’s you cannot accept: it is here we must begin to seek the wisdom of the children
and the graceful way of flowers in the wind.
For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers,
their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day.
Like the music of the mountains and the colors of the rainbow,
they’re a promise of the future and a blessing for today.

Though the cities start to crumble and the towers fall around us,
the sun is slowly fading and it’s colder than the sea.
It is written: From the desert to the mountains they shall lead us,
by the hand and by the heart, they will comfort you and me.
In their innocence and trusting they will teach us to be free.
For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers,
their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day.
And the song that I am singing is a prayer to non-believers,
come and stand beside us we can find a better way. 

 The world we inhabit is one that has been broken, indeed, but like the temporary blooms of beauty found in a bush full of thorns, there is joy and there is hope
for tomorrow.  

  

I found an old toy school bus in our attic yesterday, and it served as a reminder of how much our kids are growing and changing before our very eyes.    There will continue to be blooms of all too fleeting but always recurring beauty amongst the thorns, and our God will come and stand beside us, and we can
find a better way…

http://youtu.be/7Yb0QMEktDE

Resolute?

As stated earlier, much earlier, I’m not one big on making and keeping New Year’s resolutions. Especially the keeping part, I must admit.

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1985 was the year Howard Pope passed from this life. He taught me many things, one of which was through observing him reading God’s Word on numerous occasions.

The next new year after my maternal grandfather died, beginning my 20th year on the earth, I resolved to read the entire Bible, not in a year, but within 6 months. That was a year in my life when many things changed in dramatic fashion. New relationships came, and some relationships left. I tried, in vain I might add, to begin exercising regularly.

But my ability and resolve that year to read the Bible each day persevered. I recall sitting at the table in my college apartment at night while my 3 roommates (relationships that have survived the subsequent years, I happily add) went about their business, reading for often 30 or more minutes to digest the 10 chapters or more it would take to accomplish my six month goal.

I recall sitting at a small writing desk in my upstairs bedroom in Shreveport that summer as those final chapters in Revelation were completed on June 30. I prayed something as I closed The Book that day: I wish I could recall exactly what, but I know it involved calling on our God and Father to help me live a life consistent with what I had just finished reading.

The next day, July 1, I started reading it again. Sadly, my resolve and perseverance was not as strong then, and I don’t recall completing it again that year. That year, and sadly, any year following.

Which brings us to today. While I love God’s Word and read portions of it every day, I’ve not gone “cover to cover”, from “In the beginning, God created” to “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” in over 28 years.

2014 was the year Dean Bingham passed from this life. He taught me many things, one of which was through observing him reading God’s Word on numerous occasions.

So, it is now January 2nd, and I’ve finished my two “assigned” readings both yesterday and today. And I must admit, I’ve had a new insight or two. While I do not resolve to share new insights each day, be they small or be they large, I do resolve to read and let the Word wash over me as it may each day. If I do glean something I’m moved enough to share, I will do so here.

The thoughts to come and be expressed here may be old and taken for granted by you.

Or, maybe not.

Either way, I’m looking forward to the mental journey ahead, and seeing what I pick up along the way. I hope someone encounters me from time
to time, both in the current day and in days yet unborn, Lord willing, along the way.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Resolutely

jbingham89:

While these thoughts are now three years old, the words ring true for 2014 and the days ahead that life may provide.

Originally posted on Bing, Jeffrey Bing:

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As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51

res·o·lute/ˈrezəˌlo͞ot/

Adjective: Admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.

Synonyms: determined – firm – decided – resolved – decisive

I’ve never been much for new year’s resolutions, at least in the last decade or so. It seems, in actuality, in the years when I made them that they were too hard to stick with. But, is there value in setting goals, only to see them fall short? I think so. I hope so.

My recently proclaimed FB fast only lasted a week or so. No, I did not lose desired pounds or read a certain quantity of books before returning to the SocMed circuit, but there was some value and learning in the exercise.

And, not every goal falls short. In 2011, I did actually finish a half marathon after vowing to…

View original 91 more words

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.

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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…

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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
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I really don’t drink

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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.

jbingham89:

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

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