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Archive for October, 2016

There’s an old saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

The noted philosopher, Toby Keith, said it with a twist: The less things change, the more they never seem the same”.

My job, my car, my dog being buried in that back yard…but I digress.

It was time to immerse in the memories of hometowns gone by this past weekend.   Hometowns, homerooms, and the relationships that went along for the ride.

I was discussing it all with one of my few active ongoing relationships to come from this hometown of days gone by, and how so much seems so different.  

 As we stood at the base of a large group of pine trees pointing skyward, I noted how those trees seemed to have been as large then as they are today.   His reply?   “I think they don’t ever stop growing”.   Touch√©.

We returned to his home a few short hours later, and the story charicatured above captured my attention.   It was printed on a byproduct of trees that indeed have stopped growing, as has the industry this “newspaper” represents.   I don’t digress: it has to do with the more things change.

The story spoke of three great quarterbacks gone by, and how things changed abruptly before they were ready.   But, change they did, and each man has moved on in life.

Which brings me back to our reason for being back in this former home gone by: relationships.

When you’ve not seen someone in 30 odd years, it is amazing how much things change.  It’s equally amazing how much of your respective later lives can seem the same.   I spent an extra couple of hours on the trip visiting one on one with an old friend, and the similarity of life experiences was strangely familiar.

We both married our spouses two weeks apart in date.   We both had oldest daughters a couple of years later.   We both have twins, one boy, and one girl.   We both know the pain of an earthly father’s battle with cancer.

Another noted philosopher, Jon Bon Jovi, crooned these emotions just so:

Ah, is it just me or does anybody see – The new improved tomorrow isn’t what it used to be – Yesterday keeps comin’ ’round, it’s just reality – It’s the same song with a different melody …

My old friend reminded me, however, the artist from days gone by to indeed quote is John Waite (former lead singer of “The Babies”):

We always wish for money – We always wish for fame – We think we have the answers – Some things ain’t ever gonna change 

It doesn’t matter who you are – It’s all the same (change) – What’s in your heart will never change

It’s only change

It doesn’t matter who you are – It’s all the same.

Just like those majestic pine trees, we’ve kept growing, and the more things have changed, the more they indeed seem the same.

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Epiphany:

– a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.

– a moment of sudden revelation or insight.

Have you ever had an “epiphany”? I remember the first time as an adult when I heard that word and it’s definition.   
So many small past experiences were now cast in a whole new light. They were not just odd encounters. They weren’t just uncomfortable transitions, they were no longer just embarrassing moments. They were epiphanies. I could see things in a whole different light.
I had one of those moments just this past week. I’m currently teaching Sunday morning Bible class to a group of middle aged adults at our church. Just waking up one morning to acknowledge that you are middle aged can be an epiphany of sorts, but I digress.
So, we are studying the gospel of Mark this quarter, and I had just finished the lesson for the day and dismissed the class when I had an epiphany. I looked down to realize that the fly on my pants had been unzipped the whole morning, and I’d been walking to and fro between the podium and the white board in front of a group of fifty men and women for a solid thirty five minutes.
It was a moment of sudden revelation or insight, indeed. And no one said a word about it. More on that in a moment.
How many times has that happened to you in life?
You think you know everything there is to know about a situation, a condition, a person, or a cause, and then something new comes into your frame of vision. Perhaps it changes everything you thought you knew about a subject. Perhaps it causes you to question what you believe. Or, perhaps it causes you to see something that was there all along, hiding in your blind spot.
We all have blind spots.  
Just like the ones you experience while driving, all are different, and all are influenced by our surroundings, our speed, and our attitude.
The apostle Peter had blind spots, and they led to epiphanies. We are studying about one of those this week in Mark chapter 8, where Jesus asks who the disciples say that he is, and Peter says “you are the Messiah”.
I would suggest, however, knowing Jesus’ true identity was not Peter’s epiphany. It was learning what “Messiah” truly meant, and what would be asked of Peter for the rest of his life. It was Jesus subsequently saying “get behind me, Satan”, to Peter, thus revealing a blind spot that he would have to keep checking for the remainder of his ministry for Jesus.
There’s a good aspect to blind spots when those we love and trust help us see into them. Paul did that with Peter, but it probably wasn’t easy. If only someone in my class last week could have done that before I stood before the crowd.
Which brings me back to epiphany. Sometimes others can’t, or won’t, be able to tell you how things truly are. That’s why you keep your eyes open, and your mind attuned to understanding that all may not be as you once thought it was.
That’s when you zip up, and move on to the next opportunity for epiphany.

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“Ryan? James Francis Ryan, of Iowa?”

Popular film and literature is filled with redemption stories.

Some are feel good stories; others, not so much.

Some are true.  Others?  Let’s just say they involve a healthy degree of fantasy.

Regardless, or irregardless (I digress), the theme of one redeeming another at great cost always rings true.   That, and the hero always knows who he is out to save.

“Bootstrap?”

“You know my name?”

“I know your son.  He’s coming to save you…”

This exchange of dialogue from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series strikes me as poignant.   A man is lost.  He is held captive.  His identity is slowly fading away.  And yet, someone who cares pays the very high price to ensure his salvation.

The quotation at the start of this post today is from Saving Private Ryan, a Hollywood depiction of a true to life story in which a small group of men are asked to set out to rescue another, with great personal investment and risk on the line.  

They know his name, but little else.

Such is asked of us, in real life, today.

In a series of less than random occurrences, from before sunup till long past sundown, my day yesterday was filled with messages of discipleship, friendship, redemption, and going outside your comfort zone for the good of one other than yourself.

I hope I got the message.   My appetite had already been whet, so to speak, for a number of days.

So, what to do now?

Set out on foot.   Brandish the right weapons.

Board a ship.  Brace a storm.

Call out to another.

Their response? “You know my name?”

My response: “I know His Son: He came to save you”.

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