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Archive for the ‘Commitment’ Category

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There’s a great exchange in the 1996 movie “Twister” between two characters, Beltzer and Dusty, while they are chasing a tornado. As the scene unfolds, they are barreling down a dirt road at a high rate of speed in old trucks, and are shouting to each other over a CB radio:

Beltzer: Normal man spends his life avoiding tense situations.
Dusty: Repo Man spends his life getting into tense situations, Beltzer!

All the while, as the scene unfolds, a Van Halen tune accompanies them in the background:

There is just enough Christ in me
To make me feel almost guilty
Is that why God made us bleed
To make us see we’re Humans Being?

…Shine on, shine on.

This scene was playing in my mind as I awoke this morning. What is it about intense situations? Most of us avoid them like the plague, or at least we would like to think that we do.

Life tends to find us getting into such moments, often when we are not quite prepared. We go charging into the tornado, maybe wanting the thrill, maybe in the name of scientific inquiry, or maybe “to learn something that will help others down the road”. Irregardless, when debris, or even cows, start to fly by our window, we often wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into.

As a person sometimes characterized as “being too nice”, the lyrical soundtrack behind the aforementioned movie scene resonates with me:

There is just enough Christ in me
To make me feel almost guilty
Is that why God made us bleed
To make us see we’re Humans Being?

…Shine on, shine on.

Thinking this over today made me recall Jesus’ own words about getting into the Kingdom, and it made me wonder if he wasn’t really talking about money at all:

Mark 10:23-25: Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Maybe Jesus was talking about the life situation, and all the baggage, responsibilities, and entanglements that come with being rich. As a nation that is arguably the richest in the world, we are really good at finding ourselves in intense situations. I guess that’s why we have so many lawyers.

Not much to conclude here, except that when we’re made to bleed, we need to dust ourselves off and shine on.

Hopefully there is more than enough Christ in me to do more than just feel guilty. Intense situations abound.

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This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:10-14

His name was Daniel, and best I can tell, he never got to go home. He had trial after trial. He was called upon to make hard choices. He defied a king’s decree as a young man, and was honored for it. He prophesied about the demise of another king. He defied yet another royal decree, this time as a part of another kingdom, and he was fed to the lions for it, at least the effort was made to feed him to the lions. And through it all, God loved him very much. Even more importantly, God had plans for him, but those plans did not include getting to return to the way things were before. Daniel was an educated man. I’m sure he knew of the 70 years prophecy, and that given his age he would likely not live to see Jerusalem again.

How did Daniel respond? He prayed. He refused to deny God. He prayed some more. He did not give up.

Which brings me to today’s brief thought: are you currently in Babylon? If so, how can God use you in the place where you find yourself today? If not in Babylon, maybe you feel like part of “the remnant”, those who were left behind in a desolated Jerusalem without the ones they held dear. The same question is true here: what are you called to do? Help others pick up the broken pieces and rebuild, like some did with Nehemiah?

Maybe your captivity is disease or chronic illness, with little if any hope for cure. Maybe Babylon for you is unemployment, or underemployment. Maybe captivity means being courageous and doing the hard thing, again, and again, and again, knowing full well that it will never really get any easier.

Daniel did not give up, as I understand it, and neither should we.

Daniel’s account closes with him receiving a promise, and I think we have hope and a promise for the same.

Daniel 12: 8-13 I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?” But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means. “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[b] is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!

“As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.”.

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Big orange ball, sinkin’ in the water
Toes in the sand, couldn’t get much hotter…
…Now I know how Jimmy Buffet feels

Not really, but as I’m stirring on this silent Saturday morning, and I’m on Day 2 sans Facebook, it feels like forever since I’ve creeped on my kids and my friends. I awoke to the Kinney Chesney tune “Now I Know How Forever Feels” running thru my brain. It feels like forever, but it’s not been.

Last night, only being at the end of Day 1, my wife was talking about pictures and status updates she had seen that I had not. Way to rub it in, Little Frau, although that’s not what she was trying to do. I might as well have been in Margaritaville.

But there’s the rub on Day 2 of the “Facebook Fast”. I might feel like “the biggest loser”, but I’m not “wasting away”. Truth be told, I’m presented with opportunities. I can read. I can meditate. I can pray. I can exercise. I can do more of all of these things, and that is my goal. I could even get up and go do a load of laundry, but I digress.

So, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go do something now: something other than FB. Maybe I know how Jimmy Buffet feels, after all…

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“How dare you?”, meet “Dare I not?”.

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People complain. That is a fact of life. People make mistakes. That is another fact of life. Sometimes, mistakes take on the form of fatal errors, and that is a hard reality.

Without getting into the details, we all likely know of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and his living legend status, and most of us have likely heard of the recent sad allegations toward his program and his presumed knowledge and complicit failure to act in doing the right thing, albeit the hard thing.

“No one person is bigger than the institution”. I have heard that repeated many times, and I believe it. But, when you feel like you are above reproach or questioning, then you may have a problem. People change. Life changes. Environments generate stresses, and stresses generate responses. The only constant in that, I might suggest, is character, and character dictates/mandates proper responses and openness even when the exercise is difficult or painful.

People complain. My job requires that I listen. How you do that, both well and appropriately, is a constant challenge. Some complaints are silly. Some complaints are vindictive. Others have merit, and merit response. How you sift through those is cumbersome, and at times unpleasant. But sift, you must. If you ever believe you have risen above that, you are in danger of falling. I think that’s what humility is all about.

People have complained about me before, and at times it has really made me angry, but it should not define me or change me in ways that are not for the best.

Joe P has been criticized in recent years for staying in the job too long, and having his effectiveness level pass him by. That may be true, or it may not. That assertion is likely subject to interpretation. What is not is that “something bad was happening in Oz; under the surface, behind the scenes”, and that Joe P turned a blind eye.

I have two mentors, legendary icons of an institution’s history, who were not afraid to take on hard things, but were also not afraid to change their roles over time and “surrender the high ground” to those better able to scale rocky heights and have the stamina to do hard things. I appreciate their legacy and example, and hope and plan to have the courage and fortitude to do the same when the time is right. In the mean time, I wish to continue to climb the rocks, and should be accepting of the bruises that come with it.

“The wise man built his house upon the rock”…”the foolish man built his house upon the sand”…”and the rains came falling down”. Sometimes, we have to be willing to step off the field of play and climb up on the Rock, even when it hurts.

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“I’ve learned there are some things worth having, but they come at a price, and I want to be one of them.” The quote is from a woman named Karen, the subject of the 1937 novel and subsequent movie “Out of Africa”.

As I get older, I confess to conjuring up a bit of a “bucket list”, but admittedly, traveling to Africa was not tops in that department. Not, that is until a colleague and I were discussing potential for the establishment of a business line in Kigali, Rwanda. Then we began to discuss the need to go establish banking and other relationships, and I began to get a bit more interested. Seeing the “Gorillas in the Mist”? Hmm.

Then, we began to discuss necessary vaccinations, and he said the fateful words: “You won’t be able to give blood anymore”.

Ouch. Small stick, then a burn, followed by several small squeezes…

There is a blood drive coming up soon at our church, and even before hearing a passionate plea this past Sunday morning regarding the value of blood donations from the father of a cancer patient, the friendly vampires from The Oklahoma Blood Institute had called to inform me that I was again “eligible”.

As evidenced by the stack of T-Shirts pictured above, and this is only a fraction of those collected over the years, I’ve donated a few gallons in my time.

You see, Bing (Jeffrey Bing) really is an agent 007, and I even have that logo on an OBI shirt to prove it. I possess O Negative blood, the universal donor type, as does .7% (.007) of our society. To top it all off, I am CMV negative as well, meaning I’ve never had a common flu like virus where antibodies would be harmful to preemie babies and others who are ill.

I must admit, I don’t love the exercise of giving, but I cherish being gifted to perform said act. Very few (.007, anyone?) can give their blood and know that a small baby or a very sick loved one might see new days because of my slight inconvenience and minor pain. I don’t know that I’m ready to give that up, just yet. I’m just not sure if my calling is over in that department.

At my last donation, I was feeling good about clearing over 4 gallons when an older gentlemen nearby told me that he’d surpassed 13. Wow. I was humbled. Maybe I needed to hear that as a challenge and motivation to prioritize “the list”.

Maybe the gorillas will have to be seen on Discovery Channel. Maybe the banking can be done via phone, internet, and FedEx. Maybe a yet to be born child needs “a little bit o’ Bing” to brighten their day?

Here’s where you come in: are you giving the gift of life? Some can’t for various reasons, but many can but have never tried. You could save a life. You could save many!

“I’ve learned there are some things worth having, but they come at a price, and I want to be one of them.” I think I’m not done being an OBI special agent just yet, even if it keeps me “Out of Africa”.

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1 Corinthians 9:23-25

I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Yesterday was the perfect life example of the source of Paul’s analogy. Over 250 young men lined up to run on a hot Oklahoma Saturday, each knowing only one would “win”, and that few would medal. But the race is not about being first to finish, it is about accomplishment, endurance, and love for what you do.

Thanks to these guys for the reminder, and for the inspiration to keep running the great race before us.

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Coffee as an analogy for life? Some would suggest that coffee is life, and I would concur at times. For certain, life often begins each day after a first cup, but today I wish to ponder it before I drink it.

As I prepared the first “nectar of life” carafe of the day yesterday, I considered the description: “House Blend. Lively. Balanced. Intensity: Medium”.

What better way to describe my desired persona in the Bing Dynasty? Having lived at times like some other less desirable coffees, strong, bitter, heavy after taste, I prefer to be the “House Blend”.

Another desirable analogy is fruit: nourishing, refreshing, appealing, “juicy”, and at it’s heart, a seed ready for planting.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

Certainly, if not coffee, I’d rather be compared to fruit vs. a fruitcake, but I digress.

If you will excuse me now, I need to go brew up a pot of the magic elixir. It’s about time for life to begin on a hot Saturday in Oklahoma…

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