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Archive for the ‘Wise man built his house upon rock’ Category

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Unexpected; expect the unexpected. That phrase is even more ominous than “Bond, James Bond” and the like.

Yesterday was just such a day: unexpected. I will spare much of the detail for reasons beyond explanation, but when your day begins with coworkers meeting you halfway between your car and your building with phrases like “we need to warn you” and “I’m so sorry”, you know the day ahead will be a challenge. Have you ever seen piece of glass imbedded in a sheetrock wall 15 feet away from a broken window? Some of us did yesterday, and it was indeed unexpected.

Matthew 6:19-20 tells us “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”

So why, I should ask myself, was yesterday’s event so unexpected? I believe it is because of where our treasure is. Yes, I treasure the University where I work. I treasure the results of several years of hard work and the physical and financial sacrifices of many wonderful people. I treasure the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. But, do I treasure the physical part too much?

The morning yesterday was admittedly depressing. There was shock. There was hurt. There was anger. There was disappointment. For some, both this new day morning and for many to come, those strong emotions and others may continue. But, for me “and my house”, it is time to move on.

Mid day yesterday provided just such an opportunity. Many had been up and going for several hours, their days full and distant from their previously Microsoft Outlook Calendar scripted plans. Only when a colleague from outside the impacted/response group suggested we go “grab a quick lunch” did things start to feel better. Lunch was good, it was less than quick, and the time to visit, the nourishment, and the glazed Solpapia made the day begin to feel better.

Therein lies the true treasure of yesterday: friends, faithfulness, passion, hard work, caring and sharing, and a common commitment to “pick up the pieces”, literally, and move forward together. No amount of moths, rust, or thieves breaking can take those treasures away; it can only make the treasure of even greater worth.

Yesterday was indeed unexpected, and today, I am thankful.

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A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly. Matthew 26:73-75

I read a piece last night regarding the markets where a financial analyst in London was calling for one more big drop near term in stocks, “retesting a recent low”, before they would rocket ahead to new highs.

Isn’t that a great analogy for how we live? Sometimes, do we have to hit rock bottom before we are ready to propel forward? It’s like all the “panic selling” and “short term investor” parts of our personalities and spirit have to be excised, albeit sometimes painfully, before we are clear to start a new trading pattern that takes us higher and higher. Grief. Guilt. Regret. You name it, and we have to get it out before we can move on.

Peter was a great example. “And he went away, weeping bitterly”. Judas is an example of exactly the opposite. You can’t sell out and go away. Potential, promise, and redemption always await, but we have to take the first step. Peter set a future course to do great things, and the sky was his only, and final, limit.

I have been there. I’ve talked with good friends who have as well. I know others whose “wept bitterly” moment has likely not yet arrived, and I can only pray that when it does good friends are there to reinvest and help them “stay in the market” and invest towards new highs. It’s exactly what Jesus did with Peter.

John 21: 12-17 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

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It’s almost football season again, and you know what that means…another team is upgrading their uniforms! Oklahoma State U has achieved love interest status with Nike’s own Phil Knight, and they now have 48 possible uniform gear combinations to prove it. Slate gray? If it worked for the Confederacy, it must be good for…oh, wait a second.

Another “suburban cowboy” I know changed uniforms in recent years. It seems like just yesterday that we attended the 2002 showdown between OSU and UCLA at stately Lewis Field in Stillwater. The unkempt condition of the grandstand in Stillwater was not the only thing that stuck out like a sore thumb. As the Bings strolled into the stadium, dressed in blue, yellow, white, green, and (gasp) crimson respectively, it suddenly dawned on us that most fellow ticket holders were wearing orange. It was our first family football outing anywhere, much less north of the Red River. Who knew there were so many deer hunters in this state, and that they all came out to watch this game in their goodbye Bambi forest gear? At halftime, our little urban cowboy asked if we could leave, buy something orange to wear, and come back.

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Buy some orange, we did, and he loved that shirt. He wore it everywhere. It was as bright as his personality. He even wore it to this “gluten fest” potluck supper at our church one evening, and I think he sampled a little bit of every breaded dish available before the meal even started. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the BCS bakery….

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I don’t recall exactly how the change came about. The football fandom, change, that is. The old saying says “Mo(mentum) changes jerseys fast”. Seems that our boy did as well. He is now arguably one of the world’s most die hard loyal Sooners fans. Even his room is painted crimson and cream.

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If only his diet, and his parent’s knowledge of the winning team in the Digestion Bowl, had changed as rapidly and as early. You see, such eating was rapidly becoming as poisonous to his system as would donning an orange shirt be to his psyche today. If only it had always been as it is today. But, would that not be revisionist history? Sometimes living thru the hard times make us stronger.

OSU fans may have needed the rust bucket grandstand to truly appreciate the new digs at Boone Pickens’ State University. Likewise, by experiencing the wider dining array and experiencing first hand the knowledge of what the pain of Gluten contamination really feels like, the boy was quickly on board with a change for the better.

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As for Dad, I am still an equal opportunity diner/occassional fair weather fan, Admittedly, I am a Sooners guy, and a transplant to our fair state. To say anything different would be revisionist history. I once had Texas (gasp) gear in my closet as a younger man. But, my son and Bob Stoops taught me the error of my ways. Crimson and Cream now actively populates my wardrobe, whether planning for the cold or the hot that befalls the most loyal fans around.

But, I cannot purge all things orange. You see, I have friends, specifically friends of my employer who are bankers, who support both schools, and I am seldom one to leave incremental progress on the sidelines, so to speak. If I get invited to watch Gundy and Company sling the pigskin down the field, I can probably be there, just so long as they are not playing OU.

And those 48 combinations?. Well, not to brag, but when it comes to dining, I can eat just about anything served in large gatherings, especially when it is good. That includes gluten.

Like Paul, maybe I have become “all things to all men, that I might save some”. If that includes wearing a little orange with friends from time to time, so be it. If that means dining gluten free, I can go there as well.

Im ready for some football. So, for this Bing, pass the remote, and pass me the hidden stash of non gluten free pizza and crackers. I think I’ve earned it….for now… 🙂

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“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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The curse of flash memory devices.

To quote the group Kansas, “I close my eyes; only for a moment, and the moment’s gone.”

This morning’s post, 45 minutes in the writing, was pretty good, IMO. I went to make an edit, and, poof, it was gone. Time and emotional investment, gone in a flash.

Maybe I can remember and redraft much of it later, but I don’t know. And, I feel quite certain, there is a good set of life analogies to muse upon with this, but not this morning…

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A perfectly good piece of concrete; and, a perfectly prepared pad site, at one time.   But time, traffic, rushing currents, and neglect have all worked to undermine this once great picnic site.    It’s called erosion, and it will be the undoing of this place, sooner, or later.

The potential analogies here are myriad: health, financial condition, faith, relationships, and the list could go on.

What causes erosion? Several conditions, as referenced in the opening analogy, but asking the question more directly, what allows erosion to occur? Simply put, doing nothing.

You see, good folks with the Oklahoma Parks and Wildlife program built that site to be enjoyed, and they built it to last. But the rushing currents have washed precious underpinning soil down into the lake below.

Hopefully it can be shored up before it fails, and someone gets hurt in the process.

Jesus had a thing or two to say to us about solid foundations in Luke 6:47-49:

47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

So, whether your construction is a relationship, your faith, your family, or otherwise, shore things up, or better yet, build first or rebuild on The Rock.

Rushing currents of life beware: no ongoing future erosion allowed.

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