Month: February 2019

Exit 232. Pray that God will sort everything out.

I’m not as much into Christian music as I used to be, but I still play Christian radio on Sunday mornings on the way to church, to get myself in the right frame of mind.  This song from 2012 comes on sometimes.  Casting Crowns was never a band I really got into.  I was at a Christian music festival in 2004, and I heard someone from this band telling a story between songs about when he was a kid, and he said that algebra class was of Satan, so I decided at that moment that I didn’t like them.  But this song is really powerful.

And, to be honest, this is something big that I have always struggled with.  Even though I always knew that this wasn’t the point of Christianity, part of the attraction of Christianity for me when I started taking my faith seriously in my late teens was that these were people who also didn’t get drunk or do drugs or sleep around.  And that kind of mentality makes it really easy to be judgmental toward those who don’t have lifestyles like mine.

But that isn’t going to help the rest of the world know Jesus.  Telling people that they’re wrong and that they’re going to hell is not a way to recruit people to your cause.

It’s a difficult balance to strike.  Sin is real and should not be taken lightly.  But love is also real, and all of us are sinners and need to be treating each other with love.  And, of course, these days, with society so polarized, there are debates over what is and is not sin in the first place.

Like I said, it’s easy to be judgmental.  It’s a very real desire to want to be part of a group where I can feel like I’m living life the right way and not like the other people.  But all of that is so different from everything that Jesus promised.  That sounds more like the words of the religious leaders that Jesus condemned so harshly (Luke 18:9ff).

So how do I handle this?  When do I call out someone’s sin?  I don’t know, and there probably isn’t a universal answer.  All I can do is pray for wisdom and discernment, to know what to say to whom when.  And more importantly, I can just love everyone and pray that God will sort everything out, that God will speak to all of us about where we still fall short and how we can grow closer to Him.

 

Exit 231. No. Not a good idea.

About a week ago, I had a disturbing dream.  I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember hearing somehow that Acrux, the ex from 2011, was back in town.  I don’t remember if it was for good or for a visit or what.  And “town” wasn’t even the right place, because for some reason I was at my parents’ house, which is in a place that Acrux never had any connection to.  But I do remember her showing up there, wanting to talk.  And I remember her being nice.  She brought up the idea of getting back together, and I said let’s see where things go, or something like that that left the door open.

It was just a dream.  It’s not real.  For one thing, she definitely wouldn’t go out of her way to see me.  After all, she wouldn’t even go out of her way for me when we were together.  And I really don’t want to get back together with her.  She wasn’t nice.  She didn’t care about me.  She just wanted someone to tag along while she did her thing.

But I have to admit that there have been times when I’ve thought about getting back together with other exes or women I was interested in.  Sometimes I entertain thoughts of these women coming to me and apologizing, saying that they messed up and realized that I was the best they ever had, and wanting to get back together.

No.  Not a good idea.  And this is exactly why I feel like I’m better off not staying in touch with exes.  Whomever it is that I’m thinking about, I’d get too caught up in the feelings of what things might have been like, based on my initial impression of what she was like before she showed her true colors.  That isn’t reality.  She’s not real.

Just like my dreams.

Or, in this case, maybe it would be better to say nightmares.

Exit 230. I don’t have time.

I don’t have time.

I always have all these great creative ideas, and I don’t have time to work on all of them.

I wrote a novel off and on from 2014-18, more off than on, and it still feels like it isn’t quite finished, like there’s one part that needs to be rewritten.  I started a second blog recently.  I have another fictional universe I’ve done things with in various forms for over a quarter-century.  And I feel like I can’t really commit to any of them.

But that’s okay.  All of these projects are just for fun, and I shouldn’t stress about them.  I’m not trying to make a living out of any of these creative projects.  I have a real job that takes a lot of my time.  But this is also the kind of real job that periodically gives me time off when I can concentrate on things like this.

So I’m just not going to worry about it.  I’ll write what I can, when I can.  Even if no one reads it.  Because maybe when I’m an old man, I’ll look at some of my old writing that I haven’t read in decades, and I’ll get a good laugh out of it.  (That actually happened recently with some poems I wrote in my late teens that have followed me from hard drive to hard drive on five different computers.)

And if any of you don’t know about my other projects and are curious, let me know.  I’ll either share it, or maybe I’ll kindly thank you and explain why I’m not comfortable sharing everything with everyone.

Exit 229. I knew the answer all along.

I was watching Jeopardy! a few days ago.  Jeopardy! and other trivia games have always been huge in my family.  I’ve told people that my hours of reading random stuff on Wikipedia, then clicking a link to something else I read that I’m curious about, and repeating that dozens of times, are just studying for being a contestant on Jeopardy! eventually.  This argument was justified a few weeks ago when something I had read following a Wikipedia rabbit trail actually showed up a day or two later as a Final Jeopardy! question.  (“In 1790 Thursday October Christian became the first child whose birth was recorded on this remote island” — I had read about said remote island on another Wikipedia distraction-fest a few years ago, so I might have still gotten it right had I not read about it again recently.  I’ll let you think about it; click here for the correct response.  It’s also tradition in my family not to give away the answer in trivia games to non-participants who might be watching and playing along.)

Anyway, that isn’t the point of this post.  Another recent Final Jeopardy! category was “Female Singers,” and the clue was “In the 1990s this New York native had 8 of her first 10 Billboard Top 40 hits reach No. 1.”  I’m sitting there trying to think of the answer, and the first thing that comes to mind is, Crap!  In the 1990s I wasn’t listening to female singers who had No. 1 hits.  I was listening to R.E.M. and Pearl Jam and Aerosmith and Toad The Wet Sprocket, and then I had my Pink Floyd phase, and then I became a Christian and listened to DC Talk and Jars of Clay and Third Day.  I might not know this one.  Who could it be… whoever it is, her music probably sucks.

I was staring at the TV, at the words “1990s” and “No. 1 hits,” and I thought of something else.  A meme, of all things, something that I saw months ago.  It said to post the song that was No. 1 on your 14th birthday, and that is the song that defines your life.  Mine was “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey.  That’s pretty much the opposite of what defines my life.  I’ve had plenty of visions of love, but unlike the song, they never come true, at least not for long.

But, back to Jeopardy!… my 14th birthday was in the summer of 1990.  Vision of Love was a No. 1 song from the 1990s by a female singer.  And it was from the start of her career, and she did have a lot of big hits in the next few years after that.  Could Mariah Carey be the correct Jeopardy! response?  I didn’t know whether or not she was a New York native, and I didn’t know exactly how many No. 1 hits she had or anything like that.  But I didn’t have a better answer.

Mariah Carey was correct.  I had the answer all along.

Literally.  I’ve literally had the answer since I was 14.  Somewhere in my parents’ attic is a cassette tape of Mariah Carey’s first album, the one with Vision of Love on it.  I haven’t listened to it since I was 15 or 16, but there was a brief time when I didn’t think that Mariah Carey sucked.  She had a strong voice with a pretty impressive range, and there were some catchy songs on that album.  Mariah lost favor with me a few years later, when she released another album with a song with banal lyrics and lots of parts where she was just shrieking at a pitch that only dogs and dolphins can hear, and by that time I was pretty much ditching pop, R&B, and hip-hop altogether in favor of classic rock.

So when I heard Alex Trebek telling the two contestants who wrote Mariah Carey that they were correct, I felt pretty proud of myself.  I thought that this question was going to be completely out of the realm of things I know about, but I knew the answer all along.  Maybe this is the case more often than I know.