Darfur…Action Required

Recently, I watched a documentary on the horrible atrocities going on in Darfur.  This region is experiencing continuous violence on a level previously unspoken.  The killings taking place were beyond mere words.  It seems almost like a horrible video game the manner in which these people are being slaughtered.  Life holds no value, be it man, woman, or even child.  No one is spared from the destruction, no one is overlooked in this slaughter.

I’ve known this senseless loss of life occurring in Darfur has transpired for a period of time.  It isn’t like this just became front page news.  Ignoring this plight has been easy to be oblivious towards as it seems so far away and receives very little notice by the media.  Ignorance is a tool too often used as an excuse for not doing anything.  I wonder how ignorant we truly are?

Maybe the problem isn’t indifference but rather the inability to comprehend.  Speaking from my heart, I find the magnitude so tragic that my mind needs to ease the pain by segmenting the tragedy from my present reality.  By doing so I can go about my daily existence without a single care about the suffering taking place in Darfur.  I’m not sure how this occurs, but I’m certain I must not be alone in overlooking these evils.  I say this with confidence because the conversation never arises in my circle.  How do moral people sit by idly and not speak to these horrors?  Frozen indifference has historically allowed events of this magnitude to grow.  Where is the outrage?  Where is the collective call to stop this genocide?  Where is the gathering of humans devoted to helping preserve life coming to the defense of the helpless? 

This is a call for God’s people everywhere, no matter what your religious belief to come together and be the hand of God in Africa.  We can no longer sit by and allow this great loss of life to go unchecked.  It is imperative that conversations begin and awareness is brought to light so the excuse of ignorance is permanently sidelined.  Once we begin to acquire knowledge of evil then action is immediately demanded of us.  Sitting on our hands while evil is perpetrated equates us to the level of those physically causing the harm.

Sound the alarm!  Ring the bell! Shout from the street corner! Tell your friends!  Write a letter to the editor! Do anything to make this issue worthy of the 6:00 news.  We as a people can no longer sit by calmly and watch this occur.  Just because we don’t know what to do, doesn’t give us the freedom to fo nothing at all.

Maybe if our government weren’t so busy building American colonies and outposts around the world to better the good old USA we would have the resources needed to help those who can offer us nothing in return.  This is why America was founded, to be a safe haven to those wishing to avoid persecution.  It’s high time American citizens demand their government spend more time practicing the 10 commandments instead of just fighting for the right to hang them on a wall.

To my church friends, this is a pro-life issue.

Get Over It…

“You drag it around like a ball and chain
You wallow in the guilt; you wallow in the pain
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringing everybody down
Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little a**, get over it.”

The words to this charming little ditty by the Eagles has always stuck me as a call for others to get on with life and get over whining about it.  Who knew  this song was actually written for me and not anyone else.  It’s me that needs to get over it and move on.  Wow, I really dislike having to deal with my present reality.  It sure is easier to point fingers about everyone else.

My issue is the fact that I’m divorced.  That’s right, a follower of the faith that has failed miserably at his first attempt at a peaceful forever.  I’m officially permanently scarred by this transaction by the church and looked at as an infidel.  Look at all the passages in scripture that detail all the reasons why believers shouldn’t divorce, how could I be party to such a gristly experiment.  But the fact is…It did happen.  In such I’ve allowed the church the ability to use this item to make me feel like a second class citizen inside the hallowed walls of grace.  I bought into the pack of bulls**t brought forth by these mavens of true understanding.

The time for me to get over it is now!  Of all people, my wife recently told me this battle is no longer worth fighting.  The war is over.  She gently reminded me we’ve been married now for 10 years and at some point it starts to count.  This was too simple of a response to such an emotional issue.  Maybe that is all I need to do.  Just get over it and move on.

This is my basic tutorial on sin.  Sin sucks.  Sin separates us from a loving God, Sin keeps us from experiencing true joy in life, Sin unchecked will soon totally rule ones life.  But…sin is completely forgivable, one need not be known for the rest of their lives by the sin that once enslaved them.  Grace frees us, redresses us in clothes of righteousness, and tells us to go live our lives in confidence knowing we are again one with God.  We don’t have to forever be what we once were.

This is the reason why I continually seek the face of God.  I desire each day to more and more  redeem my present shortcomings and find sustanance in the welcoming and forgiving arms of my loving God. 

Divorce, like any other sin is a shortcoming that works against us fulfilling our greatest desire, to be one with our creator.  But divorce is no greater than any other sin and needs no special sacrifice for forgiveness.  Divorce, I must remind you is not the unpardonable sin. 

From this day forward I choose to move forward.  I will choose to celebrate the wonderful marriage I have the joy of participating in each and every day.  My marriage does count and count well it does.  My wife is correct (a fact that seems to have become a pattern) to remind me it matters nothing what others think or say about this issue.  As long as we keep focused on our union, nothing else really has any great value.

To my divorced friends…rejoice you are in fact free.  No longer do you need to accept second class status in the church.  We are all one in Christ.  Your sins are forgiven therefore we have all the benefits of grace bestowed to other believers.  Grace plays no favorites.  It only seeks out those who genuinely desire it (and need it).

Too often it is we ourselves who enslave us.

My Summer Vacation…

I love theatre.  I have for a very long time.  I’m talking about live theatre not the movie variety.  Movie theatres are sanctuary of sleep as far as I’m concerned.  Seldom, if ever. I’m able to sit through a movie without being jolted awake from a flying elbow from one of my children. “Wake up and stop snoring…you’re embarrassing me” is often spoken in harsh tones.

My first foray into theatre was purely for utilitarian reasons.  We were told extra credit was available if we attended the production and brought back a program.  Initially, I went with the thought of grabbing the program and leaving. Instead, I found my seat and waited for the proceedings to begin.  Imagine my suprise when I found my attention going to the performers.  Imagine my shock when I started to follow the story.  Imagine my internal struggle when I started to cheer for certain characters.  What have I gotten myself into?

My first foray into acting came in the form of community theatre.  Another activity I accidently fell into.  Talk about jumping into the unknown with both feet!  After accepting the offer to participate in this venture I wondered if, in fact, I was completely nuts and worthy of being committed.  Maybe the guess work on my mental stability was an exercise in futility.

Some background for the uninitiated.  Community theatre allows everyone a chance no matter their theatrical background or lack thereof.  In our production there where some very talented and creative individuals who participated.  Instantly, I was intimidated and overwhelmed at the thought of measuring up to these local thespians.  Experience, even a very little, makes much difference in these venues. 

I’m by nature very comfortable in front of a crowd. Actually, my ego tells me to seek out opportunities that offers such a stage.  Some people would call me a ham.  Somehow I’ve managed to miss live theatre as such an opportunity.  When I first had to read my lines in front of the assembled cast…I froze up.  I couldn’t get my breath, my heart was racing, I stumbled over the reading like the first time I read from my French textbook. 

Kind looks of acceptance from the cast look back at me.  Patience and understanding comes back to me from the director.  I try again only to somehow manage a worse effort.  “Ummm,  Sorry.” No one acts impatient or angry.  All I sense is encouragement.  I try and fail again.

It’s in moments like these that character is truly tested.  As a strong, tough, macho guy I could have simply stood up and stated, “This is stupid!” and left keeping my bogus pride in check.  As a traveler of life, I felt the need to fight the urge to walk away and work through this mess that I now was knee deep into.

I am told that my character will need to dance during an emotional scene with my stage (and real life) daughter (remember that stuff about not quitting?)  I’d have preferred dancing  be assigned to a more nimble man who could perform with great ease and grace.  I struggle with the Macaranna.  Really, me dancing in public during an emotional scene will destroy any attempt to make this anything but slapstick.

Different performers came to me and spoke words of enthusiasm and motivation.  Each said I was doing a great job and picking up the part really well.  When this was relayed to me I looked around first wondering if they had confused me with another.  Somehow it stuck that I didn’t completely suck at this and this allowed me to feel the freedom to release my inner being and become one with this character I was to portray.

There is a very Zen-like experience that occurs when one lets go of self to assume the personality of another.  This is the magic of theatre.  It’s a very transformative event that likens one to total freedom.  At this moment the ability to move, speak and react like another begins to unfold.  This was a very cathartic experience to a hayseed  like me.

I hear the introduction leading to my entrance…I’m sweating like a bricklayer.  My thoughts race through my lines.  I know how hard everyone has worked and really don’t want to disappoint the cast, crew or musicians.  Damn, I can’t go back.  I walk out to the sea of smiles and instantly feel a rush of warmth and confidence that both fills me up and covers me.  I see why people are so involved in theatre…this is a wonderful encounter, a moment to cherish.

By the way, I feel like I got a handle on the dancing.  The Waltz is actually quite lovely when you understand it.  Truth be told, I find myself waltzing around the house from time to time.   Somehow I was able to summon the emotional stength to bring the warmth of my character to life.  We never really know the depth of our resolve until we are tested.  If we never put ourselves in a position of challenge our capabilities are never tapped.

I met people during this show who have impacted me greatly.  I have made many new friends.  The words of encouragement, appreciation, and motivation will never be lost on me.  I am a better person for having participated. 

By the end of the run I was tired and worn.  But never lacked for want to perform just one more time.

Next year can’t get here quick enough.

Big Steps for a Little Girl…

My little girl asked me an important question yesterday.

During the service a precious baby was baptized.  She looked so smart in her colorful outfit carefully chosen for the occasion.  Arms and feet pointing and kicking in every direction all the while grinning as large as a face would allow.  The pastor took the time to walk among the congregation and show each this precious promise of tomorrow.  Seeing this hope for the future gave each present a brief glimpse of the presence of our God.  For God surely must be found in the hearts of one so innocent and pure.

With this backdrop in mind our journey home from church was filled with much conversation from my baby girl.  “Daddy, why did pastor Bob baptize that little girl?”  My heart leapt with joy sensing the stirring in my daughter’s heart and mind.  “Daddy, have I ever been baptized?”  I wanted to pull the car over and give her my full attention.  “Daddy, what happens when people get baptized?”  I found my heart racing as my mind kicked into overdrive.  I had so much to describe, so much to discuss, so many ideas on how to handle this moment. 

I slowed my mind to a crawl before I spoke.  I wanted to not confuse a seeking heart nor interfere with the Spirit’s prompting.  Knowing full well these next words would carry great value and trust I spoke with clarity and conviction.

I said, “Baptism is where we tell others how much Jesus means to us.  It is telling everyone in the room that Jesus is very important to me and I will try to be like him as I live my life.”  I could hear the thought wheels turning in her head.  “Daddy, I want to be like Jesus.”  Tears began to well up in my eyes as I thought of the depth of such a pronouncement.  I tried to maintain my composure.  “Daddy, I want to be baptized and tell people I want to live my life like Jesus.”  “Then we will speak to pastor Bob and make sure this happens for you I told her.”

Today I was blessed.