About Me

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Blogger, Christ-follower, Encourager, Friend, Husband, Dad

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Am I What?

Are you a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person?  For the most part, I’m a half-full kind of guy.  I tend to look for, and even expect, the best in most situations, to see potential and possibilities instead of weaknesses and barriers, and to notice the roses among the thorns.  At least I try to. I also like to laugh and I think we all should lighten up a little bit and look for the humor in everyday situations.  The Bible says that a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22).  That’s good to know since I have arrived at the age where medicine—and the purveyors thereof—are becoming more and more a part of my life. 

I recently went to a doctor’s office I hadn’t been to before and had to fill out the obligatory forms.  They were really nice and sent me a packet in the mail to fill out in advance so I wouldn’t have to do it in the waiting room.  I spent over an hour on that packet in the comfort of my recliner.  At the office, I turned the packet in at the desk and then had nothing to keep me occupied for the next hour.  Once I was escorted back to the exam room, a lovely young medical person spent the next 30 minutes asking me most of the same questions I had answered on paper already.  It was all worth it, however, when she looked at me with a straight face and said, “Are you over 40?”  

Bless her!  She didn’t have to ask that question.  She could have answered the question correctly by just looking at my white-whiskered face. I told her how nice she was to ask.  She told me she had to.

Fast forward one week and I had just finished a check-up at another doctor’s office.  I stopped by a grocery store that I like since I was in the big city for the day.  At the check-out line, the young lady who was bagging my groceries began making small talk.  She asked what I was doing for the day.  I told her I was just out running around.  “Are you retired?” she asked me.

Am I what?  Seriously?  Only a few days earlier someone actually had to ask me if I was over 40!  I hope that whipper-snapper enjoys sacking groceries, because her observational and conversational skills are not conducive to career advancement!  

Actually, I thought it was pretty funny and I enjoyed the interaction.  I’m really not interested in slowing the aging process or trying to look younger than I am.  But I am interested in demonstrating to every generation the joy that comes in knowing that your life matters to God. 

Mrs. Sweetie and I were talking to a teenager at church a few days ago.  We said something about being old folks.  She told us, “Yeah, but you’re cool old folks.”

Am I what?  Yeah, more than half-full.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My House, My Rules

I have some personal rules.  Sure, I try to abide by the laws of the land.  Absolutely, I try to live according to God’s word.  Those are important to me and are core values shared by most Christ-followers.

But those rules and values are not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about things that are not necessarily written down anywhere (until now), but that I have strong opinions about.  In fact, in my opinionated opinion, life would be better if everyone lived by these rules.  I can’t share all of them in 500 words, so here’s a sampling of the most important ones.

Rule #1 – I don’t make phone calls before 9:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. unless I have scheduled it in advance.  The reason for this rule - it is my preference.  Were you looking for a more logical reason?  Hey!  My house, my rules.  

Rule #2 – Don’t call me before 9:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. unless you have scheduled it in advance.  The reason for this rule - see rule #1.

Rule #3 – Never root for the New England Patriots or New York Yankees.  These are self-explanatory.

Rule #4 – There are three kinds of car that a teenager should never have:  new, fast, cool (or whatever the current word is).  New is not good because it doesn’t give them an opportunity to learn the necessary skills of keeping an old one running.  Fast is not good because they will want to test its limits.  Cool is not good because their friends will want to ride in it, drive it, borrow it.

Rule #5 – Unsolicited advice is seldom appreciated.  Think about how you have been reacting to my rules.  With #1 you probably just thought I’m goofy.  With #2 you thought I was a little bossy.  With #3 … never mind.  With #4, you may actually have been offended and wanted to argue the point.  Unless you agree with me, in which case you can send this to someone who has stopped listening to your advice.  

I didn’t mean that. Please don’t do it.  They won’t appreciate it.  I promise.

I can’t think of a single time I looked forward to the end of a sentence that started with, “If I were you, I would …” You’re not me and you can’t be me.  Nor can I be you, so please don’t ask me what I would do if I were you. 

The message here is not that we should all mind our own business and leave each other alone.  One evidence that our lives matter to God is in the way He allows us to do life together.  He wants our lives to matter to each other, but our personal preferences are just that—preferences.  Doing life together best means that we point one another to the truth of God’s word and let preferences be what they are.

But, if I were you, I still wouldn’t call me after 9:00.

Monday, January 14, 2013

And the Winner Is ... The River

ALLAHABAD, India (AP) — “Millions of devout Hindus led by naked ascetics with ash smeared on their bodies plunged into the frigid waters of India's holy Ganges River on Monday in a ritual they believe can wash away their sins.  The ceremony in the northern city of Allahabad took place on the most auspicious day of the Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival, one of the world's largest religious gatherings that lasts 55 days. The festival continues until March 10.  Top festival official Mani Prasad Mishra said nearly 3 million people had bathed by late morning and 11 million were expected to enter the frigid water by the day's end ... Over 110 million people are expected to take a dip at the Sangam, the place where three rivers — the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati — come together at the edge of this North Indian city …”  (Click here for whole story)

When I read that this morning, I thought about my daughter’s two trips to India.  She said the Ganges is nasty and smelly.  I’m thinking that really makes sense with all those gross sins mingling around.  

I am not making fun of Hindus or India.  I am actually sad for the people who are, according to the article, bathing “to wash away their sins and free themselves from the cycle of death and rebirth.”  Sadly, I suspect many of them will return next year.

I had similar sad thoughts last night watching the Golden Globe awards. Amidst the glitz and glamor, I observed bucketfuls of insecurity.  Several award winners mentioned their loneliness and how few people believed in them.  I wondered how many of them keep hoping that someone will truly love them for who they really are, rather than enjoying their characters.  Perhaps some don’t even know who they truly are anymore.  So, moving from one role to another, they move from one relationship to another, hoping to find that elusive place where life is not driven by the fickle nature of critics and fake friends.

My meandering thoughts remind me that regardless of one’s religious persuasion or heritage, there is an inherent awareness of failure (sin) and a restless desire for acceptance (peace).  It’s not just true in India and Hollywood.  It’s also true in Azle and Decatur and everywhere else there are people.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Augustine (354-430 A.D) prayed, “You made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.” (Confessions)

Our lives matter so much to God that He makes it possible for us to be forgiven and at peace through turning to Christ (repentance).

Sounds like a win/win.  Peace with God for us and a lot less grossness for the rivers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hey! How Can I Get a Dynasty?

What is the deal with these ducks?  Why do they have a dynasty and why are all these people talking about them? 
That’s what I was thinking until a couple of weeks ago, when Mrs. Sweetie happened to watch an episode of Duck Dynasty on A&E.  “You have to watch this,” she said.  I was hooked after one episode.  I might  be a redneck.

Now the A&E Network has given us such shows as “Storage Wars”, “Pawn Stars”, and (gasp!) “Hoarders”.  I care nothing for any of these and in fact “Hoarders” has been known to cause me to get up and leave the room in total creeped-out-edness.  I’m sorry, but there was no adequate existing English word to capture how that one makes me feel.

But “Duck Dynasty” cracks me up.  The show is about nothing except a family of rednecks living the American Dream.  Like many people, I can’t get enough of Uncle Si. I drove my kids crazy during the Christmas break talking in my Uncle Si accent and saying, “Hey!” about every other sentence.  Just like we used to limit favorite son’s “Power Rangers” watching when he was karate kicking everything in sight at the age of 5 or 6, I think they want to limit my “DD” watching. (Hey! That’s insider redneck lingo for “Duck Dynasty”, Jack!) 

How the Robertson clan got to be West Monroe’s wealthiest rednecks is not what I am most interested in.  (I never thought I would use the words “wealthiest rednecks” in a sentence).  Honestly, what attracts me most is the picture of family doing life together with laughter and faith.  I don’t know if all the stories I have read are true, but there is a lot out there about this family and how they are using their influence to share the good news of Jesus with people who might not be found in your average church.  Whether the stories are true or not, I love the way they end each show praying over a big family meal. 

I’m thinking about my own dynasty.  Maybe I could be known as the Blog Commander.  Or not.  I guess I am really more interested in a legacy than a dynasty.  And that leads me to my role as I have learned it from Ephesians chapters 5-6.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (5:21) … love your wives, just as Christ loved the church (5:25) … husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies (5:28) … do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord (6:4) ... do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people (6:6-7).

My legacy matters to God and if I please him with my life, that will make me “Happy, Happy.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

You Can't Be SIRIous!

Hi!  I’m Gerry and I’m a technoholic.  I admit that I sometimes use technology to excess, and sometimes technologize alone.  Sometimes, when I should be out and about moving around, I sit and think about what gadgets I would like.  Some might say I have a SIRIous problem.

The one thing that keeps my addiction in check is the fact that I’m not a techno-geek.  That means that I love gadgets, but I just want them to do what they do without my having to understand how.  So,  I don’t want the absolute latest technology.  I want last year’s technology so lots of people have already played and worked with it and have all the kinks worked out.  For example, when the iPhone 5 came out recently, I upgraded to the iPhone 4S.  It may not have all the latest, but I have been introduced to the greatness of SIRI.

Now, her cute little female robot voice can’t hold a candle (or a flashlight app) to Mrs. Sweetie’s, but I have carried on some pretty cool conversations.  When I say, “I’m hungry,” she tells me that there are several restaurants close by and offers to give me directions.  “I’m sleepy,” has gotten three different answers so far:  (1) “There’s nothing wrong with being tired.” (2) “I hope you’re not driving.” (3) “Listen to me.  Put down this iPhone and take a nap right now.”  Notice the “product placement” – not just “phone” but “iPhone”.

My girls (Mrs Sweetie, favorite daughter, and favorite almost daughter-in-law) got a good laugh this morning listening to me converse with SIRI.  I told her she was awesome.  Her answer, “Wow!  Really?”  I told her I love her.  First answer, “That’s sweet, Gerry.”  Second answer, “That’s impossible.”

She’s actually right about that.  As much as I enjoy technology, I don’t love it.  And SIRI is really not a she.  Some really smart people gave this technology the ability to respond to the human voice in more ways than I am able to understand.  But, for me, technology is still a means to connect with real people.  If I need to exchange information, I’ll use text messaging, Facebook, or Twitter.  If I want to have a conversation about business, I’ll use the telephone.  If I want to just share life and talk, I prefer face to face over a cup of coffee or a meal.

So, I’m not too worried about my technology addiction.

1 John 4:10-12 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

Our lives matter so much to God that He gave us each other.  You can’t be SIRI and SIRI can’t be you.  Let’s love one another more in 2013.