There Is Always A Back Story

I did not grow up with Peter Pan…

Wendy - PirateUntil I was in my 40’s I had never seen anything about Peter or Wendy. I had not read the book, seen the movie, or attended the Broadway show depicting Never Never Land. I vaguely knew the story line, but I probably knew more about “Lost Horizon” (by James Hilton) than I knew about Peter Pan. A decade or two ago we watched a Disney type movie called “Hook” and I’m sure I fell asleep – sitting for two hours seldom entices me to stay awake! (Even at the Broadway show, The Phantom of the Opera.)

“Hook” made no sense. My wife and kids try to tell me what was going as it connected to the history of Peter Pan. I confess, I did not know the back story.

Often that is the crux of the matter.

Most stories told of a person’s history comes in many parts. To understand a particular portion of time, one probably needs to know what leads the character to this crucible.

Maybe it is like the friar witnessing the untimely death of several people on an Inca rope bridge in Thornton Wilder’s novel, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” I remember the story decently as we had to read it in High School and write reports about it. The friar wants to know the back story of the lives lost in this tragic moment, and begins to research what brought them all together at such a time of chance. This was Wilder’s second novel and won him a Pulitzer prize in 1928.

(Note to self: I wonder if it would be a good thing to read all the books that won a Pulitzer?)

Other than a remarkable line describing Peter, one must know the back story to make the connection. My son does this so well in his book EleanorThose of us who know Jason and our immediate family pretty well can probably find the clues that paint a portion of his back story.

“Hook” tells a portion of Peter Pan’s life. He is now grown, married and with kids of his own. A career as a corporate raider. When his son is describing Peter’s job to Aunt Wendy, she turns to him and says, “So, Peter, you’ve become a pirate!”

Undoubtedly, the back story revolves around a young kid who never wants to grow up. A pirate name Captain Hook is his nemesis from an earlier point of the story. In his fantasy Never Never Land, kids are kids forever. When you leave this land you revert to normal life, and aging is the result. This happens to Peter, I guess (I still have not read the story!). He begins to age and life begins to happen normally.

When you learn the back story, my question is: “How did he ever become a pirate?”

Somehow, I grew up in a normal life. Peter Pan was not in my vocabulary. I was born just 10 years after the ending of WWII. We had never seen such worldwide devastation. Millions upon millions killed – the numbers will never be known. Our future becomes the space program, Cold War, Korean Conflict, Vietnam. I am blessed to grow up with loving parents, great siblings, and exciting family living all over the place! My reading enticement revolved around the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, seldom a comic book. For me, Saturday morning was not a strong cartoon experience, rather it was Tarzan, Bomba, and other adventure stories. (Everything was in black and white!)

Often, we made what 2014-08-05 09.34.22we needed instead of running to the store (I remember grandparents bringing some “down” to the house in Seabrook, along with appropriate fabric, and before you knew it we were stuffing our own pillows in the yard!) Imagination was strong as we played Cowboys and Indians, War, and 50 years ago I wrestled alligators in the swimming pool and killed them with my favorite red rubber knife bought at the 5&10 store. I seldom went anywhere without this knife!

As you can tell, I still own it…It’s right next to my computer!

Strong family and neighborhood ties. Great childhood experiences. Good, solid church foundation. It was safe to ride our bikes all day long and only come home when hungry, or at dinner time. We even rode our bikes late at night around the various neighborhoods we lived in, or were visiting. Agast! We even carried our BB Guns with us! We ran through the woods, camped out in the river bottom, hunted rabbits and squirrels with our shotguns.

That’s my back story. I can see in myself today what my history reveals.

If you meet me today you will not know my back story. Does it matter? Perhaps.

Consider Thomas Alva Edison. We know him by his end products – electric light bulb, power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures. His creations advanced telecommunications, almost by light years! Back story? Because his mind wandered, his teacher called him “addled” and hence Edison spent only 3 months in any kind of formal education. He learned by reading and doing. Reading “School of Natural Philosophy”, a scientific textbook by Richard Green Parker, and he read after “Cooper Union” (Fascinating Story – Click Here), a college started by a man who had less than a year of formal schooling. A science experiment left him partially deaf and he would struggle with this for life.

Is this all there is to his back story? Many have accomplished similar feats. I think the back story is deeper than his education, or obvious limitations, and he confirms this:

“My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” (Click this link for a deeper story.)

We all have something we point back to that makes us who we reveal ourselves as today. What’s your back story?

Simply consider Jesus, God robed in flesh, growing up as a regular child in dusty and rural Bethlehem, Nazareth and Israel as a whole. No modern conveniences. Picking up the trade of his earthly father, Joseph. Struggling with life as an everyday child of the time. Tempted in all points of the law, just like every one else (Hebrews 4:15). He was not exempt. But then, adulthood and ministry begins. He returns to his home, and Matthew paints the picture like this.

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:53-56 ESV)

Who is this man? Where did he get this wisdom? Not around here! How can he do these mighty works? No clue! Isn’t he the son of the carpenter? Don’t we know his family?

As simple as this we conclude there is a back story we do not know. Every adult has become who they are, and hidden in their back story is probably a nugget that points to how they became who they are. We can look at every knucklehead and hero in history and probably find hints. We can look at every person and find a back story.

Again, what is your back story?

Post Super Bowl – It’s Monday

We must always remember it’s only a GAME…

Super Bowl 50 LogoBut the Super Bowl has become one of the most watched games on the face of the earth. It is said over 100 million people tuned in yesterday from around the world. They watched for a winner, the commercials, and the outlandish halftime show that never seems to work the best in a stadium experience.

The first Super Bowl was played just 2 days after my 12th birthday on 01/15/67… Yes.. It was early January, and not the near middle of February.

The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, known retroactively as Super Bowl I and referred to in some contemporaneous reports, including the game’s radio broadcast, as the Super Bowl, was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers defeated the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 35–10. (click here to read: Wikipedia)

Yes… I have been alive all 50 years of the Super Bowl and it’s amazing, I suspect, how little impact it has had on my life. In fact, that first game was on a Sunday, and my birthday of the 13th was the previous … wait for it … F-R-I-D-A-Y… Yes.. Friday the 13th.

I don’t have many memories of that birthday, or that weekend. What was my gift? Hmmm… 

But I do remember the day after that first Super Bowl. I was in the 7th grade. Junior High. Channelview. Back then many coaching jobs also required the coach to teach a subject and at least one of my teachers was one of the coaches. Name? Sport? Team? I cannot even tell you which subject he taught. But the conversation the entire class period revolved around the game and specific plays that were made.

Houston Oilers Logo - 1959-1996It seems like I was in a school where nearly everybody was interested in the game and had missed church to watch it. Okay. Yes. It is in Texas and football is a big thing. I would later become the school photographer and went to many a Friday night game. And, Houston (our metro neighbor) had a ball team… The Houston Oilers.

Was that first Super Bowl a day game, or was it night? No idea. Back then, Sunday was a church day, and nearly an all day event, including lunch with friends and hangouts at one-another’s house.

By the way, I just asked my cousin, Lyn, if he remembers the game. We were in the same grade at the same school. His memory? Nil. Nada. Nothing.

After this anniversary game of yesterday, among many things possible to remember, the thing that hits my news feed the most.

  • Will Peyton Manning retire?
  • Cam Newton was not his usual self.

Will this really be how an important anniversary is remembered? An aging and battered quarterback playing perhaps his last professional game? Another up and coming quarterback’s unusual performance as the loser of the competition?

No. Some will focus on the scores, the drives, the commercials and even the half-time show. But for those who really know how to drive the news, it will be about these two sticking points.

Pause for a moment. Your own personal memorial days. What do you remember the day after?

King David writes of a 1,000 years of our time in the sight of God are but as yesterday when it is passed. (Psalms 90:4) Nothing more than a watch in the night. In fact, I suspect we struggle with all the facts of yesterday because we have slept since then!

Just two years before the first Super Bowl, the Beatles sang a popular song, even today, many days’ past their existence and it’s performance (August, 1965), I remember nearly all the words.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

There are things that we have better memories of than a “game” played on a “church day”.

  • I remember that after my 16th birthday when I started reading my gift bible through in its entirety. My first study bible and I was going to read all of it!
  • I remember the days and weeks after my hiring by National Bank of Alaska in 1980 and how hard we prepared for that transition! My brother Vaughn helped my prepare my truck, even by adding another gas tank. Truck? 1977 GMC Sierra, Sea Mist Green, 3 speed auto, 305 cubic inch, A/C, AM/FM …
  • I remember the days, even now, 41+ years after my wedding to my wonderful bride, Brenda. It’s almost like every day has been a memorable day.
  • I remember the quiet joy of holding my two kids the moments after they were born, even now these memories pop fresh into my mind. Jason in Baytown, Elizabeth in Anchorage. 1978… 1981…

I remember these things more than I do anything about that first Super Bowl…Or even the 50th of Yesterday. Especially… I remember a special time of the event this song sings about.

I remember when my burdens rolled away;
I had carried them for years, night and day.
When I sought the blessèd Lord,
And I took Him at His word,
Then at once all my burdens rolled away.

Refrain

Rolled away, rolled away,
I am happy since my burdens rolled away.
Rolled away, rolled away,
I am happy since my burdens rolled away.

(Minnie Steele, 1908, I Remember When My Burdens Rolled Away)

How about you? What are your memories like after that special day?

The Love Of God, This Sunday

Preparing and over-preparing…and feeling ill-prepared…

Church PewsThe process whereby I get ready for His Sunday morning message. I work hard at making it not be about what I know, and my personality, but more about what He is…and what He wants us to hear and know this day.

It’s a special day that takes a little planning, and a lot of prayer to feel like it will work the way you envision. While researching, and writing, this old song came into my mind… Perhaps you know it.

The Love of God, by O.S. Davis, Copyright 1949

The Love of Jesus to me is greater
Than anything else I’ve ever known.
It reaches deeper than any sin stain
It reaches higher than heaven’s throne

It brought the Savior from heaven’s glory
To give his life for a world of sin
Tho God of heaven, He condescended
To prove to you that he is your friend.

It giveth comfort to those in sorrow.
It bringeth peace to a troubled soul
The love of Jesus goes in the byways
To seek the sin sick and make them whole

Chorus:
The love of God is more to me
Than all this world could ever be
It reaches down from the throne of glory
And sets the vilest sinner free.

I Love Words!

I Know There Are Things I’m Not Good At

EinsteinThough I am no Einstein when it comes to the higher and deeper thoughts of math and science, science makes more sense due to all the fiction written about it. Math, on the other hand, is a language in and unto itself that sounds like foreign gibberish.

I doubt Einstein was much confounded by the subjects we are often the most confused by!

Gordian KnotWhere I see nothing but a Gordian Knot, I suspect Einstein had not only the intellect, but the understanding of many subjects that the unraveling of such a convoluted nest of coils and twists, with tightening turns and impossible angles… He probably had the ability to unravel and remove the kinks, or at least the ability to follow the path to an obvious ending. Obvious to him, of course.

Did you catch that word I used? Convoluted…

Convolution – a coil or twist, especially one of many. Synonyms include: twist, turn, coil, spiral, twirl, curl, helix, whorl, loop,and curlicue. An antonym is simply: simplicity.

A word with many applications, but we instantly use it as it applies to our personal world. It seems to “fit” in and makes perfect sense! Convoluted. Still, to the thinking mind, nothing is as complex as it seems, and with the right skill set and patience, we can perhaps unravel the challenge and simplify its existence.

A word that describes so many twists to the world we are living in today! Nothing is as complex as it appears. Take the time. Think it through. You CAN reach a conclusion. Right?

2016-02-06 08.38.32It’s like a new “game” I’m spending time with, Hocus. Although, I’m not so sure it’s a game and more a thought process of seeing pathways where none might exist, and determining how to move past obstacles that do not really exist. It’s a real “brain twister”…

It’s rolling a block along some twisted and convoluted images to a destination that the block will sink into. Much like putting a ball into the can on a golf course, you look for the twists and turns of the turf to determine the best way to go.

Life is more rapidly becoming convoluted. What was once as simple as binary math (on, off, 1’s, o’s, yes, no), is now melded into an entire language that requires a genius to comprehend. Science is not simply the mixing bowl of chemicals, it’s now down into the genetics and DNA of everything where specialized equipment is required in order to test results of scientific thought.

Where did we come from? Who are we? When did it all begin? One declares this answer with muddled logic, and another declares that answer…with their own muddied logic. Nothing seems clear. No answer seems to be right, or correct, or every man is right in his own mind!

Can we not bring about some simplification?

This is the problem, I think. The world is so complex and interconnected that it is difficult to isolate a simple thought without re-explaining it away from the language of the complex.

Is there a way to be simple? Again?

About 30 years ago I listened to the same sermon of a man for about a dozen times over a several week period. It was back in our bookstore days and I was traveling a circuit of sections where business meetings were being conducted and we were invited to tag along. So, I listened to this same thought, over and again.

The Apostle Paul writes in his second letter to the church in Corinth.

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:1-4 KJV)

Notice the logic. Eve beguiled through the subtilty of convoluted logic. Yet there is a simplicity of Christ. And if we are not careful, we will make the gospel we have received so convoluted that we can easily be deceived ourselves. Just like it happened in the garden!

The wisest man we find of scripture declared this:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2 KJV)

Wait a minute… Is not the heart a convoluted place? Deceitfully wicked? Everything is so convoluted…but God sees and, yes, he knows the heart.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 KJV) 

Can we simplify? Can we bring all this highfalutin thinking down to where the average person can understand? Yes…Perhaps. But we must take the pathway that simplifies everything. Paul may describe the warring that happens within our flesh and spirit (Romans 7), but Jesus says it more clearly:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24 NKJV)

Mammon is generally related to money. Money is related to things we do with it. If we elevate the attainment of acquiring money for the things we “need” and “want”, then we begin to serve the desires of money more than God.

So… Pick one or the other. Serve God, or serve money. It’s simple, right? It should be.

 

I wish I were a better thinker… The Thinker

My mental acuity is often bogged down by disambiguation and easily discombobulated by the lack of clarity due to misappropriated facts misapplied to modern viewpoints.

 

What Can You Hear?

What Can You Hear?

Dog Listening to Gramaphone
Dog Listening to Gramophone

There are five senses that we depend on to be effectively alive in this world!

  • Taste, Hear, See, Smell – these senses are located in your head.
  • Feel – this is the one sense that impacts the head but we often think of it as coming from our fingers.

The senses of the head are all so specialized and cause us to act or re-act to the input we receive.

  • When we taste a substance, we either hunger for more or flee the table.
  • When we hear, we tune in or tune out, or  look for the volume control.
  • When we see danger, our tendency is to flee or fight.
  • When we smell, we are either drawn or repulsed.
  • When we feel, we move closer or further away, we enjoy or dislike.

Our senses control just about every response to life.

How we respond, how we act, where we go, what we search for, what our desires are – we can either sharpen our senses to grow into a marvelous individual, or we can let our senses become sloppy and our end result seldom pleases anyone.

A thinking person cannot think without having had input into the brain. A loving person cannot love without having the sense of what one chooses to love. A rational person cannot maintain control if there is nothing to give one balance on the ranges of emotion.

Your sum total of being is a result of what your senses give you, how you internally process it, and what you do with it to form your outward persona. All our sensory input molds us into the person that we eventually accept and the present to others. Sensory overload creates a stressed life. Focusing on satisfying a single stimulus from a single sense makes us unstable. Example, constant visual stimulation of things that entertain us gives us an outward person that struggles with reality.

Now here’s the rub. What we hear directly affects the brain.

Scripture continually points us to what we put into our heart (brain) comes more from what we hear and from what we see. During a time when many could not read, much less have a book to hold onto, much instruction came by hearing the Word of God, or listening to instructions being provided.

Listening skills are missing in this modern world. Constant noise is being filtered by our brain. We follow the sounds that appeal to us, and tune out the sounds that are discordant. I was visiting with our pest control guy recently and he commented it was so easy to talk to me as I was a good listener. Such a beautiful compliment! Oh, that God could say that about us. Oft times we are formulating a response while listening to someone talk. Yet God speaks and there’s really nothing we can say in response – so we should develop some really keen listening skills.

Let me share a couple of “hearing” things a child of God should focus on.

Sharpened Hearing…

For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Acts 28:27 KJV)

The older I get the more my hearing is becoming history. When listening to some of you I have to give complete focus to your speech, perhaps even paying attention to the shape of words you are making with your mouth. I cannot make my hearing better, but I can change the circumstances around which I listen. For example, background noise can drown out your spoken word – in order to hear you better I must remove the background noise so I can hear more clearly.

When you are trying to determine your path in life, you have to completely focus!

When a message is being preached, too many times you allow your attention to be sidetracked by the things you have surrounding you. I’ve watched people clip their nails, respond to emails or texts, play with their children, whisper to one another, or just sleep. You cannot hear sharply what is being shared from God’s word when you have your attention divided.

Jesus said in Mark 3:24-27, “…And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.”

Divided attention produces unstable results! Why do you think they have passed laws to prevent you from talking or texting on your cell phones? Your focus shifts from that which is in your immediate surrounding and suddenly you are transported to another dimension with a person who may be half way round the globe. 

Sharpening your hearing means you must pull out all the stops of distractions and put all your energy into hearing what God would say to you and the church. John writes in the early chapters of Revelations, “…He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches…” In order to hear we must focus our ears upon the spiritual voice of God.

Pray…

When we pray, we do it in such a way that we vocalize to God, hoping that He hears. Have you ever listened to the words you are saying? Most of the times we just say words with no concept of the power these words have. There is power to your words – power that brings solutions!
Jesus answers His disciples desire to learn how to pray by giving them a formula. We seldom follow the formula and just pour out our self-pitying cries of despair. Listen to how you pray and tell me that you’re doing what Jesus says!

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV)

When we speak to God, it is important that we pause and allow him to speak in return! When He speaks to us, we should be focused on hearing what He says.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1John 5:14-15, KJV)

He will answer according to His will, but we have to speak our prayers properly and not incorrectly.

“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3, KJV)

Prayer is a two-way conversation! Speak. Hush and listen.

Hearing God…

At the mountain where the transfiguration occurred, God speaks to the three disciples regarding the spoken words of Jesus, (Matt 17:5) “…hear ye him…” This phrase comes from Deut 18:15, where God says another prophet would be raised up (mountain top) and all should listen to him. Luke writes in several places in Acts to confirm the results of this prophecy (Acts 3:22-23, Acts 7:37).

We are commanded to listen.

This world is full of discordant sounds, voices that command our attention, words that cause us to listen… Oh what do we spend time listening to?

Yet Satan has a voice and it is often difficult to know whose voice we are hearing. Jesus says His Sheep will know His voice (John 10:27) and as the verse goes on to explain, “…I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish…”

Who do you want to listen to? False hope? Or the Truth? Or the one that can give you Eternal Life?

Never tired of hearing…

In the last days, Amos writes that God would send a famine into the land. Not a famine of food, but of hearing the word of the Lord. (Amos 8:11) How can anyone grow tired of hearing the Word of the Lord? For in these Words we have access to understanding the will and plan of God for this world. In them we learn of the majesty and beauty of God. In them we learn how much He loves us!

King David says he wants to inquire in the temple and behold the beauty of the Lord (Ps 27:4). You never tire of approaching that which YOU deem beautiful!

A side note: Just like we guard our eyes from debris and damage, you should also watch what you listen to for the same reason. What you ingest, lodges into you memory banks, and can be later recalled with clarity or muddled recitation.

Finally, Paul came to the city and people of Corinth in a very plain fashion. Read his words in
1 Corinthians 2:1-16(KJV) to get the full gist of what our hearing needs to be like.

How Clearly Do You See?

I am listening to a video…

2016-02-03 13.47.38
Broken Glasses

Yes… A video. It’s playing in the background as I work on my computer. It is a video of the Gospel of John, in the New International Version translation. Actors are playing out the entire book, and I am listening. Not watching.

Imagine a blind person. If they pay any attention to a video it is always with their ear. Right?

The video narration is reading through John, and the actors are portraying the story. It’s Chapter 9. Jesus passes by a blind man and his disciples want to know who sinned that this blindness was caused. His parents? No one… He is blind so that the works of God should be displayed in him. He spits into some dirt and makes a mud salve, anointing the mans eyes. “Wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (John 9:7)

And the man was healed.

I listen to this while working with two sets of reading glasses. One for regular close up use, and other for my monitors which are nearly 3 feet away. Swapping glasses as needed. Eye appointments this month may be able to give me some bifocals to stop this problem, but I have gone through so many versions of glasses in order to see up close. (see the picture)

In fact, I’ve been known to leave these cheap bifocals laying around the house, my truck and the pulpit… Just in case I loose or break mine. 

The older I get, the worse my up-close vision becomes that I cannot even see to take a speck of dirt out of the corner of my eye this morning. Imagine, taking my glasses off to cleanse my eyes and then putting my glasses on to see if the dirt was gone. Futility, this morning. I can’t cleanse my eyes without my glasses on, and my glasses are in the way of that speck of dirt.

This is the problem many of us have. We cannot see without aid, and that aid gets in the way of removing that which is offensive. We struggle with seeing, and when we can see we cannot reach the problem.

Yet, we want to reach out and fix your problem!

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:41-42 NKJV)

Not necessarily a deep thought today… Unless you struggle with that speck of dirt in someone else’s eyes and don’t even see the vision problems you have yourself!

Then this is for you…

What Does Your Conversation Say About You?

Politics is in full swing…

2016-02-03 07.08.33Iowa is history. New Hampshire is on the forefront. Then all the other states primaries fall quickly between now and the middle of June. (See complete list here) The rhetoric is not about using language skillfully, but rather how snide and condescending one politician or pundit can be over the other. Throw phrases and words around like so much slop, we quickly see who has command of their speech and who is simply shooting from the hip.

On the social fronts, our modern times allow for just about anyone to enter the fray. Easily. Every voice is like a chicken scratching around the yard looking for the next morsel to attack. The proximity of negative is like the rising tide, and if you are not careful you just might get swallowed up in the morass.

In between the segments of noise I hear a quiet voice speaking up. Sensitive. Timely. Attempting to get each of us to watch how we join into the conflict. Watch how you choose sides. Speak to God before speaking about others. Pray before you voice, or vote.

In the midst of this, I hear a scripture popping up in my spirit.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: (Philippians 1:27 KJV)

Your conversation. Your conduct. The way you engage. The way you speak.

“The way you are known.”

It is sometimes difficult to not engage when the voices drown out your sanctity and peace. When the negative is bandied about like an out of control rocket. You rise like the trout to that fly, and you snag onto the line that will carry you about – out of control, even though you fight and resist. Eventually, you are in that place you never really wanted to be…

Oh, for a little time to flesh this thought out. That word. Conversation. Old English. Hebrew. Greek. Used only twice in the Old Testament and then by King David (Psalms 37:14, 50:23). Primarily used in the Epistles by Paul, Peter, James and the author of Hebrews. The source of this English word finds root in original language as:

Behavior, Citizenship, Behave as a citizen, Behave self

Valuable words describe how our “conversation” should be conducted. It is easy to let our emotions come into play. And get the best of us! How do we control our speech? Simple. You have to be in control of self… It’s called “temperance” in the King James Version and it is the offspring of a Spirit filled life. It’s a fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

There is no law against these fruits. From translation to translation, these words improve with age, but their meanings are deeply held by those who are fed by the Spirit of God.

Love. Joy. Peace. Moral Excellence (longsuffering). Kindness (gentleness). Goodness. Faithfulness. Meekness. Self Control.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:24-25 NKJV)

Crucified. Extinguished. Our fleshly passions and desires. So that we who live in the Spirit must walk in that same breath of the Spirit that breathes new life into our lives. That Spiritual breath (John 20:22) that the Lord whispers fresh living into our lives.

As we trounce through this year of politics, keep your Spirit alive and fresh, and your flesh and desires crucified. Live your life as totally unto the Lord. Do not be hooked on the bait tossed into the waters of your life!