Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Never Forget That I Love You

Many of us are now at an age where roles are beginning to be reversed in regards to our aging parents.  This is a difficult time no matter which side of the fence you live on.  Years ago, my mom wrote a poem  for her children in case she ever developed Alzheimer's in the future.  She and her sister witnessed the slow and heart wrenching decline of their own mother as my grandmother gradually lost all faculties.  Alzheimer's is one of my mother's greatest fears.  This poem is not perfect in form or style, but it expressed her desire to love her children sacrificially until the end.  Perhaps, it will be just what you or I need to hear.

Never forget that I love you.
If I develop Alzheimer’s Disease,
I may forget who you are,
Call you names, scream at you,
And be mean to you.

Never forget that I love you.
If I develop Alzheimer’s Disease,
I may become very possessive
I may hide things in strange places
And accuse you of stealing them.

Never forget that I love you.
If I develop Alzheimer’s Disease,
I may be dirty and odoriferous.
I may wet myself and fight you
When you try to clean me.

Never forget that I love you.
If I develop Alzheimer’s Disease,
I may forget how to cook
And how to set the table.
I wash dishes without soap
And dry them with a dirty paper napkin.

Never forget that I love you.
If I develop Alzheimer’s Disease,
I may not eat good food.
I may forget how to use a fork or spoon.
I may even forget how to swallow.

Never forget that I love you.
If I develop Alzheimer’s Disease,
Don’t allow my care to ruin your lives.
Don’t keep me lingering on by measures that only
Prolong the agony for us both.
Rather, let me go ---- and find peace with my Lord.
But, never forget that I love you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

God's Still on His Throne

As I was driving tonight I saw a sign in front of a church that made me both sad and angry.  It read, "God was not in the tornado."  While I'm sure that congregation's intention was to comfort people hurt by the storms, I find no solace in that statement.  What I have to say may ruffle many feathers and make some people angry, but here goes....

If there is one single molecule or atom out there that is outside of God's control then God ceases to be God.  Think it through for a moment.  If God is not completely sovereign and able to control storms or the "bad" things that happen in our lives, then those things are more powerful than God.  I can take no comfort in the thought that there is any thing that is outside of His reach and authority.

God allows us to pass through storms.  God allows us to go through heart wrenching times.  God allows us to go through pain, loss, and death.  But He meets us there.  He sees us through to the other side.  He has plans for us.  He uses those inexplicably hard times for our good (molding us into His image) and His glory.  Dwell on the following passages:

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.   ... In the Christian life there WILL be very trying times.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.   ...God is perfectly good and perfectly sovereign; He does have a plan for you.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  ...God uses ALL things (even the seemingly horrific ones) for our good and His glory.

My God is in the storms.  Not a hair can fall from my head apart from His will. (Mtt. 10)   Nothing can touch me without passing through His hands first.  This is my comfort.  This is what I cling to. 

Job 1:21 The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Impending Extinction of Adulthood

I've hesitated to write on this topic for quite some time now.  It's been on my mind a lot, for a number of years actually.  I have not sat down to put my thoughts on paper because so much of what I have (or need) to say is a critic of me.  As you read through this, please be mindful that I'm speaking largely to myself and know that I'm not peering into your lives with a critical eye and waving a pointed finger your way.  These are just some observations that I need to think through to clarify and categorized them properly in my little mind.

I've been greatly distressed lately at the lack of maturity and responsibility in adults.  I know I'm not the only one because there have been books written about kidults, generation "me" and other narcissistic types.  But before we start complaining about the twenty-something dad who ignores his child's cries while he plays video games or the mom who leaves her infant in the car to go nightclubbing, maybe it's time we looked at ourselves first. 

Did you know that the average social gamer is a 43 year-old woman?!  This is the statistic that hit me other the head.  According to game maker  Popcap:

  • 38% of female social gamers play several times a day, vs. 29% of men.
  • Two-thirds play every day, nearly all play multiple times a week, and more than 60% say their sessions last more than half an hour.
  • Only 6% are age 21 or younger.
  • The largest single group of social gamers — 41 per cent of those surveyed — work full time, while 13 percent are retired and 11 percent are homemakers.
Okay, I confess.  I have Farmville, YoVille, and play Poppit on Pogo.com.  All three are relaxing, addictive, and time consuming.  It almost sounds like a recreational drug!  Are these things I need to weed out of my life?  Probably, but addictions are hard to break, particularly when your social network (the real one, not the internet) is in the same boat as you.  This is something I really need to pray about.

Also on my mind lately is the lack of protocol, maturity, and simple etiquette in the workplace.  One of my biggest pet peeves is unanswered emails.  Granted, we're all busy (though some of us are so busy because we're on Farmville), but at least an acknowledgment of receipt of a business inquiry is in order.

As a society, we also have allowed Casual Fridays to morph into a daily style of dress that is typically lazy and sometimes downright childish.  Pajamas and lingerie are for the bedroom, not the workplace or Wal*Mart.  How can we expect to respect each other if we don't respect ourselves enough to comb our hair?  Why do we demand to be treated with dignity when we depreciate our own bodies by poking too many holes in it with piercings or drawing all over it with tattoos or color are hair as if we were a My Little Pony doll?

Our language in general has sunk to beneath primordial sludge in many cases.  My grandmother wouldn't just blush, she'd be cutting a switch if she heard some of our word choices.  I honestly believe this shows either an uneducated (read: stupid) mind or a lazy mind.  A good and decent vocabulary requires having good and decent things in your head.  This week, to help keep my mind from straying into the sin of worry, I've been focusing on Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~ESV

Frankly, I can see no reason to ever drop the F-bomb or most other swear words.  There is a time for anger to be sure, but not for expletives....including minced oaths which are mere shadows of what is truly in our sinful hearts.

None of the above troubles me as much as the lack of respect shown during worship services.  Worship is to be God-centered.  It's difficult to achieve that when the person behind you is talking (not just whispering, talking), the person next to you is drinking Starbucks while munching a doughnut, and the girl in front of you is obviously proud to be sporting a thong.  There are so many distractions in worship services today, including the ever popular cell phone interruptions.  Worship comes from the Greek word  proskuneo meaning "to bow before."  I think some of us (self included sometimes) tend to forget that we are there to worship the sovereign God of the universe who takes worship very seriously, regardless of whether or not we have good intentions or just "forgot."

So, why do we do all these things when we know better?  I believe it is because we are all basically self-centered.  That guy who cut you off in traffic had no idea that his actions scared you senseless or upset you; he was only thinking about his personal agenda.  Everything we do and say (or wear) affects someone else (unless you're a hermit, but if you're reading this, you're NOT a hermit).  I believe that if we change the focus of our hearts and minds to being God-centered rather than self-centered, a lot of us will mature naturally.  

I'm also going to start asking myself to try to understand the position of others.  Perhaps the guy who cut me off in traffic was rushing to the hospital.  It's unlikely, but possible.  No matter what, he is a person who stands in need of Christ.  What about the store clerk who is rude or unwilling to be helpful, etc.?  We just don't know what's going on in another person's personal life.  The world is full of hurting people.  How can we point them to Christ if  we're so focused on our own needs and desires?  Again, ultimately, we/I need to be more God-centered.  It's high time we grew up....