My relationships with other Christians have been increasingly tested and strained, as my faith has grown. Where I remain wholly devoted to God through Christ, as my Savior; I have joyfully sought to dismiss and move beyond those elements of my faith that were nothing more than dysfunctional religion. The last 7 years has been a shaking out of so many metaphorical prayer rugs in my life to remove the spiritual dust and plasticity that can settle on one’s faith. This has not always been embraced by other believers where they believed instead that I wasn’t being the ‘good Christian’ they deemed I should be – and specifically how they deemed I should be. I have thus, spent years tasting too many experiences of spiritual condemnation and judgment from the badge-wearing legalistic bat-swingers. I have only recently stopped doing something I have done my entire life. I’ve stopped going to church. Where I long for genuine fellowship with other believers, I can no longer bear to suffer through what is little more than a period of religious observation; including ‘thanks’ to the soul that brought the pecan brownies and the reminder to give generously, as is the will of God. The adage “What Would Jesus Do” that was so popular some years back makes me wince to contemplate, today. I don’t think many in church today would care. I just know I can’t stand it any longer – yet, the scripture of Hebrews 10:25 burns in my mind and heart.
I pray for God to move among his people – beginning with me.
the sun arose, as did i birthed anew i breathed a sigh filled with want and want my quest passions burned within my breast truth to find, love to know seek the good of life to grow tolls were taken with each test being weary, i would rest
hints of wonder met with time hope of good to grow, sublime sweetness tasted, pure and blessed splendid dreams to be suppressed pay and pay and pay more, still moved to stand through prayer and will pushed, punched, prodded and pressed being weary, i would rest
fellow travelers met with miles extended selves with broadened smiles corrupted hands that feign caress will to steal and dreams molest tempt my heart to grow askew tomorrow’s promise awaits my view searching takes me east and west being weary, i would rest
there waits a day i’ve yet to meet this day-of-days to surely greet my sojourn here will end, as guest the breath he lent, he’ll surely wrest i’ve lived to long to meet this day aware now, of all i pray valleys long with peaks to crest i am weary – i will rest
Interestingly enough – when I searched the term ‘front-man’ – the first link displayed was theWiki link for lead vocalist. The picture to the right side of this page was a shot of Queen in concert. Irony – as I wanted to write briefly about perhaps the consummate front-man,Freddie Mercury.
Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, he grew up in a province of Bombay, India. His family moved to England when he was a teen. Stepping into the spotlight as a singer in rock bands, shy young Farrokh took the name (& persona) of Freddie Mercury and never looked back. He would grow to be one of, if not the greatest vocalist rock-n-roll ever produced. What has impressed me as the decades have passed is how he remains a leader at the forefront of a particular position in entertainment; that of the front-man. There have been so many great performers in this category. Not just great singers – but great showmen. Great captivators. Great front-men! I have seen so many wonderful such performers stand in front of a sea of fans and hold, lift and carry these audiences to places of entertainment ecstasy. Elvis, Tina Turner, Johnny Cash, Ann Wilson, James Brown, Steven Tyler – and on-and-on-and-on …
I have never ever seen anyone that could and would take possession of an audience the way Freddie Mercury could and did. Literally every performance was an opportunity for his stage persona to demonstrate that he was wholly in charge. His charm and charisma – his unmatched talent – his raw vulnerability set you on edge. He was completely exposed; and completely and unabashedly comfortable being so. He would seize your attention and never let go. You wouldn’t just be fixed and focused. You were powerless to avoid the ride. A perfect example of this was Queen’s Live Aid performance. The biggest live music event ever was riding along at a pedestrian pace on two continents whenQueen took the stage. Considered by virtually all throughout music as being on the downside (if not done) of their career, Queen took the stage and within a couple of minutes reminded the world of just who they were. The world responded in an evident flood of embrace and celebration. It was clear that rock’s showman – its greatest front-man was standing before them; and you could feel the collective realization from all in a powerful and palpable “oh, yea!”
Queen stepped from this performance into a more global run of success that continued until Freddie’s death. I grew up in the greatest period of such rock-n-roll where genuine legends were defined by their ability in live shows. Looking across the landscape of all this represents – Freddie was the very best.
We went retro this evening and drove about 50 miles out in the country to visit the Goochland Drive-In, in Goochland, VA. We got there about an hour before movie time. The place was full and they stopped allowing people in about 5 cars behind us. The ticket shack said people had been lined up to enter for 4 hours. I still can’t wrap my mind around that. They had a double feature showing of Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Edge of Tomorrow. First let me say, the drive-in experience itself was very cool. We parked my truck up on a hill in the back of the drive-in with a number of others with 4-wheel drives. Parking backwards, opening the rear window for audio and curling up with lots of blankets and pillows was fun. Watching the movie with my Sweetie under the stars was fun. The movie, Transformers … not so fun.
I found myself throughout the movie thinking – ok, that’s a wrap. It’s got to end in the next 15 minutes or so, as the story line was all over the place and 75% of the scenes were literally just things blowing up. I grew numb to all of it after about 2 hours and just sat in stunned bewilderment as it simply kept going. Nothing about the story line went anywhere in any real manner. Just another stretch of scenes with robots blowing up robots. I know it’s just a turn-mind-off action fun film but OMG it was sub-moronic. It can’t be said, it was so goofy because it’s a kids film. The language used was not for kids. No … it was just really really stupid. I’ve seen a couple of the others with my son in years past and they, at least had some manner of character development and story line. This was like someone wrote it during a lunch-break and NO ONE proof read it before actually making the movie.
The film was just under 3 hours long. Had I any idea it was that long we would not have gone. Who imagines a car-robot-alien movie being longer than an hour and a half? Definitely my bad and I will absolutely check next time. The point of the experience however, wasn’t the movie but the atmosphere. You don’t go to the drive-in to see Schindler’s List – so you don’t bother checking run-times for movies you’re not even really interested in. We left after Transformers ended, wondering with amazement how those remaining would endure another 2 hours of blasting alien sci-fi action. To each his own, eh? We’ll go again to the drive-in. It was fun and with the right movie could be even more so. I doubt however, that I will ever catch another Transformer movie, again; and I’m sure there will be more.
I’ve heard from so very many throughout my life that when God closes one door, he opens another. I would reply – “you’ve no idea how hard that 2nd door may be”.
1) I think most instances of souls believing God has closed some door is merely life playing out, as life.
2) I’m confident that their belief will only ultimately bring them closer to God – regardless – if they are sincere in their faith.
I don’t believe that most instances of people seeing pronounced negative circumstances as being the divine hand-of-God, as actually being the very hand of God. I believe most of these circumstances are simply life playing out in the form of lineage-of-biology … fallout-from-choices … the dice-were-rolled. Sometimes, I believe I see God’s divine hand in some circumstance but these are admittedly rare. When I was very young, I believed seeing God’s intentional involvement more often than I do, now; or at least a bit differently. I have simply grown to balance such with much more in the way of careful consideration. It isn’t that I no longer see God’s divine hand of intentional interaction – I simply see it intentionally … different.
I was watching young Isaiah Austin during NBA draft night when I heard him comment in a familiar manner. His many biological struggles were seen by him as being God’s divine interference. More specifically – God’s divine interference … for his unique good, in some manner he had originally overlooked. This perception will serve this young man, well. How, you ask? If he is mistaken about the origin of his struggles, then why would his mistaken ‘blame’ serve him in any progressive way? Because – he will spend the rest of his days trying to understand why God would give him these maladies. He will spend the rest of his life trying to understand why God would “keep him from being an NBA player” … “an NBA star”. This will force him to wrestle with issues most can comfortably dismiss. Most don’t stand on the threshold of such a career; but Isaiah Austin did. He went to Baylor University and performed well. During his time in college, he experienced a detached retina. Playing with one eye as a 7 ft’er – he played well and believed he would have a future in the NBA. Then – just days before the NBA draft – he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. Just like that, his playing days were done.
I love seeing this young man embrace the life-long-bleed he faces. He will never have the opportunity to trivialize his circumstances. They will always force him to fight-the-good-fight. His struggles will always force him to consider just who God is. There is no greater blessing in life; and I know!
They all go. We all do – sometime. He was 98. A very long life and by all accounts, a full one. He could play so many roles. Timid, mean; good, bad and of course, ugly. He dared to oppose The Magnificent Seven. Each year we say goodbye to another group of very unique souls. This last year saw the departure of Peter O’Toole, Jean Stapleton, Jonathan Winters, Maximilian Schell, Karen Black, Eileen Brennan, Maya Angelou, Mel Smith, Julie Harris, and a host of others. Some far too soon like Phillip Seymour Hoffman and James Gandolfini. Many won’t have any association with these names. That’s the impact of even great fame – much like our lives, it too passes – and quickly. I thought this link was interesting. It contains a list of celebrity deaths by month. I was surprised to realize this, as each page (ea month) is literally filled with a very long list of entries (by day). I have no preoccupation with death. I came to terms with it a long time, ago. So while in no hurry to meet it – I also, have no aversion.
Today – Eli Wallach met death. By all indications, he too was more than ready. He said he found what he wanted to do early in life and gave himself to that – until it was time to go. He lived, he loved and he left.
My boss shared something the other day that honestly freaked me out a bit. He had been in some difficult discussions with his superior days before whereby his boss had questioned his “loyalty”. Specifically, his boss had said, “I just don’t know if you’re loyal to the organization.” I was struck powerfully in two ways. 1) Who uses terms like “loyal” in relationship to a professional position unless it involves military or political interest? 2) who cares if they do?
I have only been with this organization a few months but it already feels like years. Since joining I have seen far too many souls elect to exit giving clear indication to anyone looking that there are real problems, internally. Unfortunately, my boss has been with this company 17 years. It is really the only professional experience he has. He has suffered the fate of being bathed in dysfunctional corporate culture. He is soaking wet with wrong values, goals and beliefs as it pertains to his professionalism. His communications often carry the tone of a back-office scene in a bad movie. Where the real motives of the company and its illegal insider trading practices are revealed to some executive that must struggle with moral and ethical issues. Should he give in to the expectations of leadership that go against his personal convictions … or stand up for what he believes even at the expense of his job? Dude – if that’s your dilemma, you’ve obviously not given enough personal examination to such as you’ve grown – or apparently, not grown.
I spent 7 years in the Army. I understand circumstances whereby the term “loyal” has substance and meaning. I cannot conceive of the context in which “loyal” has even a modicum of meaning to me in a corporate setting. I believe too many have never really given enough genuine consideration to what matters most, in life. To what they might have sincere loyalties to and for and why. Too many find themselves being steered by dysfunctional emotional and psychological ploys whereby others in positions of authority in their lives – wield such, far beyond the healthy limits of their office; and these subordinate souls too often, acquiesce. I assure you – once, you begin selling pieces of yourself, it is extremely difficult to stop. Sadly, chances are good you will little-by-little become everything you never wanted to be. You become them.
Normalcy can come with different connotations. Most of the time however, it represents the simple ebb-&-flow of good ol’ daily life. When ‘regular’ is easily enough absorbed and we honestly anticipate each day being pretty regular. I’ve been hoping for, praying for, and working towards such normalcy for some years and I feel I may actually be close. My daily commute now, involves about two and a half hours of driving; and driving up and down interstates near DC. Thus, I leave home early and get home late. My new position is with an organization that is badly behind pace in a number of areas, and thus quickstep is the movement of choice involving anything, at any time. Yet, basic goodness is taking place in and around my home this week in the form of mowing, raking and some basic home repairs. That may sound innocuous to you but I assure you, life can progress in ways that make such activities pipe-dreams. I am so very grateful to God for the growing normalcy, in my life. I pray it might only continue to flourish into an abundant harvest.
Psalm 121:1-8 (KJV) – I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
God has led me through unimaginable pain and struggle at times. Some of which, I assert him having in love, orchestrated. He has never forsaken me. Monday represents a new beginning I have waited years for. I am beyond grateful for the newness God has provided, in my path.My road still lies before meand I still walk it with immense and sincere hope. I give thanks and praise to my Most High God for his glorious goodness and care.
Let’s not forget that this poor soul -Richard Jewell- had nothing to do with the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He was in fact an honest hero that got 150 people to safety before the bomb exploded. Can you imagine what history would look like had he not done so. The largest pipe bomb in US history would have been one of the most devastating acts of terrorism on American soil. This simple fellow serving as a minimum wage security guard, noticed a suspicious backpack in a suspicious location; and had the wherewithal to take action. Again, saving over 150 people from being directly in line of the blast. He was falsely accused by law enforcement and media of planting the bomb himself, but was fully exonerated following an investigation by the FBI. Having been accused, Mr. Jewell never fully got his life back and will forever be associated with the bombing when he in fact saved so many lives that day.
Eric Rudolph in custody
Let’s also, not forget that this guy -Eric Rudolph- was the actual culprit to place this bomb, and many others over time before being caught. Perhaps we might add this to the many other historical examples of humanity racing to convict the innocent without careful reasonable examination. Richard Jewell died at age 44 without ever receiving the gratitude of our nation he so rightly deserved.