Saturday, August 27, 2011


After a highly-scheduled week, which included after work plans every evening, I plopped down in front of the wide-screen last night to see what HBO had to offer and was pleased to see Unstoppable coming on.

It's funny that I've never considered Denzel Washington to be a great actor--I find a lot of his characters are too similar--but I almost always love his movies. So I hit the play button and sat back for a welcome night in.

Good flick for cable or even a rental, not much character development but a dramatic story line. Rosario Dawson excellent in a supporting role.

Anyway, about half way through the film, my two oldest children come home along with a few carloads of friends and ask if they can take over the family room.

I declined to move. Partly because I was quite comfortable. Partly because this was the first time I had sat down this week. Partly because my kids and their friends have taken over my TV at least a few nights every week this summer. So yes, I declined to move.

In hindsight, there was nothing wrong with this decision. My kids accepted my decision without a second thought. And I enjoyed the second half of the movie in hi-def (and in peace).

When I woke up this morning, however, the first thought that popped into my head was that I wish I had said yes. Instead of being the guy who did was what was reasonable and expected, I could have said yes to love.

Love should be unstoppable.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Luke 19 redux

Reading the same passage of scripture several times over the course of a few days or weeks is a new discipline for me, but one I recommend--for you never know how that second or third reading will differ from the first.

Take Luke 19: 11-26, the “Parable of the Ten Minas.” First time through, came away with the message that was taught to me when I was young: God has given you talents and if you use them for God’s purpose, you will receive even more gifts or abilities.

But is that what this parable is really about? Here are a few excerpts that stood out on a subsequent reading:

12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.

14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

And later on…

22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?

26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

Am I truly to believe that the Master in this parable is God the Father, or Jesus himself?

Reading through a third time, I am drawn to the first line of this parable:

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable...

And what were they listening to exactly? Jesus was explaining his mission on earth.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

And who is lost in the parable of the ten minas? Perhaps the delegation that protests the appointment of a selfish, ruthless man as king—only to find themselves put to death. Perhaps the servant, who is so fearful of this powerful man, that he is afraid to act on the minas entrusted to him?

Perhaps I need to read this one again…

Monday, August 22, 2011

don't look at me...

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

If I did not have the responsibility of being a father or a husband, I could easily sell my possessions and give it all to the poor—storing up treasures in heaven instead.

Yes, that thought popped into my head yesterday.

(And not for the first time.)

In this warped sense of reality that is my brain, you see, I can convince myself that my need to live in a nice neighborhood, save for retirement, go on vacation, etc. is driven solely by my love of family. If it wasn’t for them, I could rid myself of worldly possessions and live the simple life God intended.

But you know better, Lord, don’t you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

the river

People I know often refer to life as a journey. Some days the road is paved, other times you must navigate through pot holes, or debris left by others before you.

You can go weeks or months travelling a path that is clear and well defined, only to wake up one day finding yourself off the beaten path, unsure in which direction you were headed. We come to forks in the road, or even dead ends. We walk in pairs, groups, crowds… but often alone. Sometimes we stop moving all together.

Recently, my path came to a river.

Looking up, I could see that the path continued on the other side. While we were not talking about a Mississippi-sized waterway, it was daunting none the less. The current moved rapidly downstream toward a place beyond my vision.

Turning back was an option, though in the moment I could not recall exactly how I had gotten to this place. The path that lay across the bank was the natural progression—but only if I could transverse the raging river that flowed with such force and purpose.

How many times in life do we face such decisions? When our purpose collides with fear and uncertainty.

My decision made, I stepped into the water. My sneakers and sock quickly becoming weighted with the cool water. By the time I was waist-deep, the force of the current had already announced its desire to take me downstream… away from that safe haven of beachhead that sat there so inviting.

Another moment of indecisiveness was squashed as I dove in, swimming toward the distant bank… that path… my destiny.

A direct route was not an option, for the current matched me stroke for stroke.

When I fought to swim upstream, a vision from my childhood came to mind—of a young boy struggling with the undertow at the Jersey Shore, fighting the strength of the ocean to stay in front of the life guard chair and away from the life-threatening jetty.

Here, the path on the opposit bank represented my lifeguard. And while it took a while, I soon found that I could tack like a sailboat—swimming upstream then cross-stream—bringing me closer to my destination. Yet I needed to swim harder. Swim faster. Swim with even more determination. For the current never took a break. Never took a breath. The river was relentless in its purpose.

Even as the path grew closer, its firm-footing seemed further from my grasp. My arms grew weary. My legs were losing their strength. And in that moment of sheer fear and desperation, I did what I should have done long before stepping into the water. I cried out to God.

“Father,” I prayed. “Give me the strength. Give me the power. Give me the courage and determination I need to swim harder. The power to swim faster. Please God. Please. Answer my prayers.”

And to my surprise, the voice of my creator responded. The God of the universe spoke in the quiet of my heart.

“My son,” God called. “I am the river."