Tag Archives: compassion

27 Seconds

How disheartened I was to find out that I had misquoted one of my favorite movies and solidified it on a recording.

I had this thought about a scene in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It’s a wonderful scene where Molly is trying to show Mr. Magorium that he has much to live for. They’re in a clock shop, setting up all of the clocks in order to hear them all chime at one time.

You see, at this point in the film there’s a comment made about 37 seconds of time… I had always thought it was 27 seconds, so when I looked up the quote as I was writing a song, I googled 27 seconds, but apparently others have misquoted this as well… so I fed off of their misquote and immortalized it in my song… oh well, right?

Mr. Magorium: 37 seconds.
Molly Mahoney: Great. Well done. Now we wait.
Mr. Edward Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.”

And it’s true. That moment always shook me. I’m an incessant worrier. I’m a worrying junkie. I have to get a fix. But one of the most oft ignored commands of Christ is to *not worry.* And yet, it’s the hardest one for me.

I believe that if I’m honest with myself, I love having the stress there as my excuse to have vices, as an excuse to escape and be selfish. Maybe that’s harsh, but I find it valid. There are valid reasons for stress, I’m not criticizing that, I’m merely saying that a lot of times we totally miss the beauty in front of us due to our worry and fretting.

We’re meant to be like Christ, to find him in every face, every moment… instead, we often seek comfort and pleasure, trying to escape our worry. We worry about finding ways to escape our worry.

So, I want to give you this song as a Christmas present. This is probably just about my favorite song I’ve ever gotten to bring to life… may you see the presents in front of you. May you see Christ in every moment, and find who to kneel down and wash. In my life, it’s often been my friends, kids; the people right there in front of me.

I used to pine for big ministries, but now, I see that my ministry is this minute. The small things that can give the world around us hope and life.

Merry Christmas.

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“Get on my wheel and stay there!”

I’m reading a book that has been really inspiring me as of late. It’s called Heft On Wheels, by Mike Magnuson. The sub-heading is “A Field Guide to Doing a 180.” And that is a fitting title. Though not for the easily offended- the book is a great guy book filled with brutal inspiration.

The book tells the tale of a man in his 30’s who has been so incredibly abusive to his body that it’s amazing he lived to tell it. Drinking like a fish and smoking more than a pack a day. A college prof who partied with his students, and kept up.

Long story short, he used cycling to turn it all around.

But there’s a point in the story where he has this massive realization. He’s riding with a group of speed cyclists in a thunderstorm. He can hardly ever keep up with them, but in this evening, with the weather, it’s imperative that he does… he could die.

Heading up a hill, he’s lagging behind. Here’s an excerpt;

I keep pedaling along, grinding, sucking it up and riding within myself the way Saki has taught me, (a technique to help him persevere) and I don’t think much of it till I notice one of the fastest guys in the group, a racer named Darren, dropping back from the group to fetch me, which means he’ll let me catch up with him, and he’ll use his draft to pull me forward to the group.

When we’re together, he says, “You got to keep up man. You can’t be alone back here in this weather.”

He puts the hammer down then, and I try holding on to his back wheel but can’t really, not going uphill. And he drops back again, and yells at me. “Get on my wheel, and stay there!” And he pulls me forward for a hundred yards again, and I drop back again. He slows down. And pulls me forward. I try saying, “I’ve been really busy lately–” But Darren refuses to hear that. “Don’t talk,” he says. “Pedal.”

Darren could dust Mike any day.

In fact, later, Darren has to fight the other guys to help take care of Darren through the storm.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see the spiritual implications of this story. This is unity. This is bearing with a weaker brother.

This is an awesome picture; a brother taking the brunt of a nasty storm so that it can draft around the slower guy.

And what’s even neater is that this compassion that Darren showed Mike caused Mike to seriously see himself clearly. He quickly has the revelation of his own need to get it in gear and in shape for the sake of the whole group… but that’s a whole different post in itself.

I’ll leave it at this… just this picture of brotherhood. (or sisterhood)

Have a good one, and keep an eye out for someone who may need to draft behind you to catch up.

That Jerk Doesn’t Deserve It -or- A Plea to the Christian

Today a friend directed me to the story of Bill Zeller, a young computer programmer who died from injuries he sustained in trying to kill himself. So in the end, he was successful.

He left behind a 4000 word essay, which I’ll admit, I couldn’t get all the way through. It simply hurt too much.

I mentioned it around some friends, and one said, “I guess he closed the program…” and laughed. He wasn’t meaning anything by it, but none the less I told him it wasn’t funny. It bugged me. And I knew that I could have just have easily made such a comment.

Our disregard for life… it’s sick. We are an ungrateful and numb society.

We prey on each other in the worst and most subversive ways.

We are the brunt of each others jokes… and we really don’t care.

There’s always a reason to shrug it off. “Lighten up!” “It’s all in fun” “Don’t take life so seriously.”

But can we shove our excuses aside? Can something be sacred. If we pick just one thing, may I propose ‘life?’

It occurred to me earlier this week that I’ve grown up with the mentality that you don’t give to those who don’t deserve it. You don’t give handouts to people who haven’t earned it. You don’t hand money to a guy who’s only gonna buy beer with it. You don’t treat jerks like nice guys.

I don’t know where this came from. Maybe it’s just part of the sick way we humans think. It certainly all comes down to protecting what’s mine and neglecting what’s yours. But wherever it came from, it’s wrong. Dead wrong!

So here’s where I go getting religious. To those who hate this stuff, I’m sorry, but I can’t change who I am. Christ reached in to my life and saved my life. I’m not talking about saving me from hell. I’m talking about actually saving my life… my physical life.

I was inches from suicide. I wanted to die. I hated everything that was me. I felt like a plague on my wife and kids. I felt like a vampire sucking the life out of others to keep myself alive.

But God the Father in His glory and mercy reached into my life and saved me. He brought me into a real and living Church that actually strives to live out and be the hands and feet of Christ… and I felt Him hug me, love me, and lift my head so that I could walk again.

Why?

Well, He gave it to me, and blessed me with a grateful heart so that I could give it to you. To everyone that I see.

No other reason than that.

I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t do anything to merit this attention to the creator. He just gave it to me.

This guy, Bill Zeller. He described himself quite a few times as angry and mean. He describes himself as the kind of guy many of us would walk away from and avoid. Now, I don’t know if that’s accurate, it may not be. He actually sounds like a sweet guy who was dealt a very very bad hand.

It doesn’t sound like he ever got to meet Jesus. Not the ‘confess-your-sins-and-say-this-prayer-jesus’ that doesn’t actually change anything in your life, but the Jesus that walks, talks and holds you in your pain. He touches your face and you know that He loves you. He looks into your eyes, and you look back, and know without a doubt that you could leave anything behind so that you can follow Him wherever He goes.

The living, breathing savior that isn’t just in a book but truly brings light and life into your life, and SETS YOU COMPLETELY FREE!

This is the Jesus that I met and chose to join. And this is obviously the Jesus that never got a chance to meet Bill Zeller.

or maybe He did…

Maybe you’re a part of that Jesus, but you forgot the gift of life that was given to you. Maybe you, you who call yourselves the Body of Christ (and I’m pointing the finger at myself just as much here) maybe you saw a guy like Bill in a fit of rage in the checkout line. For a split second, you contemplated stepping in to offer a hand, but then the thought occurred, “That jerk doesn’t deserve my time!” and you walked away with your conscience clear.

Maybe you saw him on the side of the road, talking to himself, and for a second thought of giving a ride… maybe buying him a burger or something. But then, you remember that he needs to learn to take care of himself. You wouldn’t want to enable him to keep being a bum right.

But you didn’t notice the darkness. You didn’t see the thoughts surrounding him. You didn’t hear the voices screaming in his or her head, or see the memories of rape, pain, tragedy and suffering in front of their eyes.

You, me, we… miss the real person and their pain.

We will continue to miss it if we don’t start disposing of our predisposition to protecting ourselves and reach in to a dangerous mind and plant the seed of love. Just like Christ did for us.

If we claim to be His followers, then there really is no other road. It’s not an option. He said that the world would be blessed through us, and He even went so far as to say that we would do greater things than He did if we believe in Him and follow His commands!

Can you believe it? I know that I have a hard time with it… but it is truly who we as the Church are made to be. We’ve been given a gift of life and love from the Father, and that compels us to give it freely to everyone that we see and touch.

God, please give us grateful hearts

Please change our minds to not just see faceless creatures, but your beloved children everywhere that we look

Please God… help us be like you

Help us to truly understand that there is no greater love than to lay down our lives and get uncomfortable with a new friend

God, please give us the grace to be like You

Christians… Dare to Dream

Origen of Alexandria, a third-century Bible scholar, wrote that “as we — ​by our prayers — ​vanquish all the demons that stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this service are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them. None fight better for the king than we do. We do not indeed fight under him, although he demands it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army of piety by offering our prayers to God.”

This was in todays reading from the ‘Common Prayer’ book. I thought it was worth a meditation. Please take the time to really read through that quote and absorb what it actually is saying.

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You, Christian, are the keeper of a great treasure. You have tasted the flame and Spirit of the most high God, and you are charged with carrying the world.

You, are a plural you.

You are called to bless the nations. (not just your nation… all nations)

“Go forth from your country and from your relatives, and from your Father’s house, to the land which I will show you;

And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing…”

God’s commandment and promise is sure and true.

Set aside the cares of this world and do not neglect good work. Don’t seek for what perishes and passes away, but seek to bless all around you.

Right where you are, you can be the answer to the prayers of many.

Right where you are, you have a ministry, and are able to leave behind everything, and follow God… right where you are.

There’s someone near you who needs love. There’s someone around you who needs help. There’s someone who needs a hug or a smile, or an honest and true word.

We fight for the souls of all men and women and children.

Look around you and see with God’s eyes, let Him pull the scales from them so that you can see the hurting and needy around you. Everyone that you see and pass by today, is a dear and precious child to the most high God. They are precious in His eyes, and we are His hands and feet.

We can make the world light with our every action, prayer and breath.

We are like a secret army, fighting for a deeper peace than men can imagine.

Dare to imagine the reconciliation of all men. Dare to dream dreams that are huge and rich with healing… and then, dare to live them.

Givers of Daily Bread

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers and sisters throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and pain. Give them today, through our hands, their daily bread and through our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen

This isn’t a prayer that we hear often. To be honest, I’m not sure what tradition it comes from… doesn’t matter. It’s good, very good. And I thought it was a good follow up to the previous post about the Lord’s prayer.

Let’s make some time to dwell on that… and pray that God can transform us into that!

Of Susan Boyle and Bastard Sons

Please pardon the title. The point I’m making is simple, but it has to get our attention to get it.

I spent Christmas thinking about the small and hidden things.

It was fun.

I’m an early riser. And of course, on Christmas morning, my kids were too.

So, to not wake the house too early, we put on the Nativity Story. We snuggled up and enjoyed this retelling of the events prior to birth of our mighty and humble King.

This movie always shakes me up in good ways. You see these awkward conflicts that definitely mirror how Jesus’ upbringing and ministry would be.

This no-name girl, a virgin will give birth to a son. She’s supposed to marry Joseph. Joseph had to be a kind and merciful man not to accuse her of adultery.

Jesus would grow up in this poor town with the judgmental gaze of all around him. He was actually a bastard to them. Joseph would have them looking on him the same way, writing him off for accepting his ‘whore’ of a wife.

Few would notice the amazing thing growing up in their midst.

In fact, the prophecies told about the Savior being born in Bethlehem. But few seemed to know that this is where Jesus was actually born. Then they ran off to Egypt, and ended up back in Nazareth. And about Nazareth, well, Nathanael said it best when Phillip eagerly came to tell him that he’d found the Messiah. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

I could go on and on about all of the incredible places that God seems to hide beautiful things. It seems like he really loves to make us look for it. He loves putting incredible beauty in unsightly places. He loves to take the wisdom and logic of the wise, and turn it into foolishness.

This is where Susan Boyle comes in.

I know, random. My friend got a cd of hers for Christmas yesterday, and we were explaining to the little ones who she is and how she ended up making a cd.

So I pulled up the video of that legendary first performance. The faces on the crowd said so very much.

It was amazing how confidently she walked out there, despite the scoffers. The camera moves around the crowd as the people are shocked by this woman from a pig town. She’s not exactly the diva type and certainly isn’t going to be gracing the cover of sexy magazines.

Simon and the other judges ask her some questions. She says she wants to be a professional singer. People smirk and laugh this off. But then…

Well, you all know the story. This amazing woman opens her mouth and out comes a force to be reckoned with, waiting for the world to hear.

God loves to do this to us. But if we think like the world would have us think… if we see as the world would have us see… we will miss it.

You won’t find Christ in the nursery of a mighty palace. You’ll find him in a trough, with stinky and gross shepherds around Him. They love Him. They’re safe with Him. They know that He sees them with the eyes of God.

Later, the lowly keep following Him around and leave behind their ways. Whores, criminals, traitors and outcasts all come to Him and leave their life behind. They want to follow this man from nasty ole Nazareth. He loves them deeply, and they know that they have a safe place with Him, a special place deep in His mighty heart.

Do they have the same with me and you?

The Painted Lady- Do You Have Time to Help?

A poor boy runs out to thank this mysterious lady for leaving them food

So, I’m finishing the holiday with my family and household watching the third season of The Last Airbender series. I know, it doesn’t sound festive, but we’re loving it. It’s 1130 at night, the kids are wide awake, and this story is seriously addicting.

If you’re not familiar, it’s a kids show, geared to the 8-13 crowd, about a fantasy world. There’s 4 nations, each with an element; earth, air, fire and water. The fire nation is trying to take over the world.

Each generation there is a leader called the Avatar. He bridges the gap between the spirit world and the physical, and his job is to keep balance and harmony among the people.

The show fairly consistently explores a lot of Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu… and whether the creators meant to or not, Christian themes. One of the underlying ones is passivity verses action… detachment/enlightenment verses being attached, and emotional, and fighting for what’s good. *** (see below to understand what I meant there)

Well, we’re watching an episode called ‘The Painted Lady,’ where our heroes are trudging along on a tight schedule to defeat the fire lord before he kills everyone but his own kind. (very hitler-esque)

They’ve got a lot to do in a very short amount of time. But on their way, they come across this river village who’s been totally oppressed and run down by a factory just up river. Their water is so polluted that they’re all malnourished and dying.

Katara, the main heroine of the story takes pity on them. Her heart breaks and she wants to help. But everyone else wants to keep moving. They’re “…working for the greater good” they all say. They’re trying to take on the big problem, and they don’t have time to worry about each little village they come across that’s in pain.

Katara simply can’t hack this. She sneaks off at night and steals food from said factory and delivers the food in secret to the villagers.

Now, the villagers, not knowing who has done this, decide that their tribal deity, The Painted Lady, has helped them in their distress. Katara finds out, and takes on the persona. And the story unfolds.

Eventually everyone finds out the truth, her friends have mixed reactions. Some are furious that she would jeopardize their trip to do her own thing. Others join in right off, seeing that it’s probably a good thing to help these poor folk. They need hope, and they’ve got hope to give.

In the end, she triumphs. But she receives some reassurance that she had done the right thing. The real painted lady comes to her in secret to thank her for liberating her people, and her as well.

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Now, this post isn’t about the Avatar series… it’s about a concept within it.

We can get going on the big things. We can be set on the ‘greater good’ that we’ve got to do. Basically, we can get serious tunnel vision, and miss the people who may need us right under our own noses.

I suppose that we can all find ourselves in this situation, where you have to actually fight to do what’s good.

In doing good, real and actual good, there is seldom smooth sailing. This story is a great picture of that. As Katara’s friends confront her about her lack of concern for the greater picture, she get’s in his face and says, “I will always help people who need me!” And she makes her stand.

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We have a thought we try to teach each other here in our village, that ‘the people are more important.’

It’s a big deal. A very very big deal.

There is no issue, doctrine, agenda… nothing higher than loving people. Sometimes to help them means to give a buck or two. Sometimes to listen and give them a safe place to freak out. Sometimes it means giving a word that they absolutely don’t want to hear.

Katara, in the story above, was willing to set aside their whole agenda to help a handful of people.

I know, I know… it’s a cartoon. But I don’t care.

I think that there’s things that God just really likes. And taking time out of our agenda, the big picture, to love on someone, has got to be at the top of the list. You know, that whole thing in Matthew 25 that He talked about. Oh, and then there’s that description Isaiah gave of what real religion is, to care for the widows and orphans and such.

I think it’s on God’s heart. And that makes me think that I need to ask Him to put it on mine far more often.

“God, please give us eyes to see need around us.

Give us the grace to step out of our selfish will and be the answers to other people’s prayers.

God… help us be like you.”

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****Regarding the religions explored in the above mentioned series, for those who are squeemish and too religious to take a look, I really think you oughta. It’s pretty neat the conclusions that they draw and the outcome of the entire story.

There’s a good reason that in every single ‘religion’ you can find amazing stories of amazing people who have risen above, and led the way in compassion and expressing God’s heart for taking care of the hurting in the world, and throwing off the chains of oppression.

The whole point of the Avatar series is that Aang is faced with the weight of the world. At one point, he has the opportunity to become enlightened… detached and free, and spiritual energy could flow through him. But Aang, our hero in this story, chooses to remain attached. He chooses to remain with the weight of love and so forth on his shoulders.

He cannot simply separate himself. His life is for the people, (as is ours) and he will not disconnect. At first, this appears a mistake, but in the end, we find it to be his greatest strength.

And just a side, that I don’t feel like turning into an entire post on it’s own; if you’re a Christian, you’re not to be part of a religion, you’re to be part of Christ. So don’t be afraid to grab hold of the teachings of others. You’ve got a good measure to hold them up to. We have nothing to fear in hearing out what people out there exploring life, love and faith have to say.

For example, I believe that the Avatar series is a sweet and precious gem in culture filled with nastiness. It’s amazing that a company like MTV, who owns Nick, allowed them to make something so deep and rich, with great moral aim. (the creators thought so too) The show is genuinely deep, with every episode leaving me with something to talk with my kids about.

Now and then it’s a little more romantic than I’d like for my kids, but other than that, (and only that) we love this one, and will enjoy it for years to come.

Anyhoo… that’s my two cents.