The false innocence of apathy

in-no-cence [in-uh-suhns] -noun 1.freedom from guilt or evil 2. lack of worldly knowledge

apathy [ap-uh-thee] -noun. Lack of emotion or interest

Combine the two and you get:

I don’t care and if I bothered to think about it, I don’t think I have to.

Years ago our choir put on a contemporary — we’re talking 70′s — musical called Tell It Like It Is by Ralph Carmichael. Some of it is on YouTube. Go for it. But I couldn’t find the song I remember best.  One of our high school students set up a folding chaise lawn chair and sang:

Sippin’ lemonade in the cool of the shade, the cool of the shade, the cool of the shade. Sippin’ lemonade in the cool of the shade while the world goes on around me.” The character was saved and baptized and that’s where the commitment ended.

Not much has changed since Carmichael wrote that and it wasn’t new then. In the 21st century we could add a verse to demonstrate how we’re spacin’ out on vacation sippin’ lemonade or any one of a number of beverages of choice ‘cuz we’re working ourselves half to death trying to pay on the credit cards we used to buy the electronic toys and the vacation and the beverage.

We have a cool-of-the-shade mindset 24/7.  “I’m busy.” And my personal favorite, one I use myself, is “Saturdays are mine. If I want to slug, I get to slug.” Hmmm.

What does it take, what does God have to do to get our attention, to get us on our missionary feet? We crave quiet time, we respect quiet time, we preach quiet time. But if time as we know it is short in these last days or if our personal 72 year estimated life span is close to the end, or if it’s possible we’re snuffed like a candle on the next road trip, when do we reach out? Who will reach out?

How do we sidestep reaching out?

Apathy, the art of justifying lack of interest. Walk on by. Ignore it. It’s none of my business. I’m not trained in that. Judge not …. give me a break! The Bible is the guidepost to behavior. Holding it up as a mirror is not us judging.

There’s a new, all inclusive un-word for innocent apathy. Diss. After you diss, you distance from the scene causing the dissed to dissolve from your sphere of vision and you are innocent by lack of participation. We do it to people all the time, people we don’t or don’t want to relate to.

I don’t do that! Yes, you do. We do. Our culture does. We have electronic toys that can screen anyone anytime.  How does it feel to be set up by the evil one? To ignore someone and remain guilt free is the coldest form of meanness and cruelty. Doing so kills the joy, douses the fires of affection, dismantles any hope of relationship, destroys the spirit of another.

I’m busy. Who makes your schedule? You can fit into your schedule anyone you want to fit in.

In the story of the good Samaritan who attended to the needs of the man who was beaten and robbed, who passed him by? A priest and a Levite, the religious community. Who stopped and helped at his own personal expense? The man whose ethnic heritage was disgusting to the Jew in that day, the man from Samaria. Jews would travel 3 days’ journey out of their way to avoid Samaria. Yet this disgusting enemy came to the rescue. We don’t know the ethnicity of the victim. Apparently the Samaritan wasn’t concerned. He had mercy, busy as he may have been.

Who are we leaving in the dust? It could be someone you used to know but had a falling out, a relative you don’t have anything in common with as if blood is worthless and would rather not have anything to do with, a family member you don’t particularly like, a lonely coworker who just wants to chat.

Maybe someone you know is in the group Jesus called “the least of these”.

Reclaiming a lost month

One germ. One lousy germ grew into a landfill of rot in my head, lungs, throat, continuing throughout and out. I’ve missed a month of Sundays. During all this time, I sacrificed church fellowship in the name of germs. You who went can thank me later.

Really, though, our church’s sound people have a good system. They don’t need my constant coughing as a percussion section. And, the constant coughing has been the source of the continued germ growth. No more details since this isn’t my  point at all.

Of course during the ordeal, I’ve had to go to work and share the joy through hand to hand contact, sneezing and yakkin’ up.  There just wasn’t enough benefit time to cover the whole thing. So, as I’ve always done, I do just what I have to while sick, whether it’s Mom guilting me to church and school, tend a crying baby, or show up for a job, I did it. Do it. Whatever.

I have teaching CDs in the car I listen to over and over. I had listened to one of them regarding un-forgiveness several times but the message clicked only during yet one more day and one more 46 mile round trip of Driving with Crud.

Unforgiveness and your reaction of anger, offense and self pity is stress. During its course until you decide to forgive, to bury the whole hatchet too deep to grab it again, your immune system is canceled. Not down. Canceled. You are susceptible to whatever is being passed around. Stress changes the blood and its ability to protect you.

Furthermore, when you harbor grudges and take communion, you have partaken in disobedience and drank damnation to yourself. (See Corinthians).

Tough stuff.

We’re talking about Christians, the only group that preaches love and eats their own. “And many will be offended.” And when they are, they justify it, harbor grudges, swap congregations and start all over in another one.

One small revelation: If you are oh, so holy or think you are, you may feel superiority over another “lesser” one. You don’t hate, you’re not angry, you’re just a Pharisee.  Ignoring another based on your own self importance, your higher level — translation “I just don’t relate” — is not forgiving that person(s) for being less.  Be very careful of your motives in fellowship, worship, and communion.

This morning I stayed home from church one more time.

I watched John Hagee who spelled out Seven Types of People God Can’t Save. Conclusion: Some people insist on rejecting God. Even self-proclaimed Christians, and the ones who grow cold and turn away are among the listed. “Are you really saved?”

Then I watched Jimmy Evans who taught on the spirit of rejection and how we  overcome only with God’s healing love. Sounds simple, but how many curl up in their hurt and reject everybody so they won’t be hurt again? That’s exactly where Satan wants all Christians — not associating, not witnessing, not trying.

Third, a preacher I hadn’t heard of was in the background while I was babysitting the fireplace, begging it to please please burn. His message was Get Over It. The man gets straight to the point.

I wonder. Germs are germs. But just in case the preacher with over 40,000 hours of study knows more than my instincts, I prayed about the unforgiveness I might be harboring, who I wasn’t forgiving, and what to do with it. It was a short answer. Forgiving is not an option, it’s a command or else. I don’t want to know what “else” is.  Just do it and follow up with not talking about it, not digging it up, and showing only love.

I had let my shields down. I had nursed and fed my hurt feelings the entire month before. Now I’ve been sick a month. A connection? I think so.

Starting all over now and really enjoying the music video, picking out the next one to keep the house full of praise ‘n’ worship, stadium style.

I’ve had time to think and still have time for another nap.

I’m stirring a book

I stand at the crock pot of words swimming in concepts, ideas steaming.  A spoon for tasting, I season and stir, I scoop, I sniff, adjusting the flame to boil then simmer then back again.

For over a year now I’ve been developing a novel dedicated to my ancestry.  It swirls in my head.  The characters wake me up and make me stay up typing.  Plot twists plague me. What-ifs follow me to work, at work, at home.

It is in honor of:  My grandmother who birthed 6 children and raised 2.  An aunt and uncle whose stillborn daughter saddened them to tears in their 70s in spite of raising 10 children who gave them multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  A 3-great grandfather, an abolitionist who was thrown out of his church in 1804.  Someone who, until further notice will remain nameless, was date raped twice.  A sister whose toddler couldn’t clear the railroad tracks in time.  My great-grandparents who lost 3 children in as many weeks to a diphtheria epidemic before they could escape with the remaining children.

It won’t all be loss and sadness.  My imaginary people will deal with not only loss, but leaning on God in their loss and pain for comfort and healing as well as experiencing joy, passion, forgiveness, rage, disrespect, humility, WWII, and the societal chaos of my growing up years in the 60′s.

I’ve personally been around a few blocks in a few towns.  You see me where I am but you don’t see how I got here and how I avoided consequences of some major stupidity.  I write for my family and anyone else who feels like God isn’t there or isn’t fair.  I touch on various concepts from a personal perspective such as the possibility of inheriting poor behavior, how to forgive when resolution and restoration is improbable, overcoming failure, and loving in one direction.

I was explaining my literary goals to my husband who responded that I needed some serious comic relief, an oxymoron in and of itself.  He’s more than happy to contribute his own little rascal experiences with Tommy Wincek back in Minneapolis.  When I stopped to think about it, his mother has her own set of Lucy Ricardo scenarios to offer. Throwing in some of my own memories may turn the whole thing into a comic book.

We’ll see.

I think my primary focus is forgiveness with and without restoration.  That and obedience to God’s will are keys for keeping the faith.  Grudges have no place in the Kingdom of God.  Rebellion is a road block to peace.

How do you forgive God for taking your children? How do you forgive yourself for screwing up over and over and over? How do you deal with the devastation that comes from other people’s rotten decisions?

In light of “been there, done that, bought the T-shirt” I hope to guide my readers so that they don’t step in the same pies I have. And if they have, I hope to help them scrape their shoes.

Treasure or Chaff

I listened to someone testifying of a dream so vivid he couldn’t tell if he was out of body or in a vision.  Normally dreams get weird fast, so he ruled that out as this was more of an experience.  Without relating all the details, I’ll nutshell it for you.

He was in a huge stadium setting, millions in attendance. Each person was holding stack of books.  Each person was to approach a podium where Jesus stood and place their books, representing their deeds on earth, onto the podium.  Jesus would call down fire on the books.  What was useless would burn instantly. What was left would be converted to jewels and placed in a crown that Jesus would place on the person’s head, smile, and say “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Those whose entire life’s works, thoughts, and words was consumed by the fire, leaving nothing, would be told to enter the Kingdom.  No smiles, no words of praise, only a look of disappointment from the Savior who gifted him or her with talent and opportunity.

Life can be wasted even if you’re saved and loved the Lord. I personally don’t think we make wrong turns that can’t be corrected.  but to face Jesus with nothing?

If this was a prophetic vision instead of heartburn, there is a points system.  The puzzle is — what makes points with God?

I know what I think.  I want to know what other people think. Maybe I’m wrong. Tell me how.

Came across this prayer again

Thought you might enjoy this interesting prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people.

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

Heavenly Father,

We come before You today to ask Your Forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ”Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our Spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that; we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism; We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have neglected the needy and called it self preservation; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare; We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We have abused power and called it political savvy; We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of this state and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state of Kansas. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your Will.

I ask in in the name of your Son, The Living Savior, Jesus Christ

The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest.  In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea.

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on “The Rest of the Story” on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.

With the Lord’s help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called one nation under God.

If possible,  please pass this prayer on to your friends. “If you don’t  stand for something, you’ll fall for everything.”

Indiana

….is flat. All the roads, flat. All the yards, flat.  All points of the compass, flat enough to see 2 farms away.  Although, that’s not a record. Illinois is that flat in many areas, particularly between St. Louis and Peoria. It’s 3 to 4 farms flat. Boring flat. Sleep behind the wheel flat.

Then there’s Kansas. Didn’t believe I can see so far. Then there’s the panhandle of Texas. You can see the curvature of the earth there. There are ranches instead of farms, bigger than farms, and you can see 2 of those in one direction.

But we’re not in Illinois, Kansas, or Texas. We’re in Indiana visiting an old frield who lived briefly in Minnesota and worked in our store. He’s moved back home to Indiana. And if I’m not mistaken there’s a song title similar to that phrase.

We rolled up to his house, 15 – 20 miles north of Elwood (what..you’ve not heard of Elwood?) and we thought we’d been trapped in a corn loop. Corn, corn, OH! soybeans, corn, corn, corn.  All of it at least 7 feet straight up.  Finally, 37 angled toward the northeast and we drove straight onto 600W, past a brick church and turned in.

We’d just left 97+ tropics in Tennessee, where it’s still going on, and stepped out into perfect low 80′s sunshine and breeze. I almost wished I’d brought a jacket. Today the weather is the same. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be the same. I’m liking Indiana more every minute.  And on top of that, it’s not north enough to be infested with mosquitoes after sunset. wow.

Today we hopped in the Indiana issue pickup and went to a town about 7 miles from his house to find the grave of James Dean, the First of Cool. (Not really. My older brother wore the costume in 1951 just before he went to Korea.) It took us about 45 minutes to find the head stone, small, chipped from tourists wanting souvenirs, nothing noteworthy to make anyone who was not aware that The James Dean was buried in the middle of Indiana, think this marked the grave of the same.

There are a couple of older two story homes in Fairmont converted to James Dean museum and gallery and every year they have a James Dean Festival but that’s about all the hoopla Fairmont does for their world famous resident. As a matter of fact, in that festival, there is a parade of ’49 Mercurys from all over the world, that are driven to the cemetery in his honor, the model he drove in Rebel Without a Cause.

To them, he was one of the boys who lived there and occasionally baled hay for a few extra bucks in the summer.  In fact, our friend and host says he worked with Dean back in the day baling hay with his brothers. When Dean was back in town between films,Dean hung out with our friend’s older brothers. He was just one of the local good old boys and that’s how his memory and his grave are treated.

Salute.

If you want me to I can walk you right up to his grave so you can take a picture.  Because, like a dummy, I left the house with all the makeup I could imagine using, all my hair care, two cell phones, clothes I won’t wear, the computer, even a cake mix and frosting for the birthdays we’ll celebrate this week…..

BUT I FORGOT THE FLIPPIN’ CAMERA!!!!

Simplify, simplify

While the rest of the world signs up for Blackberries, Droids, IPhones, IPads, and all things text’n’web, I’m going Tracfone. You read that right — Tracfone.

My fancy little Samsung, web capable, text capable, all the bells and whistles in 2007, camera, slider upper, pretty wallpaper phone is officially disconnected from Sprint service.  It also had a lousy earpiece.  I had the phone replaced and the earpierce was still lousy. Everybody sounded like they were in a fish tank. Stan’s Tracfone’s sound is great.

So, I am on the darkside of communications while Tracfone takes its sweet snail mail time sending me a new sim card for the $19.99 phone delivered to my mailbox last Monday. I should be answering again a week from Wednesday. In the meantime I’ll be carrying around the house cell, also a Trac.

My new Trac Motorola 376g also has as much as I ever needed or never used — camera, web and text capability, FM radio, Bluetooth capable, etc etc.  I’m not deep into texting although I participate once in a while like when I know the recipient can’t answer.  Imagine that.  Not using a phone to make verbal contact.

To upgrade to a better phone, and a really hot one too, on my under the radar $29.99 plan with Sprint, I would have to upgrade the account. Yeah, yeah, I’m cheap. The hot and economical plan would have been $69.99, unlimited everything and I get a 20% discount from my workplace to boot.

When you’re trying to knock out bills, you don’t increase your expenses for two years.  The beauty of the Trac system is its lack of commitment.  You buy minutes — with all of ours we have double minutes — which come with a deadline.  Buy more before the deadline or before the minutes run out or lose the number and reactivate with a new number.

Simple.

Along with that lack of commitment is the logical option of picking up a hotter phone that does everything including but not limited to cooking dinner, with the 2 year contract anytime I think I can afford it.

So with an economical phone, after I knock out a couple bills, can I have an Ipad for Christmas? As long as I don’t have to sign something.