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Hi, there folks!
 This has been busy season both personally, and professionally; I am to get back into the swing of things here. You might not notice any differences here, but I’m on a new host. A moment of silence, please for Bryan Allain’s BlogRocket hosting. After 3.5 years, there just wasn’t enough skin in the game any longer for Bryan, or his his hosting partner, Matt Spangler. I can’t say enough good things about these guys. Matt went above and beyond in getting my site backed up and restored. Thanks and kudos to you gents!
 My new host is DreamHost, and they’ve been, well, a dream to work with so far. An initial issue was quickly resolved via chat, and then I was off to the races. Incidentally, and I’m not paid to do this, if you’re looking for a new host, DreamHost has a special right now that will net you a year of hosting for $35.40 ($2.95/month paid in advance). At checkout, use promo code “gizmodo295,” and you’ll be good to go.
 Tomorrow, I’m going to be doing a giveaway of the latest Clint Eastwood-directed movie, American Sniper. The movie stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. See you back here for your chance to win!

The late Sigmund Freud, progenitor of the Freudian school of psychology, is famous for making everything about sex. He is also known as the source of the aphorism, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” and thus by implication not a phallic metaphor.

This got me to thinking.

Is it possible that sometimes a cake is just a cake? That, regardless of our convictions about marriage, perhaps the mere fact of baking a cake isn’t an endorsement of something we don’t believe in? Allow me to lift the (metphoric) veil and show you how I came to that conclusion.

In his first recorded miracle, Jesus after some strong urging from His mother (despite protestations that his “time has not yet come”), transmutes water into wine. This, after all the wine at the wedding feast had been drunk. Is He here, by making wine available, endorsing inebriation? (Remember: the people had already consumed all the wine, hence the need for this miracle). Can we even begin to lay the onus at His sainted feet? No, the responsibility was that of those there imbibing.

The point being that Jesus, essentially, had no qualms about providing alcohol for party people. Think about that for minute. He was also, as He progressed in His earthly ministry, known as a “wine-bibber (alcoholic), a “glutton (overeater), and a “friend of sinners (He hung out with the wrong crowd).” Insofar as my experience goes, I’ve heard of–and seen–Christians accused of the two former sins; namely, over consumption of the juice of the vine, and over consumption of life sustaining food.

But when’s the last time you, I, or someone we know had that charge levelled at us? That we’re a “friend of sinners?” How can it be if we don’t know any, or wouldn’t be caught dead hanging around them? What would the pastor think?

Which brings me back around to cake. If we, right at the outset, shut someone down, how can we expect them to listen when we try to share the Gospel? It’s cliché, but true: people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. And what of Jesus statement “If someone compels you to go with them a mile, go two?” The fact of the matter is that baking a cake, or two (or catering, for that matter), gives us an inroad into someone’s life, gives us a chance at interaction we wouldn’t have if we start simply by asserting our rights.

Jesus didn’t seem to have a problem hanging out with sinners. Why do we? His presence in their lives wasn’t an endorsement of those lives; rather, an invitation.

How are we to be His witnesses if we never come out of our holy huddles into the great, messy fray of life? We must engage people where they’re at…

Every cake is an opportunity.

Facing Down Fear

randomlychad  —  April 9, 2015 — 2 Comments

Lately, when I sit down to write, soul seizes up inside; I sit there numb, not knowing what to say. I have stories, and paths to take them down.
 But I’m not sure. And I second guess myself into inactivity. I sit there, hoping to show up, have the words come, and instead surf the Internet, or game the time away. When it’s finally quiet at night, when there is time to think, instead of working I watch T.V.
 Because I’m afraid. Afraid of where the stories will take me, afraid of investing so much of myself into something no one will likely ever read, afraid of rejection, of my work being scorned. None of the accolades, or encouragements, I’ve received in times gone by seem to count for much these days.
 I want to break, as Jim Morrison sang, on through to the other side. The only way I know how is to make myself work.
 And the only way to do that is face my fears. Practically speaking, this means imposing a deadline. I’m putting it out here, friends and readers, so that you may hold me accountable:
 By hook, or by crook, I will have a book of short stories done in two month’s time. You heard it hear first.
 Though it drive me crazy, “so let it be written, so let it be done.” And please don’t hesitate to ask me how the writing’s going.

 “What would Jesus do?” is a good question to ask, but it’s the wrong place to start. It’s not as if we can phone him up, and go “Say, Jesus, what you do about xxx?” Last I heard, he doesn’t usually answer with an audiible voice (and those that claim to here one oftentimes end up in confining circumstances). Sure, we can pray, asking him for wisdom, and he being wisdom, will give it.
 But the right question, the more appropriate question, is “What did Jesus do?” And for that, we have the Bible, which contains a record of his words and actions while on earth. Many of those words, and actions, earned him the following appellations:
 Wine-bibber (alcoholic)
 Glutton (overeater)
 Friend of sinners (he hung out with the the riff-raff, those despised the religious leaders of the day)
 Telling, he reserved his harshest rebukes for the religious elite, and was gentlest with the sinners–in one case, allowing a woman to anoint him with nard, all the while weeping on, and kissing, his feet; in another, telling a woman, “Go, and sin no more”. Those in the know, the ones who claimed to know God, and speak for him, were scandalized. They couldn’t believe he didn’t know the nard-spilling-woman was a, gulp, sinner. Because if he did…
 He knew.
 He knew, and he didn’t care what people thought of him and his friendship with sinners. As he himself said, he didn’t come for the well, but to call sinners to repentance.
 When’s the last time you or I came out of our holy huddle long enough to even approach being termed a “friend of sinners?” Tick-tick-tick. I’ll venture it’s been a great while (if it’s happened at all). The point is, if Jesus walked among us now in the flesh, he would likely do something which greatly scandalizes our carefully honed religious sensibilities. For instance, he would probably (based upon what we know of him from Scripture) setup shop in the Castro (the gay district in San Francisco), making friends as he went. He might even do some carpentry for the folks as well.
 Because every interaction is an opportunity to the share the message of his love. Nothing about what he did (or would do) is a tacit endorsement of the lives of those around him. Rather, he came to give life, and that more abundantly.
 So WWJD about teh gays?
 He would love them.
 Can we say the same?

The day started beautifully: the sun was shining, birds were chirping… Who am I kidding? It was before 5AM, my bladder was full to bursting, and I was too tired to get up. But I finally did, taking my thyroid pill as I passed into the facilities to do my business. I don’t know why–maybe because I’m somewhere between groggy and downright sleep-deprived all the time–but I thought it would be a good idea to go back to bed. I mean it’s a day off here, and all, you know? Sleep in a little bit, right?

I tried, but quarter to six nature came knocking again. Oh, for a bladder of greater capacity, or you know an extra kidney, you know? Most everyone else has two, but I came into the world with just one. Thanks, God! (I know it’s not Your fault, that it’s a fallen world, and all. But Your Word says that You knit me together in my mother’s womb, right? Did You, I don’t know, maybe miss a stitch? No, that’s crazy talk! You, in your sovereignty, knew I only needed one. And I’m thankful for it–because it works. My cup runneth over).

So, quarter to six I’m up again taking care of business. I get my daughter up so she can get herself ready for school. I head back to my bedroom so I can start the day with God by reading His Word. It’s been a hard slog because I’m in Jeremiah now, and let me tell you they don’t call him the weeping prophet for nothing. It’s nothing but doom and gloom for His kids, the children of Israel. It’s rough stuff.

What isn’t rough is my lovely wife offering to bring me coffee in bed. Ah, delicious brown juice of the bean, tis like Ambrosia to me. I sip, and sip again, and seems right with the world.

Until I hear a scream emanating from the upstairs bathroom. It seems my precious, precocious sweetie of an eight-year-old managed to overflow the toilet. I put my coffee down on the nightstand, and hightail it (in my skivvies, no less) to the bathroom. Opening the door, I’m greeted by a laminate floor awash in water.

Diarrhea water. Wading in, I grab the plunger and go to town. Getting the water to go down, I notice the handle is stuck, and jiggle it back to its fully upright and locked position. Now begins the fun of mopping up the sopping mess.

Did I mention that there isn’t a mop in the world big enough to deal the miasma I found myself standing in? No? Well fortunately for me my kids left a pile of dirty clothes in the bathroom; with those, about three bath towels, and ten minutes, I was able to soak up all the standing water.


Not so fast.

Coming downstairs, I found this sign:

Now isn’t that special? The water, as it is wont to do, found its way through the seemingly watertight laminate flooring down through some minute cracks and into the overhead exhaust fan.

In the downstairs bathroom!

Yay! Lucky me!

Could this day get any worse?

Turns out that, yes–yes, it could. How, you ask?

After getting my cleaning up the messes, and getting my daughter to school (she was almost, but not quite, late), I came back home to take a brief rest before heading out to the gym (my wife was out running errands). Ah, I thought, this day can only get better. Well, um, uh…

Did I mention that I’m behind on my laundry, and that I have clean shorts to workout in? So what’s an enterprising man to do under such circumstances? Grab a pair of swimming trunks, right? Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So there I am, sipping my coffee, sitting on the couch catching up on last night’s Better Call Saul. Ten minutes go by in a blink, and I realize I better get to the gym to get my cardio in before my bride returned home. Grabbing my coffee, a water bottle, my phone, and headphones, I head out the door. Now because the bottom lock on my front door is a little sticky, we always lock it before closing the door.

So I did.

No big deal, right? I mean the keys are in my pocket, right, like always?

Um, yeah. Not so much.

Getting out the car, it dawns on me: I’m still wearing swimming trunks! Trunks with one (count it: one!) pocket. And in it is one thing: my wallet.

My keys are inside, and I’m locked out! No big deal, I tell myself. My wife will be home soon. Just in case, I call her.

I get her voicemail.

I text her. As the song says, “No reply at all.” Her phone, kept on silent as always, is likely resting in the deepest recesses of her purse. I keep my cool. Checking out my front door, I decide there’s too much sun. Heading the back gate, I unlock it, and go into my backyard. There’s at least some shade on the patio. Sitting down down on the bench, I’m prepared (as I’m sure God intended) to contemplate the error of my ways. That is, I would be, were I not immediately assaulted by my son’s dog, Mongrel Molly, the wonderhound. This is the same dog who once headbutted me whilst putting out her food.

I tried to play it cool and aloof, but finally caved and gave her some good scratches while finishing Better Call Saul on my phone. At least it hasn’t gotten too hot here in Phoenix yet. But what is yonder call? It is the siren song of that second pint of coffee knocking on the walls of my bladder…

Have you ever had a day like that?

PS After my wife returned home, having finally received my plaintive whiny pleading text messages after she rolled into the driveway, the day only got better. By better I mean that how could I possibly follow up my morning by anything other than a trip to the dentist? Because, of course, right?

Did you see that $1100 I left lying around? You didn’t? Oh, that’s right! Silly me! I don’t have it. That’s what the dentist told me I needed–$1100 worth of work. You may see at a freeway on ramp, or on your local street corner, with a sign: