I stand–mouth agape, arms akimbo–in awe of people who manage to maintain large coteries of friends, social media connections, socialize with coworkers, etc.

Because that’s not me. When first I began blogging, I was there: commenting, sharing, interacting. Then I hit a wall. I burnt out. I couldn’t keep up with everything and everyone. It got overwhelming.

Funny thing is, when I pulled up virtual stakes, my Internet presence began to go along with it. This blog may as well be drying on the vine as much as it’s read these days. I can’t say I ever had halcyon days, but the old grey mare sure ain’t what she used to be. I wanted to use it as a springboard to launch a platform, but what influence do I have?

That’s as may be. I don’t know what to do about it. I only that I’m not above the pangs of jealousy whenever I hear that coworkers have gotten together over the weekend, that so-and-so has another book coming out, that this other guy is getting all these hits (and comments).

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m defective, off putting, something. I have a family that loves me, but I sure don’t have a lot of friends. And the Internet friends I once had have gone their own ways. Some days I just feel so alone. It feels like childhood all over again: being ignored, left to my own devices.

I mostly get by. I have a God Who loves me, a wife and kids who adore me. But anytime I’ve gotten close to a group of friends something has happened. I don’t know if it’s me, them, or just this rotten world.

In any case, I’m not unhappy. I love Jesus, my wife, kids, family. But it would be nice to be known, to be appreciated, to be able to share life with brothers of like minded faith sometimes.

I know we’re all busy. And I hope I’m not just writing on my own behalf. I’m sure there are others of you out there feeling the same.

I’m here. I’m still here.

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It almost goes without saying that to affirm–to embrace–one thing is to implicitly deny another. There are only so many hours in one day, and we are but human; thus, we can’t do everything.

What we do get to do is choose. This, or that. If we choose this, chances are we can’t also do that (maybe we can, but usually not well). The funny thing is that we always seem to manage to find the time to do the things we love. Whether that’s writing, sculpting, painting, exercising, reading, praying…

The list is endless.

But because we love that thing, we are disciplined, and choose this instead of that.

We decide what our priorities are, and invest accordingly.

For myself, I’m in a season where getting up, and going to the gym, is important to me. It means that I don’t have time for morning writing for instance. However, I think that my fitness journey may indeed one day provide ample blog fodder.

The equation may be different for you, and that’s okay. What’s important is to:

Choose

Commit

Stay focused

Be disciplined

And show up

The rest is up to you.

Choose you this day.

I sometimes (often) marvel at God’s timing. If you, like me, are a theist (and indeed a Christian), then you likely believe that God is sovereign (in charge). Yet somehow, within the context of that sovereignty, he created us–creatures with free will. So today, of my own volition, I ventured out to CVS pharmacy to pick up some heating pads for a stiff neck. Well and good. On the way back, I was treated to sudden wet slap falling upon my right shoulder. This moist blat managed to splash on my right earlobe. For the briefest of moments, I thought it rain. It was not. It was the digestive leavings of an avian exiting its cloaca.

To be precise, it was pigeon poo (yuck!).

How did my little jaunt to CVS, and back, place me (so to speak) at the scene of the “crime” at that precise instant?

This avian accident necessitated a detour into Starbucks, where I cleaned off the alimentary outburst to the best of my ability. Leaving there, I proceeded back to work.

Which put me at the intersection near my office just in time for:

An older lady, decked out in a red jumpsuit, cane in hand, yelling at the top of her lungs, “You don’t get no p*ssy for letting me cross the street. You hear me? You don’t get no p*ssy for letting me cross. Maybe if I’s a younger skank, but you ain’t getting any.” This tirade seemed to be directed at no one other than the ether.

Here, again, it’s all about timing: if I hadn’t been so rudely detained by a roosting winged rat, I would have missed out on this colorful outburst.

What does it mean? What, if anything, is God trying to tell me?

As I said above, I believe He is sovereign–the superordinating power which runs the universe. That said, and in the words of C.S. Lewis, “free will almost requires a kind of divine self-abdication.” In other words, if lesson there is to be had here, it’s that:

1) God is good; and

2) Sh*t happens

Sometimes it flows from a cloaca; others, from the human mouth.

If we learn anything from history, the Bible, culture, we are, by and large, an idolatrous people. Wars have been fought for lands, possessions, people. Helen of Troy is said to have had a face that launched a thousand ships. The litany goes on and on.

Point is, we’ll make an idol of anyhting: beauty, our cars, our T.V.s, our summer homes, what have you. Sure, we’re much too enlightened for that these days–we don’t call them idols anymore.

But idols they are. Come on: we idolize celebrities, needing to know every minute detail of their lives, while decrying the presence of those rags at all the supermarket checkstands. Fact is, if we didn’t buy them, if there weren’t demand, those magazines wouldn’t be there. The publishers just give us what we want. So, too, Hollywood with its movies and T.V. shows: whatever sells tickets, and generates ad revenue, is what it will keep churning out. Ad nauseum.

It’s all fine and dandy to lay the blame at another’s feet–when the problem lies about eight inches beneath the head, and in the center of the human chest.

It’s a heart condition.

And the worst of all the idols we put before God is the one we fashion in our likeness. (Look no further than our iconography: every people group wants to claim Jesus as their own. There’s white Jesus, brown Jesus, black Jesus, yellow Jesus, etc. When all we know for sure was that He was a Semitic man, “without form or comeliness”). Instead of letting Him claim as His own…

Just as the God who hates everything/everyone we hate is likely one who we have created in our likeness, so, too, is the God who approves of everything we do. Who likes everything we like.

If God (if Jesus) we serve doesn’t offend our sensibilities, He’s a poseur, an impostor.  A fake. Because the real one is an iconoclast: someone who defies labels, will not be pigeonholed.

Just like nobody puts baby in a corner, so, too, no one puts God in a box. Oh, we try. How we try:

There’s conservative God, who wants to close the borders, and doesn’t care about the aliens and strangers among us. There’s the gay God, who wants to just tastefully redecorate our souls (and His son is coming back clad in rainbowed-colored robes, bestride a unicorn). There’s also the social justice God, who only cares about hot button issues, about righting this world’s ills, about making a heaven on earth. But from Him one never hears the Gospel, of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Cause he’s too busy trying to make a heaven on earth now. When the real God says nothing about doing that; rather, He says He’s going to make a new heaven and a new earth. (This is not to say that there are not worthy causes–there are. But the Gospel is the cause).

Lest we forget, in addition to the Gods, the Jesuses, detailed above, there’s also Focus on the Family God–whose focus is indeed upon the family. Families are good, for sure.

But can you imagine that God saying:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” ( Matthew 10:34-36 ESV).

That’s not very family friendly, folks.

The point of all of this, in case you hadn’t guessed, is to simply state this:

It’s a slippery slope, folks, when the God we serve shares all of our values. And not the reverse.”

Jesus didn’t die just to tastefully redecorate, but rather to knock the whole building down, pour a new foundation (Himself), and start afresh.

He came not to make us nice people, but rather new people. People fashioned after His image and likeness. Anything less, or else, is idolatry. It’s Jesus-and–which, as we know from Galatians, is not the Gospel. He tells us come as we are, but he doesn’t leave us there.

Because an encounter with the real Jesus will always leave us fundamentally changed.

Always.

So, which God–which Jesus–do you serve?

When someone so well-loved, widely regarded, respected, and talented as Robin Williams was passes on it’s like losing a friend. Or a family member. This is someone who came into our homes week after week, who we visited at the cineplex, who was in the news.

So it hits hard.

Doubly so, and especially for those of is who grew up watching Mr. Williams’s work, because it reminds us of stark naked reality: if someone so rich, successful, and nearly universally loved as Williams was can die, so can we all.

We are not immune to death’s call. So far as I know there’s but one way to enter this world (birth), and though it take a myriad forms, one way to leave it:

Death.

As the story of Williams’s death broke we all felt you chill winds of mortality blow over our souls. Wealth, success, fame, power, regard are no antidote. While wealth may buy us extra time, it’s no guarantee. The late Steve Jobs was a billionaire, was able to extemd his life by a few years, yet still he had to pay the boatman.

Death, as Shakespeare said, is the “undiscovered country, from whose borne no traveler returns.” Even those of us who are Christians don’t know what awaits us on the other side. We have the Bible, and we have hope. But none of, despite claims to the contrary, has actually crossed over, seen what lies in that far country, and come back to report our findings.

It doesn’t work that way. God generally does not, as much as we wish it, gives us foreknowledge of our own ends. He teaches is instead to number our days, to live as if He were coming back, indeed to live as if each day was our last.

Because we never know. It could be a car accident, a plane crash, a heart attack, a tumor, or any number of things which could lay each one of us low. The only think I know that is sure, upon which I have staked my life, is this:

“He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. He that lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

That’s what it comes down to, friends:

Faith, and

Trust

Where are you placing yours? Knowing that this one life you’ve been given here upon this earth will end, where–in whom–are you placing your faith, your trust?

Your (eternal) life depends upon it.