Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things I've Learned the Hard Way in 2008 (That Will Hopefully Make Me a Better Person in 2009)

I have learned many things in 2008. I want to share some of those things. Other lessons I will keep to myself for now, but they will influence how I act and treat other people for the rest of my life.

So, in no particular order:

1. Always tell the truth. Sometimes bluntness and honesty will alienate people, but if you lie (for whatever reason), it will alienate people even further when the truth comes out (and it will come out). NEVER lie to people you love! Lying is a form of manipulation and control, and it is never right to try and control other people.

2. When you have someone’s trust, protect it like it is a precious treasure. Once that trust is lost, it is hard (sometimes impossible) to win it back.

3. The bond between a parent and child cannot be broken, and is induplicable among human relationships. In other words, give your children all the love you can!

4. When people tell you that you are wonderful, talented, etc., don’t believe your “own press.” The moment you do, you have become vulnerable to pride – which always comes before the fall.

5. When people are hurt they will act in unpredictable ways and do things completely out of character. Forgive these actions freely.

6. If you want people to forgive you, you have to offer forgiveness to others first.

7. True love is unconditional. Love freely. If that love is not reciprocated, it will soften your own heart.

8. There is a huge gulf between the virtues that some Christians claim to have, and what they actually practice.

9. In times of crisis, your list of true friends will shrink to just a few. Treasure these people for the rest of your life, and remember who abandoned you.

10. Counselors serve a purpose, but do not put too much trust in them. This also applies to “Christian” counselors. Take their advice, but do not abandon common sense.

11. Human beings have an extraordinarily high tolerance for emotional pain.

12. Indecision is worse than making a bad decision. Don’t vacillate. Choose!

13. Material things have no intrinsic value. Money and fine things are only valuable if you can share them with people you love.

14. Loneliness is as destructive of the human spirit as cancer is to the body.

15. Happiness can be found in small things, and usually comes from within. Do not depend on another person or persons to make you happy.

16. Never make big decisions or serious financial commitments when you are emotionally hyped up or as an act of rebellion.

17. Every family has a pathology. You must figure it out or you WILL repeat it.

18. And finally, to quote a very wise family member, “Charles, you are the dumbest smart guy I’ve ever known!”

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Gospel is Not a Weapon

Here's my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies: "Saved."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Am Sorry

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'"

I have been struggling to get into the "Christmas spirit" this year. So much has happened! I feel overwhelmed with sorrow most days. I was preparing myself for the most miserable Christmas of my life. And then - I read, as if for the first time, Luke 2. One word stood out to me - the word "peace." The coming of Christ is not about me and my feelings, nor is it about gifts and gaudy tinsel, nor is it about shopping. It is about peace.

Everyone who knows me, and many who read this blog know that I have been very angry and frustrated! I have done and said things to alienate so many people. This Christmas I feel a gaping hole in my heart and searing grief for all the people I love who will be far from me - both physically and emotionally. So, like never before, I am going to focus on the real meaning of Christmas - peace. If I have hurt you, lied to you, lashed out at you, abused your trust, or used you in any way to further my own selfishness and arrogance, please, I beg of you, forgive me. People don't change overnight, and sometimes it takes a lot for stubborn people like me to discern the leading of the Lord. God deals a little more harshly with us, but He never gives up. I believe that after I have walked through this fire I will have learned how to be honest and humble. I am willing to be made willing.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

NOT Finished

Last year I posted this picture during what I thought was a stressful time. Well, it was "peaches and cream" compared to now! This is how I feel right now about EVERY part of my life without exception.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What if Starbucks Marketed Like the Church? A Parable:

Parables are like satire - if you get it a light goes on in your head, if you don't get it, then you just get angry. Jesus said something like that! Enjoy.