Service is not a Photo-Op!

•April 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

SpotlightMatthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

I remember after hurricane Katrina I heard a story about a Hollywood A-lister (Who won’t be mentioned by name) that went to New Orleans and brought his own camera man who shot photos of this man rowing his boat in the flood waters looking for people to help. It struck many odd that he would bring his camera man to be seen doing his “good works”

Compare that to the way that some press that were in some pretty hard to reach areas found Harry Connick Jr., who hails from N.O. area, trying to help others without bringing notice to himself. He did not bring press there with him. He just went to the need and did what he could.

I see that exact disparity in the way many individuals and institutions do “Service projects”

Churches that want to be recognized so as to bring people in the doors to add to their “giving units” or to look bigger and better and be recognized n their community make sure that their giving is seen. They ring their bells and scream “look at us”. Kind of like when I tip the barista at the coffee shop. I try not to put the money in until they are looking so they can see me being “grateful” monetarily. So they can know me as a cool customer, and guarantee better service for myself. It is given as an opportunity to increase my returns. To add to my status socially, to bring back more value, and even to convince myself that I am a nice guy.

But that pesky verse that I can see up there at the top of this blog asserts itself and reminds me that while any service may benefit those served, the benefit that could have come to me in a much more eternal sense is lost when my motivations are less than they should be. In truth, even the temporal reward can be hurt by my attitude in giving.

To be sure, when you are trying to increase awareness of an opportunity to serve in your community, you have to do a little attention getting. If you are going to do a service project, you need more than pastors and staff to show up. The issue here is not the notice itself, but the attitude. Are you doing it because of a need you see, or to be seen filling a need?

I myself can never divine which it is for any group or individual, nor will I even try. I can hardly get it right myself. The only reason I bring this up is so that each of us checks our own heart to determine what our motivation is for this. Is it to give love, or to get it?

So, if you are creating service opportunities because your heart bleeds for your community (local or global) then please, by all means, do all you can to bring attention to the need, but if you want a spotlight. It is better you shine the light on someone else.


Theoretical Sinners

•January 9, 2015 • 1 Comment


I will never forget a meeting I had with a former Pastor wherein he was trying to resolve a conflict between me and another individual. In that meeting he was very straight forward, and mentioned with specificity a particular sin of his own, and in so doing, communicated to us his need for grace from God and from others. He did not balk at self-revelation. It was like he was presenting his qualification on the expression of the need for grace.

Continue reading ‘Theoretical Sinners’

My beloved

•November 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

My beloved

My last blog mentioned a woman I was seeing that was an old High school flame. Well, since that post we got married. Two things are clear from this development.
1. Life is getting better
2. I need to write more

Writers Envy, Mantras and Sushi, or Avalanche of Alphabetics

•April 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

Ever hear of writers envy? It is what you get when you sit at home watching far too many episods of 30 Rock on Netflix and read the freaking hilarious blogs of other great friends like the marvelous witty Laura Roland, who never fails to make me laugh, or the ponderous magnificence of Julie Wisdom, who provides depth (Though usually on women’s  topics, but thanks to my man breasts and my great emotional sensitivity, I am an honorary woman.) and mope because you are creating nearly nothing.  Instead you waste your wit and wisdom on facebook posts (where your readership far exceeds your blog.) and you realize you have been patting yourself on the back for microseconds of genius ( i.e  A response to this post – “Asses in my face” with – “There I go again! Doing handstands in my kilt!” ) While your back is getting soar from the only place you can reach patting yourself for your lame one-offs, and you are still going broke from the repeated familiar refrain “I am underemployed” which works really horribly as any kind of soothing mantra.

IT is the reason for this horribly reasoned blog today. I demand to write something that I hope is reasonably funny, and post it where no one will ever read it, That last sentence also works horribly as a mantra. I have a lot of bad mantras that I have been using to ill effect lately.

“I am going to get that umbilical hernia fixed soon!”

“Three Dollar wines! Why didn’t I discover these before?”

“Sure I need more guitar picks, but that is really what they make those bread bag closers for!”

“3rd Day coffee grinds are really nuttier in flavor, and taste a lot more like Starbucks!”

“I know exactly how many street accessible orange trees there are in the neighborhood from which to farm my OJ supplies!”

“Maybe these ramen noodles will taste like sushi if I keep them in the fridge next to my roommates Salmon”

“Maybe these fish sticks will taste like sushi if I eat them cold with wasabi (which in this case is merely horseradish with green food color)

“La Puente is the new Beverly Hills!”

Enough? I thought so.

In truth, I have some very large plans that so far are coming together like North and South Korea. The South would be my sure plans to do a voice over demo (finally!) and the North being my inability to acquire work enough to pay all my bills in a timely manner, and even come up with the cash for the production of this demo.  It is maddening, but I have not given up. Sadly embargos are what the North has unleashed on me. The blockade seems to be stopping my resume and marvelously well written cover letters from getting to any eyes that care.

In all of this there are very bright points. I feel that a muse has returned to light the lamp of my figurative writing table, as my fingers type madly in their dyslexic style causing little red squiggly lines to appear all over the Word document wherein I do my first draft of these things.  That muse is in the form of an old high school crush.  I have added 115 lbs to my weight since then, and she seems to have eyes like fun house mirrors, because she still sees the old Joe. I have no idea how those fun house mirrors react to the baldness.  She lives far away, which tempers us greatly, as I repeat the new mantra “Go slow, don’t talk about the toe cheese…  Damn! Too late” But she is ever so much the same gal from way back then Incessantly positive, caring and loving, and a follower of my God and Savior (No, not Jack Bauer, although I do believe in Jack, but I digress)I do love her with all the nuggets of amazing that hid themselves away deep in my gray matter for all these years, ,and for the newly stewed and simmering realizations of the reality of those memories. I am looking forward to the exploration  of this new found beauty.

There are hopes, and very real possibilities for so much good in all of this. I believe that I have what it takes to succeed, and that I have something good to share. I will be doing all I can to make the dreams a reality, and the rest is in God’s hands. Better yet, it is ALL in His hands. IF you don’t believe in God, please go pat your back with your fellow atheists in some other blog. I will delete all attempts at making this a debate on that subject. Which will lead me to my final and only enforced mantra for this blog, “Master debaters can lubricate their dialectic prowess elsewhere”

Now, my hunt Is for a new mantra. I got the first half in this oft repeated thought “God is good, all the time.” May I go on to see it, and be it, as I realize the beauty that already fills this vessel and wants to express itself.

Well, I think it is time for me to go have at some “Sushi” Anybody want some?

The Grand Misery of the Good Guy.

•May 26, 2011 • 5 Comments

Two weeks after the break up I ponder things great and small. Expectations, hopes, dreams, stewardship, character and love.
I review my conduct with her. Examine the courtship. Some may say I am crazy but I did my best to avoid wooing her. I maintained as much reality about myself as I could. After 10 months of actual dating, it has not ended ( as of yet) in the kind of long term commitment one would hope for in such a process.

So the feeling one has after the end of a relationship is summed up in this question. Did I fail?

The answer to that question depends on the goal. For some, the goal of every relationship is to end up at the altar. For others it is to end up with regular sex, or even irregular sex (in terms of frequency) or any sex for that matter. For some it is just companionship, regardless of the long term commitment. I am sure that we can come up with many examples. By most of these kinds of measures one could probably call it a failure.
I identified her as one of the most phenomenal women I have ever been with, in terms of compatibility with respect to our communication, social proclivities, spiritual connections, emotional maturity, intellectual prowess, and service. We also were able to sing together in church (She the alto, me the tenor) and engage in that community effectively together. She was truly beautiful in any regard. I was (and am) attracted to her in every way. It is easy to see that not ending up at the afore mentioned pinnacles in this relationship to her can be regarded as a failure. I was married far less sensibly before, and managed 7 years of horrible marriage. This would be far more successful in that regard, undoubtedly. She is far more affectionate, and speaks the same love languages I do, so the “I love you” of our lifestyles would be readily said and heard. She does not cook, but does not mind cleaning. I love to cook, but hate to clean up the mess. Check, Check, Check… more compatibility. I failed to land this, is that not a failure?

Now let me say that my goal with this amazing woman of depth and intelligence and clear beauty and passion, was not any of those things previously mentioned, but rather to always give her possession of her own head, in finding her own heart. That means that instead of wooing her, I endeavored to express my true self, with regards to my expectations, my natural response in giving her my time and efforts, emotional expressions being relative to my actual emotional state, with sensitivity clarity and honesty, and a careful regard for her own stewardship of her heart. I needed to facilitate her thinking! I also needed to present a climate wherein she felt safe to present her true-self so that I could make those same assessments.

Our ability to effectively engage a long term possibility could only happen with an honest assessment of our realities. If my realities are not compatible with hers, then she needs to be able to see that clearly. Emotions often clutter our grasp of many of these realities, or warp our perception of the depth of their impact. If I succeeded in wooing her, and she ignored those things, in the end, the long term hope of the relationship is compromised. When the wooing ended, and the real us took over, the previously ignored realities would cast a far reaching shadow over the relationship, and in the end damage trust. Perhaps even in one’s own ability to discern truth. Having been married and divorced, I can not accept this kind of outcome.

As someone who cares for the quality of my own life, and the quality of the life of others, I must be honest in my assessments, moderate the development of intimacy so that it parallels the growth of trust and celebrate the outcome of a realistic assessment, because it facilitates a longer term happiness, and marks the demise of all or nothing rocket ship dating, where the descent is as extreme as the climb, and a lot more destructive. As they say, it is not speed that kills, but the abruptness of the stop.

I have told many people that my opinion of the error of heavy romance in a new relationship is that it offers an intimacy based on ignorance. If someone barely knows you, then writes heart heavy diatribes of their devotion, attraction and commitment it is then a gloriously beautiful lie, based on their hopes of who you are, not a real clear vision of it. This in turn invites you the recipient to give over more heart and trust based on a fabulous presentation. Have you seen the infomercials for these new fishing lures that are sparkly and look very much like real fish? These piscine frauds lure in the hungry fish, and cause them to bite, believing that they are about to enjoy a real meal. In the end they have been lured in by a false hope that cost them quite dearly.

Romance devoid of familiarity is much the same. It lures in the hopeful intimacy seeking person who believes that they are about to partake in a real meal and in the end, the have been duped. Their hearts entangled on the line of premature commitment… If they escape at all, it is usually with damage. Their trust of future suitors who may not merit distrust is already compromised, but hunger for a satisfying taste of intimacy will cause them to repeat the error, biting out at the first tasty morsel that presents itself. This kind of scar tissue gets harder and harder to heal.
I speak from experience. Having been scarred and having done scarring, I repeated these horrible patterns and swam in a wake of anguish. When I made an honest assessment of myself, divined who I wanted to be, and then tenaciously applied this new person to my life, I started developing good boundaries, and respecting them. I found myself as a being in possession of sufficiency. I stopped needing someone else to tell me that I am fine the way I am. Believing it, I stopped putting so much weight in the response of another person.

Romance became the expressions of a knowing heart, the loving thank you of recognition of a persons real qualities, and the actual recognition of their faults and acceptance of their shortcomings as being something that I can tolerate for the bigger picture of being with them and accepting their real strengths, that may well compliment mine and diminish the destructive affect of my own shortcomings. It celebrates their realization of the same thing.

With regards to this recently ended dating relationship, I set out to be a good man, to love her unselfishly, to hold her with open hands, to raise her expectations, to share personal growth, and to be a positive step in her taking on more of the character of Christ. I set out to learn and grow in my own view of the world, to see myself more clearly through another set of eyes, and to achieve greatness, making the relationship, the best it could be, whatever it’s title. I set out to love honestly, to require nothing, to give freely, and to freely receive all that she cared to give, without complaining about what she chose to keep. I respected her right to be her, as she respected my right to be me. I did not need to see her change, but I was delighted to see her grow.

In everything I set out to do, I did. In all I set out to be, I was. In all I could truly hope to see, I saw.

That is not failure. That is success. I am truly proud of who I have been, and the person that I shared my person with. I can only look back in joy.
Make no mistake. The loss of her companionship is a far greater pain than this blog elucidates. Self-clarity produces not only a clearer mirror, but clearer windows looking out. In that mirror I saw the unaltered image of magnificence in a simple human package. I am aware that I lack that wonderful view with the regularity that I had once had. It hurts to lose that, and in no small measure.

That is the grand misery of the good guy.

In the end, I must quote myself on the true view of love, and the way I hope to have it.

Love is not a wage to be earned, or a prize to be won. It is a gift to be cherished.

Public Notice.

•December 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I am tired of clichés about people who believe in God. I am weary of those that call us mindless. I am abhorred of further conversations in which my belief and its validity in the realm of human existence are diminished, decried and devalued. If you want to be an atheist, you are welcome to it, but do me a favor and do not feign pity for me in my “delusion” from your pseudo all-knowing arrogance.
For my faith and it’s function in my life are a source of joy, a bedrock of hope, a reason for compassion, an anchor in community, a motivator for learning, a light and life to me. To pity me for that is more than arrogance. It is ignorance.

Let’s be defriends!

•May 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I am starting to think that Facebook is just another medium for political and religious polarization. It is high school for the opinionated. What clique are you in? Are you clicked out? (defriended?)

Facebook is undermining our society ever so slowly. People on every side of an issue are being given the sense that they are in the majority, by joining the right groups that support or defend a particular issue, then, seeing the numbers of who has joined them, they then receive a greater sense of “rightness” from this. Continue reading ‘Let’s be defriends!’