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Come see me sometime!

November 4, 2007

I have restarted and moved my blog to Thesharpenedspoon.com come on over for a visit!

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The Wrath of Randy, the Boy Who Said, “BUTT!”

April 20, 2007

Have you ever feared for your life? I mean to where it kept you awake at night? Now, I am not a fearful guy, ask anybody. My philosophy toward life threatening situations goes a little something like this: When God is done with me there will be nothing I can do to hold on for one minute longer, and until He is there is nothing that anyone can do to take me out. But ,once, I was truly terrified.

I had forgotten all about the Summer of the Sniper until this afternoon while walking the two blocks to my theatre studio, enjoying the fact that we have finally managed to string together two warm dry days here in good old Okc. The warm sun put me in mind of long days of sunny play as a boy with my brother Steven. On one particular occasion My Dad, a Church of Christ minister, managed to make us the envy of the entire neighborhood by bringing home a rented tent and setting it up to air out in our yard. It was rented for use as a booth at the county fair and it was glorious!

All of the neighborhood boys congregated at the curb to watch it being erected in our yard and the moment it was complete we co-opted it as our headquarters for a major military campaign. My brother and I were the only two cowboys (my parents didn’t believe in war toys, but we could shoot and scalp injuns til the cows came home, I don’t know, and my Dad doesn’t remember so I guess I’ll wait til I get to heaven and ask my Mom,Why? Weren’t the high water jeans enough torture?) among an army of green fatigued warriors but we didn’t care.

The day progressed fabulously until, in the heat of battle, one of the young would be mercenaries uttered the word that ended the war, “butt!” Now, I’m ashamed to say, my kids use it all the time but in our house growing up that was about as bad as it got. We had both had our mouths washed out with soap for uttering much less heinous epithets than that (heck, gee, golly, gosh, darn, dang and Jiminy Christmas also appeared on My Mother’s List of oaths too terrible to be suffered) and knew that the penalty would be swift and sure. I, being the narc in the family, immediately fulfilled my duty and reported the offense to my mother, who summarily ended our encampment, making it known that Randy, the offender, would not be welcome back in our yard for the remainder of the week.

This would have been bad enough if Randy had not added to it by letting us know that if he caught us when our mother wasn’t around he would exact his revenge in a manner most dreadful. (the words he used here I do not remember as I am quite sure I had no clue what they meant at the time) My brother and I hid in the house for the remainder of the afternoon, but this is not the fear to which I refer. The next day a news bulletin of immense significance was brought to our attention. Randy had shot his brother! It seems that he had gone home, taken out his pellet rifle and fired a pellet at point blank range into his brother’s side, bruising a kidney requiring hospitalization! (here it should be noted that Randy was a six year old kid whose worst offense to this point is the one I’ve already described)

My brother and I immediately retreated to the safety of the front porch to discuss what to do about our impending doom. It was obvious that Randy had intended to carry out his threat and had gone home to arm himself! We decided that there was no sense in taking chances, so we would go nowhere without our cap pistols, fringed vests (obviously bulletproof) and plastic firemen’s helmets until the fugitive had been brought to justice, we were scared! To be honest our original plan was to spend the remainder of the Summer safely in our closed in porch playroom, a plan which my Mother quickly vetoed in favor of her own sanity.

That night my Father must have been confused when we both vehemently refused to accompany him the next morning to visit Randy’s brother in the hospital, a chance we would normally have jumped at. We were certain that was exactly the type of opportunity a sniper would love, to get us unprotected in a public place! I can remember the look of terror on my brother’s face when my dad tried to separate him from his vest and helmet when he came to tuck us in, but we had agreed that telling my parents would only put them in danger! He left the house the next morning with two carefully worded get well cards featuring the words “sorry” and “Randy” in large red letters.

That following Sunday when my brother and I attempted to wear vests and helmets at least on the ride to church and home my Mother finally turned us and we sang like stool pigeons. We told the whole sordid tale weeping at the thought that now our parents would be targets too. What happened next convinced me that my Father had snapped! He laughed! Then my mother joined him! How I wish I could stand beside them at that moment and look down at my little five year old self swathed in that vest and wearing that ridiculous helmet with Emergency 51 emblazoned across the bill!

It seems that my Father had been given a very key piece of intel that he had failed to share with us, unaware of the exact nature of our bizarre behavior, the shooting had been accidental! Randy’s brother was in the process of earning his marksman merit badge for scouts and had been cleaning a loaded pellet gun when he shot himself! After a little convincing my brother and I were extremely relieved and joined in the laughter just for sheer joy, we were going to live!

A couple of days later Randy showed up on his bike with a brand new CHIPS helmet and vest set, pistol and all and was welcomed back into the yard after a short reminder of the rules from my mother. We spent the rest of the Summer without serious incident.

As I thought about this story today it brought to mind a saying from King Solomon, the wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. During the past few days we have been living under the shadow of a true tragedy, the gunmen was real, the fear and suffering unimaginable. At times like this you frequently see people react in unusual ways, many of them will now add this to the list of reasons to live their lives in fear. I challenge all of us to take just the opposite approach. Let us instead be reminded of the fleeting quality of life and go out and live it!

Instead of cowering inside your closed in porch imagining the fate that may befall you (which, by the way, is where more people die than any other place) go out and be bold in the knowledge that God has a plan for you and your days are already numbered, according to the prophet, Isaiah! And if you are one of those poor souls running from a pursuer that is always just out of sight, never quite known, listen! Jesus came to preach release to the captives! Let Him set you free from the fear that keeps you from being what he made you to be! Go get a Bible and find out who he was! Ask somebody for help, email me, but don’t live with debilitating fear another day! Get free! Let’s not let the evil win this one!

God’s word tells us that we can not fight evil with evil but must overcome evil with good!

***I highly recommend the novel “House” By Tedd Dekker and Frank Peretti as an aid to understanding the spiritual battle that each of us must face and win to be free from fear and its terrible consequences. And if you know someone who lives this way, don’t wait for them to ask for help, offer it. It would be better to offend someone than to allow their paranoia grow to the point that someone gets hurt. ***

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Perfect Parenting 101!

April 18, 2007

There is nothing better than physical affection from my children. When it comes to hugs and kisses I am a big teddy bear. Seeing a two year old run at you screaming Daddy! With a huge smile on her face is the greatest. I love them! However, there are times when they will try to buy you off with this cute wide eyed, innocence, how can you accuse me of such a thing, look at me I’m cute expression. Mostly after they have been given specific instructions such as clean your room, or brush your teeth, or get me a soda! (okay the last one very rarely works , except with the six year old because it is his joy in life to serve anybody)

So, anyway they’ve been given clear instructions which for whatever reason they have decided to ignore, and instead they begin running through the house doing other things. The things they select to do at these moments are generally things that we would give medals for if they were done without being told! Things like: give everyone a kiss, (including the three dogs, lizard, parakeet, and whatever stuffed animals happen to be grazing on the living room rug) or pick up some stray bits of trash and making sure to take about eighteen times longer than it should, (carrying it through three different rooms “looking“ for a trash can only to “find“ it inches from the starting line of their world trek.)_ Or collect their shoes and put them away, anything but what they were asked to do.

Now, they have a fairly strong argument that these are good things, however, they are not what they have been asked to do. I find it extremely tempting to just allow them to continue. (mostly because they are quiet and not interrupting my DVR’d Jericho or Monk!) but I have noticed a trend. When they are allowed to get away with such small and seemingly innocent lapses in response to authority it never ends well. It always escalates!

Parents beware! It is not my place to tell you what type of discipline to use in every circumstance that you may find yourself but I beg of you, I plead with you to make whatever it is stick! This is not the time to be wishy-washy, you must be consistent! Get off the couch, pry the remote out of your hand, turn off the Ipod and deal! Here is where the rubber meets the road! Ninety percent of effective parenting is not saying things you don’t mean, and making the things you say mean something!

Tonight as I was sending my children up to bed my six year old began to stall. He was grinning slyly as if he were getting away with it and I was tempted to just let it go, after all bedtime in our house is a fairly soft deadline. (and I was watching Jericho) But, when Dad says something he needs to mean it. Now I was not angry or gruff, but I put an end to his charade and he happily went to bed.

After the incident I kind of half heartedly thought to no one in particular, what is that about? This is generally when God takes me to task. It seems that I am frequently guilty of similar behavior when God gives me instructions. God says, Witness to your neighbor, so I take their garbage cans in from the curb hoping they’ll notice my “lifestyle”. God says Give to the needy, so I clean out my closet and give the leftovers to Goodwill.

Worse yet I often times ignore his instructions completely! Oh I will sing loud in Church that Sunday, maybe even harmonize a little, clap my hands, shuffle my feet, see how much I love you? Or comment in Sunday school, or on someone’s blog when I should be praying for a sick friend or going to visit them, all the time hoping to distract God from his original intent with my “good deeds”.

At the end of his lecture God reminded me of a verse that I don’t think I ever really understood until tonight. God desires obedience more than sacrifice. He wants us to do what he asked not our interpretation of what he really wants, or some substitute. He doesn’t just talk because he likes the sound of his own voice, there is a purpose and a plan, more often than not a time sensitive plan, in every command he gives! Maybe your neighbor needs to hear tonight because he plans to end his or someone else’s life tomorrow. Maybe that friend is going home to be with Jesus and needs your companionship to ease their discomfort, or more likely maybe there is something you will gain from obeying that you will miss otherwise?

At any rate the next time you are tempted to substitute something good for obedience, remember this little verse, turn off your worship CD, close your Bible (yea I said it) open the door, cross the lawn and step out in obedience in whatever God is asking you to do. By the way I often find that some little something I have been asking will suddenly be answered when I cross things off my Sonny Do list.

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The Real Tragedy Isn’t “Out There”, It’s In Here With Us!

April 16, 2007

Yesterday I wondered aloud if the topic of conversation we were choosing for our public discourse was really that important, could the strongest nation on earth really be this obsessed with an off color joke, told in bad taste? Is this really the discussion we want to dominate the American political landscape at this point in history?

 

Today the sun was dimmed, today a dark shadow fills the sky, today one young man takes the lives of thirty others and all we can do is ask questions. All we can do is ask questions, invade people’s privacy and point fingers. Why didn’t they stop him, why did he do it? What was he thinking, how can we stop this from happening again? Out trot the experts with their PHD’s RN’s, MD’s and tell us what may have been on the young man’s mind and tomorrow will come the experts in school safety to tell us how we can avoid being the next victim.

 

I heard tonight that I, yes I too, am a victim of this tragedy, that because of my exposure to this horrific event via the media I may be traumatized and should seek psychological help should I find it difficult to sleep or find myself dwelling on this terrible massacre. I may even need medication. Along with the explanations will come a multitude of excuses for what has transpired, he was mentally ill, depressed, genetically predisposed. The victims will suffer from “survivor’s guilt” or “post traumatic stress disorder”. The experts will run in with their societal label guns like some global closet organizing team! These labels, do they really help? Or do they serve to further cheapen the sacrifice of lives?

 

The thing you will never hear is the truth, we live in a fallen world, you are no better than he. Any one of us under the right circumstances would be capable of our own atrocities. But the labels make us feel safe, we are not like him, we can be tested, treated, medicated to avoid repeating his “mental breakdown”. You see humanism has no label to admit to the depravity of man. There must have been something uniquely wrong with this young man to make him malfunction in this way. What they don’t realize is that he is the normal product of a society which places little to no value on human life, we, the uninitiated masses, we who have never taken up arms against our fellow man are the ones that are working against the odds.

 

So we work to treat the symptoms rather than attacking the problem at its root. We will investigate the university’s security, the police department’s response procedure, we may even argue to enact new legislation (we can’t even enforce the laws we already have, gee I got an idea lets make some more, after all last time I checked it was ALREADY illegal to ,oh, I don’t know take a gun and shoot thirty people!!??) we will do anything, anything at all to keep from admitting that it is past time for us to get on our face before God and in an attitude of humility beg Him to spare us from His just wrath! We will continue buying tickets to the same movies, plugging in the same games, listening to the same music, reading the same books, making the same jokes, practicing the same complacency that has led us this point already.

 

Solutions of course are a dime a dozen. As for me I intend to hold my own sons close and tell them about how precious EACH human life is in the eyes of God. In this way their will be three young men who will think twice before alleviating their pain at the expense of others. My heart goes out to those effected by this senseless act. I know that as in all things God’s purpose will be served but I also know that God mourns the loss of those lives with us. Pray, pray that we will seek God’s face before it is too late, that we will see our own guilt in allowing things in our own neighborhoods, cities and states to deteriorate. That we have judged prents and children alike when they showed signs of starting down the road of degradation. Like the Pharisees we are extremely adept at pointing out the faults of others but lousy at lending a hand to help carry the burden.

 

 Pray that the truth spoken by De Toqueville will serve as our warning, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  Not being a part of the problem is not cutting it anymore, salt is supposed to be a preservative, WE are the solution! (yeah, I know technically He is the solution but he works through us and HE’s not the one who needs motivating right now)

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Friends, who needs ‘em?

April 13, 2007

Friend. This unassuming word can mean so much. What is a friend? According to my Mother its something you can never have too many of. We say that when things get bad you find out who your real friends are, and that you never know how many friends you’ve got until you die. What is that special connection between two people that transcends background, creed and social status as the connection we seek beyond all others? What is it that makes some people mere acquaintances and some people worth getting up at 4:00 in the morning to have breakfast with after a year of  non contact?

 

Something deeper than simple shared experience lies beneath the façade of this type of friendship, what is it? These are not just people who think we are cool. They are the ones who have concrete evidence to the contrary and yet somehow seek out our company anyway. There may be ethnic, cultural, or class differences. We may meet under interesting circumstances, but there below the surface is the feeling when your hands touch in greeting for the first time that there is something significant about this person in your life, some deeper meaning.

 

What would the joys and sorrows of life be without a friend to share them with? Without people to laugh or cry with us, would we really exist? There’s a line from a song in a musical, the song is Hey look Me Over and as sad as it is I don’t know what show it’s from (And here I am the professional director with over twenty-five musicals under my belt) it goes: Nobody in the world was ever without a friend. How are you in the world if nobody knows your there?

 

They say that the average person only has two or three close friends at any given time. (unless you watch “Friends” and then they say you believe you have more friends versus non-watchers, although this is an old statistic and may not be holding up in syndication) I have a very good friend, Jerry, he and I used to do breakfast every Thursday and just sit and talk for hours. We would talk about anything, the nature of the universe down to how are the wife and kids. Now, it seems, that relationship gets recharged every six or eight months when we usually call each other, without knowing the other has called, within a day or two, weird, huh? See, I think the connections we feel to others have so much more to them than what we can see, or hear, or say. I believe that this flesh mask that hides reality is not nearly so concrete as it appears. I believe that our spirits do relate to the spirits of those we meet on a deeper level.

 

Now I am not talking about ESP, or ET or any those other E’s that may apply to this subject, no I mean that God has intricately layered our universe in such a way that if we pay attention there is so much we feel and know that we push back to the edges of our consciousness. These relationships tend to bend those barriers, we feel their pain sometimes as deeply as our own. We communicate unspokenly when the waitress says something to the customer in the next booth that means something to us.

 

The encouragement and comfort you get from a good friend is not surface stuff, it goes deep, it has the power to allow healing to take place in old wounds. It is the casual word that makes you believe you can, or know you shouldn’t. This is the stuff that makes all of the other  knappy headed ho’ crap of life worth bearing.  ( No, not a Don Imus fan, but I am a big fan of the bill of rights, although I am really torn as to whether this is the system working, after all even AL Sharpton has the right to free speech, or if this is a bad joke gone terribly awry)

 

Anyway Jerry and I had breakfast the other day and it was great. Somehow just knowing there is somebody out there that will take time out of their schedule on short notice to hang with me somehow makes everything a little brighter. No, I can’t tell you what we talked about, well I could but then the black helicopters would swoop down and snatch you away for reprogramming. (they can read our thoughts you know)

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Are you wasting your time reading this?

April 10, 2007

Time, you can use it wisely, you can spend it, you can waste it, you can invest it but no matter how hard you try you can never get any more of it than you started with. How are you spending yours?

 

What would you do differently if you could go back, back before the fall, before time mattered? Before the death clock started ticking? What would you do? Would you still rush off to work every morning? Would you spend hours competing for that slot in the fast lane to get back home to crash into your easy chair and enter into whatever fantasy land you go to, what ever numbs the white hot pain of your insignificant existence?

 

Or would you slow down? Would you change your habits and make time for the things that you know you should be about?

 

What is the highest use of time? Is it rushing around in a search for significance? Trying to get a large enough piece of the pie to be noticed? Or is it in contemplation of the universe, thinking about what makes us tick, maybe even the nature of time itself?

 

If you could only do one thing today, only had enough time to do one of the things on your list, (whether that list is mental, paper or digital we all have one) which thing would it be? What choice would you make?

 

I have heard it said that this mode of thinking is the way to put your money to work for you, deciding on a case by case basis what your priorities truly are, what is most important to you. Why not time?

 

If we really are just visiting here on this planet how should we spend our time? What things will we take with us from here into the next world? What things will we regret having given priority to when we look back from eternity?

 

What about the others around us, are we investing our time wisely in our relationships, our fellow travelers on the wheel of infinity? Do our families really need more stuff, bigger things, the latest time wasters? Do we really make their lives better by amassing more stuff? If you had the time to do or say anything with or for or to the people you love, what would it be? What keeps you from it? Does is it really matter, more than that? Is it really worth giving up what you are trading to get what you think you want?

 

Today, right now, where you are, think about time. Those ten seconds are now gone, unique in the history of the world and never to be repeated. What if you saw time that way? Good and bad, gems of irreplaceable beauty? Each moment hand crafted by the Father of Lights, crafted to make you into what he sees in you? If you could walk through just one day with that in mind, what would happen? What would YOU say? What would YOU do?

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Are you wasting your time reading this?

April 10, 2007

Time, you can use it wisely, you can spend it, you can waste it, you can invest it but no matter how hard you try you can never get any more of it than you started with. How are you spending yours?

 

What would you do differently if you could go back, back before the fall, before time mattered? Before the death clock started ticking? What would you do? Would you still rush off to work every morning? Would you spend hours competing for that slot in the fast lane to get back home to crash into your easy chair and enter into whatever fantasy land you go to, what ever numbs the white hot pain of your insignificant existence?

 

Or would you slow down? Would you change your habits and make time for the things that you know you should be about?

 

What is the highest use of time? Is it rushing around in a search for significance? Trying to get a large enough piece of the pie to be noticed? Or is it in contemplation of the universe, thinking about what makes us tick, maybe even the nature of time itself?

 

If you could only do one thing today, only had enough time to do one of the things on your list, (whether that list is mental, paper or digital we all have one) which thing would it be? What choice would you make?

 

I have heard it said that this mode of thinking is the way to put your money to work for you, deciding on a case by case basis what your priorities truly are, what is most important to you. Why not time?

 

If we really are just visiting here on this planet how should we spend our time? What things will we take with us from here into the next world? What things will we regret having given priority to when we look back from eternity?

 

What about the others around us, are we investing our time wisely in our relationships, our fellow travelers on the wheel of infinity? Do our families really need more stuff, bigger things, the latest time wasters? Do we really make their lives better by amassing more stuff? If you had the time to do or say anything with or for or to the people you love, what would it be? What keeps you from it? Does is it really matter, more than that? Is it really worth giving up what you are trading to get what you think you want?

 

Today, right now, where you are, think about time. Those ten seconds are now gone, unique in the history of the world and never to be repeated. What if you saw time that way? Good and bad, gems of irreplaceable beauty? Each moment hand crafted by the Father of Lights, crafted to make you into what he sees in you? If you could walk through just one day with that in mind, what would happen? What would YOU say? What would YOU do?

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