Archive for March, 2007

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Do you know what God’s problem is? I’ll tell you!

March 14, 2007

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. As the saying goes I tried to take life one day at a time but somehow several of them ganged up on me at once. Busy, not scoutmaster, PTA, bakesale busy. More like 2 yr old with a broken arm, car breaking down, wife with the flu, window busted out of the front of my theatre, having to have unpleasant conversations with employee (who is now my friend because we were not sure we could be both friend and coworkers anymore) crazy world spinning out of control busy!

 

And that’s just since Friday! Now why is it that I have enough interesting weird problems to fill an encyclopedia while my neighbor has a dog with mange? Is the universe dumping on me? Well to be fair, the neighbor’s wife hates him, his kids are out of control, he hates his job and he’s losing his hair, so maybe my life is not so bad after all.

 

Into every life a little rain must fall, we all have problems, theoretically. Let me explain. Cast your cares on him for he cares for you, sound familiar? Sounds good in principle but what do we do with it? Here, here’s my cares…..wait, no that one it’s much too small for the creator of the universe to be dealing with, not that one! I’d be far to embarrassed, you can take those two, and here’s a little one that won’t take you but a second I’m sure, whew, I feel better. But do we? We stagger along complaining and whining about why God doesn’t seem to be doing much to help us carry the load!

 

Then, as if we don’t have enough to do, we go out and invent problems for God! What are we going to do about the SIN in our community? I don’t know, repent? NO not OUR sin, THEIR sin! (we say with fingers pointing) It’s like some kind of adult playground. So we point our fingers, turn our noses up in the air and begin to chant things like WHORE! (whether it’s true or not, remember the smelly kid in school? We were sure his parents didn’t care about him at all. Never mind that his Father was spending every waking moment caring for his dying mother, or whatever) Then we pick up our stones and….sound familiar?

 

Does God have problems? Interesting question. Of course not. If he is capable of manipulating the details of every geo-political structure since the beginning of time to bring history to a point where a specific man would be executed by a specific group on a specific day of the week, what makes you think that the chaos you witness around you is anything less than the beautiful tapestry of history viewed from far too close?

 

I just had a conversation with a friend regarding things, you know how are things? In the course of the conversation it came up that he felt there were times in his life if circumstances had been different financially that it might have been easier to dissolve his marriage. Wow! How cool is that? Do we really think that God let this happen by accident? Amazing that we have a God who loves us so much he will seemingly deprive us of the things we ask for so fervently in order to preserve the things he wants us to have!

 

So, here’s where I explain the theoretical part. If I cast my cares (problems) on God (give them to him, no takesy backsies) and IF god has no problems, then what am I left with? So, I have no problems, only potential opportunities for God to glorify himself in working out the solutions.

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Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!

March 8, 2007

I hate cheaters! Felt that way my whole life. Would rather take my licks for having failed than be perceived as a success by cheating!

As a home schooling parent there are few things that my kids have the opportunity to cheat at. Except when we are trying to prove a point or fit into the world’s system homeschool families generally avoid the typical “cram for the test” mentality in favor of an opensource education. But today it happened.

My daughter cheated on her spelling test! The way our curriculum works, and it seems to be working, is this; you take a test and whatever words you miss, you study again and ad them to the next test, and the next as long as it takes. So if you do well on a test your workload in spelling is comparatively light, but if you fail miserably you will definitely have incentive not to do it again because you are required to write the word, use it in a sentence and several other repetitive steps.

What to do? Obviously telling her not to do it again will hardly be a deterrant, so, I assign her to repeat ALL of the words in the test, to which her response is to burst into tears. (to be fair she is eleven and a half and, as my wife is fond of reminding me, about to become  a woman so  bursting into tears these days is like saying her 10 year old brother runs in the house!)

It seems she thought this was unfair as she had only cheated on the one word. To which I replied that was whenwe caught you, how do I know it only would have been one word? I don’t know, she says, because that was the one I didn’t know? Why did you cheat? Because I didn’t want to have too many words to repeat.

Reminds me of another conversation: Adam, why are you hiding? Uh…because I’m naked! Who told you you were naked? and then the finger pointing, excuse making and more lies begin.

Sometimes I wonder at the fairness of it all, God says I made rules, break one, pay the price for all of it! Seems like a jerky big brother I’ll leave you here at the park by your  self is why you have to, kind of way to make rules. Except! (and this is a big exception folks) God also said; I’m going to send my Son down there, he’s going to pay the price for anybody who will believe it. So, any takers, show of hands please? (Oh, I forgot, every head bowed, every eye closed so we don’t scare anybody away. which by the way is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves! If I come to Jesus in secret because I’m afraid of what others might think of the fact that i am admitting to being a sinner WHAT am I gonna do when the going gets tough? (see my post yesterday) hummm? Didn’t Jesus say something…Oh yeah, Tell people about me, I’ll tell my Dad you’re all right! But keep it a secret and mums the word!)

So anyway he offers thie great trade! Tired of trying to keep all those pesky laws all by yourself? Running out of ink from keeping score? Have we got a deal for you, The NEW IMPROVED AUTO LAW FULFILLER! That’s right folks never keep score again, free to do what you want. **certain restrictions and limitations may apply, not available in stores, void where legalism is practiced, see John 3:16 for details!**

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Blessed? Or cursed? You Decide!

March 7, 2007

Someone told me the other day that they wished they were able to follow their dreams in the same way that I have. First of all let me express that I don’t feel that “dream” adequately describes the plan for my life. From the age of fourteen I have been convinced of what God wanted me to do with my time here on earth. This certainty has created in me a passionate drive to accomplish it!

But my main concern with what I heard from this person was the attitude that the die had been cast and that his finances dictated his fate. I fear that there are many of these people out here, who look at people like myself as lucky. The fulfillment I find in my work has nothing to do with luck. It has been hard won and is still a constant battle. Many people believe that if you are following God’s will for your life the road becomes level, the sun always shines, and birds sing in the trees as you skip down the lane of life.

I happen to subscribe to an old adage that goes a little something like this, “If everything is coming your way, you’re probably driving on the wrong side of the road”. Let’s look at a couple of Biblical examples of people who followed their God breathed passions.

Way back in the day God spoke to a man named Noah. Once Noah had been convinced to deliver a doomsday prophecy the real fun began. For one hundred and twenty years this man of God went out every day and watched the crews of convinced believers haul in the materials and hew pieces for the love boat, right? Wrong, he and his three sons labored cutting down trees, milling their own lumber, digging up pitch to coat the sucker with and tending the millions of animals that were coming from every corner of the globe. Then there were the daily worship services in which every person felt the “Glory of God” descend and dwell among them, while they danced with joy in the streets, right? Wrong! Noah preached his guts out! He was convinced, remember, that life as they knew it was going to end. And after a hundred twenty years he and his half million loyal followers were all saved in the ark! No! NOT ONE CONVERT IN 120 YEARS OF DAILY PREACHING!

What about David? First he is anointed as king by one of the greatest practitioners of the prophetic arts that ever walked among men, Samuel. This of course gave his brothers cause to respect him, right? No, they wanted to send him home from the front just moments before he slew the giant. This man endured decades of being chased by a king he was loyal to, to the point of death. Finally he ascends the throne and everyone lives happily ever after, right? Wrong! It was one of the most tumultuous times ever recorded under a “righteous” king!

Paul, of Tarshish, was ship wrecked, beaten, jailed, starved, stoned and persecuted for his religious zealotry against Christians, right? No! it wasn’t until he began writing his staggering share of the New Testament that things got really interesting!

Or how about Daniel, or Joseph, or Paul’s fellow church fathers that were martyred for their faith? Wake up! Jesus said that in this life you will have trouble! Does this meant that we should seek it out? No! of course not, but, neither should we discount it. We have believed a teaching that says that when times get tough, God is out to lunch, o we are headed in the wrong direction. That it is only in our “peace” and “joy” that the light of God can shine. What a bunch of crap!

The whole, “If God ordered it, he’ll pay for it” school of philosophy falls miserably short of matching up to the Biblical example and these are only a few of hundreds of examples. The greatest romances are born out of the bitterest losses as is the case in the story of Ruth. The greatest military victories come on the heels of defeat. Why do we expect our lives to be easier than these paragons of virtue that are given us as models? We think the world is going to hell in a hand basket but somehow things should be easier?

So I began to examine my own life and the events of the past few years have revealed something to me. I am not nearly as disengaged from the spiritual war around me as I had been led, by my own guilt, to believe. There is a pattern that may be observed:

Ten years ago my mother passed away from cancer just three months to the day from her fiftieth birthday.

In the past five years I have lost the Church that I attended for more than twelve years and was kicked out of another for questioning doctrines and practices, lost my business, sold my home to avoid foreclosure. I had my car repossessed. Buried all of my four grandparents, two dogs, three cats, four gold fish and a pair of parakeets. My last surviving Grandmother had three strokes. My next youngest brother declared himself an atheist. My daughter had appendicitis. My two year old son had 27 stitches and 22 staples. My oldest daughter has broken her arm three times, My oldest son once. All of this while amassing an unsecured debt of almost a quarter of a million dollars. My Dad moved to California, and is now marrying a Phillipino woman half his age. (I know, maybe this belongs in the ’blessing’ category, not quite sure) I had a car accident, and thought I was having a stroke due to high blood pressure. Our sewer line caved in causing a backup of sewage that sat under our house for six months due to inability to pay a plumber, then we paid a plumber to fix it with dismal results. Our dog bit the mailman. Another plumber threatened my life and in an unrelated incident was shot by one of his former employees. A truck donated to our studio was stolen and I was robbed of my tools. We have had countless cut off threats and sometimes actual cutoffs. Our house was robbed once and our car broken into. I have been slandered for not being Christian enough, had students leave because I was too Christian, and spent long sleepless nights wondering if I was a Christian at all.

We have also given birth to three children. I wrote a novel, a ninety minute comedy review and four plays. I made two short films, directed a dozen more plays, one of those at a Christian University, and designed and built at least a dozen sets. We built a theatre, increased our dead business from 27 to 80 students and applied for nonprofit status. I built two decks in excess of 1500 square feet, and more than a quarter of a mile of fence. We started the Family Theatre Warehouse and Family Theatre Group, and hosted a weekend Christian arts festival. I designed and constructed my first puppet stage which just happens to be for a television production that attracted the attention of Disney. I recently published one of the plays and the novel. I finished a musical and am in the process of arranging the score. My oldest daughter has been in several radio commercials, and directed photography on two short films. The bank balance is steadily heading toward the black, and my whole family is healthy. I had someone come by today to look at the plumbing and expect it will be fixed within a couple of weeks. I have been working on a series of videos with a film maker who has connections to Zondervan, and my seventh child is to be born any day! I have two new nephews and a niece all six of my siblings are happily married. My wife of fifteen years still loves me, and I was able to complete the upstairs bathroom remodel we have needed for so long.

You get the drift. During the time of heaviest blessing I also experienced the deepest loss. These things are all temporary. My faith is not unshaken, but it is intact. In fact it has grown. Through all of the “curse God and die” moments of my life, which by the way I handled with my usual Job-ian grace, (hah!) my understanding of what it means to love God has grown! My compassion has been reawakened by empathy. Am I more polished than I was? By human standards, maybe not, but spiritually I think so! So let me conclude by saying Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. Then it is up to you to follow it! No matter what! This life is temporary! Live it!

Mark

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DIARY OF A GOVERNMENT FIASCO!

March 6, 2007

I heard somebody mention a Government efficiency study the other day! There’s an oxymoron for ya. I noticed a puddle in the street in front of my theatre awhile back. By noon it had grown to a small stream, and by the time I got back from lunch it was
Niagara Falls, so what do I do?

 

DAY ONE:  Like a good citizen I call the city to come out and take a look. So they send out the street repair guys. They come, get out of their trucks (3 trucks, 3 guys, dump trucks mind you, well to be fair one was a pickup) and they stand around for about an hour talking about how they can’t fix it. So they call public safety.

 

Public safety sends out the boys in the orange vests, they come and knock on my door and say, did you know there’s a leak out here? Yeah, I called you guys to fix it. Well, surprise, surprise not their department either, so they do something really useful and set up orange cones so people will go around it. I ask why don’t they set up a road block and detour, they say that’s the street departments job, so they come back out.

 

Now they have been forecasting snow for the afternoon and about three thirty, here come the water dept guys. They can’t fix it either because an independent contractor will have to be called in to locate the line and cut the street. By this time there are no less than six pieces of heavy equipment onsite doing nothing. SO finally about four-fifteen the guys from the contractor make it there to cut the street. And at five PM they shut down their backhoe and leave…., for three days! While the snow melts!

 

DAY FOUR: When they finally do come out they  finish cutting the hole, using a backhoe to pulverize the bits of concrete and haul it away, and the hole sits, for three more days.

 

DAY SEVEN: Finally on the fourth day the water dept. comes back out and calls in another contractor to fit the pipe. They fit the pipe and leave.

 

DAY EIGHT:The next day a gravel truck comes and fills in the hole. A city truck filled with asphalt comes and covers it, using a shovel to pack it down, and there it sets for two weeks turning into a van eating pothole!

 

DAY TWENTY-THREE Then here comes the city again to look it over, time to put in the permanent fix they say, so out come the guys with the concrete saw again! This time their hammering with a backhoe cracks my front window, so I call to complain.

 

DAY TWENTY- FIVE: After two days I finally talk to someone who says she cares, takes all of my information and says what a shame, I hang up, she calls me back to say her dept can do nothing about it! Finally after begging, pleading, maybe a little cussing (mostly under my breath) I find the right guy. He says can I prove the window wasn’t broken before, like how, pictures. Oh yeah I saw you guys coming to fix the water leak and thought to myself, oh crap better hurry and snap a photo of my window so when they break it I’ll have proof!

 

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: Anyway by this time three more days have passed, there is rebar in the hole but no concrete. Finally they put the concrete in and three days after that the city comes back to put in the black top, this time with a steam roller.

 

DAY THIRTY-ONE: So I ask the city supervisor if he would sign a letter saying that in his professional opinion my glass was cracked by their work , he takes a look and signs. I also ask why did you fix this twice instead of doing it right the first time, he says, no joke, we wanted to get the street back open as soon as possible! I would have laughed but I was too tired. THAT DEAR FRIENDS WAS THE THIRD TIME IN EIGHT MONTHS THAT I HAVE HAD FRONT ROW TICKETS TO THAT CIRCUS! What do I think is wrong with
America? Not enough people getting pissed off about waste like that!

 

All total in those thirty one days I counted: Nineteen city trucks, twenty-three city employees, seven contractors vehicles, twelve contractor’s, and a grand total of sixty hours of actual work onsite, that’s right folks less than two hours a day!

 

Getting the street fixed….PRICELESS! Literally they would need a team of appraisers working around the clock for another three weeks just to estimate the cost! (which, come to think of it, is probably how they do it!)

 

Jesus told a story about a master with three servants. The man got ready to go on a journey and he called his servants in. To the first he gave one years wages, to the second he gave two years wages, to the third he gave five years wages. When he returned he asked for an account. The man with five years wages said he had invested and now had ten, the man with two had made his into five, the man with one had buried his because he was afraid he would lose it and the master would be angry. The master took the one years wages and gave it to the man with ten and threw the lazy servant out into the cold.

 

I’ll give you three guesses which one
America is in my estimation and the first two don’t count. The only difference is we were given the ten and instead of burying it we spent it on booze and hookers and the boss is coming back soon! The people of this country need to remind the government what the declaration meant when it said Of the people, by the people and FOR THE PEOPLE! We need to hold them accountable more than every four years, this is our money folks, but more importantly its God’s money! I don’t know when the death of outrage took place but it needs to be resurrected! You’re gonna get mad anyway, so get mad for the right reason, and then go out and do something about it!

 

To join my cause send me an email with your story to: People Against Institutional Neglect or PAIN for those who don’t get it. It is time for the government and the corporations of this once great country to hear from us again!  That’s P.A.I.N. c/o Markrmorris2@sbcglobal.net

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Cosmic Chuckie Cheeze!

March 5, 2007

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Ever seen one of those gift registry things at a department store? This is where people go to make a list of all of the things that will keep your name off of the list of people who didn’t take the time to go and look at the gift registry. Seriously, where else would you get the idea to ask for a $5000 duvet cover (guys that is the bedspread equivalent of the “good towels” in your guest bathroom, no matter how great it is DON’T USE IT! I know this because my wife’s idea of relaxing is to sit on the couch and watch other people get their houses redecorated) Or a sterling silver baby rattle, (gee Doc, I don’t know where he’s getting those bruises on his forehead! But check out those biceps!) you know, really practical stuff like that!

 

Or how about graduation invitations? You know, some bright eyed kid walks up to you and hands you one of those ridiculously overprinted cards that announce this great event, featuring them, in which you get to crowd yourself into an auditorium without proper ventilation to squint at eight hundred kids, all dressed exactly alike, and hopefully if you track the list of names in the program closely enough you might look up in time to see them exit the stage, empty folder in hand! (that’s right they don’t even really graduate at these things they just announce that if these kids don’t really screw it up between now and then they’ll get their diploma eventually) These invitations are just gift bait! They are asking you to prove you don’t hate them by buying them stuff!

 

Yes, I’m probably just jealous. No one I know has ever been in a position to buy the fancy napkins, or give me a car for graduation, (I was a homeschooler anyway) so maybe that’s what it is! I sometimes find myself in line for that cosmic gift registry in the sky, you know the one, I was kind to my neighbor, I didn’t cheat on my taxes, I went back and paid for the item they missed at the checkout! Time for my prize! As if God is working the counter in the arcade in some celestial Chuckie Cheeze! Ooh, look at all the tickets that guys got, he must have had perfect attendance in Sunday School!

 

Much like the dump truck at my seventh Birthday, God’s gifts are rarely what we expect them to be. My Dad told me once about Solomon being asked by God to name anything  he wanted. Solomon could have had money, fame, power, or women, anything! He asked for wisdom so God gave him more money than anyone ever so he could learn who to say yes to. (I just need enough gas to get______so I can start my new job on Monday) God gave him a wife and he liked it so much he took on 700 of them, and learned about conflict resolution in the process. He got bored with the whole temple thing and started building alters to please his wives, only to discover that there really was only one God! Wisdom!

 

If anyone needs wisdom, let him ask God. He will give it without judging you for how you came to need it in the first place. But make sure you really want it, anybody who asks God for something like this without meaning it is like a boat on the ocean, tossed by a storm, they can’t make up their minds which way to go. If you are going to ask like that, don’t expect much from God. Make up your mind to ask and trust him for it. – James, an ancient Hebrew philosopher-

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Thoughts On Being Reborn God Style

March 4, 2007

Your voice washed over me in soft cascading melodies,

stirring still born echoes of the “we” we used to be then.

As if with the screeching of nails on a chalkboard

my conscience tore itself away from the connection

 the white hot passion of your pure incandescent love

 too bright for the darkness in the corners of my soul.

 Why? Why did you continue reaching, running chasing after me

 shouting epithets of love in your unbridled passion to capture my soul?

The weight of crushing misdeeds and random unkindnesses

pressing me down deep into the roots of my soul,

where stillness gives way to chaos, still was not enough to hide me

from the piercing gaze of your omniscience.

You walked here in shattered darkened hallways

decorated in the decadence of my rebellion yet seemed not to see

 or even give assent to the existence of the filth and corruption surrounding me.

This is me! My soul tears itself from me and pummels you

 with angry fists of bright blue rage! See me as I am!

 And yet it was my misunderstanding, my lack of comprehension

 that opened this chasm of miscommunication that looms threateningly between us.

With one outstretched finger you reached past me,

piercing the fabric of my universe, melting gaping holes in the myth of my hypocrisy, pure white light falling into every corner,

 revealing in an instant the beauty that lay all around.

Where had my soul gone? I find myself in some foreign state

 staring blankly at the crystalline veil now separating me from my darkness,

 enveloping me in you. You knew? You wanted me to know

 that all of this was buried beneath the illusion of my sin,

that already things were different from the moment of our introduction.

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Google, text messaging, American Idol and the state of intimacy in America

March 2, 2007

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How’s it goin? The question was delivered by a harried clerk across a stainless steel counter in response to my offer of a twenty and a bottle of power steering fluid. I gave an attempt at a half hearted response, good how are you, but it apparently fell on deaf ears as he silently slid my eighteen plus change back across the counter and spoke the same non greeting to the next customer in line.

I wanted to stand there and inform his customers that he didn’t mean it. To somehow help some other well meaning fool from giving a response. Why? Why do we feel the need to pretend at intimacy we don’t feel? Did he believe it was somehow more polite to offer an unintended greeting than to just take the money with a grunt?

In a society where men and women alike have made a billion dollar industry out of paying by the minute to hear complete strangers express memorized simulations of physical intimacy, why do we still feel compelled to offer up these half hearted attempts at conversation?

I have also noticed a trend toward ECPS (electronic communication priority syndrome) this is the irritating habit people have of ignoring me in favor of answering their cell phones! For instance, I’m in line at the check out stand, helping to pay for this person’s sorry excuse for an existence when the bat phone rings!

I’m assuming it was the bat phone because instead of taking my money the guy, without one word of apology, answers his cell phone! After about a minute and a half, which for me is like a miracle, just ask my wife, I say excuse me, could we finish this transaction so we can both get on to more important things than standing here listening to you talk about your darn cat!?? ( I think I said darn, I hope I said darn, its kind of hard to remember I was so busy stifling homicidal tendencies)

So I get what I want, sort of, he apologizes… to the guy on the phone! Sorry, this customer who came in during regular business hours and was about to pay for his purchase when you called to ask about how Boots’ chemotherapy is going (by the way I told you he lost all the hair on his tail, didn’t I? Oh that’s right at Starbucks this morning) he is rudely insisting that I take his money before I continue with this enthralling and somewhat therapeutic conversation.

I think that the ease and wide accessability of electronic communication has weakened the very fabric of our society, not to mention killing off more braincells than THC and alcohol combined, apparently! We’ve always known that nobody really cares, how you are, but we can’t even give each other the courtesy of pretending anymore? The veneer has finally been stripped away.

I think this must be how God feels about me sometimes. There he stands patiently offering me intimacy and I am too busy sending a text message to a person in the next room to respond. Or surfing channels on my dish TV to make sure that what the Guide said was true, there really is 400 chanels of nothing to watch, or googling meaningful theological works, you know, the blog posts where people prove Solomon’s point, even a fool is thought wise as long as he remains SILENT!

What to do? Well I think the scene in the movie where the harried business man tosses his cell phone, (or blackberry as the case may be depending on whether the suit is Kenneth Cole or Armani), into the lake, or a passing garbage truck, or if they’re really thinking “outside the box”, (sorry in an aside kind of mood today: what exactly is the “box” and if God’s in it, ala that sermon we’ve all heard about letting him out of it, why are we thinking outside of it?) …lets his girlfriend, wife or kid do it for him, is way overplayed, but it might be a good start.

How about setting aside just one afternoon a week for human to human interaction? Take your wife and kids to the park and just sit for the hour that American Idol (by the way, can you be a christian and still watch a show with the word idol actually IN the title? Just wondering, if you know get back to me.) would normally be dragging you into its fantasy world. Join a book club, take your pastor to lunch and offer to pray for HIM for a switch.

Better yet ask that clerk what kind of soda he likes and buy him one, you might make a new friend. Or even better than that take the batphone guy a sachet of catnip, (did I just use the word sachet? why yes! I believe you did!) After all, relationships are the only things we take with us into the next life. Everything else is going to BURN, BABY, BURN, DISCO INFERNO! Are you still here? Crap! I am so embarrassed, even my wife doesn’t get to watch me dance like that!