Truth or Consequences: What’s Causing Your Discomfort?

Hhhmmmm…TRUTH or Consequences?
Are You Keeping the Peace?

Get Arrested and Take Your Mug Shot  Today!!

Think about all the scripture that says Christians will suffer for His namesake, and for the cause of Christ.  There’s bunches of it all throughout the Old Tesatment, Gospels, and the Epistles. Joshua, Jeremiah and Job. Mark, Matthew, and many, many others.  Peter, Paul and a plethora of followers.  If you are a Christian, AND you are suffering, is it all for the sake of Jesus?

As a new Christian I would often tell myself that whatever I was going through, homelessness, poverty, ridicule, was for Christ’s sake (well, at least I recall saying “for Christ’s sake! quite frequently).  To some degree that’s true because there are some quick easy (albeit temporary) ways out of that discomfort and one must decide to sit it out. Yet, as I matured in faith the Holy Spirit revealed some sobering truth that REALLY made me suffer. Although I had a right to claim comfort from those scriptures about criticism and suffering, not to confuse…suffering FOR THE TRUTH with SUFFERING FOR MY CONSEQUENCES!! Yikes.

  

TRAIL OF BLOOD

TRAIL OF BLOOD

newsweek-oj-simpson-magazine-cover-controversial

I wasn’t on the outs with my friends because I stuck up for Jesus…I was on the outs because I was a bully and wrong and defending myself and not letting go of the need to be right.

Nope, not unemployed for evangelism but got the boss fired up for me royally f’ing up!

NOT homeless from donating the ole’ hamlet to the Holy…evicted as a spun out alcoholic/addict, having forfeited my already compromised ability to be a productive citizen.

My friends weren’t in jail as a result of risking their lives by preaching the gospel in a hostile hell hole.  It was because they got caught toting guns, driving drunk, slinging dope.

My son wasn’t lacking leadership and my daughter a motherless child  because I was out on a daring mission in a dangerous place…it was because I needed some righteous rehab.

No, the Holy Spirit didn’t say it’s wrong to comfort those in jail with scriptures about Paul being in jail, or comfort anyone suffering with any scripture…He showed me it was wrong to confuse suffering for TRUTH with suffering for CONSEQUENCES. That owning my part in the problems, would help me participate in the solutions. It was actually quite liberating!

Then He [thoroughly] opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures Luke 24:45

Jesus is there for you either way. Truth or consequences, whatever got you to be where you’re at is a mute matter to Jesus and His brand of Justice. He will relieve your discomfort, and the Holy Spirit will reveal the cause.  Why are you here and what to do about it. Ahem…yeah, right! No, it’s not always that simple. And it’s rarely easy.

Sometimes things aren’t always that polarized. Sometimes people are right for the wrong reasons and wrong for the right reasons.  What then?  Amazingly, God has all that covered too.  Two, three, four or more, all uncomfortable in their seats, faithfully and fervently believing they are champions for their churches, fighting for their families, wrangling against the wretched….it can get pretty heated. A whole lotta truth and a whole lotta consequence flying around.

Regardless of the source of your discomfort, one thing we humans tend to have in common when we get uncomfortable

Pay attention where you're going.

Pay attention to the little things, the details.

is to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room until it sits on us. Then you have elephant butt to deal with and might mistake that for truth or consequence when it’s neither. And that could be, well, just crappy.

I believe if we all put first a desire to make things right over a desire to be right, we have a better chance of identifying what really needs to be addressed in any given situation. Regardless of where you are in life, paying for truth or paying with consequences, God is there and you’re going to be alright.  But is is much more satisfying to know that regardless of truth or consequence, one doesn’t come without the other and you’re there for something you believe in. And it’s good to be in it with others that have a heart for the truth too.

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My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal

My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal.

This sounds like good advice. What else is there to say?

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On the Heels of a Hurricane Ephesians 4:29

On the Heels of a Hurricane

On the Heels of a Hurricane

Okay peoples, here’s a different take on Ephesians 4:29.  It’s about timing and being seasonable.  Have you ever said some truth without timing?  Candor without cause? Honesty without aim?  Well, join the club.  I’ve pulled some real doozies out and hurt people pretty badly.  With ill intent?  No. Without forethought and balancing against the totality of circumstances? Yes. Perhaps my morbid thinking started when I got all screwed up with a volcano for my birthday (more on that later).

I’m the dummy that will talk about Noah’s Ark when you send me to help hurricane victims. Maybe that’s why my church doesn’t send me on field trips, huh? I’m beginning to understand as I age how damaging bad timing can be. Probably not nice to show up anywhere in  the Northwest with a water bucket and pamphlets about Sodom and Gomorrah in late July. Could get you exiled from Idaho eternally. “So what does this have to do with Ephesians 4:29?” one might ask.

Although I spent years and decades thinking Philippians was written just for the Ahlstroms (my dad’s name was Phillip…uh, more on that later), Ephesians may very well be my favorite Epistle.  I believe in what I like to call 20/20 vision, where you go back 20 verses and forward 20 verses around a quoted verse to get some context. That being said, for the sake of brevity, it’s 4:29 for now:

29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear. ESV Ephesians 4:29

and my favorite……..

Ephesians 4:29Amplified Bible (AMP)

29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

This verse can be used to shut you up or shut you down if you’re talking corrupt or being corrosive.  That’s as it should be. My focus here is the bit about AS IS FITTING TO THE NEED OR THE OCCASION.

Not a good news story in late July following coverage of a forest fire

Not a good news story in late July following coverage of a forest fire

To all of those I’ve hurt with bad timing, cause or aim, I hereby apologize. I have speculated aloud about cause of death before a coroners report, given dastardly diagnosis before lab work came back, definitely tossed out some volcanic verisimilitudes (more later), and even had some sayings about Tsunamis that I’d be ashamed to say directly to the victims. I mean it! I’m sorry and I hope to continue this writing endeavor with honesty, candor and truth. My pledge is to listen for God’s timing, have the Holy Spirit confirm the cause, and for Jesus to take aim at just ONE reader (I know, not exactly a dangerous digit in the war against the devil, but one has to build readership).

Till next time!

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Brand Confusion and Writing Fears

This looks overwhelming! We're supposed to, apparently, choose ALL.

This looks overwhelming! We’re supposed to, apparently, choose ALL.

The world must be full of potential writers that are overwhelmed by the daunting task of how to brand themselves. How do I Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, GoodReads, AND Pinterest my way into having readership? Is it even necessary to have readership if the goal is to simply write? Monetarily, no. Spiritually, yes.  In today’s world it seems that not only is self branding a requirement, you must be good enough at it to develop a fan base.  Communicating and entertaining one’s own family is not lofty enough of a goal.

At my writing group yesterday, one PNWA conference attendee had news of what the real writers are up to. Thirty farkin’ thousand twitterers?!? Yes, that’s right. Apparently, one must have 30,000 twitter followers to even be considered by an agent for a non-fiction book.  Okay, I get it. Life just isn’t that interesting and if it is, you will have piqued people’s interest enough to have a following. Should I let this leave me deflated? No.  Maybe there’s a built in protection in that rule of thumb.

Truth told, I’d probably be quite lost if I had anything more than occasional encouragement right now. The real fear isn’t not having readership. It’s a fear of letting go of the words.  Just mustering up the courage to write in the first place is enough for me without having to market myself too. So what to do? Is there a write way?

Start with some library books about the craft of writing.  Buy some books about the art of writing. More importantly, read them and follow the instructions.  Join a writing group and be persistent until you find one meets regularly and feels right to you. Check. Check. Check again. Now what?

What now is to stop circling the subject around the way I have here and actually write about something besides the fear of writing.  Scratch that.  The fear surrounding writing may actually be a rich vein of material.  What is it that scares you? Scares me?  Truth? Consequences? Consequences for truth?  Grappling with google and trying to uncover people with similar thoughts is no help. If you don’t find them, your writing won’t be relevant. If you do, your writing won’t be fresh.

It seems overwhelming. I say just lay all of that stuff down the best you can and let the pen fly and give yourself a chance. Me. Give myself. A chance. Not one. As many as it takes. On napkins, matchbooks, keyboards, in journals, smartphones.  When the words come, be at the ready to gather them up and gently and truly put them down.

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Review: God Speaks Navajo

God Speaks Navajo
God Speaks Navajo by Ethel Emily Wallis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very insightful about linguistics and culture and the dedication required to accurately translate any important work, especially something as important as faith. Faye Edgerton  became dedicated to translating the bible to Navajo early in life and remained faithful to that until the time of her death. With the help of a blind Navajo Indian man, Geronimo Martin, some ground breaking work was done.

It became clear in a very short order that it wouldn’t be a simple translation, but would require interpretation. I recall one story about how it became critical to find out what kind of rod Moses’ brother Aaron was carrying when it budded, as the Navajo had no word for “bud”. To me, this was very revealing about the close relationship they had with the land. That may sound overly simplified or it may sound like it got unnecessarily complicated. However, if a person is a cattle rancher they don’t really just have a word for “cow”. Alaskan Indians had upwards of 200 words to describe weather. When life is deeply affected by the weather, there is no simple word for “snow” or “rain”.

As much as I liked the book and respect the dedication to the work, it still saddens me on some level to know that as well intentioned as Christians are, there is also an encroachment on indigenous and aboriginal peoples. I also find it interesting that their language was certainly lent to us in WWII with the Wind Talkers, but that is an entirely different subject.

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Review: Swan Song

Swan Song
Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This disturbing dystopian story focuses on many characters that often get overlooked in post-apocolyptic tales and McCammon crafts them each perfectly. As much as I loved the lovable characters and wanted to know what was happening, I couldn’t read fast enough to get back to the ones I hated. As is true with mankind in general, when thrown into hot water, you find out what they’re really made of. Several sub-plots with their own story lines moving inextricably towards the overall story keep you guessing and promising yourself “just one more chapter” and then…

There’s Sister Creep, the old homeless woman who goes under a street/sewer grill to escape the nuclear blast and ends up getting almost boiled alive. She starts out as a contemptible character and ends up shining and really coming to life. There are several sub-plots that are happening and pulling them all inexticably together. Then Roland, the poor adolescent boy who’s parents are into extravagant underground shelters. They happen to be an underground “Nuclear Blast Boot Camp Prep” with their fully paid membership when the whole thing crumples like a pop can under a waffle stomper. His little ugly grows real big real fast and you end up hating but can’t wait to get back to what the hell weirdness he’ll do next. The gentle giant, Josh who’s been exploited by the wrestling industry crosses paths by fate with a little girl named Sue Wanda. Of all the possible twists of fate, this was perfect. Whoo hoo!! Wait till you get to the part where the insane asylum residents with their various deformities and unmedicated issues take over an abandoned K-Mart and play “shopping games” with anyone unfortunate enough to totter towards that “blue-light special”.
There’s some young boys who do what they need to do to stay alive and a few of them develop some true integrity that may not have flourished outside of this disaster that pulls the best from the worst and vice versa. There’s more! The president, a prostitute, some evil thing pulling himself around in a child’s wagon…you just gotta read it.

It’s like Stephen King multiplied by Justin Cronan. Loved this book!! I’ve read it 3 times over the last 25 years or so. I thought it was one of McCammon’s best!!

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Review: Port Mortuary

Port Mortuary
Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is hard to commit a review to print on this book because all I can think of is “How am I going to think of something different to say for the last several Patricia Cornwell novels?” They are all the same and not in a good way. Perhaps I’ll just copy and paste this one for the last several Scarpetta books.

Scooby-Doo characters had more brains than these people. How can all this weirdness camp right on their front doors, in their cars, houses, helicopters and they don’t know? Because they’re too busy arguing about bulimia and sexual behavior and “you told me you were dead!” and “I know there’s a killer out there, but I just bought plucked fresh basil and bought high end mozerella and plan on demasculating Marino under the new imported chandelier.” Sheesh!! Her books used to be good, but really? It’s almost disrespectful to her own characters to make them this stupid. Kay can have somebody right under her nose showing all the signs and symptoms of being a weirdo, but all she can think about is “Benton and I had our last argument of the brown Italian sofa while I was wearing this scarf. If we’re going to argue, perhaps I should make lasagna and serve it in the sitting room with the Danish furniture.” Just weird BS like that.

And Lucy: She used to be a cool character too. Almost a fictional but symbolic embassador for real struggles with sexuality and eating disorders/obsession/dysmorphia. But now she doesn’t have those things so much as those things have her to the point she’s a train wreck. Kay and the whole pack have such dysfunction and weirdness that Lucy has to finance her own way into flying around and racing around in high end machines. And her other hobby: Seducing anybody of any importance or “flipping” them. We get it. She’s gay and it’s okay with us. Benton Wesley or is it Bentley Wesson? I don’t know because he’s dead or hiding half the time.

All the characters seem to exist for the sole purpose of screwing around with each other’s heads and playing out these big dramas with each other that totally detract from the story. No, they become the story and the “crime fiction” becomes secondary to all the BS going on. It’s really sad. The characters devolved and deteriorated to the point the next logical move is a big brain fart. Scarpetta should go read a Melody Beattie book and get back to being the swanky character she once was.

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