Archive for October, 2012

Recently, an AT&T social media representative patiently explained to me that older generations use phone calls, boomers check emails and younger people text.

Texting IS the default of the younger generation. The only scenario in which I could squeeze into that distinction is if you were asking a 90 year-old to describe my age. So, for full disclosure, I do not fit into that group. Duh.

That would mean that I DON’T text. Wrong. I do. I understand that it’s considerate not to barge into others’ lives by ringing their phone when they could be in the middle of _____________. So, texting is like a polite knock at the door. A cultural thing. Social protocol.To be sure, if everyone that wanted to talk to me called me at their will, then my phone would be ringing off the hook. (TEXT: whatsetalkinbout,phone&hook?)

But I do want to at least make sure that younger people understand why older folks, especially their parents, get ticked off when communication is limited exclusively or primarily to texting. The first reason is that we feel like suckers. We don’t blow off phone calls from our kids. Never. Kids come out of our tummies and /or hearts, so we more than raised them. They are literally and figuratively part of us. (TEXT:wecantblowuoff.K?)

Secondly, it’s a control issue. I feel like I’m in K-9 101. I am both the student and the dog. Positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement. Pick up the phone. Don’t pick up the phone.(TEXT:parentsrnotpavlovsdog. )

Oh, gee, son/daughter, now I get it: You want me to text. (TEXT:verysubtle )

Third, parents know that if a kid is calling, it’s important. But inversely, if a parent calls, it’s not important? (TEXT: canwesaydoublestandard?)

I recently group-texted all the kids on an issue that was very important TO THEM. My wife and I just laughed as all the kids got back to us within seconds. The ironic thing is that it was about getting their new IPHONES. The ultimate inadvertent sting operation.(TEXT:honeywhyrusosurprised?)

Fourth, if my kid is getting married, going vegetarian and moving to a remote Alaskan cabin in the same week, I’d like to actually hear a voice fill me in instead of receiving the incredulous text, “You mean you didn’t see it on Facebook?” That’s double-hurt, because now the entire universe knows about my young new Eskimo BEFORE me. (TEXT: socialmediaisnottheenemydad.)

This communication dance has probably been choreographed in every generation. I can just hear our parents complaining that we never called or visited enough. Even Jesus’ Mom got perturbed when her kid didn’t pick up his phone: “His mother said, “Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you.” Luke 2:48 The Message (TEXT:whereinheavensnamewereu?)

Most reasonable parents know that their adult children need to spread their wings, so we don’t want to be intrusive and give our offspring the impression that we’re breathing down their necks. Notice I said “adult.” But adulthood also comes with responsibility which includes learning to prioritize time and contacts. (TEXT:parentsshouldrankHIGH.)

I’m sure it’s happening to Lech Walesa, but I’m really not calling for a text-strike by parents. But, stealing from the politicians’ TV ads, “I’m a parent and I approve this “MESSAGE.”Image

If you’re a parent and relate to this, text me, I mean call me, oh, heck, just comment for Pete’s sake.

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More of The Hudson Is Revealed as Autumn Undresses


I love Spring and Summer. Yet, the explosive vegetation during these same months makes Watergate and Benghazi look tame when it comes to “cover-ups.” So, it is left up to Autumn to perform the vetting.

Just recently, an eagle’s nest across the river came into full view. And while I was taking my sabbath stroll, I looked directly overhead through all the branches to the top limbs of a maple and spotted a few birds, something that would have been impossible just a few weeks back. On that same walk, a gorgeous waterfall unveiled herself for the first time this season. From my cupola, I now see stretches of the Hudson thanks to the naked trees lining the riverside. And where there was once just a canopy of trees along frequently traveled roads, formerly hidden houses are now revealed. The commonality here is that all these things existed before I could see them.

There are also parts of our lives that probably need a stiff Autumn breeze to knock away some of our “fig leaves.” When the props are taken away, we have two main options. We can cover-up or come-clean. The interesting thing about the latter is that such a perspective is not a dirty thing. It’s every person’s soul nudity. Sometimes everyone can see it. Other times, it’s far enough down a back road that is only strolled by The Almighty.

God loves us enough to expose us. But, just like nature, He allows for a lot of overgrowth before Autumn’s undressing. A beautiful rendering of Psalm 51:4-6 goes like this:

“You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.” (The Message)

Now, revelation is not always about sin. It could be about a habit, a way of dealing with things due to past hurts. We create narratives to cover-up sensitive hearts. Or, it could be as serious as eating some forbidden fruit and we hear God’s footsteps and try to camouflage ourselves like kids in a one-room hid’n seek game.  Defense mechanisms can temporarily help us cope, but Autumn has a way of tracking down the most elaborate, long-standing and favorite hiding places.

What’s interesting is that God sees us all the time and may allow others to catch His same glimpses, even when “June is bustin’ out all over” with all of its elaborate, lush and oft-times beautiful disguises.

Despite our fears, He knows that there really can be a beauty in seeing the forest through the trees.

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If you’ve ever seen the mini roller-coaster climb of a stock after many months or years, you are more than familiar with the sting of regret. It’s Monday-morning quarterbacking for sure. On the way up, it’s the frequent roller-rides down that kept you from investing. But in the end, the ups were more than the downs and you can hear that awful expression escape from your very own mouth, “I should have…”

Quoting John Eldredge: “Many of us have chosen simply not to want so much; it’s safer that way. It’s also godless. That’s stoicism, not Christianity. Desire often feels like an enemy, because it awakens longings that cannot be fulfilled IN THE MOMENT…Awakened souls are often disappointed, but our disappointment can lead us onward, actually increasing our desire and lifting it toward its true passion.” From The Sacred Romance.

Desire makes us vulnerable to the mini roller-rides down. At the time, those valleys do not feel ‘mini’ at all. It’s those same head-jerking motions, though, that make the ride climb. Many of us just don’t have the stomach for the ups and downs.

Now, if you were to overlay the zig-zaw pattern of the stock in our example over a typical mountain range that you might want to climb, you would conclude that persistence will get you to the peak. We all know that the view is from the top, right? Wrong. The view is always from the bottom. Everything at the top is Monday-morning quarterbacking. You might look out from up there on your trail and say, “Oh, I can see now that all of those valleys still eventually led us upward.”

Suppose we truly knew that the dives were part of the engineer’s design to help the roller coaster gain momentum for its next climb. Further, suppose we could see our entire life-scape from this vantage point. How would we look at the many dives and the incredible climbs back up? I wonder if it’s simply the fear of not knowing if we’re in a mini-dive or a free-fall.

When I was in business, I made a discovery about success and how growth-charts can be pretty deceptive. Going into one meeting, our CPA’s wide smile and explanation went something like this: “It’s remarkable, just like a mountain going up and up.” Only, it wasn’t that simple. If you could zero in on the real story, the steady climb would look more like a staircase. Every time we were about to grow, we’d hit major roadblocks (kind of the invert of the dives). That would be our next step. But it didn’t feel like an “opportunity,” more like a wall that couldn’t be scaled.

Stocks, mountains, roller coasters and life are humbling. We think we know which way is up. But it’s easy to get reversed on the way to the peak where we are sure the grandest vista lies. But as we chug along, we bump into the paradox that faith commands the greatest view.

“I will lift my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?” Psalm 122:1 NASB



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Hyper about the Sabbath? Sound a little paradoxical?

Yeah, that would be me. 

For years, I’ve thought about the Sabbath and how to honor one of the most glorious and self-rewarding of all the Ten Commandments. By the way, it’s the longest because God figured that people would always try to wiggle out of it because it seems like one most want to get around.

Here it is:

“Remember the Sabbath(P) day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,(Q) 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath(R) to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,(S) the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested(T) on the seventh day.(U) Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  Exodus 20:8-11

Getting back to my idea of honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy. I really have tried to mellow out on Sundays (my sabbath). I try not to go to stores. Yet, I go to restaurants, which by being open on Sundays, require their employees and themselves to break the Sabbath by working on it. But, by trying to relax and not cook, I cause others to break the Sabbath by sitting down to their tempting panini.

Sunday is garbage night, so I prepare it for early Monday morning. And that’s when it happens. One thing leads to another and I find myself shuffling a few things around on the porch while gathering garbage. Then I see a few dead branches on the lawn and the pool needs some chlorine and why not organize the closet because I never get to it during the week and before you know it, it’s five o’clock and I’m tired and I missed the chance at that true Sabbath rest.

No, it’s not like that all the time. I’m simply trying to explain how easily it is to cross the line of resting in God and sneaking in just a little bit more of personal effort. Resting is psychological. It’s acceding that I can’t possibly stay on top of everything. It gets back to obeying a command by Someone who can stay on top of it all. The minute we mentally “take over” for God by our endless efforts to clean, conduct business, study, catch up on our sports, and yes, even minister to others in a lot of cases, we do more than break a command. We miss the blessing of rest – exactly like a kid who just won’t lay down for his nap.

So, on my most recent Sabbath, I actually found a hammer in my hand and heard the nails going into the wall. But the real pounding was my guilty conscience as it tried to dismiss that it was only two nails. I finally gave into the Sabbath. A tremendous storm then arose outside and as it swept by, I watched an incredible rainbow form. But hyper-me wanted to sit down with the scriptures because it was the Sabbath. But, right in front of me, this intense rainbow kept screaming at me, “For crying out loud, sit down. I am part of your Sabbath TODAY. Rest. Enjoy the rich color and the archway of my glory.”

There are all sorts of mind-games we play and the real solution is to rest. The Sabbath will honor us with this much needed rest when we honor her. I finally sat down and simply enjoyed a double rainbow that would have rivaled any I’ve seen in Hawaii. 

Can you imagine any of us slamming the door on the face of a travel agent who knocks on our front door and hands us a couple of free plane tickets and hotel and food vouchers for Maui in our most vulnerable, weary moment? Yet, we turn down a vacation every seven days that is so sacred that God literally had to etch it into a stone because he knew our hearts can be as hard as the rock it was written on.

No, don’t bother calling me for my special recipe on the “Secrets of the Sabbath.” I haven’t discovered it. But I am discovering it. The Sabbath will honor those who honor her. She will take you on a restful ride. She literally unfolds herself like a picnic blanket and adds all the goodies as well. But we have to take the first step.

The first step for me was to acknowledge that this is as important as not committing adultery or murdering someone or having an idol in my life.

God knows why rest is such a critical battle. It’s the difference between me “handling” life on my own and “releasing” my life, even if it’s just one day a week because it becomes a type or pattern for the rest of my calendar.

Yesterday wasn’t a total blowout. I worshipped at church, visited my father-in-law at the nursing home, ate lunch at our daughter’s, had dinner with our son and his girlfriend, wrestled with my grandson (not at all restful), and yes, watched the Giants get beaten in a heartbreaker at my daughter and son-in-law’s house. It was a good Sabbath.

Ironically, a good Sabbath takes work; I mean effort. 


P.S. Now this dude was serious about the Sabbath:
Nehemiah got so ticked off about people breaking the sabbath that he stationed guards and threatened the merchants with arrest. (See below)  

15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath.(V) Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. 16 People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath(W) to the people of Judah.17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? 18 Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city?(X) Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”(Y)

19 When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath,(Z) I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. 21 But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Remember(AA) me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.

Nehemiah 13:15-22

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