Blog Archives

Servant – Soldier

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Servant or Soldier

In worship this morning the phrase servant not soldier was used when describing those who follow the Master, Jesus. These words have stuck with me all day. Too often I hear colloquialisms; “fighting the good fight or fight for your personal rights, soldiers for in God’s army, fighting for those who cannot fend for themselves, fighting for your political party, fighting for (sometimes with) your family, fighting sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, fighting for equality. The list could go on but I noticed there aren’t too many servant phraseologies we use.

I think we are more comfortable with the idea of fighting, exerting power, pushing back against something we feel is invading our worlds. Fighting comes from a place of strength. Being a servant make us more uneasy. We don’t like the possibility of being taken advantage, of someone being over us, of putting down our fists instead of raising them. We live in a time where standing up for what we believe in seems the correct and just path. I wonder where/if there is a balance between soldiering and serving? Is there a side which needs choosing, we should choose?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Fresh

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Fresh

Beth and I went to a small church a couple hundred yards from our home this morning. Even though we’ve been in our house for almost 3 years we hadn’t visited and thought it’s about time. It is an old church complete with white wooden siding on the outside and wooden pews along with an altar rail on the inside.

The people who met us were nice and inviting. One woman was “too inviting” as she forced a hug from me, a notorious non-hugger. We settled in our pew and waited for the service to begin. As a one-time pastor of a small church I’ve witnessed what folks do when they spot someone new; descend on them like kids on ice cream. They kept coming, shaking our hands, telling us they were glad we had visited. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the service began and everyone found their seat. I whispered to Beth; “We should’ve arrived late so as not to attract so much attention!

The service was loose and unorganized. There was no doubt these families had worshipped a long time together and knew each other well. After the singing, prayers, a kids moment, and offering the pastor stood behind a big pulpit and began to preach. As he did a woman stood up who was sitting in the front pew, holding a basket and began to go to everyone and offer them something. When she got to us I noticed it was candy. She offered me a piece, I took it and she moved on making sure everyone had a piece before sitting back down.

I had never experienced a church doing that before. Was it distracting? A bit. Was it necessary? No. Was it nice to have a piece of candy while listening to the preacher? Certainly. It was a fresh way to feel united with a bunch of strangers. It almost made up for the hugger!…almost.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Listening

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Listening

An elder monk was visiting a friend in the big city. They were walking down a street filled with people, vehicles, construction and a cacophony of noise surrounded them. As they were talking the elder monk paused and said; “I hear a cricket.” His friend raised an eyebrow as the monk went over to a section of the concrete sidewalk which had been carved out and filled with dirt and a small tree. Sure enough, after looking for a moment, he pointed out the chirping insect.

His friend was amazed! “How did you hear the cricket amidst all this noise?” The elder monk smiled and replied; “You hear what you are listening for.” The friend, still astonished, shook his head. “Do you have a coin?” his monk friend asked. “Here,” said the friend as he gave it to him. “Now, watch.” the monk ordered. The elder flipped the coin in the air and let it land on the ground making a tinkling noise. Several people stopped and began looking. “Do you understand?” asked the elder monk with a smile.

One of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a reminder that our lives are about listening to the truthful, just and grace filled voices and sounds in this world. Too often we allow the negative noise into our lives which drowns out the voices of God, nature and the sound of the spirit of each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flight

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Flight

Earlier this afternoon I was burning some old pallet furniture we no longer use. It was creating quite the bonfire in our fire pit. As I kept watch over it a big Red Wasp landed on a piece of wood that was too large to fit in the fire pit. Its wings were vibrating and it was alighting from place to place. Unfortunately, it landed too close to the flame and its wings were singed. It began writhing on the wood and fell to the ground tumbling around and disappeared into the grass. Not too long after that a beautiful butterfly was drawn to the flame but pulled up at the last moment and allowed the smoke to lift it up and out of danger.

I thought about the two creatures and the impact the fire had on each. One was scarred and the other soared. I reflected on people I know and how the dangers and difficulties of life also damaged some beyond healing and others used their pain to reach heights not previously known.

I wish I knew the secret; how to be the one who takes flight not the one who flies no more. I know which one I want to be, the life I want to live and for my wings to help others soar.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Change

Change

I was speaking with a group of men last night and we talked about the ability to be someone different from the person we are currently. I told them; “What you do today determines who you will be tomorrow.” If you want to be the man and the dad you need to be you must first know what you need to change and then begin making the choices that will lead you to your goal.

I went on to explain that everything we do presently, what we watch, listen to, speak about, participate in, everything! makes us into the person we will be in the future. Our present choices shape our destiny. “It’s when we see that now, this moment, is all we have and need to transform, that we finally have the wisdom to become what we need to be.”

As I talked to the men the truth of what was being said also resonated with me and my spirit. The truth, when revealed, is powerful enough to impact both audience and speaker.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bad Things Happen

Bad Things Happen

I was listening to a webinar this morning which told the story of a mediator in Gaza (a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border).

It was a story of how a boy who was abused had learned to read the moods of those who harmed him. With this gift, he knew when to stay home and when to leave. Finally, he was taken from his childhood home and placed in foster care. He blossomed, did well in school, went to college and became a mediator. He says it is his gift of reading people and their moods which make him a good mediator. “If I hadn’t gone through the difficulties of my childhood, I wouldn’t be a mediator today. It was the bad which I used for good.”

Such a great lesson to learn and know. There are times when “bad” things happen and we wonder; “why us?” Perhaps the challenges of life we encounter, if we allow them, can be used to help others. The good in the world often blossoms from the worst situations and seasons.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unexpected

Unexpected

A little bundle of unexpectedness just rode out of our driveway.

This past Saturday Beth and I discovered a kitten hanging out near our house. Knowing the dogs in the surrounding area, including our own Siberian Husky, wouldn’t treat it well, we gave it a safe place, some food and began looking for someone to adopt it. Thankfully, a nice woman, who was looking for some companionship, came this afternoon and took it to a new home where it should live a long, good life.

It is amazing how one small thing can wreak big havoc in our lives. Because it was staying on our front porch we had to start taking Trooper, the Husky, out the back door, not his usual routine. We bought kitten food, prepared and fed the little one three times a day. When one of us left for work the other had to hold the kitten because it followed whoever was walking, wherever we went. Whoever was the last one leaving the house had to sneak to their vehicle because the kitten would come running if it heard them. As the kitten rode off today Beth and I both breathed a sigh of relief while also feeling a tinge of sadness.

Life is not predictable. We’re never sure when someone or something will join us our journey and remind us not to take “normal” for granted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Treasure

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Treasure

A couple of friends had a “garage sale” or “yard sale” this weekend. For one of them, it was the first one she had ever done.

As someone who’s worked in the nonprofit world for many years and who’s done many yard sales to raise funds for one cause or another, I found it hard to believe she had never participated in one before. I think that tells me more about me than it does her. I like these types of sales. Especially when you feel like you have found a treasure in the midst of what the owner thinks is disposable stuff. I have never found a lost “Mona Lisa” or “Rembrandt” but there have been some deals I came away thinking I had gotten a lot of bang for my buck.

I like these types of sales. Especially when you feel like you have found a treasure in the midst of what the owner thinks is disposable stuff. I have never found a lost “Mona Lisa” or “Rembrandt” but there have been some deals I came away thinking I had gotten a lot of bang for my buck.

The truth is most of the stuff we own is made to be disposable. I read a wisdom quote the other day; “The only thing we truly own is our actions.” In other words, it’s how we treat others which define us.

At the end of our journey, when who we are is sifted from what we have will our lives be revealed as treasure or trash?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Relief

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Relief

There’s nothing like a nice rain after a stretch of hot, humid days. Last night and this morning a strong set of storms moved through the area and brought with them cooler temps and a good soaking rain.

This has been a long, rough week, my spirit and body have been drained and relief is what I desire. The rain, though physical, also permeates my soul. Nature has a way of healing. To see the cycle of life, the beauty of the universe in every drop of rain, the opening of blooms, the water infusing with the roots and leaves. The earth taking a cleansing breath.

It’s what we need to do when drained. We pause and allow our spirits to be refreshed and renewed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

 

Go

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Go

This morning, on my way to work, I was stopped at a traffic light. There were two vehicles ahead of me and one, after stopping, turned right and the other one moved up. He was turning right also and was waiting for a break in the traffic to make his move. He watched and waited, watched and waited. He was so intent on finding a moment when he could go that he didn’t notice the light turned green and he could proceed anytime he wanted to. Finally, he looked up, saw the green and took off.

On the rest of my drive to work, I thought about the driver and life. Many times we are looking for signs, indicators, epiphanies to tell us when to go, what direction to take, the path to follow. Paradoxically we can be so intent on a special signal we miss the ordinary, everyday sign posts which are right in front of us.

Perhaps it is a good word from a friend, a scripture read, a persistent thought, the desire itself. Each of these could be the “Go!” we’ve been looking for and missed because it wasn’t where we thought we’d see, sense it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

UnYoked

UnYoked

I listened to an author today talk about the way he writes a book. His latest offering is a metaphor for his family life growing up. His father committed suicide, his brother was a genius and these, along with others, are mirrored by the characters in his novel.

The person interviewing him asked; “Why did you write such a book now? What was the motivation?” The author thought for a moment and then replied; “I guess there were some things I was yoked to and I need to get unyoked.” I don’t hear the word yoked used often. Most of the time it’s being quoted from the Second book to the Corinthians written by the Apostle Paul. This man believed there were memories, experiences, and relationships which had shaped his life for good and bad and at this time of his life he needed to bring them to the surface to examine them and understand why and how they made him into the man and author he has become.

As I reflect on what he said I hear and feel a great truth in his words. Each of us has those life events which help shape us into the people we are today. Unfortunately, along with the good, there are the bad, with the love there is abuse and other negatives to which we are yoked. Becoming unyoked is not forgetting or escaping where we come from but allowing even the worse of times to be a light shone upon dark places inside.

It is only when we come face to face with all that made us who we are can we choose a new path or learn to be thankful for the one we currently travel.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Confusion

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Confusion

Earlier today I was trying to get the mowing done before a storm front moved through our area. I saw Beth come outside with our Siberian Husky, Trooper and waved at her. My attention went back to the mowing and when I looked up again she had Trooper by the collar with one hand and was shooing two brown dogs with the other. I quickly disengaged the blades and drove down the hill in our backyard to help.

The two dogs didn’t seem aggressive just curious but Trooper was also curious and you’re never sure what’s going to happen when unfamiliar dogs get too near each other. I jumped off the mower and had the brown dog’s attention now and Beth was able to get ours inside. I clapped my hands, marched toward the dogs, while yelling; “Go home! Now!” The younger of the two dogs began trotting home but the older one looked at me and wasn’t intimidated. Once I noticed Beth and Trooper inside I made my way back to the mower and headed again to the backyard. The older dog followed. I tried yelling again. It used the bathroom and continued to go wherever I drove and mowed. Finally, I finished mowing and told it to; “Please! Go home!” and thankfully, it did.

I don’t know whose dog exactly it was but I think it confused me with its owner. It never growled nor did its hair stand up, it just wanted to be loved, petted, played with? I’m not sure what it wanted which makes me confused as well.

Life is never predictable. We get confused and this makes us frustrated and desperate. We follow what seems familiar only to find ourselves in a strange place with no sense of direction. Hopefully, eventually, someone or something will help us find our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In Line

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In Line

This afternoon, on my way into town, I was in a line of traffic. About three cars in front of me a young man, hand out the window, smoking a cigarette, and in a hurry. He was “riding the bumper” of the car in front of him in spite of their being numerous cars in front of the object of his fury. I watched him and wondered; “Why? Why are you being an aggressive, desperate driver, when there are more cars in your way? Are you going to tailgate every car until you get in front of them all?” I knew the answer was probably; “yes if he could.

I reflected on this man and the way our focus of life can be out of whack. When we go through a challenge, a difficult situation, we focus our intensity on the object in front of us. We blame it for our lack of peace and purpose. We think; “If I could just get this off my to-do list, remove that problem, rid myself of this habit, break off or begin this relationship, everything would get better.” The truth, however, is more poignant. If we do not have peace before we run into a challenge, overcoming it will not bring us peace. If there is no stillness inside prior to a relationship there will be none afterward. New job, friends, home, whatever, cannot bring us the sense of calm and wisdom we desire if we don’t acquire them deep inside by searching for them now.

The only peace and wisdom you find at the top of the mountain you are climbing are what you bring with you” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fragile

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Fragile

My first inclination that something was happening on the road ahead was the car in front of me slamming on the brakes. I took my foot off the gas pedal and began looking around. Then, from the side of the road, a small, baby deer came running into my lane. It was unsteady and scared. I hit the brakes as it continued in a head on collision with my truck. At the last moment, it wobbled into the other lane almost getting hit by another car, crossed quickly again in front of me and then bounded on the side of the road. It tried to go further but there was a cow fence and he couldn’t find a gap. Watching I wondered if its mom leapt over the fence but the little deer’s legs just weren’t strong enough. It bounded out of sight looking for a hole in the fence. I continued on to church but on the way back I looked warily for its body on the road, hit by an unaware motorist. To my relief, there was no body or sign of it anywhere. I hope it found the place in the fence it was looking for or an adult deer showed it the way.

The baby deer was small and fragile, desperately looking for where it belonged. It knew the middle of the road was not the way.

I wonder if we are like this to God? Tiny, brittle souls in bodies easily broken. We try to find our way in life, looking for the hole, the gap, the answer, the way to the peace we desperately crave. Perhaps we are more like a brutish, boar recklessly, disastrously, making our way not caring what we break or who we hurt. Maybe we’re somewhere in the middle.

Either way, what we need, is someone to show us the way home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Aging

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Aging

I think I am getting old.

This morning I woke up and is my custom headed to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. I pulled out a filter, placed the proper amount of coffee grounds into it, put it back into the holder and turned on the coffee maker. I then walked out of the kitchen, did a few other things, walked back in and noticed there was no coffee in the maker. Why? Oh wait, I forgot to add the water.

Yesterday, I was doing some yard work which included mowing. I started the mower, began riding over the grass and after a few rounds looked down and realized I hadn’t engaged the blades. Basically, I’d just been taking a ride around the yard.

As a man in his mid 40’s I hope I have a few more years before I can blame aging for my forgetfulness but getting older is a part of the transience of life. It happens every day whether we can see it or not, acknowledge it or not, accept it or not.

“As a parent has compassion on their children, so the Lord has compassion on those who love him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of a human is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”
The Book of Psalms 103

Remembering our frailty and shortness of life is not a reason to despair but to celebrate every moment and breath knowing it could be our last.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

See

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See

Life is full of ups, downs and sideways. When we think we have life figured out it has a way of reminding us that it is never controlled or predictable. The question becomes; “Will we accept life as a constant state of change and challenge or continue to try to manipulate it to fit our needs?”

I was talking with someone yesterday about; “what is normal?” As we conversed back and forth there was agreement that there is no true normal. We spend our lives adjusting to the everyday small and sometimes huge changes that happen. The little tweaks are hardly noticed while the bigger adjustments are much more difficult to handle.

Accepting the transience of life is a necessary step on the path of peace. Only within, deep down, can big and small changes not move us. What is outside of us is always in flux but our inner selves can stay solid and still.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Rest

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Rest

Today has been a day of rest. A time of relaxing and restoration.

It’s the 4th of July and many are preparing for the night’s fireworks display, going to parades, fixing meals for family and friends who gather, and celebrating the holiday in a myriad of ways. I, on the other hand, have rested and enjoyed being on the couch with the Mrs. almost the entire day. Even our dog has sensed it and has slept most of this 4th away.

I sometimes wonder where our “rest” has gone. I listen to people speak about their schedules and wonder when they sleep much less rest. We live in a relentless culture of; “go!” Go to work, to school, to practice, to movies, to shopping, to church activities and many other things and then can’t figure out why we’re so tired.

Rest, a missed and misused word which needs to be added back to our’s and our culture’s vocabulary.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

knowing

knowing

What is self-awareness? My favorite quote from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.” The idea is that just because a thought pops into our minds or we’ve been convinced of a thought most of our lives doesn’t necessarily make it true or real.

The problem is that few people arrive at this level of self-awareness. Few question their beliefs, convictions, and paradigms of how life should be, how it’s supposed to work. In fact, for most, it’s the opposite. There’s never a question about themselves and how they came to think the thoughts, do the deeds, be the person in the mirror.

The most important journey each of us takes is the journey within. Knowing ourselves, accepting our prejudices, biases, preferences, and understanding how they make us unique and how they set us apart from others.

A wisdom proverb states; “What annoys you about others reveals the character within you.” The path to self-awareness is first setting aside your preconceptions about everything and allowing the world to just “be“. Each experience, moment, lifetime is a once in an eternity expression of the universe and it’s Creator. Allowing it to make its impression upon you instead of charging into it wanting to put your stamp on it is the first steps into a larger world and a deeper self.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Accomplished

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Accomplished

It’s raining outside. A wonderful sight and a break from the summer weather we’ve been having this past week. I had checked the forecast this morning and it called for rain around noon and yet nothing happened. I assumed whatever rain was coming had passed us by. However, not long ago the first drop fell and the ground, plants, and trees are getting some much-needed nourishment.

The quote (pictured) is a reminder of our limited power to make most things happen. We fight, struggle, anticipate, worry, try to make a good thing happen or a bad thing stop with not much to show for it. Finally, we remember we are but mere creatures ourselves and we cease our striving, release our desire, and accept that what happens or won’t happen will take its course, arrive in its time, and all will be accomplished.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Jumpy

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Jumpy

It came out of nowhere this morning when I was mowing the grass! I have seen a lot of small frogs the last couple of weeks and try to be aware of them but this little guy jumped up on my lawn mower and before I could stop it, it hopped on the engine! I was afraid it was going to fry itself, but a nanosecond later he jumped off and into the grass.

Isn’t it interesting how worried we can get over little things? Surprises which suddenly appear and there’s no time to prepare but our anxieties, stress, negative thoughts spike and we ask perplexed; “What am I going to do? What should I do? What can I do?” Sometimes the troubles disappear as quickly as they come and other times life comes to a halt while we figure out the best way to handle it.

What’s interesting is that whatever jumps into our lives is often beyond our control. We couldn’t have stopped it even if we knew it was coming. The second truth is we can only do what we can and let the rest just happen. It’s not comforting to know we can’t always stop or change, difficulties, and challenges that appear in our lives but instead of resisting we can accept and continue to move forward, even if it’s in a different direction.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Strangled

Strangled

I don’t like wearing ties. They aren’t my preferred mode of dress. When I am forced to wear ties I feel as though I am being strangled and somewhere in my mind, there’s a countdown clock ticking to when I can loosen and take it off.

I exclusively wear ties for important events. Weddings (maybe) unless I am the minister officiating the wedding (then definitely), presentations for the company I work for (if the people I am presenting to are expected to be wearing them) and funerals (always). I own enough ties to do each of these a few times a year along with one suit.

Life is meant to be experienced, enjoyed, savored. Even when wearing a tie, or going or doing something we’d rather not be going or doing, it is a moment never to be repeated. Every instant is an opportunity to allow it to exist, to be what it is going to be, without our controlling or manipulating. Nothing lasts forever. Not even wearing ties.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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