Blog Archives

Excuse Me?

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Excuse Me

Someone asked me today; “Who’s your favorite killer?” I did a double take and asked in return; “My favorite what?” “Color,’ came the response, ‘favorite color?” “Oh!, blue,” I said. I was told I needed to work on my Tennessean listening skills.

It was a good laugh at my expense and a good reminder about listening. Each of us come from a unique background. We often forget that when we are speaking and listening to someone. People speak using words we don’t use, wouldn’t use, aren’t sure how to use. Folks speak with biases, colored by experiences, influenced by generational cycles of positive and negative cultural, religious and familial understandings.

This is why it is so important to listen with our whole being, not casually while we mess with our phones, distract ourselves with “more important” things or not honor the person who is speaking with mindfulness and focus.

Listening is a sacred gift we can give one another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon on my way to a fatherhood class I was driving down a road and rounded a curve with a truck parked almost in the middle and its hazard lights flashing. I slowed down and getting closer I saw the problem. A guy and his lawnmower were stuck in a ditch. The man who owned the mower seemed at a loss as the driver of the truck attempted to tie a rope around the mower and pull it out of the ditch. It was going to be a feat because somehow the man has positioned his mower where all four wheels were not touching any ground. I hoped everyone was safe and they were able to get the man and his machine mowing again.

Continuing on my way I reflected upon the man and his mower. I’ve felt like him before. There have been times when navigating the road of life, following the path I believed was correct, when all of a sudden there was no traction, no way forward or backward. I was simply and absolutely stuck.

This can be a horrible and helpless feeling. To not know how to proceed or retreat. Finally, after all attempts to get going I accepted the truth I wasn’t going anywhere. In these frustrating times, I learned to be still. Trusting the way would be made available I made the place where I was stuck an altar, a place of divine intervention. Sooner or later someone or something would always come and help me get moving again. My focus in these times moved from being stuck to being still.

Wisdom taught me that not being able to move was a blessing, a season of rest and a time of trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grace and Work

 

Grace and Work

Someone asked me today; “So, is it grace or works which get us into heaven?” My answer was; “Yes.” After a moment to let the words sink in I went on to explain that grace is God’s “unmerited favor” or “God’s love for us is absolute even if we never love God in return.

Grace is given to us and then we give it to others. This is the ‘work.'” We are blessed to receive God’s spirit of love, forgiveness, and kindness and in return, we give it to others. When grace touches the deepest part of us our worldview, the reason for living and being, come into focus. We are placed here, at this time and place, to give God’s love, forgiveness, and kindness to others.

Too often; “work” is made out to be dogma, discipline, dutiful acts of trying to be good and acceptable to the God who alone is good and has already accepted us. “Work,” should be a celebration. We freely give to others what we have freely accepted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Shift

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Shift

I know someone who is a friend of a friend. I’ve briefly encountered this individual a handful of times. The thing is, for some reason, this person rubbed me the wrong way. He hadn’t done anything to me except be himself and being himself didn’t sit right with me. I had lots of excuses as to why this person was what I thought he was but nothing tangible, just a feeling.

Then, earlier this week, I learned something about this man and it suddenly shifted my view. There were still those things that got on my nerves but while a few weeks ago they looked so big now they seemed petty and brought upon me a sense of shame.

It’s easy to teach and write about not judging others but a whole other level to practice what you speak. All it took was one thing to shift my view, understanding of this man and his life. An important and embarrassing reminder that we must always be on guard about how we see people. There’s always more there than we initially see and experience.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Leak

Leak

You never know where the leaks are until it rains.” #BrianLoging

This morning I awoke to a downpour happening outside. It was raining so hard that when I took the dog out I stood under the overhang while telling him; “Go for it!” (I know, bad owner.)

In the back of our little farmhouse, there is a breezeway which connects to a pumphouse. At one it time did not have a roof. Somewhere, in the life of the house, an owner attempted to put a homemade roof over the breezeway and let’s just say it hasn’t held up. It can handle quick showers and light rain but heavy downpours and it leaks in certain spots. I know where most of the leaks are so I am sure not to put anything on the floor under that area so it won’t get wet.

The remodeling of our bathroom continues and this week the men delivered the tiles which they stacked in the breezeway. This morning I heard a splashing sound and looked out into the breezeway and all the boxes were wet from the passing storm. We called our remodel guy and he assured us it wasn’t a big deal which was a relief. However, this was only one part of our concern. There is a new, major, leak on the breezeway and we’re going to have to figure out what to do with this section of roof.

It’s a pain to be sure but if it had never rained we wouldn’t be aware of the problem.  Now we have to figure out how to fix it. There are times and seasons of life when the rain pours into our lives revealing leaks and weak spots. Wisdom tells us we can be upset at the storm or see it as an opportunity to become more aware of ourselves, who we really are, the places which need attention and do something about it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be

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Be

When I was a student at Trevecca Nazarene University one of the classes I took was a spiritual formation class. On the first day, the teacher of the class lit a candle and told us it represented the presence of the Holy Spirit, alive, moving and not be captured or coerced. He lit the candle at every class. For some, it was probably hokey but for me, it was my first step into Contemplative Christianity which eventually led me to become a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).

Another discipline we would learn and one I still do to this day is praying Psalm 46:10; “Be Still and Know I am God.” We would sit quietly and begin by quoting the entire verse and then let a word(s) drop off after saying each phrase multiple times…

“Be Still and Know I am God
Be Still and Know I am
Be Still and Know
Be Still
Be”

When we arrived at; “Be” it was understood we found ourselves, our true selves, only in God. God wasn’t number one, he was the only one and everything else found its place in Him.

I follow this rhythmic prayer, often praying; “Be Still.” many times between rising in the morning and going to bed at night. It focuses, settles and comforts me or rather the words open my spirit and remind me I am because God allows me to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Important

What’s Important

This morning Beth and I went to a small Lutheran church and celebrated Easter with the faith community. The service was meaningful. The songs were on point, the message concise and full of the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. The only challenge to overcome was the family in the pew behind and their little ones who were banging toys, dropping toys, whispering loudly and moving a lot! Basically, they were being kids. It wasn’t a distraction too often and the focus on the empty tomb was far greater than what was happening around us.

I talked with some friends this weekend who are facing a lot of challenges. As we spoke it was easy to hear in their voices that the things that never mattered had been revealed for what they are; illusions which take our attention off of what really matters and places them on the banal.

It is unfortunate that oftentimes it takes what seems to be insurmountable odds and obstacles to shift our focus back to what truly matters. Only when we understand we have no control over the curveballs life throws our way do we, in humility, search for the truth.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go, Now!

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Go, Now!

For the second day in a row, a traffic light has been an inspiration for reflection (“Up Ahead -https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/01/25/up-ahead/). Today, on my way to lecture a group of fathers with addictions I was stopped by a red light and waited for it to turn green. My attention was elsewhere; what I was going to say to the men, thinking about the week that is quickly evaporating. As I sat there pondering I noticed a yellow arrow going out and then the main light turning green. I had missed a green arrow, that would’ve allowed me to proceed through the intersection. I never saw it. Looking behind me I was relieved that no one else was amused or aggravated by my lack of focus.

When our focal point is other than where we want, need, to go we can miss the signs, indicators, of where and when we need to proceed. If yesterday’s lesson was patiently waiting, today’s would be that sometimes there are clear and present signals that the time to proceed, to continue on with the journey is now.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where there’s Smoke…

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Where there’s Smoke…

Our little old farmhouse doesn’t have central heat and air. We hope to add it one day but there are several other home improvements we’d like to make before investing in a unit and duct work. During the summer we use window air conditioner units and in the winter we have a few space heaters plus a Kerosene heater for the main front rooms. It works well enough for now and does a good job keeping the cool at bay.

Last night, after we finished sitting around the fire-pit for a while we came inside and I lit the Kerosene heater. I went into another room and it wasn’t long before Beth was yelling my name; “Brian! There’s smoke, lots of smoke, everywhere!” I came running into the living room and she was right, the heater was putting out black smoke which was filling the room. I quickly took the heater outside, we opened all the windows in the three rooms the smoke was residing and put fans in them to help draw out the unwanted ash cloud. It didn’t take long to clear and for our hearts to begin beating at a normal rhythm again.

Though we like the Kerosene heater, the trick is getting the wick lit and the container which fits around and over it set just right. If you aren’t careful you can end up with rooms full of black smoke or worse. It was a good lesson in paying attention and making sure something which needed to be done specifically and correctly was done so.

As the fans hummed drawing out the smoke and soot last night I thought about how careless we are in other areas of life. There are times when we don’t handle things rightly, correctly, carefully and making sure what we do doesn’t end up making a big mess.

Wisdom, mindfulness, tells us to focus on what we are doing, presently, in the now. Lesson learned, again, yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Good Eye

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Good Eye

Last week I had an important meeting. During it, a woman walked into the room to give the person I was meeting with a message. As she delivered it the other noticed the woman was shaking. She asked; “Are you okay? You’re really shaking!” The person said she had a lot going on and was trying to fit all of it into a small amount of time. She then left the room and my meeting continued. Afterwards, I saw the woman who had been shaking and told her I hoped she had a good day.

As I went to my next appointment I thought about both the woman and the fact that I didn’t notice her shaking at all. I totally missed it. I try to be aware of people and their emotional, mental and spiritual states. I even try to notice new glasses, haircuts, and changes people make but not this time. I realized it swept by me because all of my focus was on the “important” meeting. The person I met with was at the same meeting but didn’t allow it to consume all of her attention and she was able to show concern to someone in need.

It was a good reminder that true awareness is finding the balance between paying attention to ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Which Way?

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Which Way?

Today I gave a lecture at the Community Center for Kid’s Justice conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Pulling out of the driveway I made sure I had everything needed. To get to the interstate I was going to keep left on the road coming from our house. Normally, on Mondays, I bear to the right which takes me to the office. Driving down the road I was running over a few things in my mind and without thinking went right instead of staying left. It took me a couple of miles to realize what I’d done and turned around. Shaking my head I made sure, when I arrived at the fork in the road, to keep going in the correct direction, the one which would take me to my destination.

Wisdom teaches us that absent-mindedness won’t get us where we need to go. We must remember to stay focused on where we are going or we’ll never get where we need to be.

I also thought of some of the men I work with each week. They’ve grown up and have certain ways of thinking, speaking, doing, being. They often don’t know there’s another way to go, how to turn their life around, go in the right direction. What they need, long for, is someone to help them see there is another way.

Each of us must keep the destination in mind, follow the compass placed deep in our spirits, if we are to arrive at the place where we were born to go and stay for eternity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Who Do You Think I Am?

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Who Do You Think I Am? –

Earlier this week I had a discussion with someone who wanted others to see them differently. They had an idea of who they were, or wanted to be, and desired that others would see them the way they saw themselves. The biggest obstacle to making this happen? Who this person thought they were didn’t match how almost every other people viewed them.

Self-Awareness is one of the most difficult disciplines we can master. It is the key to truly seeing ourselves, who we are, what we do well, what we could do better, and then applying what we’ve learned to change. Self-Awareness is about accepting the things which we cannot change. Self-Awareness is incredibly hard to master because seeing ourselves is more difficult than finding fault with others. Most people decide to focus outwardly instead of inside.

Even when dealing with someone who doesn’t have an accurate view of themselves, a self-aware person chooses not to judge, ridicule but to ensure sure we stay as self-aware as possible.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Fumes

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Fumes

On Saturday, Beth and I drove to the store to buy a few items for the long weekend. Returning home I noticed the gas gauge light had come on but wasn’t sure how far I had driven since its illumination. I made a mental note to get gas first thing Tuesday morning. Today, however, I forgot to stop by the fuel station as I drove to my first appointment. It was only several miles later I noticed the gas gauge again and felt my stomach drop. The indicator was on; “E” and there wasn’t a gas station anywhere close to my present location. My focus went from all the things which needed to be done today to that gauge. I knew I was running on fumes and was worried about being stranded on a Tennessee highway on an already hot Tuesday in September. My eyes darted from the road to the indicator and back again over and over. Finally, a gas station came into view and I pulled in to get gas and let out a huge sigh of relief!

After filling up and getting back on the road I reflected on the tense moments and how the worry and anxiety took over everything. Running on fumes is not enjoyable. When we’re depleted, at our wit’s end, have been used up and we’re not sure we going to make it much further, we have a difficult time seeing anything else. Our focus becomes survival not finding the meaning in every moment or the good with each person with whom we connect.

Being sure we are caring for ourselves and keeping our mental, emotional, and spiritual, tank full is vital for our lives and the ones with whom we share the road of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where We Look

Where We Look

The last two mornings, as I’ve taken the dog outside for some personal time, there has been a beautiful Robin (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin/id) looking for food. When I’ve spotted the bird I become as still as possible and see how close it’ll get near me.  My breathing slows, my movement stagnant, my attention heightened as I watch it hop around looking for breakfast. The rain we had over the weekend has softened the ground and it isn’t long before it’s meal is plucked up from the ground and the bird flies away. I exhale and the world around me comes alive again. The Robin had been my sole focus and until it leaves, by choice or being frightened, and my awareness of the world was dependent on it.

Wisdom tells us that where we place our focus, set our awareness, is life. Where we look, the direction we face is ultimately the direction of our journey. If we only look back we can never go forward. If we’re unfocused, trying to see all directions, we won’t be able to choose a fixed point and begin to travel toward it. Though paradoxical, stillness is the key to knowing and navigating this path called life.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Ready

Not Ready –

At the end of my lecture today to a group of fathers and men suffering from the disease of addiction I asked those who have wives, girlfriends, partners who are pregnant or children of a certain age to stay for a few moments after everyone leaves so I can talk to them more about some of the services our organization offers. I do this after each talk given at this addiction treatment center. It doesn’t take long and usually the men oblige with no hesitation. Today, however, there was one father, I asked to remain, who flatly refused.

My first impulse was to say; “Why? Don’t you want to help your family? Don’t you need every resource possible so you and your family can break the cycle of addiction which is so prevalent in kids when they have parents who are abusers of drugs?” There was a rush of frustration and anger at the nonchalant way he refused help when I had just spent an hour talking about choosing to live a clean life and the impact this choice has on families. However, I bit my tongue, dismissed the group and spoke with those who decided to stay.

Wisdom teaches us to focus on the ones who are ready to receive not those who aren’t willing or able to grasp the hand extended to help. There is a temptation to keep chasing after those who run from us at the expense of those who are right in front of us, hands out, ready to receive. Part of our persistence in running after those who refuse is ego. We believe we’re the ones to “save” them and if the opportunity is missed they will be lost forever.

Wisdom, however, tells us; “When the person is ready the teacher, savior, will appear.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What do You See?

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What do You See?

Last night after watering our garden and plants I sat down in an Adirondack chair and waited for Beth to pick a few vegetables. It wasn’t too long before I heard her say; “Look at the size of this creature!” Of course I knew this meant getting up and walking back to the garden to have a look.

When I got to her she pointed in a general direction and exclaimed; “Look!” At first I didn’t see anything but the more focused I became the more a giant green grub/ Tomato Hornworm (http://www.almanac.com/pest/tomato-hornworms) came into view.

I almost didn’t see it.” She said. I could see why. The creature blended in seamlessly and if you weren’t looking for it you’d missed it. In fact I did a few moments prior when I watered that section of the garden. We left it alone, finished up our “harvesting” and went inside leaving the green grub in peace.

There are hidden gems, life enhancing experiences, miracles of the natural and supernatural all around us. Unfortunately we’re often too busy doing chores, keep schedules, meeting deadlines to see them. In a world where everything seems to move at a faster rate daily we must be careful not to let speed blur our vision and distort our focus.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Freely Given

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Freely Given

I was talking with a staff member today about how expensive the dentist can be when you need them. Loans and payment plans are often required when you have a major procedure.

My co-worker then shared with me a free service offered by dentists, doctors and optometrists to those who can’t afford services, lack insurance or both. These professionals come to a city, set up their equipment and for several days help as many folks as possible. It is not unheard of for people to get in line for these free resources hours or days before the service times begin.

Most of us aren’t doctors, dentists and optometrists but we each have gifts to offer, talents to enact, service to give. The key is focusing on who you are, what you can do. There are hurting ones all around us and if we see ourselves as having gifts to give then perhaps our eyes will be opened to those who are in need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Where and Where Not to Look

This morning my Daily Office Reading had two sections dealing with focus. One was from the Old Testament, one from the New;

“When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”  But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.  3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”  “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”  4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”  And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.  5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”  “Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”  6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”  And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.  7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.  9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”  “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.  10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”  11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.  13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.” Book of Second Kings, Chapter 2

“Then the disciples gathered around Jesus and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 1

As I reflected upon these texts I thought about what we keep our eyes trained on also determines what slips by us as we watch other things. Knowing where not to look is just as important as knowing on what and where to keep our focus. Elisha was waiting, anticipating, looking for something predicted and present to happen. The disciples were staring at what once was and had now passed. To keep ourselves facing forward, living in trust that our purpose and passion are before us, never behind, we make sure what we’re looking for is worth seeing.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Out There

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Last night we had our Spring 2016 certificate ceremony for our incarcerated fathers’ class; Inside Out Dad. For the last session I give them their certificates and we talk about what we’ve learned over the last 3 months. One of the key points I focus on is self-awareness. It is the realization that most, if not all, our problems and challenges start with us. I tell the men; “Self-awareness is like looking in a mirror and truly seeing ourselves. We are able to recognize the good, bad, positive, negative, things we do well and things which need improvement.” I remind them to move beyond blaming others for our present conditions, accept responsibility for what we’ve done and should have done, and take an honest look at who we are and what we’ve become. “Only when we truly know ourselves can we be and do better.

It’s a wisdom lesson for us all, a discipline which takes a lifetime to learn and practice, and one we can’t start soon enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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On Splinters

Earlier today I was mowing the grass near our wooden fence. There was a weed in just the wrong place and I couldn’t cut it with the mower. I flipped the mower around and reached down to grab the unwanted sprout and ended up with a splinter from the fence under my fingernail. “OUCH!” I jerked my hand quickly back and carefully removed the sliver of wood. Earlier this week, while washing my hands, I noticed I’d picked up a splinter from somewhere but didn’t realize it until I saw it. It too was removed.

Wiping the blood from my injured finger, I thought about both splinters today. One caused great pain and I was aware of it instantly the other didn’t bother me at all. I also reflected on the parable from the Master;

“Stop judging so that you will not be judged. Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you. So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.” -The Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapter 7

We are quick to judge and focus on others instead of inspecting our own lives, allowing wisdom to show us our own shallowness, selfishness and sin. I wonder how many splinters, pieces of sawdust or wooden beams, we’d find if we actually looked?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Bug, Windshield or Road?

This afternoon, on my way back from a community meeting, I noticed my windshield was dirty and depressed the level on my steering column which sprayed a chemical onto the filthy glass, causing the wipers to vigorously move left to right and back again several times. After a few moments it was clean, clear and bright. “Nice!, much better.” I thought. Almost immediately another big bug splatted on the windshield. It would’ve hit me between the eyes if not for the protective glass. “Sheesh!” was my next thought. I shook my head at “my kind of luck” and cleaned it again expecting another bug to sacrifice himself on my windshield just as the wipers finished their work.

As I waited for this kamikaze bug I reflected on life and our desperate desire for cleanliness, orderliness in a chaotic, messy world. No matter how much we want or anticipate an end to the unpredictability and muck of our existence the truth is life will never be our definition of spotless and safe. Each of us travel this road and our focus can be the bugs or the distance we are covering.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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