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Chirp and Chatter

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Chirp and Chatter

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the front steps to our shed waiting for Beth to come home from work. Me and the dog enjoying the day when a bird overhead began to chirp loudly! It wasn’t the usual chirp and it was incessant. I looked to the limbs of our big Oak tree trying to find it. I couldn’t. The chirping didn’t stop but I couldn’t find it among the leaves. Finally, it stopped and only when it flew away could I see that it was a large woodpecker.

After watching this beautiful bird fly away I reflected on the constant chirping and not knowing where it was coming from. Some thought are like that in our minds. They chirp and chatter and we wonder, why and for what reason, they are filling our minds with noise. Perhaps its regret at an action,  a question about why something is happening, puzzlement for a big decision which needs to be made, a betrayal, a hurtful word given or received, a reliving of past events, or worry about the future. Whatever the thoughts, the chirps, and the chatter can keep peace of mind and spirit elusive and unattainable.

Wisdom reminds us that thoughts are going to come and go but it is up to us not grab them and ruminate. A wise master once said; “I cannot stop the thoughts from coming to my door but I do not have to serve them tea.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Empty

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Empty –

A wise master received a university professor who came to inquire about true wisdom.  The master served her tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.  The professor watched the overflow until she no longer could restrain herself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”  “Like this cup,” said the master, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?”

This is one of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a great reminder that we can become so full of ourselves, our opinions, our convictions, our beliefs, and our ego that we are unable to receive something new, different, exciting or growth producing.

To come to each day with an empty cup and allowing it to be filled with each experience, every person, circumstances, and situations is to be a true student of wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Recharge

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Recharge

Today is Holy Saturday. The Master is dead. Hope is gone. Failures are many. All that’s left is silence and the stench of death in a dark tomb.

I went to the dump today and had to take some cardboard to a special container. The big enclosed metal holder was almost empty and dark. I had to take the pieces of cardboard to the back of the container and when I came out of the dark, smelly thing I thought of Jesus leaving the tomb.

On my way home from the refuse and recycling center, which takes me down a long isolated road, a man signaled me to stop and stated that he needed a “jump-start” to his truck. He had been working since early and had forgotten to turn his lights off. We hooked up the cables, waited a while, tried a few times that didn’t work and finally, his battery was charged with enough power to bring his engine back to life.

I thought of Jesus, the Light of all lights and how he had given all his light to those who would extinguish it.I wondered what happened in the empty tomb. Did God the Father have some sort of spiritual “jumper cables” and shock his Son back to life? Or did he gently breathe new life into him like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden?

Holy Saturday. A day of disappointment. A day of fear. A day after and a day before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flowing

Flowing

This afternoon, before the person remodeling our bathroom left for the weekend he rigged a shower and a working toilet for us to use. I took my first real shower in almost a week about an hour ago and it was wonderful! Standing there as the water flowed I was reminded of those around the world who have no water due to poverty, homelessness or lack of clean water in the areas they live.

Blessings are in abundance for so many of us and yet we miss the wonders. They are bountiful and flow into our lives like a giant waterfall. Unfortunately, we have become so used to them we take them for granted and dismiss their importance and rarity.

Today is Good Friday, the day the Master died. Because of his death, we in the Christian faith are showered with grace, love, kindness and mercy from our Father who is in Heaven. We’ve grown up with the story. It is so familiar that we miss the importance and the rarity of the God-man who came to our world, clothed in our skin, and made a way for us to bathe in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

For Good Friday, Eternal Acceptance, and showers we thank Thee, O’Lord.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nowhere to Hide

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Nowhere to Hide

Today was my last visit to the dentist for the final part of a procedure that was started in July. I am glad it’s over. My only regret is that you have to keep going back for further check-ups…but that’s only for the rest of your life! Sigh.

The dentist’s office is the only place where I sit in the waiting room and hate for my name to be called. It was, and I went back to the little room with the horrible looking chair and sat down. Waited only a few moments before the doctor came and was in a talking mood! I answered his questions but my only thought was; “Dude, please, just get this over!”

Finally, he swung the big light into place and switched it on. I detest that light. It’s only inches from your face, you can feel its heat, your eyes adjust to the brightness, while it whispers;  “You aren’t going anywhere until we’re through with you.” Under that light, the dentist can see everything in your mouth and on your face. It’s a very vulnerable, and for someone like me with claustrophobia, frightening position. After we were done I stood up, shook his hand because he extended it, and got out of that room as fast as possible.

Light has a dual way of allowing us to see and be seen.

The wisdom of the Master says; “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light” he summed up everything a sojourner needs to know. He is the way, the path, the journey we walk. It is the true way, in the midst of many deceptive roads which promise peace. Finally, he is the light by which we see the way, and the way, in turn, sees us. Our journey is inward, to the deepest recesses of who we are, and only by shining a light in the darkest places are we able to find the way home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Muddy Words

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Muddy Words

I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman this week who had a unique combination of over-confidence, a persecution complex, an incredibly loud voice and a gift(?) for being able to talk for long periods without taking a breath.

It was hard to follow everything he was saying. There were times when I tried interrupting, even holding up my hand to try to get him to pause long enough for me to say anything! No luck, so I took a breath. Wisdom tells me when water is muddy only being still will allow you to see clearly.

So, I listened, without obstructing his word flow and waited. Finally, he was finished and I knew what he was trying to tell me. I didn’t agree but listening and agreeing aren’t the same thing. When I was able to speak with him I did so slowly, purposefully, not with the idea of changing him, but letting him know he had been heard. Doing this made all the difference in the rest of our time together.

It was another reminder we are never the master, always the student when it comes to the lessons wisdom tries teaching us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Asking

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Asking

I could tell she needing something without knowing how to ask for it. Finally, she began to say a few words, jumbled, somewhat coherent, and then blurted out a need her husband had and could I help? Responding in an assuring voice with, hopefully, peace giving words I told her; “Yes” and “would she like a card?” She smiled affirmatively, took the card and said; “Thank you.” “Anytime,” I replied back. “I hope you have a nice weekend.” I don’t know if I’ll hear from her or her husband again but it was not my first time I’ve encountered someone looking for assistance and yet hesitant, resistant, to ask for help.

I reflect on our brief conversation and wonder; “Why is it so hard for some to admit need?” I think part of it is our; “Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” culture. Folks who need a helping hand often feel they are somehow “less than” others.

Maybe it’s the thought that; “Others are so much worse off.” It seems selfish to take food out of their mouths, clothes off their backs, a roof over their heads.

Might be, perhaps the darkest reason; “I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who ‘have their hands out.'” They are judged, looked down upon, seen as lazy, under-achievers, taking advantage of people, churches, community organizations and the government.

Being in need is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we all need each other to make it. A wisdom proverb states; “No one can navigate the road of life alone.” In truth, we are all needy, weak, impoverished and cannot do it on our own. Asking for help is not helplessness it’s having the right balance of strength and humility to admit we are flawed, defective, deficient, have shortcomings, imperfections, in short,we are all; human and to be so is to be in need.

Someone asked the great Master one day; “What is the gospel?” The Master replied; “The gospel is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
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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Desire to Please

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This morning I was talking with someone about the lack of follow through in certain disciplines which accompany our religious faith. The basic question was; “I try to pray and read the Bible but sometimes I’m not as focused as I should be. My mind wanders, I become distracted by the day’s worries. Have I disappointed God?”

I shared the story of my friend Mary who passed away a couple years ago. She’s what many would call a; “Prayer Warrior.” However, toward the end of her life, when praying at night, she would often fall asleep. This brought her intense guilt and she confessed it to me one day. I smiled and told her not to feel ashamed; “What better way to end your day then being held by the Father as you whisper your cares and love into His ear?

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, says in part; “I may not know always how to please you my Lord, but let my wanting to please you, please you.”

Blessings ,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Equals

This morning, Beth and I celebrated Easter Sunday with our brothers and sisters at a small Lutheran church. I have enjoyed being a part of this intimate faith community several times over the last eighteen months. However, this is Easter Sunday and there were many more people than on an average Sunday. We found our seat and soon there were two women who occupied the wooden pew (another reason I like the church) in front of us. It didn’t take me long to notice them noticing others who walked in and found a space to sit with their families. A mom, whose hair was the color of a red came in and the two women looked at her and then each other. Another family with two rambunctious kids sat down and the two women again caught each other’s eye. Throughout the service they would look at each other and smile a slight grin. I wondered what they were thinking and if their glances signaled judgement, curiosity, or something entirely different.

At the end of the service everyone was invited to the front and receive the communion elements of bread (a symbol of Christ’s body) and wine (a symbol of Christ’s blood). We were sitting in the back and able to watch as others partook of the Eucharist. Everyone kneeled in front of the cross. All were equal. Moms with red hair, kids who had a hard time sitting for long periods of time, elderly and young, those in their new Easter outfits, those wearing shorts and sweat pants and two women. None were greater or less but all in a position of humility at the feet of the One Master.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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See, Listen, Believe

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There are some Sundays when I crave a worship service with liturgy, reading and response, rhythm. Today was one of those days. I arrived at an old, little church with wooden pews where I’ve attended before. I sat in the back in anticipation and waited.

In front of me was a young mother with two darling little girls who were active and adorable. They began to color and draw, dropping pencils and crayons, flipping pages and whispering. This would keep occurring even after the service began. The leader called the service to order and an infant, a few rows up, decided he wasn’t happy, a woman beside me started to cough, another parishioner sang off-key, loudly. My hopes for a meaningful worship time faded.

As part of this Sunday’s reading we listened to a selection from the gospel of Saint John, chapter 9. It is the story of man who was born blind and the Master healed him. At the end of the story Jesus finds him again and they share this exchange;

“Jesus … found him and said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ The blind man answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’ The blind man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.”

As I listened to the words I was reminded that too often we are led by our eyes, what we see and our ears, what we hear, instead of seeing and listening with our hearts. For it is in the heart where belief and true worship come from. Gently chastised, I let go of the frustration of the distractions and I prayed quietly; “Lord, I believe,” and worshiped.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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To See Him

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to look at him isn’t to know him. he’s big, really big, broad and tall with scars on his face. his life has been one of violence and rage, drugs and jail and it shows. however, seeing isn’t believing. to listen to him talk, to get past his appearance and know the scared boy beneath is worth the apparent risk of sitting in a small room with him, alone.

his smile is genuine, his heart and spirit opening more each day as folks extend their circle of life to include him. he’s made mistakes. he regrets most of them. he doesn’t want you to ignore his past he just doesn’t want it to dictate his future. he’s no where close to perfection but his progression speaks to the power of loving those many would deem unlovable and extending grace to the ones who truly understand they aren’t worthy.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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What We have in Common

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Earlier this week a neighbor invited my wife and I to, “friends day” at their small, rural church close to our home. We have a regular place of worship but, as former campus pastors, we also have a special place in our hearts for spiritual families of diminutive sizes whose leaders, usually of the older generation, are trying desperately to identify and anoint new, younger members, who’ll run with ball after they’re gone.

Small congregations have the difficult task of not losing sight of the past and finding a vision for the future. They don’t have the budgets, staff or volunteers to compete with the large (and want to be larger) churches. The entertainment, programs, and culturally defined approach to ministry doesn’t usually work for churches living Sunday to Sunday, offering to offering.

We entered into the brown paneled sanctuary with a ten by ten stage up front complete with podium and a bouquet of flowers. We were welcomed graciously, found our seat and soon the service began. We sang; “gasp!” out of hymnals. “It is Well with my Soul’ and ‘How Great Thou Art,” were some of the known ones with others I’ve never heard before sprinkled in. The pastor preached a short and to the point message, communion was given and received, a benediction song, prayer was said and that was the end.

Overall a nice service and a loving and welcoming people. I’d never been to a church of this denomination before but was struck with the thought; “what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”

I also reflected on the words; “friend‘ and ‘friendly.” I hope and pray every church who dares to open it’s doors will never forget that unless the known one and the stranger are loved equally we aren’t living our purpose or obeying our Master’s greatest command.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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