Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another Proverbs Repost

I have added to my original Proverbs post from time to time, so I decided to repost it.

On a recent trip to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago I noticed that it seemed to be an ancient custom for fathers to write down proverbs for their sons. I thought this was pretty cool, so even though I am a single mother, I decided I would start to do the same for my sons. What follows is the beginning of my list. I hope to have more and will add them as they come to me.

1. The words that you speak about another person reveal more about what is in your own heart than it ever will about them.

2. Arrogance is the hubris of the deeply insecure.

3. Confidence is knowing what you have. Arrogance is acting like you have more of it than anyone else. Making others feel that way is obnoxious.

4. Anger doesn't need a reason, just a target.

5. In general, people don't decide they like or dislike you based on how they feel about you, but rather how they feel about themselves when they are around you. (this is not something that is always under your control)

6. If you do what you need to do when you need to do it, eventually you will be able to do what you want to do when you want to do it.

7. Empathy is not an abstract concept. You should have it, and people should feel that you have it.

8. Life is like a baseball game. There are those who step up to the plate and swing at the ball, and there are those who sit in the dugout and watch others play the game.

9. Look where you are going. Think like you are already there.

10. Stay away from people who consistently badmouth others. They have a way of separating you from the people you need the most.

11. Prayer saves time. Tithing saves money.

12. Human communication is an inexact science at best. Just because you heard what someone said, don't believe you necessarily heard what they meant.

13. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) If we stay focused on things as they are and have been, it is unlikely that we will ever see them become as they can and should be.

14. One of the most revolutionary things you can do is to tell the truth, especially when it isn't easy and it isn't welcome.

15. The people who say the most aren't always the people who have the most to say.

16. Anyone who thinks they are incapable of being deceived already is.

17. Remember, the stone you throw today might just come crashing through your own window tomorrow.

18. Never allow your personal relationships to blind you to the screaming obvious and inhibit your ability to make sound decisions.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Invited

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, " I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me." The disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which one of them he meant."

Isn't it amazing? The disciples were at a loss to know which one of them would be Christ betrayer. After three years together, eating, sleeping, walking, performing miracles, and going through adversity - they didn't know who the betrayer was. In fact the word says, they were at a loss. There were no evil suspicions among them. Even more amazing was that Christ knew from before the moment he called Judas to his side that Judas was his betrayer, and yet his behavior towards Judas had never given the other eleven the slightest hint. Could we say the same? Do people know who we like and who we don't like? Do people know who your enemies are?

When I was a child, I was raised in a home that had the a very strange mix of attitudes on racism. My parents would always tell us racism was wrong and that everyone is equal. They would always tell us that they weren't prejudice and didn't discriminate, but as we rode along in the car when my mother would see the Arab and Indian students from the local university she would cry out things such as, "Look at those camel jockeys! Black as the ace of spades!" Things became even more confusing as I neared dating age. It became very clear that my parents lack of prejudice and discrimination did not extend to the arena of dating and marriage. The excuse was that even though it mattered not to them, they didn't want to see me go through the hardship of an interracial relationship in our society. I guess that's why my father threatened my life at the age of 14 for walking down the street with the African- American paper boy.

Regardless of the way I was raised, the lessons in selective racism never really quite took hold. I could never really understand why anyone would want to narrow the circle of whom they chose to love. But now as an adult I find that there are many more reasons for narrowing our circle than just race. Oh race can still be a factor, to be sure. But when we examine our individual lives and our circle of friends, what do we see? If we are blessed enough to have a variety of friends from different races, what other factors can we look at? Classism? Education? Age? Outlook? Social rank? Religion? Marital status? Do we have friends that we disagree with, or does everyone in our group think like us, talk like us, look like us, dress like us and act like us? When people meet us for the first time, how welcome do they feel in our presence? How immediately do they know if they will "fit" in with us and our friends? And how obvious is all of the above?

When Jesus said that one of the disciples would betray him, they were at a loss to know which one it would be. It could have been a very different scene, especially if Jesus had not been so utterly even handed in his treatment of the disciples. It could have read "then the disciples turned simultaneously and in one voice cried out, "Judas!" I thank God that didn't happen. And as I grow older I find that I am even more challenged in the choices that I make for friends and the way that I treat others. God's arms and hands are evenly extended, to everyone, period. And I am thinking that the more we grow to be like Him the less obvious it should be in my life whom I like and whom I don't like. I find that I am being challenged to broaden my circle. I'm being challenged not to close ranks, but to open them. And to open them in a childlike trust that even if my openness exposes me to hurt, betrayal, or what have you, my God is big enough to hold me in the midst of it all.
After all, my Savior and Lord didn't lock Judas out, He called him in. He didn't push him away, but embraced him. And even as Judas delivered the kiss of betrayal, Jesus called him friend.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Invisibles

The other day I was flipping channels and hit one of those shows that I hate - it was probably "COPS", I'm not sure. I usually turn the channel as fast as possible because I just can't stand to see the way most of the people live who are on those shows. This time I stopped though. They had a drunk guy pinned to his bed in a trailer park and were asking him about beating his wife. They told him the neighbors had seen the whole thing. They went outside and his wife was sitting there, her face all bruised and swollen. She was drunk too. They began to question her and she denied he did anything to her, and defended his actions. The police told her, "Mam, the neighbors saw the whole thing. Are you defending him because he is on parole?" She told them that she had been drinking and didn't want to leave the bar and he had to force her to come home and was trying to force her into the trailer. I sat there and thought about that show and the reason I always turn the channel - because I can't stand to see the way so many people live. And I started to cry. These are people's real lives.

How long are we going to keep flipping the channel?

There is a liquor store directly north of our house on 87th street. As a result there is usually a group of men hanging about. Usually a group of drunk men. When I walk to the church I have to walk through them. I used to resent this. They set out milk crates. I have to step around and over their garbage and broken bottles.They have never bothered me. In Fact they are excessively polite and call me "Mam". A while ago I began to feel my resentment change. They made me think about my grandfather and my uncles. When I would walk by they began to tug at my heart. Now that tug is an all out ache. Now I find that although I hurt over their predicament, I am grateful for their presence. It is the only thing that keeps me from becoming a good church person.

How long are we going to keep stepping around and over them on our way to church?

Thursday, April 05, 2007


" The mystery of heaven is that we are all God's favorite."
Jason Upton