Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Not A Saint

If Christians are considered “saints”, then why don’t I feel it?
A Saint I ain’t?
Just a sinner, a man, nothing more.
Trying to hold on to the belief that Christ bore all for me.

Unworthy.

When confusion's my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
When I'm caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company

I will feel no fear
I know that You are near
I'll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

My help comes from You
You're right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders. (Shoulders, by King & Country)

Bless those who've caught the vision,
Realized the blessing, found their mission.
As for me, still searching.
Some days better than others. But I’ll continue.
Finding, lending strength with my brothers.

24 hrs later - I realize this story is kind of dark.  Forgive me please, I am what I am; but I also know we're all SO blessed.  We deal with our past, but there is a bright side.  Know there is.  Hang in there if you've felt similar.  Find a good friend to talk to. Say a little prayer.

- gus

Photo Credit: Saint Andrew the Apostle by Yoan from Gabrovo, 19th century.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How Bright Is Your Fire?

I am so excited that tonight is the first night of the season for our monthly Men's Group Campfire Meeting!

It is almost fall in Florida.  The days are under 90 and nights in the 60's - one of the cheapest months for utility billing and I like that!  But most importantly, our Men's Campfire group is starting again where we get together for an hour or so, and talk about our life as workers, husbands, dads, and men of the community.  Once a month, and that's it.  Below is the message I prepared, a great story by Zoe Weil.

This is one of my Top 100 Blog Stories that made a difference in my life.  As I read it over and over, I ask myself, How bright is that ember burning in my soul for my calling, my family, my children and all that I hold dear?  Do I need to stoke the fire, or is everything okay?  It is an accountability moment for me.  Here is the story...

Be the Campfire, Not the Forest Fire (click link for the whole story)
by Zoe Weil, November 17, 2010

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at
The Institute for Humane Education Blog.

There's a metaphor I like to use when talking to fellow activists. I ask them to imagine two fires. The first is a campfire in an opening in the woods. The fire is warm and bright and draws people toward it. They are eager to find a place around the fire, and their beautiful faces glow in the reflected light. They feel good. There is nowhere they'd rather be. The second is a forest fire. It blazes hot and out of control, everyone - people and animals alike - flee.

Each of us has a fire inside of us. It is the fire of our passions and our beliefs, and all of us who are activists know it well. It is the fire that spurs us to learn about what is happening on our planet - to people, animals, and the environment - and it is the fire that spurs us to action to solve the crises we face and challenge the atrocities that still pervade our world. It is often a blazing hot fire. And sometimes, when we have burned out, it is a barely glowing ember. (There is a reason for the term "burned out" after all.)

As change agents, we have a choice about what sort of fire we will be. Will we be the warm campfire that draws people towards us so that we can share what we know and inspire others to make a difference, or will we be the forest fire that rages too hot, causing people to run from us? This is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves because the fire we cultivate makes an enormous difference in our effectiveness as change makers.

But as we know, fire is not static, so whatever fire you have been or are today is subject to change. Fires die out if we don't add fuel, and the sparks that fly off of them can ignite infernos if we add too much fuel too quickly. As change agents, we must seek that perfect balance, adding enough fuel in the form of knowledge and resources to burn just hot enough to ignite change without igniting a conflagration. We will know if our fire needs more fuel if we are not doing the work that must be done and aren't inspiring others to join us, and we will know if we need to let up on the fuel if people avoid us. If we've been activists for a long time, we may have noticed that our fiery youth has diminished too much. If we are new to change-making, we may need to take great care in cultivating our fire so it doesn't burn too hot.

Tend your fire carefully. The world needs you to burn just right.

Zoe Weil, author of Most Good, Least Harm and Above All, Be Kind

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Thy Will Be Done". A Hope or a Prayer?

This is going to be a short note, as it hit me at 6:20 am this morning on my way out of the driveway. Here is the scripture I am talking about, that most people know...The Lord's Prayer...as it occurs in Matthew 6:9–13

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

We always pray "Thy will be done."

When someone is on their deathbed or tragically injured, or at the end of their rope, we sometimes pray for their (or our) recovery, but in the end we'll say, "thy will be done".  This final phrase is an escape clause, to tell God that if the person must die, or whatever tragedy, it will be God's will and we'll be okay with it,

Do we say this out of habit or do we really mean it?

I just missed out on an opportunity, and I've been praying this prayer.  When I realized things were not going MY way, I realized I was NOT okay with it, and was very disappointed. I felt abandoned and neglected by God. Then I suddenly realized I was not praying for God's will, but mine under the guise of His.  It was a true ah-ha moment for me that made me sad and happy at the same time.  Sad that I may have lost an opportunity, and happy that I learned a valuable "God lesson".

I hope when we pray this prayer, we'll say it with sincerity and realize God's will may not be ours. Bless you in your walk.

gus