Archive for October, 2008

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Boundary Violations – Part 3

October 29, 2008

My wife and I give one other “mad money” each month. I write her check and she writes mine. We do anything with that money our conscience allows. We don’t have to ask permission in how to use it and cannot be condemned if we spend frivolously. For instance, if I want to stock up on 20 pounds of licorice to eat in secret, hoarding against days of great licorice shortages in this country, I am within my “mad money” rights to purchase it.

We do this for a number of reasons. First,  if we put a limit on what each of us spends on “wish list” type items, we don’t go fishing in our general fund for it. Second, it is liberating to know that you can buy things just because you want to. That little bit of freedom is very comforting. Third, there are things that my wife and I can’t agree we need. This way, we don’t have to. I advise every couple to practice madmoneying.

A couple of years ago, wife-of-mine got a phone call from someone we both know very well. This person complained about some financial struggles they were having. She sympathized with them and a couple of hours later wrote them a check to help out. When she told me of her decision that evening, I was angry. I accused her of enabling this person again. On and on I lectured her with the seeming ease of a preacher. She just sat there and took it. Finally, I ended my diatribe.

“Mike, it’s my mad money and I’ll spend it the way I want to.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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Chesterton on Voting

October 25, 2008

G. K. Chesterton, arguably the most brilliant Christian of the last 200 years, had this to say about voting:

The average man votes below himself; he votes with half a mind or a hundredth part of one. A man ought to vote with the whole of himself, as he worships or gets married. A man ought to vote with his head and heart, his soul and stomach, his eye for faces and his ear for music; also (when sufficiently provoked) with his hands and feet. If he has ever seen a fine sunset, the crimson colour of it should creep into his vote…. The question is not so much whether only a minority of the electorate votes. The point is that only a minority of the voter votes.

He said it. Keep this in mind ten days from now.

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Boundary Violations – Part 2

October 23, 2008

Ken was hurt; again. His wife Vivian and her two friends had gone to the Mall and then out for a couple of hours of “girl time”. This was the third time this month they had spent the entire evening  together. For the second time, they had chosen Ken and Vivian’s “date night” to do it on. He was hurt and wanted to hurt in return.

Vivian finally came home about 11 p.m. Ken was waiting for her as he stewed in his frustration. He knew she would be exhausted the next morning when she had to get up at 5:30 for the morning commute into the city. That meant she would be tired the next few evenings. Any time he had hoped to spend snuggling and being affectionate together during the week was ruined.

But Vivian saw things very differently. For years, Ken had reserved three evenings a week for golf with his two high school pals. They did everything together and usually excluded their wives when they went out to the golf course. Afterwards, they would spend an hour or so in the clubhouse telling jokes and talking over the events of their lives. By the time Ken got home, he didn’t feel like talking and usually gave her leftovers. But as the men grew older, they slowly grew apart and Ken found himself at home more often. He didn’t really want to be there, so he just sat around and made Vivian be his entertainment. At first she soaked in the attention. But she realized that he would never be satisfied with the attention she gave him (he constantly complained about everything she did wrong). She decided that it would be better if she got away from him some evenings. Leslie and Joan were just the tonic she needed. They also loved to shop and drink tea. All Ken wanted to talk about was sports.

Ken and Vivian were ready that evening for a clash of major proportions. Ken had it planned in his mind. He would simply tell Vivian how he felt and allow her room to change her mind for him. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Later, when he was licking his wounds, he wondered why things had gone so wrong. He thought over the conversation they had when she came in the door:

Ken: “A little late for a mother of three to be coming in don’t you think?”

Viv: “Not really. I don’t have a staff meeting in the morning, so it’s not that late really.”

Ken: “Did you forget about our date night?”

Viv: “What date night are you referring to Ken?”

Ken: “The date night we said three years ago at the marriage retreat we would never violate. You violate me every time you go out when we’re supposed to spend the time together.”

Viv: “Oh, I see. Like last week’s date night. When we had to watch the World Series Read the rest of this entry ?

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Boundary Violations – Part 1

October 17, 2008

Brent came home from the golf driving range to find his wife crying on the sofa. The baby had been up all night – again – and Terri was too tired to care if he saw her flood of emotional exhaustion. Brent held her for awhile and they talked about all the changes that had poured into their lives since the birth of their now 3-month old daughter. Brent rubbed her feet and told her he would be happy to get up with their girl any night she felt too tired. Terri mumbled some thanks and then looked him directly in the eye. He didn’t like that look. It seemed calculated and threatening to him.

“Do you know what would really make me happy Brent? Read the rest of this entry ?

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Down and Out Can be the Way Through

October 15, 2008

It was 3 in the afternoon. I was reclining in a rattan chair about 190 miles from the nearest large city in Mali, West Africa. I remembered every mile from Mopti, for we had bumped and jangled every mile of what passed for roads there. For those who have seen the movie “Sahara” with Matthew McConaghy, I was reclining in the village where they filmed the cave drawings 30 years later. I didn’t feel well.

I didn’t know I had malaria buggies multiplying by the millions, all planning to take over parts of my body in a wonton land grab. I was so tired by 3 that I just lay down on a couch for what I thought would be an hour’s sleep. I woke at midnight in a bed I didn’t recognize, with very concerned people looking down at me. I immediately asked if I could take a shower. My body felt like a cesspool of sweat and smell. No one said anything: They just kept looking with furrowed foreheads at each other. Since they seemed to be ignoring my plea for cleanliness, I tried to get up.

I didn’t get up. I discovered I couldn’t move more than a few inches. Let me correct that: I was able to move a few moments later – to facilitate the rapid movement of bodily fluids out of my mouth. Soon after that, the other end of the body tried to catch up in volume with the mouth. I was going out both ends. Read the rest of this entry ?

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A Vision About America

October 6, 2008

Yesterday I travelled out of town to teach at a training school in Montana. During that time of travel and my moments spent traversing airports, I had a lot of time to think and pray. Then, added to that time, this Christian training school had a concerted time of Intercessory prayer this morning that I took part in. The leader asked us to concentrate our prayers on America; which is exactly what I had been doing for over a week now.

So this morning, God gave me a strange vision. I can’t say I have the full interpretation or application of it any more, but I will give you what I have so far. (Note: For those reading this who come here for when I talk about psychology or cultural movements, please bear with this – I think it is incredibly important. Visions are what God can give people by speaking in pictures to them).

In the vision, I saw America as a Circus, entertaining and captivating the world. The audience was watching this circus with awe and wonder. Many acts were featured and feats of strength were performed. I heard in the vision that the Circus acts represented America’s ability to entertain, its strength in communications and media, the powerful force of the economy, the weight of its military force, the promises of low unemployment and a high value on the individual, creativity and personal advancement. The world loves to watch the  Circus that is America because it promises so much, even if it doesn’t always deliver.

But then this circus began to deteriorate and fall into chaos. The elephants began to rampage everywhere and the dangerous cats began to prowl and attack. Circus performers blamed each other as they saw it all fall apart. The audience raced every direction, making matters worse and complicating the effort to bring order to the chaos.

At one point, the ringleader got up and just stood in the center of the ring. A few people noticed the ringleader and came over to see what they would say. But they didn’t say anything…they just stood there. Those people who were willing to stop panicking came over and stood by the center ring where the ringleader stood. Some of them brought others in minor stages of panic toward the center and soon they calmed down. That is where the image ended. There was no resolution, but just a hint at how it all could be solved.

I do not have the fullest of the interpretation, but here is what I understood as I and others prayed into it. The chaos is more than just the deteriorating economy. If it was just that, there wouldn’t have been so many things going wrong simultaneously. It is also the use of drugs and alcohol that people are turning to in order to cope. It was the political machinery going wrong hurting so many in its rampage. It is the many who make their living from pointing the finger at others instead of coming up with solutions that work. As I prayed, my heart turned to this truth: Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a leader who ran for election without promising anything other than to do their best to handle problems with wisdom and integrity. We don’t need more unfulfilled promises – but it is certainly what we vote for. We want to be promised.

The ringleader in this sense is not the cause of the problems, but the person in charge: God Himself. If we turn away from fear and chaos and just listen to what God will say in the quiet places of our hearts, then the fear can be done away with and we can think straight. So few are thinking straight these days, as evidenced by throwing $700,000,000,000 at a problem and hoping it would go away. That didn’t work so well now, did it?

As  you read this, what comes across to you?

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Should I Read This Book?

October 4, 2008

I read about 70-100 books a year. Some of them are given to me to read, some I must read, others I want to read and still others I think I should read (Note: I “guilt” easily when it comes to books. All you have to say is “Have you read this one Mike? Why not?, and I’m pretty much going to give it a look. After all, that’s what Google Books are for, ne c’est pas?). But there are those dangerous moments when I pick up a book and I wonder, “should I read this?” Reading a book for me is like committing to a very short but meaningful relationship with the author at ‘that’ stage in their life. “That” meaning, the stage they were in when they wrote the book.

For instance, I love “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle and almost anything else Read the rest of this entry ?

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