Sunday, February 21, 2010

Don't Go There!

There's a species of bird native to where I live called a Killdeer. They're quite common and if you take a summertime walk near a river or any place where there's gravel you're likely to encounter one. Their "KILL-DEE" call is hard to miss but what really drew my attention to them as a young boy was their instinctive flair for the dramatic. If you should happen to get too close to their young which they nest on the ground, they put on their wounded bird performance. It's their way of saying "don't go there", an academy award winning act intended to draw any potential threat away from that which is vulnerable, their chicks.

The more I studied on these birds the more they began to remind me of people. There's something familiar to me about an animal that lives on the ground instead of living in a tree where it's ability to fly is a distinct advantage thereby necessitating the aforementioned defensive tactics to survive. Although it doesn't seem to make good sense, living by the art of deception in this inhospitable rocky place is simply part of what defines them as being a killdeer. In my "human-ness" I prefer to think that by making different choices their lives could be so much easier but alas, they have to do what's in their nature to do. There are no real "choices" for them as far as how they survive other than picking a nesting site that perhaps affords them more security, that's about it .

We have a "nature" to overcome as well but with a much broader spectrum of choices to make that can either lift us above or deliver us over to what we're hardwired to do. It's difficult to spend much time around people and not notice a pattern similar to the Killdeers, most typically while having a "discovery" conversation with them. If they think you're getting too close to an area they feel protective of they'll do their darnedest to divert the conversation away from it. They'll scream,cry and yell if need be, often holding up one or both hands using a rapid back and forth motion from the wrist, palms towards you while in a stern voice warning us "Don't go there!". If they're at all skilled at this tactic, soon you'll be having an altogether different conversation than you might of originally intended to have. But just like the killdeer's performance the technique is only good SO many times, an experienced "seeker" won't continue to follow the ruse and will instead investigate the spot they were heading for initially.

From a human perspective, where exactly is "there" and why are we all so afraid of it? Maybe "there" is a place where it's real, where it's personal, where all of the pretenses and compromises have fallen away and the plain truth is all that's left. A place where there's an absolute right and an absolute wrong that cannot coincide or abide with the other. A place where we set aside the needs of our ego and lay our self on the altar. Where there is no ambiguity, and no one can afford to sit on a fence or be half hearted in what they're doing.

I found these examples of instances where Jesus chose to "Go There" and studied on them. the first one is definitely literal in one respect but figurative in another. Jesus is going to Jerusalem, but in response to Peter's rebuke He chooses to call it like it is with Peter and speak to the real sponsor of his thoughts

Matthew 16:21-24

21From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

After He told the disciples of His plans to go to Jerusalem and of what was going to happen to Him there, Peter tried to tell Jesus "Don't go there" but of course Jesus had to "go there", and praise God that He did!

The next passage is more of a figurative example that most of us can relate to.

Matthew 21:12-13

12And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Why couldn't Jesus have just calmly moved about the room and "lovingly" convinced everyone to stop what they were doing? Once again He had to "go there", perhaps this is one of those instances where I guess you had to "be there" to fully understand it. Sometimes speaking the truth in love to people means "going there" with them. This is one of my own favorite quotes...

"Knowing the difference between who just needs a hug and who needs a kick in the pants is at the essence of what love is".

I'll admit that knowing the difference is a tricky business. Jesus always knew it because He had the Holy Spirit living within Him and was able to discern between the urgings of The Spirit and the the deception of Satan. I'll always be grateful to the people in my life who took the risk and went there with me, who talked to me instead of talking about me especially if "going there" with me wasn't an easy or pleasant thing for them to do. Thank You Jesus, for loving me so much that that even though they told You, "Don't go there" Praise God You did!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Who Cares?

Yesterday at the Ministry Center I met a woman who was kind enough to share with me some of her ideas of how to generate more community interest in what we're doing. She told me that despite all of my efforts to publicize what we're doing here that word of mouth is still by far the best method, and that the key was to get people in the door with free food/stuff in order to have the opportunity to talk to them for a few moments. I understand that what she's saying is correct, but at the same time it made me wonder if given the scope of the problem in the community, wouldn't a certain percentage of them be motivated to seek out any help available to them in ending their addiction?

I thought about my own circumstances for a moment, I am overweight but I don't feel as though it's primarily because what I eat is so wrong,instead I chalk it up mostly to my sedentary lifestyle. I believe that what I need is someone who's passion is health and fitness to assist me in engaging in an effective program to slowly guide me back towards a more healthful body weight, perhaps improve my joint flexibility,and improve my overall physical wellbeing. If someone were to open up a "center" where people made themselves available to others free of charge I would love it! I think that I'd be there at least a couple of times a week and that I'd also have no problem financially supporting such an enterprise by my freely given donations.

The more I thought about it the more similarities I began to see between this scenario and what I'm trying to do. In order to be succesful with physical re-conditioning one of the most important things to be mindful of is that especially at first you've got to make it a pleasurable experience for people. If you try to push people or expect to much from them too quickly, or come on too strong you'll probably end up hurting them, and that's what makes people want to quit! By enabling them to experience as many of the benifits of working their physique and as little of the pain as possible you stand a lot better chance of being sucessful in the long term with them. Of course there's going to have to be discomfort involved at some point, but to really be a help to people who are in the process of change we need to do what we can to help manage "the pain" with them. Slow them down when they want to move too fast or when they set their expectations too high, be patient with them during times of slow or no progress,our unconditional support is critical to them when they're facing obstacles we may not fully understand. And yes, even give them the tough love treatment when it's called for.

No doubt about it, someday I want to have a ministry like this at the Outreach Center, I'd be the first in line!

Which brings me to my next "revelation"...What is a ministry? I think that "ministry" is a word we use to describe our response to Gods love for us "back to" God and to others. It's something we do because it brings us a sense of fulfillment which only comes from being a part of that flow that happens when we correctly use the gifts God has given us. It's something we share with others because it's our passion, it's the axis or hub that our spinning world is centered on. It provides us with a perspective or a point of reference by which all other things can be prioritized under or compared to.

It's our answer!

In the end, it's really not a matter of "who cares", everybody cares when it's their own fat that's in the fire or their pretty baby that's in trouble; perhaps instead it's more a question of "who dares" to have the audacity to believe that love truly is the answer...

I recently discovered this quote which is credited to the renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow,

"When all you have is a hammer,everything begins to look like a nail"

Maybe that's true, after all Jesus fixed everything with three nails, and a whole lotta love!