Happy 43rd Anniversary Kayleen!

The Love of My Life!

Here are my memories of that wonderful day 43 years ago today.

Throughout our marriage, music has been a big part of our lives. As you read the story and look at the pictures. Please “click” on the songs to hear some of the songs that were the “Soundtrack” of our blessed marriage.

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Way back in the 70’s, working at one of my first jobs; I was scurrying to get some mission accomplished, when I collided head-on into this girl going the opposite direction. When I looked up to see if I had killed her, I saw the most beautiful greenish-brown eyes. Their beauty was only equaled by the most wonderfully welcoming smile I’d ever seen. This was the first time that I ever truly looked at the love of my life, Kayleen. Sure, I’d seen her before, but I never really looked into those eyes, felt that smile. To this day, I have no clue what we said. Since that collision, I have never been able to get her out of my head, nor my heart. Not that I’ve tried. Those eyes, and that smile are as infectious and loving today as ever. On that day, God truly answered my prayers, blessing me with the love of my life.
We Were Always Sweethearts, Boz Scaggs:

After that “accidental” meeting. We have been, for the most part, inseparable. Sure, we have spent lots of time apart, physically. But for me, I carry her with me always. If I’m down, if I’m missing her, all I need do is think of those eyes, that smile. Then, all’s good.

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After that meeting at work, it still took a while to get things moving in our relationship. I believe the hallway crash happened in June-July and we didn’t really start dating until September of the same year. We’ll always remember that first weekend together thanks to Jerry Lewis. It was Labor Day weekend and no matter what time we turned on the TV. There was the MDA Labor Day Telethon with Jerry and a host of celebrities.
Dinah-Flo, Boz Scaggs:

We were destined to be together. God was not only ordering our steps. He also had placed so many people in our lives that literally were pushing the two of us together.

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Starting with a wonderful friend at work named Donny. A gregarious Irishman in his early 50’s, late 40’s; Donny was just about the happiest guy I’ve ever met. No more than 5 ½ feet tall, with peppered black hair and bright shiny eyes. Donny was all smiles, all the time. Every time that I would see Donny when Kayleen wasn’t around. He would say something like… “That Kayleen sure is a Keeper”. Or, “That Kayleen sure likes you!”. If by chance Kayleen and I were together, and we ran into Donny, he’d always comment. “What a Great looking Couple you two are!”. Truly, Donny was a fan. Kayleen has also told me about a lady that she worked with named Noreen, she was a huge fan as well. It seemed God had enlisted everyone in the place to ensure that Kayleen and I got together.
Near You, Boz Scaggs

Still, with all the matchmaking it wasn’t quite enough. I was shy and so was Kayleen. Or so I thought.

Earlier that summer, I decided to buy a car. Keeping up with my lifelong quest to be different, I chose not to buy a “Guys” car. Muscle cars were all the rage back then, and we all worked on each other’s cars to make them as loud and fast as we could. So, if I wanted to tool around in a “muscle” car. All I had to do was call a friend.
I’m Not Like Everybody Else, The Kinks

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Then, one day I saw it. The perfect car for me. A 4 door, 1965 Mercedes Benz 190E. Leather seats and that Huge Chrome Grill. Perfect! Even better. It was only $2,000 and I qualified for payments. This car taught me that you usually get what you pay for… While it was beautiful, it didn’t run well and struggled to make it up some minor hills. Who cared. It looked great. The car served its purpose getting me back and forth to work. Especially since going to work was mostly downhill. Little did I know it would be that car that ultimately brought Kayleen and me together.

The way I remember the story. Kayleen had a good friend that worked in the office, Shari. As Kayleen has told me, Shari would always bug Kayleen to ask me out. Being shy, like me, she didn’t.

Then, one day Shari bumped into me as I was heading home. She smiled and said… “You know Kayleen really likes your car, you should give her a ride in it sometime.” I said something like “sure”. The next thing I know we had “scheduled” a ride. 😊
My Time, Boz Scaggs

While I remember Kayleen riding with me a lot in that car, I really don’t remember that specific ride. Well, one thing led to another and we started going to lunch together nearly every day. Our favorite gourmet restaurant was the “Red Barn”. A hamburger place about ten minutes away from work. That was the fall we fell in love.

Over the next couple of years our love grew deeper and included a lot of great times. Those are stories for another time.

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On this day, June 21st, in 1975, Kayleen and I were married. While we had been dating a while, I was 20 and she was 21. Babies by today’s standards.

If you recognize the day June 21st, it might be because it’s the “Summer Solstice”. The longest day of the year.

On this Balmy Saturday it was around 90˚ with 74% humidity. While it was supposed to be a sunny day, there was a slight chance for rain. The weather report was vital information for us as we were to be married in a Rose Garden in a park close to my house. Scheduled for 1:00 p.m. it was sure to be a hot one. During the summer in Iowa the clocks are moved forward an hour for daylight savings time. That’s right. We were getting married outside, when the Sun was in it’s most direct position in the sky for the solstice, at 12:00 noon. What were we thinking?
Lost In Your Love, The Bee Gees

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Preparation for our wedding was a wonderful time, as I remember it. My Mom and Kayleen were deep in plans and arrangements for months. It was wonderful to see those two work so closely together. My Mom made Kayleen’s wedding dress as well as vests for my brother Mike and me. We were young, had no money, so plans were simple. Rose Garden, Shelter House reception in the park, with Cake and a Keg. The perfect wedding for 1975. It would have been a shame to miss it. I almost did…

Since we were planning to only do this once, I didn’t want to mess it up for Kayleen. With that in mind I decided to forgo the traditional Bachelor party the night before the wedding. Instead, I asked my Best Man; my brother Mike and my best friend, Tom, to plan to have the party on Wednesday night before the wedding. They went about setting it up.

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A Wednesday night bachelor party probably wasn’t a great idea. We had a good time, but I think everyone was home in bed by Eleven that night. Then, on Friday night before the wedding, my two best friends, Tom and Bob, show up on my doorstep pleading… “Let’s go out for one last drink before you take the big step.” “Just one drink, we promise.”
Chances Are, Ben Sidran

Well after an extended discussion about how important Saturday was to me and Kayleen. I caved, agreeing to “One Drink”. So off to the Alpine Room for these three musketeers (or stooges).

Since meeting Kayleen I hadn’t really spent much time with Tom and Bob, so I thought this would be a great way to catch up. They were so excited to take me to this new place they had found, the Alpine Room. Nothing to spectacular. Just another Iowa bar to me.

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I reiterated, “Just One Drink Guys”. They eagerly agreed ordering a round of “Alpine Coolers” for the three of us. “What’s that?” I asked. In unison, they exclaimed… “You’ll Love it!” Right then, right there I should have left. I knew something was up. I didn’t leave. We toasted the wedding with the Alpine Coolers. That’s the last thing I remember. Until…

The sun burning warm on the back of my head, wind blowing through my hair. Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” blaring in my ears, I forced my eyes to open.

Tom and Bob were in the front seat of Bob’s Jeep with me strapped in the back. Top off, both were singing at the top of their lungs while flying down the Interstate heading west towards Omaha. I yelled “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?”
Space Truckin’, Deep Purple

Almost in beat with the melody of the Deep Purple song they responded… “We’re Kidnapping You. No Wedding for you Today!!! Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!”

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Obviously, we hadn’t stopped with just one “Alpine Cooler”. While I was instantly sober at the thought of missing my wedding. Tom and Bob were still in FULL party mode.

I’m not sure how I convinced them to turn around, but they did. If I remember right, we got back home around 10 that morning to get ready for the big day. While I don’t think I saw Kayleen until the wedding, I had heard she was concerned.

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Thinking about it now brings back memories of one of my dad’s favorite scenes, from one of his favorite movies, My Fair Lady. He truly loved the part where Eliza Doolittle’s Dad sang the night before his wedding… “Get Me to the Church on Time”.
Get Me To The Church, My Fair Lady

With very foggy memories of the night before all I could think about was how awful I felt. Not so much about being late; but my head was throbbing, and my gut was churning. Not the blissful day I was planning on. Off to the Rose Garden, none the less.

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Did I mention that it was 90˚ with 74% humidity that day? Standing in the noon sun for about an hour I felt every drop of “Alpine Cooler” ooze out through my sweat glands.

Still, I wouldn’t trade that day for any other day of my life. Now, 43 years later, we’re the proud parents of four, with a new crop of grand kids.
Heart of Mine, Boz Scaggs

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Thank you Kayleen for putting up with me through all the years. I thank God everyday for blessing my life with you, those eyes and that smile!

All My Love, All Ways!

BEE the TREE

BEE the TREE and the FOREST will TAKE CARE of ITSELF

“…seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” Job 19:28

Bee the Tree -3

Over the last several weeks, Trees, Bees and Metaphors have been saturating my thoughts. It seems God has been helping me to understand His plan for my life through allegories, parables, music and images. I love it! After all; don’t we all enjoy a good story, good music, and good art?

Oft times I recall my favorite communicators of history; Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and of course Jesus. All taught through storytelling with a message. Oh, and the many lessons learned from the poignant lyrics of some of my favorite musicians. Albeit some rather obscure musicians. And from the creation of the world, the stories told through the beauty of art and imagery; are too vast to catalog, recalling the tattered cliché, “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.

Over the years in my walk with Christ. If I have learned anything, it is the importance of complete submission to God, in ALL things. For some, that might seem like a startling or obsessive idea: complete submission and obedience, to things unknown, and unseen. However, the word of God is not unseen, and for those in harmony with God’s Promise, God is not unknown.

Recently God has led me to write several stories that until today, I thought were mostly unconnected. Such are the ways of God. ALL things are connected, and ALL things work together for good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28

These unrelated titles; “What Forest?”, “There is Truth in all Things”, “Are You Just A Metaphor?”, and “The Bee, The Brick, The Wall & The Honey”. Each, with their own distinct and separate message. Or so I thought.

Thinking back to where this all started, I believe it was Mother’s Day this year. On this special Sunday, I was looking forward to hearing one of my favorite speakers at Church. In what is becoming a wonderful tradition, our Pastor’s wife, Pastor Ashli Van Horn, takes to the pulpit with powerful, God inspired messages, from a Mother’s perspective. This Mother’s Day was no exception.

As usual, Pastor Ashli was ignited with God’s spirit and delivered an inspirational message. Explaining how, as the Body of Christ, we need to stand together, strong, as a family rooted in Christ. For those that weren’t there, I highly recommend watching the video. Here’s the link to the video, Mothers Day Message, Pastor Ashli Van Horn.

Pastor Ashli used an analogy based on the powerful Sequoia trees of the Sequoia National forest in California. She detailed how these magnificent trees; some that grow as tall as 250 feet, with a circumference of 30 feet, are wholly dependent on each other for stability and support. Ashli went on to explain how these glorious trees, towering so high above the earth, it hurts your neck to see the tops; are connected by an inter-locking Root system so massive, that it is only rivaled by the trees themselves. One look at an imposing Sequoia will easily take your focus off the forest.

The Bee-Honey-Brick-WallLike the Bees that we talked about in “The Bee, The Brick, The Wall & The Honey”, the individual trees take care of one another. Through a complex, shared root system. The massive trees sustain each other by sharing water, nutrients and strength. Who would have thought that the tallest trees on the planet are wholly dependent on the Forest?

At no time, do the trees “fend” for themselves. Can you imagine what might happen if one of these brilliant creations would “take their roots and go home.”? It’s simply not an option. From their fragile beginnings, the sprout’s roots grow and intertwine with all the trees in the forest. The forest of shallow roots permeates the ground below. Forming a root system as massive as the trees themselves. The roots provide unconditional support and strength to every tree in the forest. With the sustenance of the forest, these wondrous, individual trees are completely free to grow and prosper; unhindered by the daily need to acquire the food, water and nourishment needed to survive.

Like the Bees in our earlier story, with each Bee concentrating on the wellbeing of all the bees, the Hive takes care of itself. Gone are all thought of self, and the perceived rewards of serving oneself. The Hive flourishes! So too the Forest prospers as well. The needs of every tree are met by their intertwined roots. As Humans, it is when we become the servant to all, we prosper. As Jesus taught,

“…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44

Jesus-HumilitySo, as with the Body of Christ, the strength is in the body, or in this case the roots. The tallest trees on the planet find their strength in helping others. Free from the worries of the day and the fight to survive; each tree towers above all others, as does the entire forest. Isn’t this truly God’s design? This design saturates our world. We see it in Bee Hives, Ant Colonies and throughout the Animal world. Was this our sacrifice in Garden? All for the sake of knowledge?

“And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” – Ezekiel 17:24

I’m reminded of a story from my childhood where a man visited both Heaven and Hell in a dream. He told his wife of his surprise to see the ground of Hell covered with beautiful, ripe fruit of all kinds. Seeing hordes of people walking around, the man noticed that no one had elbows; making it impossible to pick the fruit and eat it with arms that would not bend. Needless to say, there were a lot of hungry faces. As he left Hell and arrived in Heaven, the man was astonished to see almost the exact same scene. Hordes of people with no elbows. A ground covered in beautifully ripe fruit; but with one distinct difference. The people of heaven were picking up the fruit and feeding it to one another.

While reviewing my writing, I am thankful for God’s Divine guidance. It is apparent, not only in content, but also in continuity throughout all the recent stories. We talked about Bees with their “Servants Heart”, and how by serving the hive, all flourished with Gods reward of abundant Honey.  We referenced a Master brick layer’s direction that taught “Focusing on the Brick, the Wall would take care of itself.” Understanding with each individual Bee selflessly working for the benefit of others, the hive would take care of itself. In a story inspired by a song from Stevie Wonder, we established that being honest and truthful was in keeping with God’s word, and an act of Love. We also recognized how being too focused on a specific obstacle, could distract from God’s vision for our lives. As we dug into the World’s view of Christians, we observed how letting others define who we are as a Metaphor, could lead to an understanding based on the Worlds interpretation, not reality. All in all, we recognized the power of God through what Jesus defined as the most important commandments; to Love God with all our heart and to Love others as ourselves.

…“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39

love-shoesSure, we all want to be strong individuals. Taking complete care of our loved ones. From birth, men and women alike, are encouraged to “Stand On Our Own”, or to be the “Best We Can Be”. So often, these teachings, like so many from the World, lead us to focus on ourselves. As we talked about “by taking care of the Brick, the Wall will take care of itself.” Doesn’t Christ teach us that the best way to take care of ourselves is by loving others? When we tear down the walls of self and ask Jesus into our hearts, self-dies. As a Christian, the way to be your best, is to take all focus off self and become a servant to all.

Love God, Love People

Bees, trees, bricks, walls, roots and forests. All different ways at looking at God’s divine design. Ultimately describing the same structure.

The body needs selfless individuals, focused on others; so that ALL individuals will prosper, flourish and grow strong. The individual, when stripped of the need to provide essentials for survival, blessed with the unconditional support from the body. Is free to flourish, becoming the best, strongest and tallest individual it can be. All in a body of the strongest and best.

A simple design. God’s simple design that yields God’s divine prosperity for all.

Bee the Tree and the Forest will take care of itself.

“…do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” Romans 11:18

To be a servant it just takes one step. One Drop of Love!

One Drop of Love, By Ray Charles

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What Forest?

It’s Right in Front of You…

We’ve all heard the saying “They can’t see the Forest for the Trees”, understanding this idiom to mean someone is TO close to, or TO focused on the details, to grasp the “Big Picture”. Sometimes, focusing on details is best. Especially when creating something big. For example; in the blog The Bee, Brick, Wall & The Honey, we talked about building a brick wall and how paying close attention to every detail about the brick’s placement, can ensure a better wall. In those situations, focusing on the wall becomes the distraction.

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Equally, there are times when we need to clearly see the “Big Picture”. Taking our focus off of the Tree, so that we can see the splendor and magnificence of the Forest. In my experience, it is with this understanding that God will light a path to success.

After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever know that you are on the right path? Imagine the look on the airline ticket agents face when they ask you, “Where are you going?” and your response is “I don’t know.” That makes it hard to plan a trip.

Typically, if I were writing a modern self-help book, this is where I would I say… The Bible says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”Proverbs 29:18 So, therefore, it’s critical to have a clear, personal vision.

Not so fast. Sadly, that seems to be one of the most Mis-Quoted verses of the Bible. When you dig deeper into the translations it takes on yet, a more powerful meaning. Where there is no revelation” NIV, “When people do not accept divine guidance” NLV, “Where there is no prophetic vision” ESV and “Without guidance from God” CEV are just a few of the translations. Clearly, like most contemporary writing, they left out the most important part, God.

To paraphrase what this verse is truly saying, “Man without God’s Vision Will Perish.”

Back to that magnificent forest. Have you ever walked into an emerald green forest, full of lush trees and bushes, and just thought, wow! Great job God! Sometimes the view can take ones breath away. Then, as you look around, you see that one tree. Tall, majestic, full of leaves with a unique bark that stands out amongst all others. Upon further investigation you see a busy family of squirrels getting ready for the impending winter. Your eyes are quickly drawn to the leaves that have begun to turn from that glorious green to an even more striking red. Your ears, then lead you to see a busy Woodpecker pounding loudly on the tree. It is right there, with that tree, you miss it!

Every tree in that Forest is just as wonderful. Just as full of life, beauty and brilliance. But you miss it.

Unavoidably, it’s what we are focused on that consumes us. We can tell anyone with ears, every minute detail of that tree. Explaining how and why it stands out. Why it is so grand. Dare they ask about the tree next to it, or about the forest? Did anything stick in your memory outside of that tree?

So too is the focus of our life. Ultimately, what we concentrate on, is what we care about, cherish and love. Oft times it’s a job, finances or what others might think. Albeit each one is critical to the comfort and caring of those we love and care for. With such intense emphasis on the specifics of our life; it’s easy to lose sight of the other, beautiful trees in our Forest. Family, Friends and God. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21.

What a quandary. If we take our eyes off the family finances, put less hours in at work or give complete trust to God. Surely, everything we’ve worked so hard for, will fall apart. Still, deep inside, we seem to know what to do. It can’t be that simple; just let go and everything will be fine.

It is this dilemma, priorities; that seem to rip at the core of what it is to be a Christian. So many devout Christians, with a wonderful relationship with Christ, struggle letting go. Like a game of “Tug-Of-War”, sometimes we pull, sometimes we let go, ALL to control the outcome.

Ask yourself… “Am I missing the Forest for the Trees?” As human beings we seem to fail to see one of the most distinct and wonderous beauties of the Forest. It exists, flourishes and grows without Human intervention. Like God takes care of the lilies of the field, He takes care of His beautiful Forests. “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” Matthew 6:28. God has a purpose and a Vision, for His Forest and that is sufficient. He loves you so much more than the Forest. “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30.

With God, ALL things are possible. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23. For me, letting go of the world, and more importantly, my perception that I am in control, is extremely difficult. Like Indiana Jones when he stepped out onto a bridge he couldn’t see, or, when Dorothy threw water on the witch. Surrendering completely to faith in things unseen can be terrifying. It is then, when we need to see the Forest, concentrating on God’s vision for our life, despite the giant tree in front of us.

As you begin that step of faith, always remember….

God’s Got This! & Grace Got You!


Grace Got You by MercyMe

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There is Truth in all Things

Stevie Wonder and Psalms…

I have oft times said, “I’m tempted to listen Stevie Wonder and read Psalms All Day, Every Day.” And anyone that knows me well, knows that I find a lot of God’s guidance for my life in the lyrics of songs. Albeit, at times, from some seemingly obscure musicians and composers.

One of my all-time favorite songs is “As”, by Stevie Wonder. Hidden at the end of the song is a line that I have made part of my daily walk since I first heard it back in 1976.

“Change your words into truths and then change that truth into love”

Truth.png

When I first heard it I thought, what a brilliant concept; speaking truth was an act of love.

After all, isn’t being truthful, showing absolute respect for all that you touch, for all that you love? Like a lot of things in life; being Truthful, can often be a daunting and difficult task. So many times, we’re pulled towards the easy road of deceit and dishonesty. All the while convincing ourselves that a “Little White Lie” is the best. By not telling the truth we are somehow being kind or saving our loved one’s pain.

Sure, blurting out the truth in certain situations can hurt. Is it wise to walk into a room and tell your spouse, “Wow, you’re really putting on weight!”? Is it the truth? Does it hurt? Hurting is not born in Love.

However, being dishonest when your spouse asks if they are putting on weight, can bring its own hurt. Sometimes the question is a plea for help. Your answer is important in response to a request for loving, truthful advice. Do you hide behind the “White Lie” or, do you help?

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

When Jesus said that we should “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31, wasn’t He telling us to put the needs of others above our needs, and to treat others as we want to be treated? Is honesty important to you? Do you want people to lie to you? Even small lies?

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17

There is Truth in all Things. As Hope is the beginning of Faith and Giving is the root of Love; Truth is the Core of Righteousness.

Dishonesty, on the other hand, is the core of all Sin. From the Garden to today, deceit has been used to hurt and destroy loved ones, relationships, nations and cultures. So many times, dishonesty feels like it can be beneficial. It’s not. We are being deceived into believing that hiding truth, out of love, will increase happiness, wealth and relieve the stress of the world.

It is at those times, when temptation to deceive is strong, cloaked in benevolence, and seems the easy path; we must turn to God for guidance. Shunning all the rational logic rattling through our brain and listening to our Heart. It is there that we will hear that still, quiet voice, leading to Truth and Love; guiding us in the Kingdom of God.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16

© Copyright Mark McCuen 2018


“AS” by Stevie Wonder

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Are You Just A Metaphor?

“He’s a Shining Light”,
“She has a Heart of Gold”,
“They are Lambs of God”. Really?

We all use Metaphors every day. Mostly without thought. It’s much easier to draw a comparison; pointing to something that we all recognize. Fusing two unrelated objects together seems to make things easier. Does time fly? Is all the world really a stage? Is he as blind as a Bat? Is there really an 800 lb Gorilla in the room?

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Have we let our belief in God become a Metaphor?

Sure, the bible is replete with metaphors. “We are the clay, and You our potter”, “I am the bread of life” and “God is my rock”, to name but a few. Reading scripture every day, Christians absorb metaphor after metaphor. Is it any wonder that we begin to speak in metaphors as well?

Describing a situation or a person metaphorically is one thing. I oft times think of metaphors like pictures with a thousand words, that bring quick understanding. However, describing our relationship with God, or our beliefs, as a comparison; leaves everything open to interpretation. After all, the intent of using a metaphor is to draw on someone else’s perception. What would it mean to describe, “Her eyes are as Blue as the Ocean”, to someone who has never seen an Ocean?

As a Christian, do you identify yourself as a “Bible Thumper”? A lot of non-believers profess they are one in the same. Are you a “Zealot”? A “Jesus Freak”? How about a “Holy Roller” or a “Shaker”. Most Christians I know wouldn’t self-identify as any of these. Still, theses perceptions cling to Christians. As we read scripture, our Lord Jesus would not allow others to define who he was, and we should follow his lead.
“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. -Mark 15:2
As Christians, aren’t we taught to become more Christ like? Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. -1 John 2:6

When you hear or read the name Jesus what comes to mind? Is it like hearing the name of a neighbor? Do you remember a face, or time spent together? Or, do you think of our Lord’s teachings? How He walked with unconditional love? The healing, the sacrifice?

By living his life, walking in God, and refusing to be defined by men; didn’t Jesus become a metaphor? If we are living as Jesus did, should we also shun man’s definitions; walking in God, and become a metaphor? Persistently stripping away all labels that we give ourselves; repelling all attempts by others to put us in a box, albeit by their definition.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a personal experience that no label can define. Rather than working to simplify and explain spiritual experiences with something as subjective as a metaphor. Shouldn’t we leave it to an individual experience? Everyone should experience God on their own, intimately, without preconceptions.

In no way am I saying to keep your relationship with Christ secret. Just the opposite. Shout it from the mountains. Shine your light, walk the walk. In LOVE! Show all, what it means to Love God, and to Love People. When someone asks how, or why, you are like you are? Point them to Jesus, the Word, and the Good News!

Let who you are, and what Christ has done for you, shine through. Refrain from being boxed in by metaphors and concepts that men will understand. They will always fall short: victim to preconceptions, and perceptions with man’s inability to grasp the totality of God and His Promise.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure. -Psalm 147:5

The Bee, Brick, Wall & The Honey

Are you Busy as a Bee?

When someone asks you to help with a task. Or better yet, when you volunteer to help. Why are you doing it? Will it profit you? Do you ponder the benefits for you? Being busy doesn’t always mean that you are serving others. I’ve found that it helps if I ask myself, would I want someone to do this for me? Does it really help?

The Bee-Honey-Brick-Wall-Sm

A Servants Heart

Bees are a wonderful example of a servant’s heart. All day long, Bees gather pollen, build hives and produce Honey; not just for themselves, but the entire hive, and for us. All so that the hive and their Queen will prosper and flourish. There’s never any disagreement over the proper flower to acquire pollen from. No fighting over the correct specifications of a honeycomb. And, certainly no dissention in the ranks about serving their Sovereign Queen.

Imagine the chaos if each Bee had their own agenda. “I’d rather build a seven-sided honeycomb, it would be much more stable.” “Let’s find red flowers instead of those ugly yellow things, they make me feel awkward.” “The Queen doesn’t understand the Workers; she is so haughty.” Nothing would get done and there would be NO honey.

Some say that “the Needs of the Many, outweigh the needs of the few”. Often using the synchronization of a Bee Hive or an Ant colony to justify the merits of a collective society like socialism. History has shown socialism doesn’t work. Sadly, in a true socialist system there is no thought for the individual. The “many”, set all the rules tasks and goals. Considering only the needs of the many, and not the individual, breeds discontent throughout. All the sacrifice falls on the shoulders of the individual; while all the benefits seem to only find their way to the leaders.

Inevitably, a greedy leader, with their minions, circumvent the system and seize control. Flipping the benevolent intent on its head. Resulting in “The Few benefiting (greatly), from the Many”. If so, why doesn’t the same thing happen in the Beehive, or the Ant Colony?

By design, individual Bees and Ants have a Servant’s Heart. By treating every individual as they want to be treated, the collective, takes care of itself. Every individual is taken care of; gone are all thought of self, and the perceived rewards of serving oneself. Instead, each Bee or Ant, treating every other individual as they want to be treated, the community thrives! They all get Honey, and so do we.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” ROMANS 12:10

Brick by Brick

Back in the sixties, there was a young teenage boy in London, struggling to learn to play the guitar. At thirteen, he so wanted to be the next rock star like his idols in the United States. Every day he would practice on an old guitar that his Grandparents gave him. Oft times in front of a mirror, guitar in hand, thinking of that inevitable performance. If he could just capture the style of Scotty Moore, Elvis’ guitar player, or traverse the wonderful melodies and lyrics of Robert Johnson. Still, playing the songs from start to finish; without error, never happened. An extreme perfectionist; soon the young guitar player gave up. His dreams of grandeur crushed. Putting the guitar in the corner of his room and taking a job as a bricklayer. His loving Grandfather was a Master Bricklayer and had accepted the young teen as his new Apprentice.

Day after day, the young teen worked laying bricks, dutifully following his Grandad’s direction. Still, after a long day of building a wall, brick by brick, frustration would dribble in. Albeit, in the form of self-criticism from a perfectionist. The walls built by the teen were awkward, and misaligned. Not the precise, symmetrical walls built by Grandad. On the verge of giving up; again, the boy tearfully explained to his Grandfather the frustration with the walls, and how they were not the grand pieces of art he had envisioned while building them.

The master bricklayer, speaking as a loving Grandfather simply said… “Focus on the Brick, and the Wall will take care of itself.” With that, the boy began to build a new wall. Brick by Brick. Showering every drop of knowledge, love and care into each individual brick. Paying close attention to every detail, one brick at a time. The teen was soon amazed at the beauty of the walls he built.

After a few weeks of his new-found focus. One day, the teen was laying bricks when thoughts of that guitar in the corner of his room came rushing in. “That’s It!”, he yelled. “Focus on the Brick, and the Wall will take care of itself!”. He couldn’t wait to get home and focus on the notes, not the songs.

At the ripe old age of seventeen, this apprentice bricklayer, young Eric Clapton joined a rock band. And the rest, like they say, is History. Much like the bees and ants, Eric, focusing on the specific notes, the songs would take care of themselves.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

When we approach anything in life with a singular focus on us. That’s when the problems begin. Frustration, disappointment, envy, low self-worth and dissention. They are all born in our desires to please ourselves, to ensure that we FEEL good, and that others applaud our accomplishments.

With a Servant’s Heart, focused on loving others, we will find absolute joy. Gone are individuals vying for position and grandeur. Instead, by focusing on other’s needs, all are served.

Always remember God knows your heart; your motivation is crystal clear to Him. No matter how much you clarify and justify your actions. Be true to your heart, or as William Shakespeare wrote, “To Thine Own Self Be True”.

jesus-humility.png

When asked what the two greatest commandments were, Jesus responded “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27. He didn’t say Love yourself above all others.
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45


For those that might not know, Eric Clapton accepted Christ Jesus as his Lord and Savior in 1987 while in rehab, a devout Christian every since. While he had a tumultuous life early on, filled with Drugs and Alcohol; including several tirades of vitriol, hatred and racism. Since 1987, he is forgiven, and has been a servant to others, continuing to play one note at a time.clapton

“I had found a place to turn to… From that day until this, I have never failed to pray in the morning, on my knees, asking for help, and at night, to express gratitude for my life and, most of all, for my sobriety. I choose to kneel because I feel I need to humble myself when I pray, and with my ego, this is the most I can do.” Eric Clapton

Here’s a wonderful song from Eric about lifting each other up.

Help Me Up, by Eric Clapton

Please “Click” on the Link Below to Listen:

Puzzled?

Don’t Questions Drive You Crazy?

Sadly, our world has learned to answer almost everything with a question.

In my (too) many years in cooperate life, I can’t begin to tell you how many times during seminar after seminar, I was taught to NOT answer a question directly. Instead, the “rule of thumb” was to answer a question with a question. We all experience it every day; What makes you think that?”, “What does that mean to you?” or the obligatory “Why do you ask?”. Perfectly crafted responses to open the conversation up by not being answerable by a simple yes or no. More importantly, purposely asked to give time to gather thoughts for the unavoidable response. Is that manipulation or just smart? How does that make you feel?

puzzled

Eventually, it seems that the practice of “question everything” seeps into our sub-conscience thinking and we question every step and action of our life.

If you’re like me, all the questions spinning around in my head are perplexing. So much so, it seems that my thought process is more akin to a Sherlock Holmes mystery, than a straightforward path through life. If life is truly the culmination of all of choices made in life. Aren’t the decisions made everyday extremely important and impactful? Yes!

One of my favorite lessons during my corporate years was when I learned that the people who ran businesses were sometimes driven by a separate set of rules. In my experience, the bulk of people working in middle-management of those corporations were motivated by similar things. Make ME look good, make MY job easier or make ME more money. The leaders, or at least the successful ones, were motivated to “reduce costs” and “streamline efficiencies”. On the surface, both practices seem cold and calculated. Ultimately, they were all about the people working for the corporation. Two simple practices that would grow the company, providing better wages, more jobs and improving the lives or their employees.

I oft watched as the CEO’s, Presidents and leaders, of some very large corporations, concentrated on only those two questions for anything that would cross their desk. Simultaneously, the throngs of their middle-managers scurried around asking question after question, thinking they were in control, and ALL powerful. So many times, I would hear the leaders ask, “Why can’t my team get focused?”. Through it all I learned that questions can be necessary, and often a requirement for understanding. However, for the most part, too many (vague) questions create chaos and confusion. Thankfully, I was blessed to work with several very decisive leaders that were not bogged down by questions.

Think of being decisive in your life. Why do you think most of us aren’t very decisive? Oh, there I go again with the questions…

Basically, I believe it is very similar to those leaders and their managers. Most middle-managers I’ve had the pleasure to work with were SO busy, their world was a whirlwind. Being busy made them feel like they were accomplishing a lot. It always seemed to me that their entire corporate life was to create more questions. If you ponder that thought, you’ll quickly see that it was all about SELF preservation.

On the other hand, the successful CEO’s, Presidents and leaders that I knew, were pretty laid back, calm and stress free. Their days were filled with questions as well. Albeit, truly impactful. Each response carried the weight of responsibility for the lives and well being of thousands. So how could those leaders maintain that laid back, calm and stress-free lifestyle? Focus.

Having presented a lot of questions to these leaders, I soon saw a trend. For every query, they would simply distill their decisions down to the two simple questions. Will this “reduce costs” or “streamline efficiencies”? If the answer was no. The consideration was over. If the answer to either question was yes. The answer of how they would accomplish one of the two points would light the path for the next steps.

Recently, my wife and I have been faced with some major life changing decisions. Something, quite frankly, we haven’t experienced for a while. The choices we make will impact others, and will set new paths in our lives. Like any major decision in life, all the questions pop up, one after another. Most are about the unknown. “What if… This and That?” Uncertainty of the future can be daunting.

We both have been taking our concerns to God through prayer. Practically non-stop. This morning, I woke up before the sunrise, tossing and turning. Waking up, there was a single word burned into my morning consciousness. Something I have come to know as God’s answer to prayer. The word? “Puzzled?”.

There I was, no Sunshine breaking through, toasty under my covers, on a brisk 40°+ morning. I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Yet, all I could think about was PUZZLED? Sleep was just not happening. At the same time, there was a song running through my head that I couldn’t stop. Usually, I can hit the “next” button on the playlist in my head and change songs instantly. Not today!

Then, understanding that God does have a sense of humor, I started thinking how much this was like a frigid Iowa School day, when Mom would work to roust me out of bed. There I was anticipating the “Divine Chuckle” that usually accompanied the prodding for me to get up. Then it hit me. The word and the Song! “Puzzled?” followed by the name of the song… “Love is the Answer”. “Ha! You’re funny” I acclaimed as I reluctantly rolled out of bed and found my keyboard.

I had my focus. Just like those CEO’s and leaders, God gave me the focus to distill all the questions that my wife and I were facing.

As every question pops up, the answer needs to either proclaim our love for God. Or, spread God’s love to others. Simple. Every question that can’t be resolved through Love, are no longer considered. Hallelujah!


“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” -2 Timothy 1:7


Puzzled + Love = Answers

“Love is the Answer” by Rumor
PLEASE CLICK BELOW to Listen: