A Call to All Men

This originally came to me on my drive to work one morning in September.  I was listening to a song by Casting Crowns, entitled “Courageous.”  Here is a link to the video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

I don’t want to pick out just some of the lyrics to make my point, so I suggest you watch the video to get the greatest impact of the song.  So anyway, here is what it inspired me to write, “A Call to All Men.”

As I survey the landscape of today’s society

My heart cries from what my eyes see

So many youth, so painfully sad

Yearning to be loved by their dad

My mind wanders; ponders the location

Of the absentee fathers of this generation

The voids created by this situation

Have left us with a fatherless generation

I’m not sure how or exactly when

It became OK to abandon your children

There’s no excuse to walk out the door

Not to be seen again, forevermore

To create a life, it does take two

But once that’s done, there’s more to do

A new life is precious, a miracle to behold

A blessing from God, to love and to hold

If one parent was all that it took to start the life

God would have created no husbands, instead only wives

A family is a group; baby, mom and dad

But if one is missing, the rest are sad

If dad leaves, or was never there

They miss the special bond that only dad can share

An emptiness is felt in the child’s heart

So the journey starts to find it, but where to start?

There are countless places to look, too many to mention

To search for that love, that missing attention

Of the places they look, some are good – but many are bad

As they look to fill the hole vacated by dad

Some paths become littered with booze or drugs

When all they want is belonging, or simply a hug

But as the residue of these vices begins to blur their sight

The reality of normality becomes even more slight

Many boys find this fraternity through the bonds of a gang

Where so many lives spiral, ending with a barrel bang

Their yearning is so strong to be close to another

They will lie, cheat, and steal, just to be called “brother”

Every daughter wants to be a princess – daddy’s little girl

But in the absence of a daddy, for someone else she will twirl

Without daddy’s arms too hug her, she’ll seek someone who will

Her innocence stolen away by any male seeking only a thrill

These are only two examples of what happens when dad is gone

But sadly there are millions more, the list is extremely long

Each tear drop tells a story of the love that they have lost

Dripped into a river of pain that some can never cross

This scourge upon society has crept into my soul

As I work with children every day, who yearn to be make whole

So many faces wearing masks to hide their grief and pain

But no mask can hide a broken heart as their actions reveal their shame

This burden is not new to me; it’s been growing for some time

Truth be told, my life has shared a similar story line

Although not completely absent, I still desired more time with my dad

But my hopes and wishes were secondary to the new family he had

By the grace of God I made it through, He helped me indeed

But looking back now I can see that he planted a seed

A seed meant to sprout and grow over a very long time

Its fruit meant to feed the souls with stories similar to mine

Reflection also shows me that I was never alone

There were several dads in my life, inside and outside of my home

I called one Ord, I called some “Coach”, but some just Frank or Jim

Placed in my life by my heavenly father to be reflections of Him

They gave their time to spend with me as well as with others

To mirror to us how to be good men, how to be good sons and brothers

I wonder now, looking back, if they realized my needs

Or simply shared their gifts to help cultivate my God planted seed

I guess I’ll never know for sure of their true intentions

But lives beyond my own are now changed by their lives extensions

Extensions to teach us patience, hard work, and compassion

All of which now manifested in me to share a similar passion

So as I sit here now and scribe my thoughts onto this piece of paper

I realize that my time is now – I cannot wait till later

For as those men paid it forward, my time too has now come

To play a part, to soothe a heart, of a fatherless son

This burden is not mine alone, I’m sure as the day is long

And I already do my best to help young men to feel they truly belong

But I realize now that the burden has become a mission

To use my gifts to follow God’s plan, to lead others to this vision

Although this mission has been materializing for quite some time

It has recently become clear to me which role is truly mine

There were three very clear signs from God in a week’s time

He spoke to me through a colleague, a book, and the words of this rhyme

Although I’m not exactly sure where this will ultimately end

It’s clear to me that it’s my leadership and passion I’m to lend

Although this is only now beginning to take a more concrete form

This moment was destined to happen long before I was born

Through God’s providence I have arrived here at this precise moment

My exact location is a grand sum of my every experience and movement

He packaged my gifts and trials into a unique bundle, even before my conception

And patiently mentored me until his vision matched my perception

So now that this moment in time has arrived, I have one question to ask

Who else is hearing God’s whispers and is up to help in this task?

I know I’m not the only one, my heart tells me so

For God has given me the outline and said simply, “Just Go!”

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Ashes to ashes, Dust………….

I’m going to go back to my first post, where I talked about us all being connected (This Could Be the Start of Something Good).  If you missed that one, check it out so you know what I’m talking about.

So, anyway, as I said before, we are meant to be social creatures.  Think about it.  It actually starts at conception.  The first 40 weeks of our existence is spent inside of our mother’s womb.  We are completely dependent upon her.  There is no way of escaping this.  Then the moment comes where we are transitioned from the warm, comfortable place where we eat, sleep, where we are comforted by her heartbeat, and where we enjoy listening to her talk and sing and do whatever else she does throughout the course of her day…out into this vast, cold, scary world.

Obviously, the dependency does not stop there.  Until we are able to walk and talk and feed ourselves, we are still relying on them to help us get through our day.  We are relational creatures.  If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be able to learn how to do anything.  We learn by observing others.  Yes, there is formal education, but much of what we learn, especially the first five years or so, we are like a sponge.  Children learn from seeing what their families do.  This is especially true when it comes to verbal expression.  Children even pick up their parent’s speech patterns and dialects.  They copy what they hear.  Have you ever heard a child born in the Deep South sound like they were from the Bronx?  I never have!  Even though each of us is fighting to figure out exactly who we are, and the purpose of our life, we spend a great deal of time doing what we can do to fit in to the world around us.  We want to be independent and unique, but paradoxically, we don’t want to be so different that we become ostracized.  I see this a great deal working in the schools.  There is such a desire to belong, but very few seem to know how to accomplish this.  I would venture to say that around 90-95% of kids are obviously searching for answers.  The other 5-10% are the ones that the searchers are following.  It appears that these are our leaders.  It’s hard to explain why the others naturally follow them.  Maybe intuitively, less internal strife is detected within these leaders by the searchers.  Some leaders are obvious because they naturally place themselves there.  It is almost impossible to miss them.  But then there are the ones who haven’t quite realized their gift of leadership yet.  It takes a coach or a teacher to see something in a child and then walk beside them to help mold them.  But the true leaders seem to have it all together and figured out. Obviously this is not entirely true.  There are very few individuals who seem to intrinsically know what they want to do with their lives from the beginning and that are acutely aware of what their gifts are.

Quite honestly, we are actually connected on a level much deeper than this metaphorical example.  It is true that what we say or do does have direct bearing on others.  But we are also connected on a molecular level as well.  The term, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” is truer than most realize, or probably even considered.  There are many chemical elements that make up the composition of the human body, but the greatest concentration of them is found within six elements:  Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.  When most of us hear these words, I would venture to guess that if we were asked to tell where these elements are found, I’d say the answer would be in the ground or more simply, the earth.  We think about oxygen and nitrogen and hydrogen being in the air and in our water.  We think about phosphorus and carbon being in the ground.  Calcium is the only one I relate to our bodies right away (bones).

But the question is, is there more oxygen or nitrogen or carbon here now than when the earth was formed?  Can these elements be made now?  I don’t know the definitive answer, but from what I understand, the only way it can be done is to alter the states of these chemicals.  But to simply “make oxygen from scratch,” or carbon for that matter, it is improbable.  These elements have been here since the beginning of time.  Why have we never run out, since we can’t make more?  The simple answer is that when we die, or bodies revert back to their original states – ashes and dust!  We are either cremated or we are embalmed.  The former obviously reduces us to ashes.  The latter reduces the speed of decomposition of the body so that we can go about our tradition of viewing the bodies before entombment.  But eventually the body is reduced to a skeleton.  Everything else eventually breaks down and returns to dust…ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

So, I’m sure some of you are wondering where I have veered off to.  My point here is simple.  In God’s economy, nothing is wasted.  The oxygen we breathe today has been here forever.  It has been breathed in and out by who knows how many people.  The carbon in my body was once a part of someone else before me.  It’s hard to imagine how many times the water I drank this morning has been consumed before today.  Most of us don’t realize it, but it’s true.  Who knows…the chemicals in my body may have been a part of a tree before, or a lion, or a cloud!  I’ll never know for sure, but it’s plausible!

This is a good point to take a break and let you ponder what I have written so far.  Check back soon for the second part…

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven…

Last Friday evening while I was out with one of the boys that I work with, I started thinking about names for a blog.  I didn’t come up with anything firm right then, but as I often do when I have something in my life that is going on and I’m not exactly sure what to do or which direction to go, I pick up my Bible and let God speak to me through his words.  As we were “out and about,” I didn’t have one with me, but I did have my phone, so I went to Biblegateway.com.  I went to the page that lists the books in the Bible.  I moved the screen up and down and just put my finger down and ended up in the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter five.  I also flipped through other chapters, and I came across several verses that seemed to catch my eye.  In the interest of brevity, I’m not going to go into detail right now, but I’m supplying links to them if you want to read them.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes%205:%2018-20&version=NLT

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes%203:9-17&version=NLT

On my way home, the phrase, “this place in time” entered my head.  When I got home I Googled it, but it didn’t really come up with anything, so I added “Bible verse” to the search.  Guess what came up…Ecclesiastes 3:1.  Hmm…I’m seeing an obvious pattern here!  Many know these words because The Byrds sang them in “Turn, Turn, Turn.”  You know, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven.”  Here is the link…http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes%203&version=NLT

I have heard this song and scripture many times, but this time it really spoke to me.  Obviously, there is a “right” time for everything.  Being a Christian, I do believe this, and the longer I live, I can see how true this is, especially pertaining to my life.  My thinking is that I am being told that the timing is now right for me to take a go at this writing stuff

As I told my wife about what I was thinking about, and I read some verses to her, particularly, chapter two.  Verses 9 thru 11 read,So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”

As I read those two verses, three words jumped out at me….chasing the wind.  I told her, “That’s going to be the name of my blog!  Why?  We live our lives, going about our business, but for what?  Why are we here?  What are we doing?  Here, Solomon is saying that he had absolutely everything he could desire, but still was searching for something else.  He deprived himself of nothing.  But he still found himself wondering what made him happy.  We have all asked the same question.  So, what did Solomon finally figure out?  He said, “Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.”  Here is the whole text…http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes%202:24-26&version=NLT  But look what is at the end of that verse.  We see “chasing the wind” again.  As a matter of fact, I found that that phrase nine times throughout chapters one through six.  Yes, this phrase was jumping off the page at me!

Throughout our lives, we are all chasing the wind at some point or another, some of us more than others.  Today we call it “the daily grind.”  We are on a constant search to find contentment in and meaning for our lives.   Are we ever completely happy?  I don’t know about you but my answer would be no.  I don’t think any of us are totally satisfied with whatever we have or what we do.  God tells us that he is everything that we need, but for some reason, we continue to chase the wind.  Even Solomon, who admittedly “had it all,” was the same way.  But he finally figured it out.  I’m not sure what his life was like after his epiphany, but we should look at him and try to learn from what he did.

So, within a couple hours, a couple different things happen to land me in the book of Ecclesiastes.  I had something happen a few years ago where I ended up there too.  I don’t know if there is any correlation, but this is what happened.

While participating in a prayer vigil, I did my best to open myself up to whatever God wanted me to know.  I tried to empty my mind to let him speak to me.  I don’t remember exactly how far into it I was, but all of a sudden, very clearly I saw a capital E in my mind, then I saw the number 12.  I was so struck by this that I immediately went and grabbed a Bible and leafed through it.  I ended up in chapter three of Ecclesiastes.  In my mind, one plus two equaled three, so I went with that.  A few days later during Sunday school, one of the kids happened to bring up these verses in chapter three, so in my mind once again, this was validation for me, despite the fact I still didn’t know for sure why it was being presented to me.  So, did that have anything to do with now?  It’s hard to know for sure, but it is interesting that a majority of what I talked about here came from chapters one and two.  It really makes me wonder!  I’ve heard many times that God works in mysterious ways.  I’m not so sure that mysterious is the best description.  As I allow myself to be more open to him, I find instances like this happening more frequently.  God talks to us so much, but how often are we really listening?  We are usually chasing the wind.  We should stop chasing it and start listening to it.

We will venture more into God talking to us next time 🙂

This Could Be the Start of Something Good :)

The title of the first entry of this blog is actually the name of a song by the band, Daughtry.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the band, it is fronted by former American Idol contestant, Chris Daughtry.  What you will read next is actually the chorus from that song.  The chorus goes as follows…

I know it’s gonna take some time

But I’ve got to admit that the thought has crossed my mind

This might end up like it should

I’m gonna say what I need to say

And hope to God that it don’t scare you away

Don’t want to be misunderstood

But I’m starting to beleive that

This could be the start of something good.

If you listen to the rest of the lyrics, it is obvious that the song has to do with the beginning of a relationship.  Even though the song has nothing to do with blogging, I do feel as if it really says what needs to be said.  It gives you a bit of a peek into my mind and how I feel about what I’m about to venture into.

I’m going to be completely honest with you all.  I’m not exactly sure why I have decided to throw my thoughts into cyberspace for others to read and ponder.  But I do feel as if there is a vaIid reason for it.  I wouldn’t really say that I feel like this is a calling, but I do feel as if there is something that is leading me into this.  It is particularly odd, as I am not what I would call an avid, or even a consistent blog reader.  I have read very few of them.  However, for a little while I have been considering taking this on.  I know a couple people who do it, so I guess it makes some sense to me.  I don’t really think it has as much to do with the format as much as it is in my desire to write.  I do really enjoy writing, but I don’t get much of a chance to do so.  I have been keeping a journal for about eight years now, but I am very inconsistent with it.  It is very typical for me to go six to nine months without writing a word in it.  So, obviously, I’m not being very efficient.  Over the past month or so, I have had a greater desire than normal to write again.  I did get my journal out a couple weeks ago and updated it, but haven’t written in it since.

This is similar to a few years ago when I started (for no reasonable explanation) to try to write songs, despite the fact that I had no experience at all.  A majority of the stuff ended up being poems.  But during that time, I had stuff coming to me out of nowhere.  To this day, I’m still not quite sure why all those words kept coming, but I’m sure there is some reason.  There were times where I literally had to stop what I was doing to write things down.  Most of what I write will start out by me hearing something in a song or an interview, and my mind just takes off from there, and before I know it, I am half way done.  Obviously it is coming out of my brain, but I get the impression that the lion’s share of it most likely has nothing to do with me, but maybe it will speak to someone who reads it.  Some of my poems have actually brought people to tears, so obviously there is some meaning to what has been given to me to communicate.

When I first started journaling, it was more or less a way for me to document what was happening to me in my spiritual journey, much of which that was new to me at that time.  I’m not sure that what I was writing was particularly meant for others to read, but I continued to write, none the less.  I do, however, believe that the poetry was meant for others.  I have shared some of it, but not all of it.  But what has been bouncing around in my mind recently is undoubtedly meant to get out to others.  Much of what I experience these days I believe can help others in some form or another.  I see a great deal of consistency in a vast majority of the kids I work with, and I think as I learn more about them and the things they struggle with, I feel that my insight will have some meaning somehow.  Some of it is medical, some of it is social, but much of it is simply random musings.

Even though I feel like I’m randomly starting this, over the past couple days there does seem to be a bit of a theme that is surfacing.  It really hit me as I was watching television the other night with my family that we had recorded on DVR.  There is a new series on Fox that is called Touch.  It stars Kiefer Southerland, and he plays a widower who is trying to raise a son on his own.  The problem is that his son has never spoken to him, but the boy is consumed with numbers.  As it is explained in the show, he sees patterns in the numbers that others can’t.  Sutherland’s character has recently realized that his son wants to use him to help others out.  In one way or another, the boy gives a series of numbers to him, and somehow he is supposed to figure out what to do.

As in any show, there is more than one story line going on throughout the program.  Obviously, part of it has to do with the man and his son, but there are other stories woven into the fabric  of the show.  Touch storylines typically show people in other countries along with ones in the US.  Obviously, at first glance, it would seem like the people in these foreign lands would have nothing to do with the main characters, but every time, somehow, all the stories in the program share either a common or very similar end point.

Here is where I feel like I come in.  The older I get, the more obvious it becomes to me that our lives are not really our own.  Everything we do or say affects someone else, no matter how insignificant or extraordinary it may seem at the time.  We are bound together, whether we realize it or not.  Some of us more so than others, but we are not islands unto ourselves.  Humans are meant to be social creatures.  Some are better at it than others, but in the long run, we simply can’t make it through all life throws at us by ourselves.  Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we all will need the help of another person in some form or fashion.

Now that I have all of this out on the table, I will stop for now.  My next entry will go into more depth, and I will explain in more detail why I feel like sharing my thoughts in cyber land is important (well, in my own mind, at least).  I’m also hoping that I have “whet your whistle” enough to want to come back and read more.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and take a look!