Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Simple Pleasures

I took my two dogs to the dog park yesterday. It was unspeakably fun for them. Of course since they can't talk, everything they do can be described with the word "unspeakably." But they had fun nonetheless. Or is it nevertheless? Regardless, they had fun. But not "irregardless," which has an illogical negative prefix, and makes one appear to be a simpleton attempting to sound educated.

So... at the gym the other day, I noticed that they had replaced the slimy shower curtains - which I believe had been hanging there since I joined a few years ago - with new ones. What struck me was that I was genuinely happy about it. Unspeakably happy. Now, like the aforementioned canines (abovementioned? previously mentioned?), I prefer not to speak at certain times, one of which is the gym locker room. Not about football, not about the weather, not about vacations. Not about anything. Eyes forward, mouth shut.

But since I normally only notice the things that bug me, I was surprised to find happiness in such a thing. Of course I realize that "Happiness is a new shower curtain" probably doesn't need to be mass-produced on t-shirts and bumper stickers. But in the last few days, I've found myself noticing all kinds of little circumstances and things in life that do bring me happiness. There have been hundreds, but here's a few:

- A full tank of gas
- My grandaughters' smile
- My Siberian Husky's undivided attention
- A balanced checkbook
- Crossing an item off my to do list
- A finished Bible study communicated well
- A pile of interesting books from the library
- Time to read

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

On the outside, the stuff on my list may sound a bit boring to you. After all, "back in the day," much of my time was spent living the life of a Southern California metal musician. Yes, it was a lot of what you probably imagine it was. But genuine happiness? There wasn't much of it. Happiness now? A whole lot of it. No wonder, then, that Paul told us...

1Thessalonians 4:10-11 ...we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands...

If you think your life is a somewhat boring, think about the little things that make you happy.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

California On My Mind

I am frequently in awe at how many odd transitons my life went through from 1981 to 1989. I am even more amazed at how many of them had been forgotten until my 20th high school reunion brought me to California last week. Bits and pieces of memories were reconnected, forming a much more continuous chain of events in my mind, and giving me a better grasp of how each season of my life was entered.

But my thoughts this week are not so much on the past as on the present. Present-day Southern California, to be exact. What in the world has happened to my former homeland? Housing prices have literally skyrocketed, making me wonder how anybody at all can afford to own a home. The population also seems to have doubled in the 16 years since I left, cramming more cars into a traffic system not designed for such density.

But the climax of my disgust occurred when traveling southbound on Interstate 15. The traffic was thick, but moving at 70mph. Just ahead of me, I heard the squeal of tires and the sickening sound of crunching metal. Then I saw a vehicle airborne. Airborne! A pickup truck was flipping end over end, spewing metal at each impact with the center divider and the ground.

As I slowed my rental car, hit the hazard lights, and merged to the right, I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911.

A busy signal blared in my ear.

911 was busy? I hung up and redialed.

Busy again.

Four calls to 911, four busy signals. I never did get through.

And in an instant, I came to a realization: In spite of the abundance of unique retail and entertainment, in spite of the noticably reduced smog, the sunny weather, the beach, and the tempting lure of opulence, I was done. No longer did I feel like a relocated Southern Californian. Never again would I long to return to the scene of my youth. I was simply done. At no time had God's words to Aaron been more personally applied to me than at that moment:

Num. 18:20 ..."You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them..."

If you are entrenched in Southern California as you read this, let me encourage you with the Lord's command to Abram:

Gen. 12:1 ..."Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Thinking Ahead

My plan to record a CD of instrumental Christmas music is so far working wonderfully. Nine and a half of the twelve songs are down on tape (actually, on hard drive).

But as a result, I'm thinking about Christmas in October. This is kind of a flashback to my days of having jobs like t-shirt artist, advertising designer, and newspaper editor. When playing those roles, I was producing materials months ahead. (Incidentally, models do not enjoy photo shoots in the heat of summer when they're wearing sweaters and gloves.)

But much to my chagrin, this trait has not rubbed off on me personally. I simply never plan ahead. I can't think of a time standing at the airport rental car counter when I did not have to report, "No, I do not have a reservation." Rarely has the electricity gone off and there were living batteries in the flashlight. And I usually find out on Saturday night that daylight savings time has come upon us again.

Prov. 6:6-9 Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.

But what's been great is that in the course of pondering this terrible shortcoming of mine, I actually thought of several things that normally would have been forgotten until the last minute, if remembered at all. And in doing so, I acted upon them! By considering my deficiency, I improved myself!

In this age when it's not good for people's "self-esteem" to point out their faults, I wonder how we're ever going to get any better? I want to know my faults. It's how I improve.

Matt. 18:15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

Of course, don't feel obligated to tell me all of them at once...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Of Wal-Mart And Pilgrims

I spent quite a few hours with 2Peter 3 today. What awesome reminders: Christ is going to return, the earth is going to be destroyed, and a new righteous earth will be created. I can hardly wait.

I'm hoping that there will be no Wal-Mart on the new earth. This is fresh in my mind, since I spent an hour today on the property of Cheyenne's brand new "Super" Wal-Mart. The entire hour didn't consist of shopping, of course. A good percentage of it was actually taken up with attempts at finding a parking space. Not a GOOD parking space, understand... ANY parking space. It was a zoo.

A friend of mine actually calls Wal-Mart "the Cheyenne Zoo," but for a different reason. His view is that on display there is every rare species of human. The whole gene pool... and there's no lifeguard on duty. Kids are crying, Darth Vader toys are breathing heavily, Nemo is trying to find himself, and packs of adults are rummaging through gargantuan bins piled high with five dollar DVDs. Cart wheels squeak, cell phones ring. Men with three or four beers in them talk too loudly. Lord, please don't let there be Wal-Mart on the new earth! I want to forget it ever existed!

Is. 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind."

One pleasure I did experience today was reading "The Faith of the Pilgrims" by Robert Bartlett. The book does assume you have prior knowledge that you probably don't have (at least I don't), but overall it's fantastic. When I was a child, I never knew that the Pilgrims were anything other than people with belt buckles on their shoes who came over on the Mayflower to have dinner with the indians. Even piecing the story together from factoids picked up later in life didn't come close to revealing the true nature of why they traveled to the new world.

I'm really looking forward to teaching that study. But based on what I've read already, I can tell that it's gonna be lengthy, 'cause I don't want to trim out any of the information! Only the limited length of C-62 Master Cassette saves the parishoners at Calvary Chapel from being subjected to two-hour studies on a regular basis! Paul the apostle didn't have that limitation, of course. But it was killing people...

Acts 20:7,9 ...Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight ... And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.

Once the man was miraculously healed...

Acts 20:11 ...he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left.

Now THAT'S a study!