Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Mirror of that Greater Glory

The Fountain

I took this picture awhile ago and sent it to a close friend of mine (also a professional photographer) who edited it. This is the original version below.

See the difference? What strikes me every time I look at these two photographs, is that they are exactly the same photo but one has had the touch of one who knew what he was doing. Both also have the mark of one who is inept. I compare myself to the original photo, I am a reflection of something glorious, made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), I have potential. But I am dull and out of focus (like the woman in the bottom right corner...). I desperately need a Savior, I need to be made new. I hold the promise of new life in Christ without a doubt. I have been saved from death and from my sin, a Christian since age 4, but I am far from what I ought to be.
As a saved man, I have been commanded to be perfect. Perfect....oh dear, what am I to do! Is this perfection attainable? Well yes and no. I will never be perfect in this life, but I will be perfected, slowly but painfully, until that day comes when I am called to glory. The journey to that perfection, what we call sanctification, is brought about by the Holy Spirit, the helper that Christ promises us. It is the making of a reflection more and more like what it reflects. I am becoming more like that which I am made to be. I have a long way to go too, or so I think. What startles me is that appearances are not what they seem.
Joshua Eddy, the young man who took the potential of the above photograph to its best and brightest in this world, has attained that perfection. His time being sanctified in this world was compete on May 5th, 2012 at 3:30pm in the Rogue river. I didn't think he was ready to go and I didn't want him to go either. That decision was God's decision to make though, not mine; but, I sure would have put in my two cents. "Psst, God, Josh isn't ready." But boy was he ever.
He, just like myself, was an ordinary photograph that needed to be made new. His sins were forgiven, just like mine by the same blood of the same Son of God. He, like myself, began that process of becoming like Christ at Salvation, but he was done sooner. He now reflects his Savior as he was created to, he now knows the glory of God like no one on this earth. I can't accelerate my growth rate to match his because that isn't my choice. But I must always be ready now, because no man knows when he will pass be it to damnation or perfection, one can know which, but never when. 
I am a photo, a mere reflection of my maker I am faded and dim. Sometimes I get out of focus. On that day when I will bear His righteousness before the throne of God as perfect a reflection of my Savior as is unimaginable to the human mind, for that day I must be ready. Do I reflect him to the world as best I can, or do pass myself off as "just another photograph about what I'm not sure?"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I was reading the blog of a dear friend and was convicted of my lack of desire for the things of God.
A few questions come to mind.
Do I fill my mind with the things of God? Well er.... sometimes.
What kind of an answer is that? How cheap am I? I say I'm a Christian, I believe I will go to heaven and all that stuff. How absurd that I would flirt with the world and then think that its okay or even that God is still pleased with my behavior. (Sheesh, you'd think I was smarter than that.)
Second question. Do I desire God? Well, apparently not. I want my stuff, to go my way, and have my time. I fear that I must be "living a holy life doing nothing fun." Yikes, all of this seems so silly yet so serious. What seems to be my problem? I should know better than this, right.
Third thing I have to say is that, "I am Proud." There I said it and you had better believe it baby!
So now what is my problem? Well first I am not humble. I usually won't accept that I'm wrong nor am I willing to give up having what I want. When I feel like it, I make a really good christian. So, I happen to be a great faker. What a bummer for me, I am missing out on the joy and delight of serving God for real.
Where does that put me? A stinking sinner just like the rest of us. Except for what 1 John 1:9 tells me "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." And then of course now that I'm forgiven I have to have somwhere to go.
1 John 4:7-12 "7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." There goes my freedom to have what I want.......right out the window.
So now you know

Whaddya Think

I wrote this as a school assignment, in the impersonation of a short story by Flannery O'Connor. If you know her work well you will, I hope, appreciate it, if not then you might think I'm bonkers. Bon appetite.


The Bus

Mrs. Tobin stood, with her arms akimbo, staring down the dusty road as if it were an oil painting that she was considering purchasing, at a garage sale. Her eyes were a dull grey with flecks of green. Her chiseled face, slightly gray as well, was deceptive as to the appearance of the rest of her ample form. Her cotton dress pressed against her legs in an attempt to billow in the breeze, yet there was not enough loose fabric for it to do so. She stood as she was, entranced, as a group of three figures came up the road toward her. Her brother’s wife and his two children, whom she had never met, were coming to visit.
As they advanced it became apparent that they were thin, bony, and dirty people.
‘What did he send these straw men to feed off me for,’ she wondered. ‘I hope the pigs got fed today,’ she could hear their faint, incessant squealing ‘they eat too much anyway.’
She glared at the sticks as they approached.
“Where’s your car?” She hollered, thrusting her chin out in front of her large form, making her look like a French washer woman about to be guillotined.
“Hain’t got one” yelled one of the sticks.
‘That must be the boy’ Mrs. Tobin decided. “How did you get here then?”
“We rode the bus,” said another stick, though not so loud as the first, now that they were closer.
Mrs. Tobin brought her neck back in, satisfied with this first exchange of blows. ‘That’s the girl.’ Mrs. Tobin confirmed in her mind.
“And walked!” hollered the boy. His mother glared at him.
They stopped at the gate to her lawn, staring over the white picket fence. She couldn’t decide what they looked like, tired cows, or pigs, yes that was it, tired pigs with their dirty faces and beady eyes.
Mrs. Tobin clasped her hands together and stared at them for a moment. The boy was about fifteen but looked like a five year old, with his stupid grin. His clothes were dust covered and his face had two little white dots that might have been eyes in a puddle of mud. Mrs. Tobin shifted her glance to the girl who was plain and wore a cotton dress not unlike her own, only perhaps with a little more room in it. Her hair was tangled and a dirty brown. Mrs. Tobin now shifted to look at the mother. She was met with a furious blaze. Mrs. Tobin took a step back with a cry. She quickly stifled it and began to make her speech. She had paced back and forth practicing it in her room for days now, all the while envisioning the looks that would come to their faces.
“Now,” she began “welcome to the Tobin family farm.” She stressed the Tobin part and looked at the woman as she said it.
“We are all glad you’re here, even the n------s.” She savored this phrase. “We have a special room for you all to share, with a toilet all to yourselves.” She smiled as if she were giving a small child a candy that it had never had before.
“We want you to enjoy your stay but we do expect you to share the load.”
“When do we eat?” asked the boy, letting his tongue hang out.
Mrs. Tobin glared at him briefly, but then smiled with pity and said, “We have some nice meals planned for you. You all can eat in your room whenever you want.”
Her voice rolled out the phrases with the same variation in pitch; up and down, up and down. The mother rolled her eyes.
“Well what are you standing there gaping for? Come see where you’ll be kept,” she halted, was that a mistake? Yes it must be; it was too soon for that.  “Ohh” she chuckled, “Forgive me, what was I thinking, you’ll be staying in here.” At least that was what she intended to say, she said kept. This was not how it had been rehearsed. The first time she had caught herself, this time she said nothing. She pushed open the door to her sunroom and let them pass in by her.
“If you need a hand with your bags, tell my n-----s, they’d be more than happy to help.” She paused, “Oh I forgot, this is all you brought. You don’t have a car.”
She shut the door and went up her front steps and in her front door. She collapsed on her dusty faded sofa in the living room.
“Oh it’s such a drain, all these people coming to eat off me, like swine.” She sighed. “You’d think I was carrion.” She laughed wearily. “You wouldn’t let them do that to me, would you, Bill. You wouldn’t let me starve to death with these pigs feeding off me. Taking away what’s rightfully ours. She’s not even my flesh and blood; she’s my brother’s wife!” Mrs. Tobin spoke to the ceiling, or at least it seemed that way to the mother as she walked up the steps to the house.
She was furious. She wouldn’t stand this. She wasn’t going to be treated like swine, and she wasn’t going to let herself be beholden to that woman for anything. She meant to come in and change that woman’s attitude toward her. Because it stunk, stunk like a piece of road kill that the maggots had got to, or the bus they had come over on. It all stunk, everything.
She drew a breath and marched in uninvited. She stood with her legs spread apart and her arms by her side.
“Mrs. Tobin, if I may say, you are most disgraceful in your treatment of us.” She spoke forcefully at the inert figure of Mrs. Tobin who was still breathing heavily on the dusty faded coach. Her bulk shifted at the intrusion, but she remained splayed on the sofa.
‘That is what swine like you deserve,’ Mrs. Tobin observed to herself, but she didn’t move.
“What are you going to do about it?” Plied the mother.
“Exactly what I’ve been doing,” Mrs. Tobin decided, to herself again.
“You’ve been treating us like, like swine,” the mother steamed.
“Oh, I’m glad you noticed.” Mrs. Tobin remained silent and motionless.
“We are people not animals, and what’s more were related to you.” The mother was beside herself.
“Why should I care?” Mrs. Tobin asked herself. She was becoming disinterested with this one-sided conversation that merely stated the obvious. She went back to her own world with Bill. More was said but it all went unheard.
“Oh, you don’t like your brother.” The mother began again. “Would it change how you relate to us if you knew that I’m not his wife, I’m just the mother of his children. Does that change anything?” The mother's face was a deep shade of fuchsia.
Mrs. Tobin was now completely disinterested but this last bit of information caught her attention. Slowly she sat up and faced the mother. She stared at her blankly for a split second before whispering, “No.”
Mrs. Tobin got up slowly and pushed the mother of her brother’s children out of the way. She strode out the front door with her feet barely catching her weight as she fell forward on them. She kept saying, “No.”
She kept walking, “No.” The sky was blue and it contorted itself to fit the shapes of the clouds.
“No.” She could hear the swine in their pens squealing and grunting. The ground rolled in waves into the road which, like a hungry whale, swallowed each one in its turn and waited eagerly for the next. The tree tops bent over backwards but still managed to touch the twisting blue sky. The yellow leaves began to switch places with each other and the road moved closer to her.
Mrs. Tobin continued stumbling towards the road, she could hear the faint roar of pigs as they began to muster themselves running toward her in a pack, black and ugly. They were still far off.
“No.” She said again louder, much louder.
“No.” She was shouting now at the pigs that were running toward her and at the mouth in the road that kept swallowing the ground in front of her and at the yellow leaves that were furiously switching places in a blur. She moved more quickly toward the mouth in the road, she was almost at the mouth when she heard a shout behind her and saw the mother running at her with all the hordes of swine at her back. She turned and broke into a run, the road was upon her, the roar was deafening; the pigs leapt at her throat. She dove into the mouth of the road and the roar hit her in a flash of yellow and a blast of sound.
The mother stopped running and looked up at the bus, it was the very one they had come on; she turned quickly and walked back up to the house. The sky was calm now, the leaves had stopped moving, the tree tops stood upright again, the only disturbance to the quiet was the sound of the bus backing up to drive around the object that lay in its path.

Connor McMurray, 5-12-12

Illusion of Control

I was headed for bed and began the ceremony that leads up to such an event when I heard that annoying whine of two (or perhaps four) wings humming across the air toward my head. I, being only 'unafraid' of things flying at me in public, ducked for cover. After a moment of silence I saw my tormentor land on the light (how typical) and catch his breath. Wait, do insects breathe? Anyway, reaching for a handy tool of destruction I swiped at him. He (she, it) flew through the air, this time involuntarily, to my dresser. He disappeared momentarily till I caught him moving again. This time he began flying in circles to the rhythm of and the path of the fan. How impressive! He topped this act with timing his rotations so that he could fly betwixt the blades of my ceiling fan as he circled. I was appreciative of his ability but I still not enough to want him plaguing me whilst I slept. Thus I renewed my attack only to send him buzz-buzz-buzzing behind a picture frame. Here I determined that sleep was of more value and I halted the battle for my rest. As I lay there, I reflected on the fact that I was determined to destroy the bug not because I had to, but because I could.
How often do I justify my action with a quick "just because I can." Am I some cosmic bully who sends down consternation and destruction upon those things that are under my control which displease me. There is nothing wrong with killing bugs, in my mind, but what startled me was the realization of my motives.
Am I always like this? Do I wreak havoc on people or things, or bugs, because I can get away with it? How disturbing.
I calls to mind the fat man who says "I'll eat it because I want to, not because of its nutritional value." Or the boy (I would call him a man but he does not deserve that title) who has premarital sex because he can. Or the girl who gets an abortion because its "my body." Is it just me, or do we live in a society that does things because it can, not because it needs to.
We want to believe we are in control, that we can do what we want. Our society has worked very hard to try and create the ability to make your own choices and then control the consequences.
Birth Control, artificially injected Insulin, things like Tums or Pepto Bismal because you can't control what you eat, even so much as Tylenol for that nasty hangover you gave yourself, what about energy drinks because you didn't have enough sense to go to bed on time. This is the illusion our culture has created. Do what you want and find something or someone else to deal with it.
Why do our attempts at control fall so far short? Because we were not designed to take over the running of our own lives. God wants that privilege. Not as a the "cosmic killjoy that he has been deemed by the world, but as the shepherd of his sheep. The problem is society deplores the idea of God. Because then, He is in control and we, are not. Christopher Hitchens the late atheist once said "Religion is not belief in God, it is the belief that God tells you what to do." No wonder we can't stand the idea of God. We like to have things just so. "Its my way or the highway buster." Listen for it, our culture is thick with it. Everything from art to industry. 'We want what we want an' ain't nobodeh gonna stop us.'
Is God a road block to our fun, or is there another reason that he desires to walk us through life? The chief end of man is to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever." If we are serving ourselves we completely blow off any effectiveness we have to that end. If we let God steer the ship we are fulfilling our end to the fullest because that's what brings him glory.
Who will be in charge. You? Because your life will come crashing down around you as you try and patch up from your mistakes and keep control of your consequences.
Will it be the one who made you. Who is in control whether you acknowledge Him or not.
It gets a lot bigger than squished bugs, but I know who rules my life.