Over the weekend we attended a Crawfish Boil at the T&S Plantation (ok...Brewington home) in Roswell, GA. Featured items included trucked-in live crawfish along with their friend Chad to cook them up right as well as plenty of other tasty food, live music, good conversation, candles and a firepit after dark, laughter, beverages, kids running around, and kinship. I figure if you get any three of these together at one time it is a real good day. If you get all of these things together at one time...yep.
This land close to home was recently harvested for timber. Many of our neighbors, and my wife, are perplexed over how the beautiful forest on the drive into the community has disappeared. The change has been shocking and it is the second woods close to home that has been cleared in the last year. I am not sure how to feel.
Someone owns this land and who are we to say they can not realized a profit for the timber? Does it make a difference how the wood will be used? Did the owners do any studies to verify how removing the timber would impact the local environment? When I see newly timbered land I often think the workers could have done a better job cleaning up so the ground looks neat and tidy. Is pleasing our eye important when it comes to land management?
This field is littered with stumps, branches, and unusable debris. The loggers left several large trees that must have been too big, twisted, and perhaps the wrong kind of wood for commercial value. Now they are orphans. The giant orphans stand alone waiting for whatever happens next on this ground. The giants are shooting out the bright green leaves of spring as if to say something new is about to happen.
While driving home yesterday I looked at the field on a stormy late afternoon and took this photo. I could see beauty in the profane condition of this field. It reminded me of us. You and me.
We can be torn up, turned over, and left in unsightly condition. We can have healthy harvest in our lives, and yet we can be a complete mess. We can be rained on and the wind can rumble across every aspect of our life. Yet in the middle stands this invitation that Christ gives to a better life. The invitation that offers renewal and tells us of something bigger.
When I look at the field I am going to try think about what it can become. That will be better than lamenting the current state that exists. I'll call it hope.
How many times in church communities have you heard someone ask what translation do you use? AVS...AMP...CEV...ESV...TNT...KJV...AKJV...MSG...NASV...NIV...RSV...VOICE...? Yes, if you don't have the initials down you may not even be in the club.
Are you hipster with the latest translation out on the street? And by out on the street I mean the schooled dudes at bible study. Or maybe at Starbucks where you can be part of that cool tandem checking the discipleship box over a Mocha Coco Latte. Not that there is anything wrong with hanging at Starbucks since I like Norah Jones music, too.
Are you a purist? And no, a purist is not some guy reading from the ancient Greek and Hebrew texts. It is the fellow who believes some bearded guys in tights from England assembled the most accurate holy text 1611 years after Christ was walking the earth. The purists also seem to be the folks who pray in King James speak since that is way more holy. Thou hath to loveth that.
And oh the words, discourse and arguments over bible versions. I have a true translation, yours is flawed. Mine is accurate, yours is only a paraphrase, and by paraphrase I mean you, my friend, are living on the cusp of blasphemy.
All the time in scripture it seem Jesus said something and his followers were asking him and each other how to interpret the message. Does that get lost on us? People were sitting right...at...his...feet and were tryings to figure out what Jesus meant when he spoke. Looking at many of Jesus' responses, I would think questions are good. Very good.
When I am studying scripture I often like to look at more than one bible translation and often written commentary to try to understand the words, the meaning, and the context. Figuring out one great truth beats all the times I end of thinking it could be one thing, but then again, it could be something else.
In the end, I do not care to argue such things as which version of the bible is best. What if that person in the third world who has one bible has the wrong one? Could that really be The Deal Breaker of All Time? Give me a break. I am far more interested in me becoming the best translation. Isn't that what it is about? Us reflecting Christ? Us being transformed into the image of him?
How do I translate at loving others? How do I translate at loving people not like me? How do I translate at following Christ and becoming more like him? Do I reflect The Gospel? Do I reflect Jesus? Is the message of who I am read true and good?
What translation do I use? Jesus.
I am just being a little tongue and cheek about how excited we get in The South when snow comes our way. It's a big deal. We do not have any salt or sand stored away to help deal with ice & snow. I think we have one snow plow in the county. Its name is Wally and I think Wally has been retired since 1982.
Bullying has been in the press many times the last few years. It seems no one at any age is immune to this issue. The problem has been connected to everything from suicides, to public killings, to an NFL offensive linemen leaving his team this season due to being bullied by a teammate. I even noticed network studio analysts wearing Stomp Out Bullying lapel pins during an NFL telecast last weekend. It's an old problem that is receiving more intense focus recently.
When I was in first grade we had a class bully. His name was Jim. He was bigger, taller, and more athletic than anyone else in our class. I don't know if his behavior was learned from home or somewhere else, but over the course of that school year Jim worked his way through all the boys as the new target for his bullying activity. No one wanted to be the focus of Jim's attention, especially at recess. I was a husky kid, but we all knew that none of us could match up with Jim.
My number came up with Jim at an odd time. My dad has always loved going to watch local high school football games. When I tagged along some of us grade school kids would run off for a while during the game to the playground behind the stands. This sort of play without adult supervision was fairly safe back in those days except for an occasional bump or bruise.
One Friday night I was on that playground during a game with Jim showed up. It was the first time I had seen him at one of the high school football games. He told me that he was going to beat me to a pulp. After a bit of teasing he moved in to bring the hurt. Some how, I never knew quite how, as he closed in I managed to throw the first punch and it landed square on his nose. Suddenly Jim was a mess of blood, sweat, and tears as he when running towards the stands to find his dad.
I guess over the years I have handled bullies in similar ways. Not physically, but certainly by looking to land a punch. I tend to withdraw from the situation or I strategically throw the punch of logic, or retort, or threaten to out them or embarrass them in some fashion. Or I use words to back them down and put them in what I perceive as their place. I've not been much of bystander when others are bullied and when I have intervened I've handled it with corresponding technique. In other words, if a bully is going to apply force I have applied a different type, yet powerful force.
That was my method until the other day. A good friend & business associate and I were discussing a customer that we both have had interaction with on multiple orders. This customer is a bully. The guy seems to look for problems on orders, either real or perceived, so he can chastise, threaten, attempt to embarrass, and simply tell others how smart he is in business and how stupid the other party must be. I'll admit it makes me angry. It is not how I do business so my instincts are to simply not involve myself in those orders or look for a way to put the customer in his place. With this guy I have come to believe there is no way to have any reasonable dialog or do business in a fashion that benefits all parties.
And then during this conversation my business friend says these situations are good training for him and he intended to pray for this other guy, this bully, that evening after he returned home. What? Ohhh...that one left a mark. It stopped me in my tracks.
I've spent all of this time talking and thinking about the third way that Jesus used to deal with others. He was the master at not putting force on force, not simply withdrawing, not always figuring every situation was right or wrong...left or right....up or down. Sigh. How did I miss applying this lesson to this situation? How did I l let logic and pride block allowing myself to better understand and let my faith guide my actions? Why did it take so many years to arrive to this place?
Jesus seemed to know this sort of incremental understanding would happen often with his followers. I think of how Peter got it right...got it wrong...got it right.. and then wrong, wrong, wrong, and then Jesus says on this rock, Peter, he will build his church. Really? We can get it wrong and still experience salvation? It is fair to point out after time Peter started to get it right more often than not, but still he must have had his bad moments.
On the way home last night I prayed for both of these guys, my friend and his customer. And then I prayed next time I cross paths with a bully I handle it a little more like a Jesus guy. The bully is not responsible for that. I am. And by the grace of God I can be a better man. Just one more time figuring out how the whole third way Jesus spoke of works for the situation at hand. Thanks for the lesson, my friend.