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October 17th- The Wounding Voice

“"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

Allow me to cite for you the report card for the 15-year old John Gurdon.

 

“It has been a disastrous half. His work has been far from satisfactory. His prepared stuff has been badly learnt, and several of his test pieces have been torn over; one of such pieces of prepared work scored 2 marks out of a possible 50. His other work has been equally bad, and several times he has been in trouble, because he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work his own way.

 

Gurdon

I believe he has ideas about becoming a Scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous, if he can't learn simple Biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a Specialist, and it would be sheer waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him.”

 

Ouch. Oh, you don't know who John Gurdon is? Well, John Gurdon has won the Nobel prize for his work in biology.

 

It has been sixty-four years since Gurdon received that report card, and it sits, framed, above his desk at work. Coincidentally, his office is in a research building named in his honor.

 

There is a lot that could said about this story, and much that should be said. However, to me, what stands out is how deeply wounded Gurdon was by the comments.

 

All of us, like it or not, have had voices enter our lives that have left such scars. It could have been a teacher. It could have been a coach. Saddest of all, it could have been a parent.

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October 14th-- My Theory On Marriage

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

 

I have a new theory on marriage, and I think it is a good one.

 

marriage

Marriages go badly when we run out of grace. What does that mean? Let me explain.

Everyone runs on grace, it is our fuel. For grace means “loving kindness” and it is the substance that gives us the power to make it through life. And, this loving kindness is stored in our grace tank.

 

Life works when our grace tank is full. However, we often get the grace drained out of us, and if we don't refill, life doesn't work. And this has huge implications for marriage. Let me explain.

Anyone who has ever been married has a list of complaints. It is a list about the imperfections of their spouse. And, when a marriage is struggling, it is this list that looms large.

  1. I'm so tired of how irresponsible he/she is.

  2. I can't stand it when he/she is selfish.

  3. He/she never listens.

  4. Etc., etc., etc.

Every point on this list may be absolutely true, and justifiably frustrating. But, here's the catch. Hasn't your spouse always been like this? Weren't they like this even when you were dating?

 

In truth, they haven't changed, which is disappointing. But, in the beginning, you were once able to overlook it. And, during the good times, you haven't minded being patient with those same issues. So what has happened?

 

What has happened is grace; or, more appropriately, a lack of it. When you were first in love, your grace tank was overflowing, so their issues, which really were there, didn't bother you. And, during the good times, when you again overlooked their issues, the truth was that your grace tank was filled.

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October 7th- You Can Call Me Al

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25)

 

When I was a kid, I watched way, way, way too much television. And, it included hours of MTV and VH1. If there was a music video, I had seen it. Madonna, Hall and Oats, Huey Lewis and the News, Peter Gabriel, and Tom Petty, I knew them all. But one of my favorite songs was by a middle-aged folk singer who had made it big in the 1960's with his former partner, Art Garfunkel.

 

Call Me Al

Paul Simon returned to the top of the charts in the 1980's due in large part to his album Graceland and the song You Can Call Me Al. I loved that song. Back in the day, I knew every word. (And, I can still see Chevy Chase stealing the show in the music video, recklessly playing his trumpet.)

 

Fast forward twenty-five years. One day, I was browsing the CDs at Goodwill when I found some Paul Simon. The album included my old favorite You Can Call Me Al and so I picked it up.

 

The first time I played it, I still remembered the words. But, something was different. Suddenly, the words, which had been utterly meaningless to me as a teenager, began to make sense.

 

“Why am I soft in the middle, the rest of my life is so hard. I want a photo-opportunity. I want to shout redemption. I don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.”

 

It is a song about being middle-aged. And it took being middle-aged for it to take on meaning. I've thought of that song often lately, amidst the struggles and responsibilities of my late-thirties.

 

Fast forward to last weekend.

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October 9th- I Hate Church

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:25)

 

I have a confession to make. And, given my profession, it is quite a juicy one.

 

I hate going to church. Not a little bit, a lot.

 

Now, I won't go into the reasons for my disdain; they aren't important anyway. The point is simply that I don't like it, and I don't think I'm alone.

 

church

Countless times throughout my life, I've heard people say things like, “I don't need to go to church to be a Christian,” or “I feel closer to God just having my own private 'church-time' on Sundays.”

 

And, believe me, I understand what they are trying to say, and can empathize with their true underlying motive. But, the truth is, these well meaning folks are simply wrong.

 

C.S. Lewis was onced asked the question, “Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?”

 

I love his answer.

 

“My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn't go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that this meant being a target....

If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can't do it without going to Church. I dislike very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it.

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October 3rd- A Hero

“since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Romans 2:15)

 

Wesley Autrey is a hero.

 

It happened on January 2, 2007. As Autrey and his two daughters waited for the Subway, a nearby man, Cameron Hollopeter, suffered a seizure. Cara Buckley of The New York Times tells the story.Autrey

“Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.

 

Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.

 

The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. 'I had to make a split decision,' Mr. Autrey said.

 

So he made one, and leapt.

 

Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The train’s brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time.

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