The Deeper Cuts

Tonight is graduation for most of the high schools in our area. It’s a big deal everywhere but nowhere is it as big of deal as in Hawaii.

Traffic snarls around graduation time as lei and balloon encumbered parents, relatives and friends jockey for parking spaces and then make their way to the local football fields for the ceremony.

Those fortunate enough to have scored a ticket get to hang out in the bleachers for the proceedings while outside the fence the crowd of well wishers swells waiting for the security to allow them on to the field.

By the end of the evening every graduate will be smothered in leis, often stacked so high that they can barely see.

It is the big event that every family member celebrates. Well, almost every family member.

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A New Word for an Old Idea

Words change.

They become archaic. They change meaning. They lose the power to describe what they originally were used for.

Words evolve.

At one time the highest form of love was called “charity” (Check out a 1611 version of 1 Corinthians 13)

In genuine acts, people showing this kind of love, often gave money, time and energy to those who could not pay them back. So much so that eventually the meaning of charity morphed into a synonym for aid assistance and compassionate giving and not the sweeping all-inclusive God-type love which it was originally used to mean.

Words can be high jacked.

Saying a person is “young and gay” does not carry the same meaning it did a hundred years ago. Nobody I know of uses that word to describe being carefree or joyous. The word is dead to its original use.

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That Important...but Invisible Line

A good friend of mine is the top dog in an outfit that does incredibly good things for the poor wo try to survive in the dusty folds just across our borders. He lives very modestly and drives a used four-wheel drive SUV as is apt for a mission ministry that survives off of the generosity and sacrifice of others.

A life long bachelor, he has given his years to God’s service and the needs of the poor, and as such, has deeply inspired many. So much so that one day a wealthy supporter pulled him aside and handed him the keys to fancy sports car.

“This is for you” he said, “If anyone deserves it, you do”.

For several months my friend drove this gift around, marveling at its speed, handling and luxury.

But the whole time there was a queasy feeling in his gut.

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The Night We Lost Our Marbles

For a good number of my younger years I spent Christmas Eve in the chilly backwater parts of Tijuana, Mexico.

I was part of a group of young people who volunteered to bring Christmas joy to a group of disheveled kids at a dirt-poor orphanage. (Note: as in many countries, an orphanage is simply a term for the place you stick unwanted kids, few there were true orphans.)

We lived a mere twenty minutes from the border so it was easy to pack up a fine Christmas dinner of hot dogs, chips and cold sodas (a treat these kids never got tired of) and get to the orphanage while the dogs were still hot.

Of course we would also load our vans with sacks of donated gifts and as we buzzed through the tourist zone of Tijuana we would snatch a huge piñata and pack it with goodies while bouncing on the rough dirt roads that webbed the back hills.

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Latter Day Uneasiness

Let me just put it out there and take the wacks for being intolerant; I would be very uneasy having a devout Mormon in the Oval office.

Watching the political wrangling of the pachyderm party and the various missteps of those hopefuls for nomination to lead the nation, it is quite obvious that the “religious affiliation” question is a minefield not to be crossed.

So let me attempt to bravely venture out where one is forbidden to go and explain my queasiness.

Some religions are nutty.

Scientology comes to mind as a loopy scam. 

Some religions are deceptive, cloaking their real ideas and agenda in the guise and language of an already accepted faith.

The Gnostics were pretty good at this as I recall. 

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He Makes You Matter

You may think that you don’t much matter.

Few know you.

Few would miss you if you were gone.

Your talents are minimal.

Your funds are limited.

Your skills are pedestrian.

And in the big picture you are probably right. The world will go on just fine without you. Your absence will not make the lights dim or the earth slow its revolution.

Within half a century you will be absolutely forgotten and photos of you merely a curiosity.

This is true for every kind of human being with the exception of one: the one who Christ lives in.

He makes your small seemingly insignificant act of love or kindness an eternal milestone for someone.

He keeps your prayers forever. Selah (Pause, and think about this)

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The Call

Christians often have ideas and concepts that are rarely taught directly but come to us sideways, as a flavoring, a set of coded words or subtle suggestions.

I recall stumbling upon one of these slightly buried concepts not too long after becoming a believer in the middle of my High School years. I suppose it stands out strongly after all these years because it dealt with a subject that is usually very important to a young student; career choices.

From conversations and the way things were worded it became obvious to me as a young believer that among all the possible occupations “permissible” for a Christian (those such as becoming a professional hit man not making the list) the decision to do fulltime work as a minister or missionary was considered to have a unique and hallowed place among all other occupations.

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Much Ado About Nothing

It seems to me that atheists are becoming exceedingly shrill. Perhaps the swing towards a materialistic, deity-free culture has empowered them to come out of the shadows and boldly proclaim their belief in nothing and no one besides their own wisdom.

To be honest, atheists have never bothered me too much. I reserve my ammo for the “functional atheists”, those who give lip service to God but act in their everyday lives as if He is not the prime factor.

But apparently I, and those of my ilk, really bother them. We constantly annoy them by bringing up the “G” word and they fire back with odd fervor for a group who are so insistent on this entity being imaginary. They seem to lurk in the comment section of the Internet, mocking, insulting and foisting their half-baked intellectualism and Darwinian intellectual superiority upon those of us hayseeds who are so naïve as to even contemplate a Creator. They cause a ruckus in their attempt to sanitize any cultural, social, educational or political realm of the hint of this deity.

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The Dismantling of Culture

I may be the perfect candidate to muse on the dismantling of culture primarily because I am so culturally compromised.

Ethnically I am 100% German with roots so close to the old country that my mother spoke German as her first language.

But as she came to age during the dawning of World War 2 she abandoned all vestiges of Teutonic culture she was raised with, including ever speaking her native tongue again, enlisted in the military and ended up in San Diego for the rest of her life.

On my father’s side I had a great uncle who fought with the American doughboys in the trenches of the First World War and was gassed. (I met him only once but still remember his odd warbled voice that came from ruined vocal chords due to mustard gas.) In addition I had another great uncle who fought on the German side and, from what I have been told, was shot off the deck of a primitive tank.

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A Distinctly Christian Marriage

It’s almost June, the month where Bridal magazines fly off the shelf and thousands will show up on our shores, a few friends in tow to have their long dreamed of wedding on the beach in.

I could make a lot of money just by performing wedding ceremonies for these people. After all, I live near the major tourist destination on Kauai and the inherent romantic beauty of the place begs to be enfolded into vows.

In fact, in the twenty years I have been performing weddings (that, I ask no fee for I might add) I have only done two inside of a church building, all the rest were on the beach or in some lush outside location.

To get into the economic gush all I would need to do is to make sure that I was on the list of the hotels and wedding planners, set a “price of paradise” going rate and ba-boom! my kid’s college tuitions would be paid for.

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Rick is a writer and illustrator who serves as teaching pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship. He lives with his wife, kids, a weenie dog and a quiver of surfboards in Poipu, Hawaii.

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