Today’s influences…

Psalms 32:10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.

God help us! Help us lose our minds!
Talking Heads, Slippery People

I read a chapter a day from Proverbs, for 3 reasons… first, I was given this idea by Sam, the pastor at First Baptist of Southside, where I am leaning towards as a home church. The second reason is linked to the first, that is Sam mentioned there are 31 Proverbs, which is enough for one a day for any month.

The third reason is because my grandfather, George Hawkins, who is one of my heroes, spoke very highly of Proverbs as one of the great sources of wisdom. I wish I knew what his others were, as he was very wise.

With that, here’s another influence on me today:

Proverbs 30:

29 There be three things which go well,
yea, four are comely in going:
30 a lion, which is strongest among beasts,
and turneth not away for any;
31 a greyhound; a he goat also;
and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

Stopping here to remind you of a William Blake line I quoted the other day, “The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the Lion.”

Then,

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself,
or if thou hast thought evil,
lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

In other words, its never too late to shut my mouth.

And finally,

33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter,
and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood:
so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

In other words, “don’t start no stuff, there won’t be no stuff.”

And the last one of the day reflects the soft subtle nature of the Tao (or God’s Will, or The Way) and the mixed blessing / curse of free will. (see existentialism or this conversation with my cousin for more) of life, and more importantly, the free will that God gives us to choose our own path.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 51 (excerpt, not the whole thing):

Thus, the Tao gives life to all things;
and its Virtue raises them, nourishes them,
brings them to their full growth,
feeds, shelters, and protects them.

Giving life without claiming authority,
benefiting without demanding gratitude,
guiding without control.
This is called hidden Virtue.

Diary warning – may find boring unless you know me

First, how’s work going? Thanks for asking! I’m settling into my new position, doing a sort of sales / business development thing for an advertising company. Their sales numbers are way down, so I’m there to help drive them up with a slightly new approach.

I’m also working on a distribution project… its a ‘turnaround project’ – meaning that this particular program is on the slide big time and I’ve been given the challenge of turning around the numbers. Again, I am trying a totally new approach… high-risk, high-reward. I’m the last chance before they fold the deal and take the loss… so its worth a high-risk effort.

I am also in the planning stages of launching 2 new programs… in two different states. Very similar to what’s being done, but a different group of customers. In other words, basically the same product in 2 new markets. Not, thank goodness, simultaneously.

Ok, on top of that, I am very glad to say that I’m in very preliminary discussions with someone I worked for a little over a year ago, in the Defense Industry (yeah, back home finally)… This job would start out as a part-time thing, because its telecommuting, and hopefully grow as I get settled in and move through these other projects.

The key to all this work is that I’m pacing myself with extreme prejudice. I’ve been known in the past to take on way too much and burn myself out. But I have a nifty project planner that I use for all of them, and I’ve learned to be much more reasonable about how much time I can work in a week (from much trial and error)…

That’s the easy stuff…

As for my life, right now I’m going through a very intense period of change involving a couple of relationships very close to me. Part of me is sad, but part of me is covered in a peace that passes my understanding.

Today was a difficult one, for a very BIG reason, but I’m going to be elusive right now because this is such a public forum. I’m going to let the dust clear a little before I get into the details.

I am thinking about branching this blog into 2… one for personal and one for stuff that relates to my profession, my interests, and things I’ve learned too much about…

Ok, I’m bored with this so it I’m shutting it down. Beautiful day.

About 2 years ago I made a commitment to life. And let me start by saying that there’s a reason why people say “no one, and nothing, ever changes”… That’s because a lot people probably get discouraged and quit trying.

In addition to that, a lot of people probably get discouraged because they internalize other peoples’ disappointment when they do mess up.

But I have learned that people project their disappointment onto me and others that are actively trying to change. Deep down, everyone has something they want to change – bad habits, weight, behavior towards others – but they don’t try.

Or maybe they try but give up. Or maybe they’ve tried, given up, and become so bitter about it that they believe no one can. So when I slip, its not only further “I told you so” for them, but its putting pressure on an old wound they have from disappointing themselves.

Then there’s the final discouragement – those that either refuse to see their problems, or minimize their problems and compare them to yours… then try to tell you how to fix yours, while never even touching theirs.

Scapegoat… make me the scapegoat, so you feel better about your screw-ups… close your eyes to your problems and heap mine like coal on my head. Forget about the 1000 good things I do, and focus on the one bad.

And hate me for it.

Am I excusing myself? No, but neither should you. At least I’m trying, sincerely.

This is more of a rant that spun off of the last post than anything else, but I’m going to leave this one here:

So when they continued asking him, he [Jesus] lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. John 8:7

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 RSV)

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:13-14

And, finally, for me, to remind myself that I’m holding a grudge, and to forgive these people:

“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – This is the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:10-14 (a little different, and heavier, than the one we usually hear…)

To write love on her arms… a double-minded man… and 3 in 10…

Well, life is changing in a huge way, dramatically, quickly, and after much thought and prayer, for the better – at least in the near term.

But this post is not going there… its going to go in three different directions, and there’s really no seg-way between them that will make much sense, I don’t think.

Really, its just some things I’ve run across today… So here goes.

First, this bible verse is being branded into my brain right now…

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

God is showing me The Way in a way that is impossible to be anything else. The more faith I have, the more I see…

Ok next, this is a pretty cool name for an organization, so it got my attention. I don’t know much about them, so I’m not necessarily supporting them in anything other than principle at this moment.

But on a meta-note, this shows how, although a book may not be read by its cover, a cover can sure encourage the book to be read.

Anyway, To Write Love on Her Arms is an organization that struggles against the forces of depression, addiction, and violence (especially self-violence, such as self-injury or ‘cutting’ and suicide).

Considering the prison systems is the country’s largest mental institution, and considering the homeless and jobless problems we have are wrapped in mental illness, our country has a pathetic mental health infrastructure.

Its not that the people within the system don’t care. We don’t care enough to give them the resources they need. Why? I think its because often, by the time we see someone in full-blown mental illness.

Maybe they’re self-medicated and out of control. Maybe they’re homeless or draining people around them. Maybe they have a criminal record as a result of being poor, in need, and desperate (there are millions of Americans imprisoned on non-violent drug charges that need mental health care, not punishment).

I’m not excusing anyone. Most people, except those seriously mentally ill, know right from wrong. But the system lets people down sometimes to the point of them just not caring anymore.

Or maybe the numbers caught up with them, and they got busted carrying drugs (because often the risk of carrying drugs is worth the benefit of being medicated and stopping the roar)…

Or maybe they’re poor, and don’t have the resources to get out of trouble. Maybe, because mental illness is genetic, they’re families were poor and uneducated, and they don’t know how to develop resources.

Maybe they just don’t know their rights, as Americans, and talk themselves into trouble with a police officer doing his or her job (which they should be doing)…

And of course there are some that are just plain bad people.

But all in all, there are options we aren’t looking at; alternatives we’re not offering; resources we’re not sharing… all because by the time we see someone that’s mentally ill, they are out of control.

Early detection is critical… that’s why I like the organization I mentioned above… they seem to focus on youth, which is critical.

Anyway there’s number 2… I have much more to say but I’ll leave it there to move on to –

3 in 10

This is an excerpt from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 50:

When going off one way means living
and going off the other way means dying,
three in ten are companions of Life,
three in ten are companions of Death, and
three in ten value Life but drift toward Death.

I like the discussion about those that value life but still drift towards death:

People who are skillful in caring
for the life that has been given to them
travel abroad without fear of wild ox or tiger,
and enter a battle without concern for sharp weapons.
There is no place for the wild ox to thrust its horns,
there is no place for the tiger to put its claws,
there is no place for a weapon to lodge.

How is this so?
Because, there is no place for Death to enter in!

I think I am a former member of this group, making the switch to being a companion of life. So I think I can speak to this second quote. For a long time, I just didn’t feel much fear, or maybe I didn’t feel any fear, of Death.

I was immortal and I lived for myself. But I am slowly beginning to see that I am not here for me, I’m here for others. And I have a purpose, committing to my faith, to God, to The Way.

The Way is simple, it takes care of us, and we take care of others, who take care of us, who get taken care of by The Way… God is good.

So there’s my triple-shot… too much for one day. Gotta run.

Welcome facebook friends…

Hey if you didn’t know this was here, and now you do, welcome!

I like comments, and don’t get enough for my taste… I guess if I posted stuff that was more interesting, opinionated, or asked questions, I might get responses?

So let’s try it:

1. What about my take on Christian Taoism? Any takers on “for” or “against”? Let’s keep it friendly….
2. I am incredibly uninspired by Obama’s first 100 days… what happened to all the excitement? I’m concerned about where this is all going…
3. Ok, that’s one on religion, one on politics… 2 of the 3 things I’m told never to discuss in public… I’ll leave the 3rd one out, as a matter of taste…

I’ll throw this little tidbit out there:

THIS DAY IN HISTORY (from history.com)

In 1979, Egypt’s President, el-Sadat, and Israel’s Prime Minister, Begin, made a historic move and signed a peace treaty between the two countries…

Of course, hardliner Muslims had Sadat assassinated within a few years, and Begin hasn’t exactly been held up as a role model for Israeli’s by history.

If Carter did nothing else for us, he showed us that those two groups (Muslims and Israelis) aren’t interested in peace, and there’s not much we can do about that. . . And for each president afterward, we’ve seen the same thing.

But, alas, we’re over there now, because our last president wasn’t a history buff, and didn’t realize his “handlers” had some ulterior motives for having Saddam tossed…

I’ve ranted about the AIPAC many times on a blog or two, but not here I don’t think… I’ll let it go for now…

But let’s just say, the sooner the better, let’s let those folks handle their own problems. We’ve got a serious economic problem here at home right now. We need a break from their problems.

Unfortunately, “as soon as possible” is going to be a long, long time… pulling troops doesn’t get us out, just like we aren’t out of Germany, Japan, etc…

Oh well. This was an off-the-cuff and not-well-thought-through post, so I may edit or delete… just wanting to rant a little and maybe get someone stirred up to comment…

Let’s hear it, folks! Thoughts?

I love my little sister! I usually hate forwarded emails, but I really like this one:

Prescribed by the Great Physician

The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, just remember…

> > Noah was a drunk

> > Abraham was too old

> > Isaac was a daydreamer

> > Jacob was a liar

> > Leah was ugly

> > Joseph was abused

> > Moses had a stuttering problem

> > Gideon was afraid

> > Samson had long hair and was a womanizer

>> Rahab was a prostitute

> > Jeremiah and Timothy were too young

>> David had an affair and was a murderer

>> Elijah was suicidal

>> Isaiah preached naked

>> Jonah ran from God

>> Naomi was a widow

>> Job went bankrupt

>> Peter denied Christ

>> The Disciples fell asleep while praying

>> Martha worried about everything

> > The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once

>> Zaccheus was too small

>> Paul was too religious

>> Timothy had an ulcer.

>> AND Lazarus was dead!

> >

> > And Don’t forget

> > Jesus Helped them all!!!!

> >

> > Now! No more excuses!

> > God can use you to your full potential.

> > Besides you aren’t the message, you are just the messenger.

> > And one more thing….Share this with a friend or two…

> > In the Circle of God’s love, God’s waiting to use your full

> > potential.

> >

> > 1. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.

> > 2. Dear God, I have a problem, it’s Me.

> > 3. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.

> > 4. Silence is often misinterpreted but never

> > misquoted.

> > 7. Do the math . count your blessings.

> > 8. Faith is the ability to not panic.

> > 9. If you worry, you didn’t pray . If you pray,

> > don’t worry.

> > 10. As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home

> > everyday.

> > 11. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be

> > bent out of shape.

> > 12.. The most important things in your house are the

> > people.

> > 13 When we get tangled up in our problems, be still.

> > God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.

> > 14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry..

> > 15 He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell”

Some of my favs from this interesting piece:
# In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
# The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
# A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
# No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
# If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
# Shame is Pride’s cloke.
# Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion.
# Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.

And my two favorites, to ponder deeply:

# The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion.

# You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.