driving to atlanta May 31, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
add a comment
EmPulse for Week of May 31, 2010
Tim Norton lives just outside of Knoxville in Maryville, TN (locally pronounced Mur-ē-vul). On May 21st, he had the occasion to drive to Atlanta, the very day a sink-hole appeared right in the middle of Interstate HWY 24, eastbound. Ergo—a simple four hour trip turned into a leisurely six hour drive to Atlanta, along the rural byways of Tennessee.
Tim recounts, “I was forced to go to the Internet and my printed, neatly folded 2006 edition of the Official Tennessee Travel and Tour Map (I don’t have GPS) for instructions on an appropriate re-route. Along the path of my pre-departure discovery, several re-route suggestions came my way via the internet, however radio reports made it clear that those published routes were clogged and delayed, so I set out to chart my own course.” [Something many of us have done when life’s road has taken us over some unexpected bumps, or, in this case, around a deep, dark sink-hole.]
Tim continues, “From Nashville I departed southward on I-65, exiting on State Road 99 on a heading that eventually took me onto other routes through Lewisburg, Hudson State Park, Shelbyville, Lynchburg (population 361, and the famous home of the Jack Daniels Distillery), Winchester, Cowan, Sewanee, Saint Andrews, and Monteagle at which point I was well below the sinkhole’s location on eastbound I-24. In all, this detour consumed about 1 hour longer than what the normal interstate routing would have required. But, the journey was scenic, relaxing, and, quite frankly, felt like an adventure.” Well, well…, not a total loss then; and not even the anticipated two hour torture of stop & go traffic.
Unlike Tim, though, many of us are not willing to set out on our own, to chart our own course. We come up against a major sink-hole in life and stop dead. We cannot go forward, and the traffic of our past blocks us from making a U-turn to start over again to find another route. We are stuck! Some of us stay stuck for months, even years; some of us make it a life-time pattern and perspective—an attitude, never rising to Carpe Diem! We’re content to believe it’s all about carpeting.
There are no real explanations for people getting stuck. It’s just one of those things that happen to us; yet, until we get frustrated enough with the way we are, we will, for sure, remain in the sad state of stuck-ness. You may find yourself in many states-of-stuckness throughout life—commitments you never should have made in the first place, insistent loyalties to those who have long since disregarded you, starting projects (sheds, siding, books, ships-in-a-bottle, paintings, afghans) but never finishing them, complex problems that still need resolution (eg- the Poincaré conjecture)…, convoluted relationships. These are sink-holes all, that drain you of your focus, energy, time, and ability to think clearly about priorities and people that should take precedent, that should draw your attention to what is truly important in life and in the service of our fellow human beings on this planet.
Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is the Interstate. But though it may be the most direct route to success, or money, or power, or position, it may also hold such gigantic sink-holes that swallow you whole, dreams and all. You may not find yourself or the God who made you unless you set out on your own and chart your own course. Thanks Tim!
Have a nice week.
placebo effect May 25, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
add a comment
EmPulse for Week of May 24, 2010
placebo- def. (latin- “I will please.”) “A placebo effect occurs when a treatment or medication with no therapeutic value (a placebo) is administered to a patient and the patient’s symptoms improve. The patient believes and expects that the treatment is going to work, therefore it does.” [http://www.enotes.com/alternative-medicine-encyclopedia/placebo-effect]
Funny things, placebos— they work, but for no apparent therapeutic or medical reason. There are all kinds of them too— prescription pills, psychological suggestion, alternate realities (avatars), short term love-lifes, rock concerts, even religious experiences. Sure, they can be real; but we can use them all as placebos.
Actually, we like placebos in our lives. Make-believe cures for serious illnesses, pretend solutions to real-life problems, fallacious corrections to failing relationships— quick fixes. Anything that takes away the pain, removes our anguish, or distracts us from the significance of our situation is more desirable than a truly therapeutic treatment. Like saying our Confession to a Priest, we get our sin off our chest; or we seek counseling to feel good about ourselves, all-the-while suppressing what we know to be true. True-lies, they’re called; still, don’t you feel better now!?!
A lot of us use God as a placebo. We go to church to check-in, to see if it’s like we remember. When we find it isn’t, we either fake our faith to blend in or fade to a grey-plaid, lost in a checkerboard of not knowing where to move next. Still, God is one of the best placebos around—we can take him or leave him at our convenience; go to church or just stay home and watch some TV preacher. Sometimes, even pick up a Bible! But don’t push it. That’s a big pill that might get stuck in my life.
The pitiful thing is that what God is offering us, all of us, is a vibrant, fulfilling relationship with Him, personally. Not some take-it-or-leave-it placebo effect that feels good for the moment—the quick fix, but a genuine, therapeutic remedy to life’s serious sicknesses, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. He may not heal your broken heart the way you want it mended, He may not get you through that fever, or cancerous growth, or depression the way you had hoped. But He will be there for you at every turn of wheel.
God doesn’t mend broken hearts or heal all our illnesses; but He does offer the strength of His Spirit, His Holy Spirit, to buoy you through the toughest of life’s experiences. There is a spiritual perception that comes from seeing life through His eyes that changes you forever. Once you reconnect with the God who made you, you’ll have little use for any placebos again. For you are plugged into the source of all strength and sustenance.
Placebos, and other meds may genuinely be helpful to us in life; but, truly, we need so much more that can only be found in God.
Have a nice week.
peripheral vision- God on the edges May 17, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
add a comment
EmPulse for Week of May 17, 2010
peripheral vision- God on the edges
Eye exams— read the 4th line down…, now read the lowest line that is clear to you. And you read “The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.” Seeing things clearly, seeing things as they are, is the function of eyes. Blurred vision misinterprets reality…, really; ask any Impressionist; ask any pharmacist who prescribes allergy relief medicine. Ask any Navy, Marine, or Air Force recruiter interviewing a potential recruit who says, “I want to be fighter pilot.” What’s the recruiter’s reply? How’s your vision? They want to know if you’re 20/20, but they also want to know what your peripheral vision is. If you are flying a fighter jet at Mach2, you need to be keenly aware of not only what lies directly in front of you, but also what lies just outside of the corners of your eyes. Yes, modern military aircraft are loaded with all sorts of sensor arrays that keep a pilot informed; but you still need to be aware of what lies on the edges of your vision.
Many of us are so focused in our lives that we miss God on the edges. We miss the little things, which, in the grand scheme of things, turn out to not be so little. We miss His work in people’s lives around us that bolster and underpin the focus He has commissioned us to fulfill. WE miss those subtle connections, serendipitous surprises, and gentle movements of His Spirit that cause all things to work together for good. Still, it is good to move through life with our focus on a goal to be achieved, on a mission to be accomplished, a purpose for which to be used up entirely. There are very many distractions in the rush of information-age life to keep us from fulfilling God’s design on our life. Who do you know who is not busy…, all the time!?! Work, family, school, seeking a mate, another grad-degree, the gym, sports, chauffeuring kids, church, working on the house, the lawn, fixing the car, etc.
Two things start to become clear—we are too focused, we are too busy. And we are all moving so fast, that it is a wonder we have any sensitivity to the movements of God anywhere, directly in front of us, let alone on the edges. It is true that some personalities naturally move f-a-s-t-e-r than others; however, others seem to be stuck, anchored in some kind of life-muck that not only keeps us from moving ahead, but blurs our peripheral vision at the same time. Either way, we miss the majesty of God all around us. We whoosh past Him just like cars on a freeway; we do that notice He is there, but not exactly. Or worse, we just stop and stare at Him…, and do nothing. “OMG, O yeah…, god; I forgot.” Whooshing by, or stuck staring…, doesn’t matter. If our peripheral vision is not conscious, we could be setting ourselves up for a crash— big time.
So…, what to do about it? For one, challenge your focus; is it inclusive enough, expansive enough to pick up on its own inferences? Reexamine your mission to include/exclude developing variables. Secondly, consider if God is trying to influence you at the edges of your life; commonplace coincidences, marginal insights, intuitions (gut feelings), could be more significant than a passing reflection might notice. Third, ponder more— reflect on the day’s encounters and accomplishments to sense any new movements of God’s Spirit from the edges of your life to its core. Finally (at least for this brief commentary) consider what changes might be well past due in your life that you missed because you were so singularly focused.
Maybe it’s time some of we all had our vision checked again. Get in line…, right behind me.
Have a nice week.
mediocrity for dummies May 11, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
add a comment
mediocrity for dummies
What a great string of books! Computers for Dummies. Democracy for Dummies. Electronics for Dummies. Relationships for Dummies. George Bush for Dummies. The Bible for Dummies. Alimony for Dummies. Thermo-Nuclear War for Dummies. Mandarin for Dummies. There simply is no end to the intellectual vastness that these (mostly) quite helpful books can cover.
I’d like to see them assault one more area of dumbness— mediocrity. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that striving for the mediocre doesn’t take a great deal of effort. Although, staying there does. Seriously. Some men and women are satisfied to work an eight hour day, come home, watch TV, get up the next morning and do the same thing all over again. On the weekends they play with their expensive toys (flat-panel TVs, jet-skiis, jeeps, snow mobiles, boats, planes, etc); and then back to the same routine on Monday. After 15-20 years they wake up to discover that they are really bored with everything. They realize that buying more just won’t cut it this time. Maybe their marriage is stable (not exciting, but lasting), maybe not. Maybe they’ve been through numerous relationships; nothing satisfies. They’ve got more stuff than they know what to do with…, and they’re bored with it all. Truly, they have striven for “the dream” and, instead, have arrived at mediocrity.
They’ve wanted it ALL, and have settled for stuff, or not enough stuff…, yet, or a job that they could do in their sleep, or a marriage that has about as much zing to it at last week’s lettuce. Mediocrity.
If that’s all life is about then, seriously, why bother!?! If all you want is stuff, then, eventually, you’ll probably have it; and you’ll want even more. If its excitement you want, there are plenty of ways to pump the adrenalin after the scary movie scene doesn’t do it for you anymore: motor racing, rock-climbing, speed-skating, lugging, bungee-jumping (nah, forget the rope), sky-diving… from 80,000’.
Mediocrity, like personal pleasure and happiness, is the natural byproduct of a life centered upon itself. Genuine fulfillment in life, a life richly lived, is the byproduct of a life focused on making a difference, on counting, on contributing to the needs of the world and blocking the spread of evil. Nothing done to make a difference, to count, is insignificant, mediocre; it always matters.
For the past 15 years I’ve grabbed onto a tag-line for my life that I want to stick. Allow me to suggest it for your reflection— “Honor God, honor people…, make a difference.” ‘Nough said.
Have a nice week.
When your number’s up…, what? May 3, 2010Posted by needinc in emPulse.
add a comment
EmPulse for Week of May 3, 2010
When your number’s up…, what?
Spring is here! Things are growing again—flowers, trees, bushes, weeds, mold spores! There, wasn’t that too much realism for you!? Me too; especially the allergy exciting stuff. But it is good to see things going green again (apologies to my few southern hemisphere readers).
It’s a good time to get outdoors again. Exercise—remember? Ouch! Hurts more this year, eh!?! But exercise alone won’t do it. Nor will simply getting on the scale and rocking it back & forth to drop it a few pounds. There’s a medical check-list that recent research suggests we all need to keep in mind. They’re our numbers—heeding them could quite literally add years to our lives. Here is a list of the optimum levels of the numbers you should be keeping track of:
There are the numbers that will help us keep our BODIES fit for life. But what about our emotional side? What are we doing to manage the stress, maintain balance, give and receive love? Emotional equilibrium is just as critical as physical health for us all. To be a specimen of health and an emotional wreck most of the time is self-deprecating. Then there is the spiritual aspect of our life. What numbers should we be keeping track of for our souls?
Measuring on a 1-10 scale, what are your numbers?
So, maybe you are a specimen of health—jogging, exercising daily, eating salads morning, noon, & night. Maybe your psyche is in perfect harmony with the universe and all created beings. But when your number is up…, when it comes your time to make the transition from life to beyond, will your soul be in sync with the God who made the universe and all its creatures?
What are your numbers when your number comes up?
Have a nice week.