Brokenness


This morning this klutso inadvertently bumped into a painted bracket fungus with a pastoral scene hanging on the wall. It fell to the floor, breaking into three pieces . . . Arrrrrgh!

Bought four decades ago, the painting of an actual Central Square, NY barn built in 1830 evokes fond memories of an earlier era in my life . . . Gorilla Glue to the rescue . . . bracket fungus patched 😊. Unfortunately, there’s no Gorilla Glue to patch life’s brokenness.

Pouring a fresh cup of streaming java to help sooth my fungus frustration, I settled into the Lazy Boy. Evidently, Abba wanted me to continue focusing on brokenness this morning.

Reading Fil Anderson’s book Breaking the Rules, a passage nostalgically reminded me how few struggles are more defeating than the brokenness of pretending to hide an isolating, guilty ‘secret’.

Fil shares about a talented artist friend’s discouraging rejection by a pastor of his unashamedly honest self-portrait A Broken Mask. The artist’s portrait revealed his conviction that there’s no room for pretending in a Christian’s life in an effort to change their appearance among other Christians to fit in and appear ‘holy’. Disheartened, the artist emailed Fil these poignant words:

We are told that Jesus loves us as we are, sin and all, ugly bits and worthless bits. We are quoted cliches like “Come as you are.” We are offered relief from the burden of hiding in our guilt and shame. We are offered ultimate acceptance.”

The problem begins when we step through the doors of many churches. Suddenly we’re confronted with an endless stream of things that are wrong in our lives, things to repent of, things that need changing. Meanwhile, the Bible instructs us,

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so you can live together whole and healed.” – James 5:16

Yet nobody does it, because that would mean taking off our mask of holiness. Therefore, we live our lives jumping through imaginary hoops in order to be accepted by the very people who invited us to “Come as you are.”

Fil’s artist friend concluded his email with this bold pledge:

I refuse to wear a mask any longer! I will not pretend, not even for Christians. Wearing a mask will destroy you, even if it’s a socially acceptable Christian mask.”

Many years ago, broken and mired in the midst of yet another self-imposed failure, I repentantly cried out to God to forgive and rescue me. Ever faithful to His, “I will never leave you or forsake you” promise (Hebrews 13:5), His Spirit embraced me, giving me these words of assurance to write in the leaf of my Bible:

Well may the devil roar of sins that I have done. I know them all and thousands more. Jehovah knoweth none.”

Truth be known, we’re all broken with failures. My comfort rests in the assurance that the One who knows my every ‘secret’ failure . . . past, present and future . . . unwavering still chooses to love me “Just As I Am”. I continue to pray for His strength and courage to ‘unmask’ before others and heal together, sharing ‘secret’ struggles our enemy so delights in discouraging us with.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

2023 New Year Resolution


Adolph Ochs, the owner of the New York Times, organized the first Times Square New Year’s Ball Drop on December 31, 1907. Save for wartime blackouts in 1942 (the year I was born ) and 1943, this iconic event has welcomed in every New Year ever since.

In today’s vernacular,’ dropping the ball’ means to “make a mistake” . . . ever made one? As for this chief ‘ball dropper’. . . not since I just woke up. . . but allow me a couple more minutes to rectify that😊

Since that first Ball Drop 115 years ago our “One nation under God” has woefully ‘dropped the ball’ . . . How??? . . . Why??? . . . there’s 335,829,797 reasons (the population of the United States of America as of today according to Google) . . . and I’m one of those.

Here’s a candid short list of just a half dozen ‘ball drops’ I’ve been guilty of over the past 365 days of 2022:

  • Contemplating on the woulda’, coulda’, shouda’s instead of being grateful for all I have
  • Subtle condemnation of others different social, ethnic, economic, and religious groups
  • Being ‘too busy’ to be there for others in their time of need
  • Disparaging others through self-perceived ‘constructive’ and ‘humorous’ remarks
  • Seeking to be respected at the expense of not respecting others
  • Focusing on what’s in it for me in lieu of what’s in me for it

Compiling this list, the word “others” increasingly convicted my conscience. None of us has ever seen a motive. We can only surmise what motivates others’ demeanor, actions, and beliefs. God’s mercy and grace knows no “others”, only all ragamuffins such as I.

Sooooooo . . . what’s the solution? . . . One-by-One. As much as I’d like to convince my other 335,829,796 Americans to hop on board the Remedy Railroad, it has to begin with me . . . and you.

Therefore, my 2023 New Year resolution, aware there will off-the-rail ‘ball drops’ along the way, is to strive day-by-day to seek compassionate, objective discernment in everything, filtered through Dr. Luke’s healing prescription . . .

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

Luke 6:7

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  All the best for all of His best in 2023

The Gift of Others


Christmas blessings from our home to yours. In whatever circumstances and wherever this may reach you, may it find you and yours resting assured in knowing His Best is Yet to Come!

This momentary adventure called Life is more often experienced in its valleys than on the mountaintops. Suffice it to say my 2022’s sojourn was one mingled with both the depths of failure and the heights of victory. The former of was regretfully of my own doings, the latter was gratefully attributable to:

  • God’s unmerited mercy, grace, and forgiveness
  • Others unmerited acceptance, encouragement, and prayers

Bottom line, this Christmas season thankfully finds Ellen and I still here happily fogging a mirror together, albeit with perhaps a tad less vigor and a few more wrinkles than in days of yore😊

You are one of the many special individuals who astonishingly follow my blog 😊. . . special not because you follow my blog for sure 😊, but special because one or more of your blog posts and/or comments have encouraged and blessed me, and made a difference. Thank you!

A retired pastor friend in Alaska recently sparked a thought of a way this Christmas to reciprocate the Gift of Others you, and countless others, have so graciously blessed me with throughout life. He suggested, “Ask them if there’s something on their heart you can pray for them about.”

Not just another quick, shallow, from the lips “I’ll pray for you” prayer, but a thoughtful, deep prayer from the heart to the One whose heart hears and answers each and every prayer in His time and way, both in Life’s valleys and on its mountaintops.

One of the glorious luxuries of retirement is time, and I’m blessed to be able luxuriate in it. So, if there’s something on your heart you feel you can trust me to pray for from my heart, in absolute total Thee – Me – He confidentiality, I’d be privileged and blessed to do so.

I’m forever grateful for the crucial piece you represent in my Life’s bewildering mosaic God chose to place there . . . it fits! Thank you for making a difference.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Merry Christmas!!!

Fred, Ellen and Bullwinkle

Sorry


Back in my childhood, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and TV was technology’s newest marvel, Paul Harvey was an American radio broadcaster famous for his The Rest of the Story segments. Over the years I’ve discovered someone’s story isn’t as always first thought to be.  There’s often an unknown ‘rest of the story’ that significantly changes their story as I had originally perceived it. Unfortunately, rush to judgment before being aware of the ‘rest of the story’ can cause hurt that can only be healed by humbly admitting remorse and asking forgiveness.

This video clip was posted on a blog I follow. It powerfully depicts the wisdom of knowing The Rest of the Story. Although filmed in another country with a foreign language, tears, hugs, smiles and forgiveness know no national or language barriers.

In these divided times may we pause to consider behind each person’s story may exist a ‘rest of the story’ that explains their whole story, and, if we err, may we offer our sincere “I’m Sorry” authenticated by 3 words . . . “I was wrong”.

Last Words


Having the last word may be of benefit in a discussion, but of what benefit will your last words be?

As though it was yesterday, the last words my mother spoke to me before going Home at 93 still echo in my heart . . . “Later Freddy”. Those two words spoke, and continue to speak, the confident hope of eternal reunion someday.

Four words, cried out in inconceivable anguish, sealed that reunion on a cross 2,000 years ago . . . Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?  . . . My God, my God, why hast thou  forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

In the words of Pastor John Ortberg:

The cross is the ultimate paradox: God experiencing the absence of God so that He can draw closest to us in our loss and grief. Jesus was in a sense never closer to us than when He was furthest from the Father”.

Wherever this Easter may find you, be it in trail or triumph, my prayer is you will find the confident hope of reunion in knowing the One whose last four words uttered in death, conquered it, and loved you into eternal life.

Forgiven- Thomas Blackshear II

This picture sits on my desk reminding me how totally forgiven and loved I am, and the reunion that awaits