Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Willow Tree and Brick Wall: a fable

Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Credo there lived two good friends. Willow and Brick were always outside playing together. Willow was from the Tree family. Mr. and Mrs. Tree were really proud of their boy Willow. He was kind and generous and always seemed to have his feet firmly planted on the ground.

Mr. and Mrs. Wall were proud of their boy too. Brick seemed unshakable. Nothing seemed to ever get him too upset. He was always a practical kid and was as strong as a ox.

Brick and Willow were always outside playing in the sun. Baseball was their game. They loved to play catch. Willow was always the pitcher and Brick was always the catcher. They dreamed of playing in the big leagues one day.

They both grew strong and tall. Brick would always make fun of Willow when the rains came. Willow would always sway back and forth with the wind. Even though he tried to stand still, he was always moved by the stormy gusts. Brick, however, was never effected by the rain storms. He was sturdy and strong. He would look right into the face of a storm and laugh at his friend bending back and forth.

Brick got bigger and heavier as the years went on. Willow grew tall and his roots grew strong. After all those years of trying to stand still in the rain, Willow's roots had dug deep into the soil. What neither of them knew was that a hurricane was brewing just miles off shore. Winds that they had never experienced before would soon be bearing down on them.

As the winds picked up and the rains poured down, both Willow and Brick began to get worried. They had never felt this kind of wind. Brick stood his ground and was determined not to move. Willow worried that he wouldn't be able to make it. Brick had always been the stronger one. Willow was getting more and more nervous as the winds got more and more violent.

Soon they were right in the middle of the worst part of the hurricane. Willow was shaking and bending but his roots grabbed on and held fast. Brick was as solid as a rock....for a while. Then something happened that Willow had never seen. The wind continued to push against Brick with unrelenting force. A small crack formed at Brick's base. Then the small crack began to get bigger and bigger. It worked its way up Brick's body inch by inch. It seemed that the more Brick fought to stay solid, the more the crack opened up.

Willow was begin pushed and pulled so hard by the wind that he was nearly parallel to the ground. His leaves were being torn off and his branches were flailing but still his roots held fast. He refused to let go. Willow glanced over at his best friend to see how he was doing and, in an instant, Brick split in two and crumbled to the ground. Clay pieces were flying everywhere. Willow screamed out in horror. His friend was finished.

Willow cried so hard that he didn't even notice when the storm began to pass. Willow cried and cried and cried. He couldn't believe his friend was gone. He always believed that Brick was the stronger one. He thought Brick was unmovable. But in the end, Willow's ability to bend with the wind saved his life.

To this day Willow Tree and his family remember that terrible storm. They never stand tall and proud in the way that they used to. Everywhere they are they seem to be sad. It is because they are still weeping over the loss of their friends.

It won't be the unmovable who survive the storms, but it will be those with strong roots and a flexible stalk.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

dog eat dog world

The Westminster Kennel Club dog show awarded an English Springer Spaniel named "Diamond Jim" a.k.a. "James" the Best In Show award this year. For looking its best, the dog and its owner win a silver-plated trophy and high esteem from their peers.

This kind of reminds me of Hollywood. All the stars get out of their limos and walk the red carpet. Then, once they are inside, the famous few get the Academy Awards. They have to look their best, be of a good breeding, and of course have a stunning outfit on. This is not too different from the Kennel Club where a glossy coat of fur gets everyone's attention.

But then there are the dogs that matter. Sometimes a man's best friend lives up to that title. This was the case for the climbers on Mt. Hood a few days ago. Their companion dog named "Velvet" helped them stay alive. This dog huddled between the two stranded climbers and kept them warm in sub-zero temperatures. Now that is what a dog is for.

Dogs weren't meant to be pranced around with perfectly fluffy hair, glimmering white teeth and flawless posture. Dogs were meant to protect the ones they love. They weren't meant to have perfect breeding. They were meant to be mutts with profound loyalty. They were never meant to walk a red carpet or a green carpet. They were meant to be there to save our lives when we need them the most. They were meant to snuggle up beside us saving us from the life-threatening cold or maybe just the long day of work. Either way, they weren't designed for the "Best in Show" award. They were created to be man's best friend.

The same could be said for humanity as well.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

becoming a man: part 3

There are alcoholics in this world. They are those who have crossed over from using to abusing alcohol. And further, alcohol has taken hold of the abuser and now is abusing them. It is addiction. It is bondage. Even those who haven't had a drop of alcohol in years, may still call themselves an alcoholic. That is because they are well aware of their extreme vulnerability to the temptation of drunkenness.

Most of us admit that there are such things as alcoholics. We admit that people are addicted to various things like drugs, alcohol, and the like. Even work can become an addiction. But how many of us see lying as a addiction?

In the battle between truth and lies, I think many of us have bought into a lie. I think many of us think of lying as an occasional offense. We imagine that lies come in ones and maybe twos. Its hard for many of us to imagine that there really are such things as "liars" in this world.

Many men have adopted this addiction in order to high their other addictions. And its not an occasional offense. More and more I am realizing that I walk in the midst of "liars." These are not people who tell an occasional white lie to hide a surprise birthday party, but they are people who live in full out deception.

Small lies, over time, develop the habit of big lies. Some men have become so comfortable with lying, that they don't realize when they are doing it until someone calls them on it. Is it easy for you to lie about an insignificant detail to an unimportant person? If so, then watch out. The father of lies is crouching at your door. Those little lies become easy. Then you become a person who is comfortable "bending" and "manipulating" the truth. You don't see it as "lying" exactly. You justify to yourself that "you are just stretching the truth." And so it begins. Your identity is in the process of shifting from a man of truth, into a liar.

A real man is about the truth. A real man strives to speak the truth in all occasions, even when it hurts. Truth in love is what we are called to. A real man feels the immediate effects of a lie told. The effects are not outward. They are inward. As soon as any form of a lie comes floating out of his mouth, he feels the pang of deception in his own soul. He is troubled buy it. He confesses it. And he prays for forgiveness.

A man of truth says the hard thing because he knows its the right thing. A man of truth bites his tongue when he can't speak the truth in love. A man of truth has read Proverbs and James chapter 3. He knows that the less crap that comes spewing out of his pie hole the better. You can trust a real man. You can trust him because you know he will speak the truth to you. You can trust him because you know he will also speak the truth to others when you aren't around.

The truth will set you free. It will set you free from the addiction of lying. It will set you free to be the man you were always meant to be.