The Stump of Jesse

In the winter of 2021, on the coldest day of the year, I discovered a snake in my office at a correction center. Following a worship, a young man had asked for a Bible. So, he followed me into my office. I looked down and saw a snake by the bathroom door. I said, “Oh, look a snake.” He saw it and asked “Is it real.” Like I keep a rubber snake on the floor in my office just in case someone wanders in. It was real and it was alive. It was a little bull snake. Maintenance told me that snakes can come up through the toilet, but most likely this one came up through the hole in the bathroom floor by the register. For three months, I checked for snakes before I sat down to use the toilet. It was a fear response motivated by thoughts of a snake coming up through the toilet at an inopportune time. Kind of like the fear a lamb has toward a wolf.

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The Oracle of the Forester

There is something about a forest. And just like countries, or churches let’s say, there are many different kinds of forests. Some forests are full of tall majestic trees growing almost equally spaced out and with almost no underbrush. Some forests are thick with thickets; so thick that unless there is a trail you will be hard pressed to enter. One forest we hiked in was full of this plant called “The Devil’s Club.” And it’s called that for a reason. I was thankful for the trail. Do forests need foresters? Well, that may depend on the purpose of the forest. But I’m not really talking about forests.

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Brace yourselves

Brace yourselves! So, are you the kind of person who wants to know exactly what sort of trying times are in front of you? Or, would you rather be surprised and ride that wave as best you can? Some predictions of mayhem are all about fear mongering. Maybe you’ll buy yourself some insurance. Some predictions are about truly trying to get others to change their course. Continue reading

The Surgeon

“I recommend surgery.” Nobody wants to hear these words. I mean, it’s not like surgery is fun. And recovery is no picnic either. It can be threatening and scary to face surgery. Ah, but that alternative thing. The on-going and worsening pain; the whole “if it is not dealt with now, it will only get worse” thing; the looming possibility of even more invasive surgery down the road. Continue reading

The Cause of Consequences

I may have said this before, but consequences are kind of important. We may not like the painful experience, but without it, chaos reigns . . . well, chaotically. So, we need those consequences because inconsequential chaos is bad boys and girls. The only question is will we survive it and will they do what they are intended to do?  You see, consequences have a cause. They are intended to correct and give hope. But sometimes hope is seen dimly through the cracks of collapsing consequences. Can hope thrive here? Well, maybe thrive is the wrong word. Can hope stubbornly cling here? I hope so.

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Assyria the Tool

I had a tree in my back yard that we decided needed to go away. Let’s say that it was a rebellious tree. Well, it’s my land and I don’t want rebellious trees hanging about. There is another tree in the front yard that needed to be pruned up; some of its branches were hanging too low. I have a tool; a tool that seems evil to every tree. Well, you know, if trees could feel and think, they would feel that my chainsaw was evil. Right? So, I start up the evil beast and wield it against the tree. Continue reading

Ah, Alas

In the old police drama “Barretta,” Barretta would often say, “If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime.” What a sage that Barretta was. And how many shows have we watched or books have we read where a character says, “I can’t go back to prison.” And don’t we want to shout, “Then why are you doing something illegal?” I mean right? I’m not talking about the wrongly accused here. Continue reading

Wickedness is a Raging Fire

Wickedness is a raging fire. It is a self-absorbed flame licking up all in its path. It is a self-destructive flame feeding on itself. Have you heard about a controlled burn? The problem with a controlled burn is that it can easily become an uncontrollable conflagration. Wickedness cannot be controlled. What I mean by that is that you cannot play around with it; practicing just a little wickedness here and there. It will never be the subject of a controlled experiment or a controlled burn. My guess is that most people do not set their foot on the path of wickedness thinking, “let it burn me up along with everyone around me.” They probably thought they could manage it; that it would be a controlled burn.

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Choosing the Lie

In the movie the Matrix, the one who ends up betraying Morpheus and everyone else, does so because he wants to be plugged back into the lie. The truth is too stark; too real. He knows that, in reality he will be in a pod and plugged into the Matrix; that he won’t really be walking around and working; that the food will not be real. But he doesn’t care. He wants to live the lie. Continue reading

Failed Discipline

Discipline, when done well, is all about relationship. My wife watches our grandchildren. In the process of the day, there are moments when she tells them “NO!” or scolds them. They often respond with tears. And in that moment of hurting, the person they want most, is their Grandma. They may not fully understand that they are longing for the relationship to be strong; to thrive. But I am confident that their running into the arms of their Grandma is all about relationship. Continue reading