Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hmmm...seems I have been a tad slack of late.

Ok, it has been about 6 weeks since I have graced this blog with a new entry. Not to make excuses, but I have been a combination of very busy and very lazy at the same time. A bit contraindicative, I know.

But to give you a run down, here is what has been going on:

I have transitioned to my former position (temporarily). I am teaching again and have picked up on my former projects there and a few new ones too. I have been here since February 23 and averaging about (with commute time to/from work) 70-75 hours a week. This leaves me a bit drained by the time I get home and there I just want family time.

I have also attempted to transition to a local oncologist on the hopes it would free up some time that has historically been spent in commute to Midland. This turned out to be a nightmare since the local office is not able to provide same day lab/dr visit/chemo nor are they available on weekends to remove the chemo pump. My former treatment schedule allowed for labs, visit, chemo on Friday and disconnect on Sunday limiting time required away from work. Here would be several appointments a week with 45 minute drives to each, in total, it would be more time than the former model so I am back in Midland where I will deal with the lack of a life plan just for the least interfering with work option so I can still get paid.

That last statement said, thanks to the "sequestration" and swatting flies with an ax/lack of nonpartisan cooperation in the interest of the country/malfeasance by our elected officials contrary to budget laws/knee-jerk reactions and instructions to make the "sequestration hurt", I am facing a 25-40% pay decrease due to furlough and loss of standardized overtime which has historically been required in the job. Aside from the lack of overtime, this will also reduce the effectiveness of all operations unless a massive number of employees are added to cover the loss of work hours (but that won't happen since it would cost money too). So I hope you can all sleep well (especially if you live/work in a border community where the overall security will be primarily affected). And for the rest of you, this will be a trickle through effect where you will start noticing things soon as well, so thank Congress and the President for this joyful time.

Anyway, sorry to get on my soap box, but it does tie in a bit with where I am going in today's post.

It was very easy to start talking about what is going on with me right now. Sure, I try to be pretty transparent in general, but sometimes things just start flowing out.

The question comes: why are some topics easy to speak on and others not so much? When was the last time (if you are a Christian) you have shared your testimony, faith, or what God is doing in your life?

Sure, I hear you, 'but I do not have the gift of Evangelism' or 'I do not feel lead to share with people.' I understand your arguments, and have been know to self-justify in this manner, too. But I encountered something while I was read in the Bible the other day that hurt my feelings...

"for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20 {ESV}

A little background on the passage. Flipping back to chapter 3, where this story starts (a bit further for more context if you need to), Peter and John were still going to Temple during the hour of prayer. They heal a beggar and the people are astonished. Peter and John begin teaching about Jesus and presenting the Gospel. The priests, captain of the temple and Sadducee were less than thrilled (ESV states they were greatly annoyed) with this teaching. After a bit of self counsel they decide not to martyr them in hopes of letting the story just die down and ward Peter and John not to speak of it again among the people. Peter and John school them “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

It is the last part that really hits me. They have seen and heard things they cannot keep in. They are sharing it regardless of the offense it causes. The story of Jesus is VERY offensive because it tells people they are wrong, they are broken, they are sinners. But it also offers hope and a way out of the pit. It is just hard to get to that part before people will tune you out, walk away, or start an argument where they will not let you finish.

We are afraid to offend in these "politically correct" days. We are called closed-minded, simple-minded, intolerant, bigots, or hateful for identifying sin based on Biblical principles. The liberal/libertarian (sorry folks) concepts of "live and let live" or "if it doesn't hurt anyone else let it be" has taken firm root in this country. It is contrary to the Gospel. We cannot "Coexist" with sin. We are to flee from it and call it out when we see it.
Going back to an old-school CCM song from Petra, I don't want to be a man-pleaser, I want to be a God-pleaser. We need to firmly grasp that which we know to be true and never back down. We need to share our faith and testimony (and there are tactful ways to do so without standing on a street corner and screaming). Read the New Testament again, rarely was this the approach used by the Apostles or Jesus himself. Generally, it was on a personal basis. Getting to know someone and building a relationship, or finding someone who was hurting and reaching out. the 3rd Chapter, it mentions the location where Peter and John were preaching as Solomon's Porch (or portico, depending on your translation). I have loved that name for a very long time and have greatly desired to one day be the proprietor of a coffee shop by that name. It has lately returned to me and several other concepts have been revealed to me which would be interesting additions/features of such an enterprise: Christian lending library, offering on-site office space to volunteer counselors/pastors to have them available, a space for music groups to perform, meeting room (ideally upstairs "the upper room"). 

Of course, for a long time I have also wanted to train people in computer software use to help increase skills of youth/adults and aid them in their career pursuits. I have been blessed with skills that have helped me and I know the value it can add to marketability. I think it would be a decent offering to do on site as well.

So, if you are independently wealthy and feel like dropping a huge chuck of change my way to get this going, you can contact me for more details. :)

Another musical taste is VERY eclectic. I appreciate music and enjoy many flavors/styles. Historically, I am a horn player, so if it has horns it will get my attention. I missed the American Ska phase and the Christian Ska revival in its prime, but have been reliving it through Pandora. One of my preferred groups, Five Iron Frenzy, is releasing a new album soon so I have been listening to them a lot lately. It makes me want to start playing again.

If (God-willing), I am selected to return her on a more permanent basis in the near future, I want to assemble a 4-5 piece brass section and, aside from wanting to play with a praise band/orchestra, I want to put together a repertoire of Christmas Carols and do some seasonal performances locally. Every year there is a Christmas light display/boat ride "Christmas on the Pecos" down in Carlsbad and I think that would be a good location/opportunity. So, again, if you are in the Roswell/Artesia/Carlsbad area and are a brass player (trumpet/cornet, baritone, french horn, trombone, tuba) or know someone who is, let's talk.