Test Drive

My F250 cost $52,000.00 and is pretty new. It IS one SEXY truck. Yesterday the neighbors kid asked me if he could borrow it. Should I loan it to him?

He says he makes good grades but I have my doubts.

He says he’s responsible and I can trust him but I don’t really know the kid.

He says he’ll have it back right on time but he doesn’t even own a watch.

He says that he’ll respect it but while we were talking he left hand prints on the paint.

He says he loves Jesus but he can’t list 3 of the 10 commandments.

He seems nice enough but, really, tossing the keys to a $50,000 truck to a 16 year old that I don’t know?

That’s moronic, right?

Who’s the kid taking your daughter for a test drive at prom?

How much is she worth to you?

Surely

 

Surely you understand why I refuse to answer you. 

I see you when you mock my God. 

I see you when you chuckle at my religion like its nothing more than a set of archaic rites.

I see you when you ask why the whole world has gone mad.  

"What is WRONG with people" you cry and I just smile quietly and read the next post.

I’m not ignoring you. Really I’m not.  I just don’t think you want the answer that I have for you.

Ask me what I believe and I will tell you. 

Ask me if God is true and fair and just and I’ll cry yes, yes and yes.

Ask me if Jesus died for you too and I’ll whisper quietly to you, "yes, of course."

You see, I know that man has not “gone” mad. 

The world has been mad since the first two sinners thought themselves larger than God.  Jesus died for our sins.  All you have to do is believe in him.  If you believe in Jesus you follow the law because you love Him. 

The law says thou shalt not do murder

If you don’t believe in God then you don’t believe in Jesus. 

If you don’t believe in Jesus then you don’t believe in the law.  If you don’t believe in the law then you can do any damned thing you want. 

Many hang on to a halfway morality with nothing to compel them but it is a farce and they know it deep in their hearts and some… some do not hang on. 

You call those people “sick” or “mad” and yet you stare riveted to their handiwork. 

You watch hour after hour of “as it happens” news. 

You follow the path of every bullet.  Understand the pooling of every puddle of blood.  You count every casing and catalog them by type. 

And slowly, slowly, another follows the path of evil.  The path of social glorification that means everyone in the country knows your name. You move closer to that sickness and, eventually, become it.

I have the answer you seek. It’s an easy one. Do you want it?

It is this: All of the blood that ever needed to be spilled was spilled on a hill named Golgotha where a King and a thief died on the same day.

And it is this: One of them walked away from it.

Before

 

A few thoughts tonight:
Before you cry for Christ in Christmas; invite Him into your home.
Before you ask for God in schools; teach scripture to your children.
Before you carve the 10 commandments onto buildings; live them… all of them.
Before you curse someone as an unbeliever; show them what belief looks like.
Before you claim martyrdom; learn the name of at least one Martyr.
Before you rail

, cry and scream; be silent and pray.
Before you scold the unfaithful; be faithful.
Before you hit; hold.
Before you hate; Love.
Before you despair; hope.
Before you think to teach Christianity; learn the Gospel.
After your heart breaks; always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

Because it aint Chicago…

Mrs. Jinksto and I lived in Chicago for about 10 years or so.  Moving back to the south took a little getting used to but… in a good way.

Reasons I like living in North Carolina:
  • Friends know that it’s perfectly acceptable to just sit down at your table in a restaurant for a quick chat about Vacation Bible School.
  • When people wave to you on the road they (mostly) use all of their fingers instead of just the one.
  • If you don’t want people showing up at your house with food don’t tell them that you’re sick.
  • If I miss a day of church Mrs Katherine will mention that she “missed seeing you today!”.
  • If I miss two days of church the pastor will show up at the house.
  • If I miss three days of church folks will stop by with food to find out when the funeral is.
  • People pull into the gas station behind you so that you’ll have someone to talk to while you fill up.
  • Sunday morning church traffic is worse than Monday morning rush hour.
  • Two Words:  Sweet Tea
  • If the door’s unlocked it’s ok to stick your head in and shout, “Hey!  Where ya’ll at?”
  • You can tell how soon the next Nascar race is by the number of people swerving back and forth on the on-ramp to “warm up the tires” before getting on the interstate.
  • The guy blowing his horn behind me in traffic is most likely someone I know just wanting to say hello.
  • The nuclear weapon for dealing with rude teenagers are the words, “Tell your daddy I said hi!”  … “Yes sir!”

An evening prayer…

I walked across the yard and sat on the cinderblock behind my tiny little garden where I sit to watch our beehive.  It’s peaceful there.  The bees were slowing down for the night and were calm as the last few stragglers zoomed in.  Tonight the world is washed clean from two days of heavy rain. Big oak trees loom over the shady spot and thick undergrowth makes the it feel close, secure.  As the day slowly twisted into darkness I prayed this prayer…

Lord, thank you for giving me the first half of this day so that I could understand how perfect the second half was. Thank you for the love, peace and happiness that you give me so that I might share them with others.  Thank you for the chores that you give me so that I will know rest when you give it to me.  Thank you for the ability to come to you bearing only thanks; no wants; no needs; asking no favors.  Thank you for your Son through whom I present my gratitude and without whom I would be lost.

Oh and God?  Thanks for her too.  She rocks. 

Amen

Life is good… thanks to the friend that reminded me to post more often.  I shall endeavor to comply… Smile

Pics

 

Mrs. Jinksto and I got our first hive of bees on Monday.  We’ve been having a blast watching them.  I’ll probably write another post about the bees but for now I wanted to share a few pics.

Bees filling up on water in our little “water feature” fountain. 

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A bee on a Purple Pincushion flower

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A Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly on Lantana

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A clearwing hummingbird moth on dianthus!

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And yeah… photo credit to Mrs. Jinksto for all… these were taken in our yard by my awesome wife.  Pretty cool.

Who? Me?

 

Life is a whole.  The individual parts of “you” pull together into a great big wad of wiggly coolness. 

I’ve said before that if you profess to believe something in one part of your life you should be exhibiting that in every other part of your life.  That’s called a consistent worldview but the problem is that life is big. Really big.  From work, to play, to church… tying those things together can be hard.  In order to do it, I have to know who, or what, I am. 

I am friends.  Hanging out late at night around a fire under a billion stars. 

I am moonshine in a jar passed to friends as we talk about God; all sipping from the same jar.  Not getting drunk as much as enjoying the gifts that He has granted us.  I am community.

I am early mornings with the sun rising through the trees; the dew thick and wet on the grass.

I am country music cranked all the way to MAX VOL in a truck speeding down a two lane road with all of the windows down; the smell of wild wisteria and dog wood trees surrounding me. 

I am Jesus working in this world. I am following Him and proclaiming it loudly.  I am the charity of Gods hand.

I am the most beautiful woman in the world.  Clinging to my husband with respect, love and devotion. She is the standard by which I measure other women. I am a husband loving my wife as myself and trying to lead with care. 

I am failure; I am success.

I am Rock and Roll playing from someone’s cell phone in a tinny rendition of a song that we heard together at a Black Crows concert twenty years ago.

I am a truck; Hub deep in mud.  Laughing and bragging with friends as we work to pull each other out of mud holes that normal people would avoid or parked under the trees ten miles from pavement with the tailgate down and fried chicken spread across it for lunch.

I am a boat.  Cooler stacked full.  Lines in the water.  Not catching… just fishing.  I am a boat running at half speed with an inner tube full of kids splashing along behind it. I am a jetski streaking across the water at fifty miles an hour with screaming teenagers holding on for all they’re worth.

I am Sunday morning.  Listening to the pastor as I hold my wife’s hand.  I am hymns sung by those like me who can’t sing.  I am prayer; reverent, whole, complete.

I am a ballcap turned backwards.

I am a middle of the night run to rescue your truck and girlfriend off the side of the road. I am bailing you out of jail for your idiocy.

I am red plastic cups rattling with ice and sweet tea on a patio covered with friends.

I am a child playing quietly in the dirt or running, screaming, through the trees.  I am the image of God in this world.

I am computer code written at 2AM through a haze of cigarette smoke and caffeine. 

I am a garden planted in the spring and slowly, slowly creating food for my family.  I am a man, praying fervently for the weather that will make my garden grow.

I am bills stacked high and falling off of the desk.  I am figuring out what to pay and when.  I am making sure that God gets his share and I am making sure that the folks down the road have clothes to wear and food to eat.

I am fixing a widows roof and holding an orphans hand.

I am a pretty good right hook.

I am a computer processing millions of transactions per second buried in a room with thousands of others just like it.  Wall to wall and stacked to the ceiling.  Lights blinking in the carefully conditioned air.

I am a bank that cares about America, taking a beating from the greedy as I continue, every day, to do the right thing.

I am poor grammar and country contractions. I am strange enunciation and beautiful drawls.

I am rain on a New York City street. I am someone slipping a twenty to a homeless guy along with a prayer for a dry place for him to sleep.

I am friend to the waiter, the cashier, the CTO,  the preacher and the sinner. 

I am a hunter deep in the woods with my brothers and friends.

I am the tickle monster.

I am jeans and boots stained and broken from work. I am scarred knuckles and scratched arms and broken ankles.

I am suits and ties.

I am a tractor crawling across a field throwing up dust into the hot summer air.

I am dropping everything to help a friend in need.

I am the smell of a church late at night in the middle of the week after most have left.

I am a strong handshake and a gentle caress.

I am “In God We Trust”.

I am a shotgun wielded with skill and care as I turn skeet into dust.  I am friends joking, taunting, teasing, challenging, celebrating.

I am a dirt road that goes nowhere and everywhere I want to be.

I am a small town and a massive city.

I am breakfast at Waffle House.

I am a kid, sitting with mama on the porch, shelling peas through a long evening as she tells me stories; her fingers stained purple from the hulls.

I am a warrior.  Scarred and healed by the same memories.

I am honor, and faith, and ethics.

I am a flag that doesn’t run. 

I am hate and fear.

I am the morning sun filtered through stained glass windows.

I am a writer but not very good at it. 

I am all of these things and more rolled up and squished together in a gooey ugly mess.  These are the things that I do and the things that I believe but they are also, at almost every level, who I am.  It’s probably a lot like who you are. 

Tying all of those things together into a consistent story isn’t ain’t easy.

Peace.

Of Angels and Men

My first cousin lost her life to a drunk driver about a month ago. I didn’t know her well — we’ve always lived far apart — but I know many who did and those folks are in real pain. They’ve created a MADD team for a 5k in Nashville in June. You can support the team here.

My friend Jonna is dealing with the imminent death of a parent. She writes about it beautifully here.

There is so much that we misunderstand about death. It is painful to dwell on it. Husbands and wives refuse to do estate planning the way they should because of it. My concerns are more immediate though: How do I comfort my friends and family when they are in need but, more importantly, how do I comfort them correctly?

I am frustrated when I see people trying to provide comfort but doing it incorrectly. They say things like, “There’s another angel in heaven today” which makes me immediately want to correct them but I’m not really sure how. I’m fairly certain that just blurting out, “Nuh Uh!” isn’t the right approach. I’m equally certain the correct way to deal with this is not a theological exposition on the fact that Angels and Man are completely different creations and that transformation into an “angel” isn’t promised biblically.

Mostly, like most, I just ignore these things. I dunno, maybe for some it does provide comfort of sorts and maybe that’s okay. They’re not intentionally teaching heresy by saying these things (I hope) and I’ll admit that it’s a very sparkly “feel good” thing to say but at the same time it sort of horrifies me. Angels are beautiful warriors for God, they are His messengers, and that’s pretty cool but at the same time, it IS heresy and the Truth is even more beautiful. Why do we do that? Why do we pass over the beauty that is the Gospel to provide a little comfort in heresy… in a fantasy? Do Christians really believe this? Why do they believe it? If they don’t believe it; if they know the truth, why do they say these things? Why hasn’t anyone corrected them? It drives me nuts to know that in not providing reproof when it’s due I am part of the problem.

Jonna’s description of heaven in the link above is awesome. She knows that it is created out of her fantasy but knows that nothing discounts her fantasy. She imagines things that are beautiful and that might, maybe, fit into a correct description of Heaven. However, she also knows that no matter how perfect her fantasy it can’t match the glory that is Heaven. She knows (and admits) that she’s painting Picasso’s with crayons here and that’s ok. It’s beautiful and it’s one of the ways that she is dealing with her pain.

I dream of being with my mother again; of hearing her reproofs for my failures and of talking about her views on the few things that I’ve managed to get right. When I have the chance to sit with her and talk about our lives, maybe at a kitchen table much like the one that Jonna describes, I want to talk with my mom. The Glorified, Sanctified woman, not the fanciful cherubic angel which is, itself, a mixed up juxtaposition of two different creatures.

 

For an excellent read on Heaven check out the appropriately named book Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  It discusses much of this and answers a lot of questions not discussed here.  I haven’t read it but many folks that I trust continue to tell me how awesome it is and that I should. 

Honesty…

 

Time: 6PM
Date: 3/17/2012
Speed: 63
Speed Limit: 45
Environment: Two lane paved back road… no traffic. Fantastic weather.

Blue Lights.

“Good Evening sir.  Can I see your license and registration please”

“Yes sir. I have a concealed carry permit and a weapon in the vehicle… I’ll have to go into the glove box to get the registration.”

“You have a gun?  In the vehicle?”

“Yes sir.  Beside the drivers seat.”

“Ok. Get your documentation and don’t go near the gun.”

I do as the nice man in blue asks and smile hugely at him as I hand him the documents".

“Sir, the reason that I pulled you over is that you were going a little fast.”

“Yes sir” I reply.

“Do you know how fast you were going?”

“Yes sir.  I looked when I saw you.”

He looks a little surprised and says, “I clocked you doing 63 in a 45.”

I nod and agree, “I thought it looked more like 64 but 63 is close enough”

The young officer looks a little more surprised and asks, “Uh..  any particular reason that you were speeding sir?”

I grin and say, “It’s sort of a long story.”

This puts him on more familiar ground and he frowns a bit as he says, “I’ve got time.”

I nod and explain, “Well, I spent all morning in the woods on my deer lease hanging out with a good buddy of mine.  When we got back I went by another friends house and all of my nieces and nephews gave me big hugs.  Then I helped him get ready for a crawfish boil tomorrow.  We’re boiling about 100 pounds of crawfish.   After that, I was driving home.  I had all four windows down and the radio turned up way too loud.   Basically, I’m just having an awesome day so far.”

He kind of half chuckles and says, “Crawfish?”

“Yes sir.  We FedExed them from Louisiana.  They’re in my buddy’s garage in about six kiddie pools… we’re cooking them tomorrow after church.  You should come!”

He smiles and sort of shakes his head and asks me, “Ok, so you’re having a good day.  Why were you speeding?”

I look surprised and respond, “Oh!  Well, I’m having an _awesome_ day” I correct him, “and I’m on the way home to…”.  I pause.

He raises his eyebrow at me so I finish “… to kiss my wife!”

He laughed loudly as he handed me my documents back and said, “Just slow down and have a great day.”

“Yes sir!  You too!”

As I pulled away, I watched in my rearview mirror as he walked back to his car shaking his head.

God Bless America!

 

… and yeah, I got my kiss.

True story.

I love my life.

Practically Married

This weekend my wife and I attended a marriage conference sponsored in part by our friends at Exodus Church in Belmont NC. We don’t go to church with those folks but we often listen in on sermons and have, on many occasions, worked in the community with people who worship there. They’re awesome people who serve God with enthusiasm so you’d have a hard time not liking them… or, at least, I do.

The conference promised to “
bring biblical insight and encouragement to you and your marriage” which it did in a stellar way. The conference is heavy on Q&A and I heard a few folks ask for practical recommendations but didn’t really hear any offered.

The problem, I think, was that Pastor Ortlund and his wife were trying to teach something hard and many folks were looking for a “quick win”. They were looking for “send flowers to your wife two days before her birthday” and got something much more scriptural. The scriptural answer that the conference provided was the correct one and one that leads to practical application if you actually hear the message.

The core of the conference was around just a few verses from Ephesians chapter 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she respect her husband.

I won’t deal with the biblical meaning of submission in marriage. If you want to hear an awesome discussion of what that means in the biblical sense (hint: it ain’t what you expect) and how to apply it then I highly recommend listening to Brian Lowe’s sermon “
Modern Family – Modern Wives”. He addresses the topic in a gentle, clear way. You can listen to the entire “Modern Family” series (Feb 5 2012 through March 3 2012) on the Exodus Media Page which, again, I highly recommend. The session on Sexuality is particularly… umm… inspiring.

With all of that said… practical tips… Many practical ideas for staying happily married can be found in our “
Letters to Friends” post but here’s the key takeaway that I got from the conference this weekend. It is that Ephesians Chapter 5, verse 33 is written backwards:

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she respect her husband.”

What does that mean in a “practical” sense? It means that in order to infuse romance into your marriage
you need to be capable of receiving romance. Or, to be more direct, in this verse men are commanded to love their wives and wives are commanded to respect their husbands. The reason that this verse is applied backwards from the way it is written is this. In order for romance to exist women must be capable of being loved by their husbands and men must be capable of being respected by their wives.

In the following paragraphs I’m going to make this about men but the same thing applies in a big way for women. In short, if you show respect for your mans leadership you are much easier for him to love.  My wife respects me.  She is open and loud about it.  That makes it easy for me to love her which is abundantly clear in my other posts about her.  That’s not all that goes into it of course… there are two whole lives built on this framework but it is the core of who we are.  There is, to a large degree, mutual love and respect.  It’s just that at the core of it all we value things differently.

To repeat,
and the wife see that she respect her husband
means that as the husband, the man, you have to earn her respect.  You have to give her the opportunity and reason to obey this command.

That means that you should live life inside the four walls of your house in exactly the same way that you (in most cases) profess to live outside them. If you wouldn’t lie to your brothers in the fellowship hall at church you shouldn’t dare to let her see you lie in your home. Ever. This means that you can’t call in sick when you’re not. It means that you can’t lie to the insurance adjuster to get a few more bucks out of him. It means that if you profess a belief in any part of your life you’d better be living that belief in every other part of your life. It means that if you say that you like helping those in need then you need get off of your ass and pick up a hammer. It means that if you go into the world telling people how awesome your wife is that you’d better be telling her the EXACT same thing at home. It means that when you stand up for yourself she respects what you have to say because she knows that you are intentional in everything that you do. It means that, as my Grandfather was fond of saying, you should “be right or be quiet”.  This is what God commands of her and, as her spiritual leader, of you.

But, again, how is this practical? The answer is simple, really… it’s not.

Practical romance; practical marriage, comes from and is driven by following God’s commands. That means that in a truly correct married relationship there’s no need to be told when you need to send flowers because you don’t need to send flowers. You will, of course, but you’ll do it because you want to show her your love and not because you have to do it to keep her from getting angry. You won’t have a choice about whether to buy her chocolates on February 14th; you’ll just do it. You won’t have to be reminded to buy her a present every Easter because you “can’t not” buy them. That’s practical romance.

Give her something to respect and she will respect you. Give her good advice and guidance and she will follow your leadership. When those things happen, love happens. A lot of love happens…. so much that it spills over onto those around you.  Not because she’s following your lead but because she has pride in your leadership.

If you wake up of a morning and realize that you’re not sure that you love your wife anymore it might indeed be the case that you don’t. That happens sometimes and buying her more roses will do exactly nothing to correct it. What will correct it, however, is looking at yourself and understanding why she doesn’t respect you the way she should. Does she see you lie? Does she see you steal? Does she see you break any of the other 8 commandments? Are you giving her enough to respect? For that matter, are you giving her
anything at all to respect?  Try living up to the commitment that you made to God and to her on the day that you got married and see if, maybe, that helps your love for her.