The Complex Simplicity of God…

    There was a board game that fascinated me as a child, named ‘Mouse Trap’. The game would begin with each of the players working together to build this incredibly elaborate and complicated mouse trap (because we’re so good at naming things for kids). Once the trap was built, it then became a game of trying to trap your opponents’ mouse so that you could get the cheese at the center of the board. It was the kind of game that made me wonder about getting into engineering and building things.
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    The game itself is built around a ‘Rube-Goldberg’ machine, which is a machine that performs a seemingly simple task (catching a mouse, for example), in a seemingly complicated system (a 17 piece mouse trap). In the moment of it all, you look at this contraption, the path that has been created, and ask a lot of questions: Is this actually going to work? Was that entirely necessary? Is it supposed to look this way?
    People often talk about the way God works in our lives as “mysterious”, implying the unseen, unknown elements working together. Scripture talks about it. Pop culture references it (“The Lord works in mysterious ways”). But often times it seems to be so overly complicated and complex, or so loosely held together that many people are left wondering if it was God, or if they just wanted it to be God. (At least, I know I have been left wondering that).

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BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front

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Did you know that my voicemail box cuts you off after a 3-minute long message? I learned this because I’ve had several people call and leave messages longer than 3 minutes, which meant that they needed to call back to pick their message back up.

Have you ever gotten a phone call or email that just seems to drag on? Maybe a coworker is working on a project and wanted to get your thoughts on something. But their email to you asking for your ‘thoughts’ is 7 paragraphs and includes all kinds of background information that isn’t really relevant to the project itself? Or someone leaves a voicemail that rambles on and on and on.

Whenever that happens to me, I just want to ask the person to get to the point. If that’s you, and you’re a little impatient, Mark’s Gospel in the Bible is for you.  Continue reading

A Grief Reobserved…

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“I’m sorry to hear about your mother”

For the last two weeks of February, people would stop me and tell me that I have their condolences and that they’re praying for me. They told me to let them know if I needed anything. They would ask how I was doing.

All I wanted to ask them was ‘why?’ For a brief moment, every time someone would tell me they were sorry to “hear about my mother”, I was confused. Then, slowly, as a cold, gentle wave coming in on the beach, the memory would wash over me, reminding me of why.

Three months ago, my mother died. Continue reading

You can’t have a ‘savior’ if you don’t need saving…

Jean Luc Picard.jpgOne of my favorite actors/people in the world is Sir Patrick Stewart. I know him best for his portrayal of Jean Luc Picard, from Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, throughout his career as an accomplished actor, Sir Patrick Stewart has become a champion of women’s rights in domestic violence and soldiers struggling with PTSD, in part because of his childhood with an alcoholic, abusive father struggling with PTSD and his mother who suffered abuse at his hand. Because of his tremendous acting ability, as well as his social activism, Patrick Stewart was knighted and became Sir Patrick Stewart.

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I find ‘honorifics’, or titles signifying high standing or status, really kind of cool. Part of it is because they serve as a mini introduction. When you introduce yourself as “Dr. So and so”, I know that you have spent a lot of time studying. When I introduce myself as “Chaplain” or “Reverend” Feltz, it tells the person I’m meeting a little bit about me, and hopefully my character.  Continue reading

Heart attacks, gold, and Lent…

I once had a supervisor in the Army who had an interesting thing happen to him. When he found out that I worked in the operating rooms, he told me about the fact that he recently had a three-vessel bypass surgery, more commonly called a ‘triple bypass’. He said had the surgery done because his cardiologist noticed, during his annual check up, that his heart’s rhythm was off. In fact, his EKG revealed that he had actually had a heart attack, which he had been largely unaware of.

It turns out, that a few months prior to the surgery, my supervisor thought he had a bout with the flu that laid him up for a while. While the symptoms are gone away, he never really felt like he recovered 100%, because in fact he hadn’t. He had thought that what he was going through was a run of the mill flu, when it turns out his body was recovering from a minor heart attack.

Lent is beginning tomorrow night (I suppose that depends on when you actually read this though). It is a period of time largely associated with giving up chocolate, Netflix, or Facebook (or whatever you’re giving up). My time as a pastor has shown me that Lent has become season where most of us (myself including) have just a vague notion of what we’re really doing. I mean, we know what we’re doing (giving something up) but we can struggle to remember or stay focused on what we’re actually doing (attempting to draw nearer to Christ through self denial and reflection).

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