Category Archives: current events

What Happened In Vegas

For a long time people have said, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” However, I’ve always hated that saying, if for no other reason than that it promotes the false security of hidden sin.

What happened in Vegas last night cannot be hidden, even though what led up to it may never be fully understood. Regardless, the desire to commit wholesale murder is not likely the fruit of a seed planted in tender soil and fertilized with love, forgiveness, and grace.

No, what happened in Vegas was the result of evil taking root, hidden from sight, and allowed to mature. Someone planted seeds; someone watered them; no one could actually conceive what they were growing; but a harvest eventually came.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Galatians 6:7

What happened in Vegas probably didn’t even begin in Vegas, but it’s sure not to stay there; the ripples of pain have already spread around the world.

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Filed under current events, General Observations, Life/Death

But I’m Still 25, and Less

On Sunday I turned 50.

There wasn’t too much fanfare, especially since my wife was still in the hospital that morning. However, I did get a nice card from my church and a wonderful church-lady-prepared dinner afterwards. Later that night I also got a free meal at a local restaurant, along with a unique gift sure to set me apart from the locals this winter – a set of Nordic woolen underwear (literally from Norway, not the restaurant).

Today I turned 50+2, but that’s the end of looking at it that way. Today I’m letting the whole world know I am not 50 years old – I’m 25, and less. 

Seriously, I am a 25-year-old trapped in a 50-year-old’s body.

Forget what the numbers add up to when you look at my government-issued driver’s license (for which I’ve just gone through a roll-full of red tape to renew)- I’m 25, so just affirm it.

You see, even though this body of mine looks like a handsome, graying, bald man, I’m really a young man with healthy joints trapped inside. Unfortunately, no age-reversing creams or surgeries can help me look like what I really am, so you are going to have to accept me for who I choose to be – young and millennial.

But there’s more!

Even though I am only 25, there’s another me that’s trapped inside the 25-year-old me… it’s the fluid-aged me.

(Yes, I know it’s complicated, but there has to be boundaries, you understand. I can’t keep my job as a school bus driver in Tennessee if my true self fluctuates below the legal bus-driving age of 25.)

This other me (and what’s wrong with more than one?) can get down on the floor and play with blocks, color with crayons, play with Silly Putty, and throw food at people when they aren’t looking. It’s the same me inside of me that tends to make strange noises with my body and blame it on spiders; or make other kids laugh and get in trouble with their teachers, but never own up to causing it.

The me inside of the 25-year-old me varies from age to age, but that’s typically based on which toy aisle I’m visiting.

So, again, I’m no longer going to simply identify as a 50-year-old man, but a bi-personage with both fixed and fluid younger ages. Those of you who rate life and health insurance should take note and lower said rates accordingly. 

However, should the military draft ever be re-instated, and should the 25-year-old me receive a letter, just understand that you might be putting an AR-15 in the hands of an 8-year-old, also. 

Being 50 on the outside does have some advantages, I suppose. 

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Filed under current events, General Observations, Humor

“Till the Storm Passes By”

A Word of Encouragement 

I was trying to think of something clever to write: either something funny or entertaining; something profound and theological; or just something encouraging as many Americans stare down the barrel of the strongest storm on record, Hurricane Irma.

That’s when the lyrics of a song came to mind, a song written many years ago by Mosie Lister entitled “Till the Storm Passes By.”

My mom and dad used to sing this song in church. I grew up singing it, especially one day when I was lying on the floor of my school bus as tornadic-like winds came through unexpectedly and trapped me inside, making me think the yellow box was going to flip.

In the words of this song there is clear sense of dread, but at the same time a sense of security and hope. Storms do come, whether they be literal meteorological events or spiritual/emotional battles; yet, there is One whom we know will hear our cries and keep us safe in the hollow of His hand.

Immediately I hear someone say, “But what about those Christians who die in storms? Did you God keep them safe?” First, what about the ones who didn’t die? Secondly, and most importantly, what about that “peace that passeth understanding”? True safety will be seen “when the long night has ended and the storms come no more,” and we stand in His presence on “that bright, peaceful shore.”

Regardless the size or consistency of the “storm,” knowing I am held fast in the hand of the One who will keep me eternally safe gives me peace. I pray that those stuck in this coming storm, and others to follow, will find that same peace in Jesus Christ.

“Till the Storm Passes By”

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there’s no hiding place;
‘Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
“Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.”

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispers,
“There is no need to try;
For there’s no end of sorrow,
There’s no hope by and by”;
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I’ll rise;
Where the storms never darken the skies.

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

– Mosie Lister

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Filed under America, Christianity, current events, Life/Death, Weather

Battle of the First-World Divas

The other night my two daughters, Katie and Haley, said “Dad, you’ve got to watch this!” They were referring to the brand new video released during the MTV music video awards, the new one by the once-wholesome Taylor Swift.

Look, I’m not going host any links to the video on my blog today, for one reason, if no other, that it’s a bunch of whorish, sinful, ungodly trash. Did I just say that? Yeah, and I won’t take it back.

My daughters were watching the video awards show on MTV because Katie is a music education major. Katie wanted to get an idea of where the music was going this year and get some insight on other things that I don’t understand. But not only that, they were interested in the ongoing feud between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

Some of you may be familiar with all the strife and tension between the two pop music divas, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. However, some of us in the real world (because their reality is more of a fabrication than foundational) aren’t concerned with their little spat over what is essentially inconsequential in the big scheme of things. Unlike me, though, there are millions of fans between the two singers who do nothing but speculate over what it is that causes the two to be at each other’s throats. I, for one, couldn’t care less!

It’s not like either one of them will ever read this, but I want to give a suggestion to the both of them. If you happen to know either Katy Perry or Taylor Swift, pass this along…

“Get over yourselves! You’re uber-wealthy, so just write off your hard feelings and first-world problems! Specifically to Taylor Swift, your first-world anger and bitterness issues are ugly, sickening, and make me disgusted when I consider that girls everywhere look up to you. Quit being a snot and show a little forgiveness. Your “reputation” might be dead, but the stink in your soul is becoming too much for the rest of us to endure. And Katy, do everyone a favor and just apologize.”

There, that’s my commentary own the pop-music diva scene. I hope I never have to talk about it again.

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Filed under America, current events, music, Uncategorized

Too Black?

Writer’s Wall

This morning, before I got out of bed, I told my wife, “I just want to write!” Last night I went to bed with thoughts I wanted to express, but were wondering which to tackle first. Writing, of course, is one of the most therapeutic exercises for relieving stress and clearing one’s mind, but some of what I want to write about face some barriers to my sensibilities.

“It’s not like I have writer’s block…” I said, as my wife looked at me with a look that implied indifference to my struggle – which is a common expression from those who don’t understand the need to pound a computer keyboard – “…it’s like I have ‘writer’s wall‘!”

Do any of you understand what I talking about? It’s like there are a ton of things worth discussing, but what will happen when I write about them? For example, I seriously want to write about the “F” word and its usage. Also, there’s all the curse words like “damn” and “go to hell” that need to be realistically addressed in the light of atheism. What do you think the reaction from my conservative readership would be? How could I set those up?

Another topic would be the definitions of “racism” and “racist.” Personally, I believe that without a biblical worldview and the Christian faith, the whole subject of racism is an ironic joke unwittingly perpetrated on a daily basis by millions upon millions. Yet, what would be the repercussions should I even approach that topic? Would I get banned from social media without even getting to make my point?

It’s not like I have nothing to write about; it’s just that there’s so much which poses a real challenge, even a danger, to put into print. Unfortunately, that only adds to unwanted stress.

Racist Coffee

So, as I was trying to decide if or what I would write about, I made the seemingly innocuous decision to make a Saturday-morning pot of coffee. If anything was going to get done this morning, besides the rest of the activities and chores which the rest of the day holds, a good cup of coffee made perfect sense.

Using a conventional Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker, I poured in the right amount of water, to begin with, and then placed in the filter to hold the grounds. For some unknown reason, possibly the result of criminal activity, I could not find my usual tool to measure out the appropriate amount of ground coffee to put in the filter; therefore, I selected a previously-unused measuring spoon from the counter drawer and put it to use.

A few minutes later – and not a minute too soon – the coffee maker beeped at me, signifying the coffee-making process had finished and my morning caffeine  was ready for consumption. Unfortunately, as soon as I poured the freshly-brewed coffee into my white ceramic mug, the blackness of the liquid signaled something went wrong. Obviously, the previously-unused measuring spoon resulted in me using too many coffee grounds for the amount of water in the pot.

The coffee was now too dark, too “black.”

Immediately…not like I had a chance to jokingly come up with it…immediately…just as soon as I looked down into my white cup with the “too black” coffee!…the thought came into my mind, “Great! All I wanted was a cup of coffee, and now I’m a racist.”

Folks, when you can’t even make a simple cup of coffee in the morning without the constant drumming of media messaging and labeling affecting completely unrelated actions, society…civilized society…is in big, big, trouble.

I looked at my coffee, then sat down to write. 

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Filed under blogging, community, Culture Wars, current events, Food, writing

How Polluted Is Your City?

As much as I hate to admit it, everything that Mark West says in this article about Chattanooga (my home town) is true. For example, he points out that Chattanooga was once considered the most polluted city in America – I remember those days when one couldn’t even see Lookout Mountain because of the brown smog that hung low over the city.

But it’s another kind of pollution that Mark describes in “Chattanooga: A Polluted City,” and that pollution is proving far more difficult to eradicate.

I love my city, and I’m happy to live here. I mean, seriously, Chattanooga is regularly listed as one of those beautiful places everyone one – especially the nature-loving folk – should visit at least once. In addition to the natural beauty, there’s the history, the southern culture, and the courteous people. Yet, a serious problem wafts through the streets, and it’s going to take a lot more than nice words and eco-friendly investments to solve.

Click on the above links and read my friend’s assessment of the situation. If you have any other suggestions, I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear. Just let him know I sent you 😉

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Filed under America, community, current events, Guest Posts, places

The Unbearable Secret

Do you have a secret? 

If it is true that “we are only as sick as our secrets” then sexual abuse is one of the most lethal secrets in our society today. There are an estimated 60 million adult survivors in the U.S., and one in 10 young people will be sexually abused by age 18.

I am one of these statistics. And, I just published a book inspired by true events, about a friend who also was victimized, but did not live to share his story.

Many survivors will tell you their abuse was the worst thing that ever happened to them. From my perspective it is not; denial is.

Denial perpetually re-victimizes, extending pain’s power over victims’ lives and adding fuel to a fire of self-destruction that can include substance abuse, relational brokenness, and pornographic and other sexual addictions.

Why We Hide

Why do sexual abuse victims hide the truth about what happened to them?

Shame.

Unlike in other crimes, victims of sexual abuse experience an intense, if misplaced sense of responsibility for what happened. In my conversations with survivors I’ve been repeatedly stunned by how often I hear a version of this statement:

“What happened to me wasn’t sexual abuse; it was my fault because I __________.”

How victims fill in the blank is not important if you understand that “sexual abuse involves any contact or interaction whereby a vulnerable person (usually a child or adolescent) is used for the sexual stimulation of an older, stronger or more influential person.” [“When Trust is Lost,” by Dan B. Allender]

The shame we feel creates the secrecy, but sadly even when we find the courage to break our silence, those we choose to trust often are unprepared and ill-equipped to receive such a difficult disclosure in a life-giving manner, at least initially.

The questions asked or the emotions expressed can serve to confirm victims’ worst fear — that what happened to them really was their fault — so rather than bringing freedom, disclosure can lead to a deepening of shame, self-contempt and denial.

  • When I first told my future husband that I was abused by my high school teacher he asked, “Was it consensual?” Now  a strong supporter and advocate, he deeply regrets his initial response, which didn’t reflect a lack of love, rather a lack of understanding of sexual abuse.
  • My friend, Paul, was an adult when he told his parents about his abuse by a priest in high school. When they learned of his intention to join other classmates in taking the allegations public, his parents questioned why he would “cause trouble for the church.” It took months for them to process their fears and anxiety and join him in his quest for justice.
  • My friend’s sister visited her aunt and uncle for the summer as a teenager. She called her parents and tearfully plead to come home because her uncle was molesting her. They dismissed her claims and told her to “stop being dramatic.”

The Secret Cost

Victims eventually escape their abusers, yet many live in fight-or-flight mode. Who is the enemy they fear most? Intimacy.

As human beings we were created to live in intimacy with each other and with God. Survivors find themselves locked in an internal conflict against this God-given desire. And as with any battle, it leaves a trail of destruction—self-destruction in this case, in the form of relational struggles, divorce, substance abuse, sexual addictions and far too often, suicide.

My friend, Paul, looks for these battle scars to identify likely victims among his high school alums. Netflix’s “The Keepers,” reports these outcomes were common among survivors of the abuse scandal at the center of this series. And The Boston Globe Spotlight team has showcased myriad cases where such fallout plagues survivors.

Secrets Don’t Keep

In Mark Chapter 4, 21-23, Jesus says to his apostles:

Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Secrets don’t keep. Sooner or later they find their way into the light…and that is for our good.

As difficult as it is, the first brave step for a survivor of sexual abuse is to speak up about what happened. Bring it to someone you love and trust to come alongside you in grace and truth, even if imperfectly. Pursue recovery; I’ve created a short list of resources to help you get started.

And most importantly, bring your abuse to the Lord. Admittedly, this is no small step, especially for those wounded inside the church. Yet we serve a God who promises, “You will find me when you seek me with your whole heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

If you’ll take the risk, God will heal your broken heart. And in the process, as only he can do, he will use your brokenness to become a light to others.

It’s in this way that we discover our purpose, our value to one another and our infinite, unconditional value in the eyes of the one who created us. And that’s when something truly incredible happens:

We connect…intimately

…and we hear two of the most healing words a hurting person can hope to hear from another person:

“Me too.”

You are not alone. You are forgiven. And not only can you be delivered from the darkness of your suffering, but you can become a brilliant point of light in the lives of others.

 

About the Author

Nanette Kirsch is author of the Faith Runner blog  and of the just-released book, Denial: Abuse, Addiction and a Life Derailed, based on a true story, of how denial of childhood sexual abuse led an outwardly highly successful man into a secretive and dangerous double life.

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Filed under abuse, Christianity, current events