Thoughts, musing and insights of a Zawacki mind.

Rubbing the Wrong Way

I have an awesome wife. Not many men get to marry their childhood sweethearts, but I did. We recently celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, pretty cool. Together, over the years we have learned some wonderful lessons.

  • As newlyweds we discovered that reddi-wip will remove paint from freshly painted walls.
  • We discovered that poison ivy can cut your honeymoon short.
  • We discovered that American Express really does expect you to pay the full amount at the end of every month.
  • As new parents, we discovered that we actually were allowed to unwrap our newborn from that tightly wrapped baby blanket no matter how scary the maternity ward nurse was.
  • We discovered that potty training your first born while eight months pregnant with the second child is NOT a good combination.
  • And neither is looking after your 3 year old son while watching the Giant’s play football on Sunday afternoon.
  • We’ve discovered that no matter how much I like to cook (and I’m pretty good at it), she is STILL the Queen of HER Kitchen!
  • We discovered that only mommy knows how to comb out an 8 year old daughter’s hair, daddy just won’t do.
  • We discovered a double standard when our children would date. I was fine when my son took out a lovely young lady on a date. But Mamma, grumbled in the back ground.
  • We also discovered that when our daughter would date Momma was all smiles and giggles while I would growl, stare him down, offer a grip of death handshake, while holding a finely tuned, 5 hp, extra sharp chainsaw in my left hand
  • We’ve learned that everyone else goes away, and that we better like each other. As God has moved us around the country we have left some awesome friends behind. Even our children have grown up and moved on… that being the case, we had better like each other, and we do.
  • We’ve learned that in the best times and the worst times, I want her there with me, There is no one else I would rather celebrate with. She is the one I look to for encouragement, her presence comforts me.
  • We have also learned that when I ask her to rub my back, she’ll do it but she tends to rub my back in the places hers is hurting, I do the same thing. Occasionally I’ll be asked to rub her feet, not a problem, I'm happy to do it. However, I’ve noticed that I do tend to rub her feet where my feet hurt.

So here’s today’s $64,000.00 question… Do you touch, rub, reach out, care for, cook, listen to, even pray for others where you personally desire to be touched?

We give love in the form we desire it. Gary Chapman’s bestselling book “The Five Love Languages" address this well. Chapman defines the five love languages as: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Acts of Service. My love language is Words of Affirmation. Nadine’s is a combination of Physical Touch and Acts of Service. What’s yours? 

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

I participated in a lively group discussion last night. A group of friends have been gathering for a few weeks now. We eat together, worship a bit and talk about... stuff. So last night I threw out the following question: “Why do bad things happen?” 

Now all those assembled have been around church circles most of our lives. Through the years we’d all been exposed to various theologies and philosophies attempting to explain this age old questions. Here are a few of the answers we came up with:

  • We are reaping what we’ve sown.
  • We’re out of God’s will.
  • There's a lesson we need to learn.
  • It’s warfare, a spiritual attack.
  • It’s the effect of our sin.
  • It’s the effect of someone else’s sin.
  • It’s demonic payback or backlash for our good deeds.
  • The injustice experienced creates an opportunity for Divine justice.
  • A combination of the above explanations.

My guess is that you could add a few items to this list.

So, here’s my point, when bad things happen – do we really know why? Do we know with a definitive certainty why it happened? I think not. If we’re uncertain why bad things happen to us, then we’re even less certain why they happen to others. That uncertainty alone is a very good reason for grace. Grace toward others and ourselves; grace and dramatically less judgment. Bad things happen and we don’t always know why. When bad things do happen may our default position be one of love and grace.

What say you? 

Ready for Either

Mark’s Gospel records the account of James and John asking Jesus to sit on his right and his left in glory. In reply Jesus asks “can you drink the cup I drink?” They say “sure, why not” and Jesus tells them “you will”.

Author, theologian and bible commentator William Barclay comments on this text in his classic work “The Master’s Men” (page 101)…

“So then both of the brothers drank the cup of Christ. Let us see what the cup of Christ was. John went to Ephesus; he lived for almost a hundred years; and died in peace full of years and honor. James’s life was short, and came to an end swiftly and suddenly through martyrdom by the sword-and yet both drank the cup of Christ. There is a Roman coin, which has as its inscription the picture of an ox facing an altar and a plough, with the words: “Ready for either.” The ox must be ready for the dramatic sacrifice of the altar or the long routine of the plough. The Christian who dies in one heroic moment and the Christian who lives a long life of fidelity to Christ both drink the cup of Christ. The Christian . . . must be ready for either.”

I’m convinced, first we drink then we discover our fate. In the end it doesn’t really matter, the pay’s the same. For me the key to readiness is this… I’m already dead.

“I have been crucified with Christ…” Galatians 2:20

“My life is not my own…” 1 Corinthians 6:19

“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

So Lord, what will it be today… altar or plough? My answer is yes. 

Spiritual Fatherlessness

I had an interesting conversation with an old friend this week, it reminded me that I DO NOT what to be the church policeman. I don't want to establish, maintain, monitor and ultimately punish violators of "the rules", You know, those man made religious, rules and regulations with a side order of "the traditions of men." I have zero desire to be a church cop, but I have an enormous desire to be a spiritual father. In my humble opinion, the world has more than enough self appointed prophets, priests and kings. All the while, lacking drastically in spiritual moms and dads.

Back on October 29th, 2010 I posted to this blog a brief article titled What I Want to Do I listed 5 things, 5 simple things. Here they are:

  1. I want to be a friend of God.
  2. I want to comprehensively experience God's extravagant love for me.
  3. I want to love people as extravagantly as I have been loved.
  4. I want to introduce my extravagantly loving Friend to everyone I know.
  5. I want to help others others experience this ongoing love affair for themselves.

Missing something? Notice the absence of religious rules and regs? Good.

Back in the 70's the Charismatic Renewal sweep through the Catholic Church and took my family right along with it. We typically saw 22 year olds leading meetings while regularly providing opportunity for a skinny 16 year old kid from the neighborhood to lead as well. It was an absolutely wonderful season in my life. However, we did have one enormous problem, we were spiritually fatherless. The parish priest was happy enough to grant us permission to use the school cafeteria, but not happy enough to join our group of 250 every Thursday evening. On the other end of the theological spectrum, our Pentecostal brothers wouldn't touch us with a ten foot pole lest they too would get a sudden urge to pray the Rosary. We were fatherless and like most kids without a father, we made a lot of mistakes and got into a lot of trouble. With rare exceptions (men like Bob Mumford for example) the church didn't know what to do with us so they just left us alone.

So, I wonder, who's next? Upon whom will God almighty sovereignly choose to pour out his Spirit? I'm not talking fraud, I'm talking about the real thing. The real God's actual Spirit. Now that we're the grown ups, will we step up and lovingly father and mother the next move of God or will we join the ranks of the too easily offended? What if this next move is among Muslims or Hindus or Mormons? What if God chooses to pour out his Spirit, dare I say it - among the gay community? Any one of these groups would be as offensive to Evangelical Christians today as Catholics were to the Pentecostals back in the 1970's or Gentiles were to Jews in the first century.

If you're on the church police squad you may feel this overwhelming need to get them back in line. However, if your only objective is to love them, to be a spiritual mom or dad, to help them experience God's love lavish and extravagant love for themselves... Well, then you just might want to turn in your gun and your badge because you're not going to need them anymore.

Shiny Broken Peices

Awoke at 3:00 AM, can't seem to sleep.

Watched the season premier of House tonight. The main character is a brilliant but very broken physician. This episode opens up with our extremely gifted yet horribly flawed hero in a state mental institution... as a patient. The next two hours portrayed his journey to emotional honesty. The writers and actors did their jobs very well.

It made me think.

I'm broken too. I cover up my my brokenness effectively but that doesn't mean I'm whole, I'm not. I'm still broken. I've learned how to ignore my pain and how to coexist with my pain and even how to function at very high levels in spite of my pain. But none of these things, not one, has healed or removed my pain.

I could go on like this, broken yet functional, for a very long time and most would never know. Our culture is ill-equipped to deal with flawed leaders, the church even less then society. I have learned how to see the good in every circumstance and situation. When life has given me lemons I've used them to make very tasty sermon illustrations. I'm more entertaining but I'm still broken. Others are refreshed, heck, some are even inspired - but me, if I'm truly honest I have to admit, my pain still remains.

"Com' on Tom, count your blessings..." I do have many, much more than I deserve.

"Look at the lives you have touched..." Wow, more than I could ever have imagined, I'm humbled, eternally grateful - the lemonade has gone a long way, a very long way.

But about that pain...

Papa, two bouts of cancer have broken me in ways I can't begin to express. The physical toll, as expensive as it has been, is easily eclipsed by the emotional and spiritual. Please take all my fractured pieces. Some have been hidden away for a very long time. Others I have have kept well polished and as presentable as possible. I have no idea how to repair them, some don't seem to fit together any longer. I'm pretty sure that many just need to be replaced.

Papa, I offer you my heart, please be gentle, it's been through a lot and it's been broken for a very long time, thanks. Well, it's almost 4:30, I'm going back to bed and see if I can get a little more sleep, goodnight.