26 September 2017

Prayer: What Does Not Work ~ Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I pray every single day.  I try to be in constant conversation with the Father.  Picture Tevye at the beginning of Fiddler on the Roof.  I talk to God when I drive, work, and wander about the house.  I try to obey the command to pray without ceasing.

Also, I have time set aside for specific attention just to prayer.  I pray for friends and family.  I pray for my government and my nation.  I pray for the needs of those caught up in disasters natural and man-made.  None of this takes as much time as one would imagine.

What I am pondering for the next few days, however, is what does not work.  What about prayer is a waste of time.  Curl back your toes if they are easily stepped on for I will not be over-careful where I step on this one.  Prayer works.  That does not mean that it works the way we want or expect it to work.

Two conversations I have had about prayer teach me that we do not always understand the nature of prayer and its purpose.  Too often we express things in a way that sets us up for failure.  We place ourselves in a position to ask amiss and blame God for the lack of things unfolding as we want them to unfold. 

As I walk through this thinking please to not mistake my blunt approach for a lack of compassion.  Failure to get the premise right almost always leads to the wrong conclusion.  We address the living God and must do so with the heart and attitude requisite of the task. 

Please walk with me a bit Dear Reader as I attempt to remind my spirit what does not work in prayer.  As always, I value your company, questions, and counsel. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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25 September 2017

Masks ~ Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Even the most honest among us wears a mask at times.  I do not think it possible to be completely free of them until we are in a much different world.  Just yesterday I needed to mask my feelings to keep the peace. 

Like an addiction to an analgesic we often wear the mask until we love, long forgetting what our true faces look like.  “How do I take off a mask when it stops being a mask? When it's as much a part of me as I am?” (Mr. Robot) 

That is the danger of the mask.  It can become fused to us; part of us.  We become the thing we pretend to be and cannot discern where our true selves leave off.  Whether the mask is affixed by others or self-ordained we are the only ones who can choose to abandon it.  We are the ones who affix it anew in our preparations for the day.

I am required to be who I am created to be by God.  Perhaps the greatest complement I have ever been given was when a friend recently told me that you get the same “me” in every situation.  Even under the guise of this nam-de-plum I am the same man.  I carry the same wounds, scars, and triumphs.  I carry the requirement to love everyone into every situation.

Perhaps it is the masks we choose that cause us to inflict so much pain upon each other.  We fear that who we are behind the mask will be found unloved, unneeded, and unwanted.  Yet the one who loves me; who gave his life for me and my reclamation sees further past the mask than ever could any man.  Seeing who I am he proclaims that he loves me and it is the real me that he loves. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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24 September 2017

Masks ~ Versus Resolve and Resolution

Greetings Dear Reader,

There are those who would have it that we should express how we feel in every moment without reservation.  Carried to its logical extreme this would be a very dangerous practice.  This has already led to some very serious problems.

Too often our culture seems to erupt with emotion and make that the evidence of a thing.  What happens is that fact and information are set aside for outrage and anger.  Perhaps this is actually putting on a mask of emotion to hide truth.  Perhaps we take on a guise of offense on behalf of others for our own purpose.

Do not think that I am not saying that it is wrong to feel outrage over injustice.  It is required.  What I would submit is that engulfing the facts in a mask of anger detracts from others hearing truth.  It is often the case that the cause gets lost in the throngs angry shouts.

The face of logic, reason, and peaceful discourse is what moves us further down the road to truth and justice.  We mask it when we lessen ourselves by causing harm and destruction.  There are times when showing how I feel about something is inappropriate.  In these cases, I must not wear a mask but I must be myself whilst not indulging my emotions.  I must speak the truth in love.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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23 September 2017

Masks ~ The Jesus Mask

Greetings Dear Reader,

I think one of small things that is a great cancer is the meaning of “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”  This is not simply saying the name of God or Jesus and attaching to it an expletive.  It is something much more sinister and infinitely more damaging. 

The true intent of the command is to refrain from using the name of God for one’s own purposes.  This then invokes that one cannot and must not hide behind a religious mask for gain, power, or status.  It is not permissible to use the name of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to further an agenda outside of the Gospel.

Think for a moment how very many organizations that claim to represent Christ instead represent greed, pride, and manipulation.  As an example, when you see “Christians” on television look at what they are really after.  If it is money or followers they are taking the name of Jesus in vain.  They are wearing a Jesus mask.

The impact of this kind of behavior is that the name of Christ is lessened in the eyes of those who do not know him.  The Gospel cannot be heard or seen for the cloud of faces asking for something instead of offering the truth. 

I must never wear a Jesus mask.  I must instead assure that I represent Jesus as he is.  I must not have any other agenda than to share what he is to me without mask or pretense. My agenda here is never hidden.  I follow Christ and wish that all walked with me; not following me but as equals.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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22 September 2017

Masks ~ Family

Greetings Dear Reader,

It should be that the one place where one could go bare-face and without pretense is with family.  Too often, however, it is the place that is a constant masquerade.  It is the most dangerous ground we tread.

I was once traveling with a couple who are dear friends to have dinner with the parents of the young lady.  All the way there she instructed me on what was the right behaviour amongst her family.  I had seen this same wonderful person on many occasion apply her makeup whilst driving.  In this instance, she was constructing a mask for me that was suitable for her family.

The experience was entertaining for me but also very sad.  I watched an entire family spend an evening acting out parts assigned them by years of living in a household devoid of the freedom to be the person he or she is when away.  Not being inclined to this kind of theatre I chose a strategy of silence. 

I became good friends with the young lady’s siblings.  I once had a very real conversation with her oldest sister who commented, “We do not show our true selves to each other. We act our part and pay a lot of money for therapy.”

Home and family should be the place where who you are is welcome no matter who you are.  I must create space where my family can speak their minds.  Yes, it must be done with love and kindness.  Home must be at all costs a harbor for our true selves that is safe from the storm that is the world.

I must create a harbor for my family and not a place of fear and pretense.  It must be a place where the love of Christ is the rule and all things are viewed through the ideas of forgiveness and reconciliation.  It is never too late to create this space for others.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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21 September 2017

Masks ~ Affixing the Iron

Greetings Dear Reader,

I like to read.  When I was young and less socially inclined I would read for hours alone in my room.  Then and still one of my favorite authors was Alexander Dumas.  His stories of the Musketeers, Edmond Dantès, and Louis XIV have entertained me over and over throughout the years.

In The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later, Dumas tells the story of Louis XIV and his twin brother who is imprisoned and forced to wear an iron mask to hide his identity.  I will not spoil the story for you.  It is an excellent read.  In fact, I find all of Dumas’ novels great companions when I need to stir my imagination.  This one, however, so fits my thoughts at this time that I re-read it last evening.

One of the great sins we visit upon each other is forcing people we claim to love to wear masks.  We tell children not to feel a certain way.  We make people behave in a certain manner to be accepted.  We meter how others may express their feelings, needs, and concerns.

I am not saying that we should not teach politeness and civility.  I am saying that we should not force others to live a lie.  We must not, even in the name of good, tell others how they must be toward others when it is a lie.  We can be honest and be loving and kind.  We can be angry and not be mean or violent. 

Too often I have congress with people who say everything is “fine” through venomous words and scouting faces.  Worse yet, they force a smile that flashes and fades in an instant hoping to leave an image of credible civility that is actually a lie.  We both know it is a lie and they wish to force us into and iron mask of denial.

It became a matter of survival to read these masks and those who would force me to wear them when I was young.  For a time, I adopted this and tried to fit my mask to others.  It was a catastrophic and harmful failure. 

We cannot do what is right and force others to lie.  We can fit iron to their faces and then ask them why they do not smile.  We cannot force a smile from them and either of us believe that there is truth and love in it.  We go too many places where we must pick up the mask of that place at the door, affix on their say so, and become less that we are to get along.

I must create space where one may be whomever he or she is.  I will insist on kindness and love but the person must be free of masks that hinder being accepted for who they truly are. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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20 September 2017

Masks ~ Social Situations

Greetings Dear Reader,

I overheard a conversation between two friends who were planning an evening out.  They were discussing what persona they would adopt depending on where they would go for the evening.  They discussed what they would pretend to be or what they had already pretended to be at places they already visited.

How often do we put on masks for our social situations?  We become something we are not in order to fit in or impress.  Instead of being who we are we take on the acceptable visage of the party.  We adopt the mask of the moment to be who we think other expect us to be in the setting.

The problem is that if that is what the majority of people in the setting are doing then everyone is not who they are.  Just thinking about that gives me a heartache (and perhaps a headache).  When we spend time and effort being something we are not to impress those who are not what they are then we gain nothing.

I am not saying that differing behaviors for diverse social situations is wrong.  Rather, it is often called for.  That does not mean that within the suit of the moment that we cannot be our true selves.  I do not have to falsely become someone else. 

In truth, I must always be who I am in any situation.  I must be polite and respect the customs of others.  I might even have to suit up for the social requirements.  The man in the suit, however, must always be an honest loving follower of Christ.  If I wear any other mask I do great wrong.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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19 September 2017

Masks ~ Social Media

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am weary today so I am going to grab some low-hanging fruit here.  This does not mean that I am not serious or committed.  It is just that I am going to point out a bit of the obvious. 

Recently someone with whom I am very close posted a concern on his social media page requesting prayer support from his friends.  One of those “friends” proceeded to suggest that he was not doing enough for himself and launched a verbal argument that distracted from the honest need.

Too often we use the mask of social media to appear other than we are.  I am not being hypocritical.  I acknowledge that I use a nom-de-plum but I do not use this persona to attack anyone or pretend that I am other than I am.  My purpose in doing this is that I do not desire to be famous or infamous.  I desire to be a teller of tales and transparent follower of Jesus. 

Many, however, use the relative anonymity of social media to attack others, lie about their lives, and hide the truth of their nefarious deeds.  It is too easy to build a mask from behind which we can snipe and snarl.  As I said last week when discussing Minced Words, we forget that what we say has great power.  My improperly used words have done much more damage than my improper actions.

We use our social media to say hateful and hurtful things thinking that we can do so free of consequence.  There is always accountability for what we say.  Worse, we use it to manipulate and deceive others.   We exact control from behind the mask of our fake profiles and inflated statuses.  We seek attention and favor instead of being open and honest about our true status.

As a Christ follower, I am supposed to be transparent.  I am required to live with the understanding that I will give an account for “every idle word.”  Even if you do not share my faith Dear Reader, it is vital that you allow those of us who care about you to see the unmasked you.  It is the only way we can learn to love you for who you really are.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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18 September 2017

Second Thoughts – In Defense of Early Risers

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

I have been a short sleeper most of my life.  I usually sleep only four or five hours out of any twenty-four.  If I sleep longer than that it is due to illness or medication.  Because of that I am a very early riser.  I am usually up by 4:00 AM without the aid of an alarm clock.  It is really quite a wonder that I survived childhood and that my mother dared to give me siblings.

When people discover that I am a short sleeper (as opposed to being an insomniac) they offer all kinds of advice on how I could sleep longer.  A former college roommate suggested that he could hit me in the head with a rubber mallet each night.  Thusly concussed he was sure that I would sleep longer and more soundly.  I declined the offer.

Other offers have been sleep studies, drugs, and brain surgery to name just a few.  It makes me wonder what bothers others so much about my not sleeping more.  Some express guilt at sleeping too much.  Some explain how they need much more sleep or they will become murderous.  Too often the revelation brings questions about and speculation concerning what must be wrong with me.

I want to assure you Dear Reader that I use the time for good and not nefarious purposes.  This early morning time when I am up and most of those I know in slumber is when I have my quiet time with God, write my BLOG, and work on my novels.  It is also when I take the time to pray for you and your expressed needs. 

When I lived in a colder house and not alone I would shower early to assure that there was ample hot water for those who followed.  I could use time to prepare substantial breakfasts for those who would awaken later.   The curse comes for others when I am up and ready to go when they are just clearing the cob webs.

Recently someone told me I had no right to be witty at six in the morning.  I explained that I had already been up and creative for two hours.  She looked at me as if I had just confessed to drowning puppies in the tears of toddlers.  She assured me that my being up doing anything at that hour on purpose was surely a form a madness.

Fear not Dear Reader.  I will not require you join me during the wee hours of the morning.  I will not speak to you loudly when you do arise from your slumber.  I will almost always have already prayed for you, made a fresh pot of coffee, and be happy to see you. We are irritating because we have been up longer than you.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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Masks ~ Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

It occurred to me whilst I was out this weekend that Halloween is upon us.  The shops are filled with costumes, candy, and decorations of the macabre.  My first thought for Halloween is always toward candy.

That is really all the use I have for the American version of Halloween.  I don’t really go in for the costumes, decorations, and parties.  Since my health forbids the candy the whole thing is rather lost on me.  Except of course when it comes to my Grandsons. 

They are already planning and plotting their costumes and candy haul.  Should you like to see something further about Halloween from me you might enjoy my chapter on it in Sheetrock on the Road.   What has my focus right now though is masks. 

We wear them all year round.  We hide who we are for certain situations to people not in that situation.   Someone told me this week that when you are with me in any situation you get me.  I wonder if that makes people uncomfortable.

The story is almost cliché.  Someone shows up at the masquerade without a mask (should I be spelling that masque for continuity?).  He or she is out of place due to the lack of hidden identity.  To be just there is also the opposite where the party is not a costume party and he or she has been told it is. 

The point here is that we are out of place if we do not wear the mask when we are supposed to be wearing it.  We are not fitting into the spirit of things.  For me masks bring on thoughts of hiding who we are.  That is all fine for celebration and a little mystery.  The thoughts dancing through my head this week are concerning the ones we wear to get through life.

I have never really fit in anywhere.  I am sure that part of the reason is that even as a small boy I would be the one to point out if the Emperor had not clothes.  If you do not know this tale then here is a link to it:  The Emperor’s New Suit.  It is a very short read but will provide excellent context to our journey this week.  I hope you join me as I ponder the wearing of social masks and my need to make my way in a culture that is uncomfortable when we reject them.  As always, Dear Reader, I value your input.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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