31 October 2013

Preparing for Advent – Divergent but Parallel Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

On this night I find little use for costumes and candy.  I will dress up as part of my work tradition and hopefully get to see my Grandsons trick or treat.  What occupies my thoughts today in preparing for Advent is the souls of men and the state of the Church.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about redemption.  I do not think I ever imagined that in my lifetime people would move so far from understanding their need for reclamation.  I do not think it proper to use fear and threats to manipulate people into seeing their need for Christ.  This does not change that we need a redeemer.  It does not change that we live in a world conflicted with God and requiring his intervention.

I care deeply about the lives of those around me but I care more about what comes next.  All of my attempts
to follow Christ here have as one of the purposes to help others see the love and grace of God.  I know that God wishes reconciliation of all things and everyone.  On All Hallows Eve it important for me to hallow or set apart my heart to this task.  It is the time in which I begin to think of the Advent of Christ in terms of our redemption.  I begin setting apart time, resources, and other things for the purpose of the beginning of Christ’s role in the redemption story.

The other thing on my mind today and every October 31st is the Reformation.  I feel that the church is so deeply in need of reformation again.  At one time I thought I knew the man who would begin this but he has given up the quest.  It is not that the Church is bad.  It seems to in large part to have lost its way. 

It seems to be slumbering in ignorance to the needs of a world that is dying without Christ.  I am not saying there are no good churches.  I am saying that the church seems ineffective in many ways when it should be leading the cause to tend to the woes of the world.  I am not attacking anyone or any denomination.  I am concerned that Christ followers tolerate so many needs of others not being addressed.  We need to wake up before we become irrelevant.


Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord"
You know it's all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can't you see it's such a sin?

Cause He brings people to you door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
"God bless you, be at peace"
And all heaven just weeps
Cause Jesus came to your door
You've left him out on the streets

Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay

God's calling and you're the one
But like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak
But you keep holding it in,
Oh can't you see it's such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
Cause it's asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can't even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on, get out of your bed

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

Don't close your eyes
Don't pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with Me my love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, my 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."

30 October 2013

Second Thoughts - Things You Overhear

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 frequent a diner that is also frequented by my Sons, Maxim and Bezel.  It is a comfortable and enjoyable place to eat.  So much of my time there is spent with family enjoying good food.

Recently I was enjoying a solitary breakfast editing some writing.  One of the workers approached me and asked where my children were.  I explained that they were all working but that I hoped to see them later. 

The kind lady went on with her work and was speaking to a new employee.  She did not know that I heard what she said.  Because my computer was open to a Word document I captured what she said through a mist of proud tears.

The new employee asked, “Do we get many regular customers?”

The answer was, “Yes we do but none of them are quite like Aramis (she knows me by my real name.)  and his children.  His Sons both work with disabled people.  They are in here all the time.  I wish people took care of each other the way those two take care of their people.  They are always polite and never cause any trouble.  The short one, I don’t know if he is older or younger has two sons who are as sweet as can be.”

She went on about her work training the new girl.  She has no idea that she filled my spirit with pride and a new facet of love for my Sons.  They mean more to me than I can ever truly relate.  It honors me deeply that others view them in this way. 

As a father struggling with the ways in which he wishes he had done better by his Sons I cannot take credit for their excellence in this area.  I can, however, but a button or two as my chest swells over the beauty and grace I see in their reputation with 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."

Preparing for Advent – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that Christmas is two months away.  Since I endeavor to live a little bit of Christmas every day I am going to spend the next month preparing my heart for the Advent season.  The Advent of Christ in human form is the beginning of the physical aspect of our redemption.  For me, it is never too early for Christmas and there is always time for another Christmas song.

I agree with most who think that the commercial part of the Christmas season is mostly rubbish.  I do love giving gifts to people and the celebration of the season.  I love the idea that it is a key part of a process: our reclamation.  I love thinking about who Jesus is and what he has to offer.  So much of who I am as a Christ follower has its advent in the story of Christmas. 

It is the journey to Christ that drives me to identify with this story so strongly.  Whether shepherd or magi I am the one who comes to the one who came to me.  I must seek the truth with all my heart.  I must see Jesus for who he is and not for what I wish him to be or what I hear others say he is.

I promise not to get to entrenched in the Christmas part of my preparation until after Thanksgiving.  I will, however, submit that there is always time for Another Christmas Song.  There is never a day when I do not wish for peace for all the world.  There is not a day when the story of God loving me enough to give his own Son for me does not tug at my heart.

The journey will be long but hopefully you will all enjoy some of it.  As always I value your thoughts.  


Hope everybody's ringing on their own bell, this fine morning.
Hope everyone's connected to that long distance phone.
Old Man, he's a mountain.
Old Man, he's an island.
Old Man, he's a-waking says
"I'm going to call, call all my children home."

Hope everybody's dancing to their own drum this fine morning ---
the beat of distant Africa or a Polish factory town.
Old Man, he's calling for his supper.
He's calling for his whisky.
Calling for his sons and daughters, yeah ---
Calling, calling all his children round.

Sharp ears are tuned in to the drones and chanters warming.
Mist blowing round some headland, somewhere in your memory.
Everyone is from somewhere ---
even if you've never been there.
So take a minute to remember the part of you
that might be the Old Man calling me.

How many wars you're fighting out there, this Winter's morning?
Maybe it's always time for another Christmas song.
Old Man he's asleep now.
He's got appointments to keep now.
Dreaming of his sons and daughters, and proving ---
proving that the blood is strong.

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."

29 October 2013

Belief versus Following – Hospitality

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have so much more than I need.  I think that most of us do Dear Reader.  I have rooms in my house that I rarely use.  I have room in my home for people who need refuge.  Recently I was privileged to share my space with someone in need.  I was able to give a friend a place to sleep for the night.

As I anticipated this friend’s arrival I pondered how much I love it when someone stays in my home.  I also considered how often this opportunity is open when I allow it to be open.  So many of those who follow Christ are travelers.  They depend on others for the daily provision of needs.

I wonder what the world would look like were all Christ followers committed to hospitality at a level that truly met the needs of others.  I believe that we are to have homes that are open to others.  I believe it can create a space for others to see Christ in a new light.  I also believe that we can allow ourselves to be changed by the interaction with those who move through our homes. 

There is a sense of anticipation that comes with others sleeping in my home.  As I make breakfast my heart is a little lighter.  As I anticipate greeting a guest I prepare the coffee, the bacon, and the pancakes.  I enjoy the ritual of breakfast and starting someone’s day with kindness and love.

Perhaps hospitality gives one a micro-view of what we are to be like always.  Fellow travelers are guests in our part of the journey and worthy of our best.  We are to treat others well and see to their needs and comfort when we can.  We are to be moments of warmth and refuge.  After all, is that not what we need from Christ?

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."

28 October 2013

Belief versus Following – Prayer

Greetings Dear Reader,

It seems that some view prayer as an event in which one participates both publicly and privately.  Others will say that it is the constant conversation with God that one has throughout the day.  For me it is both. 

The importance of the matter is that one does pray.  It is vital that we have the conversation.  It is important that we put God into the conversation of our lives.  If we find that means long periods of prayer to the exclusion of other things then we should do it.  If that means that responding to God first when things delight, perplex, or trouble us then we should do it.

The point is that we should do it.  How can I hope to maintain a relationship with someone with whom I do not communicate?  God is to be a vital part of my conversation.  Too much of what prayer is depends on my inclusion of it in every area of life.  It is easy to let prayer fall into formality and relegate it as an activity for gatherings and traditions.

I can believe in prayer and not have it be a part of my following.  I can neglect it and only use it when I need or want something.  It is much more important to assure that I follow Christ’s example and discipline my mind to see God first in every situation.  If I do not do this I am not truly following.  If I discipline my mind to do this with prayer it becomes much easier to do it with attitudes and actions.

Prayer needs to be the constant and sometimes focused conversation that propels me into deeper intimacy with God.  I cannot just believe that prayer is a good idea.  I must follow with my heart and mind.  I must speak to God as Lord, Father, and fellow traveler.

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."

27 October 2013

Belief versus Following – Friends

Greetings Dear Reader,

A pastor friend and mine were talking on the phone and I said something I often say.  It is always meant as a kindness but he challenged it in love and integrity.  I said, “I like you and I have a choice about that.” 

His loving response was “I am pretty sure we have to like everybody too.”  John was not chastising me.  He was being his genuine honest self.  So I did the research.  I cannot point to any particular place in the Bible that says I have to like everyone.  What I can say is that I must be kind to everyone.  I must be able to say that everyone gets the opportunity to find a friend in me.

It is wise that I am vigilant over who I let into the inner circle of my life.  I must, however, be predisposed to being good to everyone.  I must put everyone in the category of with my time and interest.  I cannot meet everyone’s needs.  I can determine that everyone in my path is going to get my very best.

I am required to represent Christ to anyone I encounter.  Every individual is worthy of my kindness, grace, generosity, and love.  It is not that me showing those things are so special.  It is the cumulative impact of always being that way with others that matters.  It is my obedience to the requirements of those things that makes me better. 

Christ does not want me to be good to others just for their sake.  He wants it for me as well.  When I live my life as though everyone matters to me then they really do.  When they really matter to me how can I not treat them as friends?

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."

26 October 2013

Belief versus Following – Church

Greetings Dear Reader,

I would never discuss this topic without the caveat that the Church and churches in America have some serious problems.  I have seen people I love and respect walk away for both good and bad reasons. 

Where is the place of church in my attempt to follow and not just believe?  I think that if I wish to truly follow Christ and cannot abandon church altogether.  I also think that at its height the church in America did not truly stand by the Gospel and all it requires.  I cannot get around that the Church has social responsibilities that is has fostered off on the government both locally and nationally.

The Gospel and following Christ require me to be socially involved in the needs of others.  I also believe that
I cannot maintain a social awareness without the balance of spiritual accountability.  If I take Christ out of any process that process ultimately fails.  If my motivation for serving others is not because of my faith and following then I will serve my own interests.

The Church is the place where I can find fellow travelers with whom to pool resources and release them for the good of others.  It is also the place for loving and grace oriented accountability.  Without that accountability I know that I do not do as well as I should.  It seems that accountability for our actions is something we flee as a society now. 

There can be balance and the Church can be relevant.  The starting point is realizing that we are to be the positive difference in the community both corporately and individually.  It is my duty to help make it so.

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."

25 October 2013

81 – The Seventh Inning

81 – The Seventh Inning
By Aramis Thorn
Here is the seventh installment of the short story as promised, Enjoy

Tonight is game three of the World Series between the Cardinals and the Red Sox.  Neither of these are the teams I wished for but I am hoping for a Red Sox win.  People who matter to me will be pleased by this.  The chill of October has set in and by the time we finish our journey through this game Baseball will be in its long winter’s nap.  Enjoy Dear Reader. 

Seventh Inning

Warm-up

Jack can tell that Joe is aware that his catcher is hurting.  His fastest pitch during the warm up is a crawling 72 mph.  To Jack’s relief the bandages and lidocain seem to have stemmed the demanding scream for attention from his hand.  The part of his hand that does the catching is working just fine.  If only he did not have to open and close his hand.  The catcher is anxious to get things moving.

55

Stretch Franklin, the top of the order takes his stance in the left batter’s box this time.  He is a good switch hitter.  Jack presumes they will find out just how good any moment.  He needs to let everyone know he is able to do everything his job requires.  He calls for the heat, inside.

Joe does not smile.  Jack almost panics.  He cannot afford for the young pitcher to be shaken because of his hand.  He signals again.

Zander hesitates.  Franklin steps out of the box.  Morris calls time and trots out to the mound.

As he arrives Joe starts the conversation, “Your hand.”

Jack grins a sun weathered grin the makes his eyes dance and his face crinkle under his greying goatee.  “My hand is fine.  You throw what I tell you to so we can go celebrate this night.  If you just keep doing what you’ve been doing we will be fine.”

Joe lets out a small grin, “If you say so Jack.  I’ll throw what you tell me to throw. “

Morris trots back to home plate where Garner Patch waits with extreme patients.  Stretch Franklin, however, is anxious.  “We gonna play or what,” asks the batter?

Joe looks him in the eye before taking his crouch.  “Oh we are going to play.  As a matter of fact since you are in such a hurry, we are going to give you all heat.  How do you feel about that?”

Franklin has seen the heat.  Jack takes his position and Patch signals for play.  Joe signals for heat.  Joe does not smile but he nods and sets.

The truth of pitching is that when the batter knows what he is getting it is only a slight advantage.  There is still timing, doubt, and physics to consider.

Joe deals and the pitch screams toward the plate.

Franklin swings too late.  Slap then swoosh. 

“Steeerike one,” calls Garner Patch.

“So all you need is timing now Stretch,” remarks Jack.  He is relieved that the waffle, bandages, and medication seem to be working.

The pitch clock smiles a knowing 102 mph.


56

“Here is some more of the same so you can work on that timing” quips Jack as he signals for the heat again. 

Joe nods and grins.  He winds and throws.

This time the pitch is inside but still moves like a bolt from the hand of Zeus.  Stretch over corrects and swings too early.  Swoosh then slap. 

“Steeerike two,” intones Patch.

Stretch is visibly shaken. 

Jack chooses silence.  He feels a twinge in his hand but it passes quickly.

The pitch clock speaks volumes: 103 mph.


57

Jack worries that he is testing fate.  He calls for the changeup but Joe shakes it off.  He calls for heat and Joe negates that as well.  Irritated Jack gives him the universal sign to pitch whatever he wishes.  Joe nods and grins.  Jack expects heat even though the kid shook it off.

Joe winds and deals.

The pitch looks like another fastball.  It is lying. 

The is screaming in and seems to be cutting the same furrow through the air as the previous two pitches.  Stretch thinks so and had the timing right.  He swings.

The pitch slides down and away from him.

Jack reacts in time to catch it.  Had he signaled slider he would not have been set up to catch the pitch. He sees the narrowness of the light between bat and ball.

The swoosh and slap are simultaneous. 

“Steeerike three and you’re out batter,” calls Patch.

The ball boy marks the ball 19.

The pitch clock marks it 98 mph.


58

Paul Simmons saw the pitch and is baffled by it.  He has never seen a left to right slider from a right handed pitcher.  Theoretically it is impossible.  Practically it just struck out his team mate.  Paul steps in to the right side cautious and wary.

Looking down at Jack he queries him, “Is your kid practicing voodoo out there?”

Jack looks up at the worthy opponent and offers some philosophy.  “Now Paul, you and I both know that baseball is the never land of sports.  Grown men get to play at being kids in the sandlot forever.  There has to be a little magic for that to work.”

Paul only nods and steadies his stance but too close to the plate.  This may be never land and they are all lost boys but right now Paul is Captain Hook.  Jack calls for the hook; inside.

The ball moves in and curves toward the batter.

He backs away and the ball eclipses the inside corner just above the knees.  The pitch is impossible to hit but still in the strike zone.

“Steeerike one,” calls the umpire.

The pitch tripped the clock at 88 mph.
  
59

“OK I get it.  I’m too close to the plate.  Just don’t let your kid hit me with one of those heaters.  I still have some good years left,” pleads Paul Simmons.

“We all have to grow up some time Paul,” rejoins Jack.  He signals changeup and inside.  In that moment Crackerjack Morris realizes that he is ready to leave the sandlot.

Joe gets what is going on and obliges.  He grins and delivers.

The pitch swears it is a fastball.  It looks like a fastball at first.  It looks too far inside to the rattled batter.  He steps back again. 

“Steeerike two,” calls Garner Patch.

Paul looks back at the umpire and catcher in disbelief.

“He put fairy dust on that one Paul,” quips Jack.

Patch points to the pitch clock.  “He did something.”

The clock twinkles a magical 59 mph.
  
60

Jack decides it is time to put Captain Hook to bed.  There are no crocodiles so he decides to give Hook the hook with the hook.  He signals curve inside and hot.

Joe nods and winds.  The ball sails right down the pipe toward the plate and at the same moment that Paul pulls the trigger it begins to curve inward.  Paul interrupts his swing to dodge the pitch.  He hits the ground and curses.

Garner Patch says he swung.

Paul appeals to first.

The first base umpire signals him out.

As Paul stands and collects himself he thinks to argue the call.  He has second thoughts and makes his way to the dugout. Under his breath he mutters, “This ain’t no never land.”

Jack hears this and thinks his friend is wrong.  At the moment Jack Crackerjack Morris is feeling younger than ever.

The pitch clock is feeling that the curveball passed at 92 mph.



61

As Jack passes number strikeout ball 20 to the ball boy Vick Houseman moves to the plate.  He cannot help but smile at his friend Jack.  “This is something else we got going.  Have you noticed that the fans are all mesmerized?”

Jack looks around at the crowd.  “We will fix that when I do my song and dance during the stretch.”

Jack crouches and signals.  They will work his friend Vick smart.  The first pitch is a curve outside.  Vick obliges by chasing it.  He barely misses it.  Once again the light is too narrow for Jack’s comfort.

“Steeerike one,” signals Garner.

“Should not have swung at that,” offers Vick.

“Glad you did,” counters Jack.

The pitch passes at a respectable 88 mph.


62

Vick had been watching Joe Zander carefully.  He adjusts his stance in a way that says, “I am getting a bat on anything close.”

Jack knows they cannot fool him so they have to beat him.  The seasoned catcher signals slider.  Joe nods, winds, and delivers.

The pitch is coming in very hot.  Vick has the timing right and pulls the trigger at just the right time.  Jack is sure the perfecto is over. 

At the last possible moment the ball dives down and away from its path toward the intersection of swing and perfecto shattering hit.  Instead it slides into the zone of swing and miss, but just barely.  The tense and riveted crowd issues a collect groan of relief.  Jack wants more light.  It seems silly that it comes down to that but it is all he wants in the moment.

“Steeerike two,” yells Patch almost sounding relieved.

Vick looks back at Jack, “That may be the best slider I have ever seen.”

Jack looks pale and in great pain, “It may be the best one ever thrown.”

The pitch clock winks in angry red 101 mph.


63

Jack tosses the ball back to Joe and wonders what they will use to get his friend out.  On one hand he feels that if anyone can beat Joe today it should be Vick.  On the other hand, the aching bleeding hand he wants a full set of fans for the fans.

Crackerjack is out of ideas.  He knows that Vick will hit the fastball.  He knows he will wait on anything that looks outside.  Before the game Joe and he had agreed that if it came to this he would let Joe make the call.  Jack signals with a closed fist.  This means for Joe to choose.  Jack feels he is passing the buck and he knows, as they have agreed, it will not be heat.

Joe nods.  Joe takes a moment and sets at the waist.  He winds as if he is throwing any of the big four and releases.  Vick is stumped.  He waits, thinking the ball is drifting outside but that is not the whole story. 

The ball is moving too slowly.  Jack is actually concerned it is going to go into the dirt but it dances its way across the plate and into his glove.

The crowed erupts drowning out Garner Patch as he calls “Steeerike  three.” 

It takes Jack a moment to realize that the young pitcher has just ended the inning with a perfect knuckleball. 



As the dumbstruck catcher passes the baseball for out 21 to the ball boy he relives the pitch in his mind.  He is wearing the waffle but for hand protection.  The pitch floated to the glove.  He recovers enough to look over to his friend Vick who has already taken up his position at third base.  Vick sees the confusion in Jack and merely shrugs equally bewildered.

Jack sees past him to the pitch clock.  It reads an amazing 51 mph.  While he is standing there one of the support crew takes his mitt and puts a large box in his hand.  Jack is brought back to reality as he is guided over past the backstop to the stands.  The crowd is on their feet and the intro notes are playing.

Snapping back to the present Jack indulges in a ritual he has celebrated during every home game in which he has played.  As the crowd sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” the catcher tosses boxes of Crackerjack into the stands.  The difference is that each of these has a hastily scrawled “81” on the box.  81 is Joe Zander’s number.  As soon as the first case of Crackerjack is gone Jack passes out another, and then two more.


The bottom half of the seventh is almost shorter than the seventh inning stretch.  Boggs and Ken both go down swinging.  Ravenelle McCracken smashes a line drive right into the glove of Vick Houseman at third base.  The eighth inning looms large with a tie score and the fans sensing the mounting tension.

Belief versus Following – A Bible

Greetings Dear Reader,

Within eyesight or where I sit typing this I can count sixteen Bibles.  Those are just the hardcover ones.  In my E-Sword electronic Bible software I have 36 English translations, 7 Greek and Hebrew, and access to almost every written language on the planet.  I have shelves full of commentary and background on the Bible as well as thousands of electronic volumes of the same. (I highly recommend E-Sword by the way.  It is free and quite manageable.)

All of those valued resources mean nothing if I do not use them.  Using all of them means even less if I do not change because of it.  There used to be a time where I read my Bible through once a month.  I did this for almost three years.  During some of that time I also was neglecting what it teaches in several areas of my life.  

I still read the Bible every day but I strive for quality over quantity.  I ponder what I read in light of what it is saying to me about following Christ.  If I do not discipline (same word as discipleship) my life to look into these words and find what I am to become by doing then I should neglect it altogether.  It is never enough to read the Bible or even believe it.

If I do not live the lessons found in that reading and it the commentary surrounding it then I am not following.  It does not matter if I believe it if I do not do it.  I am to be disciplined by the teaching of the Bible.  It is not my weapon to judge others.  It is not my tool to manipulate or pressure others.  It is a living thing that divides my natures so that I may feed the one that follows Christ. 

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."

24 October 2013

Belief versus Following – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

My Grandfather often said, “You do what you believe.  Everything else is just religious talk.”  This travels through my mind often when I am pondering what to do.  It comes down to a matter of what I believe or think I believe against the act of following Christ.

I do not want to be seen as a “believer.”  I want to be seen as a disciple.  I want to be seen as a follower.  It is easy to say that I have Christian beliefs.  It is often not easy to be a disciple who follows.  It is the difference between talking and doing.  It is the difference between hypocrisy and truth.

All of our lives are set in a temporal direction.  We are born and move forward in time.  At some point we begin to choose what we believe.  When I chose Christ I made vow to follow him.  I know others who have done the same.  There is no point at which I can abandon this vow with honor.  That is the nature of a vow.

I have made vows and abandoned them wrongly.  I have had others violate their vows to me and justify it.  This is what fallen humans do to each other and to God.  What I believe matters but only if it results in action.  I think that the failings of the universal church are the result of holing beliefs without living them when it matters.

As I walk my way toward advent to prepare my heart I need to work through this.  I need to examine how much I choose belief over discipleship and change that.  I need to follow and find the areas where I am not to that I do.  Follow with me if you wish.  Let me know what you are thinking.  I value the conversation.

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."

23 October 2013

Rendering Aid

Greetings Dear Reader,

Three times yesterday people asked me for assistance that had nothing to do with my day to day routine.  The nature of all three was very different.  All three requests were ones I was pleased to fulfill.

I will not recount all three but to say that they were quite divergent.  One was important to the person and fulfilled with a few mouse clicks.  One drew on my knowledge in the area of technology.  The third required me to be available, compassionate, and loving.

All three were vital to who I am as a follower of Christ.  By nature we seek the things that are serious and I think overlook the value in doing the mundane.  I spend the bulk of my working hours pouring my energy into my students and my writing.  I forget sometimes that when I support someone in something simple that is vital to my journey as well.

Any heartfelt aid that I render matters.  The mouse clicks and the easy to do may mean more to others than we realize in the moment.  Jesus did say that even a cup of cold water given in his name matters.   I just need to remember that my cup of cold water may be someone else’s solution to a dire thirst.

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."

22 October 2013

What is Selfless Faith – Closing Thoughts?

Greetings Dear Reader,

I believe that everything I do should be informed by my faith.  All that I am and wish to become must be a reflection of my faith.  It is so easy to say that I have faith.  At times it is very difficult to live it.  At times I have forgotten that faith must be selfless not just what I have.

If I look honestly at the life of Christ I see selflessness.  I see someone who would rather die than allow me to live in the state I was in without him.  When I want what I want above the needs of others or the requirements of the Gospel then I am not living a selfless faith.

All of the things in my life: work, leisure, possessions, and well everything must be subject to my faith.  There is nothing I give up for the sake of that faith that is not still mine in Christ.  If this sounds too mystic it is one of those things that seems to only resonate from inside faith.

Those who do not believe what I do may only see the value of my beliefs as I live out selfless faith.  This is perhaps the best external motivation that there can be for me.  My prime mover, however, must be my love for Christ.  That is the thing that I must embrace in order to live out selfless faith.  I must be so determined to show Christ my love for him that all else fades for me.  When I hit the moments where I do this I must say that the journey is much sweeter.

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."

21 October 2013

What is Selfless Faith – My Time?

Greetings Dear Reader,

As a grandparent I want to spend as much time with my children and grandchildren as possible.  I have other things I do with my time but this is the heart of my “leisure time.”  What I have learned about this is that I must be the one that is flexible.  I must be willing to work around the schedules of the adults and the needs of the children.  I find this not to be a problem.

If I am willing to do this for people I wish to be with why do I not do it so readily for those in need?  If someone needs my assistance why do I not make that a part of my selfless faith?  I need to do this.  My time
does not belong to me.  My time belongs to God.  He has given me every moment.  If I am to follow Christ faithfully then I must be sure to give him all of my time.

This does not mean that I am not allowed leisure time or time for my own things.  It does mean that my heart must be set to use my time for the benefit of others.  Pursuits that are self-centered become wrong when they are to the neglect of those who have needs.  I am to be vigilant that my time is consumed by the things that matter to Christ.  

So many things around me ask me to only consider what I need.  I must filter those things away and instead pursue those things that balance my time between what I must do to restore my being and what needs to be done to be good to 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."

20 October 2013

What is Selfless Faith - Possessions?

Greetings Dear Reader,

I recently stayed for the weekend at a Bed and Breakfast.  The proprietor is obviously a Christ follower.  His jovial and accommodating demeanor also make him an excellent innkeeper.  At breakfast the first morning I pointed out that his key fob was an old logo of the company for which I work.

He explained that it was from a set of keys that had been his parents and explained a bit of the history of the company.  He instantly said, “If it would mean something to you to have it, you may have it.”

I declined as my interest was mere curiosity.  I was, however, marked by his selflessness and generosity.  I believe that possessions are one of the major things that keep our faith from being selfless.  Too often we sacrifice the opportunity to be generous and loving for the sake of possessions.  Nothing I have will follow me into the clearing at the end of the path.  Anything I cling to here will mean nothing there.

If my faith is to be selfless I must not let possessions govern me in any way.   I used to have a firm grip on this and then I lost it for a bit.  I am regaining my footing here but there are still things I value too highly.  Possessions make following more difficult as they weigh one down. 

I want my heart to generous and giving.  I want my faith to be one that depends on Christ and not things.  If I am to accomplish this I must not cling to things. 

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."

19 October 2013

What is Selfless Faith – Prayer?

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am aware that there are many of you Dear Reader that I am may never meet.  You have found me for one reason or another and continue to read my meager ramblings.  Someone has said that some of the greatest good is to do something for someone who can do nothing in return. 

If I believe then I will pray.  If I believe then I will pray for those who neither know it nor can benefit me from knowing it.  It is an easy thing to tell someone you are praying for them.  It is another thing altogether to do it.  When I pray for situations and people that I cannot directly impact I work at changing the world through Christ.

I have made friends through media communication that I may never meet on earth.  In some ways this is the 21st century equivalent of a pen pal.  When my friend Sammi asks for prayer it does not matter that we have never spoken or met face to face.  My faithful prayer benefits her in that Christ is our common ground.

When I as my friend Sammi to pray for Owen during his heart surgery I am moving others to selfless faith.  It
may be that one of the best ways for me to grow my faith is through prayer.  All I have to gain through praying for others is deeper faith.  I must ask for God to see to their benefit.  I must assure that my heart is in tune with God’s in my love for everyone’s needs.

The very heart of this matter is that selfless faith pushes us toward seeking the good of others.  When I pray that is to be my focus.  As much as I am able I need to see that God has asked us to pray for a reason even when I do not see the benefit or outcome.  It is the prayer that is effectual.  I may not see the impact or results.  I have done well by obeying in prayer.

If my prayer is to be in faith then I must realize that it is enough sometimes to pray.  It is not always enough but if it is all I can do then I must realize that true power of it.  There is no such thing as “just pray”.  Prayer is the act of faith that calls on the Creator of All to intervene in something.  The right for me to do this exists because it was purchased for me with God’s blood.  That is reason enough for me to do it selflessly in faith.

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."

18 October 2013

81 – The Sixth Inning

81 – The Sixth Inning
By Aramis Thorn
Here is the sixth installment of the short story as promised, Enjoy
Both the NL and AL league winners will be decided before the weekend is over.  I truly hope it is the Dodgers and the Tigers.  The series will be exciting either way.

Sixth Inning


Warm up

Jack watches his young pitcher carefully. Joe takes the field as if nothing has changed.  He glances up at the growing collection of K signs behind the home on deck circle.  He takes his eight concentrating on range and strike zone.  He knows that the well of speed is still full for his drawing on it.   Jack fires the last pitch down to second and it travels the bases then back to Zander.  Patch cleans the plate and calls, “Play Ball.”

Pitch 46

Wholesome Mathews makes his way to the plate.  This time he tips his hat Joe.  He looks back at the umpire and smiles a smile bred on yellow corn, sweet-tea, and South Georgia peaches. 

“Hello again Mr. Garner,” intones Mathews.

“Welcome back Wholesome,” counters Garner Patch.

“Howdy Jack,” smiles the batter.

“Howdy Wholesome,” rejoins Morris.

“Your boy sure has some stuff there Jack.  I recon coach wants me to get a hit though,” offers the ever humble Wholesome.

The comment reminds Jack Morris of his grandfather bartering at the farmer’s market when he was a boy.  His grandfather loved baseball and lived just long enough see Morris play in his first all-star game.  Jack Morris honors  his grandfather with his next replay.  “I know you will do your best Wholesome.  You always do.”  Jack calls for an inside fastball and steadies himself for the pain.

Joe smiles and deals.  The ball rockets in like a line of lime meant to chalk out the inside edge of  home plate.  Wholesome swings too late.  Slap, then swoosh.

“Steeerike  one Wholesome,” calls Garner.
“Yes sir,” replies Wholesome.

Whatever Jack mutters it is an expression of pain.  He tosses the ball back to Joe and glares at the pitch clock. 

It glares back saying only 103 mph.

47

As Garner Patch settles down behind Jack he asks the question, “Are you hurt Jack?  Those fast balls seem to be giving you some grief.”

“They hurt Garner,” replies the catcher, “but I am not going anywhere.  I think you understand that.”  The catcher signals for the changeup in the same place. 

Zander deals and the release point is identical to the fastball.

Wholesome Mathews inches back and swings at a changeup so deceitful you would recount the stitching on it.  It moves so slowly you would have time too.  The sound is swoosh then slap.

“Steeerike two Wholesome,” call Patch.

“Yep,” replies Mathews.

Jack is grateful for the soft landing and tosses the ball back to Zander.

The pitch clock hums along reading 64 mph.

48

Joe looks in and Morris calls for a slider.  The pitch will have the sideways movement necessary to fool Mathews and Joe will put it across the plate.  Called third strikes are always better than a swing and miss.

Joe’s delivery is right on target.  To those who look on it seems as if he threw the same pitch to Wholesome but faster.  As Wholesome shifts back to take the pitch inside the ball slides down and out.

“Steeerike three Wholesome,” calls Patch.

“I think that boy is a wizard,” replies Mathews.

92 mph calls the pitch clock.

“Perhaps,” smiles Jack.


49

As Jackson Daniels moves to the plate Crackerjack takes a moment to remove his mitt.  The pain from the last pitch is now a fiery blossom in the heel of his hand.  The ball boy thinks to bring the frost spray when he collects and numbers the ball.  Jack generously applies the spray, thanks him, and settles back behind the plate.

]He knows they can put Daniels down with magic versus speed.  He calls for the outside curve, slow.  Daniels chases it while he thinks it is headed for the plate.  It moves away from him just as Joe intends.

“Steeerike one,” calls Patch.

Jack is grateful for the slower pitch and a ball caught in the webbing.

The pitch clock comforts him at 77 mph.

50

Daniels looks back at Jack, “That was just plain sneaky.”

“How about some more of the same Jackson,” asks Jack?

He calls for a changeup.

Joe looks just as he does when he delivers the heat.  Jackson Daniels sets and swings far too early.  The swoosh then slap is easy to discern.

“Steeerike two,” says Patch.

“That boy is a liar,” says Daniels.

“You are a believer Jackson,” rejoins Jack.

The pitch clock winks relief to Jack at 72 mph.

51


For the third pitch Jack calls for the slider. 

Joe deals.

Daniels swings and misses.

“Steeerike three,” declares Patch, “batter is out.”

“That boy really needs to go to church,” says Daniels as he retreats to the dugout.

“He does have a gift for deception,” offers Jack.

The pitch clock agrees at 82 mph.

As Jack gives the ball to Tom he asks him to get the waffle ready for the next inning.  The ball boy grins and nods.  He knows if he is going to last through more heat he needs the extra padding.


52

Andy Vine is pitching a good game.  There is no score and he has pitched his way out of trouble twice.  Pitcher versus pitcher is one of the things that Jack Morris loves about the game.  No batter knows pitching better than pitchers.  Jack feels that the designated hitter in the American league is one of the things that has harmed baseball.  Pitchers should have to face each other.  Today two good ones are doing just that.

Last time Andy visited the place they pitched him curve, changeup, changeup.  Andy has had three more innings to study Joe Zander.  Andy is aware that it is his duty to break up the perfecta.  He is also aware of what this type of game means to any pitcher.  Jack can see on Andy’s face that his heart is not in this at bat.

Jack calls for the heat first.  Andy will not expect it and he will spend the rest of the at bat wondering instead of anticipating. 

Zander fires with all he has.  Four seams of lightning strike toward home plate.  The ball moves so fast that only Jack reacts and it is in pain.

“Steeerike one,” calls Garner Patch after what seems like an hour.

The sound Jack Morris makes is somewhere between a grunt and a cry of pain.   He immediately calls and is granted time.  As he moves to the dugout for assistance the stands erupt with thunderous cheers. 

The pitch clock reads 105 mph.

53

Garner Patch moves half the distance between the plate and where Jack Morris and his trainer stand.  The trainer drops a rag that has blood on it.  He is quickly taping something onto Morris’ hand.  He then sprays the hand.  The ball boy has the waffle and hands it to the catcher. 

The waffle is an over-sized mitt that catchers use to catch knuckle-ball pitchers.  Sitting out in the home bullpen is one of the best in the league.  What Crackerjack Morris is after is the extra padding and thicker sweet spot.  No one realizes that there are three crushed carpals in Jack’s hand.  They are all focused on the burst blood blister from the last pitch.

They patch up Jack’s hand and he switches gloves.  He nods to the umpire and trots back to the plate.  As the players take their places he apologizes for the delay.

Andy smiles down at him. “No worries Jack.  That kid throws some voracious heat.  I am sure the waffle will help.  Feel free to lay off for the rest of the inning.”

Jack nods and signals to Joe for a changeup.

Andy sees the grin and believes fastball. As he pulls the trigger Andy realizes he has swung too soon.  The young Zander has fooled him again,

“Steeerike two,” signals Patch.

The combination of waffle mitt, tape, and freeze spray work so that Jack feels only a tingle as he catches the pitch.

The pitch clock joins in the reassurance reading 77 mph.



54

It is one of the living things about baseball that too few ponder.  The mechanics of baseball are a constant transfer of control.  The pitcher has control until he releases the pitch.  Then the batter has control.  Then either the fielders or the umpire or physics are in charge.  So far Joe Zander has mastered the transfer of control.  He has held it between himself and Jack the entire game.

Andy wants to take the control from Joe Zander.

Jack wants to maintain things as they are except for the pain in his catching hand.  He signals for heat to finish off Andy.  He knows Andy does not expect it.

Joe grins, winds, and deals.

Again Andy is caught looking.

“Steeerike three,” calls Garner Patch.

Jack looks over his shoulder at the pitch clock just as Joe catches up to him.  The pitcher looks Jack in the eye.  “Can you catch that,” he asks eyeing the waffle.

Jack nods.

For the first time Joe Zander says something that worries him.  “This could be fun,” chuckles the kid.

After passing number 18 on to the ball boy Jack spends the bottom of the sixth getting his hand worked on.   Palmer Grant, the trainer disinfects and cleanses the open wound on Jack’s hand.  He then applies an analgesic spray of benzocaine and two butterfly bandages.  Then he covers the entire thing with a deep coat of dermoplast.

Jack’s time to recover is limited.  Joe Zander goes down on four pitches.  Hamilton and Clover both string together a series of fouls before they ground out to second and short respectively. 

At the end of six the score is still nil to zip.  The catcher ponders that were it not for Joe Zander this would be a very boring baseball game.  Before leaving the dugout he catches the eye of the trainer.  “Let’s get some extra for the song and dance.  Get a marker and write Joe’s number on them.  They will make great souvenirs.”

The trainer pauses a moment then nods his understanding.  He dispatches one of the pinch hitters to the tunnel for what Jack wants.


What is Selfless Faith – At Work?

Greetings Dear Reader,

I must say that I miss working in an environment where following Christ was the theme of the day and open discussion of the things of God was a way of life.  But ships are not meant for harbors and the road cannot be a journey if you stay in town.

When I was first working at my current station I had a colleague who took a fancy to disliking me.  I do not know why but it was none-the-less true.  He specialized in ferreting out reasons to oppose my faith.  One of the things he did was object to my email signet.  After the close was quote from one of my favorite seventeenth century authors, Thomas Traherne.  The quote is from Centuries of Meditations.  It reads, “To think well is to serve God in the interior court.” 

This individual saw this as me imposing “religion” on him whenever I sent an email.  He confronted me about it and said that it was improper for me to have it on my company email.  I struggled internally that our director would not make me change it.  I also knew that the soul of this man mattered more to me than the signet on my email.  I looked him in the eye and told him just that.  Even though I was on my way out for the weekend I went back to my desk, logged in, changed the signet, and sent him a thank you email for pointing out the potential problem.

In that moment the tide of his dislike for me turned and we became friends.  Before he left for other ventures we had a sincere talk about things.  He knew that I truly cared for him.  He knew that he meant more to me than any of the trappings of position or poster.  He taught me that my faith had to be selfless if it was going to be seen in a “secular” environment.

I fail at this so often but it is so vital to my journey.  I must put others before myself at work.  My day must be a constant attempt to live out selfless faith in the presence of those around me.  I am immersed in the lives of others trying to change their lives for the better.  I must put my “self” behind all of this and assure that I do not forget that part of my journey is to collect fellow travelers with grace, love, and humility.

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."

17 October 2013

What is Selfless Faith – Internal Measures

Greetings Dear Reader,

As I ponder what my faith must be to be selfless I consider what my motives are in my interactions with others.  Every interaction must be motivated by seeking the good of others.  If I genuinely wish to follow Christ then I must be motivated by his examples.

I am not to seek my own benefit but to seek to show love and grace to others.  I am required to put others first.  It is not enough, however, to do this out of requirement.  I must seek the welfare of others because that is what I truly wish is that other fare well.   I must deal in grace and love because that is the core of who I am becoming.

No matter how small or great the kindness at its core must be a heart that is moved to render that kindness because it is what Christ would render.  It is not enough to do good for others.  My heart must be pumping with the need to do good for others.  My spirit must see the needs of others and be bent to live to meet those needs. 

It is always true for me that my difficulties in this begin with my internal dialogue.  When I fail to be loving and kind it is because I am seeking what I want or need instead of allowing Christ to care for that issue.  I must assure that my thoughts and motivations are anchored in service to others.  I must seek first to see that others are receiving the love and grace they need and believe that Christ will do the same for me.

A selfless faith must begin with an internal management of my wants and desires.  I must manage my heart and head, bringing into captivity every  thought and desire so that I can begin to root out the things that are not grounded in following Christ.

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."

16 October 2013

What is Selfless Faith – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

There are some things I do that others do not understand.  There are things I do that I do not understand.  I realize that walking by faith requires this.  Faith is not blind but it also must be a following.  The entire journey is built upon that simple act of following Christ.

I proceed from the assumption that we are all on a journey to God whether we acknowledge it or not.  It is not my place to impose this journey on others or to dismiss anyone who disagrees with my presupposition.  It seems that in following Christ it is very clear that I am to have faith that is so dependent upon God that I do not need to be selfish with others.

Rather my faith is to be selfless.  I am to get out of the way so others can see Christ and his work on me.  It is never about me but I live in a world where things tell me that I am supposed to make it about me.  So what does selfless faith look like?  How do I follow and find my sustenance in Christ so that I do not need to impose my needs on others?  Where is the balance between being humble when others wish to do the same for me? 

All of these questions and more signal an excellent thing to think about whilst we journey toward the advent season.  If I can give selfless faith to my journey then I may be able to benefit others along the way.  Walk with me if you wish and 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."

15 October 2013

A Beautiful Moment

Greetings Dear Reader,

For the unfamiliar there is a game.  It is called Magic the Gathering.  It is a collectible card game.  Some like it and some do not.  Some obsess over it and some think it is evil.  I enjoy it and it is a touchstone place with my eldest Son, Maxim.  He and I discovered the game together when we were both younger.  It was “our” time together.

This weekend we were over to his place for dinner.  Raven and Christmas were playing a round and Maxim
decided he needed to make a run to our local card shop to get some cards.  He, my eldest Grandson, and I got into the car and made our way to the card shop.

As Maxim and I bought our packs of cards my Grandson saw the large bin of hero clicks and wanted one.  He picked out a robot and I gave him the money to pay the attendant.  As we made our way back to the car both my Son and I saw the import of the moment.  We had made a nighttime journey together, the three of us, to get Magic cards. 

I love my Son and my Grandson so much.  I hope we pass on other things together but this was a beautiful moment for us.  Thank you Son.

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."