Monday, December 23, 2013

One Bad Duck

Sometimes a pond is not big enough to handle the diversity of ducks.

So goes the story of the old duck pond behind A&E Johnson's property in Backwoods, LA.

It started a few years back when 3 ducklings grew up together under the old oak tree's branches that shaded the southern portion of the pond on hot July afternoons. This shade was a place where everyone gathered. It was also where the three duckling friends Duck Bill, Duck Phil, and Duck Jill became the center of the attention.

All three made beautiful calls. All three were humorous. All three loved to party. Ducks would fly in from two counties away just to join the adventurous trio and their flap-happy ways. Sure, Bill, Phil, and Jill were a bit noisy at times. Sure, they bit, bellowed, and splashed their less than ducky compatriots. But somehow everyone wanted to join this inner circle. This ring of feathered fellowship seemed to be the place to be.

Phil was the best (and the worst) of the trio. A spirited and able-flyer he was. He had the praise of many and the envy of others. But all this went to his head. He was a proud duck. A big, bad bird he became. He was insolent, demanding, and selfish in every way. He took advantage of the females, and enjoyed embarrassing the drakes who strutted to his side of the pond.

One day, however, Phil came to his senses. It was like he was re-hatched. He saw that his pride, cruelty, and selfishness were the very things bringing sadness and brokenness to the bunch. He began to tell others about a deeper joy...the way to be a true duck. A true duck couldn't do what they wanted, when they wanted, with whoever they wanted. The ultimate Duck Commander (Creator of all ponds) had spoken the world to be and he wanted it to be a particular way for everyone. Anyone could come to know this Father of the Feathered if they'd quit creating their own rules and submit to His.

At first, the flock loved the duckling-like humility and newness of Phil. He was kinder, unselfish, and walked with a new freedom. Some of the "old Phil" came out here and there. He was no perfect duck, just a new duck. Bill and Jill, on the contrary, missed the old Phil for a full five minutes, but in time began to laugh at Phil's new way of waddling. They mocked him for willingly leaving the inner circle and their feathered fellowship. They thought his new ideas for goodness and integrity were backward and old fashioned. His new-found freedom was a threat to their way of flocking, flying, and frolicking. Phil's quack wasn't quite right.

The only sensible thing would be to chase him out of the pond. Bill and Jill began to quack out to their friends: "Phil needs to go somewhere else with his new-feathered ways. He has no right to speak against the inner circle. He doesn't understand what's right now. I don't care if he used to waddle and quack like us. Now, he's different, and he's the kind of different we cannot tolerate. Fly off Duck Phil and take your ideas with you."

The problem Duck Phil faced was he knew that to stay would offer hope and healing to other proud ducks. To leave would be to abandon this pond and his duck friends to murkier waters of further decay. Phil knew he couldn't leave, but would have to stay amid the jeers, sneers, and tears.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Parents, breathe and feed the kids some sugar...

In an attempt to tame the beast of "Kindergarchy" (the life-draining situation where parents are ruled by the fate or their children), Kevin DeYoung encourages parents to accept the fact that there are no perfect parents. And lo and behold, the world has been filled with not-so-perfect parents for decades and children seem to make it to adulthood just fine.

DeYoung writes in his new book Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem,

What a world! What a world! My parents were solid as a rock, but we still had a cupboard populated with cereal royalty like Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. In our house the pebbles were fruity and the charms were lucky. The breakfast bowl was a place for marshmallows, not dried camping fruit. Our milk was 2%. And sometimes, if we needed to take the edge off a rough morning, we'd tempt fate and chug a little Vitamin D....one of the best things we can do for our own kids is to find a way of being less frazzled.

Kevin goes on to close off the chapter regarding parenting to encourage us to be faithful to our kids, but ultimately we have to trust the Faithful God to be the One who saves our kids and leads them into the abundant life that only He can bring through Jesus Christ.

So parents, breathe, trust in Christ, and feed the kids some sugar :)

Monday, December 02, 2013

I wanted to change history...

I awoke.

Was it a dream? Or was I being forced to live another day in the hell of my own making?

Two nights ago, I finished the creation of a time machine. As the child of Jewish grandparents, I knew the first evil that needed to be undone was the life of Adolph Hitler. I jumped into my machine and went back to a day after the birth of his mother Klara in 1860. Without a shred of conscious, I snuffed out her life.

Over the next several hours, I eradicated the lives of inventors of the atom bomb and methamphetamine. I purged John Wilkes Booth minutes before he entered Ford Theatre. In fact, I tried to undo all the evil I had ever heard or experienced. I jumped eagerly into my machine to return to my time, looking forward to seeing the great world I had just created.

Back in my time, however, I found it quite the reverse of my expectation. I had tried to eradicate as much pain and suffering  I could fathom. But on the other side, I found a world marked by something I did not expect. In the process of removing evil and suffering, I found a world lacking empathy. I saw a world unwilling to persevere amid trial. I saw a world too comfortable with their own falleness and less willing to cry out for redemption. I saw a world indifferent to others, and with a focus on the increase of personal pleasure. Life was not prized; it was assumed.

I realized now all my handiwork had made a world far worse than the world marked by Another's handiwork. I also realized I had no idea how to undo what I had done. Then I heard a voice...

"You are not the first to attempt to undo my work. You are not the first to believe I have mistaken. Rather than submit to the One whose ways are higher than your ways, you have rebelled and tried to remake what I am doing. All who have gotten close, I have allowed to finish their work. I have allowed them to see the results of their efforts. But to spare those I love, they, like you, have only seen a virtual reality. The world that is in My hands has been preserved. You will awake soon and be glad all is still right in the world, because the Maker of the world is still Righteous in all He does."