Daily Work

Betraying Jesus

Tonight was the final night of our drama at church. I didn’t have to make egg salad because others were bringing food, but I still had to show up. I played a part in the drama. It was an important part. My character name started with “J” and ended with “S.” Don’t tell me – you guessed Judas too. Almost everyone I know guessed that I played Judas when I put it that way. Since I played Judas a few years ago in a drama at church, my pastor said that I was now typecast for life.

I had the opportunity to betray some great Jesuses the last two nights. Because of the nature of the drama we had four Jesuses in the drama and each one of them brought something different to the role that made their interpretation unique and inspiring. We had another Judas who played the role differently than I did, based on what I heard. Each of us brought our own identity into the role not for our own ego’s sake, but to draw people into the emotional experience of the betrayal of Jesus.

While we may never know what motivated Jesus to betray Jesus, my belief is that Judas thought Jesus was going to be the military Messiah that everyone expected to overthrow Roman rule in Israel. Since Jesus didn’t seem to be making His move, Judas was acting on the belief that turning Jesus over to the authorities would force Him to start the Revolution. Only, at the last supper, Jesus talked about a broken body, a covenant in His blood, and a time of suffering. Then, when Jesus talked about betrayal, Judas was dumbfounded because he didn’t see himself as betraying Jesus as much as he thought he was forcing Jesus’s hand. Then came the time in the garden. Jesus was praying, and Judas tried one last time to kickstart the revolution, coming with Roman soldiers to arrest Him. I can only imagine the shock and anguish Judas felt when he saw Jesus give up without a fight and let the Roman soldiers drag Him away.

As I said, we don’t know what was going on in Judas’s head, too many of us have this idea that Judas was somehow “weird” (to quote our youth minister’s son) or hideously evil. It’s comforting to put Judas in that kind of category that none of us will ever fit into. Seeing Judas as just an everyday person who wanted to see God work in a specific way so much that they’d go against their principles to seek to force God to act is scary. Because. Because it’s such an easy thing to do. After all, the results would be fantastic if God would do things the way I want Him to. When we act like that, we betray Jesus just like Judas did. Our betrayal may be worse than his because we should have known better.

Daily Work

The Spiritual Side of Egg Salad

The Pastor at my mom’s memorial service asked a great question: “What is it about the Egg Salad Sandwiches?” Apparently, after she died, people started telling the pastor that they’d really miss her egg salad sandwiches. Before my mom became bedridden, any time the church got together, my mom could be counted on to show up with her egg salad sandwiches. While the ingredients were simple, everyone raved about those egg salad sandwiches. Her pastor missed out on that joy.

As I pointed out while I shared at her memorial service, my mom had a secret ingredient that didn’t show up on any recipe card: love. She didn’t make those sandwiches to fulfill an obligation to provide something for people at those church get-togethers, she shared her heart as she made them. She made them for her pastor, her fellow deacons or Sunday School teachers, or fellow committee members. She made them for her children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. I’m sure that she thought about each person who’d be eating them as she made them. She loved the people in her church, and she loved her family, and egg salad sandwiches were one way that she showed that love.

Egg salad sandwiches take a little more effort to make than most sandwiches. For most sandwiches, when you decide what you want, you take the bread and slap on a dressing, some meat, some cheese, and maybe add some lettuce or tomato. Egg salad sandwiches are different though. You have to prepare for them. Eggs must be boiled, then peeled. After I rinse off the bits of egg shell that may be left, I dry the egg on a towel, because water just doesn’t work with egg salad. I chop the egg up, or double cut it with an egg slicer. Then, you mix in the mayonnaise, the salt and the pepper, put mayo on the bread, which, according to the Mary James standard, should be the very thing white bread, and finally add the egg salad.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to do something I know my mother would have enjoyed: I made egg salad sandwiches for a get together at church. We’re doing a dramatic interpretation of Holy Week called “Journey to the Cross” by having people welcome Jesus as He entered Jerusalem, go to the last supper, experience His prayer in the garden and His arrest, go through the trial before Pilate, pray at the cross, and experience the joy of the resurrection. The church is providing snacks each night, and tonight was my night to help.

As I made the sandwiches, I thought of the love my mother showed to everyone by making her sandwiches. Then, I thought about the people who would be eating the ones I was making: the cast, crew, and the participants. While I didn’t know who would eat those sandwiches, I prayed as I spread the mayo on the bread and added the egg salad. I prayed that not only would they enjoy the food I was making, that even more so, that God would strengthen their faith or help people begin a walk of faith because of tonight’s event. I can’t say for certain that I experienced the same kind of love that my mother did as she made her sandwiches, but I can tell you that a lot of love was added to the egg salad sandwiches I made.

Sometimes we go through the motions when making or eating food. We say the right words before we eat, or after in the tradition of some, and then don’t give another thought to it. Today, I had a spiritual experience making egg salad sandwiches. I thanked God for the heritage of my family which continues to stay strong. I thanked God for providing the ingredients. I prayed over each sandwich that those who ate it would experience special blessings from God. I was reminded of the great provision God makes for each of us. I’m reminded that I should never take food for granted, especially in a world where it’s sometimes scarce. All because of a sandwich.

Daily Work

Nora Roberts Deals With the Plagerism Issue

There’s been a major scandal in the writing world,again. This time, the problem is plagerism. A reader noted that something published by Cristiane Serruya sounded a lot like another book that she’d read and she compared the two passages. They were word for word the same. As the scandal has unfolded, Cristiane Serruya has stolen pages, paragraphs, and sentences from numerous authors. Nora Roberts had a great take on this issue and with her permission, I wanted to share the first part and then give you a link to her site. She lays out the problems in an amazing way.

I’m going to start with the then, to get it out of my system.

Back in the late 90’s, when those of us on-line used message boards to communicate with each other, a reader posted a concern about the similarities in my book Sweet Revenge, originally published in 1988, reissued in 1997, with Janet Dailey’s Notorious, published in hardcover in ’96, in paper in ’97.

As she continued the story in her blog, she noted that Ms. Dailey had not only plagerized her, she’d tried to get sympathy for this one time event, only, it wasn’t a one-time event. Then, she compared it to what’s happening now. If I ever write a best seller, it will be written from me, not stolen from other authors and cobbled together to make it look like I did it. I’d love to have a best seller, but never at the expense of my integrity.

The rest of her blog can be seen here: PLAGIARISM, THEN AND NOW

 

Daily Work

Getting Ready for the Memorial

Yes, I’m still around. I’ve been busy with all the things I need to do to get ready for my mom’s memorial service so I haven’t taken any pictures, but I sure have looked at a lot of them! I found the hard drive that had all the pictures I really wanted – or so I thought. Very few pictures were on that hard drive and not many of my mother. Does anybody else have one of those boxes where you keep all your old pictures? You took them while things were happening. You looked at them when you got them back from the drug store after they developed them, (How do you explain THAT to people of today’s generation?) and then you threw them in a box until the next time you decided to look at them – which probably hasn’t happened yet.

There were a few pictures of my mom that I remember distinctly. I’ve seen them in the area of my box. I thought they would be cute for our memorial service. I started pulling out all the pictures from THAT box. I pulled out a couple hundred old pictures before I found any pictures of my mom. It was a lot of work going through those old pictures. Even though I didn’t find the one picture I was looking for, I found a few other fun pictures of my mom that will look nice at the memorial service. Her obituary showed up today in her local paper. My sister did a great job on the writeup and they found a picture that captures her personality better than I found so far! This picture is of my mom, my dad (on the left but you can’t see his face). my wife, and another couple who I think I know what friends they are, but I’m not sure.

My mom didn’t seek the limelight, and she wasn’t in a lot of the pictures I have of my family. I should also point out that someone has said that you need to take a lot of bad pictures before you start taking good ones. When I look at most of the pictures I have, I believe it. I have a lot of bad pictures! But this one is cute. We had a garage sale when we moved from seminary to my first pastorate. Our first child was outside with us in his playpen. People came up, trying to buy the playpen. This sign was my wife’s solution.

Still, it was a lot of fun going through those old pictures. I’m not going to say whose pictures I found, but I’m guessing that my kids will be a lot nicer to me in the days to come. Just sayin’. I also started ripping the old CDs I have. I have a wide variety of classical, Christian, and comedy CDs, and I enjoyed listening to them while I was ripping them. Then, I made my mistake. I closed down my computer when I left for church. Once I got home, it took forever to start back up and then I had technical difficulties. Eventually, I had to do a hard shutdown so I could reboot and hope that this computer will work as it’s intended, not as if it’s auditioning for Frisbee status.

 

Daily Work

It’s Time to Take on the White Whale

With all the preparations I’m doing at home for my mother’s memorial service, I’ve needed to put my bird photography on hold. Never fear, I will resume the Bird Brain Chronicles soon. In the meanwhile, I’m taking on my white whale. (Please note the clever Moby Dick allusion there.) My White Whale is the story of how my wife and I battled her breast cancer. We got the official notice on the last Saturday of January in 2016. I kept notes throughout the journey, knowing that while we couldn’t be sure of the outcome, we were confident that God had things under control.

About a year ago, I finished the first draft of the story, and then began editing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to working on the story because I wanted to get it just right. And yet, it was always my next project and then something else came along. Last year, my writing time was consumed with work on my devotional series. I wanted to make sure that I had the whole series edited and ready for publication. And, that happened. mind you, I still need to work on marketing, but I’ve been blessed in some great ways because of this process.

This church, Troy First Assembly of God, is using my devotionals to support the spiritual growth of their church. The pastor asked permission and offered to compensate me. He showed a lot of integrity in the way he asked and set things up. A couple of times he’s passed along comments that gave me an emotional lift when I was a bit down.

See how easy it is to get distracted from my white whale? I’m not sure what makes this so had to edit, aside from the fact that I hate editing in general, but I think it’s because this is a story that I think will have such importance and be such a blessing to others that I want to be sure that I do things right. When people get a cancer diagnosis, it’s frightening – at least to us it was both times. Cancer isn’t the death sentence that it used to be, but it’s still a killer if not dealt with properly. The purpose of the book is to give hope, but show the practical steps we took. It’s meant to prepare people for the depths of chemotherapy and the drudgery of the process of waiting for the next treatment.

No one has the same experiences with cancer or with the treatment, but, people can live with hope and they can conquer cancer. And I’m trying to convey that in one short little book. And it scares me because I want this book to help others. Pray with me, will you?