Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Killed Another Man Today

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

- Mahatma Gandhi

My words are weapons (I use em to crush my opponents)
My words are weapons (Never show no emotion)
My words are weapons (I use em to kill whoever steppin on me)"

- Eminem

Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose.

- Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

God led me to a YouTube video featuring Marty Stuart. The song is called "Hangman". You can see it below and follow along with the powerful lyrics. Marty wrote this song with Johnny Cash just four days before Cash died. This song made me think about the people I have killed with my words.

I Killed Another Man Today

This morning I was in a restaurant with several men. One of them said something negative about my daughter and her family. It was so shocking that I really wasn't sure what to say or do. After a moment or two I said the best thing that I could come up with instead of punching him in the mouth.

I've learned that the tongue is like a weapon. His words about my daughter and her family killed me. My first reaction was to say something to make him look smaller in front of the other men that were present. Instead I said, "Thank God, both you and I are forgiven."

This afternoon I decided to retell the story to a man that wasn't there. I felt compelled to make sure that someone else knew just how "horrible" it was for this man to say something negative about my daughter. When I did this I was killing him because he killed me. I was gossiping. I was killing him with my words. Am I killing him again by posting this story on my blog?

"Well who killed who, I ask myself, time and time again." - Marty Stuart

It get's crazy doesn't it? Should I demand an apology from this man for what he said about my daughter or should I apologize because I killed him with my words?

As I write these words I remember the most positive thing that I said today: "Thank God, both you and I are forgiven."

When was the last time you killed someone with your words?

I killed another man today, it's hard to believe
Well I lost count at thirty and I've grown to numb to grieve
The bottle helps me cope, when I lay down at night
And when the dope rolls through my veins, it all fades out of sight.

Hangman, hangman, that's my stock and trade
Hangman, hangman, sending bad men to their graves
Well who killed who, I ask myself, time and time again
God have mercy on the soul of this hangman

There's a woman down the street, named Rosalie McFall
She don't ask me any questions, when I come to call
Her body keeps me warm, her words are soft and kind.
She holds me in her arms till the bad dreams leave my mind

Hangman, hangman, that's my stock and trade
Hangman, hangman, sending bad men to their graves
Well, who killed who, I ask myself, time and time again
God have mercy on the soul of this hangman
God have mercy on the soul of this hangman

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Night Before I Died

A silent color home movie of President John F. Kennedy's appearance in Houston on the eve of his 1963 assassination surfaced. See it below.

It made me think about what would happen if someone shot video of me the night before I died. What images would be captured on film?

What would I be doing with my time? What words would I be using? Would I be worried about tomorrow? Would I be living in the moment? Would I be encouraging others or tearing them down? Would I be telling others that I loved them? Would I ignore the hurting, the lonely and the broken? Would I be feeding my face instead of feeding the hungry? Would I be filling the hole or digging a deeper one? Would I be making a new life or hanging on to the regrets of yesterday? Would I be making a difference or making the situation worse? Would I be apologizing to the people I have hurt or acting like I've done nothing wrong?

Would I be taking or would I be giving?

Yesterday my friend posted this on my facebook wall:

"GLYD: Give Like You're Dying." -- Aaron Reddin

What would you be doing if someone shot video of you the night before you died?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

They Show Up

"80 percent of success is just showing up" — Woody Allen

Last night I took this photo of the great people who show up nearly every night to help serve at the homeless cold weather shelter at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL.

Owly Images

I don't beg them. I don't have to put them on a schedule. I don't guilt them into coming. They show up.

Not one of them is an expert or claims to be. They show up.

They do dishes, serve food, create menus, put gravy on potatoes, clean up spills, wipe down dirty tables, pass out mats and blankets and sweep the floor. They do whatever needs to be done. They show up.

Not one of them wants any glory or recognition for what they do. They simply come to serve. They show up.

No one argues. No one says, "That's not my job" or "That's not my spiritual gift". They show up.

They serve instead of staying home. They step outside of their comfort zone. They reach out to the lonely, the hurting and the broken. They show up.

Every night when I walk into the homeless shelter they bless and encourage me by doing just one simple thing. They show up.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jesus In An Envelope

Earlier today I posted this quote on facebook:

"It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic, is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things." ~Theodore Roosevelt

I consider my friend John Dobbs to be one of the men in my life who actually "does things". I know men who do large, bigger than life things. I know other men who do small things. Small things can mean so much.

The post below appeared on my blog in July of last year during a dark time in my life.

It had already been a tough week. Friday wrapped things up by being a hellish day. After the week from hell I got into my truck to head home. While I was driving home I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. Even after 7 months of sobriety all I could think about was putting my head face first into a pitcher of beer and locking my lips around a bottle of vodka or whiskey. For the very first time I called my AA sponsor and said, "Please talk me out of a trip to the tavern!" He stayed on the phone with me until I pulled into my driveway. I got out of my truck sober but I still felt down, depressed, discouraged and hopeless. Instead of walking into the house I felt compelled to check the mailbox. I opened the mailbox and looked inside. Junk mail, bills, more bills and mail from my friend John Dobbs. I opened up the letter from John. It was full of encouraging words. As I read the words he wrote on a simple card it was as if I'd received an injection of hope.

I suppose that if I was one of those "perfect Christians" I would say that I always receive hope and encouragement from a sermon or by reading the Bible. But I'm not a "perfect Christian". I often don't feel, see or hear God through sermons or while I am reading the Bible. I experience God most often through people. Through a homeless man that hugs me and says, "Mike, God loves you", the text message from a man who is dying of liver cancer who wants to see me before he dies or an encouraging letter from a man I met through the world of social media.

God wants you and I to be an encourager to someone today. Don't wait to pick up the phone, send an email or write down words of hope on a card and put it in the mail. It might be your turn to be Jesus in an envelope.

"Courage is the whisper in the moment of despair that says: "I must go on..." - Daniel Waldschmidt

"Maybe today is someone's day to have their world changed and you'll be their world changer...”

Thank you John.