Thinking Out Loud

August 16, 2019

What it Means to be Human

Lately, I’ve been encountering the phrase, “What it means to be human.” Since I almost exclusively read from Christian sources, this wasn’t some self-help, or human-potential phrase being utilized, but rather Christian writers encouraging us that with with God at the center of our lives we can be all that we were made for.

But for the last 96 hours, I’ve been thinking about “What it means to be sub-human.”

Our next door neighbors came back from their annual two months away.

The man walks up and down the property which divides our houses growling a long list of expletives. No additional nouns, articles or prepositions in-between. It’s directed at us, and we know this. He doesn’t like us, and he doesn’t like our trees. He tore down every tree on his property, diminishing its resale value in the process.

My wife, who is not given to pronouncements of this nature, said yesterday, “I think he might be demon possessed.”

These are the people whom I once compared to another neighbor when we lived in Toronto:

We had a rather strange chain-smoking neighbor when we lived in our apartment in Toronto. I recently asked God why we were forced to spend the last 25 years living next door to bad neighbors after already dealing with this in Toronto and I very distinctly heard God say, “Because anybody else would have killed them by now.” I laughed when God said that, and I think I saw Him smile.

I just checked the date on that post, and it’s been almost exactly five years, so I guess this is a twice-a-decade rant, since it doesn’t look like they’re moving anytime soon, and we can’t.

We were made for more. We were made to serve God and love Him forever.

But sometimes, you’re only reminded of this when you see someone who almost seems to have been made for lesser things; who seem less than human; who almost strike out against the notion that we were all made in the image of God.

And that’s unfortunate, because the power of God in a life is transformative. And yes, it’s difficult, but we do pray for that miracle, though admittedly not often enough.


No graphic with this. What graphic image would you have used to illustrate this article?

April 13, 2014

Reminder That Life Can Be Short

James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”…

Canada is getting ready for a state funeral for the former federal Minister of Finance, a man who stepped down from that position just three weeks ago. He guided Canada through some tough waters over the past few years and with his strong leadership plus some strong economic fundamentals built into the fabric of Canadian fiscal policy, the country weathered the storms created in the U.S. by recession, bank failures, the mortgage crisis, etc. without succumbing to same fate as did our American cousins.

Jim Flaherty passed away last week from a severe heart attack, at age 64. While we don’t wish to exploit the family’s grief, it is a reminder that life can be very short. Flaherty was looking forward to slowing down and having more time for hobbies, friends and family. But it never happened.

On the other hand, he lived a very full life and made a difference in his world. The state funeral equivalent in the U.S. would be giving such an honor to a member of the Cabinet or the Speaker of the House.

What have you accomplished so far?

What are you putting off for ‘later’ or for retirement that maybe you should do today?

What will your life be remembered for?

This is a song I wrote a long, long time ago. (Yes, it’s got several verses; I was verbose even back then!) It seemed appropriate to run this here even though it appeared only 18 months ago.

The time has come to look around
Just before the daylight ends
Wish I could have accomplished more
The life I lived seems empty
Now I wish it had been full
What will my life be remembered for?

Some men have built great buildings
Some men have written songs
Others were heroes in a war
I’m not a writer or inventor
Nor a teacher or a preacher (so tell me)
What will my life be remembered for?

Some men have found diseases’ cures
Others ways to lighten loads
Some gave leadership, and more
Doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs
I’m neither one of these (so help me)
What’ll my life be remembered for?

Society bears the mark of ones
Who contributions made
To boldly go where no man’s gone before
Butchers, bakers, candle-makers
Libraries list their names (but not mine)
What’ll my life be remembered for?

Some men make it in Who’s Who
While others write on walls
While astronauts and pilots higher soar
The Guinness Book of Records
Shows what other men have done (but not me)
What will my life be remembered for?

If I could leave a painting
Or a book or an idea
Or maybe sail uncharted shores
Entertainers, living legends
Athletes, immortalized
No famous quotation have I to share
So what’ll my life be remembered for?

I’d like to be in pictures
And no introduction need
And give of my time, talents, wealth and more
The hour glass runs out of sand
No moments for me
A lonely poor man cries out loud
“What’ll my life be remembered for?”

September 24, 2013

Spiritual Analogy: Default Settings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:54 am

Thought for the day:

Spiritual default.gif

Many times in the search for spiritual or Biblical analogies I have found myself borrowing terms from the technology which so saturates our culture.

For example, I often speak in terms of finding books which offer more than superficial or lite reading, and I borrow an HTML term, rich text.

Lately I’ve also become convinced that both individually and corporately, God had a design for mankind that we have drifted away from and we need to restore default settings; i.e. put things back the way they were when the designer created them.

We get glimpses of what this might look like: The community with God Garden of Eden; the Ten Commandments as behavioral norms, images of a future where swords are beaten into plowshares and the lion lies down with the lamb.

I personally believe that the scriptural record gives us default settings at the macro level as well, in a way that settles the question of couples living together or sexual orientations and attractions.

But rather than engage these things here, what do you think of the analogy in general; the idea of God’s ideal purpose and plan as the world’s and humanity’s default settings?

restore all things

September 14, 2012

What Will My Life Be Remembered For?

I wrote this song when I was in my 20s, but from the perspective of an older man who nearing the end of life — or having a mid-life crisis — who wishes he had lived life differently.  I thought of it in connection with a post on Wednesday at Christianity 201, and decided to run the lyrics here…


The time has come to look around
Just before the daylight ends
Wish I could have accomplished more
The life I lived seems empty
Now I wish it had been full
What will my life be remembered for?

Some men have built great buildings
Some men have written songs
Others were heroes in a war
I’m not a writer or inventor
Nor a teacher or a preacher (so tell me)
What will my life be remembered for?

Some men have found diseases’ cures
Others ways to lighten loads
Some gave leadership, and more
Doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs
I’m neither one of these (so help me)
What’ll my life be remembered for?

Society bears the mark of ones
Who contributions made
To boldly go where no man’s gone before
Butchers, bakers, candle-makers
Libraries list their names (but not mine)
What’ll my life be remembered for?

Some men make it in Who’s Who
While others write on walls
While astronauts and pilots higher soar
The Guinness Book of Records
Shows what other men have done (but not me)
What will my life be remembered for?

If I could leave a painting
Or a book or an idea
Or maybe sail uncharted shores
Entertainers, living legends
Athletes, immortalized
No famous quotation have I to share
So what’ll my life be remembered for?

I’d like to be in pictures
And no introduction need
And give of my time, talents, wealth and more
The hour glass runs out of sand
No moments for me
A lonely poor man cries out loud
“What’ll my life be remembered for?”


…Are we depressed yet? It’s a very sad song to be sure, and it’s actually one of two that I wrote around the same time; but it also serves as an admonition to try to make our lives count in some measure. We’re not all going to be astronauts, or have monuments erected to our memory, or have a page on Wikipedia, but I believe each of us longs to realize some expression of our significance. There’s a chorus to the song that just repeats the title three times, but after the final chorus — and this is a seven verse song, remember — the tempo actually picks up a bit and a new chorus kicks in:

If you had to do again, say…
Would you do it a different way?
What’ll your life be remembered for?

I always tell people to think in terms of the symbol of the cross. The vertical line can represent the depth of our relationship to Christ, and the horizontal line can represent the ways in which that relationship touches others. We are responsible for the depth of our ministry and God is responsible for the breadth of our ministry. If the depth is there, it will naturally spill over and touch other lives. Questions of significance and purpose will fade, and there will be no room for depression or midlife crisis to set in.

Once again, here’s the link to the C201 piece, and also a link to a similar item from Tuesday at C201 which ends with the song God of Our Yesterdays.

December 5, 2011

Celebrity Guest Post … Sort Of…

Celebrity Christian Blogger

I’ve noticed recently that while a number of the more prominent Christian bloggers have people do guest posts at their blogs, you don’t see these same celebrity Christians anywhere in the rest of the blogosphere.  So I thought it was a particularly unique opportunity when I uncovered this ten minute video was available to add here — until the blog police catch up with us — by Jon Acuff at the always witty and insightful Stuff Christians Like, though proper blog etiquette dictates that all of you will now click over and watch it there, right?  Please do, since SCL is now copyrighted by the sales and marketing division of Dave Ramsay’s organization, and we don’t want to upset them just in case we need some investment advice moving forward.

Seriously, this video was actually produced by lifechurch.tv as the first in a series of four for high school students, though the hope is that its content will be suitable for people of all ages who find themselves in the middle of a “desert road” experience.

September 30, 2011

Book Review: Close Enough To Hear God Breathe

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to hear Greg Paul speak at a conference west of Toronto.  Around the same time, my wife was part of a group that works with destitute and disadvantaged people who got to spend the day with Greg as he explained his ministry organization and answered questions.

Because I was familiar with what that organization, Sanctuary, does in downtown Toronto, I did not read God in the Alley or the Twenty Piece Shuffle, so I was unacquainted with Greg Paul the writer. I was more than pleasantly surprised, and I suppose it’s not too late to catch up on his backlist titles.

In Close Enough to Hear God Breathe (Thomas Nelson), Greg takes his own family story, and stories of the street people he has come to know and uses them as a motif for understanding God’s workings throughout history, and throughout our personal history as well.  Although the book is very autobiographical, I suspect there are elements of his family’s story which overlap on your own. 

The larger story, of which we are all a part, is looked at in four stages: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation and provides a structure for otherwise what might appear as random snapshots.

More than two-thirds of the way through, I began to ask, “Where have I seen this style before, where an author’s personal journey is so embedded in the presentation of a much larger picture?” Then I realized the answer: Philip Yancey.  There are great similarities between the two, and I believe, given my stated affection for the renown writer, that comparison can serve as my highest commendation for this book by Greg Paul.

~Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favorite bookseller from Thomas Nelson. 

April 10, 2011

When “God Thing” Isn’t Being Overused

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:40 pm

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

So there we were, dropping our eldest off for his last full week of college classes and we were heading for the freeway, and then a number of things happened all at once:

  • We decided to take a different route and enter the freeway from a different on-ramp, a route we simply never take;
  • As we were about to get on the ramp, the guy ahead of us in a van stopped on a green light which slowed us down just long enough to notice…
  • There was a hitchhiker who looked really familiar; in fact a guy that we got to know through the ministry organization my wife co-founded;
  • Because we were moving a bit slower because of the van, we were able to quickly pull over, honk the horn, and our friend got a much appreciated ride that ended up with him being delivered to his front door.

I really, really, really don’t want to overuse the phrase, “It was a God-thing.”  But I really, really, really believe we were directed to take a different route home, and I really, really, really believe God caused the van driver to slow us down long enough to see and recognize the guy hitching a ride and be able to do something about it.

Cool.

December 4, 2010

Baxter Kruger’s Christmas Song

Most of us think of Baxter Kruger in terms of books (see below) and a the occasional video clip, but apparently he’s also a lyricist.   I don’t know if the melody for this exists anywhere online, but I’ve had this in my file since before last Christmas, and then neglected to post it then…

Christmas Song

O Hear the Word Declared to You
©C. Baxter Kruger 1994

O hear the Word declared to you as He became a man
the Father’s passion ceases not for His eternal plan
Wake up and see the time is full the great exchange has come
the Son of God stands in our place the Father’s will is done

O look and see the ancient Son though rich became so poor
with our own poverty He fought and blow by blow endured
Wake up and see His painful wealth for this He came to be
the treasure of the Triune life in our humanity

O see our awful flesh embraced by Him who dwells on high
he plunged into our darkness to bring the light of life
Wake up and see amazing grace in flesh the Father known
to share with us within our reach the life that is His own

O Spirit grant with unveiled face that we this Man would see
and know His heart and soul and mind and share His victory
Inspire our empty hearts to run to this vicarious One
and give us fellowship with Him the Father’s one true Son

 

My Photo

About Baxter…
C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D.
Dr. C. Baxter Kruger, theologian, writer and fishing lure designer is the Director of Perichoresis Ministries. Baxter is a native of Prentiss, Mississippi. He and his wife Beth have been married for 27 years and have 4 children. Baxter has degrees in political science, psychology and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Kings College, Aberdeen University in Aberdeen, Scotland under Professor James B. Torrance. He is the author of 7 books, including The Great Dance, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam and Across All Worlds. He teaches around the world. He is an avid outdoorsman and holds two United States patents for his fishing lure designs. He is the founder and President of Mediator Lures.

May 11, 2010

Confirmation?

Filed under: God — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:00 pm

A few months ago a woman who has worked with us for about seven years ago announced that she and her husband would be leaving Canada for a one year missionary term with Africa Inland Mission.

As they cleaned up their house for a realtor to show it, the removed a woodpile only to discover this at the bottom.


Neither they nor ourselves are big believers in this sort of thing, but my goodness, look at the thing!   It’s hard to ignore the similarity.   Even more amazing to think it was there all along during the ten years they’ve lived in that house.

Do you think God orchestrates the placement of these confirmations in our path, or to you, is it just a bunch of rocks?

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