Tag Archives: Friends

Honor

Following on the tail of the most tumultuous United States campaign and election season endured in my lifetime, Journey Church launched a series focused on the concept of honor. Delving into our understanding of what honor looks like, who deserves to be honored and the actual nuts and bolts of honoring another, these are the images born from our discussion.

Installment one stripped our understanding of honor down to it’s basic foundation; what is honor to begin with? Honor is respect, honor is admiration, honor is an active choice.

Our ability to honor the life, feelings and basic humanity of another person is capped by a dark ceiling of our own pride and ability to honor ourselves. One cannot treat another with a spirit of honor without first approaching the other with an attitude of respect. The most basic place to practice respect is within oneself. Honor requires humility, humility opens the gateway for service. To visualize this concept, I drew a dark ceiling. A figure who escaped this prison has opened a trap door, allowing light to explode into the darkness and reaching back through to show others the way out.

The figures still trapped inside are attracted to the light, but the ceiling is too high to be conquered alone. Each one must work together, building platforms to raise each other higher and build a structure each of them can climb together to freedom.

This is honor.

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In the second installment, we tackled the question of who? Is it something we wait for another to earn, or something we spread liberally across everyone we encounter? Is there someone or something which should NOT be honored?

Who do we honor? Everyone and everything formed by our creator.

Honor is a gift we each hold in abundance, but must actively give. Honor does not give itself away. In this drawing, the hands of the Creator spread openly to support all of creation. From left to right, you see a politician at their desk (representing all leaders in our lives), a homeless beggar making their plea for help (representing anyone we could choose to help), a doctor (anyone who takes care of us physically, emotionally or spiritually), a family with small children (we are all one family on this planet), a soldier (representing anyone who fights for us; military, law enforcement, EMS), a disabled veteran (to represent all who sacrifice for us), a stoic tree to represent all of nature and the planet we inhabit. At the far right, peeking from behind the thumb, a figure in a Burka carefully leads a child to move beyond the tree and join the other figures while carrying a stuffed animal. I chose this image to represent refugees; those who don’t necessarily make us feel safe or comfortable reaching to, but need our help as desperately as any other. I skipped one figure, the one in the middle straddling the hands of God. This is you. The figure points back at you with one hand while holding an umbrella in the other. The open umbrella (decorated with HONOR) not only covers every person and human characteristic the figures represent, but also the one who holds it and the hands who hold them. Honor yourself, honor creation, honor others. In doing so, we honor God.

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Finally, in entry three, we studied how to honor. How does a person honor anything? Is there a formula; a specific procedure?

The action of honor is a paradox. It is a very simple action, but also one of the hardest thing a human can do. Humble service. Humility is a hot word in the circles of churchianity. It is printed on t-shirts, waved on banners and advertised as the bare minimum expectation for acceptance into even the outer circles of organized religion. But humility is not just philanthropy or an altruistic attitude. Humility is loving another human being on a level higher than yourself, the willingness to let go of your own life for theirs and following through with your actions. Humility is authenticity.

When we honor another person, we place value on their life. This value is not just a feeling, it is expressed in a way that allows it to be transferred into the other, acknowledging and increasing their self-worth. We will only honor that which we value.

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In thinking about how God wove honor into the fabric of life, I asked myself what service looks like. Visions of soup kitchens, volunteer firefighters and Habitat for Humanity building projects came to mind. Simplifying these all into a single icon, I envisioned a figure kneeling in a near-fetal position. The head is bowed and arms outstretched with their palms up. Another figure mirrors the first, kneeling and reaching in the same position. As the two reach for each other, their arms create an interlocking pattern. I lined these figures along a rolling patchwork landscape. Like the teeth of a zipper, this array of figures serving each other are united as the glue which holds their world together.

In the background, a pair of hands reaches through the sky to the flowing land. Holding cross-hatched fabric of life as we know it, these hands pull the figures together. As the arms connect, the land is binding together to form a mountain peak. The summit of this peak will point directly back to the one who is forming it, praising its Creator.

By honoring each other, we honor God.

Spare change and forethought. How I made two new friends at the recycling center today.

On today’s agenda was taking our accumulated plastic, aluminum, glass, and cardboard to the local recycling centers (two stops because one takes plastic and aluminum conveniently but not glass or cardboard, go figure.) I can tell spring is coming because this morning is warm enough to bring out some individuals from our homeless community.

Risking the raised eyebrows from my readers who lean towards cynicism, I’m writing this to tell you about a “Bob Clyde moment” that today’s recycling experience held because of some spare change and forethought.

Bob Clyde was the campus minister at the Baptist Student Union at East Carolina where I was an active member for My five year collegiate career (yes, I realize that’s one year more than it should have been). Bob is among the top influencers in my life, right up there with my parents and extended family. Of the many things he taught us BSUers, he shaped my worldview to look for Jesus in every individual as a matter of instinctual habit, not forced dogma. Today God provided one of those opportunities.

A little more background before we get into today’s events. What happens to the spare change that accumulates in your pockets or the console of your car? After reading the book ‘Under the Overpass’, I was inspired to keep this annoying pile of money that is rarely utilized anymore in a change organizer on my dresser. As we are able to fill a few rolls, I take the rolled coins to our local Wendy’s and purchase gift cards in $5 increments which we then keep in our family vehicle. These cards are designated for giving. Friends, strangers, when someone asks for money or at completely spontaneous moments when we’re feeling generous, we reach for a card.

As I got out of the van today to exhume the mass of paper packaging material and clicking glass bottles, two gentlemen were speaking to the driver of the car about ten yards begin me. These guys were middle aged and of stereotypical homeless appearance, ragged clothes, wiry hair and dirt caked under their fingernails. I grabbed the last two Wendy’s cards from the center console of the van and slid them into my jacket pocket as I exited. As I dumped the last box of glass into the trash can marked “Clear Glass Only”, the younger of the two men shouted out to me, “Are you going to keep that box?”

My opportunity was at hand. The box became the springboard for the conversation that ensued.
The younger man’s name was Bill, AKA Wild Bill to his friends, I didn’t get the older man’s name. I asked Bill if he had any use for the box. He said no, but that he could help me throw away my load of cardboard for a few dollars. He went on to explain how he’s applied for countless jobs and keeps a stash of resumes’ in his back pack; an attempt to sway any suspicion on my part that he was a free-loader, I’m sure (convicting moment number 2). I pulled out the two gift cards and handed them over to the gentlemen, explaining their value and encouraging the to enjoy a warm dinner tonight, no help throwing out my trash required. With grateful inflection, Bill’s friend exclaimed how far two $5 cards would go at Wendy’s and asked directions to the closest one (a convicting statement in itself).

That’s when Bill noticed the large scar on the right side of my head. A scar left by a surgeon’s scalpel. The scar which I proudly wear as a reminder of the day God used a team of doctors to relieve me from 23 years of a moderately controlled seizure disorder. 20 pills per day, 30 seizures per month reduced to zero in six hours. Bill moved closer to inspect the evidence of my old wound and, emitting a strong odor of stale alcohol, asked to hear the story. I retold my testimony of dealing with unpredictable seizures and the risky surgery to possibly remedy the disorder in an abbreviated form since my youngest was snoozing in the back seat of the van. One segment I was sure NOT to omit was the value of this scar as a reminder of God’s presence, mercy, and provision in my life.

Offering my blessings and best wishes to their job prospects, I returned to the van and pulled forward to the cardboard dumpsters. Bill and friend stood aside to pocket their take from our interaction. As I unloaded the last of the cardboard, I watched Bill approach another car, soon followed by his buddy, asking for spare change in return for any help he could offer. I drove off thinking to myself, “I needed to buy more cards.”

I’m not sharing this to brag about some generous accomplishment. My hope is that my experience will encourage you to see people as God does, children in need instead of people with an agenda. I also want to inspire you to get creative with your junk change. Some may argue that giving to panhandlers is a form of enabling addictions. Many who live on the street are enslaved to chemical dependencies and use the money they are given to feed those addictions. I’m fairly confident both Bill and his friend struggle with alcoholism based on the strong stench of their breath and clothes. At the end of the day though, God’s measure of our love for his children is in the fact that we give, not in our ability to judge where needs are most honorable. Once the gift is given, it is the recipient’s responsibility to use it properly. That’s the beauty of giving gift cards, they can only be spent at the assigned location and, in the case of Wendy’s cards, only on food.

With a little spare change and a little planning, today’s trip to the recycling center brought me two new friends who saw the gospel’s impact on my life and will eat at least one warm meal today.

What could you do with your spare change?

Photos from the Why? opening reception

We had a great turn out at the opening reception for Why? A Visual Discussion last night! Several came out to view the artwork and I had a particularly excellent time playing the blues with some old friends.

A huge THANK YOU to all who attended, to Mandy and the Circa Gallery for making this happen, and to my parents and fellow musicians who drove so far to support me. I love you all!

The conversation continues through August 14!