My First Hero

They say a boy’s first hero is his dad. I think that is often true. For me, I think my Dad is my last hero. He is the one I turn to when I have questions that don’t have answers. When I need someone to stand in prayer that I know I can count on, its my dad. The one who knows nearly all my secrets and the things only God hears me say…that’s my dad; very much my hero from now till I’m done.

But my first hero was my uncle. His name, like most men in our family, is John. But to me, he will always be Uncle Sonny. When I was a tiny little guy, he called me Michael Angelo. I remember riding around in his white Chevy Impala with red interior listening to him sing Hank Willaims, ‘Hey Good Lookin’ and Elvis’ ‘Hound Dog.’ He seemed to me to be the happiest grown up Id ever seen.

I saw him play football once while he was in college. In my memory he was lightening fast. In that game I saw him simply hurdle a would be tackler and I thought he could fly.  One night he was arrested for running from a cop while speeding. I didn’t know they would let him out the next day. I cried myself to sleep as mom rocked me, because I thought he was gone for good.

He and Mary Jane asked me to be in their wedding. I didn’t do it though. I thought Mary Jane was the prettiest girl Id ever seen and I was embarrassed just to look at her. Uncle Sonny served in the army too. I don’t know what he did, but I saw him in uniform and I was just amazed at how powerful he looked. Later he became a coach and I so loved football that I thought that coaching must be the greatest job in the world. He and his friends, Zeke and Dolly had more fun just hanging around than any one I had ever seen. You never heard such laughing.

So when you add it all up Uncle Sonny was the guy who was happy enough to sing…ALL the time. He was a great athlete. He was a soldier. He was a coach. He had the coolest car. He had the prettiest girl. On the down-low he slipped me a little cash almost every time I saw him. My Uncle Sonny was hero material from the start.

Sonny told me about the first time he saw a football game on a T.V.  he said, “I knew at that moment what I wanted to do with my life.” A clear vision is a great thing. Now, Sonny stands in the End Zone of life. He crossed the goal line. His helmet is in his hand and the shoulder pads are off. It seemed to me that there was still time on the clock. But for him, the game is won. The fight for a hero is not the conflict of a given day, some skirmish on a piece of ground or a battle from a hospital bed. The fight is to walk with honor. My first hero, Uncle Sonny, is an honorable man. I pray peace for his family. Comfort for my Mom and Dad and I hope Sonny spiked the ball.

Michael Taylor

A More Civil War (redux)

I originally wrote this piece over three years ago during the conflict over Obama Care. We all know how that was forced through and then upheld by trickery in front of the Supreme Court. Now we are facing the election that I mention at the close of this piece. I hope you will read and share this updated re-post.

~

One hundred forty-nine years ago, Abraham Lincoln changed American history with a three-minute speech on the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. America is experiencing now the nearest thing to a civil war that I have seen since the protests of the 1960’s. It is a conflict, not of flesh and blood, not between north and south . . . it is a conflict of ideology.

The conflict before us is one of choosing a vision for the country. The decisions we must make have moral implications for this generation just as the conflict in Lincoln’s day. They have attempted to re-frame the discussion by using small issues, but at its core, the war is over freedom and the right to self-determination. Beyond that, it is about fiscal responsibility and accountability for spending and debt.

In honor of the 16th President, and our continuing quest for freedom, I submit this piece as a tribute and as a rallying cry for citizens to stand up and be heard in this more civil, albeit very real conflict.

~

Seven score and nine years ago, during the days of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called forth in this country a new birth of freedom. Its aim, to preserve this nation conceived in liberty and its dedication to the idea that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a more civil war. The test of our day is not the preservation of the Union, but rather, the preservation of the ideals of our Constitution, the principles of our Republic and the Liberty of our way of Life.

Those who assemble at town meetings and call their representatives, those who speak up for the oppressed and for those who cannot speak, those who write articles and join in debate, these are the brave soldiers of our divergence. The enemy we fight is in the philosophy of the current administration and those who would slowly, but with fierce determination, chip away the foundation of our Republic—Freedom. The freedoms we defend are guaranteed by the Constitution. They have been, and are to this day, being purchased by the blood of Patriots. “It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.”

Patriotism is not simply to love our country. To love, support and defend the ideals and philosophies that established, protected and advanced the principles of American liberty; to believe in and stand with the brave men and women who fight to defend the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, this is Patriotism.

May we now stand with renewed resolve that our Freedoms will not be taken, that our voices will not be silenced, and that our children will not be burdened with the tyranny of our debt. Let our adversaries be assured that our Patriotism shall not diminish and “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” May God bless the people of the United States of America. May we continue to be a free people and may we choose wisely when next commissioned the honor of free people to select our leaders.

~

telemicus out

It is what it is….

I did a memorial service for a woman whom I did not know a few weeks back. When I spent some time with the family one of the things that they told me about her was that she accepted the illness that was taking her life, but fought against it every day.  They said she would often say, “It is what it is.”

This phrase has become common place in our culture. Its on T-shirts, bumper stickers, greeting cards and cigarette lighters. It is that simple cry of futility that simply says, this is my situation and there is nothing I can do about it. Solomon might say, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” I don’t like that…if its left that way.

Some people are simply not good at surrender. I don’t like it in most instances. Teams should not give up trying simply because the game is settled. The “victory formation” in football is annoying even when my team is doing it. I don’t understand giving up. I love the walk-off homer, the “hail Mary” pass, the trick play, the surprise change of position, the plot twist that gives the hero the victory.

So the question is; Do I accept my lot because it is what it is? Or do I accept my lot and go to battle to change what it is? Are you looking for a way to win or accepting the loss. I heard this poem many years ago and will never forget it.

Opportunity

By Edward Rowland Sill

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:-
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
A craven hung along the battle’s edge,
And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel-
That blue blade that the king’s son bears,-but this
Blunt thing-!” he snapped and flung it from his hand,
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

Yes, it is what it is. But that is not the end of the story. Look around you. Find that thing cast aside by some wounded soul who’s given up, grab it from the soil and lift your battle cry anew declaring, “It is not over until I am in the tomb.” Then fight your way to victory or go down with the valiant few who refused to give up.

telemicus out

It’s a minor one, but…

I recently saw the movie, Midnight in Paris. I enjoyed the film. It’s got writing, romance, a bit of fantasy and a couple of insights that I feel are worth some thought. In the film, the main character, Gil, has an epiphany of sorts and says, “I’m having an insight here. It’s a minor one, but it explains the anxiety…”

I had an insight when I awoke Sunday morning a couple of weeks past. I’ve been hurting for a while over what happened to us at the church I served for three years leading up to a mutiny of sorts last October. I’ve been angry about investing three years in something to have it taken away in a flash. I feel hurt that God didn’t help…that he let it go that way. When I awoke I had a passage from Acts 13 in my head. Paul and Barnabas are trying to share the Gospel with the Jews. However, they rejected it and were told in verse 46, “Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” They did not consider themselves worthy of God’s blessing and lost it.

Here is my insight.

If God brings a blessing into your life in the form of a minister, friend or a mate, then He considers you worthy of that blessing. But should you reject that person by your actions or attitude, in God’s eyes, you do not consider yourself worthy of that blessing. He may remove that person from your life and the blessing that came as a result of your relationship because you hold his blessing in contempt.

There are two steps to this. First, the rejection of God’s blessing by simply not appreciating it, or rejecting it outright. The second is God’s rejection of the blessed as a result of their rejection of his blessing. This is a double edged sword. If we reject the blessing of God, we can lose the blessing and the one through whom it comes. Life is short and to live without genuine appreciation, love and acceptance of God’s blessing is to hold him in contempt.

Jesus said, “do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Love, given to a mate who spurns that love and abuses you is pearls before swine. Service to a church who takes your work and rips you apart in the bargain is pearls before swine. A time may come when the one who blesses says, “Because you do not consider yourself worthy of God’s blessing, you will no longer enjoy it.”

I’m having an insight here. It’s a minor one, but it helps my anxiety.

telemicus out

The Compass

In the summer of 1994, I took a small group of teens to Red River, New Mexico to hike and camp. It was a great trip filled with first time experiences and unforgettable moments. We camped at a place called Middle Fork Lake. It’s a two hour hike to get up to this little lake sitting on top of a mountain just south of Red River.

After four days of camping and hiking, we broke camp and hiked back down to our van. We stacked the gear by the car and I walked around to the driver’s side door. When I inserted the key to unlock the doors I saw it. Resting on the edge of window, what looked like a pocket-watch.  You see it here, just as it appeared that day. I’m not even sure how it stayed in place. I picked it up and pressed the button on top. The lip popped open and the needle spun around looking for north. It is shiny stainless steel and the needle and primary points have glow in the dark highlights. I quickly looked around, but there were no other people and no other cars there. It appeared to have been set there by someone who simply walked  away.

Being a sign seeker from way back, with no way to track down the person who lost it, I took it as a sign that I should hang on to it. I thought it would be important to my future for some reason. I kept the compass in my office for several years. But sometime in the late 90s, it disappeared and I thought someone lifted it. I’ve looked for one like it for a long time, but without success. In recent years I’ve collected a number of different styles. None are as cherished as that first one.

I wanted to plant a church and call it Compass Church; simple biblical leadership for regular people. That never came to pass. I worked with a church for a while and hoped to make the compass a part of that churches new life, but they rejected the notion of new life. So last year when the company that I worked for closed, I decided to start my own drafting service and I never thought twice about what to call it. Compass Drafting was born. You can visit that web site at www.compass.michaeltaylor.cc.

Last weekend, while cleaning the garage and attic, my daughter found the original compass in a box of her things. We don’t know how it ended up there, but with all of our moves over the late 90s, anything is possible. Or it could just be that for the second time in my life, the compass found me. I told my friend Vince this past week, “It’s one thing to know you need to go north, it’s another to know which way north is.” I’ve always known which direction to go, but I haven’t always been able to find it. Here’s hoping the compass is back to get me pointed where I need to go.

mt out

I Knew You’d Be Good

I’ve come to love the movie, The Kings Speech. There are many elements of it that I enjoy; the relationship that Logue shares with the King of course. The character of Churchill is played perfectly. But the character I want to talk about here is Queen Elizabeth, the Kings wife. She is regal, without being aloof. She is humble, but with a powerful grace and dignity.

Someone once said, “The human male is about ninety percent ego.” They may have been right, about some of us anyway. I think men want to know they’ve done well. Whether in their jobs, as a dad, in sports or recreation, as husbands and lovers and of course as men, they want to feel good about their efforts. Most want to be known as manly. Not careless brutes, who force their will on others, but men of goodness  and strength.

King George the VI did not wish to be King. His inability to speak made it seem impossible in his mind to function as King. But with the help of Lionel Logue, he worked his way into the role and fulfilled his destiny. Before he gave the speech informing the people of the British Empire that they were at war with Germany, Elizabeth came to him, looked him in the eye and said, “I’m sure you’ll be splendid.”

His three minute speech was a turning point for his life. He gained confidence, stability and a measure of peace. When it was over, Elizabeth breathes a deep breath of relief. When she goes to greet him, she whispers, “I knew you’d be good.”  Then she looks at Logue and says, “Thank you—Lionel.” And with almost a bow, she turns away. It’s a powerful moment in the film.

I asked my dad a while back, “Does anyone believe in you, as much as you believe in yourself?” His simple answer was, “No.” I told him, “I don’t know anyone who believes in me the way that I do.” His response was what all good dads would say. He said, “I believe in you more than you do.” Everyone needs someone in their corner. We all need someone who believes in us and our abilities—especially when we don’t believe in ourselves.

I hope someone in your life is standing by and watching you make your great effort to fulfill your destiny. I hope they encourage you along the way. I hope you have a Logue in your life who will not candy coat your weaknesses, but will help you overcome them. I pray there is a woman who knows your fears and worries, your insecurities and shortcomings who will look you in the eye and whisper, “I knew you’d be good.”

telemicus out

“You say you’ve lost your faith…”

Bob Dylan’s Positively 4th Street has long been a favorite of mine. Partly because it’s so in your face and partly because of a unique place it holds in my relationship with my sister Jodi. There’s a line in the song where Bob says, “You say you’ve lost your faith, but that’s not where it’s at… you had no faith to lose and you know it.”

I’ve not written or posted an entry in over a year. No one has been clamoring for my words of wisdom in the absence. 2011 beat the crap out of me… no that’s not right, some would say I’m still full of it. It’s more like, it beat me, then kicked me, then threw me out through a window, told lies, maligned my character and when I was utterly humiliated, screamed at me, “Don’t come back or you’ll get worse!” I hate it, but that’s the kind of year it’s been. In terms of health, family, finances, work, church life and spiritual strength—life sucked.

(I must interject here that I realize there are many who had it much worse than I did. I don’t mean to sound otherwise. I know this is a whining rant of sorts. But it has purpose so if you’ll forebear, I will get to the point in short order. Now—back to Bob.)

I’m once again living in the echo of Peter’s life. Yes my faith has been challenged and diminished there is no doubt. I feel like God let me down and of course I feel I let him down. The thing that bugs me about it is that my failures are to be expected. If you know me at all, you know this to be true.

On the other hand—I don’t want to see God fail to come through for his own kids. My faith is strong in understanding and believing that he is God and he gets to do what he wants with his own stuff. I realize that he doesn’t seek my approval before he does things like let his own kids fail, struggle, fight illness only to die and beg for jobs that they don’t get. And yet, it angers me beyond my ability to be sane that he does this. I don’t think I’m right and he is wrong. It’s simply beyond my understanding and the reach of my little faith.

I don’t know who Bob was singing about, but I do have some faith to lose and though it’s not gone, it’s really weak and hurting. I don’t want all God’s people to have unending blessings with never a bad day. But I’d like his kids to win, to get the job, to get well, to prosper in their soul. Let’s see wicked people in churches be exposed and expelled, instead of good people being lied about and cast aside. How about the good people stand up and throw out corrupt elders. The bad guys win enough of the time.

I will love the Lord till I die. I may not preach, may not teach, may not pray much and might not talk much about him simply because I just don’t get it and feel foolish to even try. I’ve bet my existence that he is faithful. I am his and my soul is safe in him ‘here I stand—I can do no other.’

telemicus out

What Do You Want?

I love the movie Field of Dreams. There are several scenes that I think speak to feelings and emotions we all share. But the scene where Ray ‘kidnaps’ Terrance to the ball game is one that I particularly enjoyed. They are talking about life and the experience of involvement in the 60s and of those who still lived with part of their heart back there. So Rays asks, “What do you want?”

Terrance launches into this little piece of dialogue. “I want them to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves. I want my privacy.” The funny thing was, Ray wasn’t asking what he wanted from people, he was asking what Terrance wanted from the concession stand. So Terrance says, “Oh. A dog and a beer.”

As I see it, there are two problems that happen in these situations. We may answer a question they weren’t asking, or we give counsel they don’t need. We too often try to fix things in the lives of friends and loved ones that we’re not qualified to address. It’s as if we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and that makes us capable of the soul surgery they need. Sometimes they need a simple answer to a simple question and instead they get a speech in answer to a question they weren’t asking. The broken heart isn’t always looking for all the answers to all the questions—it just needs to hear that you care. The broken spirit may not need you to repair it, but rather to sustain it.

So is there a place for thorough, wise and biblical counsel? Of course there is. And if a person asks for that we need to offer counsel as best we can. But sometimes the best answer is not a sermon, a lecture,  pop psychology, a dose of Oprah with a side order of Dr. Phil, a book to read or a tape to listen to; sometimes the answer is as simple as, “A dog and a beer.”

It’s a noble thing to give people what they are asking for while knowing that they need so much more. Jesus knew this too. He said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (John 16:12). So when the ones who trust you with their cares and wounds share openly their great fears and the turbulence of their hearts, give them what they are really asking for. This may open the door to meeting their great need later on.

telemicus out

Proprieties at all times… if you please.

Rob RoyDoes honor still matter? I had jury duty this week. They introduced the Judge as, honorable. The people in the court room who talked to him called him, ‘your honor.’ As a result I studied (contemplated) on the notion of honor a little bit. I don’t know if the judge is honorable or not. Perhaps it’s the position more than the man, although Id prefer the man make the position honorable I think.

Walter Lippmann, the twentieth century writer said, “He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.” While this makes sense to me, it seems far too rare an event. I’m not sure that people know the ‘ideal of conduct’ that Lippmann is speaking about. Perhaps I don’t. I’ve many times said or done things that, given the opportunity for a do-over, Id certainly take advantage. We should be teaching proprieties more. A proper base of behavioral propriety is essential to the establishment of honor.

Last week I saw again the movie Rob Roy on television. Robert MacGregor was a patriot of Scotland in the early 1700s. In the movie, an evil man robbed MacGregor and testified falsely making him an outlaw. Upon securing his freedom, he directly secured the opportunity to satisfy his honor by fighting the man who robbed him and accused him falsely. He told his sons, “Honor is a gift a man gives himself.”

We’ve seen a lot of examples of politicians who have committed ethical wrongs. They are sometimes ‘censured’—this is little more than popping a dog on the nose with a news paper. We do not uphold honor when we devalue ethics and integrity. Ministers caught in marital affairs or financial compromises sacrifice not only the honor of their position (that is to say the honor of ministry, not honor given them by others), they also dishonor the institution they serve. Athletes, who fake fouls, contend they made a catch when they didn’t, or cuss at the umpire; these are without honor.

And as regular people, this ‘ideal of conduct’ is not simply good manners. I think its dignity in speech, its integrity, its kindness and courtesy. At over fifty years of age, I’m still learning and trying to become a person I should have been from my youth. My political bloviating, while genuine and from the heart, has not been in line with propriety and that ideal of conduct that I would choose in my better moments. Does this mean I’ll never strike out and throw down some vitriolic opinion that riles people… probably not. But it’s better to be committed to what is right and fail sometimes, than to be committed to wrong and succeed.

So may I combine the two good thoughts that I have borrowed, “Honor is a gift a man gives himself when he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.”

As Michaleen says in the movie, The Quiet Man, “Proprieties at all times… if you please.”

telemicus out

1 2 3 4 5 12 13