Saturday, January 14, 2006

Self-congratulatory Blather

Today is my one-year blogiversary. When I started, I really didn't know what to think about my blog. I didn't even tell my wife about this place for the first two weeks. Hey, it even took two months for me to put a site meter up.

I'm still not sure what to think about Attention Span. I'm not surprised it still exists, but I'm a bit shocked that I have over 300 posts up. I'm amazed that I haven't run out of topics. Sometimes I wonder if I'll run out of sermons to preach, but so far I haven't. At least that's my opinion, you might check with my congregation! But even with a common theme of seeing God in my life, there are so many different avenues I haven't reached yet. God is good.

I called this blog Attention Span after discovering that Short Attention Span had been taken. And I didn't want to wrestle over the title since Kevin does a great job with that title. I kicked around a few other names, but had no real favorites. I couldn't even fully explain what I meant by "attention span" for the first few months. Even now the blog description at the top leaves a lot to be desired. But, being a stubborn guy, I've stuck with the name and everyday I get no less than half a dozen people who google their way here trying to find out information about their child's normal attention span. Like I could tell them that! If I had it to do over again, I'd probably use the title I'm using for my 2006 Bible reading blog, Clearing My Head, as that seems to be what I'm doing when I sit down at the keyboard.

The look of the place hasn't changed much in a year. I started with some sort of simple white template for a month. I moved to the blue look, then went green in October. Let me confide in you... I'm sick of this green. I'm working on a few things, but I'm no master of html. Any hints you can drop me are appreciated. No matter what, Attention Span will have a new look sometime in the next few weeks.

When I began, I had a blogroll of five, if I recall correctly. Steve Dennie's whatever was on there and has remained, as has Tom Datema's Brain Twitch and Mike Dennis' Life of the River. bemuse me began on the list also and is still in the blogroll although he'd be in my daily reads if he'd post more than eight or nine times a year. The other early (and still) favorites were Ron's Northern 'Burbs Blog, Kristen of Walking Circumspectly, Tracey from Worship Naked, Jeff the Baptist, John the Methodist of Locusts and Honey and Shane's Wesley Blog. Then there was Amy Scott, of Amy's Humble Musings, through whom I got to know I'm Not Crunchy's Alice and a few others. The spiderweb of acquaintances from that point is remarkable, as I have met a number of people who not only are great writers, but also are great friends, some new and some old. My blogroll is not indication enough of how much these people inspire me, challenge me and touch me. It seems that with every week, I discover more, and I thank each of you for your friendship.

The most popular (or at least the most read) post over the past year is probably Rick Warren Is Right and Wrong. I was one of the few who wasn't a raving maniac about Warren one way or another, so that post was easy to read. I still see around five or six hits on that page each week. Another popular one has been Fear of Commitment where I compare the stereotypical male fear of committing to one woman to our natural fear of committing to God. There are plenty of others. The Flip Wilson Theology trilogy was a lot of fun. The post on Katrina and God's Judgment was very timely and generated a lot of discussion. Unfortunately the comments got lost in a Blogger issue afterward. Then there was the post about The Handyman's Secret Weapon which I still enjoy. However my favorite post to write is the one with which I will end this first year and begin the next. It's an ode to my ol' hound dog.

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Hounding God

We have two dogs. One is a stray who literally came to the door and adopted us. The other is a purebred. The stray we didn't know what we were getting. She was still a pup and we really couldn't decipher any specific breed characteristics from looking at her. Kind of like pot luck in the school cafeteria -- you don't know what's in there! But the purebred dog came with papers and a breed history featuring specific traits so we would know what we were getting ourselves into. But sometimes even that doesn't prepare you.

Harvey is a basset hound. In every sense of the words, he is a basset hound. Straight off the box of Hush Puppies. Long body, long ears, droopy face, too much skin, red around the eyes, short-legged, feet pointing outward, basset hound. Bassets were built with a purpose. They are built to track game, so that snout of his is extremely sensitive to smells. Any smells. Any faint odor at all. This dog will sometimes stand and sniff, apparently on the trail of a Brontosaurus or a Wooly Mammoth since I sure can't see any recent animal evidence. Everything with a basset is geared towards the nose. Even the ears are long so that they drag the underbrush to uncover more scents for the hound to sniff and follow. He is not ruled by brain, by heart or by sexual desire -- it's all about the nose. That also means that he's happy to come right when I call. . . as long as he isn't busy smelling something. And as I've said, he's ALWAYS smelling something!!

It can be frustrating. I've owned dogs most every day I've been alive. All kinds of dogs. And the common factor in all of them is that they love to be good. Pleasing me is usually high on the canine priority list. Maybe that's why I like dogs so much. But Harvey loves to be good. . . as long as isn't busy smelling something. That means he has other priorities. The basset list of importance begins with whatever is at the other end of the nose. It doesn't matter how much I work with him, the nose has to come first, even when I'm standing outside in sub-zero weather calling for him to get up to the house from the woods. I can yell and scream, jump up and down and call him names and he still smells every last inch of ground, thus slowing his re-entry into the house, and also delaying the beginning of my thawing. Why can't this dog work on my schedule, doing the things I tell him to do? He's MY dog!

It's odd. I go through this with my dog, getting him to do what I want, when I want it. Then sometimes I find myself doing the same thing with God. I tell Him what I want, when I want it, and I have the nerve to be surprised when it doesn't happen. Like God is my faithful retriever or something. And when I catch myself in this mindset I feel like Homer Simpson on a brilliant day.

In my teens group, we've been studying the temptation of Jesus. Before Jesus got started with His ministry, He was led out into the desert for 40 days. After a while Satan came around to test Him to see what kind of Messiah this Jesus was going to be. Can He do miracles? Is He into power trips? What makes Him tick? So Satan finds Jesus in extreme hunger and tells Him, "Why don't you make bread out of those stones? I know you're hungry." I've never been as hungry as a man who hasn't eaten in over a month. If I were, I just might eat my way through leftovers from Fear Factor just to get something in my belly.

But that's the situation Jesus was in. And Satan wants to see if Jesus will show him a miracle. "If you're really the Son of God. . .," that kind of thing. Will Jesus do a parlor trick to prove who He is? Not on your life. And He didn't. You see, Satan said, "You can't really be who You say You are if you can't do this to feed Yourself." Jesus put Satan on notice that you can't hound Him into doing something to prove His identity.

I know people who don't believe in God. Actually most of them admit that they just don't know or that they just don't want to think about it. But the major item holding them back is that God won't do what they want Him to do. "How can God be God if I have cancer?" "How can I believe in God if He won't get me out of debt?" "Why should I believe in God if my life is a mess?" "How can there be a God if there is so much evil in the world?"

Why would we think that God is only God if He behaves as we want Him to? Why would God have to justify His actions to us or to validate Himself to us? Why do we think that God should obey us like the family dog?

Doesn't God want us to be happy? Yes, but happy in Him. Sometimes when we ask God for something, His answer is "no" -- not because He's being mean or because He can't do it, but because in His wisdom He knows it's not the right thing. We can kick and scream and call Him names and it won't help. We can jump up and down like a two year-old and it won't matter. But the best part is that God will comfort us, even when He tells us "no".

Still I know that there will be times when God disappoints me. There will be occasions where God doesn't do what I think should be done.

I hate it when I treat God like a dog.

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