Tom Toner beat me to 40, but I'm fast approaching. Tom made some observations on his blog. I wanted to comment but realized I was writing too much so I thought I would steal his and make comments rather than trying to discern my own observations. Tom's observations are set off. My comments follow.
In the picture, Tom is #34. I'm #50. The year is 1983.
1. I have become content with who I am. I don't mean that in the "I'm perfect and don't need to improve" way. I mean that in the "I'm not sorry I wasn't a rock star" way. I made my life choices, for better or for worse, and I'm okay with where I have ended up. God has taken all of my questionable choices and turned them into blessings. God does that kind of stuff.
I am sort of content. Content with the idea that I will not be a superstar of any sorts. Content with the idea that I can invest myself in a relatively small town with a relatively small church with a larger focus on investing in my own family and in the leaders of said church, and still have a significant impact.
I am rather not content though in that I still have a deep longing to not let the world wallow in self-pity but to inspire it to be who God created them to be. This drives me beyond what I have experienced, causes me to read more, and continue to develop myself.
2. We are a people of extremes. Some might say that this is a recent thing, but I'm not so sure. As I study history I find that free people sometimes take extreme views. Freedom allows that.
It is more recent at least in recent history. It is probably a cyclical thing and we are headed toward the extreme. It does make unity a more and more difficult thing because it isn't enough to agree on a few things. If we disagree about something that is important to us -- politics, morality, sports, ... whatever, it seems like it can become a much bigger problem. This is why I'm searching for goodness, because goodness connects.
3. People don't listen. Listening is a lost art. Everybody wants to talk, share what they think is right, but they refuse to listen to any other view. What's worse is that we don't even let people share their views because we have made our minds up that we are right and they are wrong. Let's have some conversation, and then decide how we feel about it.
I don't think it is lost. I think it has never appeared.
4. I have become amused and saddened at the lengths men will go to find happiness.
Watch Grizzly Man.
5. I am neither Democrat or Republican. I vote for the man I feel will do the best job.
I am neither a Democrat or a Republican but am not optimistic that either will do a good job. There seems to be no other option but to have a political system but I have almost no interest or optimism in the process any longer.
6. A bad day at the ocean is better than the best day at work.
I am longing for a trip to the Border Waters in Minnisota/Canada. I hope it does not let me down.
7. A great wife and great sons bring their husband/father much joy.
It is the best thing in my life, and I have the added pleasure of a daughter.
8. If you want to help your church, start by getting yourself closer to God.
Tom might agree, but I would go further in saying that you can't become closer to God until you get further from yourself and find yourself broken hearted enough to make yourself available to those around you who are hurting (which by the way, is everybody.)
9. I really don't think Phil Collins has that great of a voice, but he is one of my favorite singers.
It is a wild thing that there are terrible singers who are quite moving. Phil isn't terrible, but there is so much more to him musically and personally that connects.
10. I'm not an ultra conservative, but I have to admit I read Ann Coulter and Mike Adams.
I don't like it that people make assumptions about me because of who I read or listen to. I try to get a lot of perspectives. But I am challenged more to read those who are further from my base rather than those who I might readily agree.
11. I don't understand some pastors who think they have to use vulgar language to get their message out. Did Jesus do that?
Jesus didn't. But Paul did. I'm not sure why this made Tom's top twenty though. Tom, are you really seeing a lot of this? I see it just a bit of it.
12. While I'm on pastors, where does it say that all Christians will and should be healthy and wealthy?
It doesn't. In fact, I think it says, "Expect to suffer."
13. The homosexual lifestyle is NOT pleasing to God. If you think it is, your reading the wrong Bible.
It isn't. But I don't know anybody whose sexual orientation pleases God. I've spent more time in the last year exploring this issue, trying to understand, trying to connect. I do know though, that saying blatantly, "Homosexuals are going to hell," is not exactly true. So many people with homosexual feelings are struggling with who they are and what they believe. Most of the Christian response is shoving them into the homosexual camp as opposed to drawing them closer to Christ.
14. I am willing to admit I have made mistakes in my life that have hurt people.
Not only do I admit it, I'm heart broken about it. I am ashamed of it, but also realize that it isn't possible to not hurt people deeply at some point in your life. It makes me understand more and more why Jesus had to die on the cross to release me from my guilt and why Jesus focused so heavily on forgiveness (you forgiving others) being so essential in your life.
15. Christians are not perfect, but somehow the rumor got started that we are.
It is only a rumor among Christians. Non-Christians are well aware it isn't true.
16. The 69-70 Dodge Charger has got to be the coolest car ever built.
I don't think I've ever seen a car that I thought was cool enough to be mentioned by year and name.
17. Life goes by so fast, but we continue to live like we will be here forever.
This is so true. How many times do I try to find something to pass the time. Not because I'm bored, but because I don't want to feel the anxiety of the day.
18. Never say crazy things that will get put into your class yearbook. Those things live forever.
Tom Toner is so much more than what he was in high school. He has matured and grown and then done it again. I would never hold high school over him.
19. I have only taken one good picture of myself in my whole life, and by the way what are those humps above my eyes?
My advice to Tom would be to let someone else take the pictures. Though I do know some of the frustrations of thinking you know what you look like and sound like and then being shown the truth. I think I smile more than I actually do. I think I have more hair on my head than I actually do.
20. I am one of the few people who can give Brian Miller the neck slash sign and live to talk about it.
Tom has been such a good friend. Happy birthday Tom.