Friday, April 9, 2010


I cut my finger yesterday. No big deal, except that the meds that I have to take for my stent make me bleed like a stuck pig. I have to bandage the finger up with a few bandages each time to keep the blood from soaking through. That makes the finger rather cumbersome...and my typing, which is not the best in the world to begin with, has suffered tremendously. I keep hitting extra keys, and bleeding on the keyboard. Some of the spellings are quite unique to say the least. So, Patti, if you thought my misspelling of sunshine was bad, you should see this stuff. This won't be the blog I originally planned. Something shorter will have to do.

I had planned on writing either about why Jesus wept, or about imaginary time/Schrodinger's Cat/and the philosophy of quantum mechanics. Not today. Let's just do...

What if?

Two word combination, but very powerful. We all do it...all the time. Usually, we do it over missed opportunities...missed chances. It's quite often replaced with, "if only". We're quite certain that if God, or whatever it is that you personally believe in, had only done things better for us, we wouldn't be in the terrible place we find ourselves in.

I prefer to look at it a different way.

What if I hadn't gotten crippled on the job as a Deputy Sheriff ?

It's a simple one, but it serves my point well. I can assure you, when I went through that whole experience, I didn't think that God was looking out for me. I didn't think He was looking out for me over the next few years, as the nerve damage grew worse. I didn't think that He was looking out for me when they found the tumor on the nerve, and thought they were going to take my leg.

I asked a lot of what ifs back then.

But...if all of that hadn't happened...

I wouldn't have met my beautiful wife. I believe that meeting, and marrying her, was God's first, best destiny for me. It could have been reached in a far better, much easier journey. You see, I had driven my life so far off course that I wasn't going to meet her. I wasn't going to get to marry the woman of my dreams. I had really screwed up the direction that God had wanted my life to go. Thankfully, for whatever reason, He loves me. He loves me enough to cripple me to get me back on course...back to the only love that could ever have saved me. Cherish's love.

It's what He wanted for me all along. I just made Him work a thousand times harder to get me there than was necessary.

Now, am I saying that all of the bad things that happen in people's lives are their fault? God forbid. I do know, however, that some of our worst problems are of our own making. Mine in particular. That's why I had the heart attack. Course correction again. I wasn't appreciating children...and all of the other wonderful things in my life enough. So, God let me have another Chance.

When I was laying on the bathroom floor, struggling to find the strength to crawl and get my phone to call 911...I wasn't thinking about being injured on the job. I wasn't thinking about all of the terrible things that I thought had happened in my life. I was thinking about Cherish...and about my children. I was thinking about how blessed I had been...and about how I had taken those blessings for granted. I was thinking, however...if only...

If only God gives me another chance...

I'll make sure I tell my wife everyday that she is God's most beautiful and wonderful creation. I'll make sure my children know how special and precious they are to me...and how ferociously proud of each one of them I am. I'll make certain that every single day that I have left... I SHOW my wife what she means to me...not just spout empty words.

It was their faces that gave me the strength to crawl to my phone. It was their love that kept me going.

Now I don't say, What if? Or, If only...

I say...don't let me forget...don't let me forget.

And, I'm grateful for all of the things in my life that led me to where I am...even the bad ones.

And, I thank God every day for course correcting my life so many times.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The SUN and the MOON

My beautiful wife, Cherish, is leaving tomorrow. She's going down to Southern California to visit our daughter Lacy, her sister Carey, and some of her old friends. She's only going to be gone until Sunday, but...

I'm going to miss her. Terribly. I've always known that my old friend Dennis was a better man than me: how he can stay apart from his lovely wife for so long, even in defence of our country, is beyond me. If I were separated from Cherish for that long, I'm certain I'd go mad.

So, I'm going to spend all day with her today. This is all I'm going to write.

The sun is the most important light in our sky. Without it, we would die. We depend on it for warmth, for food, for energy, for even the wind. We need the sun...and the light it shines upon us.

The moon is a lie. People always talk about moon light, but there is no such thing. The moon gives no only reflects the light of the sun. In fact, the sun is so powerful, it fools people into thinking that the moon gives us light.
The moon, in reality, is a dead, obscure, scarred, lifeless body...floating in the eternal darkness of space. If not for the sun, the moon would drift away...into the blackness...forgotten forever.
Cherish is the Sun.
I am the moon.

Come back to me soon, my love...

I would die without you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


For those of you new to my blogs, I like to use titles that get people's attention. That one probably did the trick. How could a Christian minister possibly be glad that he isn't born again? Well, it's really a question of semantics...but we'll get to that in a moment.

There is a great deal of freedom in being a minister that refuses to get paid for his pitiful attempts at working for God. I never have to worry if the message that I've been given is going to offend people so badly that my family won't be able to eat. That is very empowering. I do not, however, take that freedom lightly. If God is your really don't want to screw up too badly, too often. So, I try and take my responsibilities seriously, and still get the message across.

First, you'll notice I used the word, minister. It's a translation of the Greek word, doulos, which means a bond servant. A bond servant was someone who had screwed up so badly that they had been sold into slavery to pay off their debt. The person who paid the debt for them owned them until the debt amount had been repaid. Since, in my case, the debt amount is the life of God's Son, I'll never repay it in this life. Can't be done. And, although He has forgiven the debt completely, and made me a joint heir with His Son, I prefer to still think of myself as a bond servant. Why? Because that's what the Apostle Paul did. Paul was obviously a much better Christian than I could ever be, so...if it was good enough for him to think of himself that way, it works for me.

It also has the added benefit of reminding me of my place. G-O-D. All capital letters. Me=dirtbag. Not only pond scum, but lower case pond scum. That's a good start.

Now, let's get back to why I'm glad I'm not born again, shall we?

Jesus used simple analogies and stories almost all of the time. Planting, harvesting, fishing...simple stories for simple minds. There is really only one deeply religious conversation that He had that is recorded: the one with Nicodemus in John chapter 3. Famous passage...but not really understood well. One of these days, I'm going to write a blog about the whole still blows my mind. Anyway...

Old Nic asks Jesus how to get to Heaven. Jesus basically says, "You're the hotshot teacher, and you don't understand the simplest things?"

Owwwwww...that had to hurt.

Then Jesus tells him that he must be born...not again. The Greek word is "hano". It means, from above. It is denotative of place, not time. Old Nic is a ticker, as we all are. His clock only goes in one direction. Forward. Can't make it go back, can't even slow it down. Tick, tick, just keeps going. So, when Jesus says, "from above", Nic figures it hasn't happened yet because he doesn't remember it happening. Of course, he conveniently forgets that he doesn't remember his physical birth either. Asks how he gets back inside of his mom when he's an old man.

Unfortunately, he misses the whole most of us do, I'm afraid.

Ever heard these before?

Have you found Jesus? (Didn't know He was lost)

Have you accepted Jesus? (Does He have at least two current forms of ID)

These are some of the types of ways that we, as Christians, are taught to witness to people. I'm sure that God applauds the effort, at least most of the time. However, that type of process quite often does more harm than good. What should we do then?

Let me ask you a question...what did you have to do with your physical birth?

The correct answer is: nothing. You were just along for the ride. You had absolutely NOTHING to do with being born. Sooooo...what do you think you had to do with your Spiritual birth? If you answered nothing, you're on the right track.

God chose didn't choose Him.

Now, I know some of you are at least a little disturbed by all of this, and probably wondering where I'm going with it. Before we answer some of your questions, let me ask you another one.

Does God use the analogies with us that He does because of the relationships and experiences we have?
Or, did He create us to have these kind of relationships and experiences so that we would have a better chance at understanding what he wanted us to know while we were in these limiting tents of human flesh?

If you serve an Omnipotent and Omniscient God, like I do, the answer should be painfully obvious.

So, Chris, what's the big deal? What's the difference between "again" and "above"?

Again means it happened after your physical birth...which would make God a liar...and dependant on you. Above reconciles with His Word, where He says that He chose us before the foundations of the world were laid. In other words, God chose us, or gave birth to us Spiritually, before He even created the physical universe. It means that God's Grace, and Mercy, and Love are NOT dependant on us...or our ability to perform. From above means that there is NOTHING that can separate us from that love.

Some of you are let me ask you...what could your child do to make you stop loving them? Is there anything?

Of course not. They can get mad at you. Leave and not speak to you for years. Deny you and denounce you. But, no matter what they do, they are still your child. Period. And, they always will be.

Why do I feel that this difference is so important? First of all, because God does...or He wouldn't have been so careful in the words he chose to describe our relationship with Him. Secondly, it takes the pressure off. I can't count the number of people who have come to me in tears over the years, feeling that they didn't do enough to "save" a loved one or a friend. They believed that if that person wasn't "saved", it was somehow their fault.

Nothing could be farther from the Truth.

I'll tell you what I've told all of them through the years: God is pretty damn good at His job. Great batting average. Not only always gets a hit...always hits a home run. Every firckin' time. You can depend on Him to get the job done. My God is Omnipotent...not impotent. Look again at John Chapter 3. He asks Nic if he can tell where the wind comes from, or goes. In other words, can you tell who the Holy Spirit has touched before you? Can you tell who He will touch after you?

No. Not your job. Your job is acting on the knowledge that you've been given. To love God the best you can. To love your neighbor as yourself. Do those two things, everything else will fall into place.

Does that mean that I'm saying we shouldn't, as Christians, witness to others?

God forbid.

Unless, of course, you think witnessing means going to the mall and grabbing strangers and asking them if they know that they're damned and going to hell. That's not what we're told to do...and somewhere, there's a guy who did that to me at a terrible time in my life, who's probably still looking over his shoulder wondering where the psycho ex-cop is. It wasn't pretty.

What we're told to do is to have an "answer" for the hope that lies within us. That presupposes a few things: First, that we actually have hope inside of us. Second, that our lives are such that the hope that we have shows. Third, that we live among people, and that they notice the hope we have. Fourth, that they then feel close enough to us to ask why we have the hope that we have.

I talk about my wife all of the time. People may get sick of hearing about her, but I don't care. I love her. More than anything. She comes up in my conversations all of the time because I love her.

That's the way it's supposed to be with how we present God to others. Not what they're missing. Not what they need. Not where they're wrong. Not why we're right. Just who we love...and why we love Him.

You'll find you needlessly offend a lot less people that way. Nobody likes to be told that they're fat, ugly and their mother dresses them funny. Especially by someone in checks and stripes with food stains and a mullet...and a belly hanging over their too tight jeans.

Those of you who knew me in high school and before know what an insufferably arrogant jerk I could be. And, unfortunately, that was on my good days. By the time I got in my twenties, I realized I didn't really know very much. By my thirties, a lot less. Forties? Almost nothing. Now I wonder if I could find the back of my lap with a pack of bloodhounds, a posse and a flood light.

But I do know this: God loves me. He chose me. He loves you. He chose you. How do I know if He chose you or not? If He lead you here to read this...pretty simple.

The only real mystery to why God would choose me. I know me. I wouldn't choose me. But He did.

And for that, I will be grateful...eternally.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I had a dream last night...Dennis Dollarhide and I were playing kick ball at school. His arm was in a cast and a sling. He was wearing a short-sleeve, button down checkered shirt. We were on the field in between Horace Mann and Woodrow Wilson, on the Mann side, so I think we were in the third grade. After school we went to his house. I think it was on Blackthorne, right off of South St. We were playing in his front yard, hoping the pretty little dark haired girl who lived a few doors down (you know who you are) would come out and see us.
Memory is a strange thing. Did you ever catch yourself thinking about something from your past, and have absolutely no idea where the memory came from? Sometimes, if you're very lucky, you can trace back one tangent memory after another until you get to what triggered the chain. Most of the time, however, we can't. Memories seem to pop up randomly...but they are never really random. Something always triggers them. A sound. A smell. An image. Sometimes all it takes is the quality of light streaming through a window...or a particular shade of color. Amazing, really.
If you read my last blog, you know I spoke of the snapshots we leave with others, and how we should be careful of what memories we leave with people. There is of course, and inverse to that: the memories that others leave with us...more importantly, how we handle those memories...what we do with them, and what impact we allow them to have on our lives.
Man will never create a computer that can come close to matching the human mind. The complexities of our thought processes, especially when it comes to memory, is beyond our comprehension. Our minds are like photo albums, storing every single image, sound, taste, smell, and emotion that we have ever experienced. Some of them are good. Some are not. Today, we're talking about the bad ones...and what we choose to do with them.
Some bad memories are actually useful. It's good to remember that a hot stove burned you. That way, you are careful around stoves. It is not good, however, to hate all stoves because you got burned by one. It is not good to hunt down stoves and shoot them. It's not good to try and teach all people that stoves are inherently evil because you got burned by one. It is not good to refuse to live in a house that has a stove, and try and convince others to get rid of theirs. It is certainly not good to allow being burned by a stove once to dominate your thoughts, hopes and dreams for the rest of your allow that memory to make not only you miserable, but also all of those around you...especially the ones you love the most.
You've noticed, I'm sure, the picture of Marley's Ghost at the top of this post. In Dickens' classic tale, the chains Marley carried with him were his misdeeds that he performed in life. While I agree that we carry our misdeeds that way, I believe that we do something far more insidious; more harmful not only to ourselves, but to those we care the most about:
Our memories...or, the ones we choose to focus on.
I'm not meaning to harp about my heart attack from two months ago. It was, however, a seminal event for me...and one that I hope can be of help to others. I learned, while re-examining my life, that it wasn't just the snapshots I had left with others that had had a negative effect on was the snapshots in my own memory that I had chosen to focus on. You see, the snapshots that I chose to focus on had a great influence on the ones that I left with others. It's a truly vicious circle.
I was Marley's Ghost twice over...chains not just from my misdeeds, but from the focus of my memories. And, I allowed those chains to drag the ones I love into the depths of despair.
One of the biggest differences between God and Man is that God can truly forget when he forgives. It says in His word that He can put things as far away from Himself as North is from South, High is from get the idea. We can't do that. Once a memory is stuck in our heads, it's pretty much there forever. But, if you liken our memories to a photo album, we still have options. We have the ability to choose what pages we go to, at least most of the time. However...even when something triggers a bad memory and drags us there against our will, we have the ability to choose how long we stay on that page...and how much impact we allow that image to have on us...and those around us.
I'm not accusing any of you of being as bad as I was and am. God forbid. But...even if you have made the mistake of allowing the negative snapshots in your personal photo album to influence you even one one millionth as much as I is far too much.
I am in the process of shedding my chains. I realize that it will be a life-long struggle. You see, the worst part of it is this: I like to hold on to them. There is, for some perverse reason, a comfort I find in blaming others...even though I know that it is wrong. I have always been the captain of my own ship. Whatever storms I have sailed through have been of my own doing. That is not true for everyone. Many people are truly victims of circumstance...whether that means a tragic accident...or an encounter with a monster. I cannot imagine the difficulty for them in trying to let go...but that is an excuse that I do not have.
Choose which pages of your album of memories you go to. Choose, when you are taken to a page against your will, how long you stay there. Choose what impact you allow it to have on your life, and the lives of those around you.
Don't be like me. Don't be Marley's Ghost. What few chains you may still have, let go.
The checks on Dennis' shirt were blue and least in the dream. The grass was feshly mowed and wet. The scent of it hung in the still air. The sun was high in the cloudless sky...and we both could run like the wind...and one day, we will again. Be safe overseas, my friend. You are missed. And loved.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I saw a photo of Johnny Cline yesterday...and I cried.

I have always been a passionate man. Too passionate, some of the time. My emotions, however, have been very raw since the heart if someone had flayed my skin and exposed all of the emotional nerves. Still...that picture of Johnny made me cry.

The technological age we live in is amazing. I just wrote to a long lost friend who is literally half way around the world. Amazing. More amazing is how we reconnected.

I went on my Facebook page the other day, which is something that I rarely do. On the sidebar it had one of those "you might like to add" suggestions for a friend. I usually ignore those, but this time the name caught my eye. It was someone I hadn't seen in 28 years...not since my ten year high school reunion. I don't know how their software works...we had no friends in common...I never put down my old school affiliations...but I hit add. Before I had left the page, a new one popped up. A young lady I had gone to school with. So, I added her as well. Since then, a number of old high school friends have been added as friends...all in the space of a few days...which brings me to Johnny.

I went on to each person's page and looked at photos. The picture of Johnny was on one. Johnny from over thirty years ago. Johnny and I had gone to school together all the way through high school. Played sports together. We kind of separated in high school...nothing ominous or bad...just the normal parting that friends do as they divide into groups with more likes and connections. A short time after we graduated, I heard about Johnny. I don't remember how long after, maybe a year or two. He had passed away. Tragically...and far, far too young. I was sad when I heard about it. That was long ago. But, when I saw his picture yesterday...

Memories are a funny thing. Things get frozen in time in our minds, like snapshots...or, perhaps, more like stills from a motion picture. When I saw that picture of Johnny, I was flooded with snapshots of him. Snapshots of a very young Johnny, from long, long, ago. Grade school. Youth football. He was always so handsome. And that smile of his ? Well, just ask the ladies...he could charm the honey from bees with that smile. So many memories of a life cut tragically short. I wept for him...and for all of those I knew must have missed him terribly all of these years.

But it also made me think...what kind of snapshots do we leave to others?

Those of you who read my work know I like to tell stories to illustrate a point. True stories work the best...even if those stories are painful personally. So...

It was over twenty years ago. My wife was expecting Lacy. We were living in a townhouse in Huntington Beach. We had taken our girls somewhere, and had just gotten home. Our doberman, Alex, had been left behind with the screen open to the balcony in case of bathroom emergency. Alex, as great a dog as she was, was also very temperamental. She got mad if we left her for too long. If she felt miffed at our leaving, she just might not go out on the balcony to take care of business. Which is what we came home poop and pee right at the front door.

I was a much younger man. Didn't realize then how mean and bitter I could be. I picked her up and carried her out to the balcony, cussing and swearing the whole way. Every other word was stupid f%$#ing bitch. Alex was big for a dobie, over ninety pounds. But, like I said, I was a much younger man. I picked her up by the loose skin dobie's have on their backs. Hung her over the balcony...cussing and threatening to drop her for her inability to go to the bathroom right. Now, I wouldn't really have dropped her. I was just mad. And that's where the incident would have stayed, probably forgotten, except...

We moved about a month later. We were moving into a house in Orange for Lacy's birth. More room for everybody, and a yard for the kids and the dog. Our downstairs neighbors helped a little with the move, and that's when they told us this story:

They had visitors a while back. A young married couple. It was the night I hung Alex over the balcony. The couple never saw our dog...but they did see my very, very pregnant wife go up the stairs before my outburst. The young husband was convinced I was a crazed psychotic, threatening my pregnant wife for her incontinence. He wanted to stay the night in a motel...his wife wouldn't go. Our neighbors had assured him I was yelling at the dog. He didn't believe them. He was so certain that I was going to come down in the middle of the night and kill them all in their sleep that he stayed up all his car...facing our townhouse so he could see me coming...with the biggest butcher knife our neighbors had grasped tightly in his hands. They left the next morning. He wouldn't stay another night.

Our neighbors laughed about it. So did my wife. I was embarrassed, but I laughed along with them. After all, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, right?

I've retold that story numerous times as an example of the impact our actions can have on others. Everyone always is a funny story. But...

Today is Easter...or Paschal. Passover. The day we celebrate Resurrection. New life. New hope. And it occurred to me that the story has a far deeper meaning than I had thought before. You see, we all leave snapshots with people. Not just strangers, but also the ones we love. Those snapshots are all that people have once we are out of their lives, whether that is from distance...or time...or death.

What kind of snapshots do you want to leave people with?

The snapshot I left that man with is not a good one. However, neither is the one that I left those neighbors with. It breaks my heart, especially at this point in my life, to think of how many people I have left with bad images over the years. Not just strangers...but also people I care about. People I love. I've vowed to try and change that.

I believe in the Resurrection. I believe in new life. In hope.

I would encourage each of you that read this to re-examine your lives...your hearts. Please don't be like me. Make sure that you leave good snapshots with people. Especially those you love.

You see, there is always hope.

I saw a photo of Johnny Cline yesterday...and I wept. But...I also changed because of it. For the better, I hope. I changed because of the impact of a photo of a friend...long since gone...but a friend who still had the ability to help me change...even from beyond the grave.

Thank you Johnny. I pray you are finally at peace. You deserve it.

I will see you again...someday soon.

And...I look forward to seeing that handsome smile.

Tell my family in Paradise with you that I said Hi.


About Me

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Christopher Blake is a loving husband...devoted father...minister...crippled more than a little rough around the edges...