Killer Words

How often this past week have you used the word “hate” when discussing a controversial or contentious issue? I’ve noted in my own comments of late that I’ve used the hate word a whole lot more often than I should. Now granted I really don’t hate the other side but use the word to describe the degree of dislike I have for them and/or their issues. For example, I’m an American so I hate the Russians; I’m a Cardinal fan so I hate the Cubs; I’m a conservative so I hate the liberals. I don’t really hate any of these groups of people but I’ve gotten so undisciplined with my speech that I carelessly throw the “H” word around far more than is appropriate and definitely far more than I should. 

Lest we forget, words are powerful. God “spoke” the world into existence and we are made in his image and while we humans’ words aren’t anywhere near that powerful, our words still have the power to heal or to divide; bring people together or drive them apart; express love or express hatred; bring peace or bring tension. Perhaps we all need to stop using the “H” word when talking about the other side in any discussion. 

I have to wonder how much the hate filled rhetoric that’s so prevalent in our everyday conversations and on the airwaves and social media and used by politicians, talking heads, reporters, celebrities, sports figures and every day Americans had to do with encouraging the crackpot that tried to kill a number of Republicans at the baseball diamond in Alexandria, Virginia this past week? Words do have consequences and hate words do cause hatred and this week it almost caused the death of 5 people simply trying to practice for a baseball game.

Perhaps it’s time for all of us to stop, think, and speak carefully.

Mason Swinney

Posted in Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jedi Spirituality

I’ve heard sayings like “life is what you make of it”; “a picture paints a thousand words”; “life is a journey, not a destination”; “if our life is a story, what does yours say” much of my life. But what do these sayings really mean? Are our lives really stories and, if yes, what kind of stories and who is the author?

When I was younger and looked back over my life up to that point I sensed that there had been a force, like good luck or something similar guiding me and helping things go in a positive direction and benefiting me more than I expected or deserved. But I never really tried to identify the force.

Humans are a whole lot more complex than we’ve been lead to believe and yet so very simple. Likewise, we’re all so very similar but different enough to make each of us unique. Yet much of our young lives we spend trying to hide our uniqueness and the rest of our lives trying to figure out what to do with it.

The older I get the more clearly I see that the force helping me all these years, nudging me one direction or another, sometimes more forcefully than others, and all for my good, has been much more than good luck or karma. It’s been something much more personal and something that’s always has my best interest at heart. Other people might call it fate, others their destiny, or some the road less traveled, but all sense some kind of force directing or at least helping them with their lives.

Perhaps Man’s main life purpose is to note the presence of the force in their lives; identify it; allow it to guide their lives; and to help others to see it. That would profoundly change the  value of each of us in a very dramatic, powerful way.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was right when saying during his goodbyes to his friends the encouraging words “may the force be with you”. I think he might have meant “may ‘The Force’ be with you” though!

Mason Swinney

Posted in life, Observations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beauty of The Ordinary

We all want uniqueness,
to stand out in the crowd;
we know we’re made different,
but standing out makes us proud.

Our need for uniqueness,
our drive to excel;
many strive to achieve it
and  by striving seem well.

But common or ordinary
few strive to attain;
one among the many
no one wants’ their refrain.

But there’s beauty in the ordinary
if we’ll just slow down to see;
take the focus off each other,
place it on The Holy Trinity.

Like a field of flowers,
a grove of trees;
each blade of grass,
a different shade of green.

A school of fish swimming,
the letters on a page,
each snow flake so different,
the penquin’s on parade;

The clouds in the heavens,
stars late at night;
fruit trees in an orchard
each blossom a delight.

But unique and ordinary
aren’t really poles apart,
each was made for God’s purposes,
near and dear to God’s heart.

Remember God made His creation,
its beauty understood,
and because God made it
it’s just naturally good.

So if we’ll consider what’s important 
and focus on the Maker, not the made;
we’ll see drawing near Jesus the Messiah,
ordinary thinking quickly fades.

Mason Swinney

Posted in life, Observations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Legacy of Injustice 

Injustice is all around us,
you see it everywhere,
but if we’re not real careful
we’ll find we just don’t care.

From a senseless drive-by shooting
to defacing redwood trees,
prevaricating by the fake news,
a family torn apart by adultery.

A child bullied on the playground,
cyberspace’s not safe at all,
sexual predators stalk our children,
evil’s pervasive since the fall.

Jesus, the Quintessential Savior,
fully God, completely man;
the universes consummate fixer upper
the One and Only Great I Am.

We’re a nation high on independence
though a civil war broke us apart;
our founding fathers fought for freedom
while enslaving millions, crushing hearts.

We’re all capable of evil,
born with the wicked gene,
until our nature gets inverted
fake-king evil rules supreme.

Our cold stony hearts need replacing
but that’s not something we can do,
our creator must replace ’em
with pliable hearts that He can use.
Jehovah-shalom, the God of mercy, grace, Amen.

Jesus, the Quintessential Savior,
fully God, completely man;
the universes consummate fixer upper
the One and Only Great I Am.

So what are we waiting for,
a personal invite from the King?
But a blood-quilled invitation’s been promulgated,
and with it our sins to bring.

So for us to end injustice
we have to get down on our knees
and pray the Sovereign Ruler
would restore and set men free;

while we work for God’s great justice
to graciously roll down,
understanding we’re the problem,
that only God can turn around;

For Jesus, the Quintessential Savior,
fully God, completely man;
is the universes consummate fixer upper
the One and Only Great I CAN.

Mason Swinney

Posted in life, Observations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tracks of Life

Does life unfold in clustered feelings,
good things happening all at once;
then the bad things joined together,
coming at you unannounced?

Or, do life’s events come rolling at you
like a train on life’s rail lines,
good and bad things steaming at you
side by side most of the time?

Life’s events roll out without our input,
nor do life’s circumstances in us confide,
the only choice we have in the matter
is to react or let it slide.

You receive a hefty tax return,
the same day you learn a friend has died;
or you get a work promotion
and discover your best friend’s been spreading lies.

Other examples are all around us
but the point that’s being made
we don’t have periods of only good times
followed by bad things you’d rather trade.

If we’d stop and think a moment
we’d see that this is true
but we’re more concerned with the occurrence
than the sequence of the feelings that accrue.

What’s that say about us,
we can’t see past our nose?
We’re to busy going places
than to see what we should know?

Perhaps its merely grace,
God mixing good with all the bad;
we’re often grieved by all the evil,
while the good times make us glad.

Don’t we more appreciate a spring day
after a long cold winter stuck inside;
how sweet to beat a rival
whom we haven’t beaten in awhile.

If we believed it merely fate
how depressing that could be,
it’s certainly more exciting
believing it’s from God who cares and sees;

in fact He takes it one step further,
God orchestrates it so we’ll grow,
so no matter how bad the bad is
He uses it for good, His blessings flow.

But that makes sense when we consider
that there’s evil everywhere,
but Satan and his demons are matchless
for a sovereign God who’s always there.

So how’s a successful life t’be measured?
The Bible’s the standard we should use,
and remember Jesus obeyed it for us,
gave us the faith to trustand reproduce.

But that makes it sound too easy,
surely there’s something more that we must do;
but if perfect is the standard,
relying on self we’ll surely lose!

So thank you Jesus, The Messiah
for giving us everything needed’t believe,
for without your loving-kindness
we’re eternally self-absorbed and self-deceived.

Mason Swinney

Posted in life, Observations | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Peace

One of the attributes that I admired most in Christians before I was saved was the kind of peace they seemed to have. I’ve been chasing after that peace ever since. 

In John 16:33 Jesus is facing the cross squarely in the eyes and his so-called disciple Judas is out betraying Him to his enemies and he says to the other 11 disciples “that in Me you may have peace”. It sounds as though Jesus is offering peace to them at a time when it’s most difficult to imagine that He  could be personally experiencing peace and yet is modeling peace for them. So peace is something we accept from Jesus and just as he is our savior, our righteousness, our life, He is also our peace. And we receive His peace the same way we receive every other gift from Him by faith/trust in Him and our personal obedience. Peace is ours by the asking, believing, conforming our lives to Him. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and desires to share that peace with each and everyone of His disciples.

Wow!!!

Posted in Observations | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sadness

Like fog settling in for the morning
or a giant blanket covering a room,
sadness smothers and consumes you,
with grayish shades of doom and gloom.

Its cause and thickness always changing,
its murky pall can spread like fire,
every movement a tiring effort,
meandering like smoke at a funeral pyre.

It’s a cancer that’s metastasized
with tumors spreading everywhere,
but you’re the patient and the surgeon,
who can but catatonically sit and stare.

Even as I write this sonnet
my sadness begins to intercede,
is it exposure by discomposure
or a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The cause, intensity hard to measure,
one day terminal, the next in check.
It’s a universal problem,
affluence can’t control the wretch.

It’s contagious like a plague
but often self-induced;
the only antibiotic,
our self-absorption be reduced.

If your life’s goal is being happy
you can count on being sad,
like really living requires first dying
and the first will be the last.

The key to ending sadness,
is getting our attitudes in line;
sadness sees the jar half empty,
gladness sees it divinely aligned.

We’re usually sad because we choose it,
attitudes are the one thing we control,
We can choose to be sad or happy,
let’s make good attitudes our daily goal.

When our attitude’s in order,
knowing God is sovereign, in control,
sadness won’t have a point of entry
cause God Himself will guard our souls.

Mason Swinney

Posted in Observations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment