Monday, November 23, 2009

Creative Extremists

"The question is not whether we will be extremists but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice-or will we be extremists for the cause of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill, three men were crucified for the same crime - the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. So, after all, maybe the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists"
Martin Luther King

I love this quote. In fact I love just about everything I have ever read that Dr. King ever said. Most of His words are applicable to civil rights, disability rights, the church and to the way we live in America in general. But maybe I like these words because I am an extremist, in some ways I have always been. My parents would get mad at me as a kid as it was one way or another for me. My mom would read a poem to me about Oh Tony, part of it went like this: "when he was good he was very, very good, but when he was bad... he was horrible" . I remember in high school being at party with a bunch of my friends and it getting out of hand and I may have been one of the instigators. One of my friends got really mad as we all where hiding down the block in some neighbors bushes as the cops broke the party up. He said Tony... your problem is you always push everything right to the edge and your not happy until you push one last time and everything goes right over the cliff!
So there it is, I am an extremist, my gift is my curse, as is it is in most people. Some people are accusing and say you are a perfectionist, or you are never satisfied, or you don't know when to quit, but I have never felt like those accusations fit me just right. I just find it easy to push things along and I want the best, especially when it comes to serving Jesus. The part that Dr. King says that is important is; is to be an creative extremist. There are millions of extremist type people out there but pushing the extreme just like someone else; is really just being a follower and has average outcomes. If you can take extremism and add creativity to it I think there is great outcomes to be had. Look back on history, many creative extremist helped change the world; Dr. King, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther, Walt Disney, Abe Lincoln. These people all took what they believed in to far, where never satisfied, and did not know when to quit. But the world is not the same because of them. I hope someday to go stumbling into heaven, tired and exhausted, having been working hard for the kingdom. I do not want to shed tears of regret as I walk through the gates over things unfinished or untried, or over people I never told about Jesus, but rather walk in with tears of joy that my Jesus will wipe away.
I challenge all who read this to commit to being creative extremists for Jesus. We are to be like Him, so we must be extremists. I am sure that Dr. Kings family often said, Martin, you shouldn't have said that, or done that or sat there or prayed for them. But I believe millions upon millions are thankful for his extreme vision,views and commitment to the cause of equality for all people. Lets be committed, like Jesus himself the ultimate creative extremist.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


"A kind loving character is the best tombstone. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble." Charles Spurgeon

Saturday was cousin Kent's memorial service. I was asked to talk a little about him. As I thought about what to say I kept thinking of the days up at the cabin with Tim, Kent and Jeff with Grandma and Grandpa Bruette. Those long summer days where filled with adventure, fun, freedom, love, work and play. My cousins where like older brothers to me and we have shared a bond that goes beyond time, distance or anything measurable. We like to measure things. We get caught up in numbers. We need results in order to calculate success. Kent's life defied those definitions. He was not comparable to other people, he was... well, just Kent.

I don't look back on anything Kent accomplished in the physical world as his legacy. His legacy is in this room and in Cordova Alaska. It is in loving relationships with people. I guess the closest person that I have known like Kent was Grandpa Bruette, a friend to everyone, kind to everyone, willing to help or love anyone. A walking, living, breathing sermon on love and kindness.

As I sifted through memories of Kent, each memory brought me to a place where I laughed or scratched my head. Most memories of Kent I have are like that that though. He often left you scratching your head but he also always left you laughing with a smile on your face.Three random remembrances I had this week are these. Kent laying in the loft in the log cabin and it being 100 degrees and I was laying on top of my covers in my underwear sweating and Kent was in his jeans and sweatshirt underneath one of grandmas wool blankets snoring a way in rhythm with Grandpa who was down below. I remember crawling around the back yard of the cabin picking night crawlers after a two day rain. It was pitch black and quiet except for the occasional yell and curse as Kent had torn every night crawler in half he tried to pick. I remember being about 10 years old, canoeing down the Wolf creek and Kent getting out at a beaver dam and sinking in the muck up to his armpits. As he finally pulled himself back into the canoe he looked at me a said oofda, that was close, if I drowned there you would have had to row all the way back yourself.I have also thought of many, many stories that involved Tim, Kent, Jeff and I that cannot share here as they would be inappropriate!

My last memory I want to share is from the time Kent spent as a missionary in the disabled community in Minneapolis, with Special Force Family Ministry. I believe this time was pivotal for Kent as he came into a loving relationship with Jesus there, and that was a spring board to his time in Alaska. remember going up to visit and Kent was taking care of Al. Al was a wonderful man in his 70's who had CP and used a wheelchair. Al could do nothing physically for him self. He lived in homes his whole life as he needed full care. Al was brilliantly smart and a preacher at heart but was very hard to understand. Al loved God with all he had and was not shy to tell others, Al's main message in life was to have Joy no matter the circumstance, even in the hardest darkest and most painful times that life could bring. In fact the last conversation I had with kent on the phone we talked about Al. Kent expressed to me that Al had allots to do with Kent's acceptance of Jesus into his life. That day, Kent's care for Al was lacking in my mind, Al looked disheveled and messy, a little like Kent himself. I got mad and went in Al's room to tell him not to put up with it. Al got quiet and tearful, and I knew I was in for a scolding. He began to tell me not to be so judgmental, while Kent's care for him was not up to my standard; it was actually above Kent's standard. Al said that Kent took care of him even better than he took care of himself, and that Kent was the most loving a caregiver he ever had.

That was Kent to me, loving, caring, willing to be down in a hole, washing the feet of an old man in a wheelchair. Kent was a man who's standards for love and kindness where more in line with heavens than mine will ever be. Kent, we will miss you. The world is a little less loving with out you here.