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stones 2

Her cry was haunting. The type of cry that comes from deep wounds, abuse and years of unfulfilled longing. She wore her shame like a discarded garment never intended to display a sense of style. No, this was a garment used to cover up her nakedness, and the pain of accusation currently being hurled at her soul.

I watched as an observer, but my inaction made me part of the accusing crowd. It was a crowd I knew. It was my crowd. And suddenly, that began to bother me. I knew it shouldn’t. I mean, my crowd was right.

We were doing the right thing. We were the crowd who knew right and wrong. Our accusations were not born out of opinion. No, our accusations were based on the law that I had spent my entire life learning, memorizing, living and enforcing. And there was no question this woman here before me was guilty. She was caught in the act. And we had to do the right thing. We had to defend right and wrong. This woman had to die.

I held the stone in my hand tight enough to cause the jagged edges to cut into my fingers. Blood dripped down almost unnoticed, as I intently looked into the eyes of this woman I was accusing. Her cries continued. Loud and painful, but I heard nothing. All sound stopped. For a moment I forgot anyone else was around. It seemed this woman was only looking at me and her gaze pierced my heart.

A few seconds passed. Then a minute. Maybe two. I am not sure how long I stared into those eyes. But in that moment, her eyes spoke without speaking. Years of neglect, hurt and pain flooded out of her soul and into mine. I wrestled with the conflict of the moment.

Then…

He appeared.

This man, Jesus. We all knew him, or at least we knew of Him. And of course, we hated him. He did not respect us. He did not care about doing what was right. And now, we were going to expose him.

Here it goes. My crowd is addressing him. They let him know that the woman was caught in the act of adultery. And now comes the moment of truth.

They are reminding him that the law says this woman should be put to death.
They asked him what he thinks. Let’s see what he says.

What?

What is this?

What is he doing?

Why isn’t he answering us?

He is just writing in the dirt.

Now people are walking away. Why is my crowd leaving?

Wait. Now he’s writing in front of me.

What? How did he know that?

Now I am walking away.

But, I did not walk far. I stayed close and watched.

That Jesus knelt down in front of the woman we were going to kill. He looked her in the eye and he told her that no one was left to throw stones at her. She was going to live. He saved her. He would not condemn her and he told her she should go and live life, and leave her sin behind.

————————————————————————–

It’s been awhile since that day took place, but I have not been able to stop thinking about that moment. I’ve thought a lot about the crowd. My crowd. I’ve thought a lot about why I was so willing to pick up a stone and throw it. I’ve thought a lot about what he wrote in the dirt. And, I’ve thought a lot about that woman and the pain I saw in her eyes when I looked at her.

But what I have really thought about is the peace and joy I saw in her eyes when he spoke to her. The change in her countenance was like nothing I had ever seen. I have spent my life doing what was right and letting people know what they were doing wrong. It was a painful moment when I realized that if he was providing life, then I was providing death.

It was even more painful when I realized that my pursuit to defend right and wrong was not as important or noble as his pursuit to bring life in the midst of death.

I do not know how to change without leaving my crowd. I don’t even know how to talk to my crowd about the thoughts I have.

But what I do know is this, right or wrong, I can never pick up another stone.

Possible Musings of A Conflicted Pharisee
Based on John 8:1-11

the desert

So…what do you do for a living?  Where do you work? What are you going to be?

Questions of identity. We ask them every day in casual conversation. And we are asked to give an answer. We live in a world in which we are identified by our titles. Somehow what we do equates to who we are.

But what happens when those titles no longer exist? When you no longer wear the label that has defined you in the eyes of others.

For years, I was known as a Minister, Worship Leader, Youth Pastor, Evangelist. But then, I walked into the desert. Theologically, we could debate what lead me there. Was it God? Was it just coincidence? Was it the Devil? Was it situations of my own making? Or an inevitable end brought about by the decisions of others.

Regardless of how I got there, I cannot deny for many years the desert became my home, my dwelling place, and eventually a classroom in which I have learned some valuable lessons.

                Here’s one of them: Titles do not Define You

Titles are like clothing. If you wear them to long, they get dirty and begin to smell. They become stained with the experiences of life. And those stains become your identity.

Like the old saying goes, “Clothing makes the Man”.  This saying feeds another motto, quite often used in business and when prepping someone for a job interview, “Dress to impress.”

Using this analogy, the real problem comes when we wear our titles in order to impress others or to define ourselves.

Until the clothes are taken off, or in other words, we are stripped of our titles, we never know who we really are.

Every day, I get dressed and in doing so I cover up the imperfections that can only be seen when I am totally naked. Yeah, it’s true. I do not have washboard abs and a beach body.

I never realized it was the same with titles. Until…I was in the desert and no longer able to wear the labels through which I had been defined for years and from which I thought I had discovered my identity.

In the desert, titles mean nothing. In the desert you are stripped of the labels that have defined you. At first it hurts. It stings. It can even be embarrassing. It seems confusing and you frantically try to “get dressed.” Putting on a new title, a new identity. Hoping you find one that fits, because who wants to be seen naked; allowing others to see the scars and imperfections we hide every day.

But, the amazing thing about being stripped of labels and titles, is the raw honesty that it produces. When you no longer have to live up to the expectations that come with titles, you can finally discover your true identity.

Because, in the desert, there is no one to impress. In the desert, titles mean nothing. Resumes are irrelevant. In the desert there is nothing but you and the sand.

In the desert is where we are truly honest about who we are. And…in the desert is where we can truly find God.

Because in the desert I did not and could not come before the Creator of All Things with any title or accomplishment. I did not come as a Pastor, Worship Leader or Minister.  I did not come with my education, experience or resume. I did not come with my lists of what I had done for him or people I had tried to help.

              I came with nothing.

And the reason the desert changed my life, was because I discovered a God who loved me as I am: stripped, naked, scarred and bare; with nothing to offer him but the beating of my heart and the breath of my lips.

And though I am no longer in the desert, I still carry the love and grace that was bestowed on me in a season in which no man could help me.

If you find yourself in a desert season in which you feel alone, abandoned, stripped and unsure of the future or your identity, I want to encourage you. Embrace the desert and receive the love and grace of the God who made you and who is right by your side. Whatever you lose of yourself in the desert season, you did not really need. And what you discover… just may be what you were looking for all along.

             Titles do not define you unless you let them.

Be who God created you to be and allow his love and grace to strip away all the titles we wear that conceal our true self. For who we are was created by Him, everything else is just apparel we put on in an attempt to hide our shame.

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There’s something about being in my forties and heading toward fifty that got me thinking about my life… what have I accomplished? …will I leave a worthy legacy?  …what will I do next?

Mid-life crisis?  Maybe.  Natural progression of thought of a man growing older? Possible. Or is it something more dark and sinister? Could it be the roots of years of trying to measure up… years of being graded…. a lifetime of living for the accolades of others… worrying about making my mark… ambition fueled by the need to be recognized.

And, many would say, “What’s wrong with any of that? Isn’t it just being human?”  Well… maybe that’s true. However, whether it’s natural or not, I’m done with it. Finished with chasing false finish lines, and living up to my own self-induced standards of defining success; I’m through with collecting proverbial trophies in some lame attempt to justify my existence and earn my next opportunity.

I know… that is the way of our modern world: build your Resume in order to move ahead… get a better job… make a better life… make your mark.

Unfortunately…. That’s not going to work for me anymore.

You see… I BURNED MY RESUME. Yep…that’s right. Not only did I burn it, I shredded it.  Yeah, I literally took copies of my RESUME and shredded and burned it.

You know why? Because I am FREE!

Oh yeah… that’s right!

I have checked out of the pursuit of selfish ambition that leads to nowhere! Because I have realized that I have been a hypocrite. Yep… that’s been me… the selfish, prideful hypocrite building a resume that does not matter.

“Have you lost your mind?” you may ask.

Well… Maybe. But I don’t care. Because I am happy and free. Free from what? Free from me.

I have realized that to many times we allow our past mistakes and failures to rule our lives and guide our steps. However, an even more dangerous dilemma is when we allow our past Successes to hold us back from the great adventure that beckons us each day. We’re to busy “polishing trophies” and talking about “the good old days.”

Success can make us just as afraid of failure as failure can, because we become paralyzed by the concern of whether we can measure up one more time.

You know what…Who cares?!

Does it really matter!?

NO… NO and again I say NO!

Success is temporary. Failure is seldom fatal.

So what do I think matters?

Life…. Living… embracing the moment we are in.  And… knowing who we are regardless of what we have accomplished. Like I’ve said, I’ve been a hypocrite.

Hypocrite: a person who’s action do not match their stated beliefs.

As a stated follower of Jesus Christ, I have said that all that truly matters is what God thinks of me; my self-worth and value are determined by who I am in Christ, not in what I do or what others think of me.

Hypocrite! Hypocrite! Hypocrite!

Well… I’m done being a hypocrite. I want to walk in what I have preached and stated: I am loved by God and He is who I live for. What other people think of me or my own self-induced list of requirements to be successful is not what defines me.

And… I am free!

Free to truly love people as they are, because I’m not trying to prove my worth to them.

Free to take risks, because I am not bound by my past… good or bad.

Free to laugh, free to cry, free to live, free to give.

Free to delve into new relationships even though I’ve been hurt before.

Free to Forgive.

Free at last… Free at last… Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

                                           John 8:36

Yeah… I burned my resume, and yeah I might be crazy. But I’m free… I’m happy… and best of all… I can love and… I can love again. I can forgive. I can stop looking at others through their resumes and just see people who God loves unconditionally, and I can do the same.

So… here I go… into a life without resumes. Measured only by the love of Christ and measuring others with the same.

It’s gonna be fun!

Wanna come along?

(Thank you to my friend who looked me in the eye and said, “Harlan, it’s time to shred your resume.” I am forever grateful.)

Where?

Posted: February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

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Where?

One of the things I enjoy most about living in Colorado is being so close to the mountains and great hiking trails.  Often, when we hike, my children enjoy it when we go “off trail”.  It’s adventurous to delve into an unknown section of the mountain and forge a path that is not exactly like anyone else’s.  However, in doing so, there are greater risks involved.  There is the possibility of getting lost; being caught in a briar patch; slipping and falling off a cliff; or becoming stuck in a ravine.  Sometimes, you have to turn around and backtrack in order to find your way through.

Though my wife would probably disagree, I always think the rewards far outweigh the risks.  My kids love the adventure.  They enjoy being part of choosing our direction and creating a new experience.  Sometimes we make up stories about fictional creatures that might live in the mountains.  We use the unique trees and protruding rock formations and streams as points of interest in a story that is not just being told, but is being lived. All in all in, it is quite fun.  UNTIL…

Do you remember growing up and hearing your mother say things like… “It’s all fun and games until someone get’s an eye poked out?  Or  “until someone get’s hurt.”

Well, it happened!  Not the poking of an eye…but, the getting hurt part.  While we were hiking off trail down a ravine, one of our children – I won’t mention who (She is the oldest…female…getting married) – slipped and fell.  Sat right on a cactus…OUCH!  And, while trying to break her fall, she put her hand right on the cactus.  It looked like a pin cushion!

At this point, the adventure switched gears and became a rescue mission in which we attempted to hike over a frozen stream and up a ravine while assisting our wounded team member with the throbbing hand and porcupine buttocks.

The younger children began to make up new stories about a creature named CACTUSBUTT.  The wounded team member was not amused!

She survived and we discovered that the best way to remove cactus needles is Elmer’s glue! (thank you Donovan, Google and smart phones for that discovery).

Even with the risk, I love adventures. And I love the parallels I find in real life.

Life is full of the unknown.  It is full of risks. And everyone approaches life differently.  Some attempt to play it safe and only journey on well –lit paths where many have traveled.  Others only go where no man has gone before. Some make it up as they go along.  Others attempt to prepare for every obstacle and schedule out their travels to the minute.

I would say that I’m somewhere in the middle.  I enjoy studying the trails and history left by those who have gone before me. And yet, I still like to risk it all and venture off where others have feared to go. Either way, even with careful planning, life events have a way of catapulting us into the unknown.

Maybe it’s supposed to be that way.

Maybe that’s the only way that God can get us to relinquish our desire to control our lives and truly trust Him.

Proverbs 16:9 Says:

The mind of man plans his way,

But the Lord directs His steps.

In recent years, a lot has happened in our lives that I have wanted to control; I have wanted to change. The path has been rocky; new, full of the unknown.  And while I embrace the adventure, in the midst of it all, I truly just want to go where God wants us to go and lead my family into the adventure He has for us.

However, as much as I plan… sometimes I get it wrong.  Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going or what the next step is.  Sometimes, I have to humble myself and ask for help.  I need directions.  I need to say I was wrong.

In times like that, I’m so thankful that no matter what, even when we get it wrong, there is a God that loves us and is directing our steps!!

He is directing the adventure and going ahead of us forging the trail that even our best-laid plans could not create!

His direction is always more powerful than our plans. Out of love, He directs us to our ultimate destination.

Ok… I’m frustrated! And what pray tell am I frustrated about? I am frustrated over the bad rap that “frustration” is getting. Frustration is not high on the list of coveted or even distained “emotions” and “feelings” like love or hate or anger or jealousy or fear or sadness. In fact, frustration doesn’t even make the list of emotions! So what is frustration? Is it an emotion? Is it a feeling? What is it?! Well, one thing I do know is… frustration can be a powerful force.

I guess I need to share a little bit about where my current frustration concerning “frustration” is coming from. It all started because I was in a meeting and shared some frustration. I was told that I needed to be careful with being frustrated. That is good advice. I heeded it. We do need to be careful with frustration because it can lead to the “dark side”! However, can we be too careful with frustration and dismiss it all as bad? This thought, this question has led me to my current frustration.

Here’s why. Whatever frustration is – emotion, feeling, an unnamable force – I don’t believe that all frustration is bad. Frustration can be destructive, however, it can also be a motivating factor for beneficial change.

As a Christian, Jesus Christ is my ultimate example. Besides being my Lord, and my Savior, He’s my hero. He’s my standard. He’s my life. So, I look to Him to lead the way. And there is a time in scripture, where Jesus is FRUSTRATED. Yeah, Jesus, who was perfect and sinned not. We read in the book of Matthew, Mark and John, how Jesus went in to the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers. Jesus was FRUSTRATED, because they were turning the temple into something that it was not to be. His exact words in Matthew 21:13 were:  “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” Jesus got frustrated and made some beneficial changes that needed to be made.

This has happened throughout history. The Americas were discovered because FRUSTRATED merchants were looking for a shorter trade route. The Christian Reformation took place because Martin Luther looked around and was frustrated, because he didn’t like how the Church was being run. We drive automobiles because FRUSTRATED inventors got tired of walking and riding horses. Almost every modern invention we enjoy today was birthed out of frustration. Somebody thought, we can do this better.

So… is frustration good or bad? Well, I think it’s neither. I think it just is. What we do with our frustration will determine “frustration’s” future.

I was frustrated, so I blogged about it, and man do I feel better!

So what about you? Are you frustrated? Is it good? Is it bad? You decide… because remember… frustration can destroy or frustration can lead to beneficial change.

FRUSTRATION…. It’s future is in your hands.

2010 in review

Posted: January 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2010. That’s about 18 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 27 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 49 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 16mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was November 15th with 452 views. The most popular post that day was Give it away….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were cometoofar.com, facebook.com, web.mac.com, mail.yahoo.com, and joemillerwired.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for vive fidons, ryan and chad arnold, ryan arnold liver, harlan hobson, and ryan and chad arnold liver.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Give it away… August 2010
2 comments

2

Lost July 2010
1 comment

3

Now Will Our Dreams Come True? August 2010
6 comments

4

See You on the Stage July 2010
4 comments

5

I Just Needed One April 2010
12 comments

Coming Soon

Posted: October 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

“UnWritten” is a fine piece of storytelling. I was captured from the first paragraph and was never disappointed as I ripped through each story, each life, and each new nugget of gold mined from the deepest truths and emotions of the human heart. This collection of characters and their respective “stories” are bound together by the ongoing drama of Raphael, a lovable heavenly messenger. H. E. Hobson is skilled at peeling back the veneer of “life” to expose what are the truest treasures in this earthly journey.  I highly recommend “UnWritten” to all who love a good story, which causes you to take stock in your essential relationships!

Tommy D York
College & Career Pastor
Charlotte NC

“I was deeply moved from the first moment I picked up this book. This story has a way of opening up parts of your heart that may have been dormant or hiding. I believe all those who read this will be encouraged and challenged to live without regrets for the glory of God. As I know the author personally, his life bears the same mark on people, and I’m glad he wrote this.”

Derek Joseph Levendusky – Speaker, Author, Musician

Hobson’s book reminds us all that we are not alone in this world and there is more to life than we can see. Read UnWritten and be challenged to live a life without regrets.

Rick A. Mills
Author, Speaker, and America’s Youth Pastor Coach

UnWritten is brilliant, refreshing and a beautiful reminder that God truly works in mysterious ways.  It is a powerful story with clever and surprising characters that jump off the page. Hobson’s perfect blend of humor, love and redemption makes UnWritten an instant classic.

Alissa K Whyman Child Care Specialist