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Selfies!

October 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

pic of meSelfies! You know what I’m talking about here – the pics are all over the ‘tubes. Grainy, low light, flecks of some unknown substance on the mirror. Partially clothed for the most part. Pics of you that you want the whole world to see!

Why this is a thing, I don’t know. Probably some kind of issue with vanity. I imagine we’ve all done it – hopefully most of us have not posted these self shot pics of ourselves to the internet.

To those of you that have – my hat is off to you. I never would have imagined you, sir, in that pink tutu, bowler hat, and wolf howling at the full moon t-shirt.

Honestly – there may be something wrong with some people. I mean – if you see some of these pictures what could they have been thinking? That they look good? Someone got lied to!

Please – don’t let this happen to you! I’m not saying don’t snap that pic – just please – for the love of all that’s holy – keep it to yourself!

The thing is, we all check ourselves before going out – to make sure all the hairs are where they are supposed to be, or plucked from where they aren’t, to check if something is hanging out our nose, to make sure we didn’t miss a spot with the make-up. All normal. But how do we check ourselves mentally or spiritually?

How can a person gauge for themselves what they really look like – on the inside I mean? Under all the makeup, all the layers of clothing – all the masks we wear?

What kind of mirror can we look in to get an accurate picture of what is really going on inside?

A great place to start is the Word. As you study and read God’s Word, you will see His character – and you will have opportunity to see if that character is reflected in you – in how you act, how you live, how you think, what you say and do. In fact, the Word says if a person hears the Word and doesn’t do what it says, it’s like looking in a mirror and then forgetting what you look like!

On the other hand, if you do what it says – if you accept that the way of Christ is the right and only way – then you will walk in freedom and be blessed in everything you do!

People tend to spend so much time looking at themselves because they see flaws – but what they want to see is a perfect reflection. Sin can distort how you see yourself, how you live your life, and how you see and treat others. But sin doesn’t have to be what you see in your spiritual reflection.

If you are in Christ – to the degree that He took sin onto Himself, that’s how righteous you are! There is no wrath, no anger of God waiting for you! You are righteous, pure, whole, sons and daughters of God! And if God sees you as His – if He can find no fault in you – how can you continue to find fault in yourself?

Pray right now – that you would see what God sees when He looks at you. He loves you more than you can know, He is proud of you! He wants to know you and He wants to bless you! You have to be willing to make the first move – and allow yourself to be seen by Him.

 

Heinz KetchupHave you ever had to wait a really long time for something? When I was a kid, it took forever between the time we put up the Christmas tree, and when presents were actually opened. It was horrible! I was never a patient kid – not on Christmas or birthdays or any other event when I knew I might be given something.

JUST GIVE ME MY STUFF NOW DANG IT!

Now, as an adult with kids, I see that same thing in them – an impatience when they know something good is coming.

I still see that same impatience in myself, too. I need to get over that. The last week has been pretty rough. I gave up a habit that I felt was holding me back, and I guess I expected everything to change immediately, and when nothing changed, I got all twisted up about it.

I really felt like good things would happen if I could just do this one thing. Maybe I even deluded myself a bit about it. But still I quit dipping snuff, and almost expected the heavens to open and gold coins to come falling down on my head. Instead I got a sinus infection.

Waiting is hard. It’s the hardest part. The bible addresses this by saying “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Hope can be a very pleasant thing – something great is coming! There’s a blessing just around the corner – just hang on! Be patient and God will show up and work a miracle in your life!

Hope can also be a beast. It can be torture. Something is coming – something good! But when? What do I do in the meantime? Do I just keep doing what I’m doing and keep hoping? When is this blessing supposed to arrive? Tomorrow at noon? Today would be better, but I can wait a day or two. But not three days.

I have been waiting years. Sometimes I feel like the little kid with presents he can see just sitting there. But my mom is keeping an eye on me so I can’t even get close – I know something is there but I can’t have it, can’t touch it, can’t experience it. But I also know the day is coming.

Sometimes I turn my back on what I know is there and get all twisted up over it and forget that the giver of these gifts doesn’t actually owe me anything. Sometimes I act like a spoiled brat, demanding my inheritance. Sometimes anticipation is making me late.

A few days ago, I met with a person I had never actually spoken with before. We’re facebook friends, and I consider him a mentor – He’s one of about 5 people that I read everything he writes. His words are full of wisdom and understanding. So I sent him a message on facebook, and we met for coffee early one morning.

He sized me up pretty quickly. I told him pretty much everything. He told me that my heart had grown sick because of anticipation. He told me that my confidence in God had been shaken – that I didn’t trust Him to be who He says He is, and in turn, I can’t be who He created me to be.

All because of a problem with patience.

We hear that good things come to them that wait. But I have become hesitant – I lost sight of how absolutely good God is, how much He really loves me, how He really wants to bless me!

If hope deferred makes the heart sick, how much more will those who wait upon the Lord renew their strength? How much more will those who wait patiently for the promised blessings mount up with wings like eagles? How much more will I run and not be weary, and walk and not grow faint?

That’s what I’m talking about right there! That’s the life I want! I don’t want to care about specifics – did I get a pack of socks for my birthday or is it that new video game I’ve been dying for? That’s not what it’s all about! It’s about walking with God in the cool of the day, and just knowing that you are His, and He is yours.

My prayer for me and for you – that instead of being impatient children, we will become spiritually mature, and learn to wait upon the Lord!

Perseverance

June 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

perseverance

If you could only know how tired I really am – tired of work, tired of church, tired of hearing the “perseverance” message. Like the (admittedly awesome) perseverance message I heard at church last night. There’s way more to it than the following, but this is what I heard:

  • Don’t quit!
  • What you’re looking for is just right past the next difficult challenge!
  • Don’t give up!
  • If you quit now, you’ll never see what’s around the next corner/over the next hill/behind the next door!

It made me want to vomit. I can’t hear this anymore. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t not quit anymore.

Ok – now that all the whining is out of the way, maybe I can move on.

I reallyreallyreallyreally want to just give up, but I can’t. No matter how hard, no matter how long, no matter how much it hurts. There’s been too much giving up in the past, too many people hurt because I lost my nerve, too many lessons learned.

What I thought was – look at all these successful people. It must have been so easy for them to get where they are. Look at them – out in front, doing what God designed them to do. God must not have had a plan for me since it’s so hard, and it’s so hard I just can’t do it anymore so I will do something else and forget about this.

Stupid. That’s what that was. And listen, taking the easy path is not so easy. Average is just as hard, in different ways.

What I mean is, if you’re not living your dream, you still have to live. You still have to work. You still have to provide for you family. And whatever job you end up in still wants quality work from you, and you have to do quality work while carrying the baggage of being a quitter – the person who ran away from their dream.

I so hate the word perseverance. I will find every dictionary on the earth and mark that word out with a Sharpie. It’s a bad, bad word when you’ve turned your back on your dream. If you’ve turned your back on your dream, hearing that word makes you crazy. It gets you into arguments, it makes your stomach hurt. It makes you want to go to Barnes & Noble with a Sharpie looking to do some vandalism.

I googled the word “perseverance.” Mostly to check that I was spelling it right. Did an image search, too. A bunch of pictures of cute sayings about making lemonade out of lemons came up. Here’s a few:

  • When life gives you lemons, squeeze the the juice into life’s eyes.
  • Life giving you lemons? Be glad it’s not (insert random horrible disease)
  • Unless life also gives you water and sugar, your lemonade is going to suck
  • If life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic
  • If life gives you lemons, you better blog about it
  • If life gives you lemons, keep them, because FREE LEMONS!

I like that last one. At least you’ve got something, right? Actually, I think I will make life take them back. I want a refund. Not store credit. No, I don’t want to trade them for limes. I want to trade them for something better. I want to trade up. I don’t want your stinking lemons. I demand to speak with your supervisor because these lemons are not what I want.

This is the part where you find out who you are, what you’re made of. Are you a quitter? Are you going to whine some more, then skulk back to that 9-5 and accept that this is what life has handed you, or are you going to take this life that you’ve been given and do something with it? Something only you can do – something that God dreamed up, put in your head and will take more than what you are to accomplish?

There’s a hazy future out there – that’s why it’s called a dream. When you’re in a dream it can seem so real, but when you wake up it all gets fuzzy. If you could just remember the details, maybe you could make something out of it.

Getting from A to Z sometimes takes you all the way through CDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWX&Y. And the people you meet, the challenges you face, and how you face them – those things determine how long it takes you to get there.

What I think I’m finding out, in my old age, is that perseverance is the work you do after you get tired of doing all the work you already did. Someone famous said something like that, don’t remember who. But yeah, thanks for that.

Someone else, also kinda famous, said something like this - “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed. Renewed day by day.

How?

By not focusing on what to an eternal, powerful, loving God, are light and momentary troubles. By fixing our eyes on what is forever. By living in the Kingdom right now!

Fear is a liar – fear says “you can’t do this – it’s too hard, it will take too long, it will cost too much.” Tell fear to take it to your Dad. The enemy – and Satan is your enemy, don’t doubt it for a minute – wants you to be afraid, so that you will settle for average. God has so much more for you than average!

How long it takes you to get there is up to you -

Low Hanging Fruit

January 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

peach tree

When I was a kid, I was like Forrest Gump – if I was going anywhere, I was RUNNING! Where I lived, the land was divided into one mile square sections, and I would run around the section my house was on almost every day. I didn’t have a good reason, I wasn’t in track, I just liked to run.

One day, in the summer, it was really hot but I ran anyway, and when I was still about a mile from my house, I started to feel pretty bad. I didn’t have any water, there weren’t any other houses around. If there’d have been a pond I would have jumped in it. Then I remembered Spencer’s Peach Orchard. It was just right up over the next hill!

Now, I wasn’t into stealing fruit, but I figured that anything that was in reach was fair game. There were branches hanging right over the fence, and the fruit was almost eye level, so I took a few peaches, sat in the shade, and before long I felt refreshed and was able to make my way home.

One of my favorite verses, one that made me think of this story, is Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What I was thinking, as I was running, was “I sure wish I had some cold water right now!” Peaches, ripe peaches, right off the tree were so much better! The peaches took away my thirst, filled me up, gave me energy, and I was able to get home after eating them.

God is able to do so much more for us! The bible says “take delight in the Lord.” It’s like low hanging fruit – it’s no effort at all, just reach out and take it! It’s yours – there’s no reason to let it just sit there – take it!

Once you do, the door is wide open for the blessings of God to fall upon you – if you take what He offers, He will give you the desires of your heart!

How many of us walk through life, from activity to activity, relationship to relationship, experience to experience – and maybe all these things are even good things – but we still feel empty at the end of the day. This is not what God wants for you – He wants to give you the desires of your heart, but first you have to reach out and take something that He is offering you. He is offering you the chance to be delighted with your life!

Trust Him to do this, trust Him to be your delight in life, and then expect that he will give you your heart’s desire! There’s nothing greater in this life than a relationship with the Lord – He will fill you, He’ll quench your thirst, He’ll renew your strength. All you have to do is reach out and take it!

Warning!

December 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

stay-back-200-feet-sticker

I was driving behind a truck today on the highway. It had a sticker like the picture above. I was late for work, behind a giant truck full of rocks, going 35 MPH and was being advised by a sticker that I had to stay back 200 ft. Which means no passing, more lateness, a long line of cars all afraid of getting dings and scratches and cracked windows.

Well, thankfully I drive a 1998 Ford truck. This truck made it through the giant baseball-hail storm last spring with very little damage, when most of the vehicles parked around it at work were totalled, or nearly so. I passed that old rock truck like it was sitting still. I wasn’t scared a bit. Lots of other cars didn’t pass, though, and it made me think – one truck full of rocks and a sticker can sure scare a bunch of people. Warning! Stay back! You’re going to be damaged if you get near or try to pass me sodon’teventryitbeveryafraid…YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

These days, there’s so much to be really scared of. It seems like every day we hear of a mall shooting, a theater shooting, a school shooting, a church shooting. Then we have to debate about what is and is not an assault rifle. It doesn’t matter what kind of weapon was used, it was an assault weapon.

I was afraid to send my daughter on a field trip last Monday to the local mall. She wants to ride the bus home with a friend next week, which scares me. Both kids go to daycare after school, where just about anyone at any time can walk right in the door. Most of the workers are older ladies. It all really scares me sometimes. But what can I do about that? I don’t really know.

What I do know is, I’ve been handling weapons since I was 5 years old – guns, knives, you name it. I grew up on a farm, in a military family. I fired my first handgun when I was 6. It was a .45. I hit what I was aiming at. I generally do, to this day. I’ve handled bolt action, revolvers, semi-auto and full auto. M16s, MP5SDs, P-90s, Thompsons, Mac 10s, and yes, even an AR 15. Compared to almost every other rifle, the AR 15 was a lightweight.

I’ve held and fired and torn down suppressed weapons many times – rifles and handguns both. The MP5SD is the coolest gun I’ve ever seen, and when I have the money for it, I’ll buy one of my own. It shoots 9mm, 30 round mag, can fire up to 700 rounds per minute. It won’t shoot subsonic ammo at all. 115gr hollow point is best. It’s funner than crap to shoot.

I blew up a small tree once with a Desert Eagle. I was shot at with an SKS (I still have that old SKS) and a .22 rifle.

Why have I had access to all these (and many, many more) weapons? Just the way I grew up, the people I hung around with. Do I need to add that none of us are murderers? Well, we aren’t. We just like to shoot guns. It’s fun – it’s a kind of fun that you can’t even describe, so I won’t even try.

Most of these weapons do not belong in most people’s hands. The vast majority of people will not even have the opportunity to even see a suppressed handgun or rifle, much less blow through 1000 rounds of ammo in less than 30 minutes time.

Just about anything can be called an assault weapon. The vast majority of people do not even need be around these things. You’ll hurt yourself or someone else. But there is a vast minority of people who do have access who should not. They are the ones who dream unspeakable dreams, who cause unimaginable pain.

Am I against legislation? No. Something has to be done. Am I against a ban? Yes. Am I for deeper background checks, longer waiting periods? Yes and no. If there’s a clean background, even someone who is planning something completely horrible will be delayed only a relatively short time. Should we have psych profiles on gun owners, potential buyers, deny access to people on certain drugs or with certain conditions? Yes.

The thing is, this most recent tragedy didn’t have anything to do with any of that. The weapons were owned by the mother, who purchased them legally. She should have had a gun safe, at the very least. She should have torn the weapons down and hidden the parts in different areas of the house. She should have had the ammo in a safe and guns hidden. She could have rented a self storage locker and kept them out of the home. She could have done a lot of things different, things that we are going to have to think of going forward. She messed up and the cost was too high. Just reading various reports, there may have been a lot of warning signs. Signs that the people in the know just blew right past.

There are warning signs everywhere. “Stay Back!” “Bad Dog!” “High Voltage!” Just like I ignored the warning on the truck, we tend to wave the warnings off and just move on. We can’t do that anymore. Something has to change, and there’s currently nothing that will accomplish that task and keep the 40 million gun owers (who hold about 270 million weapons) happy. We think we have the right to own these weapons, and we think we are right because we think the Constitution says we can have them. Good luck changing that. But we (gun owners) need to be extremely sensitive to what happened, and to what is coming.

Things are going to change, because they must. Can we at least all agree to that?