Archives For life

Things I’m All In Favor Of

September 22, 2012 — 1 Comment

happy-dog

I’m pretty sure by now we all know what everyone is against. It’s all over twitter, facebook and the news. And it’s really getting me down. SO…here’s some stuff I’m FOR. I’ll update as I think of new things, and you all can add your own in the comments – you don’t have to like or agree with my list to play – seriously – you can make your own list -

People

Grace

Freedom

Love

Acceptance

Forgiveness

Truth

Peace

Honesty

Transparency

Breaking strongholds

Overcoming obstacles

Destroying barriers

Sleeping late

Greasy tacos

Unexpected checks in the mail

Firearms

Change

September 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

loose-change

I’ve got a little change in my pocket. Not a lot, mind you. Just a little. Not enough to make a phone call, as if there were any pay phones anymore. I expect the ones that are not completely vandalized or uninstalled probably have forgotten how to work at this point.

Change – it’s like a four-letter word to most people, but with 2 vowels – making six letters total, but it wouldn’t look right if it was “chng.” You’d all be thinking, “ching? What’s ching?”

If you’ve ever grown up, grown hair, grown fingernails or grown a chia pet, you have experienced change in some form or another. It’s constant, necessary, sometimes beneficial, sometimes not so much. But one thing is for sure in life – change is always coming.

Some people like their change in a mason jar on the shelf, where you can pull it out every now and then and snag a few quarters for a coke. Others like change similar to what Loki did to New York in Avengers. If you think about it, there’s really no in-between. It’s either grand and sweeping, or subtle and underplayed. But most of the time there’s pain involved.

Some people like change just for the sake of change. “I’m tired of the way it is, let’s change things up!” These types of leaders irritate me. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.

Some people like change because of the possibilities it can offer – “This is broken and needs to be fixed,” or, “this could be better if we tweak it here and here.” I like those kinds of leaders.

I have been both in the past.

One church where I was an associate pastor, well, let’s just say I thought it was broken, and the only way to fix it was to totally deconstruct everything. I did not seek approval, did not seek wise counsel, did not even pray about it much. I just outlined a 12 month plan and dove in.

Nobody knew what I was doing except I was really pissing them off. Sorry – that’s what they literally said to me.

I went from 30 in the youth group to 10, back up to 50+ pretty quick, but because my thinking was off, it was never enough – I broke it, fixed it, tweaked it, shined it up and spray painted it and when I stood back to admire my creation, there was just not much good about it. Plus that whole losing the trust and good-will of the people thing.

After that I was gun shy, and vowed not to change anything for 12 months, and it ended up pretty much the same as before. I think next time I will at least pray a bit, and ask for some help.

I think that’s what leaders are doing on a world scale these days. It’s really broken. It’s bad. Nobody has a clue what to do about it and what is being done is breaking it more. And we are at each other’s throats.

Will prayer and wise counsel even work? For our nation? For our world?

I think yes, if we have leaders who are humble, who don’t think they know everything, who know they don’t have all the answers, but are willing to listen to “we the people” and accept that they are “we the people” just like you and me.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 exhorts us to pray for our leaders, so that life can be good for us. Life is not all that bad for me. It is pretty bad for a lot of people though – I wonder if prayer really does change things? I wonder…

Whoa Whoa Whoa Feelings

September 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

notebook

Yeah, The Notebook. Get over it.

You know what? I was sound asleep 15 minutes ago. Sound asleep. Then my eyes popped open, I sat straight up in bed, my mind immediately awake and full of ideas. Two words. Holy. Spirit.

There has been an occasion in my life where I had the opportunity to have a moment like in the picture above. Imagine it for a moment. How ridiculous it actually is, I mean. Why am I standing outside in the rain kissing someone? Why am I not inside, where it’s warm and dry? Who does that?

Have you ever had a moment like that?

Well, let me try to explain the unexplainable.

Circumstances have drawn you toward this one single moment. Everything is all lined up. It doesn’t even matter what happened to draw you into this moment – all that matters is this is where you are.

You’re shivering, but not cold. Actually, you’re pretty warm inside. Your heart is pounding, you’re out of breath, your skin feels like lightning is about to strike. And it’s like there’s only two people on the entire earth. Everyone else, everything else, is outside of existence.

Have you every had a moment like that in life? I hope you have – in spite of being ridiculous, it’s actually pretty wonderful. Pretty life changing. It’s something you will never forget.

I’m married to a girl I shared a moment like that with. She’s beautiful, inside and out. Our life could be a movie! And the weird thing is, we have moments like that all the time. Except for the rain part.

We have other moments, too. Moments when things are too hard, moments when we can’t stand each other, moments when everything is too hard and we just want to give up. Moments when there’s a mountain of dirty laundry, the dishes are all sitting in the sink dirty and neither of us wants to wash them, moments when both cars are broken down and we have no idea what to do next because neither of us gets paid until Friday and it’s Tuesday and we just paid the mortgage and we only have $28 to last the week.

All of those moments are what life is. I wouldn’t trade one of them for anything. I have experienced all of those things, and maybe you have too. I cherish each and every one of those experiences, and all the others. It’s part of who I am, and they have, at least in part, made me who I am.

There’s one more moment. It’s almost unexplainable. But I’ll give it a try.

Circumstances drew me into this one single moment. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are – here I am. Maybe I’m scared, or upset or worried about life or work or whatever. And Cheryl is there praying over me. My heart is pounding, I’m shivering, out of breath, and there’s electricity in the air. But instead of it being just the two of us, there’s someone else there. There are three people in this moment and all three of us are engaged in what is happening. Everyone else, everything else, is outside of existence.

Everything becomes completely still, the hairs on my arms stand straight up, a cool, calming breeze blows across my skin.

It’s just me and Cheryl and the Holy Spirit. He brings us together, he breathes through us, into us. He give us love and life and hope. He makes life more than the laundry and cars and home repairs, more than the sum of all the moments put together. He makes even the hard things worth it. Life – for us anyway – is not possible and maybe not even worth it without him.

Have you ever had a moment like that? I hope you have. In spite of me trying to give words to it, it’s unexplainable, wonderful, life changing. It’s something you will never forget, and something you will long to experience again and again. The awesome thing about it is, you can experience it. You can have this every single day. You can experience this moment over and over again, and it’s brand new every single time.

Romans 8:26-28 comes to mind. We often come to God with a laundry list of mundane things to pray about – health, safety, work, family. God already knows our needs! Not that we don’t need to pray for and over all of it, but there is a level of prayer that goes much deeper. God wants to know you, not just the things you’re worried about or in need of. He wants to share life with you!

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray, or how to pray. The Spirit helps us, he intercedes for us, sometimes with words we don’t even understand. He helps us to see that it’s all going to be ok, that everything is going to work out, even if we don’t think it will, even if we think there’s no chance that this will ever be ok. He helps us to understand that we are loved beyond what we can presently know, and that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? I hope you have -

zombieI’m sure by now everyone has heard of the “zombie” slayings occurring across the country. Some are attributed to drug use, some to just plain wacky behavior. What are we normal, non druggies/non wacky people to do at this point?

Two choices: We can welcome our new zombie overlords, or we can get the kids loaded up in the truck and head for the farm.

I bet between everyone reading this, we have enough combined firepower to start and end just about any conflict you can imagine – urban warfare, desert skirmish, jungle insurgency – you name it, we can do a double tap to the noggin.

Now, it’s not really zombies. Just messed up people. Not zombies. Not yet anyway. But be aware, it could come at any time, so we need to be ready, we need to have a plan. If it happens and we aren’t ready, things will get bad really, really fast for a lot of people.

How many of you are believing this? Show of hands? Anyone? Bueller?

No! There’s no zombie apocalypse, no zombie epidemic, no zombie virus or bacteria. Just really messed up people doing really messed up things. It’s a terribly twisted fairy tale.

Myself, I love post-apocalyptic literature. I have 100 zombie books, I’ve seen most of the movies, even played the video games. And, while they are very cool, it’s just fantasy, just great (or not so great) story-telling.

Thing is, most of us are already zombie-like, if not in appearance, then in attitude. Awww, don’t be offended, and don’t run off to look in the mirror to see if you have flesh hanging loose from your neck. You probably don’t.

What I mean is, there’s a lot of people out there just going through the motions – like a zombie – not really living life. We get up, get dressed, go do our work, come home, eat, watch the tv, go to bed. And we live like this day after day after day. We were meant for more!

Do you remember the first thing God said to Adam? Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over everything (Gen 1:28). Is that what we are doing, the way we are living life right now? I may be just talking to myself here, but I fit more into the “sluggard” definition.

Yes, I work hard, yes I pay my tithe, yes I go to church on Sunday and sing the songs and hear the sermons. And when it’s over, I file out the door, get in the car, go to lunch, and have a Sunday afternoon nap just like everyone else.

It’s like I’m a zombie – not really alive, just going through the motions. If I bump into a wall, I turn and go the other way. Until I bump into something else.

A wonderful line from a beautiful song goes something like this, “I was made for more than this world could offer me.” In this world, we have to measure up, we have to meet out numbers, we have to perform or we aren’t good enough. It’s like that in any job, especially mine. They measure everything – about 77 different things – and if you are low in one thing, you’re busted for the whole year – no raise, no promotion. You have to be very, very good to do that. Now, if you aren’t meeting what they say is acceptable, you don’t get fired, you just don’t move ahead.

How many of you can identify with that? Well, at least it’s not like the Pharisees. It’s only 77 things, not 613 that you have to be perfect on.

What this leads to is feeling trapped, feeling useless, feeling worthless, feeling like you’re not good enough. What do I have to say about that?

Enough! It’s time for us to subdue the earth, be master of our destinies! I’m tired of corporate overlords telling me I’m not good enough! I’m sick of feeling trapped, of feeling like I’m sitting in the same old seat everyday and spinning my wheels getting nowhere! It’s time to rise up and claim my inheritance, and be who I was created to be!

I was made for more than this world can offer me, and so were you! What do we need to do? Step it up, blow them all away, step out from the ordinary, into extraordinary.

What I am not saying here is “just be proactive.” What a load of crap. You can no more change your own destiny than you can reach down and grab your feet and lift yourself off the ground. Not possible. You can’t change yourself – but you can have a life changing encounter with the one who can.

Have you ever seen a zombie movie? How does it all work? Well, there’s a zombie, someone gets bitten, and slowly, over a period of time, the person changes – they go from who they were to someone completely different. The turn into a zombie. What I’m talking about is the exact same except it’s the opposite.

I want to change from being a zombie into the person I was created and redeemed to be. It’s a process, just like anything else, but the first step is admitting I have a problem and the second is to give up. Give up trying to please the overlords, give up trying to please anybody – even myself. Give up on the American dream, give up on trying to get raises and promotions, give up on what I think this life is all about. I can’t figure it out because I’m too screwed up to think straight. I need to be transformed – by the renewing of my mind.

It’s all in your mind. A zombie virus infects people’s minds and makes them do things they would never do – like lie on a report, file false records, spread rumors, backstab a co-worker, and on and on I could go. This is what ordinary people do. We are not called to be ordinary!

God is inviting us into something so much greater than ordinary. Yes – we will still need to do laundry, mow the grass, meet deadlines, and do an excellent job. But if it’s not about us, if it’s about HIM, if the Holy Spirit is the one dwelling within us and empowering us in our day to day lives, it becomes so much less mundane, and so much more of an adventure!

Imagine becoming His, and trusting Him for everything in your life. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Ask and you shall receive. Do you pray about what your needs are, or do you worry, complain, worry more, then just give up? I’ve been complaining about student loans for 15 years – haven’t prayed about it once. I’m going to start. I’ve complained about and suffered from severe allergies for over 40 years – haven’t prayed about it one bit. I’ve been afraid of and for some things – afraid for my family and my future, afraid of cars breaking down or bad health. I’ve done it on my own and on my own I’ve messed up so many things. Time to do it different.

Time to step away and let God step in. How many of you would be willing to just simply stand before God, seeking him, asking him to meet your needs? That’s about all I have left. I can’t do this on my own anymore. I’m just a zombie, shambling through life, getting nowhere. I can’t do it anymore.

What about you? How much longer can you keep it up? Oh, I could go on, but knowing what I know now, I really can’t – God wants to bless me, he wants me to live out his dream for me, he wants to bless me – and I can’t do that without an intervention. I’m taking God up on his offer – and I’m expecting great things! I am his, and he is mine – I will trust him, I will follow him, I will allow him to be the best part of me. I will lay down my will, my expectations, my life – and let him heal me, fill me, live through me. Because I can’t do it anymore on my own.

See that face right there? That face says, “I will punch a wolf.” Nothing trumps Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson is Chuck Norris’ worst nightmare. He is the reason why Waldo is hiding. He finds your lack of faith disturbing.

With that being said, there’s a new Les Miserables coming out. I will see this movie. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean? Anne Hathaway as Fantine? Amanda Seyfried as Cosette? Heck yeah! It’s even got Sacha Baron Cohen in it! It’s not a question. My greatest hope is to live long enough to see this movie. And then I may enter eternal rest, fulfilled and happy.

Everyone knows the song that Fantine sang, right? “I Dreamed A Dream?” It’s a haunting, sad lament sung by a dying woman who wonders where life went so wrong. “There was a time when love was blind and the world was a song, and the song was exciting, then it all went wrong. I dreamed that love would never die, I dreamed that God would be forgiving…I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living. Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

I know that song. I’ve lived that song. Life killed my dream.

I’ve only wanted one thing, for as long as I can remember. My Grandmother use to pray over me when I was a child – “Make him your servant, Father.” And I wanted that more than anything.

I grew up in church, and everything my pastors did I watched and emulated. I studied the bible relentlessly. I checked out theology books from the church library when I was 11 years old and I even read them. I started making connections between common everyday events and spiritual things when I was even younger. I wanted my life to be a sermon. I wanted my life to be something special. I wanted to point people to God. It was my dream. Then life killed the dream I dreamed.

So many things have happened. So many people have hurt me, and I’ve done the same right back. I worked in churches for years, growing bitter, angry, being hurt and hurtful. The song was exciting – exciting to think about and dream about, but life itself was just all wrong. It was the same no matter where I went, no matter what my job was. I kept dreaming, kept hoping, kept believing that God would be forgiving, that he would bless me, and then that part of me died.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

My life was a hell because of my dream. I pursued a dream and not God. His calling on my life was real, and he even planted that dream in my heart, but the dream was not worthy of being pursued. I bypassed the one who called me, the one who gifted me, and made my life all about the dream.

To be who God created me to be, that part of me had to die. The part that held onto the dream, the part that was self sufficient, the part that was created and sustained by my own will.

Your dream is not worthy of being pursued, but the one who gave you the dream is!

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, everything you do flows from it.”

Your heart’s desire should be the pursuit of a relationship with God. He is already pursuing you! When everything in your heart is right, everything that flows from you will be about him and not you. God will give you a dream and you’ll surrender it to him and he will give you all that and more.

Everything in your life should be an overflow, the excess of the abundance that God blesses you with because of your relationship with him. The dream is worthless, fruitless, without his blessing, and you can’t get God’s blessing. It’s not about not having road rage or working in a church. It’s not about the good you do or the lack of evil in your life. It’s all about resting in him. When you can rest in God, as his child, the dreams you dream will begin to come true.

My dreams died because I was never at rest, I never trusted, I went about making my dreams come true on my own. I, I, I. It was all about me, then that part of me got tired, sick, terminally ill. That part of me withered and died and was cut away. A new me emerged from that death, and God knows I’m still working it out, but at least I’m pointed in the right direction now – and that direction is one of being led by the giver of dreams.

How about you? Is the dream alive or is it dying on the vine? Is your relationship with God sustaining you or are you just barely hanging on, all alone?

Let it go! The dream is nothing without the dreamgiver. Your dream will die eventually anyway. Cut it loose now, sacrifice it at the feet of the one who can bring life from death. And after that part of you is gone, God will plant his dream in your heart and invite you to pursue him. If you do your dreams will all come true!