Archives For change

Ch-Ch-Changes!

December 14, 2013 — 2 Comments

ChangesLess than 5 years ago, Cheryl and I didn’t have two pennies to rub together. In spite of each of us having pretty good jobs, making pretty good money, we were broke. We were also *broken*. Without hope – lost. We were ashamed of where we were in life. We were in a really good church, but afraid to talk to people about our situation. We were all alone -

(Still don’t know what I was waiting for, and my time was running wild. A million dead-end streets and every time I thought I’d got it made, it seemed the taste was not so sweet. So I turned myself to face me but I’ve never caught a glimpse of how the others must see the faker.)

I wish I was kidding about all this – but about every other week, something was getting shut off – water, electric, phone, cable. Cheryl’s car was even repossessed once in the middle of the night. I remember sitting in the dark, lighting candles for light and warmth, wondering what we could sell on Craigslist to get our heat back on. I wasn’t even thinking about Christmas. We had a tree but there was no reason to even put it up – we had nothing to put on it or under it.

(Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes – don’t want to be a richer man. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes - Turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man. Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.)

During this time, I was reminded of a similar feeling Christmas, many years ago, when I learned that my wife (at the time) was having an affair and wanted me to move out of our house. It was too late for me to make any other plans – parents were at my sister’s house on the east coast, all my friends were out of town. So I packed up a few things in my car and drove off, but the car broke down about 20 miles from where I was headed. Then there was a literal blizzard…I thought I was going to die in a 1971 Buick Skylark, in a snow storm, sitting behind a convenience store in the middle of nowhere.

One thing I knew, in both these situations, was that something was not right between me and God. I was a pastor during both these trails. I knew, more than most people know, WHO God is.

But like Jesus said, the demons know as well. And tremble.

(I watch the ripples change their size but never leave the stream of warm impermanence, and so the days float through my eyes. But still the days seem the same, and these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.)

As it was, we were going to lose everything. Our home, our cars, our jobs. Our lives.

We didn’t start out thinking we would ever end up like this. We had dreams! We had plans and goals! We had it all figured out and what in the name of all that’s holy happened? How did everything get so bad? It’s like our dreams had soured, and our lives had rotted away.

(Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes - Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes - Where’s your shame? You’ve left us up to our necks in it. Time may change me, but you can’t trace time.)

Even now, if I told you everything was fine, I’d be lying. Different? Yeah. Better? Way. Fine? Define fine.

We have a Christmas tree, but we haven’t put it up yet. Christmas is 10 days off. We are lethargic – mentally, physically and spiritually this year.

(Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.)

One thing is different between then and now – the way we know God. That one little thing changes all things. He is not just a god (yeah with a little “g”) that we know, pharisaically, in our heads. He is not a god who sits and watches. He is not a list of commands to keep, holidays to observe, or doctrine to learn.

Our God is real, he is One, and when I say I know Him, I mean in a way that involves my heart more than my head. The Truth is setting me free – I know this Truth and His name is Jesus – and He doesn’t care about my Christmas tree, my light bill, or whether or not I love my job. He cares that I know Him – intimately, experientially – and when I do, all these things will be added.

Our God is a warrior God who fights for what is His! And WE ARE HIS!

It just seems like there is so much trouble, so much pain this time of year. But there is more than enough hope to go around. Turn your eyes upon Jesus! Look full in His wonderful face – and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!

 

- Lyrics above in parenthesis are from “Changes” by David Bowie, and “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson

Good Grief

March 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Charlie Brown

I have felt like Charlie Brown so often. At work, when something unexpected happens – AAUGH! At home, when the kids or laundry or both have me at my wits end – AAUGH! Driving in rush hour…well my responses to that are often a little more harsh.

Think about poor Charlie Brown though – nothing ever seems to go right for the guy. Everyone’s smarter, everyone’s stronger, everyone’s more right – all the time. His response to not being as good as everyone else is to seek out Lucy for counselling and scream AAUGH!

A lot of things in my life have gone like that, and I could put some bullet points up to let you know how bad it’s been, but you, being human, already know. People we love die, people reject us, people treat us badly, parents and friends dissapoint us. Those things, for some people, are what makes them know they’re still alive. I was under the illusion for so long that I was made for suffering. I didn’t know much of anything else.

But I found out I was wrong. I wasn’t made for suffering. Suffering is part of life sometimes, but we were made for more! And once I discovered the “more” part, I realized the suffering part was not so bad as I was making it out to be.

What happened was I turned in – when something happened, I knew exactly how to react – with anger, and by shutting down, and by shutting people out.

This weekend, I learned that it’s ok to feel whatever I am feeling. I learned it’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to have grief, it’s ok to admit that you are struggling. It’s ok, and when you allow yourself to experience these things, there is help for the hurt and then you move past it.

We talked about grief at church last Friday for a while, then we were given a chance to feel it, and deal with it. I found out most of my grief had to do with past ministry experiences. I sat and thought for a long time, and God spoke some words to me – he told me what I needed to do.

At the front of the church, on the stage, were some basins of water. God told me to put the water on my head, my eyes, my lips, my tongue, my hands and my feet. I thought it was an odd request. I asked why, and he said so that I could let go of my grief and experience healing.

So, I did it – and as I walked back to my seat, every step was lighter, my tears of sadness were replaced by shouts of joy and laughter! As I sat back down on my chair, God showed me why he asked me to do this – I needed to let go of grief, grief that I had both experience and caused.

God asked me to anoint my head because my plans had become more important than his. He asked me to anoint my eyes because I saw people as things to be used and manipulated into doing my will. He asked me to anoint my lips because my words had twisted the truth and I used them to hurt people. He asked me to anoint my tongue because my speech honored only myself. My hands because my work served only to glorify myself. My feet because I had made my own path apart from God.

Also, I was holding on to pain others had caused me in all these areas. I had held onto this pain and it turned into anger and bitterness.

Now all these parts are holy and His! My past is grieved over and reconciled. I will not dwell on the pain I have felt or caused any longer. It’s done – it’s finished. It’s now a foundation that God will build the rest of my life upon. I welcome him into my life to begin his work!

You can experience this, too! Right where you are, right now. Ask God to show you the things only he can help with, ask him to show you what you have held on to that is poison to your soul. Take time to grieve over those things, then hand them over to God. He’ll take them from you and make you whole. Your whole life can change, right now! Trust him to be big enough to wade into your darkness, trust him to bring the light! He’s not afraid of your messes, he’s not intimidated by your anger, and he’s strong enough to take all the blame you throw at him. He’s YOUR God, and there’s no other name to call upon. Take delight in him – take it! He is offering it to you, and when you take it, He’ll give you your heart’s desires!

Redshirts

January 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Star Trek Redshirts

I’ve watched Star Trek my whole life. It’s the first show I remember ever watching, and I just watched one of the Star Trek movies last night – Khan! Khan!!! KHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Except for J.J. Abrams Trek reboot, Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek movie ever, hands down.

One of the best parts of the show is the redshirts. For the Trek uninitiated, redshirts are the security guys on a starship. It’s odd how highly trained and exceptional Kirk’s crew is, considering how many security guys he’s lost over the years.

What happens is, the Enterprise warps into action, and when the doomed planet is in view, Kirk says, “Standard orbit, Mr Sulu.” Then, Kirk, Bones, Spock, a random other crew member and at least one guy in a red shirt beam down to the planet. Then, approximately 2.8 seconds later, some random yeti with a horn, or a giant angry rock pounces on the person with the red shirt. Bones, the doctor (blue shirt!) runs over and waves a spinny salt shaker over his face and says, “He’s dead Jim!”

Week after week, something like this happening, you’d think they would just change the color of the guy’s shirt, right?

It seems like common sense, when applied after the fact to a 1960′s tv show, but how many of us tend to live our lives this same way?

We have an experience, it is bad, and even though it was bad, we repeat it. Are we hoping to end up with a different result at some point? That is the definition of insanity.

The bible says it another way – and this is not pretty – “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

Would you agree that it is foolish to keep doing things the same way, when the end result is disaster, every single time?

Have you ever said, “Oy, I will never drink that much ever again!” That was me, every Friday and/or Saturday night my first two years of college. I would come dragging back to the dorm, somewhere between 1 and 6 am, stagger up to my room, sleep the sleep of the dead, then hate myself for it later. But I did it over and over again.

There’s a cure for whatever it is that ails you. It’s not hair of the dog, either. It’s Jesus! For those of us who have wrestled with our own foolishness, who have tried again and again to change, on our own, but keep falling into the same ditch over and over again – quit beaming yourself into whatever it is and try something completely different.

King David, from the Old Testament, was a man after God’s own heart. But he still had sin in his life! In other words, he was just like you and me, but he knew it – he knew he was sinful, and he knew what to do to get past it. This is from Psalm 51 – “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.”

Repentance – that’s what David was doing. And that’s what you and I need to do, when we’re trapped in our sin, when it seems like it will never end, when we have tried everything we know to do and it’s just not enough.

Repentance is simply changing your mind – by the power of the Holy Spirit. You can’t do it, but God can. You have to give up what you think is the right thing, the fun thing, the thing that everyone else is doing, and allow the Spirit to change you.

So – throw the red shirts in the trash – you’re not doomed, or cursed or condemned. You just need a relationship with Jesus! You can have it right now – ask Jesus to be your savior, put your trust in him, confess to him what he already knows, that you’re sinful and can’t save yourself, and ask him to fill you with his Spirit. Then – enjoy your new life in him! Tell everyone what he’s done for you, turn your back on your old life – because you’re brand new and the old things have no power over you anymore!

I’ve moved past my old, foolish ways. I’m not perfect – but when I’m in a bad place like David was, I take it to God. You can do that, too – right now! He’s listening, he’s ready to act. It’s up to you what happens next – trust him!

Bean Dip

November 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

beandip

Bean Dip. Frito brand, with jalapeno peppers. Best snack ever.

I’ve been eating bean dip and taco flavor Doritos since I was a wee lad. It’s the first thing I remember actually eating. I used to cry for it if we didn’t have any. I remember when I was about 5, my Grandmother going out to 7-11 late at night to get me some bean dip and taco chips so I could watch Twilight Zone before going to bed.

Yeah, I was a weird kid.

I never had a stomach ache from it, never got tired of it, never got enough of it. In fact, I just ate some about five minutes ago. And when I say “some” I mean about a whole can.

What is it about these things that we call “favorites?” Whether it’s a favorite meal (tacos), favorite drink (coke), favorite snack (duh), or favorite person (Cheryl!), I guess it’s that they just click with our personality and become a part of who we are.

Have you ever had a favorite, then change your mind?

When I was about 13 years old, I stayed the summer with my Grandmother in Anaheim, CA. She worked somewhere I can’t remember, but it was next to a movie theater, and some days when I went to work with her, she’d give me $20 and I’d spend the day at the movies. It’s amazing how many movies you can see for $20 if you’re sneaky.

Also, I loved Rolos back then. One day I got my ticket and spent the rest of my money on Rolos. I had about 7 packs of them. Also, I was watching Rocky 2.

About half way through the movie I had eaten about 70 Rolos, and was starting to feel a little queasy. Toward the end of the movie, when the severe beatings were taking place, I lost it all on the floor of that movie theater. That was 33 years ago and I have not just not eaten Rolos again – I have never eaten anything with a combination of chocolate and caramel since then. Funny thing is, I haven’t thrown up, not once, since then either. This is good info to remember.

Rolo is my kryptonite, my Achilles heal. The further they are from me, the better.

Some people, though, don’t know any better. They just keep right on doing what is bad for them, what is making them sick. The “snack” has turned into a habit that has turned into a life.

I think about my mother, who ruined her life with drugs. It started off pretty innocent – she was just a kid in the 60′s smoking a little weed, and one choice to say yes ended in her death 45 years later.

The bible puts it in a horrible, disgusting way. “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” (Proverbs 26:11)

I could really elaborate on that, but I hope you got a mental picture when you read those words so I won’t have to.

It should make you queasy, it should make you shake your head to try to clear that image. Maybe you’ll start humming the words to your favorite song so you don’t have to think about it anymore. Either way, that entire chapter of Proverbs is about foolishness.

If you’re like me (normal?) you’ve done some foolish things in your time, and have grown and become wiser and learned from your mistakes and have vowed to never repeat them. I could tell you some stories, believe me! But for others, this is hitting you right where you live.

Listen, I’m not trying to make you feel bad or guilty or anything. I’m trying to tell you that you can be free! Yes, the fool will waste his life chasing after drugs or alcohol or money or things, and never really discover what life is really all about – and it’s a tragedy every single time. But it doesn’t have to be that way, for any of us!

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This verse, for me, is my favorite in the book of Galatians. Everything Paul wrote before this is building up to this verse.

Paul talks about how we were slaves, how sin had condemned us, how we were prisoners to the Law, how we were separated from God by our transgressions, and in one statement, he reminded his readers of everything that Christ did on the cross for us – We are free!

But look at what his next words were – “stand firm.” This is classic Paul – he tells us what God did, then tells us what we must do in order to have it.

Yes, Christ died for you, yes the price was paid, yes, we have been handed freedom, but what are we supposed to do with it? We are supposed to stand firm – stand firm so that we can continue to walk in freedom.

What I love even more about it is, we can’t even do that without His help. There is nothing we can do that is right on our own! We can’t save ourselves, we can’t redeem ourselves, we can’t be good enough or smart enough or strong enough. The fool will try.

Our victory comes in standing firm, and we can only do that by giving everything up – our thoughts, our actions, our lives must not be our own, or we will find ourselves enslaved to the things Christ freed us from.

Remember the Rich Young Ruler? He came to Jesus so excited – he had done everything that was required of him under the Law, and it was not enough. He was holding back. Jesus told him to sell all of his stuff and give the money away, then he could follow Him. And if you will remember, he walked away with everything he had before, plus one more thing - he still had his wealth, his station in life, his religion, but he also walked away sad.

Do not walk away sad! What is God saying to you right now? What are you holding on to? What in your life are you using as a poor substitute for Christ? What do you keep returning to, over and over and over, knowing full well it is foolish to do so, and will keep you from every good thing, keep you from the freedom that Christ died to bring the world?

Don’t walk away sad - lay it down, and be done with it for good! Don’t be enslaved to your vision of what your life is supposed to be – become who God dreams you could be, and walk away a brand new person, with a brand new life! You can have that right now! What is your choice today?

 

 

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