This scene from On The Waterfront is iconic, and descriptive of how I have felt off and on for years. “You don’t understand! I coulda had class – I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am!”

Off and on for years, Satan has been busting my chops with this. “You used to be somebody. What happened? You used to be someone, now look at you. Who are you? Nobody! Just a bum!”

Off and on for years I have listened to that, and I’ve let it affect me and I’ve let it keep me from being who I really am.

I wasn’t created to be a contender. I wasn’t created to be somebody important. I wasn’t created to be well known.

The reason I listen to those lies is because I listened to the lies! I believed I was created and given the talents I have so that I could move mountains and be famous and do awesome things. I listened to those lies and worked myself to death and did big and wonderful things and moved mountains and nobody even cared. When it was all over, life went on for everybody but me. Because my whole life was built on the lie that I could be somebody important.

God is our defender, he fights for us, we are his! A wonderful person from my church just said that this moment on my television! I fought for myself for so long – I never dreamed of a life where somebody would fight for me. I never dreamed of a life where God would fight for me and call me His!

In On The Waterfront, Terry Maloy is a great boxer who took a dive at the direction of a mob boss. He is tormented the rest of his days by this – if he had won, the world would have been at his feet, he could have been somebody!

So it goes for all of us who fight our own battles. If I had just done this one thing differently, if I had just known what I know now, if, if, if.

The lie is in the if, the lie is in thinking it has anything to do with us. The lie is in thinking I can fight for myself and win! It’s not about me, not about you, not about what we accomplish, not about how awesome we think we are. Not about us – all about Him!

On my own, I am a bum! Thank God I am not on my own – thank God I am His! Thank God that through Jesus His Son I am also a son! And thank God that what I have to do consists of being still and letting Him fight for me!

I was created to be a son of God. There’s nothing else. That’s it. Anything else is from me, and will fail.

So – whatever or wherever you are in life right now, know this – Our God is a warrior God, and he will not ever stop fighting for you! You are worth that much to him – worth the blood and life of his Son, worth the risk of being rejected. You are worth fighting for! Even when you were dead, lost, adrift in this world without any hope at all, God, having a wealth of mercy, made a way to save you, to lift you up from the pit you were in, and if you’re his, you’re his forever.

The lies are exposed for what they are, God is victorious, and you can be saved!

Ask him right now – to forgive you, to save you, to make you whole and make you his child. He’s already moved heaven and earth to do it! It’s already done – all you have to do is stop fighting for yourself. All you have to do is be still, and he will finish the fight!

 

Fear

August 8, 2013 — 1 Comment

The ScreamWhen I was a kid, I was afraid of the dark. This was when I was really little, like 3 or 4. I was so scared of the dark I would not get up in the night to go to the bathroom. If I really, REALLY had to go, (and who would admit this but me?) I would just do it in the bed. Drove my Grandmother crazy, having to change sheets every 3 days and put a fan on the mattress. To be fair, my mother caused this fear. She was a real mess, my mother. She would make me sit in her lap when all those old weird shows like Twilight Zone were on. There was another one called Circle of Fear, and of course, Night Gallery. Then she’d make me go into a dark room and she’d scare the snot out of me and laugh about it. I told you she was a mess, didn’t I?

Either way, that fear persisted until I was about 12, then I just got over it. Kinda. Sometimes, to this day, I feel like someone is right behind me when it’s dark, and I do not allow any part of my body except my face be exposed in bed at night.

I still have fears – and I am facing a few of them right now. Not very well, to be honest, but what choices do I have. For one, I have a fear of air travel, and I have to fly to Chicago this coming Sunday morning. I’d rather be at church, but I’ll be flying instead. And I’m really pretty freaked out about it.

I don’t quite know what to do about this. I have some medication that I can take that will make me calm, but it didn’t really work last time. I’ve prayed about it, been prayed over, I’ve sat outside the airport and watched plane after plane take off and land without incident. In my mind, it’s ok for other people to fly – I know you’ll be ok, and I’m ok taking you to the airport, but I’m not ok being dropped off there myself.

So – I don’t have a choice. I have to go, and I will, but I just don’t feel good about it at all.

The other thing is this – my job is changing (hence the trip to Chicago – it’s for training) and I’ve been all wrapped up in study and preparing for this trip for over a month. I haven’t had time for anything else. I haven’t had time for any kind of writing for a month, and I am afraid that when I get back I will be so wrapped up in my new job that one of the things I love the most will take a back seat. I’ve neglected personal study and writing/blogging for a month – and this is part of who I am. I’m not the #1 blogger, not a major author, not really anything but a blog guy, but I still love it and I’m afraid I’ll lose part of who I am in this new position.

So – now all that is out there – what do you think? Believe me, I know all the bible verses, and I think on them every day. I’ve read all of Jon Acuff’s books and I’m on his blog every day. Just Start – right?

I know fear is a liar. I know fear is a self perpetuating trap, a hole you just keep digging and there’s no bottom. So what’s next? I have to fly and I have to put in the time and learn this job and I plan on being awesome at it – where does that put everything else that’s important?

Anyone else ever been in this spot? What did you do? Please let me know – I could use some wise words right now -

 

nb

I have a sweet friend on Facebook who is about 18 months pregnant. She looks awesome, has a happy face, is expectant as expectant can be – but she’s ready for that baby to make it’s entrance!

I think we are all ready, everyone who’s kept up with the entire pregnancy. We’ve shared the ups and downs, good days and bad, and we’ve been at the edge of our seats the last few weeks -  and we wanna see pics of the little one!

Something this friend posted about a week ago – her husband got her Nutella and Nutter Butters to snack on. When I read that, my head got all swimmy – the two great tastes that woud obviously go great together, but I had not thought of it so I never had it before. I knew when I read that post that I had to have it – immediately!

We had the Nutella, but I had to go out to get Nutter Butters. Dang those things are expensive! And worth it!

Now, if you’ve never had Nutella, it has a distinctive flavor – very rich, chocolatey, nutty, thick. Some people can’t eat a lot of it at one time. I am not one of those people. A jar has 12 servings, and I can eat 12 jars all at once.

It also has a very rich, earthy aroma – if everything smelled like Nutella, everyone would always be happy. How’s that for a blanket statement?

So, I had all the ingredients of what I am going to start calling “Unicorn Feathers” and all that was left was the eating. And I ate it all! And then I had a stomach ache. Totally worth it though!

What is it about certain tastes, certain smells, that compel us to overindulge? You can have too much of a very good thing, you know. Moderation is generally the key, except for in certain felonies I suppose.

I’m glad God is not like that. Did you know that the bible says that our worship is like a sweet savor to God? Check out Gen 8:21, Lev 6:21, Lev 8:28, 2 Cor 2:15, Eph 5:2 – all of these verses (in KJV) talk about a sweet savor. Modern translations miss out on this, calling it an aroma, or a fragrance.

There is so much more than the sense of smell involved in the word “savor.” The verb form means to enjoy completely, while the noun form means “a characteristic, pleasant smell and flavor.” You can only savor what is already a part of you – before that you can smell it or see it but only imagine how you will feel afterward.

As an offering, worship is both noun and verb – it is pleasing to Him, something that enables Him to enjoy us completely, and in return we can enjoy Him the same way.

A story that comes to mind is from John 12:1-7. Jesus is in Bethany, and he was the honored guest at dinner. At this dinner, as they reclined around the table, Mary came to Jesus and broke a vial of costly perfume and annointed His feet. The smell of the perfume permeated the entire house.

This was her act of worship, and so it should be with us. We are honored to have Christ with us and in us! He is in our midst, and dwells in the temple of our hearts – and our worship should be pure, it should be costly, and the result of our worship should have an affect on those around us.

This is the type of worship that gets God at the edge of His seat. This kind of worship is exciting to Him and life changing for us. There is a great expectancy in true worship – God is here! He’s in our midst! And the outcome is that God works in us, so that our lives – that collection of ups and downs, good days and bad – blend together into something that is worthy of His affection. We are put right in worship!

There’s never a wrong time or bad time to worship – in your car on the way to work, at the dentist’s office, during your lunch break, at school. Whenever, and every time you enter into God’s presence, make it a time pleasing to Him, enjoy Him, let Him enjoy you! Be a sweet savor to God!

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 -

red light

Today, I was in a hurry to get home, and of course, I hit ever single red light on the way. All 12 of them. Red. Also, I was behind the same car all the way home. Traffic was such that I couldn’t pass to the left or right, so I was stuck behind one very slow moving Acura, that also got stuck at every red light.

At first, I was thinking this was the Twilight Zone. Then I thought it must be some kind of unholy purgatory. Not the kind where you go skiing either. My last thoughts were of the rapture.

Ah, the rapture – that glorious, foretold event that all Christians look forward to – when Jesus will come and take us all away from all the stuff in this world – including red lights. There will be no red lights in heaven, or else they’d call it something besides heaven. They’d call it traffic, and I am a firm believer that there will be no traffic in heaven.

So, as I was in traffic hell, I was thinking about heaven, and what it might look like if Jesus came to take me away while I was at a red light. I think there would be a lot of honking. Then people would get out of their cars and look inside my truck and just see a pile of clothes. Apparently, I also think we will all be naked in heaven. I don’t know why I think this. Anyway…

People will look in my truck, and there won’t be anyone there, whereas there had been someone there (me) mere seconds before. Some will think, “Holy mackerel, I think I just missed that rapture thing from those books and unfortunate Kirk Cameron movies!” Others might think, “Hey! Free truck!”

Either way, I’m like gone dude.

Thing is, I don’t know if I believe all that. Not that I don’t think Jesus is coming. He is! I wish it was today! Not that I don’t think He will take everyone who believes in Him to be where He is – again, today please. I just tend to not think it will happen like a badly written science fiction book.

How about you? How do you feel about red lights or the rapture? Either, or both? Let me know in the comments below!