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It Ain’t Me

October 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

That song really speaks to me sometimes. CCR has always been a favorite band. Love their sound, and their lyrics still hit home all these years later. Seems like we’re still fighting some of the same battles we have always fought. They just seem different because there’s different people involved, but really if you think about it, it may be a different generation, but the song is still the same.

I’m thinking about my own life while listening to this song, and some of the battles I’ve fought. Some I’ve won, some I’ve lost, and some I didn’t even need to fight.

Because of some of the things I’ve been through in life, I’ve always had some identity problems. I don’t know if all adopted children go through that, but I did, and do to this day. Who am I? Whose am I? Did I do something wrong all those years ago? Did I do something to make my birth parents do what they did?

I know the answer in my heart – NO! They were already adults, and they were who they were, and I didn’t do anything wrong. In my head, when it comes up, I still struggle with it. Most days I win, too. I know WHOSE I am! And on the days that my thinking gets the best of me, I resolve to give it to God and do better next time, through him.

Like I said, I don’t know if most/all adopted kids go through this, but I do know a lot of people in general deal with it. I talk to people at work almost every day who feel trapped, who think that life is passing them by, who don’t know who they are or what they were made for – what their purpose is. Most of them say the same thing that I feel and that is in this song – “It ain’t me!”

Thinking back to the cross…Jesus knew exactly who he was, and what he was here to do, and when the time came he did not hesitate to fulfill his mission. And because he did all those things – living, dying, living again, and all that that entails – because of that, we all have identity through him!

Romans 8:17 says that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Think about how huge this is! I think of the prodigal son, whose brother did not accept his return very gladly. The son had already taken his inheritance and squandered it, then came home with his proverbial prodigal tail between his legs. And the father accepted him gladly, running to him, throwing a huge party in his honor. The other son grumbled and complained and said, “you never let me have a party and I was here the whole time!”

That is not Christ’s attitude at all! He has everything, he is at the right hand of the Father, and he wants to share it all with us!  He wants to give it to all of us who have gone astray! Who are we? We are sons and daughters of the King, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit as the down payment of everything that is to come. We will inherit, and in fact have already inherited the Kingdom!

Crazy, right?

Who am I? I spend a lot of time saying, screaming, whimpering, whispering, thinking “It ain’t me.” God who am I? What do you want from me? What do I do with this life you have given me?

His reply is a still small voice – “Be my child. Just be. And as my Son said what he heard me saying, and did what he saw me doing, so you should say and do as well.”

I am a son, I am a prince, I am a saint, and I am a priest! As my savior was before me, so I now am. My life is a message – everything about me is a song to the King. He loves me, he accepts me, he approves of me and he even likes me! I do not disappoint my Father, and nothing I do or say or think could ever change his love for me! Why? Because when he looks at me he sees Jesus!

And still in this life I will struggle. My spirit is connected to God. My physical body will die. My soul – my mind, will and emotions – I will need to submit to him every minute, every second of every day. When I do he renews my strength. When I don’t I worry, I wonder, I wither.

What do I do with this life he has given me? What do I do when I’m at work thinking, “This ain’t me. I was made for more than this. What about these dreams I have? What about these gifts you have given me? I feel like it’s all been wasted!” I give it to him, and I be his son, and I serve those around me. And I forget what I was whining about to begin with.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? About who you are? About why you are alive? I bet he’s telling you the same things he just told me. You’re special! You’re loved! And God has a plan for you – to just be his!

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!

How I Got Here

June 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

Of all the things I have learned, the most important is that I am blessed – beyond reason. Looking back, especially over the last few years, I have been so ungrateful – for my family, my home, my health, my friends – and the list could go on.

Something happened to me along the way, not just one thing, but several somethings. In the midst of my blessedness, I experienced life. Just like happens to you and everyone else, life happened to me.

When I was 16, I made a huge life decision, and I pursued that decision. When other people didn’t understand, even when it seemed I would never get there, I never lost sight of that decision. I knew that God had gifted me and called me into full time vocational ministry, and even with all the youthful missteps and detours I took along the way, I saw a clear path into that calling.

I took a few wrong turns, but eventually ended up right where I set out to be.  And it was nothing like I thought it would be. It really kinda sucked to be honest. I loved and excelled at certain facets of it, others I disliked so much that I didn’t even do them. Which speaks to my immaturity at the time, and ultimately it speaks to why I’m not working in a church right now.

I used my gifts to cover my weaknesses, and while I am very strong in certain areas, I didn’t even try to develop skills in my weak areas, and I never accepted help from others in those areas either. Since then I’ve learned so much -

I never thought that administrative duties were much fun, so I didn’t do anything like that. I spent my time reading, studying, meeting with people, teaching, preaching, but all the work that was required of me that undergirds all that – I just flat out refused to do it. People even asked me all the time what they could do to help – “Nothing” I would say. Now my job is administrative, and believe it or not, I see the importance in it and how vital it is that those things be done with excellence.

Another thing I refused to do is build bridges. About 95% of the people I meet, I find common ground, and it’s easy to build a relationship. If it wasn’t easy, I didn’t do it. Some people are hard to get along with, hard to build a relationship with, and what I’ve found is, often times these people are the most important ones, the ones that will stand with you no matter what. Another important lesson learned, and I learned it outside the church.

I also learned about who my source is. My source cannot be me. I’m not strong enough, not smart enough, not *anything* enough. I am not sufficient. I thought I was though – I was young, bulletproof, nothing could hurt me, nothing could stick. Until it all fell apart, I thought I was doing just fine on my own. I forgot that the one who called me and gifted me would also be the one to sustain me regardless of what came my way. I won’t forget that most important lesson again.

Where I am now – the place I ended up – is the exact place I learned all this – kicking and screaming the whole way. Not two days ago my boss was bragging on me, and she reminded me of who I was when I first started – lacking in so many skills, immature, whiny – and she reminded me of how much grace she showed me those first two years. She said she saw something there and thought I was worth it. I cried then and I’m crying now. Grace.

Grace is the one thing I have in abundance that I deserve the least. The most important blessing there is. I am so blessed! Beyond reason. But God’s love for us doesn’t have anything to do with logic and it certainly isn’t based on what we truly deserve. We’d all be in deep trouble if grace was based on anything but the fact that God is love. God is love!

God is love and God never changes – I say this a lot because I am convinced it is true -nothing you do or don’t do can cause God to love you any less. He IS LOVE. And what he wants for you is to become the person he paid for, the person he bought with blood, the person he dreamed of, the person he redeemed you to be. His goal for you is for you to live like you will when you are in heaven, here on earth.

There’s a lot involved in that. It’s a process. You’ll be there one day, the next you’ll be 1000 miles away. You’ll walk through deserts, you’ll stand on mountain tops, you’ll be lifted high and you’ll be crushed. That’s the life part.

No matter where you are, know this one most important thing: God is love, God loves you, his grace is sufficient regardless. How did I get here? I lived life on my own, it sucked, I learned to trust God. He is everything, and he is all I will ever need.

 

I was crazy when I was a kid.  I jumped off the tops of speeding cars, did flops off of goal posts (Not flips. Flips are successful, flops are when you try to do a flip and you end up breaking your rear end). I cut class a lot, spent most of my time just walking around the school. It’s a wonder they let me out at all, except I think some fine teachers were about to retire if they didn’t let me go.

Do you remember the crazy youthful fun you used to have back in the day?  Do you sit around sometimes with friends and reminisce about what it was like back in the day?  We long to go a little crazy sometimes – just like when we were kids.

If that is you, and I know it’s me, then you need to hear about God’s crazy love for you, and you need to realize that he wants to know people who can share that crazy kind of love with others.

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