Friday, December 23, 2011

Go ahead. Prove me wrong.

I just don’t know anymore. Some of you have asked why I haven’t written anything in a while. It’s because I don’t care. What difference does it make if it write? I just don’t know anymore.

See the thing is that I am in this weird place where I have that same answer anytime I ask that question. I just don’t care about anything anymore. I can’t even make myself when I know I need to. I am good at pretending like I care… but the sad truth is that I just don’t.

I have no answers. I really don’t know why I am like this.

Except for my awesome relationship with my wonderfully redeeming wife, I feel like I have no bright spots in my life. She is too good for me and I cannot express how much I guard my relationship with her.

Example. Here is my dialogue with a friend the other day…

Friend: “How long have you felt this way?”
Andy: “A month or two.”
Friend: “What was the last thing you cared about?”
Andy: “I don’t know. I don’t care.”
Friend: “Who was the last person who has hurt you?”
Andy: “Not sure. Probably everyone. It’s all one big mess anyway.”

I know I am not right. But I don’t know what to do about it.

The worst part is that I feel very alone and misunderstood in this.

What can you do to help? Care. Ask. Track me down.

Or don’t. I don’t really expect it anyway.

But maybe, just maybe, there could be someone in my life who would be willing to prove me wrong.

Even though I have little faith in humanity, I still have faith in God. I know He will teach me, guide me and refine me.

I am His. He will save me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dwelling Place Part II

So I think this is an extension of my thoughts from the other night. This “part II” came from my desire to draw a practical application from my revelation the other night. In other words, what does it look like to be the dwelling place of God.

Review.
We are being built to be a dwelling place of God.
That is in progress.
Already started but not yet completed.

See the thing is that we are often tempted to seek after God’s presence. We want to find Him, or feel Him or get to know Him. I get that. But I think I want to set something straight about that sentiment.

If we have given ourselves to Christ, everything is different. Nothing remains the same.

He brings our dead hearts to life.
He covers heaviness with garments of praise.
He rewrites our names.
He unshackles our shame.
He sets our captive souls free.
We are an entirely new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. -2 Corinthians 5:14-21

We are the only ones who keep us from God. “A man cannot serve two masters.” When we choose to put to death the things that are our masters, we are leaving room for Christ to create life in us.

And here is the real thing that I want to bring to our minds to ponder about; there is now nothing that stands between us and God. God made a way when there was no way. As we are being built to be a dwelling place of God, we are becoming the bride of Christ.

Seek Him. But seek Him by becoming reconciled to Him. Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.

The veil is torn. We were bought with blood and we can be His.

“When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing You’re beautiful”
                                                     -Phil Wickham


Friday, December 9, 2011

Dwelling Place

I have had this blog post simmering in my mind for the last couple weeks and it wasn’t until recently that I was able to verbalize it, support it and solidify it. It all started coming together when I came across the phrase “dwelling place.” But let me start with this story…

It was Moses who said it best. It was at Mount Sinai when God told Moses that it was time to move on. God says to Moses, “My Presence will be with you, and I will give you rest.” And it was to this statement from God that Moses responds with this little gem, “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us from here.”

I find this statement very intriguing. Moses didn’t want to leave the safety and presence of God at Sinai if God’s Presence was not going to do with them. Later on in the story, Moses didn’t even want to look upon the Promised Land if God’s Presence was not going to be there too.

Moses knew that the only thing that mattered is if he stayed in God’s presence.

So as I walk through my life, I have been noticing that I have been craving God’s continual presence. It seems that more and more I will be in the middle of a average day of my life and, in the midst of everything, all I will want is God to be there.

The second part of this story is that I came across Shane & Shane’s song "Without You". With the story of Moses in my mind, I came across these lyrics, “If Your Presence goes, I don’t want to stay. If Your Presence stays, I don’t want to go.”

I have started simply wanting to be in the Presence of God. No matter where or when that requires. So as all this has been swirling around in my brain, I came across this third and final thought.

“And in him you too are being built together to be a dwelling place in which God lives by his Spirit.” –Ephesians 2:22 

We are God’s dwelling place. God is not found in a building. He does not reside between the church organ pipes. He doesn’t sit in the pews with his feet up on the hymnal rack, waiting for us to show up to His dwelling place.

I am God’s dwelling place.  

When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look to see him there who made an end to all my sin. Because a sinless savior died, my sinful soul is counted free for God, the Just, is satisfied to look on him and pardon me. To look on him and pardon me.

See the thing is that life is doable when we are the dwelling place of God. All of the high points and low points are doable when God is with us.

But I don’t have to worry about finding God. I don’t have to worry about the next time I may meet Him. I don’t have to worry about living up to his expectations. I don’t have to worry about what is the right thing to do or say. I don’t have to worry about hoping my loved ones will find him.

For I am His dwelling place.

Accept and rejoice. For freedom is here.

No tongue can bid me thence depart.

I am not it

I have been on this journey recently where I have been learning and accepting that I am not what other people need. I can do little. I can only do what I can do. So the question has been so what can I do?

But here is the thing. I also had this tough realization yesterday that I am not the one that I need.

I cannot turn my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

I just can’t. I am just not good at being good.

So I am going to set aside myself to make room for the One I need.

There is a lot more on this subject to come… I just wanted to get that out since I haven’t been able to write for a couple days.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Deus misereatur

In light of yesterdays post, I was reminded of another one of Jimmy Needham’s poems. Here is the link…


My favorite line is “this can’t be Christianity, it can’t be”

See the thing is that we all have this image of what Christianity is. But I can’t help but have this gut feeling that it sometimes becomes distorted or diluted. Like the way that an image looks after it keeps getting photocopied. A copy of a copy. After a while, the copy has more differences than similarities to the original.

And I am fine with that metaphor. But before you burn me at the stake, I simply want to clarify that it is the copy that gets changed… not the original.

What I love most about Jimmy’s poem is that he asks and answers a wonderful question:
Question: “Where’s the hope of a God big enough to cope with all of my hang-ups and insecurities?”
Answer: “There’s only one thing that pleases the Father, the God-man on the tree in the midst of the scoffers.”

I have shared with you that I often am tempted to despair. And, once again, I get tempted to despair at what I feel like Christianity is. But most often, what I feel like Christianity is turns out to be far from what it actually is. And it is times like these that I really need and appreciate reminders like Jimmy’s poem.

Is God personal? Does God care? Does God really know my insecurities? Does God care to save us? Does God forget how messed up I am? Does God really forgive? Is God really just? Is all this just a fairytale mess or more deeply real than we could imagine?

But here is the thing. My job isn’t to understand it all. The price has been paid and the path has been laid.

God doesn’t bind us to our doubts, questions and struggles… He releases us from them and sets us free.

The truth is… Love is liberating.

Deus misereatur “May God Have Mercy”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forgiveness

Okay so I have this problem; Forgiveness.

See the thing is that I am really good at cognitively making sense of an issue and figure out how and why I need to forgive. I am good at that. But the emotional piece is a completely different story.

Okay so story time. A few weeks back I was talking to a friend who had been hurt by someone’s choices. This person’s friend eventually came back and apologized and has since made amends. So as my friend told me this story, the first thing I said was this, “I don’t think I would want to be friends with a person who did that in the first place.”

Let’s be honest, that doesn’t sound like a very forgiving attitude. But here is my favorite part of the story. Immediately after I made that statement, my friend replied with this gem, “I have needed forgiveness from my friends before. So I am going to forgive [this person] now.”

It has seriously been weeks since that happened and I can’t get that quote out of my brain. It bowled me over then, and it continues to do the same.

What kind of selfish jerk am I to think that I should withhold forgiveness? Especially when I have needed forgiveness myself so often…

But I think that is the answer. I was being a selfish jerk at that point.

How dare I withhold forgiveness when I have needed it so much?
Am I really so arrogant to think that I haven’t needed forgiveness?
Or do I just try to deceive myself?
Do I really just want to just be a little better than this other guy?


Here is my favorite part. The Bible repeatedly tells us that God will forgive and judge us based on how we forgive and judge others. (Luke 6:37, Matthew 6:14 & Mark 11:25 to name a few)

PLEASE watch this…


I am bought with blood. Accept and rejoice. For freedom has come.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for on Thanksgiving? Let me put it this way…

I walked into my day after working what feels like every day for the last month. My emotions, psyche and body feel like it has been to Hell and back. I have been a less than admirable friend and family member.

So as I walked into work on this Thanksgiving Day, I need to communicate to you the attitude that I had. To say that I was “sour” would be a nice way to put it. To say that I was “a straight up jerk” would be slightly more accurate. Ill let your imagination fill in the rest…

I spent my day doing these things…

Being really, really tired.
Seeing co-workers.
Dropping off children at family visits.
Picking up children at family visits.
Being complained to.
Being complained about.
Seeing others volunteer their time to cook a meal.
Being cussed at.
Watching children miss their loved ones.
Watching children be hurt by their loved ones.
Repeating myself.
Giving advice I should never have to give.

I must say, though, that my favorite moment of the day was when I got the privilege to sit back and watch my children load their plates up with the phenomenal feast that my co-worker had prepared for them.

When I asked the kids what they were thankful for, they listed a variety of things. Not one of them said they were thankful for the wonderful, healthy food prepared for them. Not one listed our warm shelter, clean clothes and bedding, or a safe environment they have to sort out their issues.

So here is the cool thing. It occurred to me that my kids were not even aware to be thankful for the most basic needs that were being fulfilled. But how often do we make the same mistake? How easy is it to list the typical answers to the “what are you thankful for” question?

I am not saying don’t be thankful for these things. I am, however, wondering how many blessings and mercies are being rained down on us that we aren’t even aware of?

Yes. Count your blessings and be thankful. But, perhaps, you could also take a moment to consider the blessings and mercies that you aren’t even aware of.

So here is the real point. What am I thankful for on Thanksgiving?

I am thankful that I can find God in all of the things that I listed.

Let us return to the Lord.
Let us press on to know Him.
Let us press on into Him.
Let us find the healing in Him.

And as sure as the coming of the dawn, He will respond and He will revive. (Hosea 6)

For that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

King of Lawlor

Okay so I had the absolute, God-ordained privilege of meeting with an old friend today who always has this way of whipping me into shape.

So as I wasted two hours going on and on about the garbage that is my life right now, apparently the sad state of my life transferred to him because I continued to be on his mind. When I finally got home from this visit, I had an email waiting for me.

He included these two verses:

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1 Timothy 4:12-16

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." Heb 12:11-13

My friend said he thought that was God’s way of saying “man up.”

Anyway, it’s no wonder that I have been struggling. However, the thing I am really learning is that I desperately need to intentionally be putting good things back into my brain.

Garbage in, garbage out. Good stuff in, good stuff out.

I believe I am being disciplined, corrected, taught and refined. So what I need to do is to set my sights on the righteousness, peace and strength that will come from my diligence to my calling and gifts.

So perhaps you could help me come up with good things to put in my brain???

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I am not clever

Okay, so I just went off on this 15 minute storytelling thing that morphed into a rant. Weird. I know. I was shouting!! Then I got home and started writing this really spicy blog post about all the garbage going through my mind right now.

Apparently it is time for me to calm down. I mean, I was actually called feisty today. Twice.

Whoa.

So my challenge is to figure out how to channel all of the ridiculous amount of frustration and life garbage fragments into something that is actually productive.

I think this is another “I don’t know” posts.

See here is the thing. I am in the middle of working 10 out of 11 days. It’s a pretty crazy stretch. That’s fine. I am glad to be working. The problem occurs when my brain starts to misfire and malfunction from lack of normal human interaction. If I am this strange with 4 days left… I want to be able to make something of this stretch rather than just survive and complain it away.

I am pretty sure this is just a complaint post. There is nothing productive that my brain can produce. It can only focus on the American Music Awards which is playing beyond the top part of my computer screen.

Ill stop pretending I have answers and just ask for your help.

Ideas about how to make the best out of a crappy situation?

Browns?

Friday, November 18, 2011

which way?

“Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers.” –C.S. Lewis

I’m not sure how to describe the feeling… but it’s sort of like getting the wind knocked out of you. I get it every once in a while. It comes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I need to find clarity. Sometimes I need to make better choices. Sometimes I need to resist temptation. Sometimes I need to trust in someone else. Sometimes it’s when I am just getting by.

But here is the common ground that I always feel about it; I am always being convicted about something. Now that I say it… it’s the same feeling I would get when I got busted doing something I shouldn’t.

Maybe it is the feeling of being seen through and knowing a fa├žade does no good and the thing that always gets me is that I turn into this crazy emotional spastic person.

So I think this is where I need to be reminded that God wants my heart more than my ponderings.

I feel as though Jesus is simply asking me, “Do you love me?”

I am not sure how to say yes. So I will trust. I will quiet my mind and my heart. I will not listen to the doubts. I will not listen to criticism. I will not listen to the accusations.

“Trouble comes when we navigate solely based on what we can see. God is always doing more in and around us that we know.” – Louie Giglio

I think I am going to answer the question by paying attention to Him. 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Welcome to the 1800s

I had three references to Gettysburg in my day today. So I figured I would go with the prompting and see where my brain took me.

It seems that Honest Abe makes two points; first about words and actions, and then about dedication to a cause.

Busted! I found the connection.

I was just speaking with a friend about how I try to hold myself to a higher standard when I find myself the most frustrated. And the thing is that it is easy for me to talk about how I want to be good, loving, wise, honest, truthful and free… but I want to raise that standard when it is most difficult.

But here is my real thing. So many people have gone before me in this world. People have dedicated their lives to a multitude of causes and we all know that there are those that matter and those that don’t.


“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

                                          --Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863


Here are my two questions for you…
What are you dedicating your life to?
How can you truly honor those who have fought the battle before you?

church and Church

It is a temptation to try to capture God within our church activities. We assume that Bible studies, prayer meetings and devotions equal a relationship with God. Love this quote from Thomas Howard in Christ the Tiger.

“[Christ] was a figure we could neither own nor manage. We claimed it as our special possession and exacted tribute and built shrines and established forms in which to incarcerate it, only to discover that it had fled. It would not be enshrined. It was the figure of a man, and a man must live and walk with other men or die, and this man was alive. He challenged out attempts to shelter Him and prop up His doctrine. What He spoke, He spoke loudly and freely, and His words were their own defense. When we tried to help things by urging sweetness and light, or by interdicting what looked threatening, or by tithing mint, anise or cumin, we found Him towering over us, scorching our efforts into clinkers, and recalling us to wildness and risk and humility and love. Just at the moment when we thought we had guaranteed our own standing in His good favor, He escaped us and returned with His hammer to demolish things. Try as we might, we could not own Him. We could not protect Him. We could not incarcerate Him. For he always emerged as our judge, exposing our punctilio and fright by the candor and boldness of His love.”

I think this struggle is as old as the Apostles. And I think that we must always remember that Christ’s Church is not a substitute for Christ Himself. Jesus Christ is the ideal and the actual. 

Christ is our Judge and, therefore, when we raise our meetings, church services, altars, prayers and annotated Bibles above Him, He is not our focus any more. 

The meetings we find boring, bore Him too.

"Return, return, and think again what I have asked of you: to follow justice, and love mercy, and do your job of work, and love one another, and give Me the worship of your heart--your heart--and be merry and thankful and lowly and not pompous and gaunt and sere."

Give your heart to Christ. He will save it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penn State

Here is what you must do. Read this now and then proceed...

http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2011/11/10/sports/nh4729065.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Wow. I guess its time to take some responsibility for our society. However, its hard to change something so non-specific as "society".

"Its one thing to have a conscious. Its quite another to listen to it."

So ask yourself this; what action do you need to take to stop yourself from sweeping things, big or small, under the rug?

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

Monday, November 14, 2011

Please. Help. Me.

I am in a struggle. And I feel compelled to share it with you.

I recently have been feeling drawn back to youth ministry in a local church. But that is as far as I get. Because as soon as I have that thought, I get this image of me being in a job interview, with a pastor asking me what my ministry will look like.

BUT I DON’T KNOW!

Okay, so parenthetically, I would like to clarify that I am not struggling with my calling… I am struggling with the vision of my calling. I love teenagers and I can’t imagine doing anything else… but its what would the job look like. Get that?

So back to my question… what would my ministry look like? I don’t know. Really, I don’t.

I did the whole Bible study, small group, Sunday morning routine. It was effective at what it was meant to do. But as I have grown and changed soooo much from my time in a local church, I am struggling with figuring out how to reconcile my new passions with what the traditional vision of suburban youth ministry has looked like.

I am passionate about leading hurting people towards the Healing Christ.

And yes, I am speaking about a shift in the paradigm of youth ministry.

Consider this part of my “job interview” but I just don’t give a crap about retreats, concerts, pizza and games. And I won’t pretend to anymore.

Okay, smart alec Andy, so what does it look like?

I DON’T KNOW!

But I do know that I refuse to waste the money of faithful offering-givers just spinning my wheels doing the same old things that has turned the stereotypical local church completely obsolete. (I am aware that is a huge generalization… apologies to those who make a difference)

So. Please. Help. Me.

Many of you will say, “Andy you are incredible with teenagers and you were born to be in youth ministry. You just have to work with teenagers.”

I say, “Great. I agree. But what should effective ministry look like in the form of a local church youth ministry?”

Anyone? Concrete ideas? What can I tell my future interviewing pastor?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seriously though...

So I just finished listening to a 15 minute Tirade about the miserable state of the Cleveland Browns. If you care, listen to it. If you don’t, don’t listen to it. Funny stuff.

But today, as Staci and I went to our very first Browns game, I started to feel like I wasn’t being a good steward of the money given to me. In fact, I said to a friend that I felt like I was wasting money on a game when there are people who need food and clothes. Friend told me that it was a fun thing to do that helps Staci and I bond. We had a wonderful time and I love our time together.

I think Friend and I are both right. The right thing is probably a balance of the two.

But sometimes I get all caught up in what Jesus said to the rich, young ruler. “You lack one thing; go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor…”

I am tempted at this point to say something like, “I know this world just wouldn’t work if everyone was constantly selling and giving…”

But I also don’t think Jesus kidding. In other words, maybe Jesus was serious.

So here is my question to you; what would this world look like if the Church sold everything they had and gave it to the poor? Seriously. Is it possible?

Are we too modern or contemporary or civilized to actually do that? Or are we just unwilling?

I know that not acting on convictions is just pointless… but do you really think it’s realistic?

This would be a marvelous post to comment on… hint hint hint

Friday, November 11, 2011

I wish i may...

11. 11. 11.

That has happened 20 times before. And that’s not including B.C.

Do you think Jesus wished for anything on 11/11/11?

Fact. No, he didn’t.

Wow. What about 11:11:11 on 11/11/1111?

See here is the thing that annoys me; wishes.

Do you really think your life is going to change just because there are all those 1’s? Or because you tear a dang wishbone in half? Ooooo. How about this? Pick a dandelion and blow the floaty things away. No.

Wow. Total overreaction. I am actually in a good mood. But then I perused Facebook and saw people making wishes.

A friend and I were talking about luck today. Neither of us believe in luck. Luck/wishes annoy me.

So I will rub Genie’s lamp and make my three four wishes…

1)      Don’t wait another 100 years for the next 11/11/11 to change your life!
2)      Maybe we could have an entire 24 hours where nobody in the world complained/or lets just go with world peace. (I guess I would have to delete this post)
3)      People would care more for Veteran’s Day than 11/11/11
4)      And, finally, I would love one of those knife and fork turkey sandwich things from Bob Evans

Poof!

So maybe if you want your life to be different than it is right now… GO MAKE IT HAPPEN!

(Maybe we can pretend that was motivational/inspirational and not just a rant!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Capiche

I must say that this is one of my favorite writings that I have ever read. So good.

This is not a "I am too tired to write" post.
This is a "this other writing is too good to pass up" post.

Capiche?

So go read this. Now.

http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2011/11/because-bible-is-kinda-weird.html

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post #1

Now THAT Is Being the Church…
by Josh Huff!!!

I hear so much frustration about the church. There is constant chatter about how the church today isn’t what the New Testament church looked like and what the church fathers had in mind when they began meeting together. 

It’s too inward focused

People in church are selfish

They are judgmental 

They are hypocritical 

On and on. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes contribute to this chatter. Some of it is probably true, but I’m not here to debate that. I’m here to paint a picture of the church being the church… the right way… the way that reflects its head (Christ). Since I began working at a church in the inner city, I have been blessed by several of these pictures, but I want to tell you about one in particular.

J was a great man. He knew what it meant to let God transform his life. There was a lot of transforming to do considering where J came from. But God was doing it. By the time I met J, he was well on his way to becoming the man God created him to be. He truly cared about his church family, and his biological family. He put the Gospel into practice. When God was chiseling away some of the rough edges in J’s life, it wasn’t easy. That didn’t stop J from letting God keep chiseling. 

J passed away this past weekend. It wasn’t expected at all. It’s crazy how God doesn’t think about our timing, but I’m kinda glad He doesn’t. Anyway, he left behind a wife and two young boys, one in kindergarten and one in the third grade. His family didn’t have much. There was no way they could scrounge up enough money to pay for funeral costs. 

Speaking of not having much, that’s the majority of the people I am blessed to worship with at my church. Lots of poverty. Lots of barely getting by, if really getting by at all. Our pastor made one statement: “Funeral arrangements haven’t been finalized yet because they are still about $____ short for the funeral” (amount is not important, but trust me, it’s a good chunk of change). That’s all he said. After service, the people of the church just started bringing up money. They ended the day with more than double the $____. I was absolutely blown away. These families, who are barely getting by, were so incredibly faithful to their church family that they showered them with God’s love in the form of financial support!

What a lesson for me!

I think that’s a pretty good portrait of what the church should look like.

The church is still alive, and I love being a part of it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Change

Change.

What does that make you think of?

Change.

It is a constant in life.

Change.

What emotions does it invoke in you?

Change.

The road less traveled?

Change.

What is constant?

Change.

Who is constant?

Change.

See the thing is, my friends, that it seems as though things are always changing. People change. Times change. Relationships change. Jobs change. Homes change.

It is just the way it is. Pain heals and joys fade.

Some day I just struggle with what to do with change. Because it seems like so many people in this world get pushed around by the changes that naturally occur in this world. It is like they just wait for something to happen and then adapt.

I want to the kind of person who sparks the change. And who help make things better.

Monday, November 7, 2011

untitled

When I look at you, all I can think is that no child ever dreamed of growing up into such brokenness.

Boys dream of an adventure to face, battles to conquer and a beauty to win. Girls dream of an adventure to go on with the hero that fought for the beauty that she is becoming. We love fairy tales because they remind us of the desires of our hearts back when we were children.

But I see you. I see the ways your eyes dart around in your head like a frightened animal. I see the ways you try to manipulate your surroundings as you try to simulate safety. I see the way you lash out when you feel the most vulnerable. I see the way you run from the things that can help you the most. I see the way you hurt yourself to make yourself feel better. I see the way you become the things you hate the most. I see the way you feel you desperately need things but they never actually satisfy.

And every time I see you, I think about how nobody wanted this for you.

And, if I am honest, I am often tempted to feel like we are polar opposites.

It is kind of interesting. When things get the craziest for me… I think I search for life. When things get the craziest for you… you search for death. But maybe interesting isn’t the right word.

But as I watch you, I realize that every awful thing inside of me still waits and lurks to sneak out of any weak point. I know I have a shield that I use to keep things out, but I also know I have a shield I use to keep things in. And as this proneness to be vane, prideful, lustful and angry manifest into my own selfish intentions and death-dealing thoughts, I remember that we are the same. We, simply, are human. 

People overlook you, judge you and tell you to get your crap together because you are so screwed up.

People pat me on the back and say I am honorable for making a difference.

See neither of us ever dreamed we would become what we are today. But maybe you didn’t even get the chance to dream of something better. But there you are, wild-eyed and listening to people who don’t give a crap about you.

For now, our lives share the same path. For however long that will last. And as my chest starts to feel heavy, my heart rate quickens and I can’t walk away from you without hesitating, I realize something.

Beneath all the imperfect and self-centered efforts that I can muster up, there lies the deepest of loves for you. I can’t walk away from you without being prompted to pray. I can only trust that that love comes from the greatest Lover of all time.

The only difference is that once upon a time, God fixed me. More importantly, He continues to save me, heal me and redeem me. Continually and continually.

May the life, warmth and love begun in me spread to you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tears

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable joy.” Washington Irving

I have seen far too many tears recently. It was entirely a bad thing except for one.

But I got to teach someone that tears are not weakness… they are a mark of power. That when you’re overwhelmed, laying down in your bed, holding your head and crying your eyes out can be a great start to dealing with life.

But I don’t know. I feel like my brain is prepared to riot. Like it will refuse to think.

I think that is a good sign it is time for tears.

Sorry my friends. It’s the best I have right now.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tell me a story

So I have this super weird idea. And it comes from this… I don’t have anything to say tonight. Good day. Good times. Tired… but good.

So here is my idea. YOU say something to ME!

Groundbreaking! I know!

But seriously. I would really love to hear what is going on in your lives.

Write a guest blog. As long as you want. It can be anonymous or signed.

Write a sentence summary of you.

Write 3 words that describe you.

Comment on this post.

Message me on facebook.

Send me an email.

Anyway… just tell me a story!!!

Seriously.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I can't find my shoes

“[The Devil’s] cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our [God]'s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Read that 10 times.

Think about it. God doesn’t want followers who robotically do whatever He orders. God doesn’t want people to give up their minds to follow Him.

See the thing is that anyone who has tried to find God has found that it isn’t exactly like finding your shoes under a pile of laundry. You don’t just move the things that are in the way in order to find God.

We are often tested. And we should expect it.

For example, when Jesus was baptized and publicly affirmed with an audible voice from God, the very next thing that happened was that the Holy Spirit drove Him into the desert to be tested.

Jesus didn’t get to ride a wave of emotions into God’s Kingdom… and neither do we.

The truth is that eventually we all will look around at life and not see a trace of Him. We will feel as if He has vanished. And we will feel as if He has forsaken us in our most critical moment of need. That moment is where we choose to freely seek God.

See there is always freedom in God’s Kingdom. And part of that freedom means that we can abandon ship.

However, critical piece is that the Devil’s cause is never more in danger when we have absolutely no evidence, reason or motive to continue to obey, but yet we still do. Conversely, when we choose to do that, we have never been closer to God’s cause.

No longer desiring. (Sound familiar?) Yet still intending to do God’s Will.

God wants us to learn this and, therefore, He must take away His apparent presence. At that point, if only the will to seek God is really there, He is pleased even with our stumbles.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It should be a good thing.

I must be honest with you my friends. Today has bee a rough day. I have been in just one of those “screw everything” moods. I just don’t care. I feel like I am just firing off the ugly “why” question at everything and anything, and not stopping to wait for the answer.

These mini-funks that I sometimes find my in can be a real treat. The real frustration is that I don’t really have reason.

See I think the real thing is that I have been on this journey to explore how much I need God. I have been learning several things:

1) We have all heard the phrase that when we pray for patience, God gives us an opportunity to be patient. I think in the same way, when I prayed to know how much I need God, He has shown me my limitations.
2) The truth is that I can do absolutely nothing without God. Being humbled is one of those things filled with mixed feelings. If God is the one humbling me, then I need to trust it is for my own good. I desperately need God.
3) In a cool/painful way, I have also been shown that my own need for God is the same as every single other person in this world. But as I journey into deep pain with the people in my life, it is becoming my passion to see everyone identify their need for God. We all desperately need God. More than anything.
4) The combination of all of these things has left me a broken person. I want to be in His presence all of the time. The times I have wasted away as I watch my favorite TV shows could have been spend with Him. He makes Himself so available and, yet, we simply don’t care enough to reciprocate. I need Him so badly, I feel like I can do nothing without Him. But that also tempts me to feel like I can do nothing.


See the thing is that we spend so much of our lives needing. And, most of the time, we don’t know it. We need God. And, for a variety of reasons, we don’t often feel Him. So we get caught up in this place where we feel like He isn’t there. Or He is eluding us. Or, worse yet, He doesn’t really care.

So my prayer tonight is going to be Psalm 13.

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.


So I will trust in His salvation and His unfailing love.
Blindly.
And I don’t know where that will take me.
But where He is, there I shall be also.

I am Yours, save me.


“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms”- CSL

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Down a peg or two

So recently I had the privilege of having a new friend come into my life… let’s call them M. Initially, this person began to grow dear to my heart because of how well I felt M understood me. I think that is still true.

But as I have gotten to know M better and better, they have trusted me enough to let me get close to them too. It has truly been a great pleasure of my life watching M question, struggle, learn and grow.

Do you ever have one of those experiences where you think you are helping someone but, as it turns out, it is really you who are learning the lessons?

I have a confession. A real one. When I talk to people about God stuff, I often get caught in this trap where I begin to think that this person needs me.

But as I have gotten to know M, and I have spent time and energy helping them sort out issues, my prayers began to change from asking for specific things. I no longer ask Him to answer a specific question, quench a specific thirst or fill a specific hunger.

Rather, I have been asking that this person simply discovers their need for God. And that God would arrive.

See the real thing I have been learning is that it doesn’t matter how much I can do for someone because, in the grand scheme of things, there is nothing I can do help recover what was lost.

The most significant I can do in life is simply to point people towards Christ.

I could spend 24 hours a day talking to M about God, but the truth is that M doesn’t need me… M needs God.

I need God.
More than air.
More than water.
More than answers.

Consider me humbled. Lesson learned.

"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." -Matthew 23:12

Friday, October 28, 2011

The F Word

Forgiveness.
It’s a tough topic.

Seriously, just my mention of the word probably stirred some intense emotions inside you.

Let me get to the point… then explain.

I think the most destructive mistake in life is not forgiving.

If we are to love others, we must forgive them first. Right?  Forgiveness must always be love’s first act. I don’t think we can love until we forgive.

Forgiveness can’t just be some leverage we use to manipulate people into apologizing to us. Forgiveness can’t be withheld based on our feelings.
Forgiveness needs to be offered regardless of whether or not it is asked for.
Forgiveness needs to be an extension of who we are.

Forgiveness is so important to God that He bases our salvation on it. He instructed us pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

We are to ask God to forgive us just as much as we forgive others.

So take a look in the mirror with me.         Enough said?

But here is the other side of the coin. Since forgiveness is love’s first act, as soon as we learn to be people of forgiveness, we can be free to love.

I think if we take an honest look at the times we withhold forgiveness, we will see that deep down we want to forgive that person. But sometimes the hurt is too much for us to let go of. Or sometimes we feel they don’t deserve it. Or sometimes we feel they should ask for it.

But God doesn’t do any of those with us right?

He loves us while we were still sinning. See Nathaniel and the Fig Tree.
He loves us when we don’t deserve it… He chooses us. See John 15:16
He loves us when we don’t know how to ask. See Matthew 18:1-5

Let it go. Forgive so you can be free to love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqPOKbTSMpk

Watch that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wait a minute...

Woody Allen said that 90% of life is just showing up.
The same is true about prayer.
The most important thing about prayer is beginning.

But I find that most often, when I prayer for others, is that they will simply be happy, really, truly happy.

I say truly happy because there is no way to be truly happy unless you are truly good. And there is no way to be truly good unless you are close to God, since He is the source of all goodness.

You won’t be happy without God.

So where is God?

Silence.

Our spirits need emptiness and silence. We need to create space in our minds and hearts. Intentionally. Just like the famous Inn in Bethlehem. We need to continually be creating space for God to come.

So if you want to change you life… create silence. Seriously.

Intentionally take one minute out of each day to be completely silent. Not a second, or a moment. But one full, sixty-second minute.

When you feel the most crazy, hectic and anxious, deliberately do nothing for a minute.

Start with silence. Show up to the silence.
90% of prayer is just showing up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FAME!!!

It has taken me 25 years, 4 months and 7 days but I have finally reached the mountaintop. I have accomplished two great things.

The first is that I have discovered a hobby that I truly enjoy; writing. I started because I needed to learn to stop bottling things up. I have continued. Some days I write whatever is rattling around in my brain. Some days are deep thoughts and some days are not. Some days I just copy from others. But the thing is that every night I write. And I like it.

The second thing that I have accomplished is…..





Hilarious! Hey wait… is that really what I look like? Also, I don’t want to live forever.

But seriously, I hit a milestone… my 1000th page view. Whoever you are that reads this have taken the time to read my writings 1000 times.

Thank you for the comments. Thank you for the conversation. Thank you for the encouragement. 

I appreciate you.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Road Less Traveled

So I have been reading the book Wild at Heart. It is a book about discovering the secret’s of a man’s soul. The section I read recently was about how manhood is bestowed from a man to a boy.

It speaks about how every boy needs to have a specific moment (or moments) when he is faced with a great challenge and he is specifically told that he has what it takes to overcome.

So it wasn’t until several days after I had read that section of the book did it actually hit me right in the heart. So let me tell you a story.


When I was in 7th grade I lost a good friend. He decided life was not worth living. Justin took his own life. I still don’t like to say it. I often wonder what he would be doing now had he not made that choice.

I remember hearing rumors at school.
I remember coming home from school to find my youth pastor waiting for me.
I remember knowing immediately that something had gone wrong.
I remember playing basketball in my driveway.
I remember going to a gathering at church.
I remember hugs, tears and a whirlwind of indecipherable activity.
I remember it sinking in that Justin wouldn’t be there.

I don’t remember anything about his funeral.
But I remember going to the cemetery for the graveside portion.

But I now know that one of the most important events of my life occurred between the service at the church and the gathering at the cemetery.

See, Justin’s father asked me to be a pallbearer.

We all know that no parent should ever have to bury their child. I would like to add that no 12-year old boy should ever have to carry his friend’s dead body.

I think that is when it really sunk in. I felt like it was wrong that I was even asked that. But I felt like it was wrong that I should have to answer such a question. Simply because there is something so backwards about death. Life was flipped upside down and there was no reversing the effects.

But here is the most critical part. I remember looking at my parents after getting bowled over with the question. They told me that it would be an extremely difficult task but that I had their permission and that I possessed the strength to overcome it.

I had permission to grow and had the strength and courage to carry the weight of my dead friend’s casket. 

As I grasped the bar that ran the length of his casket, I remember feeling the weight. But I remember thinking it was so heavy that I really didn’t make much of a difference if I “carried” it or not. It almost felt like a mere formality at the time. I now know that is false.

See the ceremony may actually have been serving two purposes. Obviously, Justin made his choice and was placed in the ground. But death does not have the final word.


See the truth is that while we were carrying an irrevocably dead boy to his grave, a man was being born at the very same time.

Read that again.

The thing is that it took 13 years for me to realize it but God began healing that pain right then. It wasn’t just covered with the Band-aid of time. But He has healed and He has redeemed. And it is not done yet.

I did have what it took to carry the weight. I still have what it takes to carry weight. But it is no longer simply my parents believing in me, but I am a man who believes in myself.

“Behold I am making all things new.” –God

Monday, October 24, 2011

Puh Puh Puh Peachy

My day was filled to the brim with frustration. Frustrate- to make efforts pointless, worthless or nullified.

So what do you think caused me to feel so frustrated today? It doesn’t matter! I don’t know why I asked then…

I was crabby because I felt like I was putting so much effort and extending grace (it was just self-righteousness apparently). I mean, why don’t they ever just see how much I am doing and appreciate it? Yeah, I can be a real peach sometimes.

Okay so here is the thing. Isn’t it funny how one bad thing can completely take over our mental atmosphere so that everything we see is tinted? And yet we have 10,000 good things in our day that we don’t even notice.

I think if I were the Giver of those gifts, I might feel frustrated.

I don’t mean for this to be a “count your blessings” blog… but, instead, a reality check.

So, in all reality, what does life look like?

Can frustration even match up with sunlight? Or trees? Or beaches? Or snow? Or pie? Or giraffes?

What is given to you throughout the day? What is given to you?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everythings & Nothings

Thank God for everything. Everything.

Forgive everything. Everything.

Be ready and willing at every moment to die, to love everything. Everything.

Be a realist. Live in reality. Therefore, love God as he really is: Everything.

Hold back nothing from Him. Nothing.

Fear nothing but the loss of Him. Nothing.

When you have nothing left for yourself, you will have nothing to fear. Nothing.

Having God, you have everything. Everything.

Don’t even contemplate promises. Adulterate nothing. Nothing.

How much time each day should we spend praying? 24 hours. Everything.

Peter Kreeft, Before I Go, Letter XLIV

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Letters Part One

Dear friends,

From day one, I can’t imagine life without you. I am who I am because of you. You have always loved me, accepted me, pushed me, believed in me, challenged me and raised me into the person I am today. The most I could ever do would be to honor you by honoring God. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Sincerely,
Andy


Dear friend,

You are my strength. You make me better. You are more than any dreams I could have. You make me proud. You make me courageous. You are the reason for my integrity. I could not ask for more. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Sincerely,
Andy


Dear friend,

Thank you so much for the years of teaching me to always change. I would still be in the box if it weren’t for you. I would think the same, act the same and comfortably sit right in the middle of complacency. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Sincerely,
Andy


Dear friend,

Thank you so much for the many fun stories that I will always share with you. Honestly, we can’t go five minutes together without creating a story which I can’t wait to share with someone else. But above all of the great times, you have been along side me as I have grown, healed and become a new person. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Sincerely,
Andy


Dear friend,

Thank you so much helping me develop a new love for people. You accept me for who I am and have trusted me enough to let me know the real you. You have truly inspired me to love my wife with my entire heart and yet also invest myself in others. I am at my best when I give to others. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Sincerely,
Andy


Dear friend,

Your strength, grace, mercy and determination are beyond inspiring. You are a true Saint. My stomach churns to think how much you live for the sake of others. The losses of your life continue to transform yourself and others into a grace-bearer. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Sincerely,
Andy


Friday, October 21, 2011

Together We Will Go Far

So Staci and I and two very dear friends went today to watch the movie Courageous. Yes it had a slightly below-par acting at times and some lines that made me embarrasses to be associated with church, but I thought it had a great message regarding manhood and fatherhood. I am sure more thoughts will come out of that on another day.

One word to describe me right now; tired.

But there are worse things than that. It was a wonderful 36 hours. Why do we come back from vacations more tired than when we left? I think that’s why a friend of mine takes occasional “stay-cations”.

I have no deep thoughts today. I am finishing Madea’s Family Reunion and then watching Kitchen Nightmares before I go to sleep.

I struggle with taking time for myself. I know any human needs it, but I would rather not waste my few years on earth focusing on myself. I would rather focus on others.

Again, if I love until it hurts then there can be no more hurt, only love. I think that’s how Mama T said it.

As the McDonalds commercial says, “The simple joy of a sweet connection.”

My only problem with that is that it is a great joy found in a sweet connection. I love the wide variety of people in my life. I love them for their differences and I love them for their similarities. At the end of the day, they are just people. But I love them.

I love the people in my life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Every Dog Has Its Day

Times away give us space to rest, relax and look at our lives. Today is one of those days for me. Staci and I took off on a miniature one-night getaway to actually spend some time together. So we are resting, relaxing, swimming in pools and looking at our lives.

I can only speak for myself, but I like my life. I think I honor my wife. I think I am a pretty decent person. I think I care about other people. I think I live within my means. I think I honor my parents. I think I am a quality brother. I think I am a good friend to others. I think I tackle the issues of life. I think I make pretty good sweet tea.

All in all, I think I am a pretty good guy according to most people’s standards.

But what about God’s standards?

He is not a God who looks at my school loans, prioritized schedule or sweet tea.
He is not a God who looks at the outside stuff.
He is a God who asks if I do what He asks.
He is a God who looks at the inside stuff.

Oh dear, oh dear. The inside stuff is the stuff I am really working on because I want to inside stuff to match the outside stuff. No wait. I want to outside stuff to match the inside stuff.

So, from the inside out, I am really trying to love others. Not just do the right thing, but love others.

“I have found the paradox; that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Mother Teresa

I often wonder what God and I will talk about on Judgment Day. Will I still like my life?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

this is not titled "Lion, Tigers and Bears"

I am not sure what to think. I got a hit on my blog that was linked to me from a website about a fake picture of an internet hoax regarding Osama bin Laden. I am not sure what to think.

There are a lot of things that come to my awareness in any given day that often leaves me not sure what to think. Usually these are nonsensical things. Sometimes it is just the unexpected. Sometimes it is foolishness and stupidity.

Who cares what I think? You do. You’re reading my blog.

But I don’t need to have a thought or an opinion on everything. I don’t need to know what I think every time something weird happens.

But I am always striving towards growth. I do know what I think about that. I need to be growing. However, it is impossible to be comfortable and be growing.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be outside of our comfort zone.” John Maxwell

It comes from that weird characteristic of mine where I can no longer stand to be mediocre. I don’t want to waste life. I am insisting on going for the greatest I can be.

“If man’s hunger proves he inhabits a world where food exists, my desire for Paradise is a good indication it exists.” C.S. Lewis

I insist that there is satisfaction. I insist there will be a final word. I insist that wrongs will be made right. I insist we aren’t just worm food when we die. I insist Paradise exists. I insist that it is important.

And if it is important later... It is important now.

I know what I think about that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Snap, Crackle, Pop

“Birds sing after a storm. Why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?” –Rose Kennedy

How fitting after a day full of storms. Hail. Lightning. Thunder. Wind. It’s a storm!

Okay so I love storms. And when I say love, I mean love. I just love the way the air feels right before the storm arrives. I love the way the energy fluctuates as the storm comes, hits and goes.

The only thing I don’t like about storms is that I am always sad to see them go.

I am really, really weird. Because the same is true about the storms in life. When a challenging circumstances comes to an end, I want it back. I love challenge. I love to be pushed. I love the way I grow in times of trial.

I am really, really weird. Because the “sunlight” that I see is the growth I sense in myself.

I think that is what redemption means to me. That the storm itself is transformed into sunlight. The darkness is what brings the light. The pain is where the healing comes from.

So whether it is storms of the sky or storms of the heart, I love the air afterwards.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gasping for air

I have been on this miniature journey through my soul recently that has led to this point; I want to learn how to need God. Rather, I want to learn how to know that I need God.

We all know what happens when we stop breathing. But I want to learn how to need God more than air.

I have always struggled with needing God. To be honest, it doesn’t take much to tell ourselves that we can be just fine without God.

It’s true. We will be just fine. But I want more.

I want greatness. I want meaning. I want to live a life that the world will mourn when its time is over. I don’t want to be just fine.

Not for my sake… but for others.

But what I am coming to learn is that great significance will never be achieved until I learn how desperately I need God.

And I mean that. I want to know how badly I need Him. More than air? Come on….

But that is my quest.

See the thing is that if I don’t need Him more than air, then I don’t really need Him that much. But if I do need Him that bad, then I need to figure out how to fill that need.

But first things first, how badly do I need Him?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Peace Mon

So today I got to thinking about the song In Christ Alone and, in particular, the line that says, “what heights of love and depths of peace.”

I was thinking how cool God is that He can be the Creator of the highest joys and strongest loves, and yet also has the capacity to stoop to the deepest pains and hurts.

What struck me today is that peace is found in the depths. I am sure everyone else knows that but it just hit me. After all, peace isn’t needed until it gets crazy.

Jesus didn’t calm the sea until after the storm as there. Obvious, I know.

I don’t know how to put this without sounding stupid. So I will try… If love is like a mountain, I think peace is a valley.

Not so much the typical idea of a valley being a bad thing… but more like peace being the river at the bottom of the valley.

The river brings life but the river is the lowest point.
The river is refreshing but the river is always unpredictable.

It may feel everything else has the advantage of high ground but where the metaphor ends is that God’s peace at the lowest point of suffering exists to raise us up.

What we find at the lowest of lows isn’t death and despair, it is actually the depth of peace.

Heights of love. Depth of peace. In Christ alone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Surprise, surprise!

“Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God's eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown in winning the V.C. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing, does some tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God's eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.

“It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as friends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man's choices make out of his raw material. But god does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man's psychological make-up is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”

I think I have read that except about 10 times. I can’t get enough. Oh yeah, its from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

According to a survey that just did just did of myself, the #1 complaint about “christians” is that they are judgmental. That’s a real fact. Okay, my opinion.

But seriously, how often have you heard that people are judgmental? Have you heard it said that God will judge? He is the Judge after all, right? Judgment Day?

What sort of “fairness” will the Judge use on Judgment Day? Ours?

One thing I am sure of… God will not consult American society on how to judge a human soul.

But back to that passage, I am still pondering it. I know Lewis’ writings haven’t been canonized (yet), but I really appreciate the perspective he brings to the concept of judging.

Read the last sentence of the first paragraph again. Seriously, do it now.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48b

Okay so here is my point. If you feel like you have been blessed with a lot and have been a good “christian” for most of your life, get off your self-righteous butt and give every single thing you can because a lot is be expected of you.

If you are new to the God thing, just do what you can. Don’t worry about figuring it all our or acting perfect. Just be kind to the people around you.

Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you.
Pray for those who mistreat you.
Give to anyone who asks.
If anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

There will be surprises when all things are seen in the end. So please help me in that journey and I will help you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nothing Original

She says it better than I ever could dream of. So for my blog tonight, just read hers. Done.

Also, warning and apologies for those who may be sensitive to less-than-typical-Christian language.

http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2011/10/one-jesus.html

I can't only imagine. It's gotta happen!

I have a confession. I have a passionate dislike for the word “nice”. Be nice. He is nice. She is nice. That was nice. It sure is nice of you. That would be nice.

What should a Christian look like? Nice?

Alright home slice, I will keep this concise. I’ll roll the dice...

I DON’T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT BEING NICE! And I think that I am not just being a jerk…

“How would telling people to be nice to one another get a man crucifed? What government would execute Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo?” – Philip Yancey

So that led to me to the question, what did they crucify Jesus for?

I admit that I couldn’t articulate it without consulting Google. Google told me that it was he claimed to be the Messiah.

Would I get crucified for claiming to be the Messiah? Probably not. Not even back then. I think people would just laugh at me. Nobody would believe me!

But I think they crucified Jesus because they DID believe him. Anyone can ignore the crazy man claiming to be god. But perhaps they couldn’t stand him because it was realistic!

So back to my nice thing. According to dictionary.com, the word nice means, “pleasing, agreeable, delightful.” Yuck. Pleasing. Yuck. Agreeable. Yuck. Delightful. Yuck

I guess I don’t really have a problem with pleasing or delightful. But agreeable is irritating to me. Though, being argumentative is more irritating.

But here is the point. Jesus wasn’t agreeable. He didn't come to grant wishes and fix problems.

Jesus wasn't nice… so we shouldn’t be either.

Jesus was good. Jesus was compassionate. Jesus was joy. Jesus was peace. Jesus was patient. Jesus was kind. Jesus was faithful. Jesus was gentle. Jesus was loving. 

We should be like Jesus. Imagine that. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Would you rather?

I am an emotional wolverine right now. I just want the world to go away and leave me alone. Maybe I need sleep. Maybe I need something else. Maybe I need to wrestle a bear. Maybe I need to go on a vacation. Maybe I need a friend. Maybe I need to change my attitude. Maybe I need to play guitar. Maybe I need to learn keytar. Maybe I need to watch my shows.

It all started with my least favorite subject in this world; insurance. I hate insurance stuff.

I made this comment to a friend today, “I would rather just die than have to deal with insurance stuff to get better.”       Wow. 

But seriously Andy, are you seriously letting a 2 hour insurance meeting ruin your day?

Yes. Don’t tell me what to do.

So one of the purposes of this blog is so that I can try to find some redemptive thought when I am in the middle of one my stupid rants. Ha. But here goes.

My first paragraph had the phrase “Maybe I need” in it 9 times. Really? Do I need any of those things? I mean… really? I just considered if I needed to wrestle a bear…

The answer is no. To all of those. I might want them, but do I need them? No.

So here is my attempt to start over.

I am an emotional wolverine right now. But I don’t need to know why. I don’t need any petty novelty to make me happy. I am determined to find goodness even in the middle of my crabby mood.

Do you do the same thing? Do you get flustered and then start scrambling to tuck little bits of happiness into wherever you can protect them?

Stop.

I could write like 5 pages on what I am about to say but I am going to keep it to a sentence… When the crap hits the fan, it is the perfect time to stop and look to God. Not to mop the crap or to get you out of the room. But simply to know He is there and let it be.

“Sometimes there are no words. No clever quotes to neatly sum up what’s happened that day… sometimes the day just ends.” Aaron Hotchner

So here is the end. The day is over. I don’t have any brilliant thoughts or clever words. I am going to be tired and emotionally volatile. But I am going to be okay. I am okay. People I care about are okay. God is there. Here. With me. Probably laughing at me. 

I think I just smiled for a second when I wrote that everything is okay.