Sunday, August 26, 2007

why me?

why me?

In the space of time from birth to adulthood, we usually face a trial or two. Some folks are lucky enough to go through more than the class average. Undoubtedly you have gone through a valley or two and wondered why. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes not. It has been said that these times build character, but more often than not they tend to build resentment and bitterness, which leads to cynicism and a hardened heart.

Imagine if building character was the goal. That means you would purposely seek out hard times just to go through them. A little sick in the head don’t you think? Sort of like masochism without the gratification (yikes). If that were true, that means someone like Martin Luther King Jr. meant to get shot. Think about that one for a sec.

It could be said that certain people throughout history have martyred themselves for purposes other than the common good. We all can think of at least one within our generation. But let’s be clear here, you don’t go through trials on purpose. Not many people I know get up in the morning and say, “I hope someone craps in my Wheaties”.

We are programmed to be an emotional race. We are sensitive; we cry at the appropriate time in a sad movie. We are caring; we mourn the loss of a loved one and also delight in new life. We are giving; whether tragedy or a great cause, we give because we can and we want to. Of course there are the scrooges, but even old Ebenezer was eventually warmed to the emotion of the human spirit.

When faced with tragedy in our own lives, we go through phases of emotions. But one thing is rarely evident; someone who is happy to be going through troubled water. Every once in a while we witness someone like that and shake our heads, somewhat in disbelief but also in respect. Most of us are not capable of holding our heads high when faced with some of life’s worst situations.

Learning to accept the trials is one thing, navigating through a wicked storm without a map is another (I hope you get my inference). To top it all off, imagine doing so with a smile on your face! Imagine welcoming a large wave that might sink your ship!! So maybe masochism is not the right word here, maybe the old elevator doesn’t go to the top floor anymore, if you know what I mean.

But here’s the crazy thing about it. Every person I have ever met who has mastered this ability to walk through life’s biggest pits with joy, are anything but nuts. In fact I would say they are some of the sanest people I have ever met. These people have a peace I just don’t get. I mean, I know what it is but wow, I don’t have it. Or do I? Based on the awareness of such individuals I am plagued with self doubt. How do I get to that place of joy while in the midst of suffering?

The answer is there, the problem is I have a tendency to launch into tactical self support mode where no one can solve the issues but me. Or at the very least no one has my best interests at heart so therefore I have no choice but to attack it with everything I’ve got. The real bummer here though is that sometimes the problems are bigger than I am and I get in over my head. Even in those times I’m still looking for my own solutions. Bent on fixing it my way, with my agenda, all based on my plan. Of course we all know what happens there, the bad gets worse and things get real ugly, people get hurt, mistakes are made and someone ends up in a real mess.

For the past 10 years or so my track record has looked good. But lately, the wounds beneath the self applied band-aids are beginning to show. The scars are evident in a few places and there is some explaining to do. My best efforts have fallen short, I think I need a coach. Someone who understands a thing or two about weathering the really tough storms, because I got a funny feeling that a few waves are on their way.

I’m not advocating for doom and gloom here but I know this much for sure, trials are assured in this life, count on them. The difference for me now is I have joy knowing what lies ahead. Whatever gets tossed at me is something I will have to deal with but I finally feel ready. Not just prepared but in a way, I am looking forward to the next wave, if for no other reason than to know I am blessed no matter what happens. I will get through it and be better for it, knowing I have asked and prayed for light in the darkness.

Neither you nor I can control what comes next, but we can control how we react. Even more importantly we can ask God what He wants us to get out of these situations. Stop asking ‘why me?’ and start thanking Him for the opportunity to grow. Start praising Him because He cares enough to prune you from time to time.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


is it possible that blogging is therapeutic? maybe i should be paying myself, or maybe i just owe myself too much. either way, somebody better be keepin tabs on the guy sittin on the couch; i know him and he's definitely a little looney (seriously far reaching inside joke there).

when something is made public for all to see and hear and read, and there are simple steps to take advantage of whatever it is, why hesitate? let's say that every hour on the hour, a large stack of cash appears atop your dresser. you would never leave the house. or on your birthday you got a free cruise around the world, all you had to do was recite the alphabet backwards. you would have the letters tattooed on your arms so as to never forget the order.

opportunities come and go. some are good and some are bad. we assess them quickly so we can keep moving. if it's worth anything, we take advantage of it. otherwise it gets tossed out with all the unwanted trash.

short of the plethora of stupid people who don't know any better anyway and walk in blindness and maddening ignorance, there are a good portion of individuals who do know better. but here's the part that probably qualifies for dumbest of all, those of us that know, we keep it quiet as if there's a limit to how many can know at once.

i just can't keep it quiet anymore. i tried for a long time. maybe i was ashamed. maybe it was a lack of confidence, who knows. either way, if i don't speak up i'm just as guilty as the one who ignores what has been written on his heart.

what will people think? let's find out. my job is not to cruise through and make a few friends along the way. in fact, i don't want to consider this life a job at all. more of a mission really.
the mission is simple. tell others what you know. lead by example and most important, believe. and as you believe, develop a relationship, one that will shape your future for an eternity.

my life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him.

Peace to you all.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

lemonade drinker

when life throws you lemons, should you really make lemonade? maybe juggling the lemons would be more fun. or what if you threw them back? what would life do? would life make lemonade? it's clear to me that life has a very large lemon grove in it's backyard and probably has some sort of clue as to how to make lemonade, you would think so anyway.
lemons are sour, but when paired with the right amount of sugar, lemons are great and can be enjoyed by nearly anyone. lemon juice goes well with fish. a wedge of lemon is great in water or iced tea or even select beers. but the sheer thought that making lemonade from lemons as a cure for life's problems seems a little odd to me. if life were so simple, we would all be genetically addicted to massive quantities of lemonade.
some of life's problems are no fun. sweet, sour or otherwise. making lemonade might quench a temporary thirst, but when you get a real curveball in life, your thirst is probably not your first priority. in fact, if you have a real issue, you might reach for something a little stronger than good old lemonade.
when you are on the ropes, so to speak, you have many options on dealing with your problems. you could call your mom or your sister. your therapist or your priest. your best friend or your co-worker. the list goes on but we like to share our grief, it makes the pain easier to bear. you could write it down, sing a song or come out with another self help book (i'm sure we need more self help books). hey, you could tell the whole world.
the most difficult thing to do is carry the burden by yourself. walking around with a hundred pound weight on your back is no fun, but for the sake of martyrdom, some will do anything. it's as if by managing the pain alone you can somehow attach a special life badge to your chest to show off at parties. the truth here is that many do just that, for no other reason than to show how mentally strong they are. meanwhile they are a psychological and emotional mess that is one small problem away from snapping for good.
what if there was someplace you could go with this baggage other than the carousel at the airport. other than dropping it at the feet and heart of someone you know or are related to. have you ever considered that sharing your burdens with other people only adds to the burdens of that person? don't get me wrong, if someone i know is really suffering i want nothing more than to help if possible. but what if i am suffering too and my own emotional well being is spent on my own issues? how valuable am i to you when you need someone to talk to?
i am not suggesting that you have to precede all conversations with a probe. the fact is that we all have issues and demons and problems. some are bigger than others, but each person deals with these things differently. you and i may go through an event that looks exactly the same from the outside, but you may sink and i may swim. we are all wired uniquely.
the great thing about that is this; people who have been through certain fires and not only lived to tell about it but came through virtually unscathed, are the best candidates for coming along side someone else who is going through the same thing, and being the greatest help to that person.
however, while that sounds all warm and fuzzy it is not always the most realistic. we lead busy lives and there are days where we do not have enough time to deal with our own issues, let alone someone elses. so we carry the burden alone or we drop it at the feet of someone that may not be able to do anything with it.
if it's bad to carry this alone and possibly just as bad to throw this at someone else, what next? surely there must be ways of getting the issues of your day and life out into the open where they can be parsed and dealt with.
what you seek ultimately is clarity. answers are hard to come by and sometimes impossible. but clarity is what you have regardless of an outcome provided you fully understand the circumstances. and having clarity leads to having peace, something we all have a terrible way of taking for granted.

some will tell you that time heals all wounds, they are wrong. i will tell you that exposing your wounds to the one who has paid the greatest price and has scars to prove it is where the healing starts and ends.
in His arms we can feel safe, knowing that He can handle all of our concerns and problems, no matter how big or how small. you question that? give it a shot. there is no greater peace than when you have asked Jesus into your heart and allowed Him to bring clarity to your life. your problems are nothing, He carries the weight of the world on His back for real and has room for more. All He asks is that you believe, and in doing so that you share the good news with everyone you know.
so while lemonade is enjoying to drink, it will not bring you clarity, i don't care what you put in it. clarity can be had by laying your burdens down at the feet of the one person who can actually handle anything you throw at Him. trust me on that one, i have thrown Him some real doozies over the years and He is still standing there asking for more.
Peace to you.

Sunday, August 5, 2007



Something I seem to lose track of from time to time. Most people who know me understand it, the fact that my ego has a tendency to become the size of a small town. I condescend for the sake of legitimacy, it appears to work or at least it used to. Funny thing is now I have insight…and foresight. I use to lack both until hindsight kicked in and kicked me, right where it hurt.

It is fair to suggest I have hurt many. It is also fair to say I have done so with reckless abandon and no concern for humanity and emotion, at least at times. For many years I traipsed on the hearts of those around me, with the belief that I was not only superior, but if not me, then who was going to point out their flawed logic and lack of understanding. It’s as if I never left that blissful age of ignorance and youthful exuberance, where one is always right and how dare you question me, you idiot!!

Then something odd occurred, I got saved and found Jesus and invited Him into my heart and began re-learning all the blessed truths I had grown up with. I found truth and a deeper understanding of life, not just here on earth but for all eternity. Fantastic, some would say. Praise God, others would shout. It’s about time, even more would yell.

Now for the really odd…so hang on. Just when I should be practicing and preaching this good news that I have recently found (again), I find myself reading the New Testament with a sense of alarm. Of course there is the amazing and powerful section in Matthew 22:34-40 that speaks of loving God first and then your neighbor. That all of God’s Law and the Prophets hangs on these two commands, these pegs that hold everything else up.

But while Jesus was explicitly clear about loving God and our neighbor, about loving our enemy and living a life for God, He was also very clear about a few other key traits that followers of Him must do. For instance, grow up. We are kingdom subjects and we need to live like it. Living generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward us. You notice there is no mention of God living in animosity towards us right? You notice that God is not at war with us, or do you have a new version of the Bible I haven’t read yet? Oops, there’s that sarcasm again, sorry.

Jesus was blunt, at times even a bit sarcastic himself. In Mark 7:18 Jesus asked the crowd if they “were being willfully stupid”, in regards to the real source of pollution. It’s not what goes in, it’s what comes out, like vomit but from the heart. “Obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness, all these are vomit from the heart”.

So is my intolerance a version of arrogance all over again? Or is the intent of my heart to see that others find Jesus and understand that we are to leave this old life behind and begin anew? That when you find Jesus and invite Him in, you learn that you have to let go of childish ways and graduate to His ways. There is no walking on the fence. There is only one way, for no one goes to the Father except through Jesus Christ the Son.

So many would suggest that we as Christians have no place to judge. In truth we all fall short of the glory of God. However when a brother or sister is failing, aren’t we instructed to admonish and to hold accountable and correct? Pardon me for finding a neat way around using the word “judge” here. If you claim to be walking with God but blatantly go against His word, aren’t I as a loving Christian supposed to expose this problem to you and if you refuse to listen, aren’t I suppose to go to 2 or 3 others within the community or church as a step towards reproof?

With this said it is also important to remember the plank in one’s own eye before pointing out the one in your friend’s eye. However, provided you are living right, it is clearly our duty to be examples to the lost, as well as other believers who are in need of that “shining light”.

This is the blond hair of a tightrope we must walk between self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement. The difference between believing you are right and behaving smugly, and knowing you are right and aggressively waving your knowledge in everyone’s faces.

Let me put it this way, instead of using the word “judge” which infers I am wearing some black robe and waving a gavel, how about if you picture me as a signpost with a very important message. That message is an imperative one that if you miss you alone may be held responsible for your lack of observance. Remember that the NEW Covenant has been written on our hearts, there is no escaping that.

Too often we mistake the concept of judging someone with the very real fact of condemning them. If you are that guilty already, me pointing out your shortcomings, right or wrong on my part, is a clear indication you missed the message on the signpost.

So in retrospect, let’s cut to the chase here. First, I am as lost as you are in so much as I need His grace and have no hope of eternity without it. I must have Jesus at the center of my heart and my life and confess the very real sins for which I commit everyday. Those sins are not committed out of some sort of spite, I am a fallen man in a fallen world and need nothing except the real forgiveness that our Lord offers through his Son’s death on the cross. My accepting that is the first and greatest step towards eternity with Him (P.S. there’s your signpost message, don’t miss it).

Second, recognize that I am not here to “judge” you. Get over yourself for once and figure out real quick that this is not about you, it never has been. God wants you to be saved but this life is not yours, it’s His.

Third, no matter who you are or where you’ve been or what you’ve done in this life, Jesus accepts you now. Don’t stress over the stains, we all have them. Don’t freak out about the mess, He will help you clean it up. But remember, if I am pointing out a stain it’s not cuz I think you’re a bad person. I want nothing more than for you to make this life beautiful by bringing glory to Him because you are of Him.

Lastly, I would be honored to be counted as your brother. It would bring me great satisfaction to be holding your hand when we walk into His presence. I am first His servant in this life and as such wish for many others to be saved by Him and live lives that impact the Kingdom.
Take the next step and take responsibility for yourself as a kingdom subject. First by being humble in His sight, and then by seeking to be humble to this world, as Christ was humble in our sight.

Peace and Love to you all.