Just Because He’s Good

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I’ve often asked things of God with an expectation of receiving, but only because I was going to use what he gave me for a worthy cause. As long as I was benefiting the Kingdom of God with the gifts God gave me, then I was more likely to receive good things.  I think this stems from a need to be responsible with my belongings.  Being responsible with gifts is a great thing, but they are rarely given, even in the natural, because the giver knows that the gift will be taken care of.

Bill Johnson once said of giving to the homeless that it’s not my responsibility to make sure they use the money for something good; it’s just my responsibility to give. This isn’t a post about giving to the poor, so I won’t go into my thoughts on handouts to corner-standers, but it’s about our heart and our ability to trust God to continue the good works that we began.

I have given thousands of dollars away to people, causes, organizations and the like, but I have never said, “Now, can you show me that my gift is being used wisely?” No, that’s a spirit of control. It puts an expectation of performance on the recipient, which doesn’t make it a gift, rather an investment.

God doesn’t invest in his kids. He gives good gifts. He knows that some kids will use gifts wisely, while others will squander them. Our level of healing helps determine how we deal with gifts, but our relationship with God is what he’s most concerned with.

So when I pray for healing, or I pray for provision, it has occurred to me that there’s nothing tied to a “yes” answer. It’s just free. I’m his kid and he’s a good daddy. Nothing more.

See Matthew 7, and the parable of the prodigal son

blogapy

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For someone who thinks so much, I blog very little, and inconsistently. I guess I chalk it up to not enough time, but when it comes down to it, blogging is therapy. I will call it blogapy.

Not that anyone will actually ever read this post, but if they do, they will be participating in a therapy session. It’s so important to get your thoughts out on paper! I don’t know why I forget this so quickly, but I do. It’s important for me to create a log of the things that go on in my head so they have a home. Blogapy provides that.

Here are some things that I need to get out on paper:

I’m tired of living a normal life. What’s so great about normal? I thought it’s what I wanted because my life had been so ABnormal for so long, but it’s overrated. Creatively putting yourself in situations where you risk your reputation, your comfort, and your life is what life is about. For me, it looks like finding ways to minister to people. I consistently feel like a failure because I don’t step out and risk often enough, but when I do, it’s the most fulfilling thing in the world. The other day I prayed for a girl’s foot because she had punctured it with something and it got totally well. Healed!!  Amazing!!

Another thing I need to get out is that my life and relationships are not in my hands. I don’t control them and they don’t control me. My Father, who loves me and wants good things for me, has been more than willing and able to handle that task for a long time. I gladly give him that ability after continually taking it back. But I don’t want it. It’s no fun to figure out every detail. Making decisions is a normal part of life, but I am okay with making decisions that make me happy instead of what (I perceive) makes other people happy.

It’s weird to be depended upon. My actions have not been the catalyst of someone else’s very often in my life. As the youngest child, I have had to react to other people’s decisions most of the time. Now, I’m in a situation where my moves are waited upon before other decisions are made. I guess that’s a normal part of a relationship, but it’s very different for me. And uncomfortable. But good. It makes me be intentional. It also means that I have the tendency to analyze my actions on another level and to consider how they affect not only me, but other people in the equation. This seems to have lead to some paralysis via analysis. I don’t like this. If I get too caught up in how others will react to my actions, I don’t do anything and I feel constrained. Not good. So it requires me to be confident in my choices and let others have the freedom to react however they decide to. After all, it’s their decision, not mine to react a certain way.

Wow, blogapy was good today.

Answers Coming

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In time, you will see. In time, you will understand. In time, you will look back and trust for the future because you saw the past get taken care of in my capable hands.

-God

We are living in very interesting times. The heavens seems to be shifting in front of us and aligning for His purposes to be done on Earth. It’s like watching the seasons turn, but instead of watching leaves fall, or grass turn green, I watch the lives of friends and loved ones bud and change, and grow suddenly. Those who are surrendered to His purposes all seem to be experiencing significant change.

What’s interesting is that much of this change is bringing about things we’ve cried out for in our lives. Whether it’s healing, relationship, job change or otherwise, the face of God is turning our way. He has heard our cries and is answering us.

It was desperation for change that forced us out of the comforts of our homes. It was hope that God would heal the land that lead us to believe. It was faith that brought us to our knees to plead for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Through all the doubt, through all the waiting, our answers are coming. Soon.

Humility Serves

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I’ll be quite honest with you — I’m not the most humble person on the planet. I’m definitely not as big of a deal as Mr. Burgundy in the clip embedded here, but as often goes with the youngest sibling, I’ve tended to seek attention from the people around me by “performing”. Over the years that has taken many forms.

Let me unpack that word a little.  What I mean by this word is that in order to feel valuable and loved, some people need to “perform,” or seek attention of others that will validate their existence. It’s not in the sense of playing a show in front of a large group of people. Many performers do not care about the attention, they just do what they love to do, and the fame part is irrelevant to say the least.

Growing up in the Church, I’ve found the institution itself lacking in many ways. However, my community is there and it’s where I learned much of what I live out of today.  The truth contained in Bible stories and the wisdom preached in biblical principles will be with me my entire life.  For that I’m grateful.

However, it is also where I saw people gain great acceptance and applause by being the center of attention. Whether singing, or playing instruments, preaching, or performing a skit, church was the beginning of many peoples’ “performing”. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

What happens when someone of my disposition sees others be applauded by being in front of a crowd is very simple. I tend to want similar recognition. Is it right? no.  Does it mean I’m flawed? Well, I don’t think that’s an area of debate. Is it something to be aware of? Absolutely.

The frustration comes when I realize that love and value do not come solely from other people. True value comes from God, and pleasing Him is my ultimate goal. But it’s so easy to look at the here and now and think that it’s by far the most important thing in my life. Other people’s approval will sway and I am the first to admit that I love the spotlight, but it’s fickle. Attention, admiration, and high esteem from other is not only superficial, it’s deceiving.

That’s why my focus has, and will continue to shift to serving. As soon as I find myself seeking attention, value and “love” from the things I do for people or how I perform, I am moving into a place of servanthood. Taking myself low, in order to lift up others around me and to honor my Father in Heaven is the only way I can survive in truth. The rest of the details are just that.

I don’t really like to think that I misplace my value center, but as I look deeply inside myself, attempting to sift out the negatives in order to be of most benefit to myself and to God, I have to admit that it’s truth.

After all, not all of us can be as big a deal as Mr. Burgundy.

empty home

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Driving to my parent’s house today, filled with anxiety. The first time there since it happened. “Shake it off, man. You can handle this,” I say to myself. The radio is playing and I hear the typical road noises all around me, but I can’t help but think…

Pull up to a light and there’s something sticking out of the window in the SUV in front of me. A lamp? A pillow?? Traffic moves and I pull around to see the tongue-wagging face of a Lassie-type dog enjoying the cool breeze. A brief distraction, but only to serve to make the entry into an empty home worse.

This last Tuesday, my best k-9 friend in the world, Rex, went to doggy heaven. He was an older dog, but with lots of life still in him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see well, hear well, or walk well. Although he did the best he could, his body was giving out on him. I won’t go into the details, but his playfulness was becoming a liability. One that we could not risk. Other options were futile.

Pull into the driveway and sense anxiety rising. Going up the stairs. Unlocking the door. I’m in. I see the dog cage still there. It’s different. No noise. No tail wagging. No jumping up on my knees to say hello. I feel the tears welling up. “Hold it together,” teasing myself.

So I write. Hoping to get it out on paper. Hoping that the empty home doesn’t get the best of me. Hoping this touches someone’s heart who has also lost a dog.

I really miss him. He was such a good dog. He was more than a responsibility. He was a friend, and an unselfish giver of affection. He was a comfort when time were tough and a companion with whom to share the great times. You always knew if he’d been in my car because the windows were covered with slobber. He was the best trained dog we’ve ever had, but that’s not saying much. I will miss him dearly.

rex

Fido’s

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So if you have read much of my stuff, you know I absolutely love Nashville. This city has so many amazing things and amazing people in it. One of my favorite coffee spots is Fido’s in Hillsboro Village. Besides having tables outside where you can sit and work or people-watch, it’s got a cool little college-town vibe. It’s located next to both Vanderbilt University and Belmont. These schools have very different crowds and the students that attend them have fairly different goals for life. However, students from both colleges congregate here. Lots of artsy, musician people are here, eating next to aspiring doctors and lawyers. Then there are the non-student, young professionals like myself who enjoy being around people while we isolate ourselves behind a computer screen. It’s a fascinating dynamic, but it works. It’s Nashville.

Glenn Beck at CPAC 2010

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I know there are a lot of Glenn Beck haters out there, but you can’t watch this and tell me that what he says is too slanted. I’m not on board with everything he says, so don’t think this is an endorsement of a person, but it’s an endorsement of the idea that everyone can be wrong and when they are, it must be admitted in order to be redeemed. Our American values allow us to fail – in business, in government, in life. Right now, the government is not allowing us to fail, and in so doing, they are themselves failing. I appreciate these words and hope that Americans of any party will be willing to listen and apply as appropriate.







Two Opposite Truths Cannot Occupy the Same Space

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Blue cannot be red and red cannot be blue. Within the dimensions of space that humans occupy, two facts, resting on identical assumptions, cannot conflict. Science depends on this law and our lives rely on it to be true. What are some other examples? A dog cannot be a cat, a table with one leg cannot stand straight up if it’s built to have four.

Here’s another one: God’s word is truth. If our lives do not exhibit the Word of God, then we are not living out of this truth.

How many of these verses are there? John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The truth here is that belief = everlasting life.

John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

I don’t have a problem with either of these.

Here’s one: “By His stripes, you are healed.”

Now that’s a little more difficult to swallow. But in order to make the argument, the second truth must be established as fact. Many do not accept this and that’s fine. Faith comes into play when religion is at steak. I’m not going to pretend to be able to convince the skeptical reader in this single post that God’s word is truth, but here are some things to think about.

When your girlfriend looks you in the eyes and mouths the words, “I love you,” how do you know it’s true? Can you scientifically prove that she loves you? Sure, there are actions that are kind and an interdependence that exists primarily when love is present, but I could argue that other situations could include the same behaviors.

If you have ever looked at the stars on a clear night and seen the moon shine in its fullness, there’s an overwhelming sense of beauty. The sky is nothing more than a huge mass of matter, with very little pattern and symmetry. How is this inherently beautiful? But no one I’ve ever asked has said that the sky is ugly on a clear, star-filled night.

The tragedy of death is sad. My dog recently had to be put down and it was one of the most horrible days of my life. The truth of the sadness of death is irrefutable, but try to prove it to me scientifically. The fact that everyone agrees that death of a loved one is sad proves nothing. Mass agreement is not scientific.

In order to establish these truths, you have to have a common agreement of the human condition — that we are a mixture of mind, body, and spirit. Feel free to differ with me on the terminology. Some may call it soul, some may call it intellect, but the truth remains that as beings we experience unscientifically proven things every day. A reliance on pure science is to deny fact, and thus a double standard.

Now, I understand that proving the existence of one thing by explaining the existence of another is equally bad science, but I’m not trying to prove God, I’m simply hoping to open the door of possibilities.

In so doing, I hope I’ve not offended. Here’s the argument once again: Two truths cannot occupy the same space. Thus, if Earth’s truths do not always mesh with God’s truth, then we must conclude that two planes of truth exist. If both truths are irrefutable, then both must exist in different spaces.

This is encouraging. It means that in order to experience the other, we must figure out how to get to the other plane. Fortunately, we have a way of discovering how to do this. It’s called faith.

In faith, experience bows to belief. In faith, the natural cannot trump the supernatural. Here’s a verse:

Matthew 17:20. He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

How does one without a belief in God read this and not laugh out loud? Am I saying that the literal translation of this is what was intended? Not necessarily, but neither am I saying it’s not. In faith, boundaries do not exist.

The context of this verse is where Jesus’ disciples were trying to cast out demons from a man’s son and they were unable. Jesus, frustrated with them, brought them back to a place of ministering in faith, instead of the assumption that miracles would continue because they had in the past. See, experience, even miraculous experience, is not faith. Experience bows at the feet of faith.

That begs the question: “How do we get faith?” Answer? The Word of God–God’s truth. It’s only in our entering the realm of God’s truth that we gain the only tool necessary to experience it.

So our argument now has a satisfactory conclusion. Two truths cannot occupy the same space. Our experience in life is not the only truth; it’s a truth. We have the option of experiencing another. We do that by abiding in His Word. We do that by seeking His Truth. And in our abiding, in our seeking, we will find Truth. Jeremiah 29:13.