Life from the rear-view mirror

I will remember you…Vol 49

Leah 1On June 16th my only daughter graduated from High School with many cheers from the Warner throng way up in the nosebleed section of the Eastman Theater. It was a happy occasion for all of us, and one she worked very hard for. She had no doubt she would finish strong…those of us who watched through all grading quarters may not have been quite so confident then…

While June can be a happy month for brides, and students at the passing of one more school year, June is a painful reminder for our family as we remember Lori going home to be with the Lord June 12th, just three years ago.

Loss can be debilitating or motivating…or both. It all depends on your attitude.  And even with the best of attitudes there’s only so much you can control. On some occasions we are simply overcome by it….other times we can harness the emotions of it and make it work for us.

Lori would have been extremely proud of Leah. Lori was a gifted student herself…and worked very hard to instill the value of doing well at school to the kids…as unwilling as they were at times to listen. I know a big part of Leah’s push at the end was to honor her mom.

Where does that leave the rest of us. We all experience loss in one form or another…and we all react to it differently…some better than others. I remember an elderly friend from years ago whose husband left her around Christmas time for a younger woman years before. She could never move on. Well…the fact was that she chose not to move on. The joyous time of Christmas became a somber, depressing torment for her. A snowy prison of sorts. She would warn us well in advance of Christmas that she was going to have a hard time and be depressed…and she was. It didn’t have to be.

Jesus told us to leave our burdens at the cross.(Matt 11:28) And in other places in scripture he tells us to cast our care on Him.(Psalm 56:11) He promises rest and peace in every situation…we just have to trust him and let him deal with the things we can’t handle. Sounds easy enough…but we seem to like to hang on to our pain. We let it define us…control us…bind us. I would bet some of us have never let the Lord truly have any of our pain and suffering and worry. Why would we give it to him…it’s ours…we own it. We earned the right to be miserable! “Nobody knows the trouble I seen…” you get it.

But sometimes… when we do trust God, make the next right decision, and work hard….good things happen… even in tough times. Doors open, wounds are healed, painful memories soften…the scales drop off our eyes and we see the blessings around us.

So here’s to Leah and all the sons and daughters who graduated to the next level of life. You all did great! Speaking for all parents everywhere….we love you and are so proud of you…and praying that God brings your future into focus these coming years for His purpose, His honor and His glory!

 

dugz4 June 29, 2013 2 Comments Permalink

God did NOT say “Be ye Weird!” Vol 48

cropped-sthomas.jpgI trusted the Lord as my Savior when I was 15. Throughout high school and college I never heard the word “weird” applied to me. I’m sure I had my moments, but for the most part I was my own person with at least an effort to fit in. However the kids in school who were noticeably different…OK…”weird”…weren’t treated well. They were laughed at, ridiculed even bullied. They didn’t deserve it…it was just the way God wired them. And for the few who made it a career to be different, if for nothing more than to get attention or make a point, It was harder on them.

We were in Adelaide, Australia on a college tour with YA back at LU (before it was Liberty University…1977 maybe…) and doing high school assemblies…It was a very interesting time. Unlike here in the US…we could actually talk about God and a relationship with him through Jesus We’d give an invitation at the end of the assembly and invite kids out to a huge pizza party that following Friday where we’d give them gospel tracts and material to help them find a good church and begin their walk with God.

We’d have other opportunties to talk to kids about the Lord as well during the 6 weeks we were there. At one of these events Bill Hutchinson aka “Hutch” was speaking. I’ve forgotten everything he said now except one sentence. He said that God called us to be separate, God didn’t call us to be weird.

Now I guess if I’m gonna be fair…one person’s normal is another person’s weird…but for the sake of now…weird is not good. And if you were wondering, weird is not necessarily a moniker of how you see yourself…it’s mostly defined by how others see you. You may have the weird gene and not even know it!

It used to be, and still is in some circles, that Christians were known for what they didn’t do. “I don’t fight, I don’t chew…I don’t go with the girls that do”….whatever.

The point is that while being separate in a spiritual sense allows us to see this world as a temporary residence…we often become jaded by the world. Expecting the worse. Then being offended when it obliges. If you have kids it’s worse. You have to protect them from the big, bad world. So instead of trusting God, standing boldly and loving them like we should…we retreat to “thou shalt not…” and become an ugly culture to the world…. Weird.

Granted, if God called us to be weird, I’d gladly be weird. But when weird  gets in the way of people seeing Christ in me…I have to make some changes…at least the ones that I am actually able to make. Most often that means altering my behavior. Paul said I will be all things to all men that I might win some. The idea being that Paul spoke the Word in a manner that people could hear it…identify with it. What does that mean? Let me illustrate. My profession is sales. Many years ago I went through some training based on Myers/Briggs testing. The purpose of the training was to be able to identify a prospects personality profile by taking queues from the conversation and the prospects surrounds. Then, present products to him or her the way that they would be most like to purchase. No Myers/Briggs back in Paul’s day but you get the picture. Paul was engaged with his audience.

When I drive by a car that is plastered with bumper stickers about damnation and “out of context, in your face” scripture…in one breath I thank God because I know that scripture doesn’t come back unprofitable…but I’m hoping that no unsaved person meets the driver…Here is my experience with these people. In some cases they don’t have much in their hearts and lives beyond the bold words on their vehicles…or they are really “out there” theologically. Maybe that’s not fair…but it is my experience on many occassions.

OK…so we’re all wired differently, people may see us or label us as “weird” regardless of our best efforts to be otherwise. But when we love the lost…and demonstrate that love in the way we interact with the world…that is really hard to deny…

Come to think of it…I’ll bet there were some in Jesus day who labeled him as weird, mad, or crazy…

Bottom line is that the way we live our lives in front of the world ought to make Christ attractive to them in a compelling way. I know…it’s the Holy Spirit who draws them…but we have a part to play. Let’s look in the mirror today and see if we can identify something in our lives that would say “weird” to the world, and ask God to help us change that…to reach the un-reached for Christ’s sake.

Ephesians 5:15

NO SPIN ZONE! Vol 47

I’ve been in a job search now for eight months. It’s getting really old and a little discouraging. It’s forced me to take an honest inventory of who I am and what I want to do. Combine that with praying about what God would have me do and then how to keep everything afloat while that’s all percolating. It’s a bit of a daunting task, but one God is well-capable of working in and blessing in.

It’s always in these times when you look back and see the folly of poor decisions, and maybe groan a bit under the pressure they bring now. Some of those situations you can extricate yourself from… but usually at a price. Others you simply have to bear up under.

Bad decision-making is a malady that is not reserved for people out of work. It is a disease that spreads from lack of wisdom and a lack of discipline. It’s both an earthly and a spiritual issue.

If I’m really honest…and if you’ll be really honest…most of the bad decisions we make come from poor discipline.

As I see it…This is the mantra of the undisciplined life:

1) I want it…NOW!… I’ll get it NOW! (doesn’t matter what the “IT” is)

2)  It will all work out…

Delayed gratification doesn’t come into play unless it is forced on us. There is a “none to very-none” chance of  any reasonable solutions like “Let’s think and pray about this” it’s more like…”Can you FedEx it to me?!”

Spiritually… it’s a similar story but the consequences, while sometimes less obvious at first, are far more costly in the end.  It might go like this:

1) What’s wrong with not telling the whole truth…its’ really just managing information…what’s wrong with that?

2) Cheating on my taxes…well…I don’t see it that way..The IRS are crooks!

3) Why can’t I look at that porn? It’s never made me cheat on my wife…

4) Why do I have to love that person after what they said about me

In terms of spiritual discipline…no one tells it straight like the Apostle Paul.  He says things like…I beat my body into submission (I Corinthians 9:27) and… Iay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1) In another place he calls himself the worst of sinners. No spin here.

Paul’s apparent self-deprecation sounds almost manipulative, even a little like bragging,  until you understand how he got to the place where he could write those words…and, until you can discern God’s purpose behind it all for you. We don’t want to look at ourselves as the filthy, rotten sinners we are….ever.  It’s hard to come face to fact with that. It’s harder still to talk about it…let alone write it down like Paul did.  And rarely here in America will we ever have to pay the price for being a Christian with our lives as Paul did. But we need to understand how great the work of redemption for us was, and is.

Do you know who you are?

On our very best day we’re the vilest of sinners. Pretending we aren’t doesn’t change the fact that we are. Not because I say it, but because God’s word does. To deny it is to sin. But yet we’ll try to spin it so we don’t appear to be that bad  so we can fit in.

But.. we have all known people who create this world for themselves and others where everyone is good and well intentioned…and people make “mistakes” they really don’t “sin.”

I try really hard not to be “them.” I really try to live transparently…own my sin…not in the sense that it is precious to me (far from it)  but rather that I am the one who committed it. How about you? When I’m honest about my sin and confess it…then I can confidently claim 1 John 1:9, where God said if I would confess my sin, he would forgive and would cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Unbelievable but true!

So don’t spin yourself up unto a pedestal Christian…it’s a long way down.  Live a holy, humble life before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

The only one I care to hear the words “Well Done” from…is God!