Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday morning, Deanna was driving to work. As she rounded a corner, Canadian geese moved into her path trying to take flight. She slowed down for them. The largest among them smashed into her windshield, shattering it.

In shock, she continued on to work. When she was getting out of her car, she realized that she had a lap full of glass.

She was uninjured (except for some small cuts obtained when trying to clear her front seat of glass) and we are very thankful. We were able to get it replaced the same day as it sat in the school parking lot. We praise the Lord for His provision!

I don't like to wait.

This past weekend, Deanna and I had coupons for "free" food from Chick-fil-a. I like Chick-fil-a. I like it a lot! We got into the car to grab an early meal, hoping to beat the evening rush (I know, a sure sign of old age).

Even though I like it a lot, we don't eat there often. I knew the general area where it was, and drove via a local highway to get there. I exited the direction I believed it to be.

I was wrong.

It was the other direction. The issue? This little bit of chicken heaven is purposely placed near a mall. The most popular mall in Tulsa. I don't like that place. It's always crowded and the traffic a mess, and... I don't like to wait.

Once I realized we had turned the wrong direction, one would think it would be simple to just turn around. It isn't.

Bumper to bumper traffic caused our journey of one mile to take nearly a half hour.

Oh boy, was that fun.

The traffic headed the other direction was about the same. It backs up tremendously in this area. I usually avoid the entire area at all costs.

I was busy making plans to go several miles out of our way to another Chick-fil-a which seems ridiculous, but I knew it wouldn't take any longer, and we could keep moving.

Moving doesn't always equal progress...consider the rocking horse... but I was tired of waiting. I don't like to wait.

Amid my scheming, Deanna suggested we just stop at the food court of the (dreaded) mall, and eat at their Chick-fil-a.

My foolish annoyance with making bad choices up to this point, gave way to agreement with her voice of reason.

However, I couldn't even do this without complaining, as the food court was another mile around the other side of the mall. Oh well, I sucked it up, and drove.

I don't think my wife enjoyed my company very much. I didn't enjoy it much either. I struggle with my attitude when waiting. I don't like to wait.

David was anointed to be king at the age of around 15 but didn't receive the crown for another 15 years. He had to wait.

Moses didn't like waiting. He took matters into his own hands, and his proactivity resulted in waiting another 40 years before he was used for God's purposes. Then he got to lead a bumbling, whining, complaining band of a few million people into the desert to wonder around and...wait...to enter the promised land.

Waiting is a part of God's design to prepare us for His purposes. He keeps us on the wheel smoothing out the rough imperfections.

I seem to have a lot of those. You'd think I'd be better at waiting by now. You'd think I would have come to terms with the fact that I can't speed up the process by pursuing things I must not be ready for yet.

Being proactive or pushing His timetable on things He has not released me to do, is simply disobedience. He doesn't need my help to get me where He wants me. He needs my obedience in the moment. When I get impatient, I end up delaying things further.

There is a reason He is the Savior and I am just...me.

I don't like to wait. I don't like feeling like I am on the shelf for a season. I want to be involved.

The seasons of waiting usually help prepare us for the great things He has in store.

Sooo, I just need to eat the manna, enjoy His provision, and stop trying to hurry Him up. It's time to w...a...i...t!

He and His plans are worth it!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

with my Mexico team (at Christmas)...

When I was young, my brother and I loved to read 'Hardy Boys' mysteries.

Actually, my brother has quite a collection of them to this day. Many have the original (at least I think they are original) taupe colored covers.

Hours spent in those novels carried me away to a places I could only dream about.

Funny how it tended to jade my perspective of unfolding events and color them with conspiracy theories.

The places they frequented contribute (I believe) to Brad's love of water and beachfront escapes. [at this writing, he is beachfront in California]

I loved being transported to secret hiding places and trying my best to help solve the mystery before they did. I was seldom successful.

However, today, I do the same thing. I have gotten pretty good at figuring out plots to mysteries on television and in movies. Sometimes Deanna asks why I'm not writing the shows, since I usually seem to know how they will resolve.

Brad (my brother) likes beaches. I like mountains. I would prefer most days to be out in His creation, over being glued to an office chair. If only I could get paid to inspire others to love creation and disciple them simultaneously.

Anyway, when we were little, we would conspire on ways to build secret passageways through our home. If you visited that house, you'd realize it wasn't big enough for secret passageways.

It was large enough, however, to hold the dreams of two young men who often escaped perceived issues of life by retreating into places, where problem and predator couldn't penetrate.

Today, many try to escape the realities of life by investing in hobbies, activities or vacations that cannot elicit the desired outcome.

Yes, it's good to get away. It's good to take breaks. We all need a place to unwind and recharge. The Bible calls it "rest." We need rest.

I am praying my brother is getting it now!

Too often, many try to escape into parallel realities and spend great sums of time and/or money to do so.

These are not just places of escape, rather alternative ways of existing. Ways of coping with life that are really more about denial than embracing our journeys.

In His Word, he laid out specific plans for He wanted each of us as believers to do with our lives. He calls us to share His love with others and disciple them, when they surrender their lives to Him.

What I find interesting (and He must find appalling), is how we openly embrace the idea that to go and share His love, we need a specific call. Yet, we entangle our lives in schemes of amassing wealth, property, and the like by virtue of pursuing jobs that will bring us the most resources, without ever letting Him in on the decision making.

He tells us to "Go ye therefore...", but we stay without any direction from Him, and then turn around and expect a specific call to do His will, when it is already spelled out for us in Scripture.

Robert E Speer wrote extensively on this topic.

So we don't need His input on the things we will pursue with our entire beings, while surrendering our lives to "the grind" and sacrificing our families in process, then turn around and expect Him to give us a specific call IF He wants us to do something for Him.

This is completely convoluted and backwards, yet it is the way of the American Christian.

He has already clarified His desire for each of us in His Word. We do not get to 'choose which parts of it we follow because it fits our way of comfortable living.'

"Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Mtw 7:21

It's not too late to begin living the way He calls us to. But, it will require repentance, focus, hard work and a willingness to surrender to His ways.

Though I don't always understand them, His ways bring more joy than mine ever could.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Days gone by...

Last weekend, Deanna and I found and watched an old VHS tape. It was the 'Wizard of Oz.'

I confess, I fast forwarded through parts I did not care to watch. Apparently, there were many as we watched the whole thing in less than a half hour. "What's the point?" you might ask.

It's always interesting to see a video in ff motion. You can get the gist of the show without having to listen to all of the cumbersome dialogue. We got to the scenes we desired to review in haste, then enjoyed them.

I realize that few would join me in this endeavor, but Deanna and I liked it just fine.

There are parts of my life I wish I could rewind and delete. There are parts I wish I could rewind and relive. Then there are those times that I would fast forward through to perhaps learn what I can, but not have to dwell too long. Finally, there are moments I'd live in slow motion to get the absolute most out of.

None of these are options, of course.

What we can do is enjoy life to its fullest, as we never know what tomorrow holds. Many of us seem to reside in the longing for whats in the future. Yet, what our Heavenly Father desires for us to embrace is what happens in the journey along the way.

I know there are things that I would remember with greater fondness, had I been fully present in the moments. I cannot relive time with my son, other than the seeming few memories that I can draw upon.

I find myself wishing I had fully invested in many of the moments I did have. What if I had listened to the long version of his stories? What if I had not been in a hurry?

He was always gracious and forgiving. His heart was huge and amazing.

I know that is part of the reason that we find it necessary to reflect back. Honestly, its the reason I pulled out 'The Wizard of Oz.'

You see, it wasn't the cinematic version of the movie.

It was the 5th grade musical version that he played "Oz" in. It was so funny to see him as "Oz, the great an powerful," when he was visibly so much smaller than the other students.

His voice and confidence transcended his size. Somehow, it was appropriate that he played this role. In the play, he was costumed and hidden by a much larger facade. It was that much more comical when he stepped out from behind his costume.

Similar to Oz, he saw the good in others and helped them see their giftedness as well. They didn't need the things they thought they needed.

They needed someone who believed in them, someone to point out what they already had. He did this well.

His Savior does it even better.

I am very thankful for the very few visual recordings that we have. Yes, I fast forward through the parts that don't contain him. However, even in those recordings, I am reminded of the impact he's had on the lives of those I fast forward past.

Here I learn a valuable lesson. I am reminded to slow down, and to seek to serve others.

What a great example!


Thursday, February 09, 2012

My son

All of us have spent time around spiritual leaders who self promote. Sometimes, we are that person.

God cares for each of us and His love for them is no less than what He has for you and me.

They can, however, be very difficult to spend time with. Some have hidden self promotion inside a wrapper of implied humility for so long that they think they are in fact, humble.

When Jesus set the example for us, He always pointed to the Father.

Far too many in leadership roles today, are blatantly pointing others in the direction of their own reflection, while attempting to wash their words in religiosity so as to appear not to be committing this flagrant foul.

Who is fooled by this? Very few.

To be clear, God still uses them.

Some of these are revered and lifted up as significant examples within our society, even within our churches. It is interesting that some who can be the most compelling speakers/preachers, through whom the Lord brings conviction and repentance, are personally, quite full of themselves.

We must remember that King David, who had broken most of the 10 Commandments, was still a man after God's own heart. The Grace of the Christ covers us, if we have called upon Him to be Savior and Lord.

The saying, "do as I say, not as I do," does not draw us into places of quiet reflection. Yet, it seems to be the motto suited for too many.

I need to be sure that I am putting Christ first and pointing others to Him at every turn. The sometimes overwhelming desire to promote self may increase my financial solvency in the near term, keep my face or my words in a community spotlight, but it would produce an uncomfortable lack of intimacy with my Savior.

I am not called to be like me. I am called to surrender me to the likeness of Him.

Those are two widely different approaches.

One cries, "look what I am doing for Him! Aren't you impressed?! Don't you want to support me?!"

The other, "look at Him! Isn't He incredible! Serve Him!"

The fundamental dissimilarities are easy to see. So why are they not easier to shed, for those who reside in this putrefied self encampment?

Others see it in them so clearly. I see it in me through high definition screening, when I wander near it. So why can't those who practice it daily, see it?

Perhaps, because I am not praying as I should.

If I pray for them vigorously, my God is faithful to bring change. If I waller in the frustration of their sin, I become part of the problem, not part of the solution. At that point, my own relationship suffers.

Without a doubt, self promotion in the cloak of false humility, fools few and dispatches many.

But what if I pray...hard...harder?

My surrender can impact change in the life of another, if my motivation is Christ focused... that they become more like Him, and not merely my attempt to dethrone their ego.

His ways are always better than my ways.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Two dear friends, Laura and Kristen, in Peru.

Its interesting to me how many believers tend to live their lives based more on Karma than Christ-likeness.

The idea that, if we do more good than evil we will somehow please God, seems to have crept into our philosophy. We build walls of self defense around what sin we can continue to embrace, while still believing. We know that He died for our sin, and that His sacrifice covered it all. Yet we protect areas that have become a secret sanctuary to us. We return to that altar to offer ourselves, over and over.

I'm equally certain that most of us aren't even aware we have allowed such an attitude to become part of our experience.

We are creatures of habit. It is said that it takes 30 days to form or break a habit. Some of us have become so steeped in our sin that we no longer respond to the Holy Spirit when He seeks to bring conviction.

We tend to call it '2nd nature,' when we do something without thinking about it.

For too many believers, our 2nd Nature is not reflective of Christ, but of the flesh.

For us to be truly intimate with Christ, we must choose to spend significant time with Him. He is always seeking to draw us to Him, but we must choose to lay other things down for relationship to occur.

When we are dating, or married, we cannot expect the relationship to thrive if we do not invest serious time, effort, and even sacrifice. Too many choose to do what pleases self, and ignore the needs of the other.

In marriage or dating, the result of too little investment is a broken relationship. In our lives with Christ, the result is that we drag His name through places which bring Him no honor or glory.

It is nothing but grace that allows us to return.

In marriage or dating, this kind of grace is seldom given.

95% faithfulness in my marriage is not sufficient (Pastor Steve Lewis). For me to spend 5% of my time courting the affection of another woman, is 100% unfaithful. I don't want a 95% commitment from my wife, and I cannot expect her to be pleased with that from me.

We easily see the truth in this scenario, but most of us are guilty of approaching our relationship with Christ this way. We give him whatever percentage of faithfulness we feel like and expect Him to be satisfied with it.

We think with walls of defense built around our sin, that He cannot see how vile it is.

He can.

Yet, we continue on like He isn't worthy of our all.

I must stop clinging to sin that is buried beneath years of carefully constructed baffles and walls. He sees right through the maze that has taken me a lifetime to build.

I am not fooling Him.

He wants 100% of my devotion.

So does my wife.

The cool thing is, when I give Him my all, He makes it possible for me to give it to her as well.

It is said one cannot be a little bit pregnant. We must stop approaching our faith as though we can be minimal Christians.

He desires our all, and He is more than worthy of it!