Shattered and Broken

Life is complicated.

The answers that humanity gives us are often complicated too, leaving us confused, without any real sense that we’re any closer to truth. The simple platitudes and cliches we hear betray us in that, despite the temporary warmth they provide, we know there’s more. More that’s required of us, more that has to happen, more that we still aren’t understanding.

Don’t worry, be happy.

Look on the bright side.

They’re in a better place now.

God is Love.

Be Holy as I am Holy.

So many.

Granted that the last two are quotes from the Bible and so are absolutely true, they are both tossed around by people, good, well-meaning people, to say things about God and life that are absolutely not true.

Does God demand that we come to Him through the cross of Jesus Christ? That, though He is love, His holiness requires a compensation that none of us can afford?

And does His holiness require a level of holiness, perfection, spiritual enlightenment from us before He can use us, before He can really be a part of our everyday life?

I think, if we’re honest, and we say yes to the first question, we must say no to the second.

And, just so we’re clear, yes is the correct answer to the first question. Which means the payment for us was paid and we are given a choice to have a relationship with God, or not. And that choice has eternal ramifications.

But, to my point, can we ever say that we have reached a point where God can and should use us?

The best of us are shattered and broken. The stories we love to hear, the legends, often cover the humanity we are embarrassed by. And when the humanity is revealed, we become angry and disillusioned. Anything good that was done or said is destroyed, discredited.

Can we not take joy, comfort, peace, strength, boldness from knowing that God is using us, is speaking through us, is shining out of our broken and shattered lives? Can’t we silence the lies of our enemy with the truth that it is never about us, never for our glory, only about Him? His mercy. His grace. His glory.

P.S. I love this video for the song itself but also for all the long-haired, tattoo covered, weird and crazy people I see singing in honor of my King and letting me know I’m not alone.

You’ve Got My Attention

Her little eyes peeked over the edge of the table. The blueberries she loves were just within reach between the two oblivious, conversing adults. A smile lit her eyes as she quickly grabbed a handful and stuffed them in her mouth.

Then . . . she waited.

I had seen her and she knew I was watching but she wanted to make sure. I sharply (playfully) called her name. She scampered away laughing and I laughed too.

Now I always cringe when I compare my actions to God’s. After all, He is divine perfection and I’m, well, not.

Lately, I feel like God has forgotten me. I work, sleep, eat. Nothing I do seems to matter, to make an impact on the world around me. I try so hard and no one cares.

I cry out, “what do You want from me?” And no answer comes back.

Until I watched my granddaughter. I had watched when she walked over, watched when she got lower and crawled up to the table. I waited till she peeked over the table. I saw her every move. She has my attention as soon as she enters my house.

I don’t have to cry out for God’s attention.

He’s never taken His eyes off me.

Terrified

My wife turned a significant age yesterday.

It’s a reminder of our mortality.

I was terrified the day we met. Knowing, without a doubt, she could never love someone like me.

I was terrified the day I realized I could never live without her. Knowing she’d be better off without me.

I was terrified the moment I asked her to marry me. Everything inside me told me I was crazy to even ask.

I was terrified as I saw her walking toward in that beautiful white dress, shaking uncontrollably. What was she thinking? This couldn’t be real.

I hide it well but terror has been my constant companion.

Through four children, potty training, baptisms, teen years and empty nests, it has caused me to treat her as an enemy, a threat, a distant unknown, my nemesis.

She is none of those things.

I just wanted it in writing to remind myself. I don’t want to waste another second that I have with her.

Meet My Need

We hear the statistics on divorce, abuse, suicide.  Some of which I believe is augmented to support a certain message.

I’ll stop right here to state that yes there is a huge problem with these three areas.  Problems that require our prayers, our focus, our pursuit of God – the only one with power to heal.

I just question the use of data that is outdated, truncated and obtained by dubious methods.

For example, the statistic has been thrown around for years that fifty per cent of all marriages end in divorce.  When a more accurate depiction would be seen through the statistic that ninety-five per cent of all marriages end in either divorce, suicide, abuse or apathy.

A statistic I just now made up.

But I come with, not just made up statistics and seemingly, overwhelmingly hopeless agendas.  I come with a message no one wants to hear and very few will take to heart even if they hear it.

Do you really want to see your marriage healed?  Do you really want to find hope and purpose to go on living?  Do you really want to end the cycles of sexual bondage, addiction and despair?

Good!

Now you have a choice.

We are designed for two things and two things only.

Number one is that we are designed, hard-wired, programmed to be complete, fully human, whole and healed in a relationship with God Almighty.  And that relationship is ONLY possible because Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead.

If I look to any…

I’m going to say it again.

If I look to ANY human, earthly, physical, mental, spiritual resource, other than the King of Kings, Jehovah Jireh (look it up), I will lack, I will starve, I will be ruined and disappointed.

That includes my wife, my parents, my church, my work.

They cannot meet my needs.

The second truth of our design is this, we are designed to meet the needs of others.

“Whoa, wait!  You just said…”

Our perspective is SOOOOO screwed up.  We expect others to meet our needs, deep, spiritual, emotional, mental NEEDS and ignore God.  Then bypass the whole reason for us being placed on this planet.

If the only thing God wanted was a relationship with us; our praise, worship, adoration, I would argue that He would’ve been better served keeping is with Him.  But, in the act of becoming His fingers and hands, His arms and feet and heart, we truly become “like” Him, truly become “created in His image.”

Does your life suck?  Your marriage?  Your job?  Your school?  Your family?

Flip it.  Approach God as the only thing that can complete you.  Ask Him to meet your needs for love, purpose, hope, understanding, every need you have.  And then go into your day looking to meet the needs of others, a divine laying down of your life for those around you.

Guaranteed you won’t get it right.  Without a doubt you will still struggle, problems will still raise their ugly faces, life will still occur.  But don’t give up.

Give it a day and peace will be there too.  Give it a week, and joy will be easier to find.  Give it a month and the adventure begins.  Give it a year and you’ll never be the same.  Give it your life…

Well I’m still waiting on that one.

But I know it’s got to be better than the suckiness of waiting for everyone to meet my needs.

Not Much

There seemed to be a weight on him.  My friend seemed to be struggling and I wanted to help but not pry.

“I know I’m not much of a Christian,” I said, “but if there’s anything I can pray for you about…  Just know that I’d be glad to.”

I rambled a bit more and then had to keep moving, keep working.

I thought about what I said, keep thinking about it.

I get that in the grand scheme, comparing myself to many others, I’m not much. But I also think that’s a lie.

In the eyes of heaven, the eyes of my Father, broken and messed up as we all are, every voice lifted in prayer, every heart that cries out (especially for the needs of others) is mighty, powerful, amazing, awesome!

Our enemy lies by showing us only the image of our humanity, our sin.

The Holy Spirit negates those lies with His presence inside us, the gifts He gives us. Jesus negates those lies with His blood that washes over us. Almighty God negates those lies by choosing us, bringing us into His Kingdom, His family.

Can we strike a balance between humility and Godly confidence? Can we find a way to see our greatness in Him and know that it is only because of Him?

Christianity, REAL Christians, are the umbilicus that God chooses and empowers to bring His life to this world.

We just need to realize it.

Breathe

Bitterness, fear, anger, insecurity can surround my heart at such a level that I can’t see, can’t move.

And yet I hold onto it.

I lash out at those who would try to take them from me.  My wife, my friends, my church.  My God!

Then a moment comes, an event or circumstance comes and I stop.  And I find myself in His presence. 

Nothing changed except that I just wanted to sit with Him, stay with Him.  Not to yell at Him or ask Him to change who I am or what has happened.

And I started to breathe.

Daddy Loves You

As I’ve watched my kids grow into adulthood, it’s hard not to look back on things.

Oh, it’s fun to look back too.  I loved and still love being a dad!

Plus, I’m pretty sure I have the best kids (and grandkids) the world has ever seen!

But, I have many regrets also.

I wanted to be tough on them.  Good dads are tough. I was either too tough or too lenient, too often.

I wanted to be kind. Good dads are kind. I was so quickly sappy, self-serving. Too often checking out, hiding.

I wanted to teach but struggled with listening. To guide and encourage but stayed silent in my weakness and addictions.

You may think I’m kicking myself too hard.

I’m not.

But, I only know one perfect Father. And as I watch my kids to know, really all of us, that you won’t be perfect parents. None of our parents were perfect. I’m not sure we even improve on their mistakes. We just make different ones.

And I think it’s ok.

In the face of pandemics, global politics, mandates, spin doctors, and media overloads, I realize, we’re looking in the wrong place.

We need Him.

No Reservation

I so often feel like I just don’t have a place.

I came to this life looking for a table.  I came to church wanting a seat.  I came to people wanting acceptance.  And in each case, I walked away feeling rejected, unwanted. 

I met Jesus and sensed His acceptance, His joy and loving embrace but the voices in my head were so loud.  I turned back to seeking the approval of humans.

So many years still looking, still wanting a seat.

It’s just not going to happen.

I hang out with lots of people like that.  Pretty sure everyone in my family feels that way. 

So to all of us I say there’s freedom in this. I can honor God without reservation.

Just as me. Just as you.

I can’t prove anything of personal value. My songs, my voice, my heart are rightfully judged as inadequate.

Doesn’t matter.

I can sing anyway. I can live anyway. Simply because He calls me to sing, to live, to be.

And maybe, if I do, it will inspire and free others to sing, and live, and be.

Bring On The War

If you are looking for who is behind the rebellion, look no further.  Who is against the deterioration of our freedoms.  We’re right here.

See we believe in a GOD who heals us, who saves us, protects us.  We don’t fear disease, governments, vaccines or ANYTHING!  we know who has redeemed us, who holds us in the palm of HIS hand.  The reality is we are beyond your touch.

Does this sound like arrogance?

It’s not.

We know our failings, our weakness, our brokenness. We celebrate it. Because we know who saves us, who heals us and holds us.

We are fearless!

We are CHRISTIANS!

You Can’t Get There From Here

Not sure how the joke goes…

Something about a guy asking for directions and an old guy making that statement.

I feel depressed and frustrated. 

Life always feels so distant from what I wanted it to be.  Happiness, contentment, peace, joy, love seem so elusive, mirage like in their ability look so close, appear as possible, only to evaporate as I grasp at them.

I try to be a better husband, better father, better man.  I try to love more, hate less, not cuss.  I try to help, not complain, not be a jerk.

But I fail.  Over and over.

I talk to God.  “Can’t you make me better?  Can’t you make my faith stronger?  Can’t you make me want to try?”

And I hear Him say, “you can’t get there from here.”

All religions (including “christianity”) are based on the idea of trying harder, becoming “better” people.  And they all fail.  We hold up saints and monks and zealots and clergy as examples of how religion succeeds, ignoring the reality and embracing the legends we’ve made up.  Destroyed and disillusioned when we find out they were human after all.

And most watch us and shake their heads, knowing we pursue a lie that no one can attain.

You can’t get there from here.

Can’t we just backtrack?  Go back to the good old days?  Maybe there are multiple paths, maybe all religions have the same ultimate goal.

But the cross stands over us.  Not as a way to make us be better but simply to open a door.

Paul said his righteousness was as filthy rags (menstrual cloths to be precise).  The prophet Isaiah agreed.  Our best efforts, though nobly given, don’t make a crack in the wall that separates us from what God intended.

Somehow, I have a feeling that the lonely single mom, the addict, the father who worked everyday in a nowhere job, all the “losers” that pursued Jesus, through failure, through the valleys may receive a heartier “well done” than all the preachers combined. And when we stand before Him, there will be no shame, no disappointment, only a realization that He was always there, always with us.

I’m still sad that I’m not “better”. But, I think I’ll quit thinking about me so much and just fix my eyes on Him.