Friends with Benefits

I shamelessly try to come up with titles that will get people to read my blog.

Sometimes…

It’s all just so I can introduce people to my King!

You want to talk about friends with benefits?  Wow!

Forgiveness.  Eternal life.  In heaven.  Holy Spirit power!  Gifts and promises!

And, He is someone I can talk to any time, about anything!  I can yell at Him and He listens.  I can whine and complain, and He cares about my hurts.  In Him, I find peace, safety, a refuge.

All other friends, no matter what the benefits, do not even compare!

Fix It

In this day of drugs and vaccines, therapy, machinery, politics and police we are made increasingly aware of our NEED to have someone fix our problems.

And I’m no different with God.

I go through these vast seasons of prayer wanting God to make me a better man, a better husband, father, human.  And, to be sure, I need fixing.

Problem is, I can’t be fixed. 

And to blow your mind like it did me, God doesn’t want you fixed.

Yeah, I thought that was the whole point, go to church, read your bible, pray the right prayer, sing the right song and all will be made holy and whole.

Those things have failed, all of the, in so many lives.

Here’s what I know, if I married my wife thinking I could fix her, use the bible, good verses and teaching, to make her be better, I simply push her further and further away.  If she thinks she can manipulate, condemn, deny and berate me into being better, she will only succeed in ruining what could be so beautiful.  Marriage was not designed for this.

Conversely, if I come to her with the hope that she’ll fix me, if she thinks that I will solve all her problems, we will both be vastly disappointed.

Marriage is about two very flawed and broken people learning to love each other despite and maybe even because of their issues.

Side note: I am not including abusive relationships. There is evil in the world and there are evil people. If we understood Satan and his purposes in our lives, we would see that abuse is his realm.

But God does not treat us this way, either with abuse or manipulation or condemnation or any of the other tactics we tend to see His love through. The “LAW” can never save us. He just came to be with us and make a way for us to always be with Him.

He designed us uniquely, placed us in our specific family and environment, knowing our future and everything about us. And He loves us, right there.

And if we never get better, He will love us anyway.

If we can see His word as guidance and truth from a loving Father, to keep us from hurting ourselves and others and not rules and regulations to bludgeon us into perfect behaviour, then we will know Him more, His heart more.

And that will bring more healing, more peace, more life than any drug, vaccine, therapy, machine, politician, or police can ever hope for.

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.