Control Kills Compassion

One of the worst moments of my life…

He came up to me all smiles.  I was a young dad and to me his look was pure guilty.  He was three years old and you know how they are.  I immediately questioned him.

“What did you do?”

He continued to smile.  The same smile I have grown to love as he has grown into a man.  But at the time…

“What did you do?”  I asked again.

Smiles.

“Son, if you don’t tell me, I’m going to have to spank you.  I need you to tell me.”

Smiles.

So as a strong father who demands respect and wants his children to grow and honor God.  I spanked him.

My wife then came out of the house.  “Why did you spank him?”  She asked.  “He wouldn’t tell me what he did,” I replied.

“He wanted to show you that he just dressed himself for the first time.”

Good job dad!  Great work!

So I’ve been thinking about that lately and how it changed my parenting, changed me as a person.  I’ve been looking at my struggles and the things that weigh down my heart and here’s what I’m seeing.

The more I try to control the outcome of any situation, the more my heart dies.  I see people in leadership as enemies.  I see peers as competitors.  I see people under me as just that, beneath me.

Why?  Why would I do that?  Why can’t I trust God with outcomes?  Why must I push and grasp and worry and listen to so many lies?

Pry my fingers off my life Lord!

Break the hold that sets me on the throne and you out the door!

Free me from my desires and set my heart on You!

I need that.

Self control

I’ve been thinking about the fruit of the spirit lately.  Is it shown in my life, my heart?  Do I show the evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control?

Hmmmmm…..

I question my self on all of them.  People tell me that I show love, peace, kindness, faithfulness.  But shoot, only in baseball would that be a decent percentage.  Sometimes, I see evidence of joy, goodness, self-control.  Well, self-control is almost never.

I tend to be one that does whatever, says whatever comes to mind and most of the time it is in the face of reason and good sense.

I see others like me but wow, what is the deal with the lack of control?

Then there is the opposite extreme, those who are extremely self-controlled.  They do not let anything get beyond their  control.  If they don’t see a way through, they just won’t go.  If they are not assured of a predictable outcome, they will not move.

I don’t think that was what Paul was talking about in Galatians.

Can I just start with saying, “God I’m struggling.”  I need more self control.  In the battle of life, I can choose to obey, choose to yield my heart.

But, the truth is, I don’t see it.  Even Paul, the apostle said, the good that he wanted to do, he didn’t do.  The “law of sin” working in me.

I think I’ll submit myself to you.  I think I’ll let you be in control.  I’ll obey when you speak.  I think I’ll worry less about being the perfect Christian and trust my life to the perfect Christ.

And, maybe in my heart being yielded, I’ll find the strength to be something that shows my Lord and Savior.

I’ve Got Nothing 

I can be angry, kind, lustful, peaceful, joyous, morose, and a whole gamut of things that don’t make any sense or seemingly even fit together.  

So can you.

I bring skills and experience, life and wisdom.  There are actually some things that I am pretty good at (I know!  Shocker!)

So do you.  So are you.

But really, compared to God’s strength, wisdom, greatness, purity, holiness, love, I have nothing.  I am nothing.

Today, we hear so much about a child’s potential.  That if they put their mind to it, they can do anything.  That if we come together in world peace and tolerance, we can fix this world.  If we read this book, attend this conference, change our perspective, we too can be happy and fulfilled.

In medical terms we refer to this as Taurus faecus.

I bring nothing.  I am nothing.  I have nothing.

And then our world changes.

We come to the cross of Jesus, our Savior.  We lay our nothing down.  We submit our hearts to Him.  We ask Him to live through us.  And then, we experience real freedom, real power, real love.

REAL FREEDOM!

Not the horror of addiction, the stringing together of feel good moments that leave us empty.  Not the shaky, broken foundation of my strength, my control of my world and its circumstances.  Not the selfish, me-centered, fearful heart of my passions.

REAL FREEDOM!  REAL POWER!  REAL LOVE!  And with them, REAL PEACE!

I’ve got nothing.  Praise God, my life doesn’t end with me!

Where do we go from here?

He walked alone from the shop in that part of town that no “good” people talk about.  He watched the movie, looked at the magazines, stared at the pictures on the walls.  And now, he walked alone.  He walked in shame.

Where would you go if you were him?  What would you do now?

I talk to so many people, so many well meaning people, that have a thousand answers for what he should do.  He should give up, it’s just what guys do.  He should find a new relationship that “satisfies” him more.  He should go to church, join a group, pray a prayer, listen to music, think about what he’s doing.  And that’s just a short list.

There are good and helpful things on this list.  There are things that need to be done.  And this doesn’t just apply to guys addicted to porn.

In Exodus, the people of Israel were told to go into the promised land.  But then they heard the spies report.  “There are giants.  We’ll all be killed.”  And the people rebelled and refused to go in.  Then God rebukes them and says they will all, all that rebelled, die in the desert.  Then they’re sorry.  Please forgive us, they say.  We’ll obey you now, they say.  But God told them no.  They went anyway and many died in the battle that occurred.

The long and the short of this problem is that they, and we, are trying to fix ourselves.  Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the power of sin and death.  He came to give us life, “and life more abundant.”  We go our own way and the only solution to the problem is to stop going your own way.

Couples divorce because they fight and there seems no way out.  Teens run away because they hate their parents control and there seems no way out.  And people remain bound to sin because they can not fix themselves.

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Stop making your own decisions.  Stop finding your own way.  Stop listening to every voice that shouts in your ear.  Seek His face.  Seek His will.  Find Him again and let Him choose your paths.  He can heal.  He can restore.  He will help you.

And you’ll know where to go.

Down a Dark Trail

The trail ride had ended at the remote camp site in the middle of the woods.  I had taken it out alone, set up the sleeping arrangements, got the fire started and then enjoyed some great food.  Now came the tough part.

At 11:00 at night, there isn’t much light to navigate by.  The dirt roads and fields I had to traverse were well known to me but without any moonlight one had to be cautious.  Noises sound different, rocks and branches play tricks on your eyes.  And then there was “the cave.” That’s what I called it.  A place where the trees met overhead and, even in broad daylight, was dark and stuffy.  At night, you could literally hit yourself in the face with your hand and never see it.  It may have been only a quarter mile long, but to a nervous young man, it seemed like five.

I entered in and immediately lost sight of everything.  I couldn’t see my horse, couldn’t see the road, couldn’t see anything.

So what do you do when that happens.  My choice so often was to either fumble my way through, trying to direct something I knew nothing about, often – always making things worse.  Or, and this took some practice, lay the reins on my horses neck and let him get me through.  Horses see better at night.  Horses can smell their way through things and have a great sense of direction, especially an old quarter horse.

This week I lost my job.  What I was trusting in was no longer there to carry me and my family.  A dark, forbidding place surrounded me and I still can’t see my way through.

But I serve a great God.  He sees perfectly in my night.  He knows everything and has it all under control.  The surprise for me is that I ever, I mean EVER, pick up the “reins” of my life.  Why do I think I know enough, see enough, understand enough to wrest my life from His loving hands?  

My horse always got me through that dark place and I loved him for it.  I knew we were in it together and I could trust him completely. My God has never failed me.  He has never left me.  He has never been less than a holy, loving Father, a mighty Warrior that brings me to victory.

Here you go Lord….

I’m all Yours.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Once again, life has gotten crazy, money is tight, my little world is turned on its ear.  I haven’t been able to write.  Haven’t been able to think.  Haven’t been able to breathe.

All this feels so wrong.  I keep thinking of the song by the Indigo Girls (they were popular for a short time in the late 80’s, early 90’s).

“My place is of the sun and this place is of the dark.  I do not feel the romance.  I do not catch the spark.  And I will not be a pawn for the prince of darkness any longer.”

Yeah, the emotional rollercoaster artsy people ride every day.

That’s the trouble with being busy.  We get caught in the whirlwind of activity and everything spins out of control.  We snatch and grab, trying to find some purchase, some toehold where we can gain some sense of control, some sense that life will not always be so difficult.

And being busy can medicate us too.  It can numb the pain of damaged relationships, latent wounds that lie festering in our hearts.  But it’s like taking tylenol for an aneurism.  We realize that we can’t pull it down, it won’t come under our control.  It isn’t, our life IS NOT ours to own, to rule.

So on my knees, I come to You, Lord.  I’m Yours.  You rule.  I rest. 

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I Got This!

He holds the universe in the palm of His hand.  He commands and the wind and waves obey.  He “knit me in my mother’s womb.”  He knows the hairs on my head.  He knows the plans He has for me.

So WHY DO I WORRY?????

Some things are so hard for me to see.  As I grow older, my vision is decreasing.  I wear bifocals, which is crazy, and still have trouble making things out.  Not a good sign for my job since it can be very detailed, small things that must be observed.  And I can’t see.  I can’t keep my hands as steady anymore.  Minute movements are difficult for me.

And, I can’t see my future at all.  My past is obscure.  My present is shaky and distorted.

This is just talking about my perspective, my ability to notice all that is going on.  It has nothing to do with my control of the past, the present or the future.  I have none.

So many doors seem closed.  So much feels hindered.

But what hinders HIM?  What locks shut Him out or contain Him?

So I listen as He tells me, “I got this.”