School

I woke up yesterday morning and seriously wished I could go back to sleep.  I had school to go to.

In business, I have done just about everything wrong that can be done, short of suicide.  So, I find myself, at the end of said decisions and practices, trying to do things differently.  Part of that process was getting out of bed.

I knew that I was going to make more mistakes.  I was going to fail more.  But I also knew, I couldn’t let it stop me.

So I got myself out of bed.

Alone, I walked out of the house and went to the job site.  I checked everything I could on my equipment and started up the first motor.  Then I filled up the water tank and started mixing ingredients.

Blah…  First problem.

Take equipment apart, clean everything, put it back together and start again.  Restart first motor and remix ingredients (to the tune of a couple hundred bucks down the drain).  Start second motor that ran for about five minutes and then died.

Fortunately, at this point, help had arrived.  We spent an hour or so diagnosing and then taking apart the carburetor and cleaning out bad fuel and gunk.  Restart motor.  Mix other ingredients and then we’re ready to go.

Ummm…

Why is everything going wrong?  The product looks wrong, the pumps keep shutting off.  We mixed things right but it ain’t right.

Shut down everything.  Check everything.  Start up again.  Lose more money.  Get more frustrated and discouraged.  Don’t quit.

Live with the thought that what I am fighting through now was caused by the poor decisions I made before.

But, don’t quit.

Product still doesn’t look right or feel right.  Just keep going.  Pumps shut off.  Reset and keep going.  When things look real bad throw it away and keep going.  Observe, criticize, listen to each other, help each other, ask questions, adapt, change, keep going.

Mistakes, yep.  Messy, yep.  Professional, no comment.

Job done, yep.  School.

I’m hoping someone needs to hear this today.  We think that God’s will is determined by how easy it is, how blessed, how “open the doors are.”  I don’t think so anymore.

It’s the downfall of scripture.  Abraham wasn’t even Abraham till he was like 90 years old.  Moses didn’t start his ministry till he was 80.  David didn’t become King till he was past 40.  Jesus, even Jesus, had to wait till he was 30.  That’s a lot of time to do things wrong before you do anything right.  And yes, I’m suggesting that maybe even Jesus made mistakes as he “increased in wisdom and in stature.”

Are you feeling broken by your past?  Does the weight of all you’ve done wrong, the mistakes that you’ve made, make you feel like it will never get any better?

Don’t quit.  That’s number one.  I’ll say it again, DON’T QUIT!

Let yourself be human, fail, get discouraged, ask questions, learn, keep going.

School never ends.

I Don’t Want An Enemy

I have walked with Jesus for 36 years.  So it shames me to make this admission.  But the reality is, I haven’t been very cooperative on the journey.  Much of my heal-digging and fist-shaking probably stems from one thing.

I don’t want an enemy.

I have spent some time in the Word along the way.  God makes lots of promises that the life and sacrifice of Jesus totally backs up.  But I can’t find where He promises no enemies.  In fact, I find the opposite.  He promises tribulation from the world, my flesh, demons, satan.

I still don’t want an enemy.

I want my steps of faith to be met with blessing, encouragement, praise from others.  And, I confess I have received some of these.  But, most of what I see, what I focus on, is the condemnation, the discouragement, the criticism.

I could say that is what I think I deserve.  Truthfully, I think it reflects more on my image of God.  

I can say with Paul that I am the worst of sinners.  But, I think I hear such negativity because I don’t believe God loves me.

But, He does.  He is mighty to save.  He is my strong tower.  His thoughts toward me are for healing and hope.  And He will take the field of battle with me.

Because, like it or not….

I have an enemy.

No Witty Repartee?

I don’t write to hear myself talk.  I wish the things I did say were grander, more eloquent, more something.  Instead, we just get me.

It’s not that I don’t like what I say.  Sometimes I think I border on greatness.  Sometimes, I think I almost get it right.  I could save every post, not publish anything until I do get it right, but then you would have nothing for a very long time.

So, if I don’t say it great, if I don’t say it right, why do I keep talking?

Often, in discouragement, I do quit talking.  I feel that no one would miss my words, no one would miss me, but that isn’t true.  We often listen to the accuser pointing out each misspoken syllable, every poorly chosen word.

My voice is not the only voice you should listen to.  My heart is not the only one you should feel.  At the end of the day, with all the voices that shout for our attention, I would hope that you hear most the voice of God.  And He speaks so often through His people.

He’s there in the traffic noise, in the bustle of life.  He’s there in the sermons but, also in the touch of our hands, the songs that we sing, the day we live out.

You won’t get it “right” either.  We are flawed, broken people.  What we will say is flawed, broken, too.  But, speak anyway.  Don’t be afraid to speak out, to live out for all to see.  What is seen and heard in our humanity yielded to Jesus is life.  What is revealed is God’s glory.

    

 

Proud!

Caleb Rocking with Radiant Worship

Yesterday I watched my son playing drums in front of our large congregation.  It was the first time and, in some ways, it was like watching him fly.

He has been playing for years and has had many struggles on the way.  He has practiced and taken lessons.  He has played and received direction from me and others.  He has been ornery, funny, encouraging, hateful, rude, calm, excited and all the other inconsistencies that make up a musicians life.

He is my youngest and so has had to follow in the footsteps of his brothers all his life.  Never as good as they are at anything, at least to his mind.  But this year that changed.

Both of my older sons are talented, intelligent, gifted in many ways.  But he found out that there are somethings he can do that they just can’t.  He can fix things they can’t figure out.  He can make beautiful a motorcycle that has sat around for many years.  We got it running but he is making it shine.  And he can drum.

It was a last minute thing.  He had been passed over before and dealt with the rejection and discouragement that came with it.  But he’s tough.  God has been helping him believe in himself.  He was tired from working a really difficult job but was able to put the time in to quickly learn some songs that were unfamiliar to him.

I didn’t want to say anything at the time, but I was nervous.  These things have so much potential for going either way.  Like when he learned to ride a bike.  You’re not sure he won’t wreck till you watch him flying down the road.

And….he flew!

It can be so easy to not risk, not try.  It can be so easy to look at our failures and past regrets, knowing that we will fail again and again.  But God calls us beyond that.  He calls us to believe that, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me!”  He calls us to live.

As I watched my son play, my heart joined with the Father’s heart that says, “I always knew you could.  I always knew that you would be a blessing.  YOU ROCK!!!”

Do you hear Him saying that to you?

A Day in the Life of a Believer

Arms wide open
Arms wide open (Photo credit: santian)

Late to work, no time for devotions, cussing at those on the road with him and the awful weather he sees.  Running through the motions at his job, thoughts are distracted and wrong, can’t hear, can’t feel God.  Temptation comes and he falls once again.  Lonely and discouraged he yells at his Lord to make it all go away, end his pain.  And, at the end of the day, he argues with his wife, puts down his children and kicks the dog, again.  Before sleep comes, he cries out, “forgive me, Lord, for I am a sinner.”  In his heart, he vows to try harder, do better, be more like the man he’s supposed to be, knowing all the while that he will fail.

And, like it or not, he is forgiven and loved.  What he deserves doesn’t matter.  And if you ever wonder, sometimes he wishes he would get what he deserves because he doesn’t like himself very much at all.  Outwardly, he talks a good game but inwardly, he can’t believe his wife ever gave him the time of day, his God ever noticed him or saw him as worth saving.  He fights with the idea that God could love him, could forgive him.

Depressing, defeated, and completely denying the truth of who God is and His power at work.

The awesome part of all of this comes if that same man (or woman) just holds on, keeps confessing, does not quit on seeking God and listening for his voice, he will see victory.  He will taste and see that his Lord is good.

Philippians tells us that, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”

Don’t give up my brother, my sister.  Trust Him, believe that He is with you, even when you can’t see it.  Look for His blessings, they are there.  Rest in Him, He is your fortress.

Don’t give up.