Chicken Fried (part two)

I think I get it now.

For those just joining us, I had some issues with the song “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown band. Go read it.

I thought a while before writing that blog. Didn’t accomplish anything, except to get more upset. Then I wrote, I ranted. There was truth in what I said, but I missed something.

Those of us who fought, I think even the ones who died, did it so that we could live, really live. Life does not just include great deeds, high callings. Life is about the mundane, the routine, breathing, washing dishes. It even includes the ridiculous task of writing blogs. In fighting for, in protecting our freedoms, it is not only for the call to stand up, but for the call to be faithful, to be trustworthy, to be loyal, to be loving. Often, that looks like going to work, like folding laundry, like hanging out with friends, like a peck on the cheek.

Jesus said that he came to give us life, a full life. He meant a life with diapers, with weddings, with hunting trips and shopping trips.

He just never meant for us to settle, to be complacent.

Enjoy your chicken!

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

He is jealous for me,

loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,

bending beneath the weight of His wind

and Mercy

All of a sudden,

I am unaware of these afflictions

Eclipsed by glory

And I realize just how beautiful You are

And how great Your affections are for me

I sang those words tonight, sang them with everything that is in me.  But do I believe them?  Do I live them in such a way that would lead me to leap off of a cliff in expectation of His arms beneath me?

Quite honestly, I don’t think I do.  The season I am in has me reeling as I find myself with no options but to wait on God.  I have done what needed to be done.  I have been faithful in what God has given me and nothing is turning out right.

I need a job.  I have not had steady, life-supporting work since April.  Because of trying to work, I have no unemployment, no insurance, and no where else to turn.  Our finances, our utilities, our home are all threatened and life feels like it is on shaky ground.

Do you know that there is no better place to be?

Time to put up or shut up.  When you can not depend on anyone but Jesus, you realize that you never could depend on anyone but Him.  I realize that all along, I was really dependent on myself.  And that is a bad place to be.

That is not my home, my refuge.  That is not the rock I would build my house on.

He is my strong tower.  He is my refuge, my fortress.

Zealous

So, in Nehemiah’s day, the people of Israel are rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. They were literally working and fighting for their lives at the same time.

Baruch , son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section (Nehemiah 3:20)

Now, I would think that this would be a given, for everyone. The enemy was out there and they weren’t just aiming for Baruch. They were all in this together. So what made this one guy stand out?
Fast forward to today.
We are surrounded by humanism, satanism, witchcraft, pornograhy, gambling, divorce, infidelity, alcoholism, selfishness and so many other things. At the heart of it is a force of evil, not trying to show you a good time. The goal of satan and his allies is your death.
Where do you stand? That’s critical. Do you believe in Jesus or not?
Then, you might want to look at how you’re standing. There are people that are counting on you, looking to see who you are. They want to know who you are, what you’re made of, what you believe. And it will mean so much more if you actually believe what you say you believe.
And, on a side note, it is interesting to me that the one who is zealous is named Baruch.
Praise. I think it may be saying to us that those who really believe can’t BE anything but people who worship.
And hey, in battle, it seems to often help to stick close to the crazy ones.
Be worshipers. Be crazy! Be zealous!!

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?

Where Beauty Lies

I came away from work yesterday and jumped right into fixing my car.  The belt broke a few days ago and it’s been sitting waiting for my attention.  It was a long day of painting and cleaning and dusting and working and I wanted the car job to be fast and easy.  It wasn’t.  And, just so we’re clear from the beginning, I didn’t get it fixed.

Seems that the designers of the Plymouth Neon were residents of Hades and wanted nothing better than to make a backyard mechanic feel stupid and incapable.  I tried loosening here and there, twisting this and grunting over that.  But I could not get that belt on.  I called on my son to come help me.  He’s mechanical and can fix lots of things but we couldn’t figure out how to get this done.

Frustrated, tired, dirty, sore we finally gave up and called it a day.

We were both already tired and dirty and sore from the work we had done during the day.  Then we added this frustration to it and walked into the house defeated, and together.

The reality of humanity is not success on success, victory to victory, kings of all we survey.  We, in our finite wisdom, our limited strengths and vision, our capacity for stupidity, find failure much more likely than success.  That’s why God gave us each other.  That’s why we walk with a family.  That’s why we marry and love and laugh.

Together, we can fail and still find meaning.  Together, we can grow and learn and believe in something greater.  Together, we can accomplish so much more than we can alone.

That is where the beauty of life lies.

He Carries Me!

I got fired.  I now work a job that pays me less than half of what I was making before.  I work physically hard at a time when I should probably be thinking about slowing down.

But that isn’t what God has lead me to at this point.

Is it fair?  Yeah, I think it might be.  I don’t exactly (understatement) deserve any of the blessings God has given.  I’ve made some choices that have lead me to this point.  Many of them were even the right decisions, but I still get to deal with the consequences. Is it cruel?  Pretty sure that it isn’t much fun.  I am hurting both in body and soul.  I wonder again whether God will ever let me work full time for a church and it hurts to think I might not.  Is it confusing?  More than I can express.  The only way I can write is to stay up late or get up early.  I then pay for it through the day because I didn’t get near enough sleep.  But I want to write.  I think God wants me to write.  So why do I find myself in a situation where it is so difficult.  I want to worship.  I want to play and sing.  But so much is being stripped away.

I was driving my truck today through rural Michigan.  I must admit that I have never loved Michigan.  I hate the winters.  There are no mountains, no great rivers, no vast forests that I love so much.  It is just, well, Michigan.  But today I was driving down a country road. I came over a rise and the farm land spread out before me.  A beautiful lake then appeared to my left and the view was just breathtaking.  I found my heart loving the world, the land, the life around me.

And in that moment, I felt carried.  I was lifted above my circumstances.  And it was good.

It didn’t pay my bills.  It didn’t really change a thing.  But, my friend, when He holds you up, changing things around you doesn’t matter so much anymore.

I Got Nothin’

Have you ever noticed how good God is about removing the superficial constructs that define our lives?

Let me explain for those who are less intelligent than I am.

Yeah, I said you’re not as smart as me.  What of it?

You got a problem with me being smarter than you?

Silly… I know….

I have, for a long time, believed that my intelligence would get me somewhere.  That my abilities as a manager, a problem solver, a musician, would land me a dream job where I didn’t have to work so hard.  I believed that if I put my heart into something, I could accomplish anything.  I truly believed that, because of my work ethic and people skills, I would be desirable to have on anyone’s team.

Lately, I’ve been delivering packages.  I haven’t gotten paid yet.  I’m still in training.  It’s hard work.  I get sweaty and dirty.  My muscles are sore and weak.  And I don’t know if I’ll ever amount to anything.

No one cares if I’m smart at times like this.  No one wants my personality or giftedness.  And I feel like I have nothing left.

Dear christian, dear person who is seeking God, you will wonder at times why we are here.  You question the existence of God and, in the same breath, question your purpose here.  You wonder why God can remain so silent and distant.  But the end of me is where He begins.  When I have nothing, I find my King.  I am weary and find I still have strength.  I am discouraged and find that I still stand, move, breathe, live.  I am undone and find that I still love.  It is not from me.  It is the proof, the undeniable, living, breathing evidence of a God who notices me.

Can I worship when I have nothing left?  Oh yeah!  I can’t help myself.