Friday, May 13, 2011

No More Fear

I was praying on the way in to work this morning and through a chain of related thoughts and conversations, I wound up thinking about fear.  Not the fear that we read about in the Bible in regard to God, but fear in regard to being afraid of things.  In particular, I was thinking about my tendency to avoid confrontation.  Often times, out of fear I will refrain from voicing my opinion or even sharing information out of fear that the person that I am talking to may not agree or may see me different.  Fortunately, there is one (outside of immediate family) I can tell everything to without fear of them seeing me different.  (2 counting Jesus Christ :-))  I won't say who the one is out of consideration.

Anyway, in regard to fear.  Scripture says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.  In my regard, I fear very little.  I rarely am of afraid of physical harm, and have even recognized an authority that God has given us in regard to the things in the earth.  God has given us the authority, why not use it.  So if a bird flies in the house, instead of panicking I simply tell it to fly back out.  God has shown Himself in this regard on enough occasions that I don't even question it.

Financially, God has made certain promises that are tied to giving.  I follow/believe what He says and He has shown himself in this regard as well, so I am not fearful in the amount of money that I do or don't have.

The one thing that continues to make me fearful is attached to another issue that I have been dealing with, pride.  Because of how I want people to see me, I often times will refrain from saying things or from voicing my opinion or desires.  I don't want to provoke confrontation so I often attempt to avoid it by being silent.  While I fully believe there are sometimes when you need to be quiet, I have found there are other times that silence has proven to work against me.

My commitment to God and myself today was to not let fear control what I say and or do.  He says He didn't give that spirit to me, so if I have it to any degree, it must have come from somewhere else.  Simply unacceptable!      

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eggs In MY Basket

I have a habit of following the proverbial cliché of "putting all of my eggs in one basket."  In some areas, I don't believe in taking precautions, I do the research, I put the time in to ensure that indeed want what I think I want.  Once I make the determination, I'm "all in".  I don't hold back.  I load the basket with the eggs and I stand guard over them with an intensity that is rarely rivaled.

Unfortunately, from time to time something comes along that is beyond the scope of my control and the eggs that I have cared for and watched over get destroyed.  No matter how much I try, their destruction persists and I seemingly stand idly by, unable to do anything to stop the destruction.  As the last egg is destroyed, the rage of frustration grows out of control and I find myself smashing the basket, convinced that I will never again have need of that or any basket.  I convince myself that I don't need a basket, because there will be no more eggs.  

With each occurrence this attitude persists and the mindset becomes more and more set.  After a while the thought of eggs or a basket is out of sight, out of mind and I settle into a life that exists without baskets, without eggs.  

At some point, when I wasn't paying attention, something comes along and with patience and compassion; it teaches me anew how to weave a basket.  It takes the time, to reinforce the value of just the basket.  It doesn't rush, it doesn't push, it just continues to teach and reaffirm.  After a while, I take a step back and look at the basket that I have seemingly effortlessly created and I marvel at what it has become.  Before I know it, I find myself carefully placing eggs in the basket, and once again I mount up my forces to stand watch over this basket and its precious contents.  

As I watch this basket, it starts to look like the basket and eggs that I used to have and all at once the feelings and frustrations of those previous experiences rush back and rage once again builds.  As I raise my fists to smash the basket and its contents, convinced that it is the same basket, same eggs as before, that thing that helped build the basket appears with what may appear to be insignificant, but at the given time ultimately is exactly what is needed.  It shows up and diminishes the frustration at a rate greater than it built. At once I realize that the new basket and eggs are not at all like the previous ones, and I realize that as powerful as my mind is, there is a force far greater that can cause me to see truth when deception threatens to consume.  

As all around me returns to its peaceful state, I take a closer look at the basket and recognize for the first time, that there are more than just my eggs in the basket.  There are an equal number of eggs that are clearly not mine.  In my bewilderment I pull back and am startled to find another striking revelation.  My hand isn't the only hand on the handle of the basket.  There is another hand helping me carry the basket.  The hand looks familiar and with a start I identify it as the hand that helped teach me how to make this latest basket.  

For the first time, I realize that this new basket isn't just my basket.  It is a basket that is shared.  It isn't just me standing watch over the contents; there is another that with equal intensity stands watch with me.  The basket isn't just mine, I see now that what makes this basket different is that it is ours.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Power of Ian

For anyone that reads this blog, I'm sure you are wondering "who is Ian?"  Well...Ian is one of my nephews.  He is one of my brother and his wonderful wife's sons.  I won't spend a lot of time on what he is like, except to say that he is 3 at the time of this posting.

Today Ian's mother posted something on her blog, The T.I.E.S That Bind, today that gave whole new meaning (at least to me) of "out of the mouth of babes".  For those that don't click on the link, Ian asked his mom to play a specific song on the way to drop his older brother off at school.  The song was Sovereign God by Maurette Brown Clark.  The song ended up encouraging the mom, the mom posted on her blog, I get emails of her blog posts so once I read it, I shared it with some loved ones, one of which posted parts of the song on FB as their status.  Someone that I know was having a rough day, "liked" the post.

So from the desire of a 3 year old to hear a song, the effect radiated out to an unknown number of individuals to help make their day better.  If that isn't powerful, I don't know what is!

Thanks Ian and thanks Ian's mom!!  You've positively effected the lives of numbers of people.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sermon Note: As The Spirit Moves

Often times, I talk out loud to God, especially when I am home alone.

While walking and talking and doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen, I paused to watch something on Mythbusters.  What I saw and the fact that God is so good that He would point out these natural thngs that have spiritual implications, has inspired me to capture these "Sermon Notes" as blog entries.

So from now on (or at least until I change it or forget) whenever you see a blog entry that starts with "Sermon Note", this is what it will be.

Okay, so I was watching an episode of Mythbusters where they are trying to fool the contraband sniffing dogs.  I watched most of the episode off and on, but the part that I stopped to watch was where they determined that they couldn't fool the dog so they switched to trying to full the handler.  So...they wrapped the contraband in a actual dirty diaper that had been sitting for a week, put it in a ziploc and then put it in a piece of luggage.  After a few moments the dog found the bag and gave the signal.  The handler (a man) started opening the bag, saw what it was and proceeded  to pull the contraband out. 

Insight gained.  The handler, knew the dog well enough to totally trust what he/she (the dog) said.  Even at the onset of what looked undesirable or potentially wrong, the handler went ahead with the task because he knew and trusted the dog.

As we know God more and more and trust Him more and more, we should get to the point where we recognize the move of the Spirit and then follow through.  Understand though that this isn't an instant development upon accepting Christ into your life, this is a process of developing a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.  The play out of our lives, when viewed in retrospect, should show supporting evidence of who God is.  Thus, as we get to know God, we should be able to move confidently in the Spirit; doing what God would have us to do no matter the circumstance, no matter what it looks like.

Monday, November 8, 2010

You Have To Be More Aggressive

When I was about 8 or 9, I played on an indoor soccer team.  After weeks of practice and trying to master the skills associated with soccer, I found myself mostly sitting the bench only playing a couple of minutes at the end of the game.  Granted it was my first time playing soccer, and I realize I didn't have the skills that a lot of the other players had, but I felt like I was being slighted and my quite demeanor and cowadice dictated that I would never ask the coach to put me in or let me play more.  My response at that age was more along the lines of feeling sorry for myself and thinking that I couldn't do it.

I remember one Saturday game, while the game was ongoing, I was basically sitting on the bench looking forlorn.  I look up to see my dad walking torward me from around the outside of the field.  I get up and meet him as he is walking and he takes one look at me and says, "What's wrong?"  My response was to tear up, lean into him for the expected consoling and comfort that I always recieve from him, and declare (whine) "I never get to play."

As he embraced me, I very distinctly remember him speaking these words to me..."son, you have to be more aggressive."  I will admit that at the time, this enlightenment did not take root.  It wasn't for a couple of years still when I would understand the intent of his advice and put it into practice.  I will admit, (with great delight) that once I integrated this advice into my became a permanent, persistent feature of my personality.  Eventually shyness went away, sports became fun, and I set out to accomplish everything I did with a confidence that I was going to not only succeed, but that I was going to be the best there was.  Obviously, being the best there is at something didn't always pan out, but that mindset runs deep and it still is at the forefront of most of my endeavors.

Even today, as an adult, a lot of my drive is motivated by being "the best there is."  In a lot of areas, competition with others is uncalled for so I compete with myself and the excepted norms.  For example, I would never compete with other preachers to see who's best, but I do push myself to know God more and more so that I can be more and more effective as His servant.  Most areas of my life get the same or similar type efforts.  I have often been recognized for my intensity which is in large part part of my drive to be the best there is.  In love, in life, in work, in play, in spirit, in every positive area...I don't want to be adequate, or even good.  I want to be the best there is!

I realize that part of my aggression is provoked by pride, and I realize that to much or the wrong type of pride can be hazardous, but I am confident that keeping God first will keep me in a place of confidence without slipping over to the pride path that leads to destruction.

So aggressive are you?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

To Have Or Not To Have: Goals

The flow of my life generally consists of living day to day, doing the things that I know are right and not really caring about the future.  The thought process has generally been, if I live "right" (a good Christian life), then I need not worry about the future.  Why stress about things that I have already been promised will be taken care of?  Even the Bible talks about taking no thought for your life in regard to what you will wear or what you will eat.  God tells us to seek Him first and all the things that we have need of will be added to us. So why do I need to have goals?

The other fact in regard to my life and goals, is that most things that I want to do don't have timeframes attached to them.  For example, I am working on customizing a truck and I do work on it from time to time, but I don't have a goal of being done with it in 5 years or even being so far after so much time.  My goal is just to work on it.  What's wrong with that?

A very close friend (not one of those friends that I occasionally talk to, this is one of those real friends that can tell you the truth whether you like it or not without worrying about the fallout of a disagreement.  I would expound on this more, but I think I'll save that for another blog entry) confronted me about my lack of goals especially in regard to timeframes. One argument was, "how do you measure progress if you don't have a timeframe?".  My reply had something to do with the fact that stuff is getting done.  That didn't go over to well.  Time marches on, and my projects and endeavors seem to span out longer and longer.  Should I care?  Should I change something?  How do I measure the "success" of my life if I have no goals?  Isn't it enough to press toward the mark?  Do I have to be 2 milestones closer by the third quarter of next year?

In my life currently there are somethings that I would consider successes and similarly there are some failures.  I keep pressing on.  One thing that I have noticed in retrospect, again thanks to my friend, is that sometimes I just let things drag on and eventually get out of control and then have to deal drastically to handle them.  If I would put goals in place to handle these issues in a reasonable time frame, I am sure I could reduce a lot of stress points in my life.  I often feel like I am behind the wave of events in my life and I am simply reacting.  I am starting to wonder what it would be like to be in front of the wave on somethings and then direct there conclusion and/or direction.

I realize that this entry is probably loppsided toward the non-goal lifestyle, that is only because I am more familiar with it.  I am trying to remain open so that I can reap the benefits of both worlds.  Now that my eyes have been enlightened (another aspect of a real friend) it would be irresponsible of me to ignore the potential peace that could come from implementation.  I plan to work the mix and see where it takes me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

2 Minutes To Tell Time

Very recently, my mom started redecorating her house with special emphasis on the living room.  She has replaced the furniture, totally redone the fireplace mantle, purchased a colorful rug to liven up the overall feel of the space, and finally purchased a decorative wall clock to replace the 1' diameter clock that has been hanging for at least a decade.

Now, the clock.  While it is appealing to look at as decoration...the overall use of the clock is questionable.  The face of the clock is black wrought iron decoration with real openings that allow you to see the wall behind the clock.  The hands of the clock are also black, and finally the numbers on the clock are black roman numerals.  Mom asked me the other day what time it was and my response was, "I don't know, I'm still reading the clock!" My dad has similar issues so I am certain it is more than just poor time telling skills.

After you look at the clock for a minute or two (probably exaggerated a little) you can decipher what it says.  Unfortunately, I haven't seemed to LEARN the clock, so each time I look at the clock I have to study it anew to determine the time.

People are a lot like this clock.  We see people, and most of the times they are striving to look acceptable if not their best, but we often fail to take a deeper look into who a person is to determine what they are about, or how they are doing, or perhaps what is going on in their life.  Far to often we look at a person and unconsciously or consciously super impose stereotypes and then neatly slide them into their respective slots in our minds.  We recognize them for their appearance, but fail to take the time to understand who they are.  Even more so, if by chance we do spend the time to get to know a person, I believe it is a sad mistake to assume that what you have seen in the past is who that person will continue to be.  We should be ready and willing to get to know people with each encounter.  Each conversation should be a "new read."  That is how you get to know someone.  You don't make assumptions about who they are, you take the time to allow them to continue to tell you.