I Hate Goodbyes

I hate goodbyes.

Even though part of me knows that the ending of one thing often brings the beginning of something new and better, I still want to hold on to the old.

Even though part of me realizes that nothing on this side of eternity can last, I still want little pockets of my life to stay the same, for certain people in my life to always stay the same age and never get older. That’s probably the same part of me that still thinks fat ol’ Santa climbs down the chimney to bring me my presents.

Goodbyes are never easy. Tonight was no exception.

We said goodbye to Mike Glenn as Kairos pastor. I understand that it was time for a change. I understand that Kairos needed fresh blood and a new vision. I understand that you can’t keep doing things the same old way year after year and hope for different outcomes.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think it sucks.

People who have been out there in the dating world know how hard it is to say goodbye to relationships. Sometimes even to the dream of a relationship. It’s gut-wrenchingly hard to say goodbye to loved ones who pass away, like aunts and uncles and parents. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to say goodbye to your child.

The part that I keep holding on to when unexpected (and sometimes unwanted) change comes is that there is no goodbye in God’s love for me. There is no end to that enless love that won’t let me go. It even holds on to me when I’m doing everything in my power to let go of it.

I can’t envision a scenario in any future where goodbye will ever be an easy word to say. I don’t want to ever get used to saying goodbye.

I know when it comes to my Abba Father and His unconditional extravagent love for me, I never will.

 

 

Get to Vs. Have to

Something my pastor said today in his sermon at The Church at Avenue South made me think of something another pastor from Fellowship Bible Church said.

Most of us, including me, have from time to time looked on the different aspects of Christianity as a drudgery– as in I have to read my Bible, I have to pray, I have to share my faith with others.

That’s the wrong perspective.

Maybe instead you should see your life of faith as a delight– you get to read your Bible, you get to pray, you get to share your faith with others.

Those who serve best are the ones who love best, and the ones who love best are the ones who know more fully than anyone else that they are loved best.

Once you begin to grasp the infinite love of Abba Father for you (and it’s something that not even in eternity will you ever fully get to the bottom of), then what He asks of you is no longer a chore and a drudgery, but a blessing and a delight.

It’s not a time issue. You always make time for what you love. It’s a heart issue. What truly matters to you and where does God end up on that list?

I write from the perspective of someone who’s not nearly there yet. I also speak as someone who is daily being transformed into that kind of person who can fully live out of the knowledge of being the Beloved.

Fear is a poor motivator. Eventually, you get tired of being afraid. Love, however, is the fuel that never runs out. As much as you are loved, you can love others, and the more you love others, you find yourself receiving even more love in return.

Those who live loved will live to serve. Those who live blessed will live to look for opportunities to bless and be a blessing.

The end.

 

 

Just Breathe

Sometimes, those moments of anxiety can be overwhelming. You know the feeling. You’re cruising down the interstate or sitting at your desk at work and suddenly, all those worries come crashing down on you. There may not be any logical reason for any of it, but you still find yourself fearful and anxious.

Just breathe.

Remember that today you will face nothing that Jesus hasn’t already overcome. Nothing will come up against you that He hasn’t already defeated on the cross.

He will work out all things for your good. It may not always look like you imagined it would, but in the end, it works out for not just the good but for the best.

Sometimes, you can say a prayer while you’re breathing in and out to calm yourself. I don’t mean a lengthy theological narrative, but a short one-sentence prayer. Maybe even a one- or two-word prayer along the lines of “Thank you” or “Help me.”

Or you can try this prayer I learned from one of Brennan Manning’s books.

When you breathe in, you can say, “Abba Father,” and when you breathe out you can say, “I belong to you,” until it becomes a kind of mantra. Say the words slowly and deliberately as if savoring and meditating on each one.

Repeat as often as necessary or until the meaning of the words finally begins to sink in and fear and anxiety loses their power over you.

It also helps to find a quiet, calm space to be alone for a bit. You may not be able to find a perfectly silent and still atmosphere, but you can find somewhere where you can hear yourself think.

Remember, God is with you. There’s nothing you will face that He can’t get you through. Absolutely nothing.

The end.

Here’s the Deal

So I found out today that the cost to repair the transmission on my Jeep is $2700. I almost needed the smelling salts as I typed that sentence. I’ll be sans car for up to four weeks. Pass those smelling salts, please.

That’s a lot of money. All for some itty bitty parts that decided on their own without consulting me or anyone else to stop working. All for some unseen mechanical gears that I didn’t even know existed until they decided to break down. Rude.

A lot of life is like that. Things break, people die, situations change. What seemed like a sure thing vanishes like the morning mist and what you thought would last forever ends abruptly without any warning.

It’s easy to let those things make you cynical, believing that only the very worst scenarios will play out and that nothing good can ever happen and that people are only out to get you.

Or it drives you deeper into all the Mystery that is the Abba Father.

As big as my car bill is, God is bigger.

As big as the void that is left by the passing of a loved one is, God is bigger.

As big as the hurt caused by the rejection of a friend or a family member, God is bigger.

As big as the accumulation of scars and wounds from a broken relationship are, God is bigger.

God is bigger than anything you will face today or tomorrow or the next day or any day after that.

God is bigger than any problem that you will ever face.

God is bigger than your fears and your doubts and even your unbelief.

Whatever circumstances, God will prove that He is enough. Everything you could possibly desire or want or hold in your hands without God is less than holding onto nothing but God.

That’s a lesson that all of us learn eventually, whether that means losing everything in a literal sense or in coming to the end of your own schemes and plans.

God is enough. God will be enough.

That is enough.

 

Reminders for When That Mid-Life Crisis Hits

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Maybe it will hit in the middle of the night.

Maybe you’ll wake up and wonder where your life has gone and what you’ve done with it.

Maybe you’ll have that pounding in your chest and that overwhelming anxiety, scared that you’ve wasted your one and only life up to this point.

Maybe, just maybe, you feel like it’s too late to make anything of yourself and that you’re doomed to mediocrity.

Remember this: not everything that pops into your head is from you. The father of lies can be incredibly sneaky about pushing little fabrications into your mind about your identity and your purpose.

If you let him, he’ll have you believing that you have no purpose or worth. That your life doesn’t matter. That it’s too late to change and become who you might have been, that best self you always dreamed you might be.

Let your Abba Father speak truth over you. Hear Him call you Beloved, not out of anything you’ve done to earn special merit or out of any outstanding character traits that you possess, but simply because you are His.

Let your Abba Father remind you that you have supreme worth because you are created in the image of God and because Jesus paid the ultimate price for your redemption.

That’s what counts in the end.

Not salary.

Not titles.

Not awards.

Not accolades.

But simply living out of being the Beloved of your Abba and letting that love define who you are and what you do. If you end up with everything you could possibly want, everything the world says you need, and miss out on God, you have nothing. But if you end up with God and nothing else, you will have found everything that truly matters in the end.

Just think about that for a while.

 

 

You Are Not: A Reminder

I’m about to repeat myself. Again.

I find I keep returning to the same themes in my writing over and over, probably because I keep needing to hear them over and over. Here’s one more reminder for the road.

You are not your worst fears about yourself– that you’re essentially unemployable and that you will never find out what you’re good at and be able to make a living with it.

You are not your spotty employment background or your so-so credit score or your monumental mistakes in the past.

You are not your history of relationship failures (or your history of failure of relationships).

You are not your failed marriages or your broken relationships with your parents (or children).

You are not who you were and you are not yet who you will be.

You are the Beloved of your Abba Father, the apple of His eye.

You are Forgiven, with a blank slate as clean as if there were never any bad marks on it.

You are a child of the One True King, despite your questionable family history and your own long list of personal quirks.

You are exactly where God wants you to be and He knows where you are and where He’s taking you. And trust me, you will get there one day.

 

A Lenten Prayer That Pretty Much Works Year Round

“The Jewish people have a beautiful prayer form, a kind of litany to which the response is always “Dayenu!” (It would have been enough!).

They list, one by one, the mirabilia Dei, the wonderful works of God for their people and themselves, and after each one, shout out DAYENU! As if to say, ‘How much is it going to take for us to know that God is with us?!’ It builds satisfaction instead of feeding dissatisfaction.

If we begin our day with any notion of scarcity, not-enoughness, victimhood, or ‘I deserve,’ I promise you the day will not be good—for you or for those around you. Nor will God be glorified.

Maybe we all should begin our days with a litany of satisfaction, abundance, and enoughness. God, you have given me another day of totally gratuitous life: my health, my eyes, my ears, my mind, my taste, my family, my freedom, my education, clean water, more than enough food, a roof over my head, a warm bed and blanket, friends, sunshine, a beating heart, and your eternal love and guidance.

To any one of these we must say, ‘And this is more than enough!'” (Father Richard Rohr).

I think I need to print this out or at least have it handy on one of my mobile devices so I can pull it out as a reminder when I fall prey to the entitlement/victim mindset and start feeling sorry for myself (which is far more often than I’d like!)

The prayer that my friend me comes to mind: “Abba Father, I come to you with empty hands. If all I have is you and the next breath, that will be enough.”

If you pray that prayer, anything extra at the end of the day will be like icing on the cake. Or to put it another way, it’s all grace.

 

 

Another Letter to Myself

Last year at Kairos, Mike Glenn instructed us to take pen to paper and write ourselves a letter, to be place in a self-addressed envelope and mailed back, to us at some point in the future. The point was that you could see where you were back then and where you are now and how far you’ve come.

Mine came back today. Here’s what I wrote way back in 2014:

“Dear Me,

You probably feel like your life is headed toward a dead end. You feel like everything will always be as it is right now. You feel like you’ll never move out on your own or go on a date, much less ever get married. You feel like you’ll always be behind, trying to catch up.

Remember, God can take anything in your life and turn it to good. What seems impossible to you right now isn’t even remotely difficult for God. One day, you will look back and see God was preparing you for a future only He could see. Remember that you kept putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that God knew what He was doing when you didn’t.

God is good. His promises are always true, in sunshine and rain, joy and pain, good and bad, in daytime and nighttime, as long as forever lasts.

Don’t let your past define you. Don’t let failure define you. Don’t let other people (or even you) define you. Let the Abba Father who calls you His Beloved be the one who defines you both now and forevermore.

A slightly wiser version of you”

 

Why I Still Pray

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Yeah, what he said.

You’d think I’d be a lot better at praying by now, considering how many tests I’ve taken in school and how many job interviews I’ve had over my lifetime. But as it turns out, I’m not. It would be fair to say that most of the time I really suck at prayer.

There have been times in my life where I simply couldn’t find the words to pray. Other times, I couldn’t focus long enough to string together two sentences in prayer.

Sometimes, I can only pray short prayers like “Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy” or “Abba Father, I belong to you.”

Sometimes, the words flow. It feels like they are coming from somewhere other than from me, like the Holy Spirit is the one praying in me. Or if you like, God in me praying to God.

I do agree that prayer changes me more  than anything. It changes my perspective and gets me out of my own myopic, self-centered little world. Prayer helps me to see that this is not my story that I’m living, but God’s story  that He’s invited me to be a part of.

Rick Warren was right. It’s not about me. It is completely and totally about God. Always has been, always will.

So that’s why I pray.

 

Prayer Time Just Like They Do it At Kairos (In the Style of Uncle Mike)

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I had ideas about what to write about tonight until I was on my way home from church and got this epiphany. Why not do a prayer time like they do at Kairos?

It’s completely unoriginal and every part of it is from Kairos, but it’s helped me more than once to get calm and get to a place where I could finally hear God speaking to me. Here goes:

Find a quiet spot and get comfortable, with both feet on the floor. That way you don’t get distracted by your foot falling asleep.

Take a deep breath. Exhale. Take another deep breath. Let it out slowly and as you do that, repeat the phrase, “Abba Father, I belong to you.”

Let go of everything you’re supposed to be doing. Everything you were supposed to have done but didn’t get to. It will all still be there. It’s not going anywhere. Remember this is a safe place. Remember that your Abba Father is here.

Turn off your phones and tablets. There’s no one more important than God who will be wanting to speak with you for the next few moments.

Begin by thanking God for who He is. Not for what He’s done for you. At least not yet. Just let your mind settle on one attribute of God’s character that means the most to you and thank Him for that.

Now it’s time for confession. As Uncle Mike (or Mike Glenn for the non-Kairos folk) always says, it’s not a time to beat yourself up. It’s a time to confess that you knew what to do and didn’t do it. That you knew it was wrong but chose to do it anyway. Just agree with God and don’t be afraid to tell Him. He’s not running after you to scold you or punish you, but to wrap His arms around you and pull you back into His Embrace.

Now thank Him. Pick one instance of where God clearly came through for you. Choose one moment where you know God was with you. Thank Him for that.

Now ask Him for what you need. Don’t tone it down or try to make it doable. Remember that what seems impossible to us isn’t even remotely difficult for God, so ask boldly. And not just for yourself. Ask for your family and friends.

That’s a little taste of the prayer time at Kairos. Only Uncle Mike does it about 10,000 times better.