Reminders from Uncle Mikey

I’m laying in bed next to a very sleepy geriatric cat. That’s what I call the good life. It has nothing at all to do with what follows, but I thought I’d throw that little tidbit in for free. You’re welcome.

I’ve been thinking a lot about last night’s Kairos. It started off with a blown generator and a bunch of us sitting in the dark. That always makes for an interesting evening.

It also marked the triumphant return of Mike Glenn to Kairos as guest speaker. It felt like old times again.

He talked about how while each of us have given names at birth, we all have names that either we’ve given ourselves or we’ve been given by others. These names are usually the result of our mistakes and failures. I’m sure many of us have names that involve profanity of some sort.

The prime example is the possessed man among the tombstones who identified himself as Legion. There were so many competing voices in his head that he couldn’t find his own identity anymore.

When Jesus calls someone, He gives that person a new name. Think of Paul becoming Saul, or Simon becoming Peter. He gives us a name that describes not who we are but who we are becoming, our very best self that Jesus is in the process of bringing about.

You are not your worst mistakes. You are not the names people called you before they wrote you off as hopeless. You are not your addictions or your fears.

You are who Jesus says you are. You are Chosen, Beloved, Son or Daughter, Friend.

You have a name that only Jesus knows that one day He will reveal to you. One day, He will write it on a white stone and give it to you. Then and only then will your story make complete sense and you will see how everything in your life has led to you becoming who Jesus always meant you to be.

Thanks, Uncle Mikey, for another good and timely word. Do come back to Kairos soon.

 

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.

 

Listening to Your Fears Again

“‘Hush!’ said the other four, for now Aslan had stopped and turned and stood facing them, looking so majestic that they felt as glad as anyone can who feels afraid, and as afraid as anyone can who feels glad. The boys strode forward: Lucy made way for them: Susan and the Dwarf shrank back.

‘Oh, Aslan,’ said King Peter, dropping on one knee and raising the Lion’s heavy paw to his face, ‘I’m so glad. And I’m so sorry. I’ve been leading them wrong ever since we started and especially yesterday morning.’

‘My dear son,’ said Aslan. Then he turned and welcomed Edmund. ‘Well done,” were his words. Then, after an awful pause, the deep voice said, ‘Susan.’ Susan made no answer but the others thought she was crying. ‘You have listened to fears, child,’ said Aslan. ‘Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?’

‘A little, Aslan,’ said Susan” (C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian).

Everyone has fears.  Everyone.

Your fears may tell you that you’re not good enough– and never will be.

Your fears may tell you that people would never want to get to know the real you– and if they did, they wouldn’t like it.

Your fears may tell you that you can never change– and that it’s too late to try anyhow.

Everyone has different kinds of fears, but they all have one thing in common. All that fear is based on a lie. As a pastor once said, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Fear leaves out Christ. Fear doesn’t add God into the equation. Fear says that it is totally and completely up to you and that you’re not adequate to the challenge.

That’s partially true. You by yourself are not adequate for the challenge. But the God in you is. And He hasn’t left you to face your fears alone. He has provided a way out and a way through.

Let your fears lead you to the faith that leads you to worship, remembering that God has been faithful in the past and will not fail to do so in the future.

 

Happy 5th of July!

Due to thunderstorms that prevailed over Middle Tennessee yesterday, I got to see fireworks on the 5th of July. They were great.

They actually were. From where I was seated, I felt like I was right underneath all the colorful explosions, like a canopy of color.

I realize that the 5th of July isn’t an actual holiday, but it should be. We as Americans shouldn’t choose to celebrate freedom only one day a year and then take it for granted the other 364 days (365 on those oddball leap years).

Freedom is precious. It may be free to you and me, but it wasn’t free. Somebody paid for it.

Men and women paid for it with their sacrifice of time and service, blood and (sometimes) their very lives. They died so we could have the freedoms we take for granted.

Ultimately, all freedom comes from the Ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus who paid the supreme cost so that you and I wouldn’t have to be slaves to sin but could find true freedom and abundant life.

That’s a freedom that no one should ever take for granted. I hope I never do.

On a side note, I remember how scared I was of fireworks as a kid. Actually, I was scared of loud noises. Now that I realize how there was nothing really to be scared of, I can enjoy fireworks so much more.

Do you think maybe that could extend to fears other than those of fireworks and loud noises? I think so.

 

 

A Prayer for the Longsuffering

The Eternal will finish what He started in me.
    Your faithful love, O Eternal One, lasts forever;
    do not give up on what Your hands have made” (Psalm 138:8, The Voice).

Lord, don’t give up on us. And don’t let us give up on us.

Sometimes, it seems like day comes after day with no change and no hope for tomorrow. It seems like a weather forecast for more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Help us to remember Your works in days past.

Help us to recall how many times You have delivered us when we have forgotten.

Remind us that Your promises are truer than what our eyes can see, what our hands can touch, what our minds can comprehend.

Your faithful love will last forever. Longer than our doubts. Longer than our fears. Longer than situations we feel will never get better.

Even when we feel like giving up on You, You still hold onto us and keep us safe.

You will finish what You started in me. And it will have been worth the wait.

Amen.

 

Random Thoughts on a December Friday

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I think I mentioned a few posts back that I was tired. I still am. That’s what working 10+ hour days will do to a person. Especially when you’re talking six days a week of those long hours.

The good news is I have a job and I have money. I’m no Donald Trump about to go buy another island, but I can pay my bills and not have to worry about the next meal. That’s what I call blessed.

I haven’t forgotten that half the world’s population lives on $2 a day or less. Most of them will go to bed hungry, malnourished, and sick from water-b0rn illnesses caused by drinking unsafe water. Half the world’s population has never made or received a phone call, something I take for granted on a daily basis. Who am I to complain about working a few extra hours here and there?

When I get tired, I get cranky. Sometimes, I get sarcastic, although I very rarely let those kinds of comments out into the open air. I’d probably have way less friends and even less of a chance of dating than I do now.

I also get way self-absorbed and a little paranoid. I don’t think so much that people are out to get me, but rather they’re out to abandon me at the first opportunity. Fears that seem irrational during the day can seem very real at night. In the same way, thoughts that I would never entertain for a second when I’m well-rested seem to take root when I am exhausted to think clearly.

It’s a good thing God loves me in all my moods and in all my phases of life and through all my ups and downs. His grace covers it all. That same God that meets me where I am and loves me where I am won’t let me stay there. I’m thankful I’m a lot less self-centered and fearful than I used to be.

I get to sleep in tomorrow. It may not seem like such a big deal to you and normally it wouldn’t to me, but when you’ve had to be at work at 6 am for the past three Saturdays, being able to sleep past 8 am is a welcome change.

I love that when I wake up in the morning, God’s mercies will be new and His faithfulness will be just as fresh as that dew on those flowers in the spring. God is good like that.

More Pre-WordPress Nuggets (Containing No Actual Chicken)

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June 24, 2010

I was thinking today about Job’s situation and how it relates to mine (and possibly yours, too). In Job 42, God tells Job’s friends that they have slandered Job and misrepresented God. He tells them that Job will pray for them, and He will hear him and not deal with them as they deserve. Job prays for his friends, then God gives him back what he lost, doubled.

Job had to pray for those who wronged him before God restored him. Job had to forgive the ones who slandered him and his God. Is there some area of your life that needs healing and/or restoration? It could be that God is waiting for you to pray for the ones who hurt you in that area before he restores to you what you lost or heals you.

As much as I pray for God to forgive those who hurt me, that much will God forgive me (see the Lord’s prayer). As much as I pray for God to bless those who slander me, God will bless me. As much as I pray for the restoration and healing of those whose wounds I carry, God will restore and heal me.

This is me thinking out loud again. So take it for what it’s worth.

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May 3, 2010

My greatest fear is that if people ever really find out who I am and what I am like, they will leave me and want nothing else to do with me. That I am not good enough. That I do not have what it takes.

So I live to please others. I become whoever I think they want me to be. I strive constantly to prove myself to others, so they can tell me who I am. That I do have what it takes. I feel that if I can make them like me, then I am worthy and not a cosmic *$#-up.

But I can’t make anyone like me or be interested in me. I can only let God love me and let that Love define me. If I let people tell me who I am and define me, they will get it wrong. If I make pleasing people my purpose, they will fail me every single time.

Lord, you are telling me that I am someone beautiful who has meaning and is worthy. I am good enough and I do have what it takes because I have you. I believe what You say about me. Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.

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April 26, 2010

I am Jacob, for I try to manipulate and deceive every person I meet.
I am Gomer, for I whore myself after other gods and do not seek the One True God.
I am Abraham, for I lie when it suits me.
I am Esau, for I am willing to trade things of eternal worth for worthless things.
I am Cain, for my anger gets the best of me at times.
I am Moses, for I do not believe God when He says He can speak through me.
I am Judas, for I am so often ready to betray my Savior for so little.
I am David, for I sin and try to cover it up, rather than confess and be made whole.
I am Forgiven, because Jesus died for me.
I am Beloved, for God has declared me so.

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April 11, 2010

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When was the last time I boasted in my weaknesses? I seldom even acknowledge that I have any weaknesses. Usually I try to sell myself on what I consider my best qualities. But weaknesses? I try to hide them or pretend they don’t exist.

I truly believe that there is a power that comes only through weakness and brokenness that will never come through self-reliance or self-sufficiency. Only when I am weak, when I admit to the world that I am weak, then I am strong. And Christ in me is so much stronger than I could ever be.

What if I boasted in the fact that my social skills are slightly better than nonexistant? That I back down when I should stand up? What if I shout to the rooftops that I am weak, helpless, afraid and utterly broken? Maybe then I am at my strongest and the power that raised Christ from the dead is unleashed in me.

This is so very against the culture that it is unthinkable. But aren’t I supposed to be counter-culture? What if we are too busy fitting in and so much like the world that we have completely lost the power that can save the world? Maybe that’s why Christians are so despised. Not because we are different, but because we are not different enough.

A broken world can’t relate to perfect, holier-than-thou Christians who have it all together. They respond when they see what our brokenness looks like and when God’s grace is able to transform our weakness into His strength. Grace is what the world needs, not our perfection.

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Revisiting the Old Fears

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All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends” (Ann Voskamp).

Sometimes they do come back.

I’m talking about fears. Every so often, you will run into one of those along your path, usually when you least expect it and thought you had dealt with it.

Here’s a few examples.

Someone stops responding to your texts. The fear says, “See? You’ve offended that person in some way. You’ve ruined the relationship and it will never again be the same.”

A good friend moves to another town. “The fear moved in and whispers, “She won’t tell you to your face, but the real reason she moved was to get away from you.”

The one that dogged me for years was this: “Every one will eventually abandon you. Once they’ve seen what you’re really like, they won’t want to have anything more to do with you. They’ll start by growing distant with you and then disappear altogether. Nothing you do matters. No one notices anything you say. You might as well never have been born.”

Or maybe your fear goes like this: “You’re not worth someone’s love. No one could ever be attracted to you. You are repulsive to the opposite sex. You will always be alone.”

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Fear lies. That’s its nature.

Fear doesn’t come from God. Ever. Fear comes from the father of lies and means to keep you from God, imprisoned in your anxieties and phobias

Remember, perfect love casts out fear. And you are perfectly loved, just as you are, not as you should be or could be.

Name the fear. Expose it. Demons die in the light. Rebuke that fear OUT LOUD in the name of Jesus.

You in and of yourself will never defeat fear, but the power of Christ in you has already beaten it once and for all. That power is yours now to claim.

If you’ve allowed yourself to be mastered again to that fear, repent and move forward. Shame is a close relative of fear and is just as bent on keeping you away from God. Shame is also a defeated foe.

You as a child of God fight not for victory but FROM it. Keep that in mind and have a blessed Monday!

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When You Feel Like Giving Up

I’ve felt like giving up sometimes. And by that I don’t mean I felt a desire to end my life. I just didn’t feel like trying anymore. At the time, I felt like I didn’t matter and nothing I did made any difference. Like the world would be better off without me.

But those thoughts were lies. I know that now. I’ve learned not to trust every feeling I have. I’ve come to realize that not every thought in my head deserves attention, because what I think isn’t always true. The Bible calls it “taking every thought captive.”

God is always true. He never lies. I know now I can always trust him, especially in the times when I can’t trust my own thoughts and feelings.

It’s easy to let fear or anger or doubt or depression skew your reality. It’s easy to give into those fears and the bondage that comes with them. But that’s no way to live.

It’s much harder to say, “I need help.” It’s much harder to say, “I can’t do this on my own. I’ve tried and tried and failed and now I need help.”

Sometimes faith and prayer are enough. I know personally that sometimes it takes medication and counseling. It’s not weakness to need pills to help you think normally. It’s because you and I and everybody else live in a fallen world and have brokenness because of sin entering the world.

Just remember that God’s in control. He’s bigger than any problem you’re facing. As a pastor I once heard said, what seems impossible to you and me isn’t even remotely difficult for God. And he’s waiting for you to ask him for help.

There’s a whole lot I don’t know. But one of the few things I do know is that God is truly close to the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. He knows where you are and what you’re going through. And he will get you through it.

That’s what I know.

 

Losing Your Way

I went to downtown Franklin like so many other times before. In fact, I’ve made the drive so much I can go into autopilot and be thinking about other things while I navigate those familiar roads.

This time, apparently I got too wrapped up in my own thoughts and made one of my turns a block too early. I looked up and for a second I thought, “Where the heck am I? What have they done with my downtown Franklin?”

I figured out what I had done and had to do a bit of a scenic detour to get to my destination, but I got there.

At some point or another, we all get lost. Sometimes we get lost in our thoughts. Sometimes we get lost in a web of anxiety and irrational thinking and find ourselves saying things and acting in ways that aren’t true to who we really are.

But no matter how far out of the way you’ve gone, it’s always possible to get back.

Sometimes it takes being a part of something greater than yourself, volunteering for a cause that is way bigger than your own problems.

Sometimes it takes a friend gently but firmly speaking the truth to you in love to set you straight.

Sometimes it takes going to a favorite place on a perfect night and being in the moment with cool spring breezes and familiar sights and sounds.

Everyone gets lost. Even in the healing process, you will have bad days where you fall back to old habits and fears. I had one of those last Tuesday, but I’ve since owned it and moved forward. It’s okay to admit what you’re feeling, to be okay with the bad days because you know they are as equal a part of the healing process as the good days.

Most of all, there is never a time when Jesus doesn’t know where you are. He knows because he’s right there with you, often walking beside you unnoticed as you’re too enveloped in the fog of your pain and doubt to see him.

For those who know what it’s like to be lost and then found, you truly know what a sweet sound amazing grace is.