Another Night of Worship

It’s 10:19, I’m tired, and my feet hurt. A little. That’s a good thing. A very good thing, in fact.

I tallied just over 13,000 steps today after getting in over 22,000 yesterday. I’ve put in quite a bit of walking lately, which hopefully translated into burned calories and lost weight.

Tonight was the semi-annual Kairos Night of Worship. The theme was Wildfire, praying  to be the spark that leads to revival fires breaking out in this land.

I’ve been praying for revival, especially in my own heart. Everyone goes through seasons of dryness and numbness in their spiritual walks and I am no exception to the rule. I know faith isn’t solely about feelings, but I also know that it can be rough when it feels like you’re going through the motions.

Still, God is faithful, even when I’m not. His fidelity more than makes up for my lack of it. If it were up to me, I’d have fallen away a long time ago, but it’s not. God is more than up to the challenge of holding on to me during the seasons when I’ve felt like letting go and giving up.

It was a great night. Sure, the worship songs were amazing and the teaching was stellar. For me, the best part was the reminder that my primary identity, the core of who I am deep down, is that of Abba’s child.

All of my failings and weaknesses do not define me any longer. My on-and off-again passivity does not define me. Being Abba’s child and hearing my Abba call me Beloved is what defines me both now and forevermore. That’s what I choose to identify myself as from this day forth.

I’m thankful for family and friends who consistently remind me of my true identity and who encourage me to be better today than I was yesterday. Thanks, everyone.

 

 

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.

 

Random Life Lesson

If I could give you one random life lesson, it’d be this– celebrate the life you have and not the life you wish you had. Enjoy the season of life you’re in by living in it rather than merely marking time until the next season or pining over the last one.

If this isn’t where you want to be, make the most of the present by preparing yourself now for who you want to be when that life you really want does come around. If you’re single, that means you work on being the right person more than looking for the right person. As my pastor said more than once, when the time comes, you can’t start getting ready– you have to be ready.

Most of what really constitutes life happens while we’re busy making other plans. Or to rephrase it for more modern times, life is what happens when you’re looking down at your phone and texting about what you wish would happen. Oh, the delicious irony.

It’s not the grand cinematic moments that you remember most fondly. It’s a combination of several unobtrusive small moments that add up to great memories.

Don’t base your identity on what might happen and on the next phase– in other words, if you’re single, don’t define yourself in terms of a future spouse, or if you’re married, in terms of future children. Let God be the one who tells you who you are now and let that define how you live in the future, spouse or no spouse, children or no children.

As the old Robert Earl Keen song says, all you have is today. So much time and effort is wasted on worrying about what probably will never be. So much energy is depleted in obsessing over possible scenarios that never come to pass.

Just enjoy your present for the gift that it is.

 

Under the Sun: The Poverty of Just a Little More

“Throughout this experiment, I let myself have anything my eyes desired, and I did not withhold from my mind any pleasure. What was the conclusion? My mind found joy in all the work I did—my work was its own reward! As I continued musing over all I had accomplished and the hard work it took, I concluded that all this, too, was fleeting, like trying to embrace the wind. Is there any real gain by all our hard work under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, The Voice)

King Solomon tried and failed. Most of us will try and fail. We will seek to find our identity and fulfillment with anything under the sun and not find it.

If your identity is from making money, you will never have enough. You will always need just a little more to be happy.

If your identity is in possessions and status, you will always be striving for the next big purchase, the next big promotion, the next big . . . you get the idea.

If your identity is in your relationships, the other person will never be able to live up to your expectations. Whether its your spouse or your children, they can never come close to being able to define and complete you.

Nothing finite can fill the infinite gap that exists inside of each of us. Only the Infinite can do that. Only God can do that. Only God can be big enough to build your identity on and find completeness in.

Solomon found out through experience over his long life that anything under the sun, while good and well in and of itself, made for a poor replacement for God. His assessment at the end of His life? Have a healthy reverence for God and do what pleases Him– let your identity be in Him.

 

Generic 1,888th Blog Post

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I have Monday brain. That means all higher functions have ceased and my mode of existence is somewhat akin to “Fire bad. Tree pretty.” It’s not pretty.

I started off my post-work afternoon with a salted caramel latte, courtesy of the fine folks at the Starbucks on Franklin Road in Brentwood . I later met my accountability friend at the same Starbucks and we went walking in the lovely pre-fall weather. We toured the usual places– REI, The Fresh Market, the parking lot. We talked about anything and everything– football, life, work, etc.

20 years ago, I would not have foreseen my life turning out like it has. I don’t think anyone could. But I have seen two decades worth of the faithfulness of God in the midst of frustration, disappointment, joy, grief, triumph, and defeat. I have felt God’s smile over me and known that no matter what, my identity as His Beloved is forever secure. Nothing can or will ever change that.

Would I like the big house and the wife and kids? Of course.

Still, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. I’m on my own journey that belongs to me and to no one else. I don’t know what’s around the corner, but I know God will be there has He has been around every other.

I’ve learned in every way possible that God is enough. It’s something I’m reminded of on a daily basis, because I am that stubborn and slow to believe and also because God is that patient and willing to lead me.

So once again, I slow down and count the moments and relish the blessings. I sit in Starbucks, sipping on my latte and watching Friends on Netflix, taking in my surroundings and the people coming and going all around me.

Life is always good because God is always good.

The end.

PS I still think my blogs would be much improved by me typing them on a Mac Book Pro. Donations accepted in all forms.

 

 

Thoughts On Mr./Mrs. Jenner

I’ve been thinking about the former Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn Jenner. There are a lot of people applauding how brave he/she is and there are other’s villifying him/her.

Here’s what I think.

I think that if Bruce wasn’t happy with who he was, then I doubt Caitlyn will be. I think that once all the media hoopla has died down, once Caitlyn returns to whatever semblance of normalcy that she can manage, she will find out that changing the outside won’t fix what’s wrong on the inside.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my own life. Actually, it’s something that I keep coming back to again and again because I’m so forgetful.

It’s only in Jesus that you can have enough or be enough because Jesus in and of Himself is enough.

Those who chase after fame or wealth or status will eventually find that it doesn’t quite fill the vacuum inside. Nothing fills that God-shaped hole except God.

I have enough because I have Jesus. I am enough because Jesus is enough and He has me. It’s really that simple. No matter what happens from this point forward, it will always be that simple and true.

I truly hope that Caitlyn Jenner finds for herself that Jesus is enough.

I hope that I keep finding out and keep being reminded that Jesus is enough, because chasing after the Joneses and the brass rings and climbing the ladders are all so very exhausting.

Jesus is enough.

I can feel my heart-rate slowing as I read those words. I remember that it’s really not up to me to make my life work, to give my own life meaning. I remember that Jesus promised He would meet me where I was, love me as I am, and take me where I need to be.

That is enough because Jesus is enough.

 

RIght Living and Right Speaking

Occasionally, the creative well runs dry and I end up “borrowing” from other great writers. One of my favorites that I’ve quoted many times in the past is Henri Nouwen (who along with Brennan Manning are probably my two favorite authors).

Here’s what he wrote that again struck me so powerfully:

“To be a witness for God is to be a living sign of God’s presence in the world.  What we live is more important than what we say, because the right way of living always leads to the right way of speaking.   When we forgive our neighbours from our hearts, our hearts will speak forgiving words.  When we are grateful, we will speak grateful words, and when we are hopeful and joyful, we will speak hopeful and joyful words.

When our words come too soon and we are not yet living what we are saying, we easily give double messages.  Giving double messages – one with our words and another with our actions – makes us hypocrites.   May our lives give us the right words and may our words lead us to the right life.”

Right speaking comes out of right living. People will sense the authenticity of your words when they see what you say lived out. Your faith will be more caught than taught, and if your words don’t match your actions, then people will dismiss the words and not the actions.

If I speak and act out of a need to be liked or thought well of, then what I say and do won’t be as effective as if I speak and act as one who knows who he is and who knows that he is the Beloved of God. My identity informs my authenticity.

I hope and pray that from this point on I will speak only what I live, and I will live only what God has already spoken about me.

 

Your Identity

Tonight, Mike Glenn spoke from Matthew 22:34-40. Those wacky Pharisees were at it again, trying to trap Jesus through one of their questions.

“Teacher,” they asked. “Which  commandment in the law is the greatest?”

As usual, Jesus saw through their smokescreen and gave a brilliant answer. Love God with everything that’s in you and love your neighbor as yourself.

For years, I never really thought about the “as yourself” part of the command. But for you to truly love others as God would have you to, you have to love yourself. It goes against a lot of what we’ve been taught about how loving yourself is wrong and prideful.

Loving yourself is simply seeing yourself the way God does.

Mike talked about how when God created you, He said, “It is very good.” Imagine a world-class chef tasting his own masterpiece and declaring, ‘Ahhhh, it is verrrry gooood” and you have an idea of what this means.

God looked at you and was pleased. He didn’t shrug His shoulders and say something like “Eh, close enough.” He said you were very good.”

Mike went on to say that when you find your identity not in what your enemies or friends or even you say about you but what God truly says about you, it changes the way you live. It changes the way you love yourself, others, and– ultimately– God.

That’s something that I’m still learning, but I’m to the point where I have days where I see myself as the Beloved of God and let that be what defines me. And those days are becoming more and more frequent.

So let me remind you once again. You are not your spotty resume. You are not your latest failed marriage. You are not the guy who’s still trying to find himself and still not having a clue about who he is. You are not whatever failures or  fiascos you’ve had in the past.

You have worth because you were created in the image of God and then prized highly enough for God to send Jesus to die on your behalf. You are the Beloved.

 

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.