Three’s A Crowd

I’ve been thinking a lot about joy.

As Christians, that should be one of our biggest selling points. I don’t see very much of it, though. I’ve been listening to a great old album, George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’. It was released just after the Beatles’ break-up (I’m really showing my age, here). It contains some of his biggest solo hits, What is Life, and My Sweet Lord, etc. By the way, you know he was singing about Krishna, right?  It’s just such a joyful album. It makes me dance. That guy really believed what he was selling. Why don’t we?

The people who are on staff at my church don’t look very happy. They’re the sweetest people in the world. They’re good people who love God and each other. I know that joy isn’t something you necessarily wear on your face, but it is something that can’t be contained. True joy shines out and can’t be hidden. Where’s the joy? Did it get lost somewhere? Did it die? Can we get it back? Did we ever really have it to begin with?

My personal opinion (for what it’s worth) is that we’ve crowded it out. We fill our days and minds with so much shit that I can’t even believe it. Our agendas have become far more important to us than our love. Why is it so imperative that things be done a certain way? Why do I feel like certain things must be done at all? Ah, the doing. I wrote an essay several months ago about ‘doing it for God’. I’ll dig it up and repost it, sometime. Anywho, the point is this. Who am I trying to impress? Who am I trying to save? What really gets accomplished when I put transitory situations and ephemeral things before people? It takes up all the space in my heart and leaves no room for joy. The big building, the big show, who is it for? I don’t think I want to know the answer to that, and yet I do know the answer and so do you.

Maybe that’s why Jesus was more or less homeless for the last few years of his life.

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  Luke 9: 58

This verse appears under the heading, ‘ The Cost of Following Jesus’. What I have to ask is this: what will I pay to experience true joy? We say that we want happiness and joy but our actions don’t match our philosophy. You know, giving up the things only hurts for a moment and then the pain is gone. It goes away because joy floods in and fills the empty space. Get rid of something else and joy grows. The next thing you know, you have so much joy that it pours out of you into and through everything and everyone you touch.  All those things, buildings and study groups and basketball goals, are just gonna burn anyway. All things must pass.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  1 Corinthians 13: 8

Here’s what Jesus is selling: (and he’s practically giving it away….)

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  Luke 21: 33

Are we buying it?

I Miss Your Face

Well, long time, no post. Sorry, but there was just nothing to say. Nothing to say, that is, until the holiday season set in. (Insert dramatic music here.)

Just exactly where do we lose our fight? Almost everybody has a little scrap in them, but somewhere along the way it gets lost. We settle. Just give me my recliner and my tv remote and let me stew. Babies, children, teens and young adults spend the bulk of their time learning. There are hard lessons and easy lessons, but everyday they learn something new. Somewhere in our late thirties, we cop the attitude that we’ve been there and done that and our minds and hearts start shutting down. We become limited access people. Nothing new under the sun.

I’ve been wondering where I lost my scrap. When was the last time I saw it? I think I left a little of it with that goat I was telling you about just a few essays ago. I’m certain that there’s a big chunk of it sitting on the banks of a causeway in Tampa, Florida. But I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of it has been scattered among wooden pews and cushioned folding chairs. I gave my life to Christ and then I just plain gave up. All to Jesus, I surrendered. I became dead to myself, and alive in Christ, right? Right?

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:11

Hang on, hang on. What’s all this, then? How did ‘dead to sin‘ become ‘dead to myself‘? Hmmm, let us probe a little deeper, shall we?

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  Colossians 2: 13

Okay, correct me if I’m way off base, here, but this tells me that sin = death and encourages me to be dead to sin and the sinful nature. Could it be that all these years I have been laboring under (excuse the pun) a grave error? I’m sure everybody else has this one in the bag. I’m sure that I’m the only person who has misinterpreted this teaching. In any case, I am seeking to correct this unfortunate misunderstanding.

I’m me. All the lovely, awful, wonderful, horrible pageantry of God’s glorious creation walking around with a face. Sure, some of the factory settings have drifted and there’s some wear and tear, but He put a brain in my head and a fight in my spirit that marks me with His unmistakable thumbprint. To be anything less than who I am is an insult and a tragedy.

Dead to sin, yes, but dead to who I am, dead to the fight? No way.

Click, Click, Click……

For some reason, I’ve been avoiding my own blog.

I think that things must be changing so quickly right now, that my typing skills just can’t keep up. As difficult and flat out weird as my life is getting, I can only hope that there are others of you sharing my experience. If not, more’s the pity. This whole thing has been one hell of a ride and I’m fairly certain that I’ve yet to encounter the first drop. I love roller coasters, but how high does this track climb? Look out, below!

I haven’t considered myself as a person with any real options for quite some time. I wonder why? When I look back, I can see them all dancing around me. Why was I so blind to them before now? Two years ago, Abba deposited an extremely radical idea into my spirit and I’ve been uncovering it ever since. As He peels back the leathered layers of illusion and distorted self perception, the truth of it washes over me with fresh insight. With each wave it is stronger and clearer and the light of His great love shines brighter and warmer. I stand naked and unashamed in it. I am exposed more and more and I almost don’t mind it, anymore. Almost.

It’s like I’ve been standing in a candy store all of my life watching others gorge themselves on chocolates and sours while a stood there content just to be there and spectate. Not only can I have anything I want, as much as I want, but the confectioner has prepared a special signature treat in my honor for me to enjoy and share with everyone. All this time, I’ve been a guest at my own party. What’s up with that?

When we finally take our eyes off of our own fears and shortcomings to look around at the reality of who we are, that’s when the real party starts. I’ve missed way too much of mine. Don’t miss yours.

Our Robot Overlords, I Mean, Protectors

What’s the rush?

You ever wonder why we’re always in a hurry? This subject has been chatted up quite a bit in the last few decades and yet, we show no signs, whatsoever, of slowing down. Why is that? I blame television. That’s when it all started. We had a lot more time on our hands before the screens took over. We sit and stare at the screens for hours on end and then we go out and do the stuff that the screens tell us to do. Now we’re just trying to hurry up and get to work/school/wherever so we can hurry up and get back to our screens. Isn’t that what it really boils down to? I’m a little put out whenever I have to leave my screen. I feel a little denied, a little deprived.

The screens fill our eyes with distorted pictures of what life should be about so we spend any extra time we might have, chasing after things that don’t really exist. We want to live like the t.v. people. We want beautiful homes and nice car(s), big hair and white teeth, slender bodies and fashion accessories. We want an exciting life like those people have. We want our money for nothing and our chicks for free, right? What we see on the screens is not reality, you know that, don’t you? Do you? Do I? We know it’s not real but we sort of believe it, anyway, don’t we? We’ve gotten used to the t.v. people. We feel like we know them. We feel like we can trust them. What’s wrong with looking good and feeling good and wanting nice things? Nothing. But what are we trading in? Nothing’s for free, not as far as the world is concerned. Everything’s got a price. How high are we willing to go?

25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.    Romans 1: 25

This verse is smack in the middle of a discourse on sexual immorality, but I think it’s appropriate here because these are all under the ‘lust of the eyes’ category.

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.   1 John 2: 15-17

If we want our lives to slow down, if we want our days to mean something, let’s turn our screens off. Think about it. What has a screen done for you, lately? Do you ever come away from a screen feeling refreshed and encouraged? Do you feel happy and content when you finally peel yourself away from the screen and crawl into bed? Does your heart feel happy and light when you keep a news channel on all day? Even the weather channel is a drag, isn’t it? How much better off are we after watching brutality, lust, and inane dialogue for three to six hours a day? And the commercials, I feel so manipulated and abused by them. Here’s a thought, if the massively large and powerful advertising companies are pouring millions upon millions of dollars into selling campaigns specifically designed to steer the capitalist herd, who’s steering them? Hmmm.

Are We There, Yet?

Knock, knock.

Who’s there!?

sigh…..

Hello? Who’s there??

garble, mumbly, grumblefrumm…..

What??

……….Inferiority complex…..

Inferiority complex who!?

sigh….. Nevermind.

I left the community college the other day around ten in the morning, after signing up and getting the skinny. They gave me papers with information about grants and tests and they all told me how proud they were of me, making the decision to go back to school. It was a very nice way of reminding me how much older I was than the general student body. As I turned onto the interstate a loud voice in my head said, “I’m hungry!” I remembered having breakfast just a few hours earlier and wondered how this could be. That’s when a very small, very kind voice said, “No, you’re not.” I agreed, “No…..I’m not.” The discussion continued, “If I’m not hungry, what is this feeling that I am experiencing, right now?” A second or two passed before the answer came through, “It’s inferiority.”

I’ve had this annoying little suspicion creeping around in my head for a week or so, now. I’m pretty into myself so I find it hard to believe that such a thing could be true, but it is. It’s obvious to everyone but me that I have struggled with intense feelings of inferiority for most of my life. I’ve always believed that I was smart, but not quite smart enough. Grade school was one thing, I could bluff my way through that one. But college? I always thought that the reason I blew it off, was because I had no interest in it, whatsoever. The truth is, I was scared. I was afraid that those people would bust me for the phony that I was, right away. If I went up there where they were smarter, prettier, and richer than I was, I’d stand out like a cheap suit. I’d be a joke. Looking at it, now, it seems ridiculous to me. That means that God has been dealing with a lot of those feelings and putting my worth into its proper perspective. Still, there’s a few boogers lurking about and it hurts every time one of them gets loose.

There’s been a lot of people talking about being frustrated in their spiritual walk because they feel like they’re supposed to be doing something but they don’t know what it is. My answer to that is, “Bullshit. Yes, you do.” There is a time for waiting upon the Lord. Cripes, Moses waited around until he was eighty years old. I wonder if he complained about being frustrated. Maybe he was happy and content until he was, say, seventy-five. God’s timing is always perfect, but maybe He knew it would take fifty plus years in the desert to wake His boy up. Maybe God knew that Moses had to waller around in his personal stuff for a good, long time before he was of any use. I don’t want to be like that. I’ve only had to waller for just under thirty. All I’m saying is, get it together and face your stuff so you can get rid of it and move on. Of course, God makes good use of our waller times, in spite of our fears and frustrations. He can even reap a bountiful harvest from our trips around the mountain. He did with mine. After all that good living in the desert, I’m ready for anything.

5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.   Joshua 1: 5,6

Like I said, God’s timing is always perfect. I’ve known all along that there was more to me than meets the eye. It was that loud, hungry voice that shouted it down all those years. That’s ok, He brought about a great deal of beauty during my sheep herding years. He turned my poverty into riches. Now I can be strong and courageous and take the land that was promised to me a long time ago. It’s my inheritance. It’s my birthright. Will I end up with a degree? I don’t know, but if I’m willing to take the first step I know He’ll lead me in the right direction.

Who’s Who

I’ve hit a dry patch, lately.

Not that I ever run out of things to say, or that I tire of an audience, ever. Even if the faithful are just a handful of beautiful kooks, I am honored and grateful to serve you my brain from time to time. Indeed, you are all most patient. I suppose that the real gravy of life resides in the changing seasons. As a child, I feared them. As an adult, I fought them. But I would just as well fight the tide or charge the wind. Tides will roll and winds will blow no matter how desperately we flail about, swinging our fists and ranting.

The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.   Proverbs 16: 9

Fighting God is useless, and really, why do I want to? Why do I think my way is better than His?

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.   Isaiah 55: 8,9

Obviously, He has a much better perspective on things. As I look back on my life and consider all of the plans that I have had for myself and compare them to what He is offering to me now, well, there is no comparison. Had I the power to change anything about where I’ve been, where I am, or where I’m going, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a thing. If life has taught me nothing else, it has taught me this one great truth. Who I am, is who He made me to be and my job is to be that who.

You and Me, and the Goat Makes Three

I don’t believe in ‘not enough’.

When I was six years old, our neighbor gave me a goat. He was the cutest thing and I was so proud of him as I was leading him home. My parents were not nearly as impressed with him as I was. We had just moved to the country and there was so much work to be done. They knew who would end up taking care of him. What could they do? He was a gift and nobody wanted to be the bad guy, making a little girl give her goat back. What to do, what to do? They decided to do what they did best, talk me out of it. It wasn’t hard. After only a few minutes they had me in tears, begging my neighbor to take the animal that I was obviously under qualified to care for. What did I learn that day? For starters, I learned that I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time and that I need the affirmation and guidance of others in order to make any kind of rational decision. I can’t handle it, I’m not good enough.

I’ve thought about that little goat a lot, lately. I remember looking out the kitchen window at the poor thing tied to a stake in the ground. It crushed my heart to think that he had no idea how precarious his future was, being left in my questionable care. I lost all confidence in myself and my capabilities that day. Can you remember when you lost yours?

A few years ago, Abba started talking to me about the life I should be living and the good things that He paid so dearly for me to have. He began showing me how I had sold myself short.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.   2 Corinthians 9: 8

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?   Romans 8: 32

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.   Joshua 1: 5

There are so many references to this screaming truth, I could fill the page and then some. Of course, there’s the entire eighth chapter of Romans. Do yourself a huge favor and take a bite of that one. My parents were probably right about my not understanding the responsibility of taking care of the goat, but they may have underestimated my capacity for loving it. They were loving people who had raised a loving child. The next step was obvious; allow a loving child to learn how to put love into action. It might have been shaky at first but, remember, love never fails and there’s always enough for everything and everybody.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4: 19