Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Now What?

I am entering a stage of life where I kind of feel like I need to put up or shut up.

At least, that is kind of how I feel.

I have a great life.  I have a loving family.  Beautiful wife, adorable kids, a job that is more than a job to me and the people I work with/for (so to speak) accept me, I have all that I need and enough to have some of the bonus items in life.  

Up till this point, I was able to find something else to blame for why things didn’t work out, why I thought things could be better, and carried them out with the attitude of “Well if it were up to me, it would be done better because… .”  

Now, I’ve got nothing.  I have no excuses, it is time to be the husband that I swore I would be, the guy that would never treat his wife like the husbands I had seen displayed before me as a child treated their wives.  It is time for me to be the dad I promised myself I would be and love my kids unconditionally with a nurturing care that a father should provide.  It is time to be the man of integrity when faced with the top of the mountain joys or the bottom of the valley trials.  It is time to be the man of God that I have been called to and carry out the things that I always said I would when I faced resistance.  

I know all of this, I know it is time, I know it is time to man up.

To be honest, I only have one problem.


It isn’t about being a person out of spite.  I think that has been my motivation for too long.  For example, “I will be so much better than so and so, because I refuse to be like them.”  The problem is that my good intentions are rooted in an impure motive.  

How successful can that be?

I am sure that there can be some success, but will you be a more complete person if you reach that goal…or will you be the same spiteful person but in a different location?  

Now that I am here, I am finding it hard to sit back and just live here, reside here, and be comfortable here.  I have found the book, “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning has brought me some great insight to living a life that is… basically… lived.  What I mean by that is, focusing on the living of the life and not the struggle to become what you feel will work better, become what others expect you to be, and not letting guilt be the steering wheel in life.  The trials and victories that he has faced has forged a deep understanding that he shares in “Abba’s Child” that would do us all some good to read.

So here I am, recently entering into a new season or stage of life.  It is time for me to live this life, and live in a healthy spiritual manner.  I kind of feel as though I am in this new place and while it is exciting, it is very foreign.  It is kind of like starting a new school or something. There is a lot of mystery and unknowns, but I can't think of a more exciting journey than having God leading me and having a supportive cast that He has placed around me.  I hope and pray the same for you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Collisions & Caffeine

A little over a month ago I was driving to pick up my daughter from the babysitter.  I was running a little bit early and knew that the sitter wouldn’t be at her house because she was picking up her children from school.  I was at a stop light trying to figure out what I should do to pass the few minutes of time when it hit me…Starbucks!  I whipped out my phone to find the closest purveyor of caffeine.  I found one on the little map and began the short journey.

At least, on the map it seemed short.

I drove by the location it was supposed to be and didn’t see it.  I circled around, and again didn’t see it.  I tried again, and no luck. 

Where is this Starbucks?!?!?

 I was getting a little frustrated (I know, it is hard to believe) at this point because it wasn’t the easiest road to find a place to turn around and get back on the road easily.  I was passing by for my last try and I was sitting at the stop light, stewing a bit.  I happened to look over at the oncoming traffic (noticing that not one of them had coffee) when I observed a sudden stop by a truck beside me.  No big deal, someone just made a quick stop, the driver of the truck saw it and stopped in plenty of time.

The car behind him did not.

There was a small sedan cruising along at a nice clip that somehow missed the stopping of the truck and at the last moment saw that traffic had stop and swerved to miss the truck.  Did I mention I was right beside the truck?  I look up and see this car coming in my direction, there is no time to do much of anything, except continue to look at the rapidly approaching car. 


Somehow, the speeding car catches the back bumper of the truck.  The truck has minor damage, somehow the car looks like it ran into a wall, and the truck wasn’t even a Chevy (like a rock and all, you know.)  Random scraps spray into the air and pelt my little, old car.  I am unscathed, shaken a bit, but all was well.

However, I didn’t really care about Starbucks anymore.

I have coffee at home, after all.

There are a lot of things that go on in life, and for me, I always want to look for the next big thing that God wants to do.  I want to be a part of it, I want to be involved, and if I am honest…I want to be the guy that God chooses to lead it.  So I search with hunger and a near one track mind to see where it is and what it is.  Meanwhile, people are having accidents all around me and their lives are being filled with various trials and struggles.  Their lives are slamming into each other and there are pieces of their life that spatter my life. 

Do I just drive away, thankful that I am unscathed by their tragedy?  Their trials?  Their “stuff?”

Many times I think Christians (generally speaking) are so worked up about being with other believers, protecting the church, assimilating people into people like us, and searching for “Heaven on earth” that we forget that there is life going on all around us.  It isn’t that these things are bad, or shouldn’t be a priority in our life…but do we have the attitude…

“To Hell with you I am looking for Heaven?”

I am not suggesting it is intentional.  I am not suggesting we give up looking for God in the ways I listed above.  I am just suggesting that we look for ways to care, love, and show grace to others intentionally. 

Here is what I think happens when we do…

The search for “Starbucks”, that is, the thing we think we want from God, or the thing we think He should want for us, takes a back seat.  The things that matter to God (people, the lost “sheep”, the poor, prisoner, blind, oppressed) become more real to us, and they begin to matter more to us than the search.  In that we end up finding the thing we were searching for.  

God will reveal His plans to us, and His revealing is not based on how hard we search...but how zealously we truly and actively care about the things that matter to Him.  The Pharisee's were very knowledgeable of God's Word, but they had no love or compassion. 

I was looking for Starbucks, not a car accident.  Are we looking for Heaven and avoiding (intentionally or not) the very people that we are to be loving on and representing Heaven to?  As we love the ones we are sent to, especially in the times of their collisions, Heaven reveals itself.  God opens our eyes and shows us the very thing we were searching for.  We were just searching for it in the wrong place. 

Thank You for Your grace.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


           Life has gotten quite busy for us recently.  Our home has become a proverbial race track.  Up in the morning, moving kids around, getting to work, working, coming home, making dinner, going to dance class or back to work, taking care of the normal house things, and the unforeseen matters.  For example, last night I went to do something very routine on my car… took two hours…

…confirming that I am NOT (nor ever will be) a mechanic.

If I told you I was not frustrated last night, would you believe me?

Neither would I.

It is a season in life.  I am ok with that, but I have felt that I was in a dry season spiritually.  I understand that it is ok to have dry seasons in life.  However, I had to wonder, when was it going to end?  I found myself with some small pockets of free time here and there.  When I found these pockets, all I wanted to do was to be a vegetable and relax.  The problem is that I was feeling a longing, not guilt, but a longing to be in a place similar to where I was when I had some of my closer times with God.

I don’t want to go back to those times, but I want to be close again, but how do I do it when I am buried?

                I began to search my schedule.  I began trying to line up my priorities of God and family with what I was doing.  Does the direction I am heading line up with the destination I am hoping for of being close to God, being a good husband, and being a good father (and numerous other things).  From doing this I realized that things cannot remain this way forever.  I understand that it is just a season, but I want to move forward, realizing that there will be bumps and hiccups due to the matters taking place in this season because I don’t want to set unachievable goals.  Unachievable goals just frustrate me and make me less likely to continue and therefore, finish.

                I started praying.  In all honesty, it wasn’t a lot.  It wasn’t some sit down, hour’s long, weeping, kneeling, and pensive prayer time.  It was every time I thought about it.  I was troubled about it (more than I probably should have been because I over think things).  It came to me, I believe spoken to me, that there was a story in the Scripture that related to this.

                In Matthew 25 there is a story of a wealthy man that gave bags of gold (talents) to some of his workers.  Those who were the good workers took what was given them and made more.  One of the workers buried the money and used the excuse that he was afraid to do much else with it because he didn’t want to lose the wealthy man’s money.

                The story speaks of the sod of the earth as the thing that buries the gold, I began to wonder what is it that I allow to bury me in this life.  What are the meaningless things, in the midst of the important things, that I allow to cover me over and not be useful?  In some cases we will be busy with very important things.  I wanted to be sure to address that possibility.  In my case, in the midst of the important things, God began to reveal some things that I had in my schedule that had a higher priority than necessary.

                This is not an exact science, it is a journey and one that we should try our best to enjoy.  This journey is a gift.  It is the treasure that God has given me to care for.  I don’t want to bury it in dirt, or any other worthless thing.  I want to invest it in things that will bring glory to God, show His love to my family, my friends, and really anyone I come in contact with.  My Intentions may be great, but is the way I am living my life pointing me in the direction of that goal?  Or do I continue to intend to do well, but nothing about my life changes.

                Once again, this is not an exact science.  However, it is an important matter (that I have found personally) if we want to be the people that accomplish the life that God has set for us.  If we want to be the best parent we can, the best spouse, the disciple, the friend, co-worker or whatever.

Don’t get buried.  Your life is a treasure and should be lived as such.  Let the things of less worth go and chase after the important things that will add to this treasure that has been entrusted to your care.