May 21

The Power of a Daddy Hug

I was caught by surprise this morning. Linda and I were having a time of prayer over our family and our day. As I was praying I was reminded of an event that had happened the day before, it was a moment of grace and I hadn’t let it really impact me. I had been rushing through the day performing my responsibilities and duties. We were busy getting ready for two birthday parties on back to back nights, and in the middle of that we were looking at a used car a few miles from our house. So in all the busyness I hadn’t taken time to process my day.

What so caught me by surprise was a hug from my father. He had stopped by to offer help with medical bills that I accumulated while having a close encounter with a blood clot in my thigh. We sat and talked about this some. I told him that part of me wanted to make it on my own and prove that I could take care of it, I was a bit embarrassed to accept the help, but that I really appreciated it. As he rose from the chair in my office to leave I leveled with him. I said dad “The last couple of years I feel like financially I have been pushing a rock up hill with my nose and I am not making any progress.” He said “I had some years like that back around 1982-1984, I wondered if I would ever turn the corner.” Then he gave me a hug. As I reflected on it, it was such a sweet event. It was one of the few hugs my father has given me on his own volition. It was a hug given out of a shared emotion or experience. He knew where I was coming from and wanted to comfort and encourage me.

The gravity and impact of this gesture hit my spirit like a flood and I was overwhelmed, the tears flowed, and I was alive again to joy. It gave me a contrast to how I have been living the last number of month, numb, inoculated from both pain and joy, and from letting others impact my heart.

The thought came “I need to hug my children more” hugs have the power to heal and unleash untold things in them. Too often I am focused on helping them control their behavior, or avoid pain, but I don’t often enough let them tell their pain and then just hug them, no answers, no wise (prideful) words. A hug lets them know that I am with them in the struggle, having no expectations of what they should become or what kind of person they should be, letting them know that I will love them and be with them through anything.

When I am numb I am self centered and I can’t care for them through their imperfections but instead pile expectations on them. They are valued if they make me look good or don’t add another thing to my already long and heavy list. Often their imperfections remind me of mine, the ones that I haven’t made peace with, and my lack is projected on them with irratation.

I have this same power with my wife and want to be able to impact her with grace. Sometimes I struggle with how to do this, and it becomes such a large thing that I don’t think I can do however it really boils down to listening with my heart, comforting, allowing her to lay her cares down and giving her a verbal and physical hug. Expressing all the things I appreciate about her and honoring how she has been an agent of grace in my life.

Mar 29

Wasting time with God

I have been reading “The Gift of being Yourself” by David Benner.  I read the following quote this morning:

 

What God wants is simply our presence, even if it feels like a waste of potentially productive time.  That is what friends do together – they waste time with each other.  Simply being together is enough without expecting to “get something” from the interaction.  It should be no different with God.

 

Two things stuck out for me.  I still want to “do” this God thing.  Learning to just be is hard for a fully trained doer.  In one sense I want a list that I can do that makes me ok then I don’t have to deal with the nebulous relationship thing.  On the other hand I have never been able to keep all the rules and feel like I am constantly failing.  The yearning in my heart is for a place to belong, without requirements.  God is calling me from the religious to the relational.  What a paradigm shift.

 

The second thing that struck me about this quote is “no expectations.”  Being together with God, and others and not expecting to get something from them wow that is a challenge.  William Paul Young says that “Expectations kill relationships because they create disappointments.”  If I have no expectations then I won’t be disappointed, everything is a gift.  When I am disappointed with God it is because I have an expectation of what he should be doing and it isn’t happening.  Can I make the switch to beholding what is going on around me and finding God in the moments, to view it with wonder as a little child.

May 05

Do I Always Have to Be Right?

My wife asked me that question a couple of days ago. At first I was angered I wanted to argue. It seems arguing is always my first response. The question did get me thinking what is it that drives me to be right? Is there truly always a right or wrong? So I have been thinking about it and here is my take on myself. It is easier to always see myself as right because then I am perfect and don’t need to change. (I also don’t need a savior if I am perfect.) If my actions and attitudes are always correct then I don’t need to change anything, it is just easier. I don’t have to say I am sorry, and all arguments and disagreements come down to the other person being at fault. In this scenario I am pursuing my own rightness or righteousness. What does scripture say about my own righteousness? It is as filthy rags. So in pursing my own right-ness I am actually chasing after filthy rags.

There are deeper questions to be answered. If I were to always be wrong would it change my value in God’s eyes? Am I still living in a place where I am OK with myself when I am doing things for God, but not OK when I am the perpetrator? If I truly believe that my worth and value are set by a loving God who sacrificed all to reconcile with me, would I have to be right or anything else to be accepted. So then my needing to be right exposes that I am really still living as an orphan, needing to take care of myself. If I was secure in my fathers love knowing that he is taking care of all my needs, wouldn’t I be free to be wrong? Being wrong wouldn’t somehow be a judgement against me, it would simply mean that I was wrong. If my value isn’t attached to my rightness, or my performance what would it matter if I was wrong? Am I free to be wrong?

I think the core issue around being right, is pride. It is a sobering thing to look at scriptures and see what God says about the proud. He says that “He opposes the proud”, do I want God opposing me. When I walk in pride in my rightness I invite the opposition of God. Wow that is sobering. On the other hand read what scripture says about the humble, those who are free to be wrong, then choose which side of the fence you want to be on. Sadly my default response is that of a pride, so it is an effort to walk in humility. I must take up my cross daily, and crucify the flesh whenever it rears it’s ugly head. So how do I know when pride is rearing it’s ugly head? Whenever I need to raise my voice in a discussion, when I am driven to prove the other person wrong, when I am sarcastic there are many more. So when I see these things going on can I put the breaks on my flesh and turn around? That is the mark of a real man.

We are to use Jesus as our example right? When he went before the pilot he didn’t defend himself and the bible says “he didn’t open his mouth make his case.” (loose translation) Why didn’t the son of God defend himself and make himself right? After all he was right, he was righteous, he was perfect. He would have been defending perfection. He chose to leave it in his fathers hands knowing that he had it all in control. This I think is the hardest test of all, only a real man could be falsely accused and choose not to defend himself.

I know a man who displays this characteristic. God has worked mightily through in his life. He ministers to others, and at times his ministry raises hackles with some christian leaders. He has been called into group meetings and told how he is wrong has been verbally castigated. He has chosen to graciously thank them for their time and not defend himself or his work. Defending wouldn’t change their minds it would only cement them in their thinking. He knows where his value lies, it is not in the opinion of others, he knows the fruit of what he has learned and taught, defending it wouldn’t change anything. Now I say there is a real man! There is one who walks like Christ.

Feb 28

Love Affair

 

This morning on the way to work I heard the song “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray.  At the end of the song they played an interview clip of Jason talking about the song.  He said that “We sin because we are trying to prove our worth to ourselves.  We need a revelation of God’s love for us.”

It reminded me of some journaling I did last week.  I sat down and was processing some of the weeks events wanting to gain understanding.  The funny thing about the times I go to the Lord he often reiterated his love for me.  He listens patiently to all my frustration, anger, bitterness and then responds by telling me how much he loves me.  When he reminded me of this all the other things melt away and a peace comes over my soul.  It is inconceivable that he would say those things to me after the junk that I pour out.  Here are excerpts of what I heard the Lord speak into my spirit maybe these words are for you as well.  This is the Lord reminding me who I am.

Do you know how I marveled when you were born?  I had been anticipating this event from the beginning of time.  The result of all my careful plans and thoughts now brought to fruition. ……..  I am not angry that you haven’t been making enough progress.  I don’t feel cheated that I have invested so much and you have yielded so little.  I am blessed by who you are and who you are becoming.  But I am especially blessed when you come and talk with me.  It doesn’t matter what you have to say, I want to be with you.  I am not put off by your anger,  I don’t tire of you dealing with the same old things.  I am committed to spending as much time as it takes to see the jewel-in-the-rough, cut and polished to perfection.  I am not man that I grow weary of dealing with these things.  I am fueled by love, not by some selfish agenda.  I want to see you released from the accusers vomit, from believing the lies he has told you about yourself since you were a child.  Rise up man of courage, take the city, for the Lord your God has given it to you.

 

The more I thought of the words the Lord had spoken to me and the words Jason Gray spoke, I wanted to hear more of what he had to say.  I googled for Jason Gray interviews.  I didn’t find the clip I heard this morning but I found two short clips that really spoke to my heart.  Click on the link below to hear his comments.

 


Hear is the Music video for the song “Remind Me Who I AM”

Apr 27

Downplay What You Don’t Want

When I read the book of Acts it always raises questions for me.  When I was younger I used to ask my parents “Why don’t we see this happening in the church today.”  That wasn’t a question they could answer very well.  Now as I have gotten older I am still asking the same question.  You read Acts and the there is a definite change in the disciples from before the day of Pentecost and then afterwards.  Jesus had said that when he leaves he will send the Holy Spirit and power.  Isn’t that power evident in the disciples after that day?  Men who had been cowering followers of this man that was just executed publicly, were now proclaiming him publicly and boldly?  How hard would it have been for people steeped in Jewish tradition to make the leap from the orthodox Jewish lifestyle to the deeds and call after Pentecost.  It might have been about as hard for the Western church to fully embrace a revival move of God today.

I have been on the fringes of movements that have had some interesting manifestations of God.  It is interesting to here what different people in the “Church” say about these movements. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 24

I Am Barney Fife

 

Do you ever have one of those moments when you see what you look like in another person?  I was watching an old episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” with my family and had that experience.  I forget the exact script but the plot was something like this.  Barney had done something stupid, but instead helping him face his mistake everyone around his was making it appear better than it was because he was “so sensitive” (prideful).  As I watched the episode I became more and more disturbed at Barney and the behavior of his friends.  Why was it necessary for those close to him to go to such great lengths to protect his pride.  Then a thought hit me, “I am Barney Fife.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 23

Running With the Herd Not!

This week I have been reading a book that I received at my family christmas exchange.  The book is about a man’s journey to find healing after he lost his wife of 35 years to cancer.  As part of his healing process he hiked the Applacian Trail.   He not only chronicles his hike but mixes in stories of people he met, and his journey toward God.

I awoke this morning at 5:00am and couldn’t sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 10

Lessons From Surgery II

 

Leading up to my surgery six weeks ago, God visited our children in a powerful way at a youth retreat.  As I was getting ready I felt I should have some of the youth at church pray for me, for healing.  Healing would have would made the surgery unnecessary.  With newly reinforced faith they prayed for me.  One of the young men even had an occasion to talk with me several days before my scheduled surgery date and ask me “how is the surgery thing going?”  I had to tell him that the surgery was still scheduled and I needed it.  I sensed that he was disappointed, hadn’t he prayed and it appeared that God hadn’t answered his prayers?  Boy could I relate to that sentiment. How many things have I brought before God, hoping that he would do what I asked?  I felt a bit embarrassed that I was the one to burst his bubble of faith.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 04

Where Does My Value Lie?

God often catches my attention at the most random times, or maybe I only pay attention at random times.  I was driving to work the other morning, thinking through what I needed to get done in the day, and a couple of phrases from a song caught my attention.  “When I don’t measure up to much in this life, Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ.”  I started pondering those two lines.  I immediately thought about how I judge my value by what I accomplish, what I own, or how I compare with others.  Isn’t that such a temptation?  Yet we are valued by God because he created us and wants relationship with us.  Our value is in relationship, not in performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 01

What Does Leading Look Like?

 

Today I was talking with Linda, and we were trying to make a decision about whether it would be ok for our 10 year old son to be at home alone for an hour and a half this evening.  We talked about all the angles and then moved on to another topic.  Linda came back and said “what did you decide about Joel tonight?  You haven’t made a decision.”  It was sort of an aha moment Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «