Letting go to move forward

Our family spent New Years creating what hopefully will be a new tradition. We are calling it to burn the ships after a song that has touched us this year. The song is by For King and Country and has given us the opportunity to talk about the things that we have encountered in the past year and have allowed them to get a grip on us. The situations, comments, inner thoughts that we have, all can take hold of us and cause us trauma, false guilt, anxiety, depression and all of this can be magnified when these situations start to compile.

So this year we decided to try something different, we took newspapers and cut them into different sizes. We then took markers and wrote the “things” that had been spoken over us or that were having an effect on us. In doing this, we talked about not forgetting these “things” we put on the paper but to release the grip they had on us and allow Jesus to fill and heal those spots. We took those pieces of paper and placed them in the pot and then we released them and returned them to ashes.

This year our family will be heading into transition and change, the mission God has before us is exciting, but it is not without fear and nervousness. But through this exercise doors for talking about those fears have been opened. The communication within our family has been wonderful since walking into this night of release.

My encouragement to you is to take the time to do something as little as talk or pray together. The freedom that can come from such a small thing is amazing. We will be praying for you. So go forward and burn the ships.

Like Christ

Being like Christ is something we hear and for most of us desire. For most, we want to be respected like Christ, love like Christ; but we tend to think of that love only as being respectful and caring for those closest to us.  In this assumption, we fall short of one of the most significant characteristics of Christ, an empathetic love for one another.  As Christians, we sympathetically care for one another through phrases like “I’ll pray for you” or “Can I bring you anything?” These attempts to show Christ’s love, while supportive, are more sympathetic love than the empathetic love that Christ taught us.  These are great ways to show love, to care for someone’s needs, but they are not a full picture of what it is to love like Christ.

Jesus wept.

John 11:35 (NIV)

The power of this verse is that the Son of Man brought himself into the pain of those hurting. Before he wept, he saw Mary weeping, and he was deeply troubled. In other words, the pain they were feeling became the pain the pain he was feeling.  Christ, with his amazing love doesn’t just want to provide for us and see that our needs are met, he wants to mourn with you in times of sadness and loss; be joyous with you in times of celebration and victory, to such a deep a level that all of your sorrows and joys become his sorrows and joys.

The root of the empathy that Jesus shows is emotion.  We can all identify the root of emotions be it anger, sadness, fear, joy, interest, surprise, disgust, or shame. It takes our experience with these emotions combined with overcoming the fear of recognizing these emotions, again within ourselves, to experience empathically sitting with someone.  Too often we fall short of empathically sitting with someone because we fear it means surviving these emotions again, but in truth, it is a willingness to be like Christ and wear a hurt that has already been surrendered to bear the burden with a brother or sister.

Lord grant me the eyes to see those that are hurting and heart like yours to be with them as you are with us.

Amen Brothers.

Doubting the Father

It was the fall of 2015 when my life changed and I was no longer just a father.  Sometimes when you find the opportunity to be someone or something you grab a hold of it and do it to the best of yourself.

We were never meant to live that way, our lives were to be full of days of paradise, not of strife and struggle.  But here we are on the wrong side of the fall and we are here to try to do it on our own, or so I thought.

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come” Jesus Replied

So Peter one over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sing.  “Save me Lord!” he shouted

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  “You have so little faith,” Jesus said “Why did you doubt me?”

You see how I saw the heavenly father was a lot like my interpretation of this scripture for far to long.  I focused so much on Peter failing and then on Jesus saying “You have so little faith, why did you doubt me”.  You see I skipped write over the most beautiful thing about our heavenly father, “Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.”  I never stopped to see that he saved him, first, that he grabbed his hand to pull him to safety before simply asking why do you doubt me.  Not the scolding punishment that we tend to put on God to often.

It is from this passage that I learned it is not about being the best version of yourself.  It is about letting the Father in, letting him shine through you.  This doesn’t mean that you won’t stumble and begin to sink in the water, but if you do I guarantee you there will be the hand there to save you and remind you that working on our doubt of the father is worth every opportunity we give it.

Men an opportunity is ahead of us.  Tomorrow morning the Fall Boot Camp will open.  If you have never been, I challenge you to get there.  These four days in the fall our one of the greatest investments you can make into your relationship with the Father.  Hope to see you there.

ROI

What if you didn’t read that as return on investment?  What if instead it was relationship on investment?  We lead our lives trying to win the game of accumulation, we tend to think subconsciously or not of every interaction as a way of feeding the desire that is within.   But is that what we are made for?

Our relationships are built on time.  Think about young love, you want nothing more than to spend all waking hours together and those hours seem to pass so quickly.  This time is something we are willing to give, yet later after much more time together, we feel as though the relationship takes to much of our time.  The reality is that it takes no more no less “time” it is just our investment that has changed.  We have changed our focus on the one that is front of us and instead replaced it with trying to fill the desire within.

Genesis 29:20, NIV: “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”

To often this is also the picture of our relationship with the heavenly father.  We are on fire for him and going to do whatever he calls us to do.  But when the risk becomes to high we start to doubt and ask “is this really you lord?”.  To often our prayers are answered but we question our faith by how comfortable the answer makes us feel.  But God calls us to make wise use of our time, to approach every opportunity to share the kingdom wisely.

Colossians 4:5, NLT: “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.”

God is calling us to invest our time, our greatest currency.  We must move forward with investing in those things that are before us, our families must be high on that list for the return far outweighs most everything.  The only investment that must be put above this is our investment with the Father, for the return is eternal.

 

Story to come

“All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

― C.S. LewisThe Last Battle

The battle is epic some say, that life is an adventure.  What if those people are wrong?  What if the day-to-day that we exist in is just the beginning, the title page if you will.  What if the greatest adventure, the most significant battle rest just behind the last closure of our eyes?  This question or set of questions is just a ponder, just a funny thought on a late Sunday evening.

But what if it is more than that?  Can you imagine opening your eyes on the other side to see that you are thrust into battle, and you are fighting beside some of the great people that we only thought were from histories past?  To your left, you see David in his stunning armor slingshot on one side, mighty sword on the other.  To your right, you see General Patton commanding an army of angels.  The battle they are facing is one we face daily, against the one who wants to control the world, to take down the Almighty.  We think of this battle as being on the other side that our last closing of our eyes was death for us.  But what if it was life?

What if it was just the beginning, only the opening of the book to reveal the real story and what if we had missed it by losing sight of the book.  You see we have the opportunity to know a great story but all too often we choose the other path.  We choose to not be the brave knight and have heroic courage.  We choose to sit idle as our kids dream up worlds that are absent of courage.  We choose to sit by while are wives are lost in a book of a dream world.   We choose not to engage our families, not to love them unconditionally, but most of all we choose to lose the book of our lives.

So how do we not choose that, we begin by dreaming. Now I am not talking about a really awesome nap on a Sunday afternoon, while they are great, that is not the point here.  I am talking about being the man we dreamed about being.  The one who makes your kids laugh, the one that pursued his bride, I am talking about not giving up.  I am talking about facing the cruelest enemy we will ever meet, looking him straight on and saying not in my house, not in my family.  Lock arms with your kids and wife and take aim at the battle.  Pray together, love together, and be brave together; the book is waiting, it is time to make the cover amazing.

A Narrative Life

The narrative of my life contains many smaller stories, ones of trauma from abuse to stories of joy including my path to salvation. It is the intertwining of these stories that continue to develop my character, influence my faults, and drive my passions; all of this works together to make me who I am.

The narrative of my life changed Palm Sunday 2014, standing in a Sunday morning service. The congregation was singing “Great Are You Lord, ” and the Holy Spirit filled me and brought me to tears of a bawling baby. This moment is the point I share with people that the Lord hit me with a board and woke me from my slumber of passiveness. On this day, I turned from being a self-destructive and self-absorbed person to someone wanting to spread the word and wake up other passive men. At this point, I began to focus more on what the Father was speaking to me on a daily basis through his word and prayer.

It is amazing what God can do with you when you are not fighting to have your way or manipulating him into giving you your way. The redemption of Palm Sunday was a triumph, but it followed a day of a selfish choice just two years earlier. It was July 21, 2012, my birthday, and I was tired of being passed over for promotions, being used by others, and beyond frustrated with life. It is on this day I decided I was going to make myself successful, by not caring for people and using them to get what I wanted and ultimately to win. I was going to be the best, not allowing anyone to stand in my way, lest destruction. Remembering my father’s example, I decided I would out work them, and I would use my skill of reading people so that I could manipulate them. If there was nothing they could do for me, I would throw them aside to find the next person that could. There was no limit to what I would do to get there, the only thing that mattered was winning.

This way of life was working until I got used myself, and I had to face how I felt. When the house of cards you have built up by manipulating people and using them against each other starts to crumble, it can be earth shattering to your soul. At this moment you realize that all of the “victories” were empty and ultimately the person you were using was yourself. When this all went down, and I was sitting shocked and scared of how everything would work out. I realized I had nothing, no one to talk to, no one to share with, and I had to face a disastrous outcome alone. As the weekend approached I had decided by Monday, I had to find a way out. Do I run away and disappear or stand and face what I had coming to me. Thankfully at this time, Palm Sunday and the redemption of the Father came along.

God, The Father, is there for all of us, his love and compassion knows no bounds. He never identifies a point that you are not worth fighting for and he will always welcome you with open arms. I have played the part of a prodigal son, living a reckless life and on Palm Sunday 2014 my Holy Father welcomed me with open arms and helped add another chapter to the narrative of my life.

Unconquered Lands

What is my life’s meaning?

The very simple question we pose to ourselves has many difficult scenarios. Of coarse we tend to put the answer in our family, our church, our jobs. These are all possible answers, but if you disconnect yourself from the busyness of the world, how do you believe that God would respond to that question for you?

Think about the ways in which you have grown over just the past few years. Can you believe that this is God conquering with you lands that will lead to your inheritance? He will lead you through recognition of new talents and the availability of resources that you never saw before, to develop and fulfill the mission he has laid before you. He may have you challenging things in your community that have hindered people becoming closer to him or reaching out to hose hurting to provide a glimpse of his amazing healing power. These are often the things (lands) that are being conquered daily when we don’t even realize we are in the battle.

So to answer the question “What is my life’s meaning?” it is simple, keep conquering the “lands” God puts in front of you.  Awake daily to see the beautiful battleground God has put before us and answer each challenge with the goal of the Promised Land ahead. For the Promised Land is our inheritance of a new heaven and new earth if we fulfill the mission God has laid before us.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old earth had disappeared. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and it’s evils are gone forever.”

Revelation 21:1-4

Getting Dad out of your way

The difficultly of being a dad is without a question an internal struggle.  We spend too much time in our own head, worried about how we may be perceived.  This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend the weekend just my kids and I. In this time, God showed me a few things.  Being just us, we woke up and just took our time laying around, not rushing to breakfast.  When we finally got to breakfast, we made silly decisions about what to eat like goulash and taquitos for breakfast and followed that up with sloppy joe and tater tot casserole later.  It kind of set the tone for the weekend, which showed me that being a dad is not difficult.  We just have to be willing to let down our guard.  Now my kids are 7 and 5 so it is probably easier at this stage to just be a kid along with them, but there is no need for us decide that for them.  But I couldn’t help but think that this is what our father desires with us; to just be playful and carefree and know that ultimately, although we are throwing caution to the wind, he is in control.
“So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”  Galatians 4:17
This morning I heard “Hey Dad, wait” and as I turned here comes a flying 50lb boy with arms and legs spread out like a jumping squirrel.  He jumps with no fear, knowing that his earthly father will spare no cost to catch him.  Father where is my faith like a child? I fail to jump at so many occasions where I know you are there, out of fear.  It is out of that fear that I reside in quiet desperation instead of being the type of Dad you want me to be. So I resolve and issue this challenge to you to be the jumping, trusting, loving child God is calling us to be.  Even if your kids think you’re crazy, your heavenly father will rejoice.