Category: Personal Walk

06 Sep

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Don’t Blink

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Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced this strange phenomena- a feeling of life flying by in fast-forward.  I’d liken it to the Adam Sandler movie Click, where his character was fast forwarding the more mundane days of his life and then before he knew it, his kids are grown up, his father passed away, and his wife divorced from him.  Thankfully this feeling I’m having doesn’t include the latter two items, but I do find myself seeing my kids all grown up and moved away.

Like the movie portrays, I also find myself running on auto-pilot often- haven’t you ever had that moment when you find yourself arrived at your destination and you don’t remember any of the actual driving?  It’s a miracle you got their alive and in one piece!  It seems that so many of our days are spent with the focus on regret for what has already happened, or anxiousness about the future, that we forget that we are here now.

I find that I have to remind myself to remind myself that life is short, so that I can enjoy the now for what it is.  We are surrounded by easy to access distractions, with the smartphone being perhaps the biggest due to its always on, always available accessibility.  How many times do I look up from my own to find my entire family engrossed in theirs?  As futile as it may be, I’m beginning to fight this, as I remind myself not to waste this gift of life on foolish things.

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.”
Psalm 39:4

Talk to any grandparent or empty nester and they’ll share with you their sadness for the years that have gone by, the quietness of the house and the overwhelming sense of loss for the best times of their life that have passed.

We can’t stop tomorrow from coming, no matter how hard we try.  But indeed if we give it our best, we can learn to live here today.

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.”
Psalm 39:4

21 Aug

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Faith.. From The Treetops Looking Down.

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What is Faith really?

This past weekend I had a chance to see a great metaphor of faith in action. My son Sam and I went on a Father/Son breakaway retreat at Camp Highland in the mountains of Ellijay GA. I highly recommend this for Dads wanting to connect and build amazing memories and bonds with your son.

One of the many nightmare-inducing adventures you get to experience with your son is a high ropes course. I’m sure many of you have seen or experienced these before- I had not before then and honestly was probably better off not knowing too much about it. The basic concept is this- you with no experience working in the circus, get to see what it is like with a rolling start. You spend about 30-40 minutes up amongst the tree tops, some 40-50 feet from the ground, walking tightropes, swinging from trapeze type obstacles and going from tree to tree. Thankfully you have a harness and are tethered to a thick cable that is overhead, running from shaky tree top to the next shaky tree top. But I need to remind you that at some point you’re going to have to unhook yours and your son’s tether clips and move them from one line to the next, all while standing on a deer strand and clenching for dear life to the tree trunk while unhooked!

It’s really not as terrifying as the picture I painted above- in fact, there are two tether clamps for your harness, so while you are unhooked from one and moving to the next tree line, you are still safe and sound while tethered to the previous line, should you fall off the tree stand while reaching out and overhead to hook the clamp onto the line of the next insane chasm. OK, so yes, it actually is still pretty terrifying! Many a Dad and son dealt with anxiety (remember the old movie High Anxiety?!) and a desire for the ‘adventure’ to be over soon, and for hours after you heard kids and Dads talking about their conquest over those fears they had.

One Dad brought up such a great point- while we are tethered to the line above, it was hard to trust it fully. I know found myself checking our clips (especially Sam’s) repeatedly to make sure they didn’t pop open somehow, and even checking the ends of each cable because who knows if it somehow came loose from the previous adventurers. Ultimately at some point I had to have confidence that the line, tethers, and harness were going to hold us and gave a quick tug as I ventured back out into the big top.

Isn’t that what faith is really like? I think it’s easy enough to have a general belief in God- a lot of people feel He’s up there, or at least think so. But without that complete assurance- that extra tug and check of the lines, it’s really hard to have the trust and confidence to walk out and face the adventure. If I didn’t have complete faith in the wires and harness, I would not have stepped out onto that wire or swing. And I certainly would not let my son go out into the world to face those dangers alone.

My faith in God must be that strong if I am truly to live and take in the whole adventure that He has planned for me. And it’s OK if I just check the lines here and there, make sure my connection to Him is strong. But ultimately at some point I must take that jump.

When we got to the end of the adventure, the final hookup was done to a giant zip line. And our final step of faith was to basically walk or jump off the last tree stand and plunge down into the forest. For me, having checked the lines, the tether clamps and the harness one more time, I jumped with abandon… Well, not really- I actually hung on to the strap from my harness to the line overhead the entire way down, holding my body weight up the entire time I dropped into the abyss (not unlike a pullup). I hope when it becomes time to trust God the same way I did that rope, that I can take that jump, and I imagine it’ll be OK that I hold onto Him tight, just in case.

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14 Aug

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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

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I somehow doubt this is what Janet Jackson was talking about in her 80s hit, but sometimes I catch myself asking this question to God in more subtle ways.

It doesn’t come as blatant as that- it sounds rude after all to have those expectations of God, but yet when a prayer we ask for does not get answered, we tend to question Him, sometimes to the point of whether God’s still up there, because a prayer wasn’t answered the way we hoped or asked.

I personally have prayed seen this.  I’ve even come to the point of praying prayers with this gist – God please show me some sign or wonder so I know you are still there.    And the truth is that I’ve had plenty of signs and wonders to awe in my life- from watching the Doctor and technician  act in bewilderment when they saw a perfect little beating heart on the screen a week after they told us to schedule a DNC as my wife’s pregnancy was “Not viable” with no signs of life, to the Doctor telling my wife that mysteriously there was no trace of any injury or damage a month or so after my son suffered a traumatic brain injury that was to leave him permanently injured and out of school for at least another 6 months.  So why should I need any other sign now to know God is alive and with me?

I know I’m not the only one- even when Jesus was walking the earth, performing miracles everywhere he went, there were people requiring signs and wonders.  Just after Jesus fed thousands with just a few loaves and fish, there were Pharisees asking him to perform a sign.  Jesus’ response?

He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”  Mark 8:12

I can just imagine the frustration in that sigh!  Would put any IT guy’s to shame, even when asked why a computer cup holder keeps retracting while holding their coffee ;)

As I read through the Bible, I often shake my head in judgement at the people who were so close to God’s presence, witnessing amazing works by Him and yet still failing to trust Him and His goodness.  How many times did the Israelites quake as they left Egypt, complaining they were going to die and questioning how this could possibly be better than going back and returning to their lives in slavery?  And this just after God brought plague after plague upon the Egyptians to convince them to let the Israelites go free!

“They did not remember his power and how he rescued them from their enemies.  They did not remember his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders..”  Ps 78:42

But really, how am I any different?  I have God close to me, seen amazing works, and here I am in essence still doubting.  And in my own way, asking ‘yeah, You’ve done all of this and that in the past, but What have You done for me lately?’  It’s my prayer today that rather than focusing on what God hasn’t done for me lately, I will focus on all He has done for me already.  And I challenge you to the same!

So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.  Ps 78:7

Filed Under: Personal Walk

13 Aug

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Falling Fresh

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Lately I have felt disconnected from God.  I know the saying goes ‘when you feel God is distant, who moved?’ and I remind myself of this often.  Yet this is not the first time this has happened for me in my life and the usual things that ‘close the gap’ have not been as effective for me this time around.

Sometimes reading a good book will light the way to my steps back to Him, or the lyrics to a new song  will move me to tears and back into His arms.  I’ve been reading plenty and listening to music and nothing has caught my heart like I’m longing for.

In years past I would get myself to start reading His word more, and that would bring that closeness I desired.  But over time, I’ve gotten to where this is a regular part of my daily routine now so I am already doing that.

I used to be able to sit at the piano or with a guitar in hand and play as an act of worship.  I now play regularly in the preschool ministry at church, so that too has become routine for me.

As I thought about all of this, I realized that I am always trying to find ways for Jesus to fall fresh on me.  Ways to make our relationship new and exciting and leave an impact on me.  And the fact that I haven’t been moved in new ways by the same tried and true old ways should be no surprise.  After all, we live in a consumer culture- we rarely create anything at all, but spend each day consuming what others have made.  From packaged foods that are nearly ready to eat from the box, to watching prepackaged reality shows, sitcoms, and dramas on TV.  From listening to
music, to reading books, to coming to church on Sundays and being entertained and taught by the staff and volunteers, everything is laid out to us on a silver platter to consume and enjoy.

And the results of this are painfully obvious.  Have you read the reviews of apps in the App Store lately?  People will complain that a free game didn’t have enough levels or hours of enjoyment- a free app that some one or some company poured out months of development time working on!!  Have you seen the comments on Youtube?  They will find something negative and hateful to say about anything!  Have you seen the reviews of movies lately- I could go on and on.

It seems as we continue to consume and consume, we continually raise our expectations and standards, trying to get the response we once got but can no longer get.  And just as a drug seems to wear off in its effects on us, requiring more and more to elicit that same high, we find that nothing can scratch that itch the way it once did when it comes to finding passion in our relationship for God.

Even when I try to create and not consume, the evidence of this is clear.  I wrote a song recently with these lyrics:

I will sing a new song, to you my Lord, to You my Lord.
I will find a new way to say, Lord I am Yours, Lord I am Yours.

And with each day, my words will say, what this truth is all about.
With my whole life, I will strive, to really live it out.

Would you fall fresh on me, as I fall at your feet.
So with every breath in me, I’ll sing it and mean it.

You deserve more than trite old words, I can sing with my heart closed..

On the surface, I thought I had a great song with a strong prayer- asking God to find a new way to inspire me to worship Him.  It’s a noble cause after all, wanting to be closer to him and wanting to glorify Him better through it.  But how is this any different than the person who stops going to their church home because they feel like they’ve heard those songs, heard those messages, seen those same people before, and want something different?

These issues are not new with us- even when God was feeding the Israelites in the desert by raining down Manna from heaven for them to eat, the response was the same.  Can’t we get a little variety here?  Something a little more exciting?  God was raining bread from the sky to feed them in the middle of the desert and the reaction was ‘meh, I give it a 1 out of 5 stars”!

Wish it tasted like Chicken?

And so it is this that beckons me back, back to the simple  act of prayer and communion with our Lord and Savior.  I have decided that what I need is simply time with Him in my life- alone and in quiet with no distractions or expectations of miracles or causes to be wowed.  He’s already shown that to me in my life and I have much to reflect on and be awed and grateful.  And that should be more than enough!

For me personally that may mean actually reading less of his Word in the bible since I spend a lot of my quiet time hoping to hear from Him that way, and more time in conversation with Him, and listening.

So what about you?  Have you become a consumer of Christ, waiting to hear from Him in new and impressive new ways and finding fewer of them with each passing day?  If so, what are you going to do about it?  Let me know in the comments below!

Filed Under: Personal Walk