He’s In The Room…

When I became a dad, my perception of who God the Father is changed pretty drastically.  Now, every night I tuck in my girls and we go through a big routine.  Maybe I have a soft spot based on my fear of the dark growing up that I talked about in my last post.  Maybe, I am just a softy as my wife likes to call me.

There are two truths to these times and I will start with the simpler truth.  Often, part of this routine if for me as much as it is for my little girl.  Every night after I put her in bed, she will say “daddy, sit” and point to the bed.  And I usually sit there for about 5 – 10 minutes.  It is for me, I enjoy the stillness.  I enjoy the quiet and I enjoy the moment of peace where ideas and thoughts come to me.  This simple post included.  That is for me.  It is often the only 10 – 20 minutes, I actually feel disconnected from technology and away from the noise that is daily life.  That is a time for me.

And then there is the part that is for her, and it made me think of the Lord, our Father.  It is simply this.  He’s in the room.  You see, as I sit there listening to my daughter breathe and toss and turn, I do not always respond to her.  Sometimes, the darkness in the room hides her ability to see me and she will start to cry.  I often remain silent.  I do not rush in and calm her, nor do I speak.  I simply sit and listen.  It hurts.  It is hard not to solve her problem of fear and re-asssure her that “daddy’s there”, and this is how my perspective on God has changed.

Just like she wants to cry out for me, I often cry out for Him.  I often question why I am scared in the darkness.  We all do don’t we?  I cry out for him and doubt He is there, but He is in the room.  He is always THE Father and He is helping us to grow.  He is in the room.  He hears the cries, and while it may be naive, I like to believe that on some small scale it hurts when He cannot simply rush in and calm the fears, but we must grow.

The nights I let my little girl cry for me are hard, but she must learn that even in the darkness, I will be there in the morning.  She must learn that we have to go through scary moments in order to grow.  That while it is scary and hard…your father will never give you more than you can handle.  And we know that this is true.  As a parent, you learn to become in tune with your children and you learn their cries.  You learn the ones that are scarier than I simply need comfort.  You learn the ones that are pleas for help…and so you intervene.

As I have been a father my faith has deepened and been stretched because, there are lessons that you cannot learn until you are a parent.  There are passages in scripture that take on a whole new meaning when viewed through the eyes of a parent.  As a dad, I see my heavenly father differently and while it may be selfish, He becomes more human to me.  I sympathize as He hears His son cry out on the cross in the darkness.

I see him sitting in the corner hoping that His son will remember that He is in the room.

And we all have this same blessing and gift.  We are all welcome to scream and fuss and cry out for the father, but we must also remember that even in the silence…He is in the room!

Convicted…

Last week was a very difficult week.  I could not shake a funk that I was in.  I just felt like it was baby peaks and extreme valleys.  I battled all week to just be ok with how everything was going.  I am not 100% certain if I was overwhelmed with everyday life, feeling beaten down, or tired.  I really did not know.

It was almost impossible for me to even step back and celebrate small victories.  It was hard for me to be content with the simple truth that I was blessed beyond measure.  It just seemed like everything was stuck in neutral or reverse.  And sadly…it was everyone else’s fault.

Or maybe that is where my mind wanted to go.  Maybe that is what I wanted to believe.  I wanted to tell myself that no one really cares about how their actions affect you or hurt you.  But that CONVICTED me…

What am I doing, or not doing that might be hurting someone else?  How are my actions affecting those people that mean the most to me.  Maybe, just maybe, I feel that everyone has a problem with me because I simply am acting like I have no care about them.  Am I not respecting what they want or need?

I ended up waking up extremely early for me on a Friday and just sitting in stillness.  I read, I prayed and I was convicted.  It was hard to look into your own heart and say, that these things need to change within you.  It is hard to say, these things hurt, but what can you really do about it?  It is hard when you truly have to accept people for who they are and not for who you want them to be in your life.

I was convinced and convicted that I cannot change anyone and more importantly, I should not want to.  They are who they are and that can hurt at times.  People have been raised in different situations and different behaviors have been accepted as good and other behaviors as bad.  I am not here to redefine good and bad based on what I want or what I expect.  That is foolish of me.

I was convicted that the only person that I can control is me.  I must look and see what I can control and what I am doing that might be hurting someone else’s walk with Christ.  If I am to call my self a Christian, then I am a part of this thing we call the Church or Body.  It is hard to be honest with ourselves in this day and age.

Culture as a whole has shifted to the “it’s someone else’s fault” model or the “if you don’t like what I do, that’s your problem” not mine.  It is always a way to shift and divert attention from ourselves.  We end up finding more and more ways to remain in the dark about how to truly grow in Christ.  He will convict you of the things that you need to let go of and change.  You will know He is speaking to you.

The question is, how will you respond?  How will you answer His call?  What are you willing to change for the betterment of His Kingdom?

Struggles

It seems this week, that many people that I know and care about are struggling.  They are facing any number of battles from stress, to relationships to just an overwhelming doubt of their own self worth and value.

The fact that anyone is struggling hurts and makes me wonder why.  It always leads to that question about why do we hurt, why do we struggle with things like depression or anger.  Why is it that as a believer, I struggle.

Believing is not enough.  I am sorry to say but simply believing does not help us.  We have been trained to say tell ourselves that we will get through this and that we will be stronger on the other side.  We are told that God does not put an obstacle in front of us that we cannot conquer.  And we truly want to believe this and we want to will our way into belief.  But believing is not enough, we must put our trust in Christ.

We must not only believe the things we tell ourselves about nature, but we must also trust that through faith we will come out on the other side.  We must believe that the sacrifices that we feel we are making, are worth it and are what the Lord desires of us in this moment.

There is growth in the struggles and the pain.  The struggle is there to increase our dependence and trust in Christ.  It is not something that is easy to accept or go through.  Depression still sucks (I battle it more than I want to admit), but I am slowly starting to see that my depression is nothing more than my letting selfishness take hold of me.  This is in my case, and I do not presume to know what everyone else is going through.

But often my struggles come because I want to fight Christ or fight with someone else so that they will do things my way or give me what I want.  My emotional struggles seem to stem from this desire of mine to control my situation and not put Christ in control or larger not trust Christ with the small details of my life.

I cannot speak to what anyone out there is dealing with, but I can encourage you to trust in the promises of the Lord…daily!

Let It Go

Don’t worry this has nothing to do with a certain Disney song with that same title.  This is not a youtube video of me singing this…sorry, I cannot put you through that pain and torture.

I have been involved with several different groups of believers in my lifetime.  I am not that old, so I know that there will be many more groups that I will be involved with.  One of the things that I have witnessed in those years is the nature with which we cling to our faith.  We internalize and define what it means to be a Christian by our own standards.  We find what we like and make that our faith.  We take the practices of the brand of Christianity that we like and make that “the way”.

This is my admitting my own guilt in this matter.  There are things in the church that I grew up in, that I have made critical to my definition of faith.  If a church or person did not have these, well they really are not a true Christian. Some people grow up with that traditional church system.  And that becomes their norm.  That becomes something that they cling to and internalize as being one with Jesus.  Others might have grown in a non-traditional setting without a leadership system.  This becomes their norm and both sides are really really good at defending why they operate the way that they do.

All sides can always argue why their method is Scriptural and therefore good.  Each person has learned how to defend their stance on the issue.

And somewhere in all the chaos is this person of Jesus.  Somewhere in the debates and the clinging to our own vision of “THE truth” we lost sight of Christ.  We defend and defend when we should be worshiping.  We get caught up in being right that we neglect the Savior.  I have seen the “discussions” lead to people wondering about their brothers and sisters walk.  Are they really saved?  How can they call themselves a Christian?

And in that regard, I pull you back to Christ.  I encourage everyone to stop looking to be right and start looking to grow closer to Christ.  If the traditions and practices of your church or faith group or whatever term you use, allow you to grow closer to Christ and have a fuller understanding of Him then please continue growing in that manner.  I encourage all of us believers to be open to that moving of the Lord as He works.  If the practices of your group are a barrier to you hearing His voice, then it is time to re-evaluate the entire situation.

I am writing this to encourage all of us to stop clinging to the things of our faith and make sure that we are all growing closer to Christ.  Just because someone questions the way that you worship, please don’t take it as a personal attack or make it your job to validate your own practices.  If you are growing closer to Christ and there is fruit, then keep bearing good fruit.  BUT at the same time, do not think that the other person needs to be set straight.

Because through all the fighting you are missing the fact that Jesus is in the room wanting to share something with you.  Remove the distractions that keep you from getting closer to Him!

Tonight I Didn’t Go To Bible Study…

Tonight, I did not go to Bible Study.  I pulled myself out of the loop.  I had a really rough and long day.  In the past, I might have run to this group and put on the happy face, shared my stories, my revelations, and all things me!  I could have read the chapters and been just fine.  I probably would have even been encouraged and touched by many of the brothers and sisters that are in the group because there hearts are there.

But tonight I didn’t go to Bible study…and I am still standing.  Lightning didn’t strike me down and more importantly than anything…I felt like I finally got some real time to experience Christ.

I had a terrible day and needed the Lord to do something.  I had felt abandoned and abused and on the drive home…I was reminded of the gift that is a marriage and parenthood.  The Lord tapped my shoulder and said…no matter how bad your day, I have given you these people to come home to.  They love you in spite of your flaws.  They have learned to love you and see you the same way I do…as “perfect”.  Just as you have chosen me…they have chosen you.  They trust you to be a leader in the house and set an example for them.  You not only represent them, but you represent Me.  You had better decide to love like I love.

I started to perk up and not feel quite so down.  So I rejoiced a little…and sat in silence hoping to hear more.  One might call this prayer – only I didn’t say much.

Again, I “heard” some truth…I realized it isn’t about church services and Bible studies.  It is not about religious activity but about sharing Christ.  It is not about always talking about Him.  It is not about the Scriptures I have memorized or can use to demonstrate my superiority.  It is about “sharing” or revealing or living out of Christ.  It is about Christ and when you love people, you are sharing Him.  When you choose not to judge, you are sharing Him.  When you choose to listen, you are sharing Him.  When you choose to put yourself on the cross for 15 minutes and be what one person needs you are sharing Him.

The biggest thing that kind of struck me, is they might not even know you are sharing Him with them.  He has changed me, and that is what I am sharing.  I am sharing the new me…and He is the builder of that new me.  People need to know that they are loved…unconditionally.  And that includes me.  And that is something I can do…if I am willing to let Him live through me.

And ultimately, I ended up at the Subverisve blog…It was refreshing to be reminded that I am valuable to the Body as a whole.  That while the world may dump on me, possibly even reject me, there is a place for me in the Kingdom…and bigger than that, I am a vital piece of this thing known as the Church.   I have been at the center of many a discussion or debate about the “right” way to do church.  Is it with a pastor or is it in the living room?  And tonight, I cannot say that one way is the right way, but I can say that if it points you to Christ and I mean makes Him come alive in You, then that is where you need to be.  If your church experience leaves you with knowledge and no fire or passion for the son of God, then you might want to re-evaluate where you are at.  If you cannot share the Christ that is in you, in your church world…then maybe you have to move on.  If your church life sends you out into the world feeling empty and forsaken, then it is not Christ.  The power of the Spirit from Christ will send us each out into the world ready to share Him with all.  It will allow us to love with grace and compassion.

I am reminded of a lyric from one of my favorite artists…Andrew Peterson.  In a song about marriage he has a line that goes:

“The only way to find your life, is to lay your own life down.  And I believe that’s an easy price for the life that WE have found”

I know the song is about the marriage between a man and a wife, but it is also about the marriage between Christ and the church.

The only way we find our life, that is our life in Christ, is to lay our earthly life down.  And I believe that’s an easy price to pay for the life that WE, a united body of Christ with one another and with Christ, have found.

 

Nobody Puts Jesus in the Corner

I am writing this as a reminder to myself.  I am saddened by the state of this thing we call Christianity.  Or maybe it is just that everyday, it seems as if this thing we call the church gets more and more dirt on its dress.  There is division and infighting, debates and arguments.  We have become a group that “knows” all the answers and yet knows absolutely nothing.  We are a group of bickering siblings fighting about which one daddy loves the most.

What I am about to say is directed at no one in particular, and it is directed at everyone.  It is directed squarely at the man in the mirror as well.  It is directed at those who attend a traditional church or those who find themselves in a home church, or an organic church, or however they want to define their Christian community. Are we pointing people to Christ?  Are we building him up?  As a father of a two year old, are we behaving and acting in a manner in which we are setting the best possible example for them?  Is the way we treat each other a manner that will encourage our children to actually want to know this man Jesus?

I am sorry to say this but in our quest to know Christ, it seems that we have become obsessed with knowing the facts of Christ.  At times, it seems that our causes become idols standing squarely in the way of people knowing and growing closer to Christ.  We put making people think like us, be like us, find Christ like us, worship like us, anything like us a barrier to knowing the real person of Jesus Christ.

We have become a group of people that sit in rooms and fight over trivial things while Jesus sits in the corner waiting for us to see Him and choose Him.  He sits there quietly waiting for us to turn to Him and stop talking.  He is sitting there like the parent of those bickering siblings wanting to scream “Are you finished?  Are you ready to listen to me?  Are you ready for me to share with you or do you want to keep going back and forth like you are…I’ll wait.”

So I encourage everyone to look within themselves and figure out what needs to be left at the cross.  What are you clinging on to that is inhibiting Christ from being known through you?  Are you willing to put them at the cross and let them die so that Christ might once again take His place as the Head of His Church?

Be Different…Be Relevant…Be Real!

We like to talk…I like to talk.  I like to think that what I am saying is relevant.  I like to believe that what I am sharing IS for the Lord, but I have a confession.  A lot of the time, it probably isn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I dress it up in a nice Christian package.  I will use words like Jesus, Holy Spirit, love, forgiveness, and abide.

BUT…

The words are hollow because no one needs to hear them.  In a continuation from my last post..it is time that the words we share are relevant and not just a simple regurgitation of other things we have heard.  It is time that what we share is not something that we have said 100+ times and always seemed to get a pat on the back for.  It is time to be different…be relevant and be real.

That is to say that when we look at the verses in Scripture that encourage all to share when we gather, we take those seriously.  But we have to share what is being revealed to us.  We have to share the questions that arise in our weekly walks, in our daily walks.  We have to quit looking at the Bible, just to simply…well…look at the Bible.

I am guilty and I confess this to all my brothers and sisters out there, that I have, on occasion, phoned it in.  This though is my call and request that we finally commit to changing the script.  We have to care about those in our communities and the times that we are together needs to add to their needs being met.

I have found myself frustrated lately with things like prayer requests that only last a week.  A brother or sister will ask for prayer, only to have that request forgotten the next time we get together.  Another member in the body may be struggling with someone else during the week and we ignore it because it was not on the schedule for this week.  We must continue to read our assigned book, or to read our assigned Scriptures.  The whole time we ignore a real need that is in our midst.

It is time to be different…be relevant…be real!

If we want to witness Christ moving, we have to do two things.  The first is that we have to be honest with our brothers and sisters about what we might be struggling with…AND we as a body have to move and act on those needs.  When the Lord shows you something, share it…someone might need that reminder.  When you have a need…share it…someone might be able to meet it.  OR maybe we can meet it together.

If we are truly going to be the manifestation of Christ in this world, we have to stop being in love with the sound of our own voices…we have to stop thinking that we are simply here to share our knowledge.  We have to be like Christ and actually be in the world.  We have to be in the lives of our brothers and sisters.  We have to share our lives with our brothers and sisters.

We have to be willing to be different…be relevant…and be real…with one another.  God Bless!