Don’t wait……

Hello Friend,

I hope you are well.  It has been sometime since we have last talked and wanted to see how you are doing.  I have found lately that life events have been opening my mind and broadening my perspective on those around me.  I wanted you to know that while it may have been some time, you have not been forgotten or loved any less.  Through the past few years I have allowed my busyness and trials to move me more into a comfortable isolation, to which I am deeply regretful and deeply sorry for.

I wanted to write to you to encourage you and hopefully help to engage you as well as I seek to become more purposeful with others again.  This is something I have learned that I can not do on my own, realizing we are a people built to be in community.  Without that community we slip, become more self focused and, in the end, self defeating.  You know I am also a professing follower of Jesus as well, and struggle with the fact that I have not been loving others around me as I am called to do.

While I understand we have different views, as well as valuing our relationship, I want you to know I love you because I am loved.  We have spent a lifetime of friendship together and deep feelings result from that connection as well, but the one that most pulls at my heart is my lacking to connect more with you and share the love I now know, with you.

I know that with the family, new and growing responsibilities at work, trying to keep up financially and then with the spare time left over trying to meet other self imposed obligations, I feel that there really isn’t much I can do in the way of spending time with you.  This I am deeply sorry for and for my selfish actions in not purposefully seeking out our relationship as well as others around me.  There are seasons in life, but through them all, staying engaged with those I cherish should not waver.

I have come to see that life is not just a path we walk and just encounter others as we go along.  Life is also about choosing what path we take, and how we interact with those we encounter along the way.  Through loosing loved ones we have not spent time with, seeing those around us go through difficulty and finding out after the fact, as well as coming to the understanding that life is much better lived through sharing it with each other, can cause many regrets.  It is these regrets I want to stop living, and start living life more with you.

I hope that his letter shows my deepest regrets and helps to provide some guidance through my actions.  I am choosing to engage more, not be ashamed of my faith through not sharing with you and desiring to tell you, you are loved no matter what and there is a life eternal past this one where there are no more regrets, no more pain, no more apologies for mistakes.  There is a place where we can be together and be with others who love unconditionally, live together in perfect community and life is made new and right again.

Please understand that I want to be in community with you, but also show you the community I have found in Christ Jesus.  This is not something that comes easily or feels natural, but something that I am seeking more diligently for the sake of our relationship, for the sake of your enteral standing, and for the love I can not express in words that I have found and now feel for those around me.  I know that this may not be what you ultimately expected or wanted to hear from me.  I want you to know that no matter how you feel, or chose, I want to be in community with you because I care about you.  I do hope one day we can share a common faith, but in the moment I want to share a found love with you.

I hope this comes not to late as I have recently found I have fallen in this with a dear friend.  As I stare at them in there bed watching there last moments, I feel deep regrets, deep sorrows for not being there that past few years.  I do not want to wait till it might be too late any more.  It is now my choice as I keep moving forward in life, I choose you, I choose those around me.  I choose to purposefully follow the faith I so flippantly say I believe in.  Please choose this with me, and if not now please know that I am here any way, choosing to be in relationship with you.

Love,

Your Friend

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Generation: Convenient

I write this from the convenience of my couch,

We live in a time that flows with such possibilities that we are unsure of our future.  Many generations have lived through these moments, waiting, anticipating for a shift that will take them sailing into the future and unknown obstacles to overcome.  It is a time of wonder, magic and imagination that propels everyone into the bright tomorrow.  This of course, if the generation is willing, able and well instructed in how to grasp the moment.

It is to this point I would like to voice a concern that, in my unscientific and unstudied view, feel that we are doing a great service to the generation that will be set to take the stage when the next leap into the future occurs.  We are raising children of convenience, a generation brought about only due to our desire to do so and when we desired it.  This next generation will not be one that understands how to deal with the unexpected, because we are raising them to view the world on their terms.  It is no longer about how the world and events shape us, but how we are determined that nothing but ourselves can shape who we are who are.  We have the audacity to think our children will choose to be who they want to be only out of there will to be so, regardless of events around them.

Strong words, yes. Musings of a crazy person, maybe.  I have noticed however that what is fed to us today is a message about choosing how you want your life to be.  Choice it seems is the enemy, too much of it and people do not know what to choose, too little of it and you have a dictatorship.  Choose we must however, for ourselves and for the next generation.  However, I fear we are choosing to embrace that path of least resistance, not the one of building something constructive for those to come after us.  What the past has given us we willing receive, but I feel we are not giving back in an effort to help the future builders have the tools they need to keep the up the positive momentum.  In other words, we are choosing selfishly, not selflessly.

Be it politics, business, education, science, finances, our own bodies; we are choosing to embrace ourselves rather than each other.  The human race is not a race against each other, but one of unity with each other.  Where a fellow human fall, I am not sure we are willing, much less capable, of helping them back up if it would inconvenience us.  We would rather not be inconvenienced by family members in need, who are a bit rough around the edges or even just being around the ones we would choose to be with normally.  This world is pushing us to turn inward, focus on ourselves and choose only one thing in life, just you.

Ok, doom and gloom you say.  Every generation has its issues, let’s just move on past the rant.  I will give you that one, this is a bit of a rant, and yes, every generation has had its issues.  You look at most of those issues however and you see a common thread, selfishness.  While I would like to believe that we are no different and we are just noticing this played out in our times, I feel that it is more so than ever before.  The news cycle is no longer a cycle but just a fire hose of negativity.  It also stokes the very fire it is claiming to try and snuff out.  No one is the good guy any more, no one is the guide post.

This stems from the comfort that I partake in as I type this. I have food, shelter, water and a comfy couch with air conditioning on a hot day.  So, I am guilty as the rest of everyone else.  I am bothered by this fact however.  The current generation is at a cross roads, do we keep choosing just ourselves, or do we sacrifice a little comfort to help build and teach others to build a better future.  To show that while we inherited much, we want to build and give something better those who will come after us.

When life comes along, we do not shed the inconvenience, but embrace it and grow because of it.  When a major life altering event happens in our lives, we don’t try and get rid of it, but focus on how we can live through it and become better because of it.  Yes, theirs evil, yes theirs sickness, yes there trouble, but that does not have to be the defining issues of our times.  The defining parts of our generation should be how we overcame, embraced challenge and focused on how to make a brighter future because of what we learned through the difficulties.  This is not by altering who we or how we were built either but altering our perceptions of what we really can do and handle.

I would dare say that there is no problem so bad, no issue so divisive, that we cannot come together and just love each other despite the junk around us.  Love each other by being there for each other, shutting up when someone just needs to talk, having a dang open mind, and willing to put yourself out there to lift up a fellow human rather than just pass by.  It is when we just become by standards that we let the selfishness take over and allow the evils of this world creep into all parts of life and brake down a better tomorrow.

The up and coming generation is watching us.  They are taking our cues on how we handle life.  Are we going to keep showing them that they are only important when we choose they are, or are we going to show them that they are important just because of who they are.  We need to open our eyes, see what is in front of us now, know that we can handle the problems around and in us, and know that tomorrow will be better because we are not just choosing ourselves, but each other.  We are choosing to love rather than hate, life instead of death, and the next generations future rather than our present.

Good night and good luck….

 

This World is Not the End

Life seems heavy during this season of life,

Tonight I was humbled by a group of men that I meet with regularly.  These men are of varying ages, but the room is filled with wisdom found through walking this world for longer than I have.  While I have had my share of triumphs and trials, I am always humbled when coming together with this group of men.  It emphasizes more to me the importance of community where you can shoulder each others burdens and celebrate life’s joys.

In recent moments there have been those who have departed our lives that bring the reality of how much this life is a vapor.  So much worry, so much planning, so much time and money protecting our physical securities that we miss out on the life we have around us.  To say that this is all there is seems a very bleak existence indeed.  To say that we live then die and live life the best we can in the moment is just as discouraging.  There is no reason, there is no drive, there is no hope beyond the moment.  Moments wasted on this and that, rather than embraced for greater purpose.

For those of you who do not see life as a moment that passes then moves past your own existence, I encourage anyone to take a moment to sit and take in what life really is.  This is a big world, we are but a small being on it.  This is a large universe, we are but a moment in time.  These realities can weigh heavy with out something to bring us a greater reality.

If you would indulge me for a moment then you may return to your reality.  A world shaped out of moments and ending in death is a world void of meaning and hope.  A world shaped from hope of fulfillment, without knowing when, is one filled with expectancy holding us anticipating for a greater moment.  This is a world where joy becomes a reality in knowing that hope is based on reason, hope is based on the reality that there is something better.  This something is not irrational but one based from understanding that living in this world without hope is a dead end, thus there is no reason for life and no reason for us to be here.  In that line of thought, we should not exist because there is no point in existence in the first place.

So if there is no true existence, then we should not be here now.  However, we do exist and we have joy and we have hope because we feel drawn to there being more than what there currently is before us.  There is an innate drive in us, no matter how much we may deny it we feel there is something more or bigger than ourselves.  We may hide in politics, general religious activities, social activities, business, on and on and on life can take us.  Still there is a drive, a hope and an expectation of more in life.

It is in times of great sorrow and suffering that life is brought into focus.  Money seems meaningless, time is fleeting and moments past are held in higher value than they were in the moment.  We wish for more, we hope for more.  Here there are two paths that people take in these times.  They either dive into sorrow or look for something more.  It is here that the idea of hope shines through the darkness.  The reality that there is more, can be more and pushes us to realize there is actually more.

I have been honored to be apart of some lives recently has brought this reality back into focus.  Seeing those around me go through great trials, but hold to the hope of a greater expectation than they currently face.  A reality that there is more and it is real to them, and brings life into an other wise bleak existence.  This is not to say I did not have hope before, but a real live trying hope that breaks through even the hardest moments, that is something to behold.

Those moments when all hope is placed in something more, even after a great loss.  A hope that brings joy to the reality that there will be a greater day and a uniting that will drowned out and overcome all current vapors.  A moment everlasting filled with Joy and hope fulfilled.  This is an amazing reality to behold, and something more than a hollow truth of non-existence.

There is more, and I have seen it through my own suffering.  There is more and I have been reminded of it through the trials of family and friends all around me.  A hope that does more than keep us afloat, but propels us to a reality that there is more after this momentary existence in this world.  A promise of a truth that Heaven is real, God has redeemed us and we get to celebrate in that for eternity with Him.  This is the hope that drives us as it is built into each of us, even though we may deny it.  For without hope there is no reason for life.  For if it was not placed within us, we would need not live life at all.  If we need not live at all, then why are we here in this current existence?

I leave you here, and I hope in hope that the reality of hope is alive moving you towards the greater reality.

Suffering and Us

Just read one of the most open and raw perspective on suffering. It was convicting in that I have pandered to those who suffer, without knowing what I thought a kind word might have been, was actually deeply hurtful and disregarding the persons actual feelings and actual circumstances.

Second I was comforted in this story due to suffering I have been through. No one will ever know how suffering and pain will effect another person. We then are not to try and understand, but to just love and be patient with the person suffering. Yes some suffer more than others, but we must not weigh this in the moment, this does not help. We instead need to love in a couple different ways.

Love by not trying to give kind words that you feel will help, love by not saying it will all be OK, love by not pointing out other success stories, love by not passing famous quotes or mis-applied Bible verses.

Love by doing what Christ did, be present and patient. Jesus loved those who were unlovable by others. He just showed up, and was present. He listened, He embraced and He loved by seeing the person’s pain, not trying to cover it up. Lets love as Christ did, lets not try and help by masking current pain, but be present with the person in there pain. Even if we dont understand how or what they are going through in there suffering, just be present and patient.

We can all take comfort in Christ as He is the only one who does know and understand our suffering. For the rest of us, we need to rest in that fact as well and not be worried so much about what to do, but what we are doing presently in that person’s pain.

Here is the original post I read:

Suffering

Loving Obedience

Good Morning World,

I have been waking up early this past week, most of the time just laying there wondering why I am laying there awake in the first place.  So today I rose and went to reading my Bible.  This is not to say “Yay look at me, I’m reading my Bible.”  Quite the contrary, its been a while.  With life and school and work and……..I have put many things before my time with God.  Now I will also say that this is something of an answered prayer.  I have been waking up later and later out of exhaustion and a feeling of being run down.  To wake up early really isn’t something I am choosing to do, but something I feel God is allowing me to do by His power to get my lazy butt out of bed.  So yes, Glory to God for the simple task of getting me out of bed in the morning!

All this to say, I ready my Bible this morning and God showed me some amazing insights to His nature and ours as well.

Today I was in Deuteronomy 8 through 11.  This is a time that Israel is being prepared to go into the promised land.  Moses is speaking to them out of instruction as well as warning.  Remember that this is not the original nation who came out of Egypt, but there children.  This is a key aspect to Moses’s speech and wisdom he is trying to impart on them, Do Not Turn From God!

While this is simple enough to hear, it is hard for man to follow.  God is a God of love and desiring to teach us His perfect ways of living life.  Moses points this out in Deut. 8:5 when he discusses the idea of Discipleship.  God is a disciplining God, He is teaching us His ways directly.  He desires to walk with us and show us how life is best lived, and how to live it.  He is not a distant God who barks orders then stands back, no He gives guidance but then walks with us to follow His ways.  It is when we rebel that He then separates.  Even in that separation however He is just patiently waiting for us to return to Him.

This point is shown in Deut. 8:11-14 where Moses is saying to remember what God has done and to follow Him.  Also to understand that in our comfort we usually turn away from God and to those things we are finding comfort in.  Only when God is tested and His patience extremely tried, does He react.  He does so however in a correction, not a condemnation.  He desires all to come to Him, but can not have those who are against Him in His presence.

The awesome part of all this is that God is the one doing the work within us.  We are not righteous in our own right.  Deut. 9:4-5 points to the fact that God is the only one who is righteous.  We are not and will never be righteous in our own understanding or efforts.  It is only because God gives us His righteousness as He turns our hearts back to Him.  Yes we make the decision to turn to God, but He does a lot of work to get us there.  The glory here is that God is righteous apart from us, Deut. 9:6-8, thus He never changes both in His standing, but also His desire to be in continual relationship with us.

So simply putting it this way, Love God for He is Mighty and Just, Deut. 10:16-21.  God is a God above all others, there are no others.  We create our own gods in our lives but God is more powerful that His creation.  This is awesome because we may think our wills are strong, but they are in fact week as we keep turning from the very Creator who is Master of everything.  We are week in that we can not look to God and simply be in relationship and obedience to Him.  It is only by God’s love and power we are able to do so.

Lastly God does delight in our obedience to Him, in fact He imparts much on those who do, Deut. 11:13.  God loves when His creation, children, return to Him and want to be with Him because of God’s love for them.  Obedience is not a bad word, it is very powerful.  It takes a decision on the part of the person to follow and acknowledge God and His desires for them.  This goes back to the idea of Discipleship and that is how this relationship with God works.  Much as we train and raise up our children, God desires to do this with us.  This would actually be primary in that we can not train and raise up our children unless we first learn how that is done by the very person who created the process, God.

I will leave this there as my brain is starting to run a bit wild with all the thoughts floating around.  Remember that God is a loving God, who is Righteous apart from us, but desires to make us Righteous through Him and His continual efforts to turn our hearts to Him for eternity.

Celebrating with Reverence

Hello everyone,

Today was a good day.  I had some good news delivered today I had been anticipating.  Life just went well today for me in general.  When I got home, my wife had a very similar day with lots of uplifting happenings and feeling very joyful.  It was a good day.  Not all days are like this, most I would dare say I feel are not this filled with the many ups that were experienced.  Every so often though, these days break through the normal day to day, and even the times when it feels that depression might be setting in.

So why the title then, Celebrating with Reverence.  Well in amongst my happy feelings today I had a thought.  One that was trying to creep in and steal away the simple joy’s I was having today.  I felt that I should not be celebrating these good things that were happening.  Why? Because others were not able to be experiencing them, in fact there are a lot of people who will never get this chance to celebrate as I was today.  To this I also had the thought, there are so many with much less, celebrating with so little.  Who am I to celebrate such big things and such awesome things, when others will not get these same chances.

Well, to tell you bluntly and honestly, this was the enemy trying to take this from me.  Today was a good day, today provided for my families’ future yet again in new ways, today I was able to celebrate accomplishments about my kids and feelings of life’s joys with my wife.  These are not bad things, these are not negatives.  The enemy however is strong and quick to dash these times from us, and I feel I give in way to easily.

I discussed these feelings with my wife, and she had some great wisdom.  It is not the point of being blessed, but what that blessing can provide for others through us.  Might I say I think I am married to the wises woman around 😉 .  She is right, all joking aside.  God does not bless us because we work hard, we do things the right way, we pray a certain way or follow the rules better than the next guy.  No, Gob blesses us so that we may bless others.  Does this take away from our joy in the moment, most certainly not.  However, this does change the perspective of that celebration of joy.

God does bless us in this life, even if we can’t or don’t see how He is blessing us.  It could be in the day to day provision, a kind word, or something we never saw coming.  He also blesses us in what we ask for, be it in ways we also were not expecting.  He however is not a Gene in a bottle.  He does not bless simply because we ask Him too, He blesses us because He loves us.  God also blesses through others in their blessedness.  We use what we are given to carry out His mission of loving those around us.

There are many dynamics to this, scripture I could quote to fit this perspective, and I could go further in depth.  I merely wanted to share a thought I have had in hopes that it helps others who may feel wrong for celebrating their joy with those around them.  We should be considerate of how we celebrate around others, because there are those who are hurting and who do not have the same opportunities or material gain others might.  However, those who do get those opportunities or material gain are able to bless those who do not.

So as the devil may be trying to take the joy from something simply as a good day, or to a major accomplishment, focus on the reason and simple joy that God brings us.  He works through different ways to uplift us as well, even those with much have difficulties in life.  Celebrate with God because God is a good God, not because He gives us stuff.  Celebrate that we are able to provide for ourselves, families and others because God does bless us.  Celebrate because we know that whatever we gain in this world, we truly do not need after we pass into Heaven because of God’s ultimate gift in/through Jesus.

Joy is a good thing, keeping it in perspective is also a good thing.  Celebrating is also a good thing, so go celebrate.  Do so in the knowledge of God and that He is a good God, One who will love us no matter what.  This is also what carries us through the hard times, the simple joy and knowledge that God is a good God.  A God that works in us and through us for His glory and glorious rescue plan for humanity.

Be blessed and celebrate!

 

Full Submission to Christ

            In all of the discipleship process ,Christ is central.  The understanding that Christ took our place on the Cross in a selfless act should be central in how our development occurs and how we reflect a selfless driven life to others.  Bonhoeffer described that any effort to hinder Jesus in this suffering is satanic, it is holding Christ back from becoming what He was supposed to be.[1]  The understanding that Jesus was rejected in this selfless act of suffering struck me to my core.  Where have I been denying Jesus His rightful place as He suffered to take the rejection of God away from me?  Also where am I denying the suffering I am supposed to take on in order to become what Christ has made me to be?

These questions have disturbed my view on becoming and making disciples for Christ.  The full denial of self to me seems to be where I need to work in order to come to full freedom of self and freedom in Christ.  Focusing fully on Christ in daily prayer, scripture and worldview is something I feel I need to become more aware of and focused on.  Even in this pursuit, keeping the focus on God rather than my own desire to develop further can become counter productive.  Letting go completely and just focusing on the one who goes before me is where I need to reorient my life daily.[2]  I find that I have bought into the fallacy that I need to know myself, rather than fully embracing and knowing only Christ.  I can never know who I am or what I am to be unless I give up fully on the idea that I could ever know on my own or apart from Christ.

Embracing suffering is central to Bonhoeffer’s discussion as well on the Cross.  Taking up the Cross as a follower means I bear suffering and not avoid it.  Only through suffering could Christ become who He was called to be.  How then could I ever believe that I was above Christ in that I should avoid suffering as well?[3]  As Christ prayed for the cup to pass over Him in Gethsemane, He came to understand by only drinking the cup fully, could He then pass from it.[4]  From Bonhoeffer’s statement I draw new hope, that only through bearing the suffering will it be able to pass.[5]  As Christ became the savior of all through His suffering, how much I can become in Him through the suffering I face in the world.  This to me is true submission and a desire to fully embrace Christ by holding fast to him and fully denying the self I still try to cling to.

[1] Boneffer 85

[2] ibid 86

[3] ibid 89

[4] ibid 90

[5] ibid