21 September 2012

A Prayer

Oh, LORD my God, surly you are great.
Your ways are the ways of uprightness, and the example of perfection.
You speak and the mountains melt as though they were ice thrown into the furnace.
Your power is greater than all the legions of the hands of darkness gathered together with one accord.
Darkness flees before your presence, the sound of your voice splinters the ground beneath my enemies, the hearts of brave worriers become as dust when they see your might.
 Wholly I am blessed profoundly and so vastly are my blessing that a lifetime of journey could not carry me from them.
 My adversary calls my name and violently condemns me to my face and comes up quickly to destroy me, but you my God turn your heart of compassion and mercy towards me, you deliver me from the encompassing armies formed against me.
You turn your might against my enemies and they flee until their feet bleed, and they cry at last in the far wilderness, tired and weary they do perish those who rise against me.
My God, my eyes do recognize your greatness, and my heart proclaims with joy overflowing your unyielding love. My table breaks under the stress of the blessings you have laid upon it, surly I am unable to eat even a portion of your rich gifts you abundantly poured on me for they are so vast.
 Of myself I produce corruptness and folly, yet your immeasurable grace you poor over me till I am cleaned once more.
Though you have just cause to condemn me, you throw the judgment down thunderously and it shatters on the ground and it is trampled on until it turns to fine powder and blows away forgotten and seen no more.
Joy overflows within me until my eyes overflow abundantly. I am tossed in a sea of doubt and frustration; drowning in despair I shout a cry of wretched fear but the sound of my destruction crushes my voice and I myself cannot even hear it, I desperately stretch my hands to you, and you answer my need.
 Your mighty hand, my God, it stretches down from above and lifts me up out of my darkest hour and sets me above the power of darkness geared against me, and from above I look down and no longer do I fear because I know you brought me safely to where you are.
 The powers of the world do rise to destroy me, but they find no strength to stand, and they fall before me because of your presence.

Darkness Swept Away the Details

The darkness fell down quickly within the cool autumn air as if it were one of the vibrantly colored leaves that were so quickly fading, drifting downwards, and beginning to dress the ground in a warm cloak of leaves, the earth’s vanguard against the cold winter months that were soon to follow. Darkness swept the details of daylight away; objects folded into the night revealing the bare face of darkness. Quietness pervaded the atmosphere leaving the streets vacant and entirely lonely except for the singular sound the steps of just one man made. His long legs took short steps that moved in a noticeably fatigued motion that bleakly grated against the sidewalk.

Where should it go from here? Any suggestions? 

16 September 2012

The Transformation

In the past my heart was broken and bled,
I was a lost soul falling into a fading future
No matter what I ate, I never felt fed
Nothing that I depended on was truly sure

I was searching for answers everywhere,
Heart so empty I could hear my lost voice echo inside
I’d look in the mirror and see only me in despair
My smile was a lie that I tried to hide behind

It’s difficult to imagine that was me
The worry, pain, and confusion I’ve forsaken
When you find the Truth it makes you free
The change that God makes can't be mistaken

No matter what the color of the skies
Even if they rained down from above
I will one day look into my Savior’s eyes
One day I will hear the angles sing of God's love

I have that as an ever present hope ahead
The weight of the world can't hold me down
The path is right and I won't be mislead
I am one story of many that speak of His renown

Awe of God's Word

There is no substitute for reading the Bible. There is no other book or book written about the Bible that compares to it. I have recently read several great Bible-based books and books about people living lives dedicated to an inspiring extent to God. The books made me laugh out loud at some points and cry at others and shake my head in awe. But, no matter how great any book I’ve ever read, they lack something that is difficult to define that the Bible only has. There is a depth to the God’s words that makes them so much more than anything else written. It’s perplexing and deep. Just a few verses from the Bible can occupy a mind for days or hours.

Other books have a momentary appealing nature to them, but once read, it fades away and there is little desire to read them again. Yet, the Bible becomes more and more exciting to read and re-read. It has a depth that can never be overestimated. Years ago before I had much understanding of the what was in the Bible, I had this idea of what it contained. The unfolding of greater understanding over the course of time has dwarfed my guesses of the Biblical depth of God’s Word. I am amazed at how I can still be amazed at the things that I read. I can’t name anything from any other author that I have read fifty times and still find myself overwhelmed with amazement and that I can still cherish.

God’s Word is probably only a reflection of God through a foggy mirror, which only partially reveals the magnitude of God, and yet the magnitude of that foggy reflection is an idea that I still can’t fathom to ever be able to fully grasp. If you have not read the Bible for a while, I encourage you to pick it up. Pick up a modern translation like the ESV or NIV, and read something that God wanted you to know. Think about it; think deeply about it. Don’t rush through it and breath in the meaning in long deep breaths. There is a world of perplexity, love, simple truth, and hope waiting to be illuminated in your mind, and to illuminate your heart. Maybe give it a read if you haven’t.

Do you relate to my appreciation of God’s Word? Have you yet experienced the awe of God revealed in His Word yet?

14 September 2012

OK Without God

It’s true that people can do ok in life without God in many ways, but for those who try, there is always going to be an empty place that God was supposed to occupy. People can stick a lot of other things into that space and it numbs the emptiness--but only partially.. However, there are certain times in life where it is absolutely impossible to get around the fact that we need God. Today, I was reminded of the fact that God has changed me more than I realize. For me, I understand why I’m living, where I’m going, and where I’ll end up. For people without God, they don’t have the types of clarified answers that I do. They may have answers the difficult questions such as purpose and meaning for life, but the answers fall short in situations that are very serious.

For instance, a colleague of mine recently experienced the death of a grandparent, then, a few weeks later, mother was gone too. Even for those with God, that would be very traumatic, but this colleague of mine is in a much worse place—one where God is a silly “belief”. When asked to sign a condolence card, I was at a loss at what to say. What is there to say, “At least your mother lived for a while, though cancer did end her life sooner than normal, at least she existed for the moment that she did, and she will live on in the memories of her loved ones until they die too?”

Being trapped within such a hopeless state of emotional pain, numbed only by time and perhaps alcohol until memory fades away and the bloody truth is forgotten--those thoughts hurt me to consider. Thinking about what this person must be feeling and thinking hurt me. Just imaging—empathizing—is more than I can stand.

With God it’s simple, still painful, but the passing of a loved one is just that, a passing. It’s not a final farewell. With God, life has a purpose and meaning. We live to serve God. God loves us, we love Him back. We get to live forever and serve Him more. It’s simple and explains so much.

What would you tell someone who believes and will perhaps never see a loved one again? What would you do?

10 September 2012

Live on Purpose

It’s easy to get lost in the details of life and never address the question written in the details themselves. The meaning of life is the question we can ignore, but it should be the first that we answer. Life should proceed in the direction that our meaning directs us in, yet so many people don’t have a meaning for their life, other than to deal with the next thing that comes up. There is no goal or reason for any of it for them. It’s just they do one thing, which leads to something else. It all seems so extremely empty. I don’t see any way that such a life can ever bring any real joy. There is probably some momentary fun, some laughter, and some enjoyable moments, but without an overarching purpose for any of it, the laughter rings out like an echo against the empty space of a meaningless backdrop. Why any of it? In the gears of the cosmos, what difference does any of it make?

If the question, “what difference does it make?” sounds depressing and is something that you would like to avoid thinking about, you probably don’t have a purpose for existing, at least not one defined in broad enough terms to be useful to you. Your purpose should be so deeply set in your mind that at any moment you can connect what you are doing to that purpose. Your life ought to be lived on purpose. What you do should have a reason, there should be something that you are working on.

I work on parts of my personality and disposition in order to build me into the type of person that I need to be in order to live out my meaning. I frequently catch myself engaged in things that are not a part of my meaning, as I should. It’s important for a meaning to be important enough to live for. A person’s meaning for life needs to be clear enough that it will speak up when departed from.

It’s not my place to tell you what your life’s meaning is. You should figure out what it is and you should live it. There is nothing more fulfilling than to meet the fulfillment of your purpose. Life only makes sense when it has a purpose. Any meaning outside of the real purpose is a lie that distracts just long enough to occupy the time. Time should not be occupied; it is the most limited of all resources and should be carefully spent. Live life on purpose.

06 September 2012

Offend People if You Need To

Something about being a human pushes us to believe that it is wrong to offend people. It’s as though we have a heard or pack mentality that drives us away from saying or doing anything that in any way could be construed as offensive.  On the surface, it sounds and looks like that is an ideal way to treat other people. But the simple fact of the matter is it’s not.

It’s important to be willing to offend people. It’s important to be willing to offend people because occasionally people are in a place where what they are doing is wrong and they are so convinced that it is right that the truth is offensive to them. There mind’s eye has become blind to the possibility of them being mistaken. As a result, the truth is offensive to them. However, not everyone who is wrong about what is right is so utterly convinced that they are right about what is right and they are open to suggestions that can lead them away from misunderstandings. However, if we are unwilling to speak the truth, then people who actually could change will not ever hear or see the truth and have the opportunity to shift their perspective and enter into a new, better paradigm.

In an almost contradictory way, then, being willing to offend people is truly an act of love towards others. No one wants to admit their wrong, but no one wants to continue to be wrong and have no one tell them about it either. Most people have been wrong about something at sometime in their life. The realization that they were wrong was probably unpleasant, but everyone who is honest with themselves would admit that they are glad they were shown they were wrong. So, being willing to offend people means being willing to step out and do something that is uncomfortable for you to do something that is uncomfortable for the person you are confronting in the hope that you may bring some positive revelation and change to that person.

I should point out that I’m not saying do everything you can to rub people the wrong way. If you are right about something and need to correct someone about it, there is a way to present your perspective in a palatable way that leads to the kind of change that you seek. In every way possible, you should do whatever you can to speak and to act in a way that leads that person to change. If there is a way to correct someone in a way that does not offend them, then clearly that is the best option. The problem is it’s not always possible to tell what is offensive to someone before saying it. So you have to be willing to say something that could be offensive, but try to say it in a way that is not offensive. It takes discernment and patience to speak to someone.
And whatever you do, don’t yourself become offended. If someone becomes offended and you become defensive to them, that only compounds the problem and will likely reinforce what they believe. After all, you are no better than they are. You became offended just like they did. If what you are saying is so much better, why do you become angry when someone questions it. Aren’t you sure of it?

There is a lot to be said about speaking to people in a discerned confrontational way. It takes work and understanding to season your words to taste good to people of different backgrounds, but it is an obligation to do what we can, and to make the learn how to and to make the effort to reach out to people who need help.

Isn’t that what you would want people to do for you?

05 September 2012

Outsmart God

The other night I was praying before bed per habit, but during the day I had allowed busyness to consume my peace and overrun the priorities that I thought I had firmly established in which God rests on the highest pinnacle among my values and thoughts. So, I found myself in a stupor of exhaustion after being thoroughly thrashed by a day spent relying on myself and spending myself out foolishly rather than take a minute to slow down and take God’s helping hand that is always outstretched towards His Children. In the moment of realization I started to pray for people other than myself, partly because I felt guilty before God for not giving Him the time He deserves, and secondly I was thinking in the background that I could make it up to God if I showed some humility and esteemed others’ needs higher than my own.

I was laying there eyes closed praying, and then it hit me that I was completely wrong in what I was doing. First, praying for others to make up for what I did was wrong. Second, God does not need us to “make things up to Him” he is big enough to take whatever we do wrong and steadfastly love us and forgive us. Third, I was somehow thinking that God would not recognize my heart in the matter and see what I was doing. After realizing what I did, I could not help but be mad at myself.

It was as if I was trying to outsmart God. God can’t be outsmarted though. You can’t really make things up to God. When we do things wrong, all we need to do is recognize it, tell Him you are sorry, and then do everything you can to change whatever it is about ourselves that caused us to err. That’s it. We don’t need to pray more, pray for someone else, or anything else. And no matter what, you can’t trick God into not seeing what it is you are doing. God judges us on our hearts, that is what He values—not outward actions. Outward actions are good if they are good, but good done for the wrong reason is not an acceptable offering to God.

Have you ever been there? Can you relate to me?

01 September 2012

Gotta' Know What You Want Before Getting It

It’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance of knowing what it is you want—to know what it is you  are aiming to get out of life. There is a lot of talk about finding out who you are, but very little talk about what it actually means to know who you are or why it’s important to know who you are. Knowing who you are is not passive information, it’s an equation that should be used to calculate the way you live. Knowing what you want is a huge part of knowing who you are. It’s really impossible to separate the two actually. Knowing what you want is almost a rephrase of knowing who you are.  I like saying it as knowing what you want better. The idea of not knowing who you are paints a picture in which one sounds entirely lost whereas not knowing what you want sounds like you need to find a direction for you. It’s a distinction that I think is worth making.

Now, the reason that it’s so important to know what it is that you want out of life—what it is you are after—is because you will never be happy with what you have no matter what it is because you will always be hoping and looking for something else even if you don’t know what it is. Having a lot of things will not make you happy, but having the one thing that you really want will make you completely happy. You can’t get what it is you are looking for until you first recognize what it is you are looking for.

People spend a lot of time guessing at what things will make them happy. They get busy running out and doing and buying things to complete the space where purpose should be. Having things and doing things will always seem empty and useless, and lack the required purpose that explains why it’s important.

Having a purpose and meaning for life is crucial to experiencing life in a way that means something to you. A lot of people avoid ever confronting their reality by hiding in one in which they are overly occupied in trivial things that are little more than a distraction from their greater purpose. So, in all of this my encouragement is spend some time figuring out what it is you want out of life. If you know what it is you want, then any effort that you take in order to get it will not outweigh the value of achieving that goal. Make the effort. Do the work. Know why.


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