Too close for comfort

I’ve had a lot of exciting things start in 2020, and so I haven’t been able to post or journal even for a while now. All those exciting things kind of pale into comparison to all the global news that has occurred in 2020. Right now, this Quaran-time is kind of weird on me. There are times self-distancing works and doesn’t work; I’m both alone at times and, at other times, too close to the people around me without an outside world to escape too!!

I’m enjoying seeing the community come together—lots of family pics, inside jokes, wacky stuff, and family videos. I’ve also seen a lot of ‘Please help me, get me out of this house’ as well. It’s crazy if you think about not leaving your house as much. There is no social gatherings, movies, going to the gym. And then there’s just seeing people in your home 24/7 until the unforeseeable future. I mean, you naturally had work or school as a buffer, but the buffer got corona’d, so now what are you going to do?

Matthew 18: 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

This verse has always been fascinating to me; its usually the go-to verse someone says before a group of people say this big deal prayer. A prayer that only God could miraculously do, and man sometimes it comes through, I mean do you realize how many times this verse was spoken over for a Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl win last year…. and then it happened. In all seriousness, this is a go-to verse when praying out of need, out of severity, which is a time we find ourselves in now. But I want to offer a different perspective to this verse than what is more widely thought of. If you take a step back, you see this verse follows Jesus talking about relational sin and how to reconcile even if it isn’t your fault. Then it is followed by peter asking Jesus how many times should we forgive, and Jesus basically says A LOT, and then goes into a parable about how bad it is not to forgive someone.

What I want to point out is that the power of prayer and gathering together in Jesus’ name is more focused on showing love and forgiveness to one another. There is such an emphasis from the Teacher that we should show respect to people and be kind that He would say that the power of Heaven and the Father comes into agreement with you when you are in UNITY with one another in His name. I mean, one of Jesus’ last prayers before He knew He was going to die, Father may all of them be one, as You and I are one.

These are crazy times; fear and uncertainty are in abundance. Family and friend units are close together, maybe even a little too close for comfort. But let comfort be overrated in light of what the Teacher says, be one, love, and forgive. I think that the power and the miracles we are all hoping for will come when people and communities come together and let go of comfort for the sake of love, forgiveness, and support of each other.

The Unsubmitting Bride

I had a conversation today where my buddy was telling me about Jesus as a perfect groom. A husband in the sense of Himself to the church and perfect as someone who still loves, and forgives, and waits for the one He loves even though his bride may never come back to Him. It’s sad if you think of it, this mainly one-sided relationship He exists in but beautiful in its strength and ability to show us what unconditional love looks like. To think that as Christians, we have a partner so perfect, so accepting, so good. So naturally we crucified Him.

I mean we really did reject Him didn’t we? Here’s the deal, I heard this week several different statements from different people who all want a relationship with Christ but are found stuck right now. Some of the statements are like: “Why is this happening to me”, “how can I get closer to God, what’s wrong with me”, “I’m doing the best that I can, what more can I do, I don’t know what to do?”. I think what happens is that we have our own expectations of how we should be unstuck, how we should heal, how our life should be. We’ve forgotten the part when Jesus says follow me, a call to completely disavow what we think is the right way and to follow someone else, a person who IS leading us in the right way. Unfortunately, it’s unnatural and unnerving to submit to someone. So we put some distance between us and our perfect groom, the one who is only there to help and do the work and want to carry the burden because we don’t feel worthy of sharing the burden or desire to give up control on how that burden should be lifted. We want instant gratification; we want our way. We’ve forgotten that in coming to Him, He is ready to give us rest. Sometimes we can’t unstick ourselves, sometimes we think we don’t have enough faith, sometimes we are plain old hurt waiting for a Saviour with a Saviour sized solution, but in all that time, we could have just sat beside Him and just existed, waited, rested, and endured. My point, my challenge, to take a step back from the place you are in and see how you can just sit with Jesus and just be, just rest and allow him to take your struggle. The stress and the feelings are real, but don’t let them allow you to walk away from the perfect groom, Jesus, who is all about loving you, restoring you, and building you up.

2020

This is a time of reflection and expectation (goal setting) for many. If I were to jump on the bandwagon for a second here, I can remember a time of great hope and joy when I was told I would be having a child, I also remember a time of great hopelessness when I was ready to give up my life. I remember the moment when I was days away from not having a place to live and then I remember days later moving into a house with so much space and rates that were given to me and yet beyond means. I remember a time being concerned day to day about losing my job due to uncertain times and I remember when I moved into a position that vastly increased my income/skillset/security.

I’d love to be more disciplined and effective this year and do some goal setting but, looking back, my past events were so jacked up and extreme of each other that I’m at a place where setting future expectations seems weighty for me. I’d rather set a present expectation. I’d rather be present, love without regret, be the encouraging friend, be the warm father… there are good and great and extremely negatively great things in store for the future, but the present is where the magic happens. The magic where you can change someone’s world by being present which almost always changes your world. I say all these things because when I look back at all the events above I remember never once did I walk out any of these events with having a very present and real and loving Jesus by my side.

‘Never once have I walked alone, never once have you left me on my own…. You are Faithful, God, You are a faithful ‘

Being at rest

A parent recently asked me how I did it, how I could be so calm, relaxed, and together while watching a toddler. I smiled, but in my head, I laughed so much… oh, if you only knew. This week I’ve been thinking about rest as I go through or hear others’ issues. Life is full of obstacles and hurdles that seem unending at times, but I am convinced that the perception and the ability to overcome these issues all lie with your ability to rest.

I have found that my ability to rest doesn’t correlate with my vacation time, hangout, or alone time or any other time designated for “me” time; instead, its the time I let go and recognized i did my best, for myself and others. I found that the time of greatest peace was when the worry or expectation at the moment sheds, and thankfulness and appreciation in the present happens.

Now, as for being the calm under pressure dad, I don’t know about that, but I do know I worry all the time. When a mother told me about her perception of me, I took great pride in that comment, but it was pride in what i knew had been a long journey. There were and are instances of my child’s life where I have great worry and concern, and as a father, I can not do anything to influence, protect, guard, or change it. I can’t count the hours or days spent in agony over these issues that I can’t act on. One day I had to realize I did everything in my power to influence my child’s situation, but what I couldn’t do wasn’t for me to carry. At some point, the reconciliation of knowing all I did and could do was enough that it brought a steadiness in my life for my parenthood and for other areas in my life. My focus had to change from what I couldn’t do to what I did do and continue to do, what my goal for being a father is, and after I made the focus change, I found myself taking delight in the present and the presence of relationships and even obstacles.

Jesus is known for taking rests. I never perceived His rests as self-care since it seemed to me He would always be serving or caring for others and then spending time with His Father getting marching orders to serve and care for others. But there’s something about thinking of Him getting marching orders that give me rest. He didn’t carry the weight of what to do or the obstacles in life; He knew His marching orders, He knew anything that deviated from them, His Father would take care, so Jesus didn’t carry the weight of worry but instead had a focus on what His purpose was, love and care of others. The disciples were sent out on their first ‘by yourself’ trip to other towns. They came back really tired and worn out, and you could tell because Jesus said to go and get some rest. Jesus then lead the disciples to feeding thousands with not much food or money to go on. (doesn’t seem restful Jesus).It wasn’t a hey guys; you look tired; its Sunday lets go to the synagogue and pray. It was Jesus wanting to show them a focus change, remember the mission, remember what is really important, feed and spend time with the people.

I think you can still love others and be empty (in your self). If i focused on the worries and concerns that I currently have over my child’s life, I would be completely paralyzed, and sometimes I do let myself get paralyzed. When I realized my goal was to give my child the opportunity to have every encounter and interaction with me, a time full of love and peace, that no matter what happens outside of time with her dad that she knows there is a place and that there is a father who loves her and protects and guards her, that mindset is all I need to not be defeated by anything else that happens. I gladly will wake up super early to see reindeers or spend every day at the pool for hours on end, or listen to her for hours talking about how she is the little mermaid and she needs to get a dinglehopper and straighten her hair… any thought or feeling outside of these interactions with her where she is valued, where she is loved is meaningless and probably draining for me. When I look at my situations with gratefulness and appreciation that is when my focus shifts from a slave to a father, from tired to a friend, from hopeless to I’ve been there and done all I can, I’m good.

My intent, my hope for anyone reading this is that you find your rest, that place where you can shift your focus from what beats at you and breaks you down to a place where you know what your purpose is. Where your identity rises above the meaningless and the draining but goes to a place where you can feed others which always end up feeding you.

Be blessed

Heartwork

I was off-kilter a bit and so I talked to a friend to see what was going on in their life. They were actually going through a lot. At that moment I told myself, oh crap, I really don’t have anything to feel bad about me like the world has so much going on. We ended the conversation with well you can’t do anything about the things that are happening in life all you can do is let Jesus do some heart work.

Welp. We never know the monsters that others are facing. We have this internal hope that if we can kiss this situation it will turn into a peaceful beach, sunny weather and all the rainbows and unicorns that go with it. But that never happens. We can’t do anything to change the monsters in our lives and make the disruption of peace not happen….but at the same time the monsters have no power to change us.

I remember how there is that Christianese answer that if you’re going through something someone will say Jesus as if things changed after that as if you could stop struggling after that. That was me then, now putting this idea of heart work where you can’t change what was or is being done to you but you can change who you are and how it affects you, I get now how all you really have to do is say, Jesus. All it is is a perspective change, heart change and Jesus is the master heart surgeon. God isn’t scared about the monsters on the field, I actually don’t even think He is actually concerned about them at all in His moves because God has made the checkmate move for your situations a long time ago, He’s just reminding us of that. The Bible says to confess Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, those are the two things that change your outcomes, that changes you being fixed on what was or is being done to you focusing on who you are. And who you are is someone in complete victory, on the beach with sunny skies and all that other jazz.

Taking down Giants

People know the story of David and Goliath (1 SAMUEL 17) but when it comes down to taking down giants in our life, we forget the story. David had a promise, God will deliver him from the hand of the Philistine. He knew he would be ok, he experienced it before in his life but when David came up to face his giant, he didn’t set out that morning to do it. He had loads of people weighing him down from doing what was right, what was good. Most importantly, that dude was not ready to sling shot anyone, he picked up the stones on the way to see Goliath.

When you are facing whatever giant are in your life that’s overwhelming you, stick to your experiences with God to what Holy Spirit has and is telling you. Don’t stop and compare why giants are in your life and definitely don’t let people weigh you down with their perspective. Listen to God and obey. As the prophet said, to obey is better than sacrifice. You have what you need to take your giants down, just obey and move forward, Jesus will most certainly have your back.

Figuring out how I should pray

I asked God, if I’m not supposed to be be anxious for anything/strong and of good courage/believe/cast my cares on you/let grace be sufficient for me, then when I pray what do we actually talk about because I find a direct correlation with how bad things are with how much I’m talking to You and You answer back. God simply replied ‘Other People’.

At that moment I thought of Jesus’s prayer ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done,’ and something about that doesn’t seem to be about me. I believe, I’m redeemed, I’m a son, to keep praying for the job, the healing, money, the pain, it seems almost excessive when it’s not downright complaining. But to pray the kingdom comes for other people, to pray open doors/peace/love/joy/patience/forgiveness for others, that almost makes perfect sense for me. Don’t get me wrong, things are going to come up in our lives, and we’re going to pray for ourselves and ask God for help. But from this interaction I had, I’m just thinking that 80% of the time we’re asking God to work with us to move the kingdom forward for others rather than the kingdom work for us. My confidence as a child of God is that my Father loves me, that He is coming after me. My confidence as an Heir with Christ is that we love others, and we’re going after the brokenhearted, the chained, and the lost.

The heart of the matter

I was looking at this picture of my daughter the other day, and I was filled with so much joy. Does she give me so much joy because she’s my daughter or is that something she carries, joy?

We know the story of the three wise men. These maji who come from a long ways and say to the king of the region, where is the new king of the Jews, we saw His Star. It hits me, how did they know? How did they know there will be a messiah, how did they know which Star was His? I am convinced that more than words can say, people can discern what your sincere hearts intent is. When a good thing is coming, when someone is doing something not with integrity, there is a discerning voice that tells you what the fruit of what you are interacting with.

Jesus years later, preached love and forgiveness. He doesn’t break it down to being good or bad but instead love and forgive. And those attributes would then follow all that believe in His name, that the true heart of the believer will always be able to find His way, His start, His truth. Love, forgiveness, peace, grace, mercy, patience, and goodness.

When there is no hope

Yesterday I lived three minutes of the most excruciating pain i have ever felt in my entire life. It was a three minute conversation with my 2 year old daughter that will forever be etched into my memory. I can’t go into details of the conversation, its just so raw, but she shared feelings and thoughts to me like she was a 20 year old. She shared her thoughts and she started to show so much despair and sadness and when she couldn’t bear it any longer, she reached her hand out to mine as we were both blind sided by this wrecking ball of emotions. I don’t know how I could recover as a parent but to my joy and dismay, she picked herself up, wiped the tears from her eyes with my hand, kissed my hand, looked at me and said dad it’s okay, we’re both going to be ok.

I reread a post I had written a while back, prisoner of hope. I am meditating on the ideas of how easy it is to be stuck and defined by the words spoken against you or the events that happen around you. What I have learned since then that it is not the words or the events that happen that are important but what comes out of you that makes all the difference.

My best friend came into town recently. I can not sing his praises enough, he is such a stand up human being . His story is so interesting and he is definitely not a stranger to the dark nights of the soul, but what I want to highlight here is that I have never seen this guy not give out 100% to others. Things can be going well for him or bad for him, you will still see an attitude of love and peace from the guy. Getting to spend some vacation time with him, I saw dozens of interactions with people that he meets and people just leave a little lighter, a little happier, a little better from interacting with Him.

I’ve been humbled by this good and loving man. I tried to walk a little more like his example, ultimately we’re just trying to walk like Jesus walked and with Jesus. This week I’ve seen tremendous differences in myself where although things were pretty dark, what I give out is love and forgiveness. Things have been rough, just like the conversation with my daughter but my reaction has an opportunity to give out love and grace even though I seemingly (in my own head or even in reality) am not getting any of those things. 10 out of 10 times, the more I sacrifice what i want to say or how I want to react with what I think is right or good,but rather give out love and grace to others, it directly affects the grace and love I feel. I don’t get this dynamic where I give out and receive so much more but its significant enough that I write it down here.

When you’re stuck, when things suck and you cant tunnel your way out, just give out love and grace. As little as it is, it’s so significant that you can see people’s’ lives change and you will most certainly see your own life change. This lesson helped me in my conversation with my daughter, it helped me pick myself up and just be there for her disregarding what I felt in the moment. Today where i want to lay defeated by week’s events, but I can honestly say, where I see no hope all I feel is love and grace, it is directly proportional to what I give out.

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock

I Love You 100

A year ago, my daughter used to ascribe numbers to how much she loved someone. The numbers were 2 or 3. I wasn’t secure enough to stay a 3 with the zoo worker who made the carousel ride go round, so I stepped up my game a little, and I told her hey, I love you one hundred!

The saying has become our thing, and it was long a thing before ‘love you 3000’. I said it to her today, and I looked in my daughter’s eyes and thought if she really could understand what it meant. That at any given moment, no matter where my emotional or physical energy levels are, I give her 100 percent of me, she has it all. Sometimes I’m at 20 percent, and I have to push it 100, but for her, my standard is always 100.

When I said it to her this morning, it just made me think of God. Jesus loves me, this i know, but He doesn’t have to struggle or strive to give me His 100. His love is constant and consistent and at times where I’m whining and complaining, ‘ where are you’ and what not, His love for me is the same. So when I think about Jesus and the way He loves me and how consistent it is, I think of how great His love is for me

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends