Just a touch is enough

I’m amazed at how much we parents have to endure. If anyone had told us how much difficulty and despair we would experience as a father or mother, pretty sure we would have seriously reconsidered if parenthood was right for us. Kind of like the conversation we would have with ourselves about marriage. If you knew how hard it would be…. etc.

Parents (MOTHERS) seem to soak up all of the pain and pressure our tweens and teens bring to us... like giant emotional sponges we gather up our loved ones into a warm embrace, seeking to dispel whatever funk has stolen their joy and happiness. We soothe and smooth, reassuring them every day as we remind them of God’s faithfulness to make all things right… and new.

But what about us?

Who makes our hurts and woes go away after a super long day on the treadmill of reality in our parenthood?

Is it Facebook, Cabernet or the Xanax hidden in our cabinets that brings us our comfort and relief ?  Maybe it’s a warm bath with a fantasy novel full of romantic men and women who live their lives with passion and destiny 🙂

No matter your coping method of choice, it’s obvious to any who have dared to do it… parenting a child all the way is tough going. We get tired, we get exhausted… we get empty.

ac21doj.org

ac21doj.org

Imagine becoming so desperate for some relief that you would do anything, meet anyone… go anywhere to get help. Imagine feeling that way for over a decade… then you hear of strange new Rabbi nearby. Someone who helps common people get well. Probably exaggerated stories of healings and miracles, but out of options…you go.

As you arrive, crowds seem to flow around and over him, but despite the chaos, you can sense the truth in Him. If I could just touch his robe… If I could just get close enough to touch him… I could get relief, I could find help!

And so we read of the woman in Mark 5 who did just that. She simply reached out and touched his garment, and “He” healed her. The power of faith memorialized for eternity in this simple act.

He” is Jesus… the Christ, the living son of God. His heart is unchanged and He stands ready and willing to heal your deepest pain and darkest day with just a touch. It changes everything!

Parents, when life get’s insane… take the time to touch your faith again!

It takes determination to get through the mental crowds that form in our heads… strangling life and choking out our hearts. But it’s time that must be invested if we are going to make this parenting journey from adolescence to adulthood intact.

I’m strongly encouraging you to find your way to a community of faith that intentionally seeks to refresh parents and wives. I DARE YOU to take the risk of embarrassment and register for a weekend of retreat… see if I’m right.

Let His touch remove your sadness, pressure and pain over a weekend of rest. Watch and be amazed as He replaces your fatigue with Peace and certainty and Hope.

Your family will thank you… and your time away won’t be wasted. I promise.

Pastor B.

References:

Mark 5 (Biblegateway.com) (ESV) verse 25 “For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well…”

Women’s Retreats: – Daily Audio Bible (Georgia)  / Mission Chattanooga (TN)

Sluggish-ness in Prime Time!

Feeling a bit “sluggish’ today?

Don’t worry, me too. In fact, it seems the last few mornings I’ve been especially challenged by the alarm…digging deep to just get out of my really comfy, really warm bed. But the sluggish stuff I’m talking about today is a bit more nebulous… even cerebral in nature, it seems to come and settle into our hearts and minds and slowly rocks us into a mild hypnotic state. It leaves me feeling disconnected, and apathetic about lots of important things…

According to the FREE DICTIONARY; Sluggishness is…
1. Displaying little movement or activity; slow; inactive: a sluggish stream; sluggish growth.
2. Lacking alertness, vigor, or energy; inert or indolent.
3. Slow to perform or respond to stimulation.
Life seems to come at me so fast and so crazy at times, that my innate mental defense is to simply slow everything down and dull myself into a sense of nearly comatose consciousness. It helps me cope with the anxiety of a hundred problems a day and not enough time to solve them syndrome. ( i made that up) 
Some of the sluggishness can be simply the fatigue of physical exhaustion, but I think this is different. It feels like my psyche is trying to protect my brain from going into redline territory and my body is all too willing to simply cooperate.
I tend to drift away from important relationships and connections with my family and friends, from my community of faith and I start to look for ways to avoid social activities and talking with people. Then I feel like crud and my Christian guilt meter starts to blare a inner warning and I have to start to rationalize why I’m being such an introvert and that really does take too much energy, so I just watch TV or hide in my work… and remain SLUGGISH.
My tried and true treatment of choice is a three mile path at the local city park. Borrowing from my hip son’s iPod playlist – mixed with some of my own classic Switchfoot and Coldplay albums… I’m in my Addidas and out the door, at 43, I’ve learned that stretching before walking, jogging or any exercise is essential and before I know it… I’m starting to loosen up, muscles to my mind. I even enjoy the sweat and the leg cramping  as I breath deep from the fresh air while blowing out my mental cobwebs with some seriously good music! My 3 mile moment to reflect seems to do a functional “reset” of my mind and body…all in about 45 minutes.
It helps reorient my body and mind into a fragile friendship once again and the sluggishness fades away… combining exercise with a podcast or two of the daily audio bible (or equally spiritually nourishing content) and I’m rapidly loosing my spiritual apathy as well as my emotionally “empty” status. Nothing works like scripture to put my mind, body and spirit into balance and…then I’m ready to look at my life”head-on” again.

As parents, we can’t afford to allow ourselves to dive too deep into the distractions of personal reflection and pity, we have to be careful that we don’t picture ourselves as “victims” and mourn daily over our unappreciated sacrifices. We can’t linger on the pain of our 15 hour work days and often thankless kids or spouses.
We are Parents, the protectors of our families and the real – life, making a huge difference mentors to our kids. Our lives will slow down after they move out, but for now… we’re in “Prime time” and we can’t pull back too long or too far to just “recharge”, we have to develop strategies to keep ourselves fresh and focused and spiritually alert to the issues and demands of our lives.
Bottom line, we all need find out what works the best for our own personal “reset“, and then do it regularly to blow out our cobwebs and get ourselves back up,  moving… and out there!
Our families are counting on us !
Love ya,
Pastor B.

Giant Fear, the one’s that scare me…probably don’t scare you!

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m afraid of facing the Giant problems that seem to always hang out in my life…. finances, health, my kids, my work… retirement ! (you fill in your blank)

These are after all, huge and massive things, that are far bigger and stronger than I am and each one seems to bulge with muscles and bones big enough to crush me in a single swipe, unaffected by my pitiful resistance to their presence. The biggest of these GIANT issues in my life and most of our lives is the same core or root issue….FEAR! Jack-the-Giant-Slayer

So as a Christian, a parent and a pastor… I/we all have to face our fears if we can ever hope to live beyond being a hostage to those fears, restless with sleepless nights and repeated doses of Pepto-Bismo!

Some of my hugest problems don’t scare me, others do. The one’s that scare me, probably don’t scare you ! Nevertheless, you get the point. We can’t run from all our Giants, we have to face them.

The bible talks about giants… Caleb and the sons of Anak, in Hebron. David and Goliath of Philistia and so on… they were reputed to be more than fable or myth, but literal giants of significant size and super-human strength. Guys you didn’t mess with casually, so much so that all but a handful of men in the Old Testament fled their presence at all cost. (10 of the 12 Hebrew spies bailed on entering their promise land of Canaan because of these same giants, and an entire Israelite army under King Saul wouldn’t dare to fight a single giant who challenged them to place their trust and strength in God) jack-the-giant-slayer-banner-3

So, that’s interesting history (yawn)…But how do WE kill the giants in our life, specifically the biggest and baddest ones of all… like ANXIETY or FEAR?

Fear is awful. It grabs us and squeezes the air out of lives. Handling something as overwhelming as Fear all alone is a Huge Mistake (pun intended) ! However,  I do believe we can overcome such massive giants simply by making regular time in our schedules to spend with God. Taking time to invest in reading from the sacred scriptures, meditating on his character and in asking for help from him in regular prayer. (Free Daily Audio Bible Download Link) . Devotion to your maker combined with taking the risk to be involved in a local church family and I believe you will have every giant you engage on the run…

In the shadow of the bible and the whole of eternity…FEAR the larger, fades into fear the lessor… and then into history as you allow the presence of God (the Holy Spirit) to overshadow your mind and heart and re-center your thoughts around Jesus and the power unleashed at Calvary. That power is ours to tap. YES it is. Not a theory, not a wishful naiveté, but a legit resource to use in every moment of our lives. That truth of resurrection combined with scripture promises, makes for the most potent weapon we have to kill giants.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

(2 Timothy 1:7 Amplified Bible)

No other person on the earth knows what our fears feel like but Jesus. No other person on earth has successfully and fully defeated the giant of fear altogether but Jesus. Others have grown to be legendary figures of faith, guys like Abraham, Moses, the Apostle Paul and the prophet Isaiah etc…) but they all did so exactly the same way… by keeping their perspectives on their God and not the freakishly huge problems that loomed right in front of them, just like they do for us.

Courtesy - Chronicles of Narnia

Courtesy – Chronicles of Narnia

Superhero’s don’t exist… Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah does, and he alone has conquered Fear, Death and the effects of Shame & Guilt. It’s time to stop fighting giants all by yourself.

Invite him (Jesus) to step fully into your heart and mind and save you from the GIANT that’s paralyzing your life. Go ahead… take the chance, trust him with your _________ (fill in the blank) fear.

Then watch in amazement as your courage becomes conviction as you walk behind the one who has real answers to life’s overwhelming fears…  “JESUS !”

As parents we know our kids are really watching us and how we handle our fears is a significant example we can set for them. Good or Bad.

“Lord Give us the Courage to TRUST you and the strength to FOLLOW you” AMEN.

Peace out RTP! Love, Pastor Brad.

Closing thoughts on 2012.

An entire year gone…. just like that.

I remember getting ready for 2012. So much uncertainty, an election year… Mayan Doomsday predictions, economic clouds and fears of recession. Jessica getting ready to graduate from High School…. all just poised to come crashing down on me.

Funny thing, now that I think about the specifics…it all worked out just fine. Great in fact!

Seems that there was indeed a path for us to walk together through all of that uncertainty. Each week and each day we got up and put our pants on just like any other, struggled to be good and faithful parents, spouses and friends. Made some good choices and bad, but moved forward because we had no other option. FE_DA_NewYear2013_122012_425425x283

2013 is going to be much the same. Lots of unknowns, lots of new things to discover and learn. The question is always the same… are we going to give it a “Go” by ourselves or live life along with others? Will we pick up ALL of the burdens as solo acts or will we allow GOD and others to step in and walk with us through the struggles and triumphs of the coming year?

My prayer is for you to remember the goodness of God in the coming year. To trust in the provision and peace that God promises to us and to live each day with others. Not isolated and alone, but risking the struggle to live out our faith along side like minded parents and friends as a family of faith.

2013 is brand new, unspoiled and fresh. Don’t live in the fear of what can or might go wrong, but embrace it as an opportunity to find out what will go right.

Living vs. Surviving…. one is an adventure full of exhilarating peaks and valleys…the other is a dreaded, tragic and overwhelming daily slog. Including God in the day to day gives us the fresh insights and perspective we need to see the adventure when all of our circumstances scream “crisis”.

Recognize this New Year as the perfect chance to experience God afresh. Get in the sacred scriptures, read the words of life. Watch yourself as it changes you from the inside out… and watch as your family begins to grow…one day at a time. I promise if you make the effort, it will be worth it.

Daily Audio Bible  (Brian Hardin) is the best place to start your new 2013-  A FREE and daily service, it provides you with the chance to read or listen your way through the entire bible in one year. DAB Not alone, but in a community of faith. It will let you get as involved as you want, or stay as far back from Christians as you need to. It’s a no – pressure, no hassle way to engage your faith and dig a little deeper into God’s word in 2013.

No way I would try to navigate the next 12 months on my own. I’m done with attempting to survive life with only personal opinions and instincts to guide me… I’m trusting 2013 to a much higher power 🙂

Happy New Year RTP!

Pastor B.