Finding Faith… again

Faith… trust, hope and purpose. As parents sometimes these get a bit foggy for us, we “stay calm and carry on” for the sake of our families, our marriages and our sanity… but occasionally we slow down long enough to notice the waning influence of a once vibrant faith, or an absence of real trust. As we start a new year, no one seriously wants to go forward much further with lives on empty, almost out of fuel and lacking clear direction.  

Finding Faith... again

Faith…Following or believing in someone enough to take the risk again to be vulnerable, trusting in something other than us… and buried even deeper is the childish hope that maybe dreams do come true or that our lives do have purpose, meaning beyond mere survival. These are the deeper motivations of the thoughtful and awakened mind and heart. For those no longer content with the day-to-day predictability of our lives, these are the wonderful rich but painful dialogues we have within ourselves. It leads us to really want, to desire, to be hungry for the rest of it. Only we can’t find IT.

Sort of like waking up from the most amazing dream only to be disappointed it was only a dream. Our lives can feel like that…torn up inside, under our masks by the pieces that are missing. By the fragments of our lost hopes and passions, misplaced along the way by the obligations of adulthood and the painful lessons we’ve endured at the pit of pragmatic acceptance.

No wonder we seek so desperately to escape.

We look for love in the lives of others, in novels and movies and songs that describe a world that we could only imagine. We run from one relationship to another trying to find that soul-mate to “complete” the parts of us that seem to be broken. We work an extra 20 hours a week trying to earn that next promotion or raise, believing so desperately that if we could just “achieve” something with our lives,we could make some sense out of the endless cycle of survival.

Into this mix, religion appears. Promising redemption and hope and unmerited love. Our hearts respond, our minds consider and our desire withdraws… suspicious of the cost to believe. When raising a family…its so easy to get caught, torn equally between fear and guilt and in that dual distraction we may leave one really essential ingredient for life behind…

Faith.

It’s the ultimate question for us all. We all have an equal measure of it, we all have an equal opportunity to spend and invest it in our lifetimes. The painful part is the realization that what or where we’ve placed or mis-placed it, could lead to disaster. Like the memories of an unfaithful spouse or abusive parent, the tyrannical or manipulative boss, the shallow friend who betrays for the smallest of gains. Life and it’s scars build dark walls between us and our hearts. Between us and life. Between us and faith.

Serious Question?

Is it time to try again… maybe this time without presumption of failure ahead of time? Is it time to ask for God to come near to you ? Would you be willing to go back to the beginning of your life with God and revisit the places shared and the dreams once held onto. That evening of worship at a summer camp before life became complicated, the day you were baptized. The day of your engagement or the birth of your first child. Maybe it was the darkest moment you’ve ever survived, the loss of a loved one… the biggest failure you’ve ever made, or the greatest regret of your life to date. In all of those moments, you may well find the Lover of your soul there, waiting, patiently for your return.

Don’t give up on Faith.

Don’t allow the pain and the past and foolishness of others keep YOU from the greatest love you can ever know. Yes… i’m aware of the pain of loving and being loved, but this is different. God is NOT like the others in your life, He is not fickle or cliche’ or manipulative. He is not bi-polar or inconsistent. He is steadfast, unchanging and He wants to know you and be known by you.

It’s called intimacy, and it’s one short step of Faith away.

All you need to do… is believe. Believe it could be possible, believe it could be possible for YOU, and then ask for it by name. Jesus… I need you. Jesus, I want to know if you are true. Jesus… come and be with me, inside of my heart, heal my soul and remove the broken and battered spaces that I can’t seem to.

If you sincerely seek and ask and risk to believe… I promise things will change. I believe you will find the elusive lost and ever so precious gift of Faith. Not because you got it all right, not because you made it church every time the doors were opened or make a massive sacrifice to earn the favor of fate . But simply because you dared to get honest and real and authentically asked for help.

Come on… take the plunge, ask for help and maybe, just maybe… you will Find your Faith Again?

Psalm 37: 3-4 (ESV-biblegateway.com)

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Planting a seed…of hope for the dry and empty home.

When we start this journey of parenthood, it’s often in the afterglow of a newly married daze and floats idealistic on our own beautiful and euphoric haze of a peaceful and loving future family life… um-hummmn. ?

Has that continued for you or do you find yourself struggling to remember the “why” of your enthusiasm for life, for why you wanted to have kids…for why you still bother to fight to maintain the faintest dream of being a happy family. Remember how firm our convictions were early on… our vow to be different from our peers, of keeping our marriages healthy and our lives in balance?

Our world has a way of painfully touching us with its dark tragedies, of stealing our personal hopes and joys one little piece at a time. It works relentlessly and energetically to remove the warmth of our dreams and happiness from our first months and years of parenthood and marriage into the chilled cynicism of middle age and compromise. But I want to give you hope,  it doesn’t have to be life on empty any more…

Most of us get bruised and broken when we rely on something or someone who is unreliable. We place our hopes and dreams on the escalator of hard work and dedication only to find it often stops at the second or third level of life…nowhere near the top floor. We trust that if we just maintain our relationships, they will endure. We touch our faith only when we feel insecure. Our dreams can be based on fictional lives, illustrated by books, sit-coms and blockbuster films, but if we don’t filter out the fake and embrace the real… we start to long for something that never was as if it were.

God is calling to you to help. He’s been calling for thousands of years. Gently, simply and persistently. I’m here to testify that nothing else can truly satisfy. Nothing else can take away the darkest pain, the aches of our life. It’s incredibly hard to trust that such a cliché’ is true, but please consider for a moment. What if Jesus was reliable, what if he was real?

Would He will choose to heal you and reveal to you His plan for your Life from the moment of creation? What if ? I believe…because he did all of this for me when I was broken and empty and out of answers. I felt His call and I took the leap, will you ?

His truth is calling to you… son of Man, daughter of Eve, will you hear Him ? Will you consider taking the one ultimate step of trusting in Him? Nothing else. Of laying down your conditions, your false expectations, your past pains and your ever-growing fatigue with it all… for His promise of Peace ?

If you do, I promise you will radically be re-arranged. An internal reset of your life will occur as your perspective of the pain, and stress and failures of the past immediately start to become testimonies of God’s grace and redemption in your life. He restores the lost hopes, dreams and joy of your youth. He heals marriages, and homes and renews our minds and hearts with the truth of His cross and its ultimate ability to recover all that has been lost.

Don’t mis-understand, surrendering to Jesus isn’t a magic formula that fixes everything in our lives at once, in fact following Jesus is no guarantee of your problems being erased at all. What is promised to us is contentment. From agitated and anxious to steady, from angry to peaceful and from despairing to hopeful. Not because we can solve our problems any better than before…but we because we’ve finally found someone who can.

How is that possible?

It came from a seed. A seed that was the embodiment of all truth and life and love. And from that seed, our lives were redeemed as it was put in the ground two thousand years ago. A seed that valuable was just surrendered, sacrificed and buried deep in the ground so it could grow into much more. The fruit of that first seed is still growing today, in the lives of men and women just like you and me. It’s the fruit of “LIFE”. It’s never fails, it never looses its power or its grace. It heals all who eat of it and it takes out of all who believe in it… the sting of death and hell and sorrow.

Jesus Christ himself was that seed, and His path for those seeking to follow Him requires a similar commitment of surrender, the call to sacrifice our preferences for what we “want” and a decision to willingly agree to let the old “us” be “buried’. To die to our personal ambitions and self. Only when we surrender that old self will we find that like any seed, when it falls into the ground and dies… its re-born and radically transformed into what we were intended to really become and be.

If we insist on continuing to do life our way and on our own, we risk living out the rest of our days trapped in a pointless struggle for meaning. But we never quite get there...As parents we often stop believing in our lives around our middle age years. So we quit trying, but most of us then mistakenly re-focus our hopes and dreams on our kids to become what we never could be in an effort to make sense of what we missed on the way… it’s painful stuff.

God is calling to you parents, not just your kids… don’t give up on your lives! Plant your life seed. Surrender to Jesus and doing so… discover LIFE !

God’s grace and favor to you as you like me… seek to “Keep your kids on the road and in between the lines of life” this summer.

brad.

Radical Investing for Kids…

Some of us fathers get sweaty and nauseated just thinking about how we are EVER going to afford for our kids college, a daughter’s wedding or our own “some day” retirement. With $4.00 a gallon gas, and noticeable inflation at Kroger, its common sense for families to be cutting back on spending, saving and doing.  My family is no exception. But I want to encourage parents to consider an unconventional “Radical Investment” for their families.

How about a vacation, How about a Road Trip ?

Yes, a serious and amazing vacation with your family that would cost some money and time and energy for sure… but the payoff could be epic. It’s a radical investment in their well-being and yours. I know you have little if any extra money right now… but consider this; HOW MUCH LONGER WILL YOUR KIDS BE WITH YOU ?

Sobering thought… is it four more years ? (for clarification, that means they would be finishing up eighth grade this spring) Is it five or two or ten ? No matter what the answer is… it’s not long enough. How can the time you have left as family be wisely invested ?

If your like me, you can fritter it away doing nightly duties of dishes, trash, homework, emails and whatever isn’t too vile on prime time television. Occasionally a family movie night or dinner out at Logan’s or an Asian bistro ? We talk about school, friends, church, local events or current fave’s on their iPod’s. But in the end it’s all very superficial and very safe. It’s Normal. Which in our society can be a huge accomplishment for sure.

But I want more.

I want EPIC. I want to “suck the marrow out of life” (Quote from the movie “Dead Poet’s Society”) and as Jesus says… “Life more abundant and free”. I want to live with my kids, not survive. I want to teach them to reach for the beauty that is ours for the sharing. I want to introduce them to our American History and endless western plains, to show them the indescribable beauty of sunrise at 10,000 feet and snow in July in the Rockies. I want to explore the undiscovered and forgotten places of our land and share the thrill of finding a diner that makes perfect pancakes.

I want to make a RADICAL INVESTMENT in my kids before they are surrounded by life, overwhelmed by the obligations of adulthood and the saturation of their hearts with worry and fear and frustration. I want to show them the “relief valve” that God showed me.

I want to model for them the amazing power of creation to restore our hearts and renew our minds. I want to show them how to sacrifice their time for their some-day kids and families. To emphasize the importance of being together in a sweaty mini-van and of sharing the last can of Red Bull of the need for each other and of non-electrical communication with other human beings. I want to prove to them they are more important to me than my work, my ministry or my own sleep. I want to show them the incredible gift of Life that God has for us and what it feels like to be ALIVE.

So if you feel like I do… prayerfully consider what you can do this summer to make some “Radical Investments” in your kids. Maybe its as simple as a un-expected trip to the beach, or a weekend in the mountains. Maybe it’s as complex as driving West for ten days or East for five with no reservations and no plans. Just  grab some clean undies, junk food and flip-flops, a map and some carefully saved cash. Just go… and go looking for real adventure and new life and shared discovery. GO. Time is a wasting.

Whatever it is… DO IT.

I promise, your family will never forget it and your kids will cherish the time YOU TAKE to INVEST IN THEM.

Blessings… as you like me… seek to help your families “keep it on the road and in-between the lines of life“. Oh and I have to confess… I LOVE ROADTRIPPING… 🙂

Brad.

Faith Dare

Matthew 19:14 (ESV) but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  

As any father will tell you… holding our kids in our arms when they are  little, creates a lifetime memory of that moment. It captures the strength of our love for them, of the pure joy and happiness without any guile that cannot be duplicated or replaced. I still remember holding each of my three children at different times in their lives, the look on their tiny faces of complete trust, love and contentment to just be held by their daddy. It warms me still to this day…even as I write this.

As parents, we would never just walk away from our little one’s, never allow them to come to harm from a stranger or misplace them, we are careful to cherish and hold and cuddle and coo and wrap them up as the precious and irreplaceable gifts of life they are.

As kids once ourselves we can remember the simple “joys of our innocence”. The days and years of not having to worry about our lives, our mortgages or the price of gas. We just took each day as it came, anxious to get up and explore and learn and live and grow with our families and friends and neighbors. “Those were the days”… we say.  

I believe when we choose to simply trust God at his word, we re-experience both the profound love and peace of being comforted by our “daddy” (Abba) father in Heaven, and the innocence of living life today, not concerned or worried for tomorrow.

It’s Jesus himself who reminds us to just  follow His father along with him, like we did as kids. Sort of like a toddler would, full of simple innocence and complete trust as to the motives and nature of our heavenly father.It’s really only when we allow ourselves to revert to such a childlike state of being, that we truly begin to experience the Kingdom of God for ourselves.

So, it’s no surprise that when we continue to try to live our lives as “adults” we live with such frustration and fear and exhaustion that we often just settle for trying to simply exist. We rise slightly nauseous each morning with the fears of the day immediately attacking our minds and robbing us of our happiness. We live off balance from the moment we awake until we drop back into our beds in a state of sheer exhaustion, hopeful “some day” things will change.

When you stop to think about this…for most of us…It’s truly a huge effort to even gather a smile for life, or to muster up sincere  affection for our loved ones or to take the time to genuinely compliment someone at work.  After all, we’ve spent everything we have just in the struggle to constantly push back the darkness and despair that comes at us from every side

Information is always interrupting us, forcing us to figure out how, when, why we might somehow cope with all of the terrible and miserable news of our world. I mean with the 24/7 / 365 news alerts about the onslaught of Economic collapse, Global warming, Natural disasters or the latest research about our kids spiraling Moral decline. It’s killing us. It’s strangling our hope, and our love and our joy and it’s relentless, insidious and oh so cerebral. It hints to us, that life is really all up to us to figure out and solve and fix… but we can’t.

What’s the solution then ?

Look to the little one’s… they hold the secret of living life well in their chubby little hands. Let go, and Let God. It’s that simple and it’s that profound. I dare you… I did. And it saved my life… Just like Jesus said it would.

Peace out,

brad.