Tired of Waiting…the AcheDeepInsideOurSoul

The greatest single threat to a family’s health… is divorce.

As a pastor and a parent, I get it.  We all understand the temptation that promises to bring excitement and passion when we feel ‘nothing’. The allure of being free again….to leave what we have for something… ‘better’.

NBC – source

But sometimes we get tired of trying.

We just wear out inside. No more desire. No more determination to stay… we just surrender to the dull and relentless… and seriously consider its time to simply ‘give-up’.

 

We feel only a little…  and it all adds up to just an empty AcheDeepInsideourSoul.

St. Augustine tells it like it is in his classic, “the Confessions” … “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” (source link)

For those who are grieving… those who lost a spouse… a parent, or a child. The grief that consumes is identical in its impact to our psyche as when a marriage runs off the rails… For those reading who are openly contemplating divorce… the truth is, you’re already grieving.  In your sorrow, you can lose all sense of time or purpose. You can lose your colors and taste, no flavor… personality dried up. We simply ‘exist’.

The need to ‘feel’ again is overwhelming. It scares us. 

In those moments of panic and desperation we turn to everykindofcrazy option. Cutting, drugs, sex, alcohol, work, ministry, friends ,cars, boats, exercise, gardening, books, movies, music, porn, you name… if you hurt badly enough…  we give it a whirl.

The solution to the “AcheDeepInsideOurSoul” isn’t obvious or easy. It’s not ‘more’… but ‘less’. 

We can’t fill up our empty spaces with stuff, or pleasure, or pain… we can’t get back to being whole again by doing more or owning nicer things.

source – Readers Digest

Our pain is only resolved by living with less. Less of us. Less of me… more of God. 

We start a terrible and dangerous spiral down when we keep insisting on getting what we always wanted. We look at the stuff we don’t have and then we start a checklist of all the things that will be better without someone else holding us back… or weighing us down.

If we were free to do and be and go…  would we be happier…. ? Or would we be more MISERABLE?

Here’s what I’ve learned….To fill the empty ache, you need to shift your focus. When we give up our rights, and our petty little wrongs…we gain life. Real life. Jesus said that. He meant it. 

Take whatever it is in your life your so weary of.  That thing you’re so tired of waiting for… Maybe it’s the option to walk away from an empty marriage or a dead-end job that you know you’re supposed to keep. Are you willing to consider another option?

Would you take another day… another week and sincerely ask (Pray) for God’s help?

Do something radical… don’t run away… trust God and stay. What if you chose to sacrifice your ‘wants for someone else’s needs? What would God do with such an act of faith?

(Disclaimer – It takes 2 to make a relationship work, and if you are the only one who wants to try, you’re going to have to pray for a change of heart in your spouse – and there are definite times to walk away from marriage – abuse – infidelity – addictions etc… God knows your specific circumstance – ask Him – listen – wait – He’ll show you what to do)

You won’t regret it and neither will your family…

Peace out, Pastor Brad.

Need some extra encouragement and practical support? … Check out a “Weekend to Remember” with Family Life.

 

 

 

 

Finish strong

Being a family is like running a very long – long – long way… think a long-distance marathon… not a sprint.

source – podiatry.com

For those who didn’t run track… Parenting is more like getting a Ph.D. A long – very expensive – time-consuming – exhausting and overwhelmingly difficult pursuit.  Add marriage to that mix and you’re effectively getting a double Ph.D at the same time. 🙂

It’s a really big deal to get married and start a family.

I think we often underestimate the extraordinary accomplishment it is to live the traditional family life. Lots and lots of us get married. Lots and lots of us have kids… but less and less of us are staying married and even fewer have been able to maintain a healthy adult relationship with our kids. (source article

Why is that…?

Not trying to be trite here. Not trying to look at this from an elevated perch of maturity and wisdom. Truly examining this question as I reflect on my own life. Why is family such a huge challenge?

First observation; Family is more than a life milestone to shoot for. It’s a calling from God to fulfill. If we approach it as another ‘to-do’ on our bucket list of life, we may dramatically  mistake the obvious. If this is a ‘blueprint’ for living – as handed down by  God himself to the children of Adam / Eve… then it’s going to be challenged and resisted.

Second: Family requires healthy relationships to work. Healthy relationships require respect, patience, selflessness, and humility. Not character traits that can just be easily downloaded like a new phone app. These lessons are life-long  and are continually being refined, tested, and improved by the circumstances we share. Living for someone else is not easily  sustained. We can do it for short bursts of time, but with extended pressure we’re forced to admit how far short we fall. Grace may be most important missing ingredient in most long-term relationships.

Third: Family is all about finishing strong! It’s not how well we get started, It’s not about how few mistakes we make or how organized our homes appear to be… it’s about the determination to get back up when we fall. The resolve to never – ever – stop trying to ‘be’ a family. Our lives are full of dead-end opportunities, broken promises, and people who disappoint, it’s up to us to push past our offenses and pain. Like a long distance race, we have to set a pace to finish. We have to ask God to give us strength when we have nothing left in the tank.

source – muzmatch.com

I’ve done most of my marriage & parenting  ‘completely wrong’. I did great at the starting line, crashed and burned at year 9 and by God’s redemptive grace year 11 was a fresh start. It’s now year 26, and by the power Christ within, my faith, marriage and family are stronger than ever. (See my book; Roadtrip to Redemption )

It’s not that we’re blessed to live ‘safe’ lives, quite the opposite in fact. We’ve seen one crisis after another hit our family, but we’ve also seen God faithfully meet us in each desperate hour. It’s the strength of a shared faith and mutual determination to live out of a spirit of love and not fear…those factors made a huge difference in our family.

My prayer for you. No matter how bad you feel you’re doing…”Don’t give up!” 

Don’t give into the guilt and shame, don’t surrender your family to frustration and fear. God is present. ALL THE TIME. It may be time to shut out the other voices and just listen to His. After all… He invented Family and Marriage, He might just have some helpful advice to share 🙂

Peace out, Pastor B.

 

When our Faith isn’t strong enough anymore…

Debt.

The mountain of bills that spiked when you had your first kid, then when your AC went out you had to reach for a credit card to fix it. Then your tires all needed replaced and the dentist wasn’t fully covered by your work insurance. Christmas, that emergency trip to see your parents last year and a badly needed weekend retreat with you spouse all piled on top.

couple-joint-bank-account_1

yourtango.com – image source

In an effort to get your debt down and reduce the financial stresses on your family… you take a second job. Working after working so to speak. An effort to get ahead, to reset and simplify.

The IRS sends you a certified letter. Seems a return four years ago is in question. They want ten thousand dollars in back taxes for claimed expenses. The debt pile becomes a mountain.

Your life seems to be moving from bad to worse. But… this isn’t how it’s supposed to work.

Somewhere deep inside of us we always believed if we worked hard, acted with integrity… and trusted God, we would be protected. Provided for.

Where was God now?

The injustice of your situation starts to rub at your soul. Raw and open wounds spewing their pain and poison into the rest of your life. Angry all the time. Stressed, life feels stretched further than it can flex… about to break. 

Feeling the shame of failure creeping inside, we start to back away from relationships. Isolating ourselves we push others away and avoid any mention of God or Faith. The subjects are too painful to consider anymore. We only have the growing numbness. The shock of realizing that maybe we’ve been duped by the church. By the pastor… by our parents. Foolishly and blindly putting our faith into something that’s not really there… in a God who would actually care about us. About our suffering. About our…. debt.

I’m here to say… hang on. God isn’t absent. He’s here, right now. 

The struggle isn’t without purpose. 

The relationship you crave is real. 

God hasn’t, can’t abandon you. His character is faithfulness… forever. 

I don’t know fully why He allows such struggle in our lives… but I know Him.

losing-faith

lam-network.com

He gave us the Holy Spirit… the Paraclete. Not just for comfort and help, but to anchor us to Him when we can’t hold on any longer.

Read these words and remember the promise of God again.

Romans 8: 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV) Source – BibleGateway.com 

Claim it’s truth no matter what it seem’s like in your life. These are the words of God, not man. They can’t be broken or lost… they last forever and their promise is assured.

He is FAITHFUL.

Pastor B.

PS – PRAY… with your spouse.

The Secret of Adventure…

From the very beginning I’ve had a deep longing to explore… to be challenged, tested, and to discover. God in His great wisdom granted my heart’s desire… and made me a parent.

The secret of Adventure is knowing your already living in one.

AA Milne knew that. His pooh stories saturated with the truth of Adventure and the need we have to be on one. So is the Bible… it reminds us of the fantastic story we’re a part of . The epic and the insignificant moments all threaded into one beautiful tapestry we call our life. For us children of the 80’s… the Adventure was in a galaxy far, far, away.

pic source - moviepilot.com

pic source – moviepilot.com

Like all great stories, there is a sacred quest and a villain with evil intent. A damsel in distress and a gallant hero complete the setting…

Soon our story expands, as priceless treasure is discovered, needing to be protected,…good, and evil locked in a battle for the prize. Drama and tragedy set among the glory and triumph, we watch with breathless anticipation to see how the scene plays out.

Life is an adventure… if you see it for what it really is. 

Can you see your life as more than survival, or a test? More than a painful series of ‘checklist’s to complete?

Can you see your marriage and your love for others as a sacred quest? The priceless treasure…your little ones. Heroically we stand guard against a corrupted and evil world, fighting to protect their hope and preserve innocence.

It’s heroic, even inspiring to watch as we parents learn to love and honor each other in the pursuit of parenthood. Sacrificing our rights and ‘precious little wrongs’ on the altar of true love and a growing commitment to serve someone greater than ourselves.

Ahhh… the heart of a epic story really is inside us all, just waiting to be discovered and celebrated!

Each family, each marriage can become a testament to the adventure God intended us to all share in. And like any great story… we know intuitively the ending. Good will triumph and the evil villain will get his just reward…

Unless you remember the story. Unless you understand what your life really is a part of… the adventure you’re in may only feel like one long moment of sheer terror and the epic hero seems absent. Don’t be confused, that isn’t just a battered and helpless carpenter nailed to a cross… it’s the Prince of Peace and the Lord of the Universe.

The truth is, your hero is with you. The battle has been fought and your are free to be as your father intended. Full of life and optimism, trusting the script has been written down to the smallest detail.. and you’re going to see the ending! 

Peace and Grace dear one… Pastor B.

the final Peace for your puzzle

Monday morning, 5:30 am. Alarm blares and first thoughts of the day hit like an icy fist in the gut…. Dread, Fear, Anxiety, knots of unease form as we grapple mentally with problems unresolved and coming up in our day. “We wonder …what is going on with my life? Things are piling up around and over me, heavier and deeper each year…everyone else is speeding up while I’m laying here stuck!

artsonline.monash.edu.au

artsonline.monash.edu.au

Gulping down breakfast and dropping the kid’s at school, Kroger, the gas station, and onto work… channel surfing the radio and looking for something to ‘grab’ for the day. An inspiring song, a great sermon sound-byte, promising news report on the economy….’anything positive to give us just a smidge of comfort, some scrap of encouragement for a day that seems doomed before it begins.

Disgusted at the lack of hope in the world,  you settle for a retro radio station and sip convenience store coffee until the demands of the day force back the dull ache that used to be your heart. We’re only dimly aware we might be surrendering our yearning for something ‘better’ to simply surviving.

Life, it’s crazy complicated. Family, marriage, career…they each demand all of us. Friends, bosses and children…all shouting for us to “keep up!”  We run and hustle obediently to get things done, pushing forward. Numbly we find a way to fit ‘everything and everyone’ into our 24/7 schedules, only to find ourselves back in bed… waking up with a fresh round of deeper anxiety and dread.

Whats happening to us ?

Couple of quick thoughts,

1 – We have to ‘remember’ our purpose. God created us, our kids… our friends, everyone and everything with purpose. We’re not random accidents of science and happenstance. Our lives have purpose,but finding the purpose in the day-to-day is hard. It takes effort and intentionality to rediscover your faith and focus for life. (that means time)!  Sharing your heart (fears, frustrations and anxieties) with God, reading scripture and hanging out on a regular basis with a community of faith 🙂

2 – We have to ‘trust’ that in our purpose, God has a plan. Our life circumstances are more than a series of tragic episodes. We’re in process, being changed and transformed from the in-side out. Faith means believing there will be ‘good’ that comes out of our suffering, in our difficulties God shows up. We learn to recognize His face, His voice and His path instead of the ‘other’ options we have.

3- Our hearts are redeemed. As a Christian, you’re living with a redeemed heart. God has touched you with His Holy Spirit, it hovers inside of your life, and inspires us to do great and beautiful things with our lives. It’s only barrier to full expression is fear.  We live as wounded and wary people, avoiding risk and intimacy in an effort to avoid more pain. But the truth is we’re designed to grow only by sharing, only by sacrifice can we become whole. When we live ‘guarded’ lives, we’re only living with half of our hearts.

God is closer than we feel. He’s touched us before, and He’s ready every morning to touch us again. To take away our fear, and pain and sorrow and replace it with peace. It’s one of the most important pieces in our life puzzle. Once we sort that out, we can start to see the patterns and beauty of our lives unfold.

Love you, Pastor B.

 

 

 

Fierce

If your like most fathers… it seems we’re cast as the passive members in our family play. From sitcoms to stand-up comedy, men are dismissed as less than essential in the modern family home. Dads, If you’re not careful, you might start to believe its true.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Al-Bundy-picture

Men are called by God to lead. Cast in a divine role as the trailblazer of life for our families and kids to follow. Granted, each of us has our unique personality and leadership style, some more behind the scenes and others extroverted…but all of us are called to reject passivity for something more.

I believe that ‘something more’ is FIERCE! 

fierce / adjective = (of a feeling, emotion, or action) showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity. – “he kissed her with a fierce, demanding passion”
Guys, how we respond to our wives, our children and our faith shouldn’t be passive, we can’t afford ‘laid-back”. It’s essential that we give our domestic responsibilities every bit of the attention, focus, and determination we show for our work, fantasy football leagues and  golf game.
Living out our faith with emotion and heartfelt passion is a “MUST” for dads. 

Fierce !

Fierce !*

Doesn’t mean we rush around with unsustainable fervor, but it does mean we lead in offering prayer at dinner, talking with our kids when they return from youth group, noting priorities in family calendars by choosing to put Christ first in our plans.
It also means we live with passionate desire for our wives. Showing our children how to revere and respect a lady, modeling healthy affection and appropriate intimacy with our spouses.
In following Christ’s example, we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. That is FIERCE love. Love that won’t let go, won’t give up and believes in the future being brighter than the past. When we take the lead in living out life, we’re supporting and assisting our wives in raising up our kids. We’re active in our communities of faith and we’re intentional about sharing what God is teaching and revealing to us in our devotional times. We’re doing laundry, dishes, and cleaning toilets !
In essence, we’re called to set the pace in our homes, to walk the walk with deep devotion and oodles of gentleness. Providing more than spending money and the basic stuff everyone needs, we’re called to be nothing less than Christ to our wives and kids!  Dads, that is truly FIERCE living. 
Peace out, Pastor B.
*image source, Pinterest 

Singing a New Song

My wife made me go and see “The Song” 

After fifteen minutes and a third of my buttered popcorn, I was hooked. Uniquely…. this film is based on the biblical writings of Solomon – mostly from Ecclesiastes and his more romantic prose, the Song of Solomon…. thus the title of this flick. Rated PG-13 and painfully and emotionally raw at times, it held all my attention for two hours.

A City on A Hill production, it’s a legit Christian film project that doesn’t “feel” like a Christian movie. Instead it “FEELS” like real life. With solid acting, excellent screen writing and fantastic cinematography, the Song has all the classic elements of a main stream Hollywood release without the gratuitous nudity and R rated language so familiar.

It’s safe to take your tweens and teens to see, the storyline is predictable and all too familiar for some of us, but it still grabs your heart as it captures the subtle struggles of romantic love and motherhood, marriage and fidelity in an uncomfortably authentic light.

The show is a hit for me, I give it four stars out five and recommend it !

The Song

The Song

A perfect date film for couples and a wonderful coming of age movie to take your sons and daughters to see. It speaks out loud and clear on the principles of love, modesty, faith and family without ever forcing us to endure the self-righteous-sermon-scene so common to Christian movies.

I hope you support this movie for lots of reasons! For it’s true to life message, it’s connection between an ancient text  and modern life, and for it’s realistic portrayal of romance! (not to mention so they can make more movies like this)

The Song gives painfully accurate illustrations of how ambition, success and motherhood can conspire to erode a couple’s intimacy and trust, a risk all marriages face.

Fortunately, this movie is more than just a dirge of relational regrets, the Song contains a wonderful reminder of the hope and redemption that grows from its underlying biblical roots! 

I plan to have our youth at church catch this one when it comes out, and encourage couples who are considering marriage or struggling through one; to view and discuss the movie with their own pastors. The Song raises great romantic and relationship questions for us all to consider and illustrates evocatively the words of Solomon.

I believe the Song is a well told story that can shape culture with its honesty, timeless themes and artistic beauty… it’s Good stuff, Go see it !

Pastor B.