Waiting for the other shoe to drop…

Ever find yourself worrying about why things are going so well?

Seems silly…

That fearful anticipation of what will inevitably go wrong in the very near future, waiting for the ‘other – shoe – to – drop’. A  day-to-day fear for some, a distant hovering apprehension for others.

However you describe the anxiety of the unknown, It’s real for all of us. I find myself guilty of pondering the ‘what if’s‘. Over thinking and watching for whatever’s out there and looming in the dark. Listening for an unknown danger just out of my sight, or something hidden over the next life horizon … a circumstance about to catch me off guard.

Why do we do that?

Are we just conditioned to expect the worst… or is it something deeper. Are we cynical and afraid because we distrust ourselves, not convinced God truly cares about us? About me… ?

Today I’m sharing some personal insights related to the uncertainties that torment so many of us. Here are three powerful truths to combat the unknowns of our lives. header_faith

  1. God isn’t trying to punish us. He’s come to save us. To redeem our lives, not stomp us in the dirt. Anything else is a lie. A deception designed to make us distrust. 

  2. Good and Bad things are relative to our perception in the moment. What may seem like a tragedy on day one can transform into a blessing within a few weeks. Faith is trusting God can and will use anything in our life for good. 

  3. Trusting means letting go of control. Anxiety is wrapped around our need to know. Being a Christ follower, means we’re surrendering our independence for His will, not our own. 

These 3 reminders are anchors for me on days when I can’t quite relax. When my heart is racing and I don’t know why… I can pause and pray, and remember the truth.

image - thelosthighwayhotel.com

image – thelosthighwayhotel.com

Parents, our world is full of crazy. Listening to the news can wipe away a week of rest in a moment. The mailbox might have a letter we don’t want to see from the doctor… or our kids might bring a note home that turns our stomach to lead. Whatever your fear…take it to God, remember these 3 truths and watch as it fades.

You’re not in this alone. To prove my point, I’m starting a brand new PodCast/Blog (Brilliantly Brave Parenting) with some friends at iShine and the TGA (Tween Gospel Alliance) to illustrate how everyday parents are living extraordinary lives.

Pastor B.

PS – Read and pray this passage of scripture anytime you need relief. Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) – Source Biblegateway.com  6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Guilty pleasures…

We run hard.

All the time.

Life pushes and stretches every free moment of our day. Work demands, school, sports, friendships, church, errands, bills, laundry, homework, cleaning the bathroom, the trash, the dishes, email, social media… the details of our everyday pile up and up as our free time evaporates. We never seem to catch up or slow down.

But when we actually do find a few precious hours of unscheduled, un-demanded free time… we may be confused. 

We can feel guilty. 

Uncomfortable with the unfamiliar freedom. 

It’s at times like this that I often find myself looking for something else to do. I feel so out of balance when life slows down that instead of enjoying the moment and resting,.. I rev up and chase after some distant almost forgotten task or meaningless assignment. Just to avoid the ‘uncomfortable’ void of doing ‘nothing. It’s as if rest has become a ‘guilty pleasure’ that I don’t deserve.

Ever feel that way…?

The truth is very different, the truth is we need rest.

The truth of God says we are commanded to rest every seventh day. In the Old Testament, we were supposed to take every seventh year off and enjoy the fruits of our labor. But we don’t. In fact we can’t really even allow ourselves to enjoy the few brief moments of unscheduled life that come our way.

Sabbath-2

Let’s stop rushing and filling our lives with stuff. Let’s agree to trust that our creator knows what’s best and start planning to not plan every hour of every day.  🙂 

Peace can be found in letting go of the need to be in control and resting in the assurance that God’s promises are true.

Simple as that. 🙂

Pastor B.

Solo and Silent… waiting and delay.

I recently had a chance to take a southwest road-trip. Unlike the other times…no co-pilot or navigator would be sitting across from me. I wasn’t meeting anyone at the end of this trip, no large business meetings or special visits were planned. I was solo on this run.

design by Jacob Abshire

design by Jacob Abshire

Landed in Albuquerque around midnight… rolled into Santa Fe in time for breakfast. I was feeling strange... like something sacred was happening, not my normal exuberant road-tripping self. This was going to be different.

I scrolled through my memories, trying to remember a time when I went more than a day or two all alone. Nothing registered. This was new territory, unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

I knew it was lent. I know Lent is a very sacred time to personally reflect on a deeper level about my faith… my life and the trajectory of my journey. But this little excursion was feeling a lot like a personal invitation by God to come away. To be still and to wait.

I accepted the invite…but with some hesitation. 

Solo and silent was not my preferred circumstance. I like to be stimulated. Music, books, movies, conversation, radio, talk shows, the news cycle… it all fed my ADD like crack cocaine to an addict.

This being solo would require me to expose myself to the silence.

It would mean I was intentionally clearing my mind and schedule to be alone with God. Not something easily accomplished for more than a few hours. The disciples weren’t any better than we are at it. They couldn’t stay up for even one night to pray with Christ in the garden. The battle for solitude and silence is probably more intense for our generation than any who have come before.

New Mexico - Feb 16'

New Mexico – Feb 16′

So, I had some ‘stuff’ on my mind. Things that were scratching and gnawing at my heart and unsettling to my fragile peace. Unresolved questions. Frustrations and hurts, disappointments, and delays that I couldn’t explain or understand. The normal wear and tear of life along with the extra debris that comes with any form of pastoral ministry.

It was important for me to unload and get free of the ‘stuff’  before it poisoned me. I knew this solo ride was prescribed by a loving physician and He was going to pick the places and things we needed to visit, do, and see in the days ahead.

I simply had to decide… who would be in charge ? Me or Him… 

I chose to submit.

I chose to quiet my mind… still my heart and listen for His gentle voice. I was prepared to let go of control… to wait as long as necessary to hear what He had to say. I didn’t realize He would test my resolve until the very end… and I didn’t realize how significant this waiting would be…

———————

Part 2 of this blog post will be tomorrow. (March 8, 2016) If this sounds familiar, if your feeling like I did… let me encourage you to read on. If not, you may know someone who is feeling this way… share it.

Blessings.

Pastor B.

What about Peace?

Candles glow, the Advent wreath is full of light, week 4 has arrived… time for us to focus on “PEACE”.

Ultimately that’s the idea behind our search for faith. To find ‘rest for our souls. To relax our clenched hearts… to wonder again. To be secure… to feel safe. 

Our lives often don’t feel balanced…tipping from one extreme to another. Too busy, too empty… too full. We search to find meaning in our wandering, to discover some secret key to unlock all the pain and mystery of our past mistakes, our current dilemmas… future fears! A key to help us make sense of things. It-s-A-Wonderful-Life-christmas-movies-2394010-1024-768

Christmas can be a wonderful time to reconsider our story. To re-imagine life as it was meant to be as we would want it to be. No illness, no shame… no worry and no pain. Full of Joy and promise, we long for things to change. We hoped for more than we can see…

Peace is that most elusive goal. A destination too far to discover. Yet we yearn.

PEACE... not a goal we can work to attain. 

PEACE... too far away for us to find. 

PEACE... uncertain, we’re too afraid to feel.

Christians… have a promise that transcends this life, this world.. even us. A promise of PEACE. Not a hope that we can grasp or learn, but a belief that our Prince of PEACE will come for us. That His PEACE can become our own. Literally infusing us with something ‘other’. Something we can’t understand or fully describe. PEACE in the middle of all our chaos.

PEACE in a world gone mad… PEACE in our marriages, PEACE in our families, PEACE at work. PEACE in our hearts and PEACE at home. candle-hand-blue

Christmas reminds us of the promise of PEACE. A promise that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s essential that we remember…CHRIST ALONE “IS” our PEACE!  A truth that changes everything if we let it soak in. 

Merry Christmas dear friend!

Micah 5:2-5 (ESV) – Source BibleGateway.com 

2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.”

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.

 

 

 

Ebb and Flow…

From time to time our lives get insane with activity… stuff we can’t get out of, things we MUST do. Life rages around us and carries us along, driving us forward as if we’re a twig sucked into a class IV rapid. We feel the helplessness of being “caught” in something so enormous and so powerful that our only hope is to survive.

wardgossip.blogspot.com

wardgossip.blogspot.com

and then sometimes we find ourselves gently bobbing along in some back-water eddy, calm and serene… peaceful and restive. The ebb and flow of our lives can be crazy – un-predictable and sudden, full and empty…  crazy!

How do we maintain any form of stability in the middle of our un-controllable lives ? Are we even supposed to?

Does our Christian faith provide us a way to live our lives without exhaustion… Do we have the option to live life only at peace and in contentment, or are we just as “out of control” as any other soul, swept along the powerful waves of life’s ocean ?

Couple of thoughts…

Jesus didn’t avoid the ebb and flow of his life on earth… He rolled with them. In a storm or in moments of serenity Jesus was completely aware and yet un-affected by his surroundings. From crossing a stormy sea fast asleep to walking directly into an upper room for his last supper, Jesus lived a life that never drifted away from his calling, from his purpose.

It gives us “hint’s” as to the reality Christian believers can walk in… believe in and overcome.

I say “hint’s” because the truth is… if we’re honest, we rarely feel like we’re living like Jesus did. Life seems to hit us hard and low, knocking the air out of us and then kicking us in the guts as we writhe in agony in the gutter, flattened from the latest tragic moment or personal betrayal we’ve encountered.

Jesus is supposed to be in us. He’s supposed to be God and able to deliver us from death, our souls from sin… and our hearts from despair.

But how?

Surrender…. I believe is the “magic” ingredient so many of us miss or forget. We’re so caught up with “FIXING” our lives, or “FIXING” everyone else… we forget that God is GOD, we’re not. Our lives are going to ebb and flow, get crazy and calm down… the one thing that never changes is GOD.

Our faith in Christ anchors us to so much more than what we can handle or figure out. Our trust is deep and eternal, fixing us to the ONE person who ever lived out life the way we’re supposed to. With Love and Joy and Courage and purpose and eternal destiny. As a Christian we are able to tap into His strength and draw on that power during our darkest day or brightest dawn. Steel-Serenity- lakeside pic

We’re not alone and we have a savior… not just a reprieve from death and hell and fear, but from a life of hopelessness and anger and frustration.

His presence frees us from living life at redline & provides us with the power of peace in any circumstance, a living source of love and patience and understanding.

That’s a powerful solution to a life that ebbs and flows beyond our control.

Peace out Pastor B.

When family feels like living in a civil war

Ever feel like your home has become a relational battlefield? Walking on egg shells to avoid aggravating one of two or three different factions within your own family… caught between offenses and unable to clearly understand or appease the offended? That may sound all to familiar.

How Much Media is Enough ?

iShinelive.com – source

Take Hope, there is a way forward… all it takes is courage and a smidge of faith that God’s principles really do work.

The idea of conflict and controversy and bitterness between brothers and sisters is as old as the original first generation family of Cain and Abel. It seems the “default” setting on our human nature leads us to become antagonistic towards one another…. without a Supernatural change in our perspectives, we will be doomed to repeat the mistakes of past generations.

The wedge that keeps getting shoved into our relationships comes not only from our fallen natural self, but from the repeated “nudges” we get from the enemy of our soul. There is a strategy in place to keep us divided, isolated and vulnerable. He desires to destroy us. It’s cornerstone lie to our heart is to believe that God is not “for” us,  followed quickly by a urgent selfishness; to look out for our own interests, before someone else takes what we “deserve”.

In a typical family, that looks a lot like the bitter frustration and anger between siblings that carefully monitors every “offense”. How many of us come home to a chorus of “not fairs‘” from our teens and tweens? How many spouses have to fight the urge to speak for our better halves as if we already “know” what they are going to say and think about a specific issue or situation… creating resentment and anger in them at our callous presumption?

Be careful… the temptation to allow yourself to be “manipulated‘ is high, the option to begin attacking and offending others is often overwhelming, especially when our emotions are amped up and our physical bodies are exhausted.  Even the slightest aggravation can set us down a dark and steep path of fury and frustration. DON’T GIVE IN TO THAT !

safianmediation.com

safianmediation.com – source

Take a break, walk away… and invoke the promise of Eden once again in your own heart, in your own mind and bring it into the circumstance your facing as a parent, a spouse or a co-worker.

The promise of Eden is ours to keep  if we want it. A gift from the son of God himself to all who receive Him. It brings “Shalom” to each and every life moment we live in… and allows for us to respond “Supernaturally” to otherwise predictably irritating events. We can speak with compassion, patience and love to those who otherwise would “drive us nuts”! 🙂

This is a CHOICE, a determination we all must make . We really can CHOOSE to respond to each and every circumstance, either in our flesh & human emotion, or we can “put on” our Christ like nature and live above the  dangerous and emotionally charged moments of each day, with peace and wisdom instead of regrets of red hot anger and resentment.

1 Corinthians 1:10-12 (Message – source biblegateway.com)

10 I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

11-12 I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves!”

So… as you read scripture (like the passage above), you will recognize the natural state of our world without God in it, a reminder of how “human” we all really are. If your living in a “civil war”, it maybe  time to  invite Him to become a permanent  part of  your home, if you do… I believe you will be able to re-orient your perspective and live with greater harmony and a renewed Hope for real and lasting peace in your home.

I believe you will agree…it’s time for many of us to have a cease fire. 🙂

Peace out,  Pastor B.