Posted by: zephaniah317 | January 14, 2010

Haiti – Hands and Feet Project needs help

I posted a couple of years back that I found out that Audio Adrenaline started an orphanage in Haiti, and decided to start sending them monthly support. Well, you can imagine what’s going on the past few days with the earthquake and all. Mark Stuart (lead singer of AA) is actually down there right now and has posted some information on Facebook:

 

Hi everyone….

Everyone here is ok, but we are all very scared. The buildings held up great, but there are several houses right around us that have collapsed. Also, Hotel Cyvadier had major damage, while the brand new three story “peace of mind” hotel was demolished. Francine, one of our teenage nannies was in afternoon school and escaped while the building was collapsing around her because she was sitting by the door…however many of her classmates died yesterday. Many houses and and buildings have collapsed in Jacmel including the hospital. I know most of the news there is coming from PAP, but there is substantial loss of life here on the south coast. We need prayer for wisdom and strength. Its very chaotic here. We were able to buy diesel this morning and hopefully get more propane for cooking tomorrow. Last night was crazy…slept on the dirt in the center of the village…away from the buildings. Tonight we may venture back indoors, but that is yet to be decided. We go in and out to get necessities. The Haitian people are numb and sad to say very used to death, but this has created what seems to be a hypnotic state. I’ve never been in a situation were you feel SO helpless, fearful, and small. The tremors are coming again as i type this. Whoa!!!

Mark

 

 The orphanage is near the city of Jacmel. Just to give you an idea, here’s a map (click on it for larger picture) of where they’re located (the epicenter of the earthquake was a few miles southwest of Port Au Prince):

You can read up on the latest news at both sites on http://www.handsandfeetproject.org, although the website news page is a little skewed right now and hard to read. I’d also encourage everyone to make a donation (there’s a “DONATE” button at the top of the home page. Just click on the “one time payment” option. I have to believe, despite the rumors going around about money being stolen in transit, that it’s a reputable site and the money will get to where it’s supposed to. Hands and Feet send me a receipt in the email periodically (although not every month) with pictures of the children and status of what’s going on. I sent a donation this morning and received an email receipt immediately. They are in desperate need right now in the Cyvadier location, best I can tell. Please pray and give as the Holy Spirit leads. Thanks!

Posted by: zephaniah317 | January 9, 2010

Enlarge My Heart

This morning’s devotional –

Side note, I found a REALLY GOOD morning devotional booklet called “Breathe” on Erwin McManus’s church’s website (Mosaic, in the Los Angeles area – great podcasts, too, btw).  Here’s the link.  I was able to download it (it’s huge), but now, you can view it right on the website, turn the pages, etc., including printing it out at home.  (I was also excited to find they have come out with a sequel, Breathe 2)

– was really cool.  Psalm 119:32 says in the NIV, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”  OK, cool.  But look at the NASB:

I shall run the way of Your commandments,
         For You will enlarge my heart.

First, that’s what I want.  A bigger heart.  I mean, sure, following God’s commandments are good for my soul, my body, my well being, my heart.  They’re not just there to make Him accept me or love me any more than He already does.  But, obedience to God enlarges my heart, gives me more room to be me.  To be more compassionate and passionate.  I’m not gonna go off on a huge tangent here, but I meet so many Christians who are so…afraid?…to embrace that their heart is good.  I’ve talked about this before, and John Eldredge practically bases his whole ministry on it.  It doesn’t mean we can get to a place of no sin or perfectness, just that we have the capacity to live whole, free lives.  God says so.

Second, it doesn’t say “walk in the way of Your commandments”.  It says run.  Reminds me of a Steven Curtis Chapman song from way back, “Children of the Burning Heart”:

We were the dreamers, the boys on the wild frontier
The new believers with nothing in the world to fear
We had discovered the treasure of the love and the grace of God
And it burned like a fire in our hearts, and we would…
Throw back our heads and run with the passion
Through the fields of forgiveness and grace
We carried the eternal flame
With an undying hope and a blazing conviction
Of a truth that would never fade
We were glowing in the dark
Children of the burning heart
And now for the dreamers, and those who have dared to believe
The flames call us deeper into the great mystery
For as we draw near to the Father we are lost in this one desire
To be wholly consumed by His fire, so let us…
Throw back our heads and run with the passion
Through the fields of forgiveness and grace
We carry the eternal flame
With an undying hope and a blazing conviction
Of a truth that would never fade
We are glowing in the dark
Children of the burning heart

“Through the fields of forgiveness and grace” with our heads thrown back  and running with passion.  I don’t believe this is just cliche’, just something that happens every once in a while, either, even though SCC is talking about new believers here.

What’s keeping me from running?

Well, the enemy, that’s for sure.

Other people.

Wounds from my past.

Fear and anxiety.

Unbelief.

Anything that I put ahead of God in my life, that disrupts my walk and relationship with Him.  It causes atrophy in my legs.  I can’t run.

Another thought that just creeped into my head:  I stumble occasionally when I run.  Especially if I’m new at running, and learning how.  But that’s OK, too.  God’s there, He’s my Father, and while this isn’t all about running and having fun, it is about running in His paths.  It ain’t like He’s gonna just leave me on the ground when I stumble, right?

Go.

Throw your head back.

Run with passion in His paths today.  Your heart will get free and larger.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | December 30, 2009

Joy, Puppets, Sadness and Anger

Well, if you’ve done any shopping this week in the retail stores, you have, as I have, realized that Christmas is officially OVER.  My girlfriend (Jamie) and I went to several places one day this week looking for “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby, an excellent musical that she had not yet seen.  All gone.  The British gent behind the counter at Target (that’s pronounced Tar-ZHAY by friends and I in an attempt to sound like we shop at trendy places) even lamented that he has barely been able to enjoy Christmas because it’s over just a few days afterward.  “They’re already putting up the Valentine’s day stuff, just look over there” he said in his British accent.

It makes me sad.  I had a GREAT Christmas Eve at my church.  The worship and the sermon and the candlelighting and everything was AWESOME.

I had a WONDERFUL Christmas spent with my girlfriend’s family, both Christmas Eve and Christmas.  The gifts were DEAD ON (I got Oakleys I had been coveting and Lego Batman for the Xbox, which Jamie and I love to play; “No Compromise”, Keith Green’s biography, which I have yet to read, but am looking forward to it; and another gift which Jamie has yet to “finish”…hmm…).  And, the gifts I got for her and her family were dead on, as well.  But that’s only a small part of it.  They made me feel like FAMILY.  Not that my friends and their families have not done so in the years I have lived here in upstate NY, but this year was different, special, fun.  They have their issues like any family, but they genuinely enjoy hanging out with each other and that meant a lot to me, to be in that environment, right down to jamming on guitar (bass for me, of course) with Jamie’s cousin Sean, a Beatles fan.

And I’m thankful for this commercial:

http://inside.nike.com/blogs/nikebasketball/2009/12/20/mvpuppets-dunking-on-reindeer

(I tried to post the actual video here…did you know it costs $60/year to add the video upload option to a wordpress blog?!?!?!?!  Holy…)

So, in rebellion, my tree and decorations will remain up until further notice at this point; I don’t know when I’ll take them down.  And, the Christmas playlist on my iPod will continue to play.  Retail America be danged.  😛

So that’s the joyful part.  Not to mention having this week off work and spending time with Jamie each day and continuing to grow in our relationship, having devo’s together, watching movies (Kung Fu Panda was on the agenda on Monday  🙂  ).

The sad and anger part, which I’m w0rking through, became clear to me again this morning while reading “The Way of the Wild Heart” by John Eldredge – which, if I haven’t already, recommend highly – it is a great book for men of ANY age.  I am now into the “Sage” chapter.  Look it up, if you don’t know the definition of the word.  Here is the section that caught my eye this morning:

…There comes a time when the King must yield the throne.  This does not mean failure.  It means it’s time to become a Sage, and let another man be King.  Too many Kings hold on to their thrones too long, and they literally fade away once they have lost them (which tells us they were drawing too much of their identity from their position).  It will appear that at this stage a man’s “kingdom” may be shrinking – he retires from his career position, perhaps moves into a smaller home or apartment, lives on a fixed income.  But, his influence should actually increase.  This is not the time to move to Ft. Lauderdale, “wandering through malls,” as Billy Crystal described it, “looking for the ultimate soft yogurt and muttering, ‘How come the kids don’t call, how come the kids don’t call?'”  For now the man is a mentor to the men who are shaping history.

Sadness.  Anger.  My earthly father.  Muttering, “how come Neil doesn’t call/visit, how come Neil doesn’t call/visit?…”  We talk once a week about the weather, Alabama football, and now, possibly, a little about Jamie.  He has no wisdom for me, nor has he ever.  He was absent from my childhood, my teenager-dom, my college life…no, not absent – needy.  I have borne the weight of my parents emotional needs my entire life, and with each phone call, each visit to Texas, I continue to be pulled into that vortex that sucks life out of the child inside of me that is still struggling to grow up, to understand why I’m so anxious inside sometimes, struggling to let God come into those places and fortify them and let me get on with the life that HE has for me, HIS purposes, rather than the life that my parents (and others) sucked out of me and emotional needs they laden me with.  That’s why I go to visit every OTHER year.  It’s not a vacation, it’s “get my teeth”, and “go to the grocery store for me” and “help me get to my chair, son.”  So exactly how does he accomplish these things when I’m not there?  My cousin Mike and his wife bear much of this load year-round, and I’m appreciative for this.  I can’t imagine.

Sorry.  Lots of angst in that last paragraph.  But, please understand, there’s a lot of frustration there.  A longing to hear “Hey, what’s up?” on the phone from my Dad, instead of “Well Hi, son” in this needy voice (sorry, can’t emulate it in words here, other than something like “Well Hiiiii, ssssooonnnnn” – hope you can get my drift).

The answer, as with all our problems, is to focus on God.  (how many of you just rolled your eyes at having heard THAT before?)  Well, it’s never more true than in my situation here.  He’s the good Father.  He greets me with “What’s up?” each morning and any time I ask, and I love that.  I pray for my Dad, and hope he can come out of his shell, his hole in that assisted living place in Texas and be a mentor, a light to those that live there.  Right now, that’s all I’ve got.  I sent him his (12/11) birthday card and Christmas card and Crimson Tide calendar over the past few weeks, and you would’ve thought I gave him a blood transfusion to save his life or something.  Which, yes, I understand, those things meant the world to him.  But, where’s God in his life?  I guess…I guess I’m just wishing that God was more present so that he wouldn’t unhealthily need me so much.  So that’s my prayer.  And, I need to accept him for where he’s at instead of condemning him for what he’s not (and hasn’t been).

Joy.  Sadness.  Anger.

Puppets.

Christmas.

Family.

God.

I am thankful for all of these.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | December 22, 2009

King

Well, it’s been a long time since my last post. There are reasons for this. These reasons might be explained later, in other posts, but in the meantime, I have something to talk about, it feels, for the first time in a long time. I have taken the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years off from work to relax and recharge and undo the damage done when all I did was xbox it last year at this time. One of the first steps I did this morning was pick up “The Way of the Wild Heart” by John Eldredge, which I had laid down sometime in the past year, possibly even in ’08. The reason I laid it down was because I had come to the next to last stage that he describes in the masculine journey, The King. I believed, at the time, that I was not ready to read this section because I believed that, emotionally and spiritually, I was still back in the Cowboy or Warrior or even Beloved Son stage, which precede the King stage, in some cases by a lot. But then I read an article on ESPN this past week by Gene Wojciechowski about Tiger Woods (we all know what’s going on there), and “who do we believe in now?” in sports:

Someone will fill the void left by Woods’ indefinite self-exile. His return to a tee box, perhaps sooner than expected, will be a mega-event, but never again will I look at him the same way. He was different, but now he isn’t.

So who takes his place? LeBron James? Sure, but do we know The King better than we did Woods? Maybe. His on-the-court and commercial personality is more open and playful than Tiger’s. Does that translate into character? Hope so. Think so.

Peyton Manning? Sure, he seems as genuine as anyone in sports today. Intense and demanding, but not afraid to mock himself on an SNL United Way parody. Approachable in ways that Woods never was.

Tom Brady? George Clooney cool.

Drew Brees? Stand-up guy Velcro’d to the hip of his New Orleans community.

Donovan McNabb? Has withstood the blast furnace of Philly, Terrell Owens, etc., with mostly grace and dignity.

Tim Tebow? An athlete who understands and embraces every aspect of the baggage that comes with sports celebrity. He wants the responsibility of setting a standard.

OK, Tom Brady might be George Clooney cool (I saw an interview with him once where he actually couldn’t define the word “pressure”…that’s awesome), but his infidelity takes him off my list. OK, enough editor’s comments…That last paragraph caught my eye. “He wants the responsibility of setting a standard.” And I realized that my life, pockmarked as it has been, has been more about just surviving and hoping to gain God’s favor than setting a standard. Now, of course, I’m not talking about setting a standard as a sports icon (unless I’m on the xbox WAAAAYYYY too much). But how often do I want to set a standard on being a man of God, or improve the standard of how people should be loved, how relationships should be cultivated, how community should be encouraged? I haven’t done this enough. My heart has not been inclined in this direction. Then, this morning, reading in Eldredge’s book:

It is a matter of heart, my brothers. There are many offices a man might fulfill as a King – father of a household, manager of a department, pastor of a church, coach of a team, prime minister of a nation – but the heart required is the same. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1 NIV). The passage is often used to explain the sovereignty of God, in that he can do with a man whatever he pleases. Certainly, God is that sovereign. But I don’t think that’s the spirit of this passage. God rarely forces a man to do something against his will, because he would far and above prefer that he didn’t have to, that the man wills to do the will of God. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15 NIV). What God is after is a man so yielded to him, so completely surrendered, that his heart is easily moved by the Spirit of God to the purposes of God.

That kind of heart makes for a good king.

And so, I have become aware of how much I have tried to “create my own little kingdom” in my life, more hoping that it aligns with God’s, rather than simply asking the man himself, “God, what do you want me to do ?

I want my heart to be like a watercourse that He directs wherever He pleases. I want to be more than just the beloved son who is loved unconditionally. I want to be a sword in his hand, or a plowshare, or an encouragement, whatever He needs me to be in that moment.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I’m (a) a huge sports fan, and (b) an Alabama alum and rabid college sports fan (ROLL TIDE!).  Well, over the past few months, I’ve earnestly tried to put together the ultimate guy weekend over Labor Day weekend this fall:  Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome on Saturday, and the first ever Atlanta night race (NASCAR Sprint Cup) on Sunday.  I’m sorry to say that it probably won’t happen, mostly due to scheduling, but in no small part because of the price of the tickets.  The football game on Saturday was going to cost $215 per person for 3rd level seats.  That’s right, it’s not a typo:  $215 for third level seats.  Add in the cost of travel, lodging, and food, and it was going to cost approx. $800 a man to do this trip.  At first, I was like, “well, I guess money has to be no object for one of these deals”, and moved on.  I thought, “well, hey, maybe I can just go to an Alabama game in Tuscaloosa.  The reason these tickets are so high is because it’s the “Kickoff Classic” sponsored by Chick-Fil-A (mmm…Chick-Fil-A…don’t have those here in the Northeast).

Well, I’m sorry to say that for the “good” games in Tuscaloosa this year (vs. Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU) the prices are pretty much the same.  Although, Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa only has two decks instead of three, it’s still nose-bleed seats for approx. $200.  Add in travel and lodging, and it ends up being approx. $500 per person for a trip like this.  Unreal.

Earlier this month, I’m watching the NBA Finals, and the clincher:  there was an awesome story at halftime about an Orlando family who’s son has an anxiety disorder (some sort of “mutism”, if I remember correctly) and he never talks, basically.  Ever.  He’s almost 5 years old, and never really communicates with others.  He can talk, just doesn’t.  Well, as the story goes, one night, the family is sitting and watching the Orlando Magic play on TV, and the kid (Ryan) starts talking, trying to say “play basketball”.  He doesn’t quite make it the first few times, but eventually, he’s talking and pointing at the TV.  His parents are in tears!  It’s the break they’ve been waiting for.  So, the father immediately wants to take his son to a game, kinda like therapy.  Great idea, right?  Well, they’re interviewing the father, and he says it cost him $641 to take him and his son to the game.  $641 dollars!  And during the interview on ABC, he says he basically had to decide between paying the mortgage that month and helping his child overcome this ailment!  So, he thought, “well, they usually give you thirty days to make good if you miss a payment, so it wasn’t a hard decision.”  (that’s not an actual quote, just my paraphrase from what I remember of the story)

And, of course, the story ends well:  they go to the game, Ryan continues to grow in communicating and overcoming his disorder, the father emails the Magic thanking them for everything, and the Magic organization gives them free tickets for the remainder of the season, and they’re able to go to the playoffs, etc.  Great story, but the point is:  nowadays, only people that either are making 6-digit incomes or willing to allow their kids and grandkids into inherit their enormous credit card debt can go to top-tier sporting events with any kind of regularity.  And it stinks.

I’m naive to think that it will end soon.  It would take a massive boycott by Americans to make any change in the system and the exorbitant lifestyle that players, owners, and coaches lead nowadays; and, heck, even THAT might not be enough.  Baseball is approaching that day faster than the other sports, I believe.  The New York Times a couple of weeks ago noted a startling stat:  The Yankees have sold out one game out of the first 30 home games this year at the new Yankee Stadium.  And, I’ve noticed several times as I flip past baseball games on the TV that it’s not limited to Yankee stadium.  There are ALWAYS plenty of good seats still available in a number of ballparks. 

Another example:  A co-worker of mine was so excited this year because his wife had given him the ok to buy Giants season tickets, something he’s wanted for YEARS.  But now, with the NEW stadium coming this year, the Giants have come up with what’s called a PSL:  a Personal Seat License.  Basically, it’s a license that gives you permission to buy season tickets.  And, it costs anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 per license.  Then you have to buy season tickets on top of that, which are around $4,000.  My co-worker friend wasn’t devastated, but it was something close.  “Pro sports are forgetting the people that got them to where they are today” he said.  Yep.  That’s it.  It’s a vicious, downward spiraling, never-ending cycle, and it’s all driven by money (you don’t have to read my blog to figure that out).

Here’s my theory:  Owners want more money.  They can do that by simply raising ticket prices (which happens sometimes for no reason) or by fielding a good team that people will want to come see.  In order to do that, they have to pay to get good players.  In order to pay the higher salaries (every year they increase across the board, on average – see chart below), they have to raise ticket and merchandise prices.  The sports LEAGUES also charge more for the networks to show the games on TV, which drives up advertising, which leads to more commercials, which drives home viewers nuts.  Like I said, it’s a never-ending cycle, spiraling prices upward and fan appreciation downward.

Even the sportswriters don’t get it.  There was an article on cnnsi.com a few weeks back by Peter King, in which he reported on how NFL players were complaining over how little they were paid per game when their team makes the playoffs and/or goes to the Super Bowl.  Tom Brady, according to the article, with all of the playoff games and 4 super bowl appearances, has only made something like $35,000/year on average for those games.  And Mr. King was basically stating how wrong this was.  Now, obviously, my response was “holy cow, with the 7-digit salaries these guys make on average, who cares?”  So, I emailed Mr. King and asked him to consider the economy and the number of people losing jobs at an alarming rate right now, and to please not glorify or give credence to these complaints.  He didn’t publish my email in his “mailbag” the next day, but he DID show a couple of emails that were basically saying the same thing, one of them by a lawyer in Florida comparing his yearly salary to the NFL players’ (it was much less), and how complaining over postseason salaries was ridiculous.  Mr. King’s response was, (and I quote), “…if you got an average of $8,000 per case, and then it came time to argue the biggest case you’d ever had before the Florida Supreme Court, and you got $500 for it, would you feel that was fair? Everything is relative.”  Everything is relative?!?!?!  He missed the point.  I think we realize that with the lifestyle that pro athletes lead, either some or a majority of them are going to complain about something like this, among other things, and to the average Joe Q. Public who does the best he can providing for his family, it will always seem ridiculous.  Just don’t TELL us about it or make it seem glamorous, and in doing so remind us of how ungrateful pro athletes can be for the salaries that the American public pay for by having to take out a second mortgage for season tickets.  Puhleeze.

So, there’s my rant.  Nothing really spiritual about it, although I definitely agree with my pastor, who frequently reminds us on Sunday mornings that we are a nation who worships the “God of mammon”, not the God who blesses us with it.  And there is no place where it’s worshipped more than in American sports today.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | April 26, 2009

Overcoming

I was listening to the Mosaic podcast by Erwin McManus this morning, and I loved the main point of his sermon.  I’ll paraphrase:

You don’t overcome great failure/crisis in your life with great success.  Too often we try to get out of the crisis or whatever situation we’re in that’s causing, at least, discomfort, and at most, life-threatening, overwhelming pain, by either hoping that that “big break” comes along, or that we’ll hit that “home run”, etc.  When, in fact, great failure/crisis is overcome with great faithfulness.  He used the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth as an example, but also the example of the North Carolina Tar Heels winning this year’s NCAA championship.  Now, yes, I understand, getting blown out in the Final Four in 2008 does not qualify as great of a failure or crisis as losing your husband and both sons in the middle of a time of famine, as Naomi did.  BUT, the faithfulness needed – by Ruth to stand by Naomi’s side, as well as the faithfulness needed (and given) by the UNC basketball players to postpone the millions of dollars they’ll be making in the NBA to return and pursue a national championship one more time – those are the same.  Both require hard work, sacrifice, and keeping our focus on God (in Ruth’s instance).  And it always pays off.  Maybe not in the way we intended it to, or hoped it would, but in God’s eyes, it does, if we’re faithful to Him.

And, as impatient as I am, and have been in my life, this was a good thing to hear today.

Have a great week!

Posted by: zephaniah317 | March 10, 2009

“They’re like a little kid out there!”

Admittedly, I can be head of the class in the “childish” department from time to time. So it takes one to know one. Nevertheless, I found this article on ESPN.com to be dead-on as to where we are as a nation, not just in sports, but in general; give it a read:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=macgregor/090309

Posted by: zephaniah317 | February 19, 2009

Ramblings and Rantings

Why do artists (or at least the Christian artists on my iPod) feel compelled nowadays to end their songs with some weird sound effect or feedback?  Can’t they just trash can it and end the song rather than fading out with weird sounds?  Is this some kind of artistic expression?  Well, it’s very annoying, at least to me…

Why is it so hard to get to know people?  I’m tired of the games…I know I play them myself to some extent, but sheesh…what’s with all the walls?!?!

I remember watching Sinbad (the comedian) a few years ago on Comedy Central.  He was talking about how when you’re a teenager, and you break your leg, “whoomf”!  it heals up.  Then, when you’re in your 40’s and you break something, it stays broke.  That’s why you see people walking around looking like Elaine Benes in the Seinfeld episode where she “dances”.  Well, my right knee is in that category now.  I got called out of retirement to play Y-league basketball this year.  6 games in, and my knee is like Rice Krispies (snap, crackle, and pop).  Like, every time I get up from a sitting position.  Did I mention I turn 40 in August?  Sheesh…my paintball career doesn’t look good right now.  I’m big enough when I’m crouching, if I can’t even do THAT…<shudder>!

Ah, the dark times are approaching.  Football season is over, March Madness will soon be upon us, then after that, the NBA playoffs, then the dark times until football starts again.  Sigh…

Just wondering…why do the guys on my friends list on the Xbox rarely invite me to play a game when we’re both online?  What’s the etiquette here?  Do I need to initiate that more?…(maybe I need to get a life?)

Posted by: zephaniah317 | January 7, 2009

Are you kidding me?

I’d call this “This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse”, but it’s too funny to be taken seriously…

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/01/07/porn-industry-seeks-federal-bailout/

It seems that the porn industry has fallen upon hard times, and plans on asking the government for a $5 billion bailout.

I personally am taking this as GOOD news.  If there’s one industry that I could stomach seeing go under, it’s this one.  I’m assuming President Obama will laugh at this (I certainly hope so).

I thought Harry Flynt’s quotes at the end of the article about Americans not being able to live without sex were particularly entertaining.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | January 2, 2009

Perspective

As I’ve pondered the last year during my week off from work this week – I GOTTA get back to my routine of in bed at 10, up at 6 before Monday or it’s gonna be a ROUGH first day back at work  🙂  – I’ve thought about all that God has revealed to me.  Mostly because it’s been a pretty boring year in my life, which is not necessarily a bad thing, just the truth.  I really loved working on A Terminal Christmas at my church, and playing out with my band, Inside Out, but other than that, nothing really earthshaking from an activity or occurrence standpoint.

So, I believe God brought to mind a lot of what I’ve been posting about:  how my parents and my mess of a marriage and the enemy and other things that happened in my life have shaped how I behave.  Notice I said “how I behave”, not “who I am”.  I AM a child of the Most High God, and nothing and no one on earth can ever change that, including myself (Romans 8:38-39).

I’ll detail my discoveries while attending my church’s Living Waters small group in later posts, but suffice it to say I’ve learned some important things about myself in the last few months.  But more importantly, this week, I learned that I was handling the information in a wrong perspective, and the knowledge wasn’t leading to healing, or at least not as fast as it could.

A friend of mine in Nashville put a post on her blog this past year entitled, “Need/Provision vs. Cause/Effect”.  You can read the entire post here, but here’s the paragraph that caught my eye:

God is the plumber who fixes your sink when he knows have no money to pay his bill – the accountant who gets your finances in order when you have no clue about how to do it yourself, and then does not take his cut.  God is not the plumber who brings you a wrench and then tells you to fix it yourself, nor the accountant who brings you a calculator and expects that is going to put you on a budget.  It is rare to find God this way, through the actions of people.  Therefore, we think it impossible that God is actually this way.  He must want something from us.  He only wants our choice, our need for Him. 

I know some of you read the paragraph above, and were a little put off.  I’m sure you thought, “Yes, but doesn’t God give us the tools we need to live our lives according to His will?  What about ‘teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him one’?”  YES, God teaches us to “fish”.  He teaches us that our only true provision comes through Him, and that fishing in any other water is only going to lead to a different kind of poverty – and that includes the waters of our own abilities.  Have you ever noticed how often God works through people in the Bible out of their inabilities?  The resumes of Bible heroes would not read so good.

And, I realized, I had come away with all of these discoveries in the past year, both through my relationship with God, and through Living Waters, and yet I was still trying to “fix myself” with the information.  I’m not sure where this attitude came from, whether my flesh or the enemy or some kind of programming I’ve received over the years, but yesterday, I thanked and praised God for all He has shown me, and I had a really great day doing nothing.  Just watching some football, taking a couple of naps, playing a while on the Xbox (yes, I have one now…more on that later, too).  There was a great reduction in “drivenness” as a result.

Bottom line…God shows us these things about ourselves not to bring shame or guilt, but to free us.  Ok, another line…God’s love is the only thing that can heal us.  Period.  I’ve probably posted that multiple times on this blog, ok fine, but I’m saying it again to help me to remember this time.  It’s almost as if I heard Him say, “Zeph, you want to know why you’re so driven, and feel so needy sometimes, and can’t seem to relate or connect to people like you think you should?  Well, it’s because of <this> and <this> and <this>.  That’s all.  Let me heal you of it by loving you as my son.  Accept me as your Father, and let’s go!”  Whereas I think the message previously was, however subconsciously, “Zeph, <these things> are what’s wrong with you.  Get it together.”  See the difference?

I hope anyone reading this can be freed of any guilt and shame because of their past, or in this case, any memories that God brings to mind for healing purposes that the enemy tries to come in and corrupt with a “now go and fix yourself” attitude.

So, Happy New Year everyone!  And, oh, yeah…

ROLL TIDE!

(Sugar Bowl, ‘Bama vs. Utah, tonight @ 8:00 pm, on FOX)  🙂

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