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Friday, March 28, 2008

R.I.P.

Argg...

I hate when I can't find words to describe feelings.

I hate when I can't express the world of my insides to the world of my outsides.

I hate when I can't understand the orginal design of something because I'm degenerate myself.

I hate when I can't seem to reconcile such daunting gaps between sundry interpretations.

I hate when I can't shut my mind down in an effort to catch my breath.

I hate when I can't fathom the mind of God as it relates to his rationale in creating things just so.

I hate when I can't find that inner peace that my heart keeps telling me exists.

I hate when I can't redeem the time because I'm too busy spending it.

I hate when I can't get close to other people no matter how hard I try or don't try.

I hate when I can't even blog sensibly because my brain is fighting itself in a civil war.

So I will post this nonsense and leave it be. Sometimes this archival space serves as a leach field for my cathartic expulsion of emotional excriment. You've got to get rid of it...and this seems like as good a place as any.

I can't wait until my kids read this one someday. Chances are, they probably will be too busy having their own conflicting thoughts about life. May these less than photogenic pictures of my soul rest in peace.

R.I.P

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Desperate Houselives...

For some, home is where you hang your heart. For others, home is where your heart gets hanged. Life behind closed doors can be a brutal battleground. It’s alarming how many people just avoid home like the plague. They would rather work another shift than go home and encounter their family. They would rather get involved with the children’s ministry at church than interact with their own children. They would rather pray with their pastor than with their wife.

The truth be known, most people cringe when they start getting honest about the home front. They dance around questions with vague generalities and evasive responses. Especially when a member of the family is standing right there just as eager to hear their “beloved’s” response as the person inquiring. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in conversations where I ask a question and the spouse listening in to the conversation says something like, “Yeah, I’ve been wondering that myself lately?” or “Is that right? Well, that’s news to me!” I usually back-peddle and find a conversation piece that invites less disaster.

I’ll never forget a time that a family in our church invited our family out for dinner at a restaurant. It had come to that moment of awkward silence when everyone is wondering who’s going to pray before the meal. Sometimes I just take the awkwardness by the horns and volunteer my pastoral services. Other times, I feel that to be presumptuous and wait for the one who initiated the encounter to set the stage. This was such a time. When the silence was reaching a borderline disturbing level, the father tilted his head and sheepishly offered to pray. As we were thoughtlessly bowing our heads, his son piped in, “Oh yeah, dad! Gotta’ pray before the meal when the pastor’s around. What a fine time to start acting all spiritual.” I tried to fake like I was interpreting his comments as a bit of friendly sarcastic jesting among friends, but I could tell by the father’s ever-whitening face that those words did not fall on the secure ears of a spiritual leader. He responded with a jaw-clenched chuckle and something like, “Shut up, kid!” Needless to say, I kept my head bowed and my eyes closed like a good little Baptist boy and pretended like I didn’t hear a thing out of the ordinary.

Many homes are full of laughter and friendship. They enjoy mutual respect and unconditional love. But a lot of homes are anything but peaceful. Kids are screaming. Parents are irritable. Marriages are hanging by a thread. Money is tight. And you want to know the worst thing…no one knows because when they hit the church doors problems miraculously disappear. Smiles replace scowls, encouragement replaces discouragement, laughter replaces crying, and sharing replaces silence. Songs are sung. Messages are heard. Handshakes are exchanged. And people head home. The place where you hang your heart or your heart gets hanged. I wonder which home you’re heading to after church?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Week...

It's a big weekend. Good Friday. Holy Saturday. Easter. This Passion Week has been unique for me. I feel like I've suffered along with Jesus. I've tried, as best I can, to join him in his final days, his final hours.

I started a diet this week completely unrelated to Holy Week, but it's interested how much it's deepened the experience. Just feeling the pangs of hunger has caused my heart to bend toward Jesus. I don't know what fasting does to awaken the spirit, but it's mystical. It triggeres certain emotions that don't typically engage.

I've thought about the kind of Christ-follower I am. The thoughts haven't been all that pleasant. I feel like Peter, "following at a distance". I feel like Judas some days, "giving the kiss of betrayal". I feel like Thomas needing to "feel the nail-holes in his hands" before surrendering. I feel like James, "falling asleep" with his buddies when Jesus needed them most. And on many days, I feel like the rest of the disciples that aren't hardly menioned in the Scriptures...nameless, almost faceless...wandering about not getting in on the story, standing apart from the action. Carrying on, doing God stuff, making a difference...but still feeling like people don't know my name, like they don't know the real me.

So on this special week where I'm thinking upon the life and death and re-life of Christ...I'm joining him as I am, not as I wish I was. Because of that...I think I'm absorbing it more than I typically do. I really love Jesus. I want to be like Him.

Monday, March 17, 2008

mass emails...

This is an email I sent out to a person who has been sending me several mass emails a week that are circulated by right-wing, fundamentalist camps warning the world of false prophets and demonized democrats. Some of those emails are informative so long as the stay close to factual evidence, but more than not they are tarnished with emotional propoganda. I thought I'd post it on here just in case there are others who send emails without screening the data with a fine tooth comb. My opinion is that we shouldn't sent emails that we have not personally researched and found to be absolutely credible. That just seems biblically reasonable. Here's the email...

"I've debated as to whether to send this email to you for some time now. I appreciate your zeal for the issues within America and your desire to share vital information with those you love and care about. There are times when these mass emails are informative and inspiring.

But most of the time, I find that much of the content in the emails is not substantiated with primary sources. It's alot of vitriolic and subjective venting coming from fear mongers, guilt mongers and doomsdays prophets. I've done some research on some of the content in these mass emails and have found many fallacies and far too many embellishments of the truth. I realize that Rebublicans have their differing views from Democrats and am in agreement with many of their stances on critical issues, but I don't believe that gives us the license to fabricate stories and overstate the facts and sometimes even out-in-out lie about the canidates on the "other side". I feel that many Christians start employing tactics that have nothing to do with Biblical principles as they seek to ramrod their agenda. Randomly sending out information to friends and family must be screened with a fine tooth comb and we must be sure that no spin-doctoring and truth-stretching are a part of what we are sending out in mass quanities.

I was going to send this to just you, but I believe all of the people on your list must be informed of the same dangers. I, like you, am deeply concerned with cover-up in politics and legitimate conspiracy theories in our government. But I'm not interested in Urban Legends and Emotional Fiction being propogated to the masses in the name of God (that's what is especially disturbing).

I would appreciate not recieving these mass emails any more. And I would encourage you to make sure that what you are sending out is screened with truth, first-hand known truth that you've researched, and not superstition and hunches and feelings and subjective opinions. Thanks for taking time to hear from my heart."


I hope this encourages who it's meant to encourage and rebukes who it's meant to rebuke.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

part of me...

Part of me wants...and another part of me feels...

I've always been intrigued by this expression. Splitting yourself into parts and acknowledging that we are in some deep place fractured. Half of us feeling completely opposite the other half. Pulling in opposite directions, in a straight betwixt two. I feel torn apart on same days trying to get myself together.

Part of me feels gregarious, another part of me feels melancholy.
Part of me is ambitious, another part of me filled with resignation.
Part of me loves people, another part of me can't stand people.
Part of me feels outgoing, another part of me is reclusive.
Part of me loves to lead, another part of me cowers away in fear.
Part of me feels like a conversationalist, another part of me gets unnerved in conversation.
Part of me enjoys activity, another part of me enjoys silence.
Part of me feels like a pastor, another part of me feels like a poser.
Part of me gets excited about God, another part of me doubts God.
Part of me has boundless faith, another part of me stumbles in the dark.
Part of me rises up to new adventures, another part of me enjoys traditional simplicity.
Part of me see the hope in life, another part of me is racked with pessimism.
Part of me feels creative, another part of me feels dry and sterile.
Part of me loves to listen, another part of me gets sick of hearing the same broken record.
Part of me is vibrant and passionate, another part of me is quiet and solemn.
Part of me is celebrative, another part of me is contemplative.
Part of me loves the future, another part of me pines for the past.
Part of me is progressive, another part of me is traditional.
Part of me wants heaven, another part of me loves earth.
Part of me has unusual patience, another part of me is a moment from exploding.
Part of me is relaxed and chilled, another part of me is wound up tighter than a snare drum.
Part of me is nonchalant, another part of me is anal retentive.
Part of me is drawn to culture, another part of me is repulsed by it.
Part of me feels good about my parenting, another part of me feels like a failure.
Part of me gets excited about setting the vision, another part of me gets overwhelmed by it.
Part of me wants to rise up, another part of me wants to curl up in the ball and cry.

It makes you wonder if David wasn't feeling this kind of stuff when he said, "Why so downcast, my soul, put your hope in God." It's weird to think that he was talking to himself, his own soul. Almost like he was trying to talk his soul out of discouragement. Other times he would say, "Bless the Lord, my soul." He would be encouraging that inner part of himself to extol God when it was sluggish or reticent to do so.

I don't know...I just feel like I'm talking to myself more lately. Trying to get one part of myself in tune with the other part of myself. It sound scitzophrenic, I know, but I'm not sure how else to describe this psuedo-psychosis.

I'm messed and blessed all at the same time...hmmm.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

subtle differences...

I sometimes don't feel very discerning. Like I can't distinguish between my flesh and my spirit. It seems to me that fasting becomes important for this very reason (something I rarely do, honestly). I'm wondering if fasting would clear up the bottlenecked confusion in my inner man between similar, but totally different things...

things like...
Joy and Happiness
Content and Complacent
Concern and Worry
Pleasure and Fun
Friendship and Acquaintance
Discipline and Legalism
Patience and Passivity
Passion and Perfectionism
Sorrow and Depression
Indignation and Anger
Holiness and Self-righteousness
Truth and Feeling
Love and Lust
Peace and Resignation
Worship and Emotionalism
Desire and Selfishness
Spirit and Flesh...

Starving our Flesh and Feeding our Spirit...only then to we see the difference between seemingly parallel attitudes and emotions...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

lepsog...

good news and bad news...

There's the gospel...

and then there's the lepsog... (gospel backwards)

sometimes the gospel seems backwards to me. like depending on how I look at it, it either feels wonderfully pleasant or horribly painful. The gospel is a revival, the lepsog is a funeral. The gospel is prosperity, the lepsog is poverty. The gospel is an invitation, the lepsog is a execution. The gospel speaks of freedom and overcoming, the lepsog is the great letdown of trouble and turbulence. the gospel usually makes us feel comforted, the lepsog makes us feel conflicted.

"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I've overcome the world." - Jesus

There's bad news inside the good news. Hate doesn't go away. Suffering may intesify. Following Christ leads to a cross first, a rebirth second.

When I think of the reality of the "lepsog"...it has the sound of leprosy and soggy mixed together. It sounds 'not fun'. When I hear Jesus being sold the highest bidder, I hear sales' pitches that go something like this, "Give your life to Jesus and he will change your life." (true)...so long as you're open to interpretation as to what change could mean. He will certainly change your life for the better, but that's relative isn't it? In my experience, you've got some 'lepsog' heading your way, which is to say that something is going to hit the fan, and it's not going to be fresh air if you smell what I'm stepping in.

In fact, trouble becomes TROUBLE and sometimes even becomes TROUBLE. Jesus comes with salve and with salt. He comes with a basin and towel, as well as a chisel and trowel. He doesn't ask us to go any place he hasn't gone...but we tend to forget the places he went and get ticked off when he's asking us to go there in our lives, we're essentially rewriting the gospel into our own sappy selfish story...in my experience, what I've termed 'lepsog' (the backwards take of the gospel) is every bit as present as the the 'good news' side of it.

There is cancer and car accidents. There is divorce and deceit. There is pain and politics. There is rage and rejection. There is malice and mourning. There is sadness and sorrow. There is job-loss and jesting. There is tragedy and terror. There is fear and failure. There is disappointment and depression. There is loneliness and lostness. There is trouble. Lots of it.

But the gospel/lepsog is really one thing. Jesus never promised sweet relief marked with painless affluence. We overcome because we've been overcome. We don't get more stuff. We get more love. We dont' get less junk. We get less lies.

So today...I've been dwelling in the 'lepsog'. Sometimes it takes a spoonful of medicine to make the sugar go down. And I'm tired of sugar coating the gospel.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

valleys...

There are some days that I feel lost.

It's like I'm trying to climb a wall with vaseline smeared all over it. I can't get any grip, any traction. My mind gropes to cling to something solid and everything just is so slippery that I can't hold on to anything.

Last night Heidi and I were talking in bed and I felt helpless and powerless to know how to respond to her thoughts, or my own choatic thoughts for that matter. It's like the last few days have been surreal...like I'm in them, but standing outside of them at the same time. My mind isn't relaxing into my life...it's spinning a million miles an hour in opposing directions. I can't plant my feet on the ground.

In these times I feel like a failure on about every front...

In my family I don't feel like I've been spending adequate time with my girls. I've been so busy with so many things. I haven't been praying with them at night. I haven't been talking to them about their hearts. I haven't been playing with them much. I feel like I've just been frustrated alot with them. I've been quick to react to their immaturity, yelling at them for mistakes, yet not lifting a finger to train them out of bad habits. I haven't been holding them and telling them stories. I haven't taken them on a Daddy-date in a long time. I've been worn out and they pay the price for that wear and tear that I'm experiencing.

In my marriage I've felt particularly demoralized. My leadership in my marriage has been weak as of late. I shut down way to quickly over little issues. I get quiet and passive when I sense there is awkwardness between us. I'm not asking her questions as much lately and I'm certainly not as free to speak truth into her heart when I'm not feeling freedom and confidence between us. She has been sick for a long time and hasn't slept well as a result. She's been running like a chicken with her head lopped off trying to care for the mundane needs of our home and our schedule and that's wearing her emotions quite thin. Our conversations have been strained at best recently...and I'm not even sure why.

My ministry has been weighting heavy on my heart lately as well. I don't feel confident in my leadership in the last week and feel overwhelmed with it all. It seems that I'm having encounters with alot of people that are really struggling and I'm having a hard time not letting them attach to me and drag me down. I'm frustrated in how slow the process of spiritual growth really is. I wish I could speed up the journey, but alas, it is painfully slow. My own, and the people God has put under my care. I'm struggling to see the good in what I'm doing right now, though I know from experience that it's there, just not in plain sight right this very instant.

I know that as a leader, this is the time I must dig deep and rise above the rubble of my feelings. I must pursue truth and live obediently. I must "walk by faith, and not by sight" as Paul so eloquently commands. I have to live above the discouraging circumstances that seem to be pressing in all around me. A leader can see in the dark. And though I know this, it doesn't make it any easier when you're standing in the pitch black wondering how you're going to emerge from this darkness that is your life.

I say to myself, "It could be much worse." ... "Others are probably experiencing something much more profound." etc. But today, I feel suspended with unruly emotions seeking to find a place to land and come to rest. I hope that happens soon.