#trainingformy40s

‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: #eliwestfall (page 2 of 3)

Faith or is it Hope?

cropped-grace-family.jpgHebrews 11:1 says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This verse begins what has been called the ‘faith hall of fame’ in chapter 11 of Hebrews. Often, as I read the Bible I am thankful it was written long before my feeble attempt at being a Christ-follower ever occurred… because I am not certain any action of my life would warrant being recorded in such a book. Except, maybe as the ‘don’t do it this way’ kind of story. In a situation like that, it is better to not be remembered than to be remembered as the idiot who didn’t do it right. I imagine that is how Peter feels that Matthew and Mark recored in their Gospels that he drew his sword and cut a dude’s ear off when they came to arrest Jesus. (Ok, we don’t know definitively that is was Peter… but it seems reasonable.)

One of the words that sticks out in this verse is ‘hope.’ This word is tied to a concept that is difficult for me to grasp and understand. I say this because hope implies a change is possible. A change of significant value. A change that is worthy of the hope we have placed in the change. My hope often falters because I place my hope in things that falter.

In myself.

I expect that I am capable of being the hope that I hope for. I expect that I am the one who is able to make the change, to make the adjustments, to fix the broken that is my soul. This is simply not true. More than that, it is arrogant to think that I am powerful enough, dare I say sufficient enough, to make the changes needed in love my life. As I reflect on that, it occurs to me that if I was able to make the changes to my broken soul that need to be changed God would not have had to sacrifice his son to cover my multitude of sins. I would need no savior, because I would be my soon savior.

This perspective is fine and dandy, if one does not believe in the saving power of the death of Christ on the cross. However, if one takes an honest look at the idea of humans being capable of the kind of good in actually takes to save one’s soul from damnation you would wonder why things had gotten so out of hand in the first place. If humans are capable to save themselves and do not need the saving grace of God who loves them, then why is the world full of such shit? Please excuse the language, but this is reality. How did things get such out of hand if we can do it ourselves? The answer here is, we can’t. We need something outside of ourselves to save ourselves from ourselves.

Enter the dragon… or maybe just Jesus, riding a dragon. Leese_CRU-T-shirt_09jesus dino

No seriously, just Jesus. He is the one who can save us. He is the one who gives us hope. This morning as I am grasping for hope and realizing my brokenness, I will cling to a savior who can actually save me and not my feeble attempts at being my own savior. I will hope in something bigger than me.

Where are you finding your hope?

What if?


What if?

Not every sentence that begins with ‘what if’ ends in regret or guilt, but many of them do. It has been my experience that regret and guilt are luxuries I can’t afford if my goal is to move forward in life. Regret robs us of our ability to move beyond the experience we regret. It prohibits us from looking to the future and moving on to whatever experience is next in our lives. 

I’m not the expert on moving past regret (or an expert on anything… except maybe Jeeps and Star Wars), but I have come to realize regret is not only not heathy, but unhealthy. I have found. These three techniques useful when moving past my own regret:

  1. What could have happened isn’t what happened. This is simple, yet critical. The what ifs are where we are. What happened has happened and wishing for another outcome that hasn’t happened and at this point, can’t happen is wasted time and energy. Accept the reality of where you are right now. Work with it. Figure out how to make the best of the reality you are in. My favorite band, Celldweller, on his second album has a song called ‘The Best It’s Gonna Get‘ and this is the outlook we bed to have. This is it. This is the best it’s gonna get. This is what I have to work with and it makes more sense to make the most out of what I have rather than wishing I had something else. 
  2. It isn’t all bad. So things didn’t go the way I wanted, planned, hoped or maybe I totally screwed the pooch on this one. Ok. What can I learn from this? Where is the upside here? How can I learn from this and make better choices in the future? How can I use this experience to grow and become a better person? Regret keeps me from learning and growing and moving on to something else, potentially better. 
  3. The past doesn’t define my future. This experiences, usually mistakes are not definitive of who I am and who am becoming. I am not defined by my past experiences whether good or bad. What defines me is bigger than any action or non-action I could have or should have made. What defines you is also bigger than what you have done. Find the bigger, more complete definition of who you are and use that to define every aspect of you life. My life is defined, that is to say my identity comes from, by the love of a Savior who was willing to die for me. Are you willing to look to a Savior for you identity?

What are you regretting today that you need to let go of?

Something Different

I’m sitting in the lobby of the YMCA right now having finished an abbreviated work out due to waking up late. Sipping on some of their free coffee, taking a moment to read the Bible. At my church (Grace Orlando) we are studying the parables and last week we studying the parable of the Prodigal Son. 

One of my favorite. 

While there are many parallels to my life and that parable that I could draw, what strikes me this morning is my tendency to tell God what the true nature of my relationship with him is. When the son came to his senses and returned home he says to his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” Like he knows better where he belongs in relationship to his father. The father ignores his comment, hugs him and throws a giant party… overjoyed that his lost son has returned. 

When will I learn God treats me the same way? He isn’t concerned with what I think my identity in relation to him is… he’s only concerned with what he knows my relationship with him to be. God is the source of my identity as my creator, father and savior. Doesn’t his perception of who I am trump my perception, especially considering mine is marred and broken by sin?

There are many lessons to learn from this parable, but the most critical of those lessons is almost lost thanks to the name we have given it, the Prodigal Son. This implies the son is the pivotal character is this story. 

Not so. 

This is the third parable Jesus tells about something that was lost. The lost sheep, the lost coin and in both precious stories the central figure is the one who lost and then searched incessantly, unendingly for the lost item. For the item of incomparable value to them. In the story of the prodigal, the father is searching… waiting… watching for his son’s return so when he spots him far off he runs, undignified, to meet him. 

The central lesson of this story is God searches us. He finds us. He brings us to him. No matter what I have done or who I have become, God has found me. 

He throws a party and rejoices saying, my son who was lost is found, who was dead is now alive.  

I am a Thief. 

I am a thief.
This is difficult for me to admit to myself, let alone to anyone else. I’m not the only one that knows it. I don’t want to be. I don’t like it. In fact, I hate it. It feels constricting, suffocating and like I want to die.
No, I don’t really want to die… the point is that being stuck is debilitating and it robs you of joy, peace, happiness and all the good things of life. I don’t like being robbed. Especially, of the things in life which give it the most meaning and purpose.
I am a sarcastic, cynical and somewhat cantankerous human being. This makes it difficult to be around me sometimes. It is an interesting scenario, being robbed of your joy, because it causes you to rob others of their joy as well. You become a thief. I don’t like being a thief even more than I like being robbed by one. The other day, I came to the realization that it is time to check myself before wrecking myself. It is time for me to get a handle on my inner child and find what has robbed me of my joy, my peace, my happiness and my tranquility and serenity so I can stop robbing those around me.
I am a straight-forward kind of dude and I don’t put much stock in the whole life-force/energy thing we each have. However, I have seen firsthand how we can rob each other of joy, happiness and peace. I have been a thief of those things. When our personal experience is missing those them, we will rob others to of them in order to have them in our lives. Sometimes it is on purpose and other times it is unintentional. But it happens. I have done it… recently.
As humans, we grapple at anything that can/will fill the various holes we feel in our lives. At our core, we are fallen, sinful creatures who have selfishly rebelled against our God and creator; so it makes sense we would rob others of their joy in a feeble attempt to find joy for ourselves. The problem is, your joy can not and will not ever be my joy. Your joy can not and will not ever fill the hole in my life needing to be filled by joy.
And so, I selfishly attempt to find my joy by robbing you of yours and as a result leave a swath of pain, hurt and broken relationships because of my selfish attempt to fill the hole in my soul. I’m not the only one. Many of us do it. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it. At this very moment, I sit on the back patio of a lake house in North Carolina praying to God to find my joy… more specifically that he will be my joy. That God will re-orient my heart and my mind to him. That he will renew them into something new focus on him, his glory and his kingdom and not be focused on my selfish, sinful self. As I sit here, I feel very convicted of how I have allowed Satan a foothold in my life, a foothold of sarcasm and discontent (sarcasm isn’t inherently sinful, it easily leads down the path to the dark side though). I ask God to renew a right spirit within me, his spirit within me to be a man, a husband and a father, after his own heart. I ask for my joy and peace and excitement for life to be restored.
I am sitting at a lake house on the men’s retreat for my church. I came on this retreat with the sole purpose of getting my joy back, getting my focus back. Of remembering who I am before God and how he expects me to live and lead those he has trusted me with. On Sunday, we started a new series of sermons on the parables and we began with the parable of the sower. As I am reading and studying that passage this week, I find I have become the thorny soil. I have a solid foundation and root system in Jesus Christ, yet I have allowed the worry of life to choke out my walk with Christ. I have allowed other things to distract me from my Savior. I have become distracted. I have become like Peter as he stepped out of the boat to walk on the water… afraid, unfocused and distracted. I love Peter. 12 dudes in the boat and he was the only with the balls to get out on the water and walk towards Jesus. 11 dudes in the garden and this joker was the only one who pulls out a sword and says, ‘If you want Jesus, you have to go through me!’ Neither time did any of the others dudes make an outward sign of moment towards Jesus. Peter was impetuous and premature. But at least he did something. He was crippled by fear… not until later, when he denied Jesus 3 times. Which sort of brings us full circle on Peter. While being singularly focused, he was also distracted and unfocused. I am Peter and Peter is me.
They say the first step to fixing the problem is to admit there is a problem. I have a problem. I have become distracted and unfocused and allowed God to be shifted from the center of my life and as a result I have become a thief. As I have lost my joy, I have robbed others of theirs in a feeble attempt to have it for myself.
God, un-distract me.
Focus me on you once again.
Re-orient my life around you.
Renew my first love.
Become my joy again.

What if Star Wars became the paradigm we used to understand life?

What if Star Wars became the paradigm we used to understand life?

So much of life is mirrored in the Star Wars saga. Every major life situation or dilemma is found in the hallowed stories of what is arguably the greatest movie series (greatest story outside the Bible) in all of human history. 

All of the emotions each of us cope with everyday are found in Star Wars: love; hate, fear, betrayal, belonging, connection, depression, anxiety, joy, sadness, excitement, loss, despair and hope. 

We see stories of people being broken, we see redemption, we people use their talents/gifts/powers for good and evil. 

We see fear in the eyes of a little boy taken away from everything he knows to chase a dream. 

We see the hurt in the eyes of a young adult when he realized his friend and mentor has lied to him. 

We see the sting of betrayal by a close friend. 

We see the brokenness in the eyes of a young man who knows he has done terrible things and now he no longer owns himself. 

We see disappointment in the eyes of a father when he couldn’t save his son. 

Star Wars resonates with so many fans because, the story is their story too. They can identify with the feelings our heroes and villains feel. They can see themselves in their shoes. 

Star Wars has become our story. 

Older posts Newer posts

© 2017 #trainingformy40s

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑