#trainingformy40s

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

Category: God (page 1 of 19)

What does God want from me?

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Three weeks ago at Grace Orlando we kicked off a new series of sermons. The series is entitled ‘One.’ With the main focus to unify the church (all 6 campuses) to one purpose. It’s sorta a capital campaign that is focusing more on 100% participation by the church members than it is on the money. It’s about discipleship more than anything.

During last week’s sermon, Pastor Mike asked the question – what is God asking you to give him that you aren’t sure you are going to be willing to give up? As I sat listening to the sermon, challenged to be sure, I wasn’t sure what God is asking of me. As the day progressed and I thought more about the sermon and talked it over with my wife, I think I may have come up with something. As I write this, I’m sitting in the lobby of a DCF office waiting for my new supervisor to come and get me. I think maybe one of the things God is asking me to give him is my job. Over the last few years, work had been pretty much what it always has been for me. After almost 20 years of work experience, the longest employment I’ve ever had anywhere is 3.5 years at a part-time job. I have lots of experience in essentially the same field, but very little in any given place for any amount of time.

Jack of all trades, Master of None.

This is how I feel. When I don’t feel like a failure for being almost 40 with nothing more to show for myself. (It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I feel the pull of this midlife thing.) I feel like I have the opportunity to start over. Begin again. Embark on a new career. And as such, I am committing this one to God. I am letting go of expectations or regrets and letting God supersede in this endeavor.

I will excel at this job, not for my own career advancement but to glorify God. I will realize this is my calling. This is where he has placed me.

As I sit here waiting for this job to start, I’m anxious and nervous… hope and waiting with anticipation. I am ready to go to work for God in the setting he has placed me.

To God be the glory.

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.  

Mystery

The church we go to is in the middle of a sermon series titled, “Identity Crisis.” We are working our way through the book of Colossians. I have read Colossians, heard sermons on it and likely even preached a sermon from the book. However, I haven’t spent the kind of time in study of the letter like I am right now. One of the epic things our church does (Grace Orlando) is they write and provide these handy dandy sermon guides. They are packed full of tons of great stuff – background info on Colossians like what was happening when Paul wrote it, what are the main themes, where Paul was when he wrote it, etc. This provides a holistic approach to the book we are studying. The guide also provides space to take notes during the sermon and a handful of thought-provoking questions to guide personal reflection time and our community groups for further study/discussion.

Over the last month, I have been following up the sermon and studying Colossians in my personal Bible study time. Today I read from the end of chapter one and the beginning of chapter two. As I read, the word ‘mystery’ stood out to me. Paul talks about the mystery of God. He goes on to say the mystery of God is Christ. This can be kinda confusing, but at the same time simple. The mystery of Christ is how mysterious, wonderful and strange it is that the God who created everything would take on the form of his creation, live among us a sinless life so he may die in our place taking our punishment so we may be presented righteous before a holy God. This is a mystery. How did this happen? I daresay, the details of how exactly the incarnation works can not be known by us mere humans. It is a mystery.

As I read this, it occurred to me in our digital age we have lost some of the mystery that is mystery. Maybe I should clarify, I have lost some of the mystery that is mystery. I suspect you may be the same though. In a time when we can pull a handheld computer out of our back pocket and ask Google anything and in a fraction of a second have a more information at our fingertips than was previously possible after hours of research at a library a decade a half ago, we have lost mystery. Mystery is about not knowing all the information. It is about having missing pieces. It is about having to think through and figure out the missing details and connect the dots. We rarely have to do that anymore as Google will accomplish all the hard work for us. We get consumed with information and details and facts and knowing the whole story.

On one hand, this is very attractive to me. I like to know the details. I like to know what is going on. I like to know as much information as I can. I like to know what is happening. I don’t like surprises and I don’t like to be surprised. I have a need to know. So, for me having a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips is a great resource… but at the same time, it breeds an inability to not have all the facts.

In some ways, it reduces my ability to have joy and satisfaction. It robs me of the pleasure of surprise. It takes away the excitement of not knowing. The exhilaration of the unknown. The unknown brings with it a sense of adventure and wonder and excitement that I often miss out on because I am so consumed with having to know all the details, every little piece, every aspect, all the facts.

But sometimes, the facts and information can’t be known. Won’t be known. Shouldn’t be known.

Mystery brings with it a sense of awe and wonder. No matter how awesome something is, once we figure it out it is difficult for it to carry the same power of awe and wonder. Fire is amazing. But it doesn’t hold the same awe for us who know it is simply a combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give our bright light, heat and smoke. It is amazing, but it doesn’t hold the same sense of awe and wonder since we have figured it out. Travel over long distances doesn’t hold the same sense of awe it used to. We live in a global reality where we can be anywhere within a matter of hours. Our communities and commutes have grown exponentially over the last 200 hundred years and we now live farther away from our jobs than many people traveled in their whole lives. A 30 mile commute takes an hour in traffic when 100 years ago it would take 10 hours or more to walk there or about 8 hours if you had a horse to ride.

In some ways, the digital age has inhibited our ability to be awed and wondered. Again, maybe I should correct myself and say it has inhibited MY ability to be awed and wondered. Not entirely. There are still things that awe me. Creation never ceases to awe me. Looking at the magnificence of what God has created… it is awesome. As I get older and adjust work/life schedule to better accommodate family, it is harder for me to go run at night, which happens to be my favorite time to run for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons I enjoy running at night, is looking up to the stars and being awed by the vast expanse that is space. I;m not much of an astronomer, but I know enough to know you can tell what time of year it is based on where the Orion constellation is in the night sky. Mountains always awe me. Their hugeness and greatness towering over the landscape is moving. Most of any existence of water on the planet awes me. With the exception of the plethora of retention ponds we have everywhere in Florida (A funny side note, when Ronda and I first started dating and would visit her family in Florida I would ask about why there were so many retention ponds everywhere. She answered me one day, ‘to keep the alligators from coming back.’ I took it as Gospel. I didn’t realize until years later when I said something to her about this that she was joking. They do serve to collect the excess water so as to keep Florida from becoming a swamp again and therefore sorta serve to to keep the gators at bay… but not really.) I Waterfalls amaze me. Springs amaze me. Rivers and creeks amaze me. The beach amazes me. How the moon affects the beach amazes me. Rocks amaze me. Hahaha, I sound like a little kid with that one! But it is true. Trees amaze me. Creation amazes me.

My wife amazes me. She amazes me for more reasons that I could justly articulate. But her commitment and love for me amazes me. Her devotion to God amazes me. Her warm heart and caring soul amaze me. Her never-ending service to me and the boys amazes me. Her strength amazes me. She amazes me.

My boys amaze me… and not always in good ways! They are fantastic, wonderful humans who are amazing. Their caring spirits, good hearts, imaginations and laughter amazes me. Who they are becoming as men amazes me.

I am amazed by the wonder of a God who created me, provides for me as a father and who died for me so I can spend eternity in his presence. The mystery of how he did that is not lost on me. I don’t understand it. I can’t understand it. But I accept it.

Let’s not lose mystery from our lives. I live technology and I love the world I live in, the digital age I wouldn’t want to give it all up… but I equally don’t want to give up being amazed by mystery.

What is mysterious or amazing to you?

Another Day

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I am sitting at my desk at my office. It is 0624. This is the third day this week I have been in my desk chair before 0630. There is something to be said for getting to work early and accomplishing everything needing to be done before noon.

Over the course of this week, I have spent time considering and thinking through what are the best ways to make the most of the time I have to myself here in the mornings. How can I ensure I get the tasks accomplished, the work done? I could write tons on the need to have a plan, the purpose and genius behind having a task list, the necessity of goals and approaching the day with a strategy or a plan of attack. While all of those things are important and essential, I have found two quick and easy techniques which have helped me structure my day and frame everything needing to be done. I want to share these insights… with the caveat of I don’t always hit this mark myself. But, when I have my day has gone much better from start to finish and my mindset has improved.

  1. Read the Bible. Start the day with God’s word fresh on your mind. See what he has to say to you today. Too often, I view the Bible as just another book to read and I don’t consider what God can be saying to me as I read it each. We should expect every time we read the Bible for God to us it to convict us, teach us, train us, challenge us, and call us to live more like him. If we believe the Bible to be living and active as the book of Hebrews reveals to us it is, then we should expect it to be alive and speak directly into our lives each day. If it is alive, then it should have something to say to me everyday and every time we read it. If we aren’t challenged by the word of God, then maybe we aren’t reading with fresh eyes and a heart willing to be changed and molded into one resembling our creator. Allowing the word of God to speak to us, challenge us and set the tone for who we should be as his children for the day will give our days purpose and meaning as it challenges us to live worthy of the calling he has given us.
  2. Pray to the almighty God. I constantly think of prayer as a one-sided, empty experience. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God actively listens and engages in the dialog with me and you. God asks us to come before him as his children to ask him for the things we need. God desires to hear our prayers and further he desires to answer them… He doesn’t always give us what we want in the same way we as parents don’t always give our children everything they ask for. Sometimes we know better than they do. All the time God knows better than we do. But by starting the day on conversation with him, we have begun to be more aware of his presence in our lives and in everything we do throughout the day. We break down the walls of compartmentalization and allow God to permeate every aspect of our day.

In the hustle and rush of life, it isn’t always easy to set apart time each morning to spend it alone with God. I have come to realize the days that I am able to prioritize and spend time alone with the God who created everything, who was willing to die himself so I could escape the penalty of my disobedience and sin… those days have a better chance of not being screwed up by my selfish, self-centered approach to life.

Wisdom

  

It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and I’m on I-75 in the middle of South Georgia. Why?
I’m heading to north Georgia with two of my independent living youth. We are headed for the culmination of a mentoring program they started on the spring. It feels a little odd to be wrapping up the mentoring program I wasn’t really a part of. But tha s kind of how it goes. 

I have mixed feelings about being away from home this weekend. Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot going on back in Orlando. Ronda and I are in the midst of praying through a big situation for us. On one hand, I want to be there with her. One the other hand, I’m looking forward to the space and clarity that comes with spending a weekend in the woods. 

I suppose that means this weekend has a twofold purpose for me. To capstone the mentoring program and solidify my place in the lives of these youth as a mentor. And to allow God to speak to and mentor me this weekend. I have high hopes for this weekend. I’m trusting God won’t let me down. He doesn’t usually. 

The Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn’ is playing. That song always make me think of the Apostle Paul. He claimed his apostleship cake as one untimely born. I feel that way. Not that I’m an apostle, but that I often wonder about God’s choice to love me and use me to fulfill his purposes. But he does. And I believe this weekend he is going to teach me as much as he teaches these dudes with me. 

In some ways, I really need to hear God speak to me this weekend. I need it more than I have in quite some time. We started a new sermon series at church last week on the book of James. I’ve been reading it this week. In chapter 1, James says any who lacks wisdom should ask God in faith that he give generously to the obedient. That’s where j find myself. Asking for wisdom. Asking for God’s spirit of be upon me and inform my decision-making. I want to be a spirit-filled wise leader of the family and ministry God has trusted me with. 

This seems like a good place to close… God grant me your spirit of wisdom to be a wise leader of the people you have given to me. 

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