Tag Archives: belief

27 Seconds

How disheartened I was to find out that I had misquoted one of my favorite movies and solidified it on a recording.

I had this thought about a scene in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It’s a wonderful scene where Molly is trying to show Mr. Magorium that he has much to live for. They’re in a clock shop, setting up all of the clocks in order to hear them all chime at one time.

You see, at this point in the film there’s a comment made about 37 seconds of time… I had always thought it was 27 seconds, so when I looked up the quote as I was writing a song, I googled 27 seconds, but apparently others have misquoted this as well… so I fed off of their misquote and immortalized it in my song… oh well, right?

Mr. Magorium: 37 seconds.
Molly Mahoney: Great. Well done. Now we wait.
Mr. Edward Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.”

And it’s true. That moment always shook me. I’m an incessant worrier. I’m a worrying junkie. I have to get a fix. But one of the most oft ignored commands of Christ is to *not worry.* And yet, it’s the hardest one for me.

I believe that if I’m honest with myself, I love having the stress there as my excuse to have vices, as an excuse to escape and be selfish. Maybe that’s harsh, but I find it valid. There are valid reasons for stress, I’m not criticizing that, I’m merely saying that a lot of times we totally miss the beauty in front of us due to our worry and fretting.

We’re meant to be like Christ, to find him in every face, every moment… instead, we often seek comfort and pleasure, trying to escape our worry. We worry about finding ways to escape our worry.

So, I want to give you this song as a Christmas present. This is probably just about my favorite song I’ve ever gotten to bring to life… may you see the presents in front of you. May you see Christ in every moment, and find who to kneel down and wash. In my life, it’s often been my friends, kids; the people right there in front of me.

I used to pine for big ministries, but now, I see that my ministry is this minute. The small things that can give the world around us hope and life.

Merry Christmas.

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Who are you looking at?

Have you ever had that moment when you were face to face with someone in a hard confrontation, and you could feel what they were seeing in you? As the encounter went on, you began to become what they were seeing in you.

Has this ever happened?

If your answer is no, then either stop reading because you’re going to think that the rest of what I’m saying is nonsense, or keep reading because you’re realizing this very moment what a dishonest person you are with yourself and want to move on and treat people, as well as yourself, better.

You’re still here? Ok, c’mon in to yet another one of my head trips. (rabbit trail – I don’t want this to just be about parenting… this is about the power of belief and how we view one another)

So, a few weeks ago I found myself up till midnight having what I would call a “fight” with my lovely wife. She called it a great discussion however. I was impressed with her for persevering with me, no matter what it’s called.

The topic; dear sweet Adaryn. Middle child. Explorer of boundaries, boundless in ideas and persistence.

You see, as of late, she had been what we will call “extra curious” of her boundaries with independence, passions, and really just how much Mommy and Daddy really meant what they said. It had been a seemingly constant battle, where day after day she was testing fences.

Needless to say, I was getting fried with it. I simply wanted my kid to obey and that be the end of it. But she was pulling more and more grand stunts, and I was starting to see the beginnings of what I’ve seen in so many snotty and rebellious teenage young ladies that I’ve known throughout the years.

After a while, I began to expect it. It was piled up high in my heart, and on this fateful night, my beloved Yvonne was going after it with all her heart.

Yvonne didn’t like what she was observing in me and my interactions with Addy. She said that I was heavy handed, harsh and intimidating. She (from what I remember) basically told me that I was giving Addy nowhere to go for hope.

Of course, what I heard Yvonne saying was, “John, you’re a crappy dad. You make your kids feel really crummy and stupid and you’re a big bully and a jerk! How do even get up in the morning being such a jerk? Jerk! Jerk! Jerk, Jerk!!! Dumb-head!” Yeah, that’s about the sum of it.

I was frustrated at what I saw in Addy. I didn’t want her to be a snotty, mean-girl. I was mad at being questioned as a dad. My pride was wounded, and it was very late. This wasn’t going well.

I had to look this in the eye. Yvonne wasn’t bending, and was totally calm. . . that always creeps me out.

She’s gonna laugh at that when she reads it, but if I’m intense, and she’s dead calm, I darn well better listen.

So I looked at it. Set aside the wounded pride, and look at it. I had begun to believe that Adaryn was a snotty teen. I had begun to look her in the eye and see a girl that was disconnected from her daddy’s heart, and drifting into the distance.

Sure, this sounds dramatic, but it’s real. Put yourself in this with any friend, loved one, whatever that you’re frustrated with. Are you really seeing who they are? Are you really looking at the person standing in front of you?

Or are you looking at the sum of the offenses committed against you? A pile of frustration? Your enemy? Have you lost hope?

Yvonne told me that I’d lost hope for Addy. That she would become what I see in her.

So I paused. I prayed. I pushed past all my frustration. Addy, my sweet little one. That little girl wants nothing more than to be near me and in my heart. She wants my delight more than anything. If I only look on her with disappointment, I will drive her away faster than anything.

Sure, I need to guide her, correct her and help her see when she’s crossed lines. Discipline is not a bad thing by any means. But what does she see in my eyes when I correct her? That’s the question.

If I don’t have any hope when I’m confronting her, then she won’t have any hope that she’ll ever be anything more.

Yvonne looked at me that night and knew that I was a better dad than that. Yvonne knows what kind of man I am and she wouldn’t settle for less. Yvonne did for me what I want to do for Addy; she looked me in the eye and reminded me of who I am.

This is hope.

This is exactly what God has done for us. He made us to bear his image. I know I always come back to this, but it’s just what is true. God looks at us and says, “Son, Daughter, I know who you are and I won’t let you just become another animal. Take my hand. Follow.”

And this is what I will give Addy, Chasah, Allie and all of my other kids that aren’t mine by blood. This is what I will resolve to give my friends and family.

But this takes some homework. We have to prayerfully take care of one another. You can’t just lazily expect to believe the best in the people around you, you have to learn what God actually sees in them. He’s their creator, and he knows who they’re made to be. To see others through his eyes, you have to spend time talking to him, walking with him, learning how he feels…

To preach the Gospel here for a sec, this is how, in it’s very simplest form, Christ’s rule takes over the earth. This is how the Kingdom of Heaven overlaps with this realm; we give ourselves to handing over our wills to the higher will of the Father. We let him tell us who we are… and we can look others in the eye, with hope and love, excitement and joy and say, “Friend, I know who you are. Be free! Come on!”

Correction becomes life giving.

Confrontation becomes liberation.

Being a truly hands on parent, through this mindset, becomes really, really fun.

**** just as a note, in the past month since the above encounter, I have had sooooooo much fun with my Adaryn. I love what God sees. ****

 

 

Angry at what you see? Be silent…

“God!!! How long will I call for help and feel like you’re ignoring me?!?

I keep telling you, ‘VIOLENCE! THERE’S VIOLENCE AND CHAOS EVERYWHERE!!!’

Yet, You do not stop it…

Why do You make me see such horrid things everywhere I look? It’s everywhere!

Destruction and violence are all around me.

Strife and contention are rising.

The law is ignored and justice is never upheld.

The evil surround those who would do good, the righteous… and because of this, justice is continually perverted.”

No, this isn’t the typical thing to wake up to on Christmas. In fact, I’d be sort of surprised if you’re reading this on Christmas. But you know what, that’s what Christmas is all about.

The above is a paraphrase of the first few verses from the prophet, Habakkuk. I doubt that any would disagree with the sentiments. This world often feels like it’s run by the wicked.

In chapter two we hear God’s reply to the desperate man. God assures him that the wicked will bring about their own demise. That their plans will always turn on them.

And in the end of it, the prophet states plainly;

“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

The rest of His account is an amazing and humble prayer of surrender to the ways of the Almighty. A surrender that few of us have the courage to take. It’s a song of praise to the God that seems so bizarre and frightening sometimes, whose ways can seem so off in our mindset. But the books ends with the deepest prayer of surrender that a man can make…

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, and there may be no fruit on the vines… even if all our hard work to grow food should fail…

Even if our livestock is lost and our stalls and cupboards are empty…

Yet, I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like the strong back legs of a beast… He makes me to climb to high places.”

This declaration of surrender can save our lives.

You see, things are simply not as they should be. Read the scriptures, you’ll find that God frequently laments the state of our world. He never intended for death and disease to rule over us. Creation truly does groan for the coming of our Lord. That’s why sing out to the Father to come, come Immanuel, God with us. Ransom us, captive to death, hatred, sickness and violence. Rescue us who are held captive to this sick and sad world!

But as the prophet said, the Lord surely is in His temple. Meaning: He sees and knows, and has a plan.

Keep silent, be still, and let Him whisper His assurance to you, that you, yes, even you, may be part of the answer along side of Him.

I give you an old hymn to dwell on this Christmas day.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

My Kind of Violence -or- Disposable Jesus?

So, I’ve been thinking about violence in my life.

A post from my friend Shammah really got my mind going. Below is a quote from it, I know it’s a big quote… but it’s worth reading.

A 2nd-century Christian once wrote, “The evil demons … subdue all who do not put up a strong opposing effort for their own salvation.” (Justin, First Apology 14). Don’t think that it’s all about God’s call. There’s God’s call, but he only chooses those who take the kingdom of heaven with violent effort.

The answer God has given me is to ignore all those thoughts and feelings. Who cares if I’m insecure, shaken by circumstances, and my feelings are driven around by what others think about me? My job is to ignore all that and get about my business serving God. I’m too busy to spend time fixing inadequacies that are impossible to fix, anyway.

What would be worse is if I used them as excuses.

To this day the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. Maybe God will deliver you from your insecurities, but he’s never delivered me from mine, nor from the utterly ridiculous thoughts that accompany them.

There are a lot of things that are violent in our culture. People want things, and we want them now. No hesitation… I mean, think about it, the bulk of us can simply name an item, and take it. Our brains work this way. And this applies from everything to food, goods, sex… everything.

We are a people of quick and fast conquest. And for the most part, if it can’t be obtained right now, then it’s not worth it at all.

This has translated into our relationships too. We want the results quick. Few of us put in the work to be long term and solid friends. Romantic relationships are burned through at an incredible rate as couples storm through the chase, straight through to culmination, and then discard one another as refuse.

Everything is disposable.

You may not want to hear this. You’d hate to think that you’re this way. I know that I personally don’t like it about myself… but the hard fact is that it’s true. We live in a disposable society. Get it quick, use it, pitch it, buy a new one. It’s almost like it’s in our DNA.

This whole mentality, that we barely address or look at invades our relationship with the Eternal Father as well. We want quick fixes, not long term endurance.

That quote above from Justin Martyr, “The evil demons… subdue all who do not put up a strong opposing effort for their own salvation.” rings very true, and opposes the quick fix mentality. Paul said that the testing of our faith produces endurance.

If we want to know God, if we want to be close to Him, then we can’t be looking for quick fixes. We’ve got to violently go after Him. Cling to Him, don’t let go. Relentlessly knock on His door for revelation. As my friend Shammah says, “Assail the heavens” for His living Word.

The violence I’m talking about is a shameless intensity and tenacity to find the precious jewel that we’re looking for. It is no small thing to know the very author of life. He is not mocked. And these quick-fix-self-help books and movies that so-called Christians are pumping out are making a mockery of following the Messiah.

I can’t expect to grow into anything resembling God’s son if I don’t violently oppose my lazy and self-indulgent nature and focus on Him, all the time.

It’s the garbage in/garbage out principal. If I spend my time satisfying myself… I get just that… myself. But if I spend my days gazing into the eyes of the Almighty, guess what? I get the Almighty coursing through my veins.

I’m not saying this to be condemning… I’m saying it to inspire you to acquire a violent burning inside of you to not settle for less than the presence of the Living God.

There’s so many aspects to this. I’ll have to explore them more in later posts.

In the mean-time, check out the one that I linked to above, as well as a similar one from my brother Jeff.