Tag Archives: Christ

Of disciples and powers – or – Give to Caesar?

I’m going to take a risk at rambling here. I haven’t written on this site in over a year, I think. But this weighs heavy on my heart, and I want to get some thoughts out.

Christians debate round and around about politics, government and morality. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like the Accuser has us at one another’s throats to cut each other down and rip one another apart with our opinions and ideas.

First, let’s look at the calling of the church. We are the sons and daughters of God, the descendants of the “seed” mentioned in Hebrews. That seed being Christ, the seed of Abraham that was said to be a blessing to *all* the nations of the world.

We are meant to be a blessing to all of the nations.

Can we be a blessing if we’re busy cutting each other apart? Can we be any help if we’re at each others throats so much about how the world should be behaving that all they see is division, anger and hatred?

No, we cannot. And we will not should we choose to persist in our behavior.

We are behaving as those who do not believe in our King who intercedes for us before the throne of God. We are behaving as animals out for mere survival, thinking only of temporal nations and not the everlasting rule of the One True King that will never, ever end.

I think it is genuinely essential, crucial for us to look at the teachings of the early church, those who were mere generations after the apostles who walked and talked with our Lord and Messsiah. What did they have to say?

Origen quoted a prophecy of Isaiah:

Who among the believers does not know the words in Isaiah? “In the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be revealed, and the house of the Lord on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills. All nations shall come to it. Many people shall go and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his way, and we will walk in it.” For out of Zion shall go forth a law, and a word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more [Isa. 1:2-5]. (Letter from Origen to Africanus 15)

The nations are not, at this moment coming to the House of the God of Jacob because we are so divided against one another. We are of this or that affiliation. We are on the left. We are on the right. We are of our opinion.

The church is meant to be a beacon of hope, light and life. They will see our love for one another and be amazed and say, “Look! See how they love each other? Let’s go and ask them how we should live!”

And our humble reply is to obey the master.

But no, they are not coming to us. I believe that part of this is because we are beating down their doors to force them into submission to a master they do not have any interest in serving.

Paul, in 1 Thessalonians tells us to make it our ambition to lead a quiet life and work hard with our hands, that the outside world will see our work and glorify God. We don’t give them time to see us work hard and with love because we’re too busy NOT minding our own business and caring for the kingdom of God.

In 1 Corinthians Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that we are not to spend our time judging and assessing the world and their ways, but to focus instead on one another in the church. That we should watch out that we do not behave as the pagans, or those who are not following the King do. He says that we would have no one to speak to if we insist on judging the world. That’s not our domain. No, ours is the church, the Kingdom.

We are a transcendent nation meant to go beyond any borders, tribe, tongue or political affiliation. We are not of this world. We are citizens of the king who have BEEN RANSOMED FROM THE VERY SYSTEM WE INSIST ON BEING PART OF AND PROPPING UP.

I’m no socialist, communist or capitalist. Though my earthly citizenship is in the U.S., I have to acknowledge that my King, the Christ, Jesus, ransomed me with His very blood to rescue me from thinking like this earthly nation. And not just this nation, every nation. One of the many things he has ransomed us from is the idea that the nations could ever fix it all.

The scriptures make clear that the nations and powers are tools of God. God uses them for his wrath and to carry out justice. But Jesus never allowed his disciples to take up this task. In fact, when Peter drew his sword to stand up for Jesus (the way we so often do day to day, thinking we need to defend the author of all life) he was disarmed and only made more glorious work for Jesus to carry out in healing.

Jesus had to heal the man Peter saw as an enemy of God. Peter had good intentions, the same as so many of us, and Jesus disarmed him despite those good intentions.

Can you see this scenario in our daily lives? We see so many as a threat to God and his morality. We draw swords and work hard to control the powers of this world. But when we play by their rules, drawing the sword (whether by word or deed) we only wind up cutting off ears and making more work for the Father to do despite our actions.

As far as participating in violence goes, there’s not room here for me to list the many, many writings from the early church fathers regarding this. They are clear. For some meaty lists, Christian History for Everyman or go here for another list that is even longer.

In my opinion, there’s no disputing what they had to say. They were clear. Those in the first 3 centuries of what we call Christianity were forbidden to participate in the violence of the powers.

Personally, I would go even farther to simply look at the example of Jesus himself. He and the disciples stood, walked and talked in the midst of one of the most horrid, debased empires. The debauchery around them was intense. And yet, you don’t hear Jesus speaking out against the governing powers of Rome. Instead, he focused on those who were trying to follow his heavenly Father.

He even stood before the powers, innocent and blameless, and subverted them by submitting to death. He overthrew them by being still rather than overthrowing them with the very tactics that they used day in and out.

Our King rules with a power that submits and subverts, overthrowing with love, rather than force. There are no laws against the calling of Christ to love one another. The powers cannot stop us.

He taught us to pay our taxes without complaint.

Paul and Peter taught us to pray for our rulers, regardless their sin. It should be noted that they did this during the time of Nero, a disgusting man who would light Christians up as torches to light his garden. He enjoyed our torture. Yet Paul and Peter were still there telling us to submit, as our Lord did. To pray and beg God for mercy and grace on them.

Christ, Paul, Peter, John… they all stood before the horrid authorities over them knowing full well that God is our defender.

The martyrs throughout the centuries faced the beasts and executioners knowing full well that God is our defender.

We, however, live in fear of a nation falling apart in immorality.

God is still our defender. And fear IS NOT A FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. 

The difference I see between us and the early church is that we have a government that seemingly asks and requires our participation. Rome did not do this. America, however, permits us to have a voice.

Therefore, we really should do what we can.

But, this does not mean that we should behave as though we are fighting for America. We are not, and it is imperative that we DO NOT.

The Kingdom of the Living God is the goal. His kingdom is eternal and will have no end.

The nations of this world will, without doubt, pass away and no trace of them remain in the scope of the rule of our King.

Don’t be afraid. Set your eyes on Christ, the king. He will defend. He does not need us to pick up swords, whether physical, emotional or the swords of our tongues. He needs us to live, love and move in Him and Him alone.

Do we hide our heads in the sand? No. Speak up as you are given right to for *actual* injustice. But do so in the Spirit of our King, not on the basis of opinion.

Our opinions and mindsets cannot be fueled by the talking heads of our age. We cannot allow the church to be shaped and molded and manipulated by Spirit of the age that keeps us fighting. The fighting and bickering is their culture, and not ours. 

We were never told that the world would know us because we fight, argue and scream louder. No, they will know us by our love. Our minds must be renewed to not get entangled with their logic that the cross has turned into foolishness.

Yes, the cross has turned their culture and political wars into foolishness.

We have to give ourselves over to this truth, the cross is foolishness to the wise of this world. Our minds must be given over to THE WAY of Christ to be renewed and saved from thinking about ruling the world the way the powers, people and cultures who war against one another.

There is no power that can go to war against the love presented in the Cross.

There is no power that can prevail against it.

If, however, we spend our time listening to the logic of the world rather than the teaching and instruction of our master, we will fall into the trap of compartmentalizing our faith. What we do is call ourselves Christians, but neglect to let the love and clear teaching of Jesus guide our actions, mindsets and even our voting.

Instead of weighing who to vote for or what causes is just against ideologies like Capitalism or Socialism, we should be weighing all things against the living, breathing WORD of God who walks and talks with his Church.

If we do not weigh all things this way, the cross, when presented, will look like nonsense. We will scoff at loving actions because they do not line up with our ideologies.

Make no mistake, the way of Christ, His love and self sacrifice *is* a threat to every power because, in the end, it will undermine all of them. But, if *all* submit to the Way, then the powers have nothing to do. The systems break down. The poor are cared for and the rich are generous.

Sure, the thought of those last few statements may make some bristle, but it *is* the picture painted by the scriptures, and it is the heart of God that all of his children live together, in harmony and generosity.

We are meant to be the salt of the earth. We are meant to be the Body of the Living Christ.

May we all ask ourselves, every morning and night, “Father, how is my mind overpowered by the culture around me? Teach me, loving Father to think like you think. Teach us to love as you love. Teach us to see what you see. Teach us, blessed King, teach us how to live.”

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.

Song #1 – Making it right – not getting it right

So, right now I’m working on a new CD… and I’m very grateful because I’ve had a real writers block for the longest time. I’ve had music for these songs for a long time, roughly 1-2 years. The music expressed deeply what was brewing in my heart with God, life, love. But I just couldn’t find the courage to express it with words.

But things have been changing. My wife and I have been overwhelmed by the safety and shelter of the love of Christ and his people. Something cracked inside and now it’s all spilling out.

So, one by one I’m going to go through these songs, and what is on my heart with them. (You’ll have to just wait to hear them, however)

This first song is all about the fact that when Christ claims us, we’re his. He knows us. He’s not shocked by us. He’s not expecting us to perform like a perfect dancing toy for him to assess.

In fact, he knows far more deeply than we do what a mess we really are, and if we’re willing to follow along, he knows the path to take us on that will lead us to life.

This is a message that I cannot emphasize enough to myself.

We have an incredibly messed up idea of perfection. We look at performance, not progress… we look at looks, not the heart. We have the idea that things going smoothly, being just so, is perfection. But God seems to have a different idea.

The scriptures are a huge, massive tale of God showing us just what his perfection actually looks like. And it seemed to be a big deal to Christ as well, as he said that we should be perfect as he is perfect. Then, he proceeded to treat sinners, wretches, prostitutes, traitors… he treated them in ways that were so outside the box.

Our God is the restorer. He is creator, and recreator. He puts things right. Christ set people right. He restored them to being the children of God, made in the image of God.

If perfection was this messed up, performance based idea of getting it right and things going smoothly, then would God the father not be a horrid failure? He created this world, and allowed room for it to make the choice to hate him.

No, his perfection is inviting us into the dance of making restoration along with him. We get to join in as he makes all things new.

___________________

My Refuge

you don’t have to get it right to be mine

you don’t have to perform for me

you don’t have to get it right to be mine

set your eyes on me and you will see

 

Your perfection is nothing like mine

I am resurrection

your perfection is nothing like mine

I renew perception

 

Rise and face the dawn

 

Rise and face the dawn

be a harmony in the eternal song

rise and face the dawn

all creation will sing along

Well… how many loaves have you got? – or – Why don’t you give them something?

Mark 6:34-42 (from the Kingdom New Testament… emphasis mine to show you what stuck out to me today)

When Jesus got out of the boat he saw the huge crowd, and was deeply sorry for them, because they were like a flock without a shepherd. So he started to teach them many things.

It was already getting late when his disciples came to him and said, “Look: there’s nothing here. It’s getting late. Send them away. They need to go off into the countryside and the villages and buy themselves some food.”

“Why don’t you give them something?” Jesus replied.

“Are you suggesting,” they asked, “that we should go and spend two hundred dinars and get food for this lot?”

“Well,” said Jesus, “how many loaves have got?” Go and see.”

They found out, and said, “Five, and a couple of fish.”

Jesus told them to sit everyone down … Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples to give to the crowd… Everyone ate, and had plenty.

Maybe I’m just emotional, (a few people have hinted that I have those tendencies) but what I see here is an amazing example of the Father’s heart for us. Set aside the spectacle of the miracle and you see a relationship. You see mercy, and you see grace (power from heaven) coming through to make up for where we fall short.

_______________

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting a missions organization who does disaster relief. They train young people in the scriptures, in hearing the word of God, and to discipline their bodies relentlessly. A few loved ones are participating in their year-long program, and they had graduated from the “boot camp” portion of the internship, so we went for this event.

We toured their  dorms, which are on a cargo ship. The ship is no cruise liner. Paint is peeling. Things are not pristine. But… things are clean, well loved, and maintained. They’re using what they’ve got to the fullest extent that they can.

In fact, every single piece of machinery that this relief organization owned had been given by the same faith that Christ had when he asked the Father to bless those loaves and fishes.

These folk impressed me with the lack of excess in what they utilized. They didn’t squander their finances trying to transform a crusty ole ship into a fancy, cozy ship. No, they said, “What have we got? oh… it’s a crusty old ship. Let’s lift it up to the Father and ask him to bless it to feed the many.”

And you know what, the Father has done the same thing with them, no… he’s done more with them than he has with the feeding of the 5,000 we read about in Mark. Yep, we’re meant to do greater things than Jesus, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we see the proof. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe the stories.

_____________

I want that too…I’m jealous.

_____________

I look at my home. I live in a trailer, in a village of trailers. Not all of them are in the greatest shape. They’re kind of like those ships I was talking about… run down and such.

We can spend our finances on life together, on people who we can have fellowship, on necessities, or … we can try to transform our trailers into something their not, attempting to make them into condos and fancy places that people are in awe of.

Sure, I want people to feel welcome, safe, loved in my home. I want it to be a place where people come to be creative and find life.

But will I do that by getting fancy stuff and redoing everything? I’m more and more convinced that, no, this isn’t the way. Sure, if God wants that, he’ll provide it. But no, I feel him asking me to take my finances, my stuff, my everything, and lift it up and ask him to use it to feed the people. And a lot of time that money goes to food, feasts, and fun, meeting needs… (kinda like the lady pouring out the expensive perfume on Christ’s feet)

This is my beautiful wife utilizing what we've got to make our house pretty

This is my beautiful wife utilizing what we’ve got to make our house pretty

The people need spiritual food. The Father wants us to utilize what we’ve got and let the Kingdom infect everyone. He wants to take our lack and make those around us wide eyed with the glory of God… but it’s bigger than that, this is a principal at the very foundation of life in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom  is upside down.

We build earthly kingdoms with might, money, aggression and strength.

But the Kingdom of heaven is built on grace, that amazing power from heave. It is built on mercy, utilizing even the weakest aspects of our lives for great, great things. On the creative and incredible heart of a Father who loves to make something out of nothing… those moments when we cry out, “But Father! There’s nothing here!”

I have often felt like I’m nothing to work with. Even more, that I’m in the way. But no, I’m me… he made me, me. And he made you, you. Offer it up, just like those pitiful few loaves and fishes, and he will bless it to feed the multitudes.

We will all be judged! But we don’t have to live in stress about it. – or – How I stopped trying to be Shane Claiborne and learned to love being John Bob

light bearersMy friend, Paul Pavao posted a great blog today about the judgment seat of Christ. We will be judged. It’s true. If you want to follow Christ you have to believe this. It’s all over his teachings… it’s all over the teachings of his disciples.

(so, disclaimer: if you want to debate that, don’t do it here. I’m not inviting it. I think you’re doing yourself a disservice to overlook and write off everything that Jesus and his beloved wrote about this topic. I, however, am no debater. So don’t debate it here. Go back and look. Ignore your theological teachings that have only come from the last 100 years and just look at what Jesus said. It’s really, really clear if you’ll look with the eyes of a child, instead of those of the *wise* and learned)

That stresses me out.

Seriously, I can lie awake at night stressing about whether or not I’m good enough.

This won’t work.

I’m not Shane Claiborne. I’m not Katie Davis. I’m the dad of four amazing little girls who love My Little Pony and love adorning people with gifts… hey, wait a sec. Hmm… I’ll get back to that.

One thing that Paul made clear in his blog post was that there is a big difference between judgment and condemnation. This helps me out a lot. Our culture tends to make the two synonymous. But they’re not. When I look at an apple and an orange, I make a judgment. One is an apple. One is an orange. That is my judgement, and my judgement is true. (see what I did there?)

When I decide to drink a smoothie instead of make greasy hash browns, I’m making a judgment. When I love a friend who is falling into sin, I have to make a judgment in order to even love them. “Hey, you’re not being who God made you to be… take my hand… get up… let’s go back to the Father.” That’s a good judgment.

But then there’s condemnation. “Hey, you’re a jerk.”

There’s no out. No hope. You’re labeled and done.

Make sense? Cool… on we go.

In Christ, the reality is that we still own our actions. We still are responsible for what we do with our skin. God isn’t pretending we’re good when we’re not. No, when we choose to confess Christ as King and Lord, to accept that truth and reality in our lives, we are in the family of God. We’re adopted. Dad doesn’t damn his kids as long as they’re willing to stay under his rule and leadership. It’s simple logic.

He’s not the pagan God needing a sacrifice to appease his anger and then somehow magically transforms himself into his own son to… er… appease himself and torture… uh… what the heck. Messed up logic.

Yes, logic… God gave it to us. It’s okay to use it. His way is simple. He’s King, (with a capital K) Lord, Friend, Brother… he’s family. You can blow off family. You can cut yourself off from family. You can do your own thing. If he didn’t want us to have that freedom, there wouldn’t have been that pesky tree in the garden. He longs for our freedom, and he longs for our fellowship.

His family is amazing. And his judgment is just. But to separate those two words, condemnation and judgment, truly gave me a better look at the difference.

Why am I saying all of this… well, there was another part of the post that caught my attention.

“You will rise from spiritual death into spiritual life; old things will pass away; all things will become new; you will become his workmanship, created in King Jesus to do good works, just the ones that God has prepared in advance for you to do.”

Wow. Seriously, take a sec to look at that whole sentence, let it sink in. Go about your business for a while and then come back.

….

….

…. go on …. no, don’t keep reading, go back and look at it and go away… I’ll see you in a bit…

….

We good? Okay, cool.

So, that statement, that you and I were created in King Jesus to do great things, things that God planned specifically with us in mind.

I tell my girls all the time that God loves creating. They love creating because God loves to create. I think we all love to create in one way or another. You’re made in His image after all. You’re made as a sign post, reflecting a tiny piece of the creator of the universe. That’s who you are. Like it or not, it’s who you are and you won’t be happy being anything but that. It’s like a dog trying to be a cat. It won’t work out.

He’s designed you to be with him in making all things new.

When I hear that statement, that he’s made specific things for me to do, there’s a sweet thing that rises up in me. I was made to be me, and I’ve got awesome stuff to do that no one but me has to do. I’m not supposed to be just like Katie Davis, Shane Claiborne, David Servant or Paul Pavao. I’m meant to be me.

Each day, I get the privilege of waking up and hanging out with the King of the universe, look him full in the face and say, “What are we doing today…” Just like Jesus did. And he’ll show me, guide me, through speaking to my innermost being, as well as through his body, the church, who I am and what I’m meant to be. I can trust that. But the second I start comparing… the moment that I take my eyes of his and start comparing myself to his other children, other parts of his living, breathing body, I become like Peter on the water. If I look my Lord square in the face and let him call out to me… if I believe that his Word gives life and I can do anything he says I can do, then I can do it. But if I look around me, at the raging waters, I will only sink.

These are true things that I can rest in. I may not revolutionize a homeless shanty town in downtown Philly, but I may raise little girls who will care for the hurting around them. I may not adopt orphans in Africa, but there are young ones here, right in my midst that need a good papa who cares. The accuser loves to get us thinking we’re not good enough, or this enough, or that enough. But am I me enough? Am I picking up the things that are mine?

It could be easy to miss the small things that are mine, trying to do the big things that are somebody else’s.

May you look at the Father, rest in his body. Enjoy being you, within his body and believe that together, each of us being who we are, we can be Christ in the earth.

May you never despise the amazing, small things he’s given you to do today. If every single one of us does our small little thing, today, the world will see his huge, corporate body standing tall tomorrow.

I Cannot Give What I do not Own

I think the title is obvious, right?

If you ask me for $20, and I have nothing, I can’t give it to you.

It’s simple economics.

So I’ll get right to what I’m thinking here; if a friend, spouse, child, needs mercy and understanding, and I haven’t received that same mercy and understanding from the almighty God… if I don’t own it, I can’t give it to them.

Last night, I tried to be understanding with my oldest girl, Allie. In one way I was hacked off. (it didn’t help that I was sick either) In another way, I saw in her this tendency that she has to not speak up what she’s actually wanting or feeling. I tried to draw the truth out of her, but all that came out was condemnation. In fact, my wife thought I was blatantly calling her a liar.

I never said those words, but with what tone I was giving off, I may as well have.

We excused the kids from the room and proceeded to fight. It was a messy fight, the kind where you’re not entirely sure what you’re actually fighting about. But something that Yvonne was trying to say to me hit me hard, and it made me want to stop the whole thing.

What I heard in my heart was that I was treating Allie, her and the kids the way that I treat myself.

I really hate me, when it comes down to it. I think I’m in the way all the time. To put it blunt, I often feel like people’s lives would be a lot easier if I wasn’t around to make them so much more complicated. I pick myself apart and have these standards that I simply can’t live up to. And when I don’t live up to them, I have to punish myself.

Lately, however, I’ve been really digging into Romans. I used to read that book and feel like I was reading an algebra lesson. Now, not so much. In fact, there’s some really good news in there. At least, it’s good news if you choose to accept it.

The Gospel, that Christ is Lord, that we have his help, that he actually and personally cares to help us get through this and that there is a living, breathing, Kingdom waiting with open arms for us is really stinkin good news.

People are always saying “The Gospel is free!” and stuff like that… I don’t know, I think that the Gospel costs a lot. I think that accepting the Gospel, actually costs everything.

The Gospel costs my whole life. And there’s a specific part of my life that I have not wanted to give… my own righteousness. The idea that I can warrant the love of God… that I can make it… that I can get it right enough to make him happy.

It’s in every single one of us. A pharisee. A self-righteous jerk that wants to grunt through and get it right enough that we can boast in our own efforts, rather than the finished work of our Lord and Savior.

So, what can be done. Who can save this sinful man that I am.

In Christ… that’s all that I need to be. In… IN Him.

What does that mean? In his Church, In His will… nestled up right inside his heart.

I see that when I focus on trying to get it right, trying to have the right answers, trying to be sure that I’m making the right plans… right. right. right right RIGHT!!! I am only focusing on being right.

But what does a good slave do with their master? He watches what the master is doing and follows his lead. There’s no question of right or wrong.

What does a good child do with their father? They watch, and follow where he leads… no question of right or wrong.

It’s my life, for his life.

I heard a song lyric the other day about wasting years eating rotten fruit from a rotten tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or rather, the tree of the knowledge of right and wrong, is rotten and bears only rotten fruit. It’s dead.

Ah, but the tree of life, it’s so sweet and good. And we have to simply take it.

I’m seeing more and more that to accept the forgiveness and mercy of God, the fact that he knows my weakness and inability, and loves me and wants me near him anyway. It blows my mind. It’s like Peter, sitting there after Christ gave him that massive catch of fish, and he sat there on the ground saying, “Get away from me, Lord. I’m disgusting. You don’t even know how nasty I am…” But Christ wrapped around him.

We want to earn it, instead of accept it. I’ve wanted so bad to earn it, to warrant it… but I can’t. And my God has been so, so good to me.

May I learn to embrace it… meditate on it… to actually receive it and let it break through my soul and crush that nasty liar in me. It takes some very open arms, and a lot of giving up the grunting, and simply living in Him.

“Don’t let your struggle become your identity”

I have this lovely young friend with whom I’ve been sharing quotes as writing prompts. You see, she’s a great writer, but she doesn’t think she is, and she wants more practice. Practice is always good, right?

My goal is to get her free-writing and really expressing herself. She has so many amazing things inside of her. The whole thing is really reminding me of the very reason that I started this blog and named it what I did. The whole thought of, “No my dear… we’re already on an adventure.”

Life can be very good. But we’re just not very good to ourselves.

So, I gave her this quote yesterday. I also told her that I needed to write about it myself.

The more that I thought about it, the more it ate at me.

What is my struggle?

I really feel like I’m one of the biggest lugs of condescending crud around. I wrestle with being a chubby, volatile mess of emotions that keeps people on their guard to not trip the wire and unleash “the other guy.”

I hate it.

And you know what? I was taught to think this way.

I could get into parenting here, but suffice it to say that when I blow it, blow up, get snippy or anything, I have it in my head that it’s over. I’ve ruined it.

I have the thought in the back of my head that this is all a test, and if you miss one of the answers, or perform poorly on any of the questions, you’ve ruined it.

It’s the first thing that comes to my head when I mess up.

This is my biggest and ultimate struggle day to day. It leads me to want to give up, hide, sulk, fight more, drink… you name it. It takes me to dark places. It used to take me down so far that I would actually, physically punch myself in the head because I couldn’t handle it… I felt so helpless.

And yes, to this day, I wrestle with that helplessness every single day, multiple times a day.

My Identity

Am I a “ruiner” of days? Am I just a big, arrogant jerk that brings storm clouds? No.

It’s hard to embrace it, but no, I’m not.

I am John. I’m the one that Christ loved. He loved me even when I thought I ruined the day. He loved me when I felt so helpless that I would beat my face in panic and get high to calm down.

He loved me.

I will not let my struggle be my identity. No, I won’t.

I will let it roll off. I will back up when I mess up, and move forward in hope because that’s what’s true.

NOTHING is irreversible.

NOTHING is unrepairable.

I’ve seen more growth happen in my children from saying “I’m sorry” than anything else that I’ve done with them. I’ve grown closer than ever to my wife by backing down when I’m all in a wad inside and holding her instead.

This is my identity. I want to lay my head on the breast of Christ.

I don’t talk about this enough. Every day I have something that will happen, I lose it, I pop, I feel so out of control… if only for a moment. And I wonder, sometimes only for a split second, “Am I still that guy? Am I still the violent man who pummeled my sister and threatened my mother with a knife?”

No, I’m not.

When I shake inside, I will get still and lay my head on his breast. When the storm rages, I will learn to lie down in the boat with him and have faith.

Sure, I may have messed up. But he’s the king. I live in his kingdom. He will show me who I am. He will use it and set it all right.

I’m the one that he loves.