Tag Archives: depression

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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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

Confessions of an Ungrateful Heart. Pt 2

I tried really hard to keep this short… sorry… there’s just too much on my mind. I selected the pic for this post because it’s how I feel!

_____________

I am overwhelmed by the love of my God. He’s mine. I am His and He is mine.

I love this life!

I don’t deserve the love he gives. I don’t deserve the amazing life that he’s given me. It’s oh, so easy to get burned out. For those of you reading this that aren’t in the church, but merely attend a church on Sundays, there is a huge difference.

One is a form of encouraging or uplifting entertainment. It may spurn you to live better throughout the week, but it’s simply not the same.

But when you dedicate yourself to people who are, together, dedicating themselves to God, you have a completely different phenomena. There really is a huge difference.

Living a life that is immersed in the church, (not necessarily communally, I’m not saying that) you are proclaiming the Gospel that the gospels talk of Christ proclaiming, namely, “The Kingdom of God is at Hand!” This is where his rule is. You can’t live a kingdom life on your own.

I get in a funk. I want to live a kingdom life on my own. But my bones simply won’t accept it anymore. I can’t make my God happy or appease his wrath. I can’t offer any sacrifice. I … am … empty.

I can only be with him. That’s all I’ve got left. I’m not good enough, I’m not noble enough, I’m nothing without my King. And I love being with a whole lot of people who feel the same way. It’s an overwhelming gratefulness.

One of the most amazing aspects of living a Kingdom life is that you get to see the Father’s hand all the more… the other day, I got to see it touch me, and heard him speak to me in a mighty way.

I already told you about how tired and burned out I’d become.  God meets us there… he met me there. But I needed more, though I didn’t know that I needed more.

I went to my sister’s house with my family and a couple wonderful young friends for the weekend. We had a nice time. One friend warned me to be sure to not take on too much, but to help my family pull together and rest.

I did the best I could, and I think we had a very nice time. I love my sister, she’s one of my heroes. We’ve been through a lot and God has been very good to us.

At the end of it all I loaded up the van for the trek back home. We made good time and were home around 4:30 in the afternoon. Not bad. But it turned out that I had mistakenly stolen my sister’s purse.

She needed it asap, as she’s a foster parent, and had much to do the next day and really couldn’t be without it.

You could imagine that I was a bit derailed from my peacefulness… or rather, the peace I had conjured.

You see, our God isn’t interested in us conjuring some shallow peace that we can muster ourselves: rather, our God is interested in showing us who we truly are as sons and daughters of the Most High, heirs to the one and only Kingdom, and he will stop at nothing to bring us to that life and freedom.

One of the friends who had come with us called me as I was figuring out what to do. I had only just dropped her off. She’d lost her phone somewhere in our van. I told her what had just happened and that I was going to have to do another trip to Nashville and back.

“Can I come?”

My heart instantly lightened. “Please do. I would love that.”

Yvonne, my sweet bride told me that she felt like this was all God’s doing… he set this up. So I set off with that thought in mind. (it’s never a bad thought to keep in front of you)

The next 6 hours were 6 of the sweetest hours of my life. This young friend and I had a blast. We talked and picked on each other and laughed… she thinks I’m sappy the way that I love the fall trees soooooooooo much. That gave her material for a good couple hours till the sun set.

But what was really amazing, was the underlying things that God said to me throughout the evening. We talked about life, parenting and discipline. She told me what she saw in me and how I handle my family.

I view myself as such a basket case. I know my heart, weariness and emotional nonsense. I know how maniacal I can get inside and how often I’m just barely getting by. Sometimes I feel like such a failure in front of everyone…

But she wasn’t seeing this. She was telling me just how encouraged she was watching the way I dealt with my kids and family.

You know, I don’t even know if she knew what God was saying to me while we talked, but what I heard was that God wasn’t seeing this. Even though I may fumble, he is so much stronger.

In our weakness and struggle, someone else is being lifted up and encouraged. In her case, she was getting hope and vision where I thought of myself as a miserable failure.

One neat little sweet thing that God did for us as we drove: Her mom called us to tell us that a gas station along the route had found her phone and was holding it for her. That’s a normal courtesy, right? But in this instant, we were 10 feet from the driveway of this gas station.

I don’t care if you agree, that’s God being such a sweet father.

He loves me. He sees me. He knows that I’m trying and he’s happy because I’m with him. He doesn’t care about my religion or my rituals or my sacrifices… he cares that I stay next to him and rest in him.

He arranges my steps and I could not be in better hands.

Praise the God who loves us the way no earthly father could. Praise him because of his patience and long-suffering! Praise him because he turns our mudpies into feasts of plenty.

My friends and I have a whole lot of mud-pies… and we’re eating at the most incredible banquet ever!!!

Confessions of an Ungrateful Heart

“O Lord, hear my prayer!

Pay attention to my cry for help!

Do not ignore me in my time of trouble!

Listen to me!

When I call out to you, quickly answer me!

For my days go up in smoke, and my bones are charred like a fireplace… Because of anxiety that makes me groan…

For the last couple of months I’ve been downright tired. In fact, more than a few times I’ve grumbled under my breath that I hate my life.

More and more I had been wanting to escape and just sleep, watch movies… fade away.

We just had an annual festival here, a festival where we get together and celebrate our life together… it’s a weekend where we really enjoy each other and rejoice. I spent most of the weekend longing for my bed. I tried to want to be with people… I did.

I hate that feeling. You’re exhausted inside and out. You know that it’s off, you know that you should want to be with the church, good people who are filled with love, but you just don’t have it in you.

I was walking around watching people smiling and laughing, and I just couldn’t muster it up without being the biggest phony ever.

I know that there’s some out there who believe in the “fake it till you make it” philosophy… but I just don’t buy it. At least, not for the long run. When you’re trying, day after day, and not “making it” then something is wrong.

My friend Shammah told my wife and I once, “There’s nothing more important than being in the presence of God. If you can’t find it, you have to halt everything and get back with Him.” He explained that if we really believe what we say that we believe, then there is no greater task than being next to our heavenly Father… everything else can wait.

That’s not faking it, that’s honesty.

I didn’t feel my God anywhere… but it’s funny, I saw him everywhere. I even saw him working through me and the situations around me. I saw him working despite me. I just wanted to go to sleep.

Finally, I snapped. I wanted to hurt everyone around me. I was annoyed by them all. I couldn’t see gratefulness worth anything.

Sometimes, on my lunch breaks I’ll exercise and watch a mystery show on Netflix or something… it’s great for unwinding. But last Thursday, I just couldn’t. I needed to hash it out with God. I needed something.

If I was hiding sin I wanted it revealed. If I was filled with hatred I wanted to know. I wanted God to show me so that I could make him happy!!!!

But all that I got was love. It was one of those moments when he simply wraps around you and says, “Son, you’re fine, and you need a nap.”

So I laid there and cried. I know, sounds like a weak thing to do. But I’m weak. I’m pitiful without my God. I just wanted to be a good dad, husband, friend… and God was telling me that I needed a nap.

I cried for a while, and came inside and my friend pulled me aside and told me how much Yvonne and I really needed sleep. Wow, what a shocker. It was sweet really.

Having real and true friends is the best combatant of depression. You need people to tell you, “No, you don’t actually hate everyone, you’re just tired. Have a nap and relax. You are loved.” And to believe them and rest in them is so wonderful.

I’ll write more about the following few days tomorrow… because God had a WHOLE lot more to say about the subject, and especially on those first few bits of Psalm 102 that I posted there.

The Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything

Are you in a rut? Stuck? Feeling without vision? Feeling like the day to day simply isn’t adventurous enough… I have an answer.

And yes… I’m truly that presumptuous.

Douglas Adams wrote humorous stories about beings wandering the universe, looking for the meaning of it all. They were looking for the answer. In observing my kids, and the way that they bloom the best, I believe that I’ve stumbled across one such answer.

Day to day, my three daughters love to create. They constantly have a stream of designs, cartoons, crafts and life flowing out of them. There’s nary a day that I don’t find one more piece of art declaring their love for me on my desk at home.

But seldom, very seldom do these little ladies make things just for themselves. There is always another motive. In every stroke you’ll usually find the intent of brightening the day of someone near to their little hearts.

Their life is a playground of creativity and gift giving for them to dance and play in.

Can you say that about your life?

I can’t… but I’m sure as hellfire gonna learn.

Let’s take this weekend, for example. These little girls drew, worked on marionettes, started making puppet ideas, and even did some yard work too. Almost all of it, minus the marionettes were things to give and use for the delight of others.

I, however, was exhausted most of the weekend. I had my aspirations of giving myself to learning and playing with the kids. But alas, I found myself a vegetable, struggling to be dragged along for the ride.

At the end of it all, I felt like I’d wasted it away. That is, until we prayed.

Late last night as we talked to God together, my oldest daughter, Aletheia Mercy ( truth and mercy) prayed to our wonderful creator God. “God thank you so much for all of the things we got to do for people this weekend. It was so much fun!”

Her heart was full, and she would lay down to sleep with a clear conscience and a sound heart.

They gave of themselves all weekend. They poured out the love that we pour in to them on everyone around them, in their own little ways.

So here’s the challenge; do you?

Can you?

Is what you’re doing working for ya?

___________

Last night a young fella came to me, wondering what to do. . . he was stuck, and his mother was pushing for him to look for some answers.

This guy has amazing things inside of him, but instead, he wastes the sweetness inside of him on video games and self-gratification. This particular guy is made for helping little ones. If you knew him, you’d agree.

I’ve seen who he is, but he’s 17 and squandering it. Consequently, he’s miserable. But instead of looking at the real answers, like most 17-year-olds, he looks to finding “more.”

More intense games.

More extreme energy drinks.

More adrenaline rushes.

But it will never be enough. I told him this straight up. “You can be a vampire, or you can be who you’re made to be.”

It’s not the video games. And it’s not enjoying movies and a red bull now and then. It’s living for your own gratification.

“Greater love has no man that he would lay down his life for his friends.”

We know it, but I don’t think that we know just how to live it day in and out.

It’s the small things that give us vision. It’s the teeny little projects of love that drive my little girls to be filled with vision and drive day in and day out.

They have filled their hearts with a desire to see you smile.

May we do the same.

This is the answer. This is the key. This is that kingdom that spreads like little, unremarkable shrubs throughout the whole earth, giving hope, life and vision to all around.

As you finish this, ask yourself, “Am I really happy?”

Yes… No? Well, go visit that sweet lady who’s all alone.

Take out the trash.

Set up a card game with a lonely friend.

Do something, anything, for somebody else.

 

Do You See It?

I love the sky

It’s a simple concept, but it often causes great rage within us.

“Because they do not regard the works of the Lord, nor the deeds of His hands, He will tear them down and not build them up.”

What a statement. It’s from Psalm 28. It’s quite a prayer.

It’s often very frustrating and difficult for us to acknowledge the hand of God and all of his works and deeds. It can raise a thousand and one questions to which I simply don’t have the answer. . . But in the end, God’s hand is everywhere.

He’s there, beside us, wanting to work through the horrific tragedy that we wreak upon one another. Whether in the jungles of Africa and the torture of children, to the abusive enslavement of generations to hollywood in America, God is trying to work.

God is there, attempting to reach in and help us. Why? Why on earth would he be mindful of us? Why?

I don’t know… but he is.

And here’s the clincher on that passage above; David seems to believe that because people don’t look for the work of God in and through our world, God makes a choice to not build them up.

So many times we’ve seen people like Mother Teresa, Shane Claiborne, Kathy Kelly, Rich Mullins. . . I’m sure you could list them off. There’s many that I could list off right here that you’ve never heard of. But these people were not, are not rich by any means. In fact, some of them you could downright say that they are stricken by God. Their lives are riddled with tragedy, but yet, a smile beamed, or still yet beams across their faces.

Why?

Because they made, and are making a choice.

They’re looking for the hand of God. They’re looking for the presence of their glorious Lord and master.

They’re not afraid of laws passed, or governments or tyrants. They know who is truly in charge, and that nothing escapes his gaze.

And they are built up by God.

When we make the choice to look for him in all things, to ask him to reveal himself in all things, the God of all creation will truly show himself to you!

One of my favorite passages in all the scriptures is from Malachi.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this. . . if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

Just to be clear, the word ‘tithe’ isn’t referring to the bogus nonsense that churches preach and use to fund their buildings and pastor’s salaries. The tithe was for the people, together. The tithe was for a big party for the people of God to celebrate and delight in the Lord’s abundance. Honest… go look!

Anyway, God says, through Malachi that if we put everything that we’ve got into the Kingdom of God, He’ll give us everything he’s got as well. He even goes so far as to say, “test me now in this”. This is pretty well the only time in the scriptures where the God of creation is inviting us to put him to the test.

May we take this challenge seriously.

You can’t lie about it, and pretend. . . this is the God who formed you in the womb. This is the God who designed you to be who you are. This God had a plan to express some part of who he is through your personality. . . through your eyes.

Look for him, he’s looking for you.

That Jerk Doesn’t Deserve It -or- A Plea to the Christian

Today a friend directed me to the story of Bill Zeller, a young computer programmer who died from injuries he sustained in trying to kill himself. So in the end, he was successful.

He left behind a 4000 word essay, which I’ll admit, I couldn’t get all the way through. It simply hurt too much.

I mentioned it around some friends, and one said, “I guess he closed the program…” and laughed. He wasn’t meaning anything by it, but none the less I told him it wasn’t funny. It bugged me. And I knew that I could have just have easily made such a comment.

Our disregard for life… it’s sick. We are an ungrateful and numb society.

We prey on each other in the worst and most subversive ways.

We are the brunt of each others jokes… and we really don’t care.

There’s always a reason to shrug it off. “Lighten up!” “It’s all in fun” “Don’t take life so seriously.”

But can we shove our excuses aside? Can something be sacred. If we pick just one thing, may I propose ‘life?’

It occurred to me earlier this week that I’ve grown up with the mentality that you don’t give to those who don’t deserve it. You don’t give handouts to people who haven’t earned it. You don’t hand money to a guy who’s only gonna buy beer with it. You don’t treat jerks like nice guys.

I don’t know where this came from. Maybe it’s just part of the sick way we humans think. It certainly all comes down to protecting what’s mine and neglecting what’s yours. But wherever it came from, it’s wrong. Dead wrong!

So here’s where I go getting religious. To those who hate this stuff, I’m sorry, but I can’t change who I am. Christ reached in to my life and saved my life. I’m not talking about saving me from hell. I’m talking about actually saving my life… my physical life.

I was inches from suicide. I wanted to die. I hated everything that was me. I felt like a plague on my wife and kids. I felt like a vampire sucking the life out of others to keep myself alive.

But God the Father in His glory and mercy reached into my life and saved me. He brought me into a real and living Church that actually strives to live out and be the hands and feet of Christ… and I felt Him hug me, love me, and lift my head so that I could walk again.

Why?

Well, He gave it to me, and blessed me with a grateful heart so that I could give it to you. To everyone that I see.

No other reason than that.

I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t do anything to merit this attention to the creator. He just gave it to me.

This guy, Bill Zeller. He described himself quite a few times as angry and mean. He describes himself as the kind of guy many of us would walk away from and avoid. Now, I don’t know if that’s accurate, it may not be. He actually sounds like a sweet guy who was dealt a very very bad hand.

It doesn’t sound like he ever got to meet Jesus. Not the ‘confess-your-sins-and-say-this-prayer-jesus’ that doesn’t actually change anything in your life, but the Jesus that walks, talks and holds you in your pain. He touches your face and you know that He loves you. He looks into your eyes, and you look back, and know without a doubt that you could leave anything behind so that you can follow Him wherever He goes.

The living, breathing savior that isn’t just in a book but truly brings light and life into your life, and SETS YOU COMPLETELY FREE!

This is the Jesus that I met and chose to join. And this is obviously the Jesus that never got a chance to meet Bill Zeller.

or maybe He did…

Maybe you’re a part of that Jesus, but you forgot the gift of life that was given to you. Maybe you, you who call yourselves the Body of Christ (and I’m pointing the finger at myself just as much here) maybe you saw a guy like Bill in a fit of rage in the checkout line. For a split second, you contemplated stepping in to offer a hand, but then the thought occurred, “That jerk doesn’t deserve my time!” and you walked away with your conscience clear.

Maybe you saw him on the side of the road, talking to himself, and for a second thought of giving a ride… maybe buying him a burger or something. But then, you remember that he needs to learn to take care of himself. You wouldn’t want to enable him to keep being a bum right.

But you didn’t notice the darkness. You didn’t see the thoughts surrounding him. You didn’t hear the voices screaming in his or her head, or see the memories of rape, pain, tragedy and suffering in front of their eyes.

You, me, we… miss the real person and their pain.

We will continue to miss it if we don’t start disposing of our predisposition to protecting ourselves and reach in to a dangerous mind and plant the seed of love. Just like Christ did for us.

If we claim to be His followers, then there really is no other road. It’s not an option. He said that the world would be blessed through us, and He even went so far as to say that we would do greater things than He did if we believe in Him and follow His commands!

Can you believe it? I know that I have a hard time with it… but it is truly who we as the Church are made to be. We’ve been given a gift of life and love from the Father, and that compels us to give it freely to everyone that we see and touch.

God, please give us grateful hearts

Please change our minds to not just see faceless creatures, but your beloved children everywhere that we look

Please God… help us be like you

Help us to truly understand that there is no greater love than to lay down our lives and get uncomfortable with a new friend

God, please give us the grace to be like You