Tag Archives: God

broken things

photo by Nichole Park Photography

photo by Nichole Park Photography, http://goo.gl/u7JJ90

I had a wonderful thing happen the other day, seriously, a heart-wrenching God-send.

I’m working on these songs, grappling with what I feel they’re saying to me. This may sound neurotic, but once I’ve gotten them out, it’s like a birth… they’re now their own separate thing and I have to honor whatever those emotions were trying to say.

In turn, the songs also have to honor what I’m trying to say. This is the first time I’ve genuinely had an overarching theme that is complete and concise. It makes me so glad. In the end, these songs are saying to me the things that I’ve been needing to hear. I’m getting a chance to write an album of songs that *I* want to listen to and spend time with God in.

Some of the songs get kicked out, because they’re not talking about what I’m wanting to convey… so they have to go, or wait for some other time before they get to exist.

Wednesday night I was driving to Memphis with my wife. She drove so I could write. (very kind of her) I wanted to listen to some of the songs that didn’t yet have lyrics. I pulled up one that I hadn’t messed with in a good 6 months, and to my surprise, I had already written lyrics.

I had completely forgotten. A while back, in a night of sadness I was praying and just trying to find the sorrowful feeling I was having inside… I had forgotten that there was a whole song that gushed out and I had recorded it really fast as a rough draft so that I wouldn’t forget it.

I cried. It really ministered to me the other day.

You see, we’re broken. We’re all broken. We all try to spend so much time pretending that we’re not but we are. The good news is that there’s a God who absolutely adores the broken things. He longs for our company… and in his presence, but by bit, he makes us whole.

Sometimes I’m amazed at the words that the Father will send us in our messes. He speaks so kindly, and his kindness certainly brings us to repentance.

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Broken Things

clear my mind – tell my soul to be still
So I can hear You whisper in the middle of my noise
Tell my waves to be still
be still

I just don’t get you sometimes
I see you sleeping in the boat when I’m terrified
Tell my waves to be still
be still

God of my anxiety
Lord of my rest
Author of my being
Messiah, saviour of all these broken things

We just don’t get it
We probably never will
Your perfection doesn’t make much sense to our minds
We argue about you all the time

We want to prove to you that we know what to do
But when we try we only prove that the opposite is true
We argue about it all the time

God of our anxiety
Lord of our rest
Author of our being
Messiah, saviour of all these broken things

Let us learn to let go of the ruins we call home

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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

Covered in light

A tree fights to grow in a ruined and “cleared” lot of land.

Covered in light, stretching the sky
our king draws near, his reign is here
tell the children to run free without fear

Under his rule there is no wise or fool
just brothers and sisters and daughters and sons
Those who chose to trust and rest in his son

Glory Glory Hallelujah

Let all the earth rejoice

women, children, trees and stones

let the angels hear your voice!

with every beat of our hearts

and each day that the father gives

we will proclaim the truth

that the king of creation lives

he gives breath to the vile and life to the child
he knows the fate of both
he rides on the storms and in his hands are born
tools of destruction and the seeds of growth
so draw in close and join the host
of all who will live and be free
pledge your allegiance to the author of life
for there is no king but he

Glory Glory Hallelujah

Let all creation rejoice

Men and warlords, you kings on your thrones

let the angels hear your voice

with every beat of our hearts

and each day that the father gives

we will proclaim the truth

that the king of creation lives

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!

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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.

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. ****