It’s not that I don’t like you, you’re just hard to live with!

Okay, so that’s pretty much a smack in the face. (Sorry. I do that sometimes.) I know you don’t, but a little therapy should clear that right up!

So, anyway, what do we do with people that it’s hard for us to live with? Do we smack them? Do we avoid them? Do we try to grin and bear it? Do we make them a priority-one on our prayer-lists? Do we ask God to intervene and level off one of us?

Yeah, this business can get pretty insane! (Why do you think I’m trying to have so much fun with it?)

Is there a formula for making it easier over time or a counteraction devise that can make our relief immediate? Well, if these things are legal, we have to wonder whether they might use them against us at some point?

Maybe our definition of live with needs to change. It is often a term we use for such maladies as a chronic illness, a bad marriage, an awful work situation, a bad attitude… But does such a thing apply to a person? Are we supposed to just live with people; try to get along with the inconvenience, learn to adjust into our state of perpetual despising?

I hope not! I pray there’s more hope than that for them and us! And that will be my focus here: us. We are the ones that must learn to live. We are the ones with the problem. (I’m not saying we are to blame, but is our responsibility to handle ourselves in this situation.)

I know the world always promises us that we can handle our situations–in the sense that we can do something with them–but this isn’t always true. Sometimes all we can do is handle ourselves in the midst of a certain situation. We do not always have the influence we would like, but we do have the management of our wills. That is what God calls us to submit to Him. This is our chief concern in living.

We must not concern ourselves so much with the things we live with, but with the God who teaches how to live while we face them. You see, the tests, the annoyances of this life are a stage: they are a back-drop for character development–both God’s and ours. This is not to say that God’s character grows in itself, but that on the stage of life’s bitter difficulties and strife it manifests itself in growing splendor before our eyes. And as this takes place, our characters–who we are–learn to abide more in Him.

So, you see, no matter what the details of the story, we can’t get caught up in them. He is the story and we learn who He is by embracing what plays out in our lives. If we were the story it would be a horror production, but because He is the story, everything we experience has a profound meaning that we’ll know only as we draw close to Him.

Therefore, we need not concern ourselves so much with what we live with and who, but about Who lives in us even so. God bless you in every disconcerting season with difficult someones; remember the story they’re apart of, you’re a part of.

Wikipedia: so definition: in a manner or way indicated or suggested.

“I do”, but not perfectly

Is “pristine” the only thing that glorifies God and benefits us? Can love have mistakes in it? Certainly God’s love has no mistakes in it, but what about mine? Can it still be called love if it’s blemished and misshapen? Is it good-enough to offer up?

I don’t think our love should be the focus of our gaze. I believe our love should be a response to His love. His love is perfect–that’s why we focus on it and that’s why it makes us righteous in His sight. His love is the One that went to the cross; ours is the one that exists because of the cross. Our love should not be our shame because it does not define us. His love does–if we’ll let it.

Therefore, we should no more desire only that the glory of God would shine forth from our lives; may we also plead that His glory would shine into our lives. In love is glory and in Him it rests. Let us rest there as well…

What’s your “widow-maker”-beating strategy?

Yeah, sometimes that question can leave you with a blank slate. Which, if you’re the rational being like I think you are, may cause you to end up with a slate that’s not so blank after all:

#&*(@$&)(*!&$*(#&%*#&%*(&*(^&*&*@$&*&%*#@&%*#&%*(&%(@^&(^&@#^!@%^&%$#^%($&^(*&^)^^&*#%^&*#$*#&*%(%*_)^*)&%#*(&(#@%&*(@#)%@#*&%(*@%^)$@#^)@#%^@%(*%&*(@$^&!^$%_@%&@(*ty(*t@y$t&%@%&(#ty*b(^#$b)*) b!*($(#!%b @*&HFF!N&)#&%@&!)$$*)%*(%*!)*%!_% *%YR)* VC*JG

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do so well without answers–especially answers that I consider to be crucial to life. Maybe you don’t consider the title question above to be that big of a deal; maybe it’s not crucial to your life as you see it. But, what if it could be? What if it’s one of those realities about life that isn’t always blatantly obvious; perhaps it’s one of those problems that sneak up on you–like heart-attacks that you thought came only at the brink of old age.

I’m not trying to scare you; but I do want to sober you if you’re taking this too lightly. In fact, I’d rather you were scared now than scared later. Maybe you’d prefer the opposite. But really, if you face now what there is to fear about later and you could get the matter dealt with in someway that brought last alteration and peace, wouldn’t that be a deeper promise of peace than you had originally?

That’s what I want for you. That’s what I believe God wants for you. So the only problem you would have at this point is deciding where this is what you want? Is peace all that necessary–that assured knowledge and confidence in where you are going, and thus, in where you are now? Or is peace something you prefer to create on your own out of your aspirations and temporary accumulations?

What is asked of you is not that you become less than a man, less of a human. The question is: Will you begin to truly act like a human and come back to your Maker? Will you remember Whose you are before you try demonstrating who you are? They’re simple questions–they only take a yes or no. I hope you’ll choose the “yes” that comes with the promise, rather than the “no” which is not any less wrong because it challenges you to try to survive on your whits alone.

So what’s your problem if you don’t really have a problem?

Have you ever heard a story of incredible misfortune with all the grief it brought upon the victims but wonder what caused all the trouble? It’s funny, that we should get so caught up in sympathy and shock that we would sometimes forget to ask relevant questions. Like, what made this happen? Was there a series of events that led up to this crisis? Maybe you or your friend are not so much a victim as you first thought.

I know, that doesn’t sound like a very sympathetic thought. But maybe we have a need that’s greater than sympathy. Maybe when we’re in a mess there needs to be something offered to us that’s more powerful than feelings, more steady than promises that it will get better because we’re good people and things always turn up after a bit.

Don’t you feel a need for more than that?

I know I do. For, after all feelings give out and promises are only as the realities they’re built on. I need more than what people can give me in their comforting assurances and I need more than what I can convince myself of with my hopeful wishing. Yes, there’s got to be more than this.

If there’s problems there have to be reasons for them. And if there are reasons then there have to be rules that those reasons follow. And if there are rules, then there has to be a Rule-Giver. I don’t know about you, but I want to know Him and how I’m supposed to live in this world; otherwise, I will find living under His governing unbearable and isolating.

Unbearable because only He gives the rules, reasons and problems meaning. Isolating because all of this is pretty intense and only He is in a position to benefit from them; I don’t want to be on His bad side!

Since there’s no pleasurable way out of what He’s got planned, why don’t we take a chance in checking it out?

No, there can’t be as much harm in this as there is in trying to win the game by steadily going the wrong way. At least by turning around you could get a handle on how the game is really played and Who’s got the lead. You might even link up with His team and you’d learn what winning is all about. It’s just a thought…


So, I’m wondering, what do you think about who you are? Do you like her, him? Are they “doing” it for you–do you feel satisfied with the mind, soul and body you’ve been given, or is it possible there needs to be some adjustments in a few places?

Yeah, I get that. I feel the same way. Nothing needs to change. (Just kidding!)

No, I often feel like most of me needs to change. But occasionally, even with everything that I know needs attention and could be improved, I’m okay. I mean, I realize I can relax where I am. I can let go of my self-alteration agenda and wait.

You see, there’s no way to be who God wants us to be when we’re so unsettled with who we are we can’t focus on anything else. We’re not perfect, but God knows that. That’s why He doesn’t leave us alone. That’s why He insisted that Christ’s blood cover us for eternity. He considered it enough. He said the work of making you acceptable was over.

Now, the question is, do you consider it to be over? Have you been jumping up and down and cruising all over the place trying to get help for yourself, trying to fix yourself up? Don’t you realize that God says He sees you through Christ? This is so that He can have the privilege of fixing you up. But, more than that, it is so that you and He could just be at ease with being with one another. He wanted you to know that life and peace and welfare aren’t missing from your experience because you didn’t earn them, but because you’re forgetting that they’re right there in Him.

Youth–and the rest of the iceberg we enjoy while we’re on earth

Youth. (Considering this word applies to me more than its opposite, maybe I’m not really the one to be addressing this topic, but considering I’ll be there some day, I figured I’d give it some thought in advance.)

Youth. Is it a thing to be prized.

(Yeah, I know, look around, it’s a dumb question.)

But, in truth, I’m not really asking if it’s a thing that is prized, can be prized (living in our culture makes that immediately obvious). What I’m asking is if it is truly something that ought to be prized, esteemed above other things? Is it something that is a blessing, or is it to be considered the ultimate blessing?

Why is this something so special and even coveted in our culture? When you are young, do you have something that those who are not young do not have? I mean yes, I get that there are the advantages (or should I say, blessings) of youthful vigor, prowess, appetite, fervor, imagination, adventure and appearance.

As I craft the list above I keep adding items because I hear the random exclamations of a regretful individual: “That’s what I really miss now that I’ve been shoved around the bend!” This is the verse of many older people, it seems; or people who are afraid if they’re not careful they too will soon by older.

Now, I don’t want to appear to be an opinionated whippersnapper (Whoa! Where do these things come from?!) since I’m not there yet, but I would like to challenge the inordinate value placed upon youth today.

I believe it is wrong for several reasons. For one thing, it diminishes the value attributed to those who don’t have it. This is a problem both publicly–in the way others treat them and media represents them–and privately–in the way the not-so-young see themselves.

This leads to other problems. Youths are exalted to positions of prestige and primary impact before they know what to do with it. They develop a sense of entitlement and a neglect of others, possibly even scorn–especially of those beneath them on the scale of desirable age.

Maturity, good sense and wisdom are lost to us because they are left both uncultivated and un-exhibited. The growth and human development which comes with a great measure of experience and attention to life lessons is demoralized. Exalting youth says that you are not only just fine as you are, you are at your best right now. The idea is to not waste it all on trying to become holy and selfless–this would put you shamefully at odds with disposing of your present advantages.

Growing up and becoming responsible are now things to be greatly avoided. We must hold them off as long as we can. Yet, we fail to realize that growing up and shouldering responsibility are not things that merely come to us with age, they are things that must be consciously developed within us according to the choices we make about our direction.

Life here on earth is not a lengthy proposition and we should treat it as such. We should learn to treat the seasons that mark it as a gift, even as they mark us. They contribute to the meaning we have in life–they teach us how to make the most of our time. They remind us that seasons–childhood, youth, adulthood and old-age–don’t define us so much as they carry us along to who we are destined to become.

After all, the real living and being come after this. It is what we’re preparing for; the existence we’re made for. And I don’t know about you, but I want to get the most out of every season of living while I’m here so that I’m not ill-prepared!

Can you be a person if you don’t belong?

Who am I?

Does this question ever rock your conscience? Do you ever look at yourself and feel like you’re not getting the full picture: you see a couple of main facets that seem to mean very little because there are yet a host of details to be filled in.

How can this be the case? Where is the rest of us hiding? Maybe its in the place you’d least expect…

There’s not too much to find that’s encouraging if we merely look inside, but there is much to discover if we look outside. Up there and out there is everything that we’re connected with and everything that we belong to. It is not that we are so much by ourselves, but that we ourselves are connected to so much. There’s a difference. Here’s what it looks like.

We are connected to God (this fact makes us significant because God is significant). This connection represents the fact that God created us and loves us. Yet, to the extent that we reject this connection–reject the One we’re connected with–we reject who we are and try to be connection-less. (Which makes no sense, by the way).

But, to the extent to which we long to be connected, we are dependent on Someone to connect us. We are not connectors, we are the connected. This is imperative for us to know. We cannot establish who we are, we can only submit ourselves to who we’ve been made to be. If we’re not submitted, (which, in case you didn’t know, is the route we’ve all taken from God) we are only living as disconnection persons–disconnected both from God and from who we truly are.

What an insecure place to be! What a mess of identity and conscience! We must be delivered. And, most surprisingly, we have been given the right to deliverance. Have you heard about it? Has it gripped your heart yet?

God, God of the universe, came down to reconstitute your identity. The only way to do this was to re-partner it with His identity. Staging a renewal of partnership with you at this juncture in your relationship was quite a step of humility for Him. There is no pride in a holy and just God connecting with a sinner who has rejected Him. But, there is a glory in revealing His love’s delight in returning sinners to Himself.

His heart chose to award the consequences, the great debt, of your disobedient actions to Himself rather than you. He didn’t excuse you, He didn’t assure Himself that you still had a “good” heart. He trusted, instead, in His own good heart to make your heart what it should be.

I don’t share this with you in an attempt to quickly satisfy all your questions; in fact, the reality above still hasn’t settled all my questions. My desire, instead, is that you will embrace the truth that the gospel holds out to you that you may be reconciled to God. When you do, you can feel free and eager to go ask your Father who you are. He can tell you more than I can, more than you can discover on your own.

A reason for living that goes deeper than I thought life could go

Have you ever been taken out of the game? Put on bed-rest? Prescribed a slower schedule and denied access to your super-man/super-woman cape and commitments? I have. Yes, in the grip of God’s loving ways, I’ve been “put on a shelf,” to a certain degree.

I have fought the idea that I can live without the world revolving around my activities. I have wrestled with the pressure to stop pretending that my assumptions do not need to change. I quietly begun to admit that others do not lose their reason for living because I am not beside them for all of their challenges and victories. I have lost my old sense of self and in its absence I look for a replacement. I feel uneasy in this new space. I cry out for help: “God, You got me here, now what are You going to do?”

While I am still in the process of accepting where I am and what God’s doing with me, I still have hope because God is yet doing something with me. He is changing–yes, renewing–my mind and it’s a gift. In all the confusion and frustration there has been deeper meaning; not everything has been lost. The wrestling has helped me discover something: Something I would never have applied to myself if God had not restrained my steps and severely limited my wanderings. Something that gives life even though it is so shamelessly tinged with death.

I did not know Christ

to any spectacular degree

before I found myself here.

But, now that quietness

has stole over me

and I have learned

to live out-of-the-way–

I hold a gift, a gift of

greater worth than what I’ve lost.

I have missed out;

I’ve been forgotten

but one thing I’ve gained:

Christ has become my peace.

He has come and sat with me;

made the emptiness a treat.

Overflowed my parched soul

with joy

and touch my weak points

with grace.

Christ is is known most dearly here.

And so I don’t fail to relax.

Instead, I give thanks.

My understanding is slow,

but one thing I know

He is true

and alone with Him

I still grow.

The wonder is that

I am not always (out) there

that I might remember

that I am not the One who’s needed;

only He makes this life

we live

a truly pleasant affair.

Does God know the pain?

Does God know the pain

with which I’m slain?

Does He know what it’s like to live without

And how if feels to be left out?

Can He change Himself to be like us, in our despair?

Has He ever suffered beneath a disgruntled stare?

I wonder if He sees what I suffer

Or does He prefer to hide behind a buffer?

I wish I could see Him in all the chaos

I don’t think I sense Him up on the cross!

I wish I could ask Him something but “why?”

If only I knew how not to cry.

But I have to believe all that I do, He understands

and no matter my failures, for me He stands.

In this is my hope, and my only true strength

My God’s love is assured me and knows no limits in length!

I will look forward with hope and make this my song:

My Lord is my Savior; and in Him I belong.