Moments

I attended a wedding earlier today – scratch that – I officiated a wedding earlier today.

Here’s the deal – I think I’ve probably officiated 100 or so weddings in my life – so in and of itself, officiating a wedding isn’t that big of a deal to me. I mean don’t get me wrong – I have been honored to do  each and every wedding I’ve officiated, and all of them are a big deal… I’m just saying officiating a wedding is not something out of the ordinary for me… OK, back to the story…TONIGHT’S WEDDING MOVED ME.

At first I couldn’t even really put my finger on what it was that was so profound to me. I mean it was a great venue (but I’ve been to great venues before)… It was somewhat small, it was quaint, everybody there seemed to really like each other… Thinking through it, though, I think there are a couple of things that really spoke to me… The first is simply their story – which is INCREDIBLE! The things they’ve been through, seen, experienced, endured… it’s powerful (but not mine to tell)… but I don’t even think that’s fully it… When it comes down to it, I think it was simply the way they looked at each other through the entire ceremony. There was a place where I made the statement somewhere along the lines of “Love is saying – I CHOOSE YOU – no matter what” And their eyes were fixed on each other – and it was BEAUTIFUL (I get a front row seat to these kind of things ya know) 🙂

When they said their vows (which they wrote) – they meant them.

But again, it was the WAY they looked at each other… Both of them were like, “I get to be with you forever…” And it touched my soul… And I saw that “Love Works.” And I was reminded that Love is patient and kind and isn’t proud or rude and it doesn’t keep score (that’s in the Bible if you wanna check it out a little more… 1 Corinthians 13)… And I was reminded that vulnerability is a good thing – a great thing actually – but its scary at the same time… and that’s part of what makes it great!

So that said – I had a moment! Then I drove home (after a good dinner) 🙂

My drive was about an hour – and although I am quite extraverted, I do have some introverted tendencies… I can get lost in my thoughts pretty easily… I actually enjoy driving by myself, gathering my thoughts, talking to myself… you know, that kind of stuff.

So I began to reflect (which is what I do a lot)… I reflected on my last 6 months, my last year, my last 2 years, my last 5 years, 10 years… you get the picture. I reflected on things that have touched my heart, things that have made me laugh, things that have made me cry… things that have pissed me off and things I didn’t understand…

I’ve had A LOT of GREAT moments… A LOT!!!! So many GREAT memories. Too many kid and family stories to share… vacations, holidays, childbirth (not mine – I don’t remember that one…). I’ve been privileged to lead worship as well as speak/teach and share the Gospel to thousands of people. I’ve shot under par several times, caught a salmon on Lake Michigan, and I’ve been to NUMEROUS sporting events…

Back on the daddy note, even earlier this morning when I was cleaning the garage a bit, I stumbled across one of Lexi’s first school back-packs, and so I thought of her first day of Kindergarten.  I heard the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman for the first time on the radio on the way and BAWLED my eyes out (google it, it’s a tear jerker). In another box I found the little foam glasses Nixon had to wear when he was in NICU for 9 days after he was born… A cassette tape of songs we sang to him so the nurses could play it if he cried and we weren’t there… scary moments, but great moments at the same time.

So many memories – so many moments…

I got the news just 2 days ago that a dear dear friend of mine, and a man I greatly respect, had to (got to) sing his wife into the arms of Jesus… they have been married 65 years or so. Beautiful and gut-wrenching at the same time.

I’ve had moments in the last few years where it was everything I could do to get out of bed. I dealt with some serious depression, and I don’t throw that word around lightly. I had friends and family surround me in my greatest hours of need, yet still felt like I didn’t have a friend in the world at the same time (if that even makes sense).

I’ve rejoiced with friends who have gotten married and I’ve cried with those who have experienced divorce. I’ve visited couples in the hospital having their first child (when they weren’t supposed to be able to have babies) and I’ve seen other’s struggle with infertility. I’ve performed weddings for kids I had in my youth group and I’ve performed funerals for a 1 year old and a 9 year old…

I’ve had friends who were declared cancer free  (and rejoiced with them) and I’ve had friends who found out “we found a new growth” – and it SUCKS!!!

I got to see the Sooners make the Final Four in basketball and football, the Thunder were OH SO CLOSE to making the NBA finals… then I also experienced KD’s betrayal as he signed with Golden State (too soon??) 🙂

So what in the world does all of this mean????

To be honest – I DON’T REALLY KNOW! Other than the fact that life is made up of moments… good ones and bad ones. And the bad ones don’t have to overshadow or take away from the good ones. Most of us have all tasted the thrill of new adventures… we’ve experienced HOPE for tomorrow, but we’ve also tasted the pill of rejection and/or betrayal… and the good is good, and the bad is bad… and there’s a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to tear down and a time to rebuild (Ecclesiastes 3 has a bigger list).

All this said, as I reflected on all these moments, the good and the bad, I have been overwhelmed with the gratitude that no matter what has happened, no matter what my experience, what my moment, God has been alongside me every single step of the way… I sure didn’t always see it/feel it at the time… but He has been there – He is faithful (even when I haven’t been)… And what does that do? It gives me hope for tomorrow – because I’m going to continue making and experiencing new moments – there are GREAT DAYS AHEAD… There are times when I’ll laugh my face off and times I will cry my eyes out… but they are moments, and they shape me, and they grow me, and they mature me, and they make me, well – me. And I think I’m ok with that!

May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)

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When my Expectations don’t match my Experiences

Well – it’s been a while – again 🙂

I go through seasons of blogging, times I sit down to write/type, and words just seem to come very easy. Then there are times they don’t come at all – my last year or so has seen plenty of each… I started jotting down some simple thoughts earlier today and realized I wanted to develop it a little more… so that said – here goes nothin’

I’ve discovered that a lot of times, life pretty much looks like I think it’s going to look. I can plan things out in my mind… If I do this, then this will happen… by such and such time, I will be at this place, doing this thing, etc… (that is vague on purpose, because it looks different for everyone) 🙂 We are taught to make 1 year plans, 5 year plans, 10 year plans, etc… And there’s a reason for that… we’ve all heard it said (or seen it posted in a nice little picture on social media), “If you fail to plan, then you can plan to fail.” I believe this is true. I believe planning is important. I believe goals are important. I like things like personal (and vocational, and family) mission statements… I love little phrases I can teach my kids… For instance, if you ask my kids what the “6 Quirk values” are they will spout off, almost agitated, “God, Love, Grace, Fun, Respect, and Team” (I even made it kind of rhyme when they say it in the proper rhythm) 🙂 Again, these are all good – I want my children to know what we value and how we make decisions…

BUT – What happens when life looks NOTHING like we thought it was going to look like… Because I’ve lived long enough to know this happens quite a bit as well. Despite all our planning, all our happy thoughts, all our positive energy, all our prayers, all our 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year plans… sometimes life takes a left turn you just flat out weren’t expecting… Tragedies happen. People hurt you. Companies go bankrupt. This list could go on and on… but there are those times you just get punched in the soul, you find yourself dazed and confused wondering what in the hell just happened… “This wasn’t supposed to happen – not to me at least; This is the kind of stuff that happens to OTHER people…”

In these times it’s easy to question who we are. We sometimes wonder “What did I do wrong?”. We struggle in our faith. We search and search, because again, this wasn’t what we had PLANNED!!! And it reminds us, sometimes quite harshly,

“We are not in control of things near as much as we’d like to think we are”

So the question is, what do we do when our Expectations and our Experiences don’t line up? I’ve always like the phrase “When what we see with our eyes doesn’t match what we believe in our heart”

I believe one of the first things we need to realize is that WE ARE NOT CRAZY for getting knocked to the ground. All the questions, all the rationalizations, all the frantically grasping for something to make it all make sense… YOU ARE NOT CRAZY! I’m actually crazy enough to believe that someone reading this needs to hear this 🙂 (pardon the pun)

Now, don’t get me wrong… every little thing that doesn’t go as planned shouldn’t get you bent out of shape… “What do you mean Target is out of avocados!!!! How in the world am I supposed to make guacamole???” (if something like that has you curled up in the fetal position on the ground, you may need help/encouragement beyond this blog… just sayin’)

But, back to my original thought… Sometimes life knocks us down, and just know that it’s ok to hurt. It’s ok to question. It’s ok to not have all the answers wrapped up in a tiny little package. I believe that questions, pain, and confusion can play a significant role in our faith journey… I will go as far as to say this. Almost every person I “admire/look up to” in life has experienced some sort of Crisis of Belief… but they didn’t stay there…

In a crisis of belief, we are shaken before we become stronger

So after we trust we’re not crazy, what do we do?

We STOP (Pause, Listen, Rest…) This seems like the exact opposite of what everything within us is telling us (many times screaming at us) to do. I believe some of the biggest mistakes we make in life are when we respond too quickly, without thinking, without gaining perspective… we just have a knee-jerk reaction (usually laced with emotions) to try and FIX what has gone wrong.

I love the OT book of Habakkuk… In a nutshell, he doesn’t like what is going on. He doesn’t understand what God is (or isn’t) doing… Chapter 2 starts off with this statement

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand my watch, and set myself on the rampart and watch to see what He will say to me…

In other words… he says, I am going to hit pause, I’m going to be patient, not rush into anything stupid… and I will wait to see what He will say…

Here’s the kicker… stopping doesn’t mean “whining, complaining, belly-aching, griping, etc…” Maybe there is a time for that… Like I’ve said, grieving is natural; questions are natural; anger is natural… believe me, I’ve been there…  Your time line may be different from mine (and that’s ok), but at some point, we have to make the conscious decision to not stay there! We need to stop, reflect, lift our hands, and surrender it… whatever “IT” is. I believe when we get to this place, healing starts… We are able to start hearing what it is that God may want to say to us in and through whatever “IT” is… because I have found that He is almost always speaking to us… we just aren’t always listening…or we aren’t ready to hear what He might want to say (and that’s ok, again, for a season).

But it’s all about surrender. It’s all about TRUST. It’s all about understanding He is good, and even when bad things happen (things we didn’t plan for, things we didn’t like, things that hurt…) He is faithful, and He is good, and He will bring beauty from it… a lot of times when we least expect it. I saw this quote not too long ago and I really liked it…

When we have nothing left but God, we discover that God is enough

Because at the end of the day, my worship, my joy, my satisfaction, doesn’t depend on the external – it depends on my trust in God…

My prayer and desire is to be at the place that I can trust Him with my life more than I trust myself with it… even when I don’t understand it…

I’m a story teller, so I’ll close with this…

About 4 years ago, my son, Nixon, shot himself in the eye with a nerf dart gun. He is always hurting himself, so I waited for a while to see if it would start getting better on its own. Well, after about 3 hours or so, with him still screaming and not letting anyone touch it, I finally decided to take him to the ER to make sure he didn’t shoot his eye out… When we got to the ER, the screaming continued… he wouldn’t let the doctor take a look at it… he was scared and he was hurting and wasn’t about to let anyone touch him. The doctor looked at me and said, “Dad, you’re going to have to pin him down so I can numb it.”

I crawled up on top of my son, put my body weight on his legs and pinned his arms down with my hands, so he couldn’t move. I will NEVER forget the look he gave me. He was screaming, “Dad, what are you doing!!! Don’t let them hurt me!!! Dad, don’t, don’t don’t. WHY are you hurting me???” (I’m not over-exaggerating this one bit… it was brutal) All I could do was whisper in his ear, with my face next to his… I love you buddy, I would never let anyone hurt you. I love you so much. You are awesome! You are brave! Just trust me buddy!!!

The doctor put the numbing stuff in, and almost immediately he was like, “That’s it??” “That wasn’t so bad!” Then he kind of smiled and was embarrassed at the same time.

I tell that story to simply make this point… He didn’t understand what was going on. All he could comprehend was the fact that he was scared and his eye hurt. When I climbed upon him, he wanted no part of it. He thought I was betraying him. He didn’t understand that what I was doing was necessary for him to get better…

And there is a much bigger difference between God and me than there is between Nixon and me…

In the midst of your struggle. In the midst of your pain. In the midst of life’s experiences not matching your expectations… STOP. LISTEN. TRUST.

May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)

 

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Adulting can be hard

I usually try to put on the front that I have my stuff together!

My name is Glenn (some even call me Pastor Glenn, but I actually prefer Glenn)…

I’m a daddy to three WONDERFUL children and they are the joy of my life… They are all 3 very different (in ages and in interests), so trying to find something to do with all 3 of them at the same time that doesn’t create mutiny can be challenging from time to time. A typical day with the kids can look something like this…

Hey Dad, can you shoot hoops with me in the driveway? I’m working on my Euro-step and need you to play defense!

Hey Dad, you promised you would play soccer in the yard with me!

Hey Dad, can we ride our bikes around the block?

Hey Dad, come watch me play Mine-Craft and I’ll explain (in GREAT detail) what I’ve built.

Hey Dad, wanna hear a joke?

Let’s play a board game. Let’s draw. Let’s play legos.

Hey Dad, I need a ride to ____________.

Dad, I need some $$$$$$$$$

Hey Dad, what are we gonna do today? Can we go swimming? To Hey Day? To Frontier City? Let’s go to a park!

I’m hungry!

He (or she) hit me, called me a name, is being rude, won’t play with me…

When’s dinner?? I don’t want that for dinner!!! We had that for dinner last week….

You wanna watch Sponge-Bob with me? How bout Alvin and the Chipmunks?

Don’t get me wrong – I am NOT griping (well, not too much at least)…

But adulting is hard!

I saw this pic the other day and totally related!

blanket fort

So – let me start again….

My name is Glenn (Some call me Pastor Glenn, but I really prefer just plain ‘ol Glenn)

I really (don’t) have my stuff together all the time…

I mean, my Facebook wall has lots of smiles and great moments, and they REALLY, REALLY, REALLY are great moments… because I have A LOT of them… but I have a confession to make… There are plenty of days I just try to figure out how to get to bed-time 🙂 … Speaking of bed-time… “Dad, I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I’m not tired, please tell me just one, I really mean 6, more bed-time stories…”

Two nights ago it was that time of night when adulting requires me to make dinner for my children… It was just me and the boys, but they made it clear they didn’t want chicken nuggets (don’t judge me)… I asked them what they wanted, and the answer was spaghetti… awesome, I can make spaghetti… if we had spaghetti in the pantry… or sauce (which they typically don’t eat anyway)… Well, although there was no spaghetti, there were three almost empty packages of other random noodles… macaroni, farfalle (the fancy word for bow-tie pasta), and some other kind I don’t know the name of… OK, now I need to find a vegetable… are pickles vegetables? Is that wrong?? OK, I can’t do pickles and spaghetti… OLIVES!!!!! Yes, olives are vegetables!!! (I think)…

Now – to sell it to the boys… “Hey boys, we don’t have spaghetti… but tonight we have a special treat… I call it “3 pasta combo” – it’s an age old Italian dish, and you’re going to love it… it comes with a generous side of olives (vegetables)…

Here is the masterpiece….

Dinner is served

Did I mention I served it on paper plates because I just didn’t have it in me to dirty up more plates to put in the dishwasher I had just loaded and started?? (in looking at this picture, I really think I dodged a bullet because neither boy mentioned there was one more olive on one plate than the other…)

So – we ate our dinner, and my youngest said, “Dad, this is the best dinner I’ve EVER had! You are an AWESOME cooker!!!!” My other son echoed his approval… (I’m not even making that up)…

And it hit me… God sees me 🙂 And He used my 5 year old to let me know He sees me… He knows I don’t have all my stuff together… He knows there are days I am super tired and feel like a bad parent… He knows I’m doing the best I can… and He loves me… and I don’t have to always have all my stuff together… And it’s OK to feel like crawling in my blanket fort and coloring from time to time (just not too often – because then I might need counseling…) 🙂

Is this a stretch? Maybe – but I don’t think so… I believe there are those times when God whispers to us in the simplest of ways… It doesn’t have to be the huge “HOLY COW” moments… You may even read this and think, “Wow, that’s a little out there Pastor Glenn.. I mean Glenn” But I would almost be willing to bet that there are some of you out there that dream of blanket forts as well… And my hope is that this little corny blog serves as a gentle whisper… a whisper that says, “I know where you’re at… I know what you’re going through… I know you don’t have it all together… but I see you, and you’re gonna make it!!!”

1 Kings 19:11-13

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave…

LISTEN FOR THE WHISPER!!!!

May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)

 

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Dirty Footprints

I’ve always loved the account found in John 13 of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. There is so much symbolism in this account. I actually taught on this passage a few months ago… feel free to watch it AFTER you read this blog 🙂  Dirty Feet

The thing that has ALWAYS stuck out to me the most about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is the fact that Judas, the very man who sold Jesus out, was included in the group. In other words, Jesus performed one of the lowliest, most demeaning acts of servanthood (again, watch the message) 🙂 for a man in his inner circle – someone He should’ve been able to trust – who betrayed Him… It’s a beautiful picture of the Gospel, but also a wonderful example for us to embrace… It’s much easier to serve and humble ourselves for someone who loves us back – but when someone betrays you – well, that’s a little more difficult…  especially if it’s someone close to you.

AND – the closer you are to someone, the more their betrayal hurts…

I have been known to make messes before… Whether it’s dropping salsa on my shirt or busting an ink pen in my mouth (true story), I have a knack for leaving a trail behind me.

In May of 1995 some of my closest friends lost their mother in a tragic automobile accident. She was a wonderful woman who invested a lot into my life (taught me a lot about leading worship and reading chord charts and many other things)… I felt helpless in my ability to help the family. One of the things I was asked to help with was going up to their house with their daughter to clean the house and yard because a lot of friends and family would be coming to visit. In the midst of doing some yard work I unknowingly stepped in a muddy area in their yard. I then walked back into their house to help clean inside. I turned around after walking through their living room (with light beige carpet) to see my huge muddy footprints plastered through the entire room. We then spent the next hour or so trying to clean the carpet and make it look presentable (I actually think we did a good job). Needless to say, I felt TERRIBLE!!! I had been trying to help, but ended up making a mess of things. Looking back, I found that the tracks I made were harder to clean than my shoes would’ve been. And that’s how life is sometimes, huh?

People leave footprints on our soul…

They aren’t easy to clean…

In my case above, I was aware of the footprints I left, and I felt terrible… but in life, sometimes people aren’t even aware of the muddy mess they tracked across your heart, and sometimes they don’t care… BUT… the severity of the hurt/betrayal doesn’t give us a free pass to keep us from walking in forgiveness; it doesn’t give us a free pass to harbor bitterness; it doesn’t give us a free pass to seek revenge… what do we do? We wash feet!

WHY? WHY? WHY!!!!

I believe a HUGE part of it is the fact that by walking in forgiveness, showing grace, not drinking the bitterness we so desperately want to drink (and feel justified to drink), we are not only washing the feet of our betrayer, we are in essence washing the mud off our own feet as well… HURTING PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE… so when we hurt and don’t deal with it… when we harbor unforgiveness and bitterness… this is many times the catalyst that causes us to track our dirty feet across someone else’s soul… and the cycle continues…

I ran across an article today on forgiving when you don’t feel like it and a lot of it spoke to me… SO – now you get some of the key points (and maybe a few of my thoughts to go with them) 🙂

It was entitled 10 ways to forgive when you don’t want to

  1. Understand it is a CHOICE
    I think a lot of times we sit around and wait until we feel like forgiving someone. We think when such and such amount of time passes, then I’ll feel like forgiving. The reality is, walking in forgiveness is a CHOICE. I didn’t say an easy one… but just like I can choose to love, I can choose to eat healthy, I can choose to exercise, I can choose to read more, study more, pray more… It starts with a choice… Maybe today you simply start by saying, “I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE __________”
  2. It isn’t merit based
    Forgiveness isn’t about what someone deserves… Forgiveness isn’t earned (TRUST, on the other hand is earned, and that’s a completely different topic for another day)

  3. It isn’t condoning
    “If I forgive them then they’ve gotten away with it!” 
    “I can’t forgive them because what they did was wrong!”
    These statements actually reiterate the power of forgiveness – forgiveness doesn’t mean what the other person did was OK – it is actually acknowledging the hurt but choosing (see point 1 again) 🙂 to forgive them anyway…
  4. It is an INDIVIDUAL act
    The beauty of forgiveness is both people don’t have to participate. Forgiveness is something you do… It’s the posture of your heart.
  5. It is MANDATED by Scripture
    This is not a GRAY area in scripture.
    Luke 17:4
    Matthew 6:14-15
    Matthew 18:21-35

    I believe that every scripture ultimately points toward the love of God, even the difficult ones. Forgiving those who have hurt you is hard… very hard… I believe God mandates this for 2 reasons. 1. He knows and understands that unforgiveness actually hurts us… It keeps us from experiencing joy and peace. 2. It helps us understand the Gospel… when we forgive someone who in our mind doesn’t “deserve” it – we should be reminded that we’ve been forgiven much more by God.

  6. It is good for your HEALTH
    Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die
    Unforgiveness is like picking up a hot coal to throw at the offender

    These statements are so true… we think holding a grudge imprisons the other person, when in reality it imprisons us. It can lead to stress, high blood pressure, fatigue…

  7. It builds bridges
    Forgiveness is many times the first step in opening the door to reconciliation. While reconciliation won’t always happen, when you walk in forgiveness you have the peace of mind of knowing you have done all you can do…

    Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

  8. It is a continual process
    Is it ever!!! Just when you think you’ve made headway, something happens and you feel like you’re back to square 1. While we can make the decision to forgive today, our emotions don’t always immediately line up… the good news about our emotions is they can be led… when we allow our emotions to lead we set ourselves up for failure and destruction, which ultimately cause us to leave a path of dirty footprints. The more we choose to forgive, the more our emotions fall in line… but it is a process, but one that is well worth it!
  9. It defies nature
    It is an act of discipline. It is an act of submission. In its truest form it is an act of worship.
  10. It removes the weight from our shoulders
    This is probably the biggest one. By forgiving, we are handing the situation over to God. We don’t have to carry the weight of it anymore. We know that He is just. We TRUST that He is good – no matter what has been done to us. We TRUST He works all things for the good.

Walking in forgiveness will change you! Walking in forgiveness will begin to transform you! Walking in forgiveness will FREE you!

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.’ – Lewis Smedes

Now – go back and watch that message 🙂 Dirty Feet

May God continue to be your treasure Matthew 13:44-46

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The End of Me

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written – I think I have come to the conclusion that for me, writing blogs comes in seasons. It’s kind of like writing songs… there are some seasons where it seems like every time I sit down at the piano a song begins to flow (now whether or not that song gets finished, that’s a different story)…but then there are those seasons I sit at the piano and just stare at the keys and think, “I’ve got nothing… I’ve played every progression I know and have no ‘fresh or new’ way to word something in a song.” So it’s the same way with writing blogs for me – there are seasons where I feel like I could write 2 or 3 a day, and then there are seasons where every time I sit down to try and write… NOTHING! So here’s my conclusion – I’m ok with that 🙂 I’m not a professional blogger, I’m not a professional song writer/composer – I’m just a guy that tries my best to live my life in a way that points to the One who knows me better than I know myself… some days that happens through a song, some days it’s a blog, some days it’s going to a Josh Groban concert with Nixon or shooting hoops with Lexi in the driveway… or just simply spending time with and loving my family… Some days its having a super productive day at work (you know the kind I’m talking about… those days where you seem to get more accomplished than you thought possible), some days it’s having coffee with a friend and talking about life – allowing them to encourage me or maybe I get to encourage them… it doesn’t really matter… It’s more about the nature of the conversation. I will openly admit I have not mastered any of this by any stretch of the imagination. I have the moments, days, and seasons that I struggle… I will say that I have found that in those seasons – something else is usually at the center of my life… and it goes back to Matthew 6:33 Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. 

So that said – My “inner blogger” has been trying to resurface this past week, so we’ll see what comes out today 🙂

I’ve been reading a book entitled, “The End of Me” by Kyle Idleman… If you’ve read my blog before, you should recognize that name – he’s an author I really enjoy and I’ve referenced before – He writes very conversationally and I almost feel like he’s talking to me when I read any of his books… this particular book hits on the theme that our faith and our relationship with Jesus doesn’t truly “take off” until we come to a place he calls “the end of me.” He referenced a quote that a grieving father had made to him talking about the death of his 18 month old son… and not just a normal death (although there is NO normal death for a child)… This young father had backed his car over his son on his way to work… I almost threw up when I read it… how in the world do you deal with something like that??? That’s the kind of story that puts any problem I’ve ever encountered into perspective… So and so said this about me or did this to me… I got an unexpected bill in the mail… I got overlooked for that promotion… Now here’s the deal, I’m not trying to trivialize or minimize the hurt I’ve (or you’ve) experienced – I know full well when you’re in the middle of something, it can feel overwhelming – but that’s exactly the point I’m trying to make… here’s the statement the father made…

I feel like I reached this point in my life when I had absolutely nothing left, and it turns out that for the first time in my life, Jesus has become real. Do you know what I mean? Is that unusual?

Here’s the question Kyle Idleman posed to his church, his friends, and also on social media… Jesus became real when _________. Here are some of the answers he received.

  • I was forced out of my thirty-year job and had no idea what I was going to do
  • The ultrasound said the baby’s heart had stopped beating
  • My husband was killed in a car accident
  • I found out my husband was having an affair, and I never felt more alone in my life
  • I was told I had three months to live because of stage IV cancer
  • I could no longer pretend I was in control
  • I had disappointed everyone who loved me
  • I had to admit I couldn’t fix things
  • It became clear I had lost control of my addiction
  • Jesus reached into one of the darkest places on earth, a strip club, to show me he loved me. I realized there was no place He couldn’t find me

These are just a few of the answers he received… and then he received one statement he believed captured all of the other ones…

Jesus became real when I came to the end of me!

I’m sure I’ll be writing much more on this book and what it’s speaking to me. I’m about half-way through and still digesting a lot of it… there’s some really good stuff in there… but for today, here’s what I want to encourage you with…

Getting to the end of ourselves is probably the single most important place for us to actually find ourselves… It doesn’t have to take a tragedy or difficult experiences for us to get there, although many times we don’t recognize our need to be there until something causes us to realize we’re not near as in control of things as we’d like to think we are… As one of my favorite speakers, Matt Chandler, has said many times… We make a terrible God for ourselves. And although most of us would never say that’s what we do, in reality, many times it’s EXACTLY we do. We want to stay in control. We want to take the reins because we’re afraid if we don’t, then the life we want just won’t happen for us. We’re afraid God has forgotten about us, or maybe He doesn’t really care… Getting to the end of ourselves requires us to get out of the driver’s seat… It requires trust. It can be scary. But it is SO worth it.

I’ll simply end this blog with a few verses (and a song by Dave Crowder) that I pray speak to you today – I know they spoke to me… I’m fully convinced that 5 minutes with God can revolutionize your life. When we get to the place where we say, “OK, I’m tired of trying to hold everything together. I’m tired of trying to make everything happen. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being stressed.” It’s at that place we get to “THE END OF ME” – and that’s a pretty good place to be!

MATTHEW 5 

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 11

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

And here’s the crowder song 🙂  Come as You Are
May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)
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What Defines You

Well – it’s been a while – I actually wrote a second post on Haggai, but I never could get it to say what I was trying to express (For the record, that’s something I struggle with sometimes). Plus now there’s a pretty well-known church and pastor going through Haggai (I was really beginning to wonder if Life Church and Craig Groeschel were reading my blog for sermon series ideas… then I woke up).  I watched the first message the other day… it’s good stuff… it would be worth watching if you’re looking for something to do with 30 minutes of your time. Haggai – The Time is Now

That said – I’m going to go in a bit of a different direction with the blog. Those of you who know me know that I am fascinated by people’s stories. I love hearing people’s journeys in life and how life-change occurred for them. I believe EVERYONE has a story – and whether you want to believe it or not, I believe your (and my) story plays a part in a much bigger story… one that started long before we were ever on this earth and will continue long after we’re gone… but while we’re here on this earth experiencing our “vapor” (James 4:14) there are those times and moments that can completely change the course and direction of our life – some for the good, some for the bad… Most of these encounters involve other people. That is one of my favorite things about reading the life of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). There are SO MANY encounters he had with other people – encounters that caused them to look at who they were in light of that encounter. Some embraced it and some did not.

With that said, I am going to be going through some of the encounters Jesus had with other people and what those encounters can speak to us today – ultimately, my prayer is that their encounters actually lead us to have an encounter with God ourselves – that a story that happened over 2000 years ago still has the power to speak to and transform us today…

Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

Man – I picked a pretty harsh one for my first encounter. IF YOU WANT TO FOLLOW ME, GO SELL EVERYTHING! In another account of this same story the disciples freaked out afterwards – they were basically asking each other – “Seriously? If that’s the requirement then who can make it?” (that’s the Glenn version)

One thing we need to understand when reading encounters like this is the fact that Jesus knows how to speak directly to the heart – He knows how to cut through the facades and get straight to the point. You’ll notice when He asks others to follow Him throughout the Gospels, this is not the requirement… He knew what was at the center of this man’s heart – and before we try to fool ourselves, He knows what’s at the center of ours too…

I read a excerpt from Love Does by Bob Goff several months back concerning this account in scripture that I believe speaks to the heart of the issue.


It’s about our pride. He asks if we’ll give up that thing we’re so proud of, that thing we believe causes us to matter in the eyes of the world, and give it up to follow Him. He’s asking us, “Will you take what you think defines you, leave it behind, and let Me define who you are instead?”


What a powerful/convicting thought…

At the end of the day, when no one else is around – WHAT DEFINES ME?????

The rich young ruler walked away sad – but we don’t have to! It’s not always easy. It’s not always comfortable… but the best things in life rarely are.

May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)

 

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Priorities 1: Who in the world is Haggai?

What are the top 5 priorities in your life?

That’s a simple question, but not a super-simple answer for most of us. When I look at a question like this I am tempted to simply make a 1-5 list in the order of importance. It might look something like this:

  1. Faith
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Finances
  5. Fun

There’s a sermon right there – we could call it F words 🙂 Maybe not…..

The problem with a list like this is that each name on the list is an individual item – in other words, it can be isolated from the others on the list. So while we can say that Faith and Family are really high on our list, if how we handle our Friends, Finances, and/or Fun don’t take the first two into consideration, then in reality they aren’t priorities… they’re just things on a list…

Whether we realize it or not, everyone of us actually manages our priorities through another model. It looks more like this:

hubandspokes

We all have something placed at the center. EVERYTHING we do flows from the hub or we filter it through the hub. For instance, if FINANCES are at the center of this model, everything else will be filtered through how does this affect my finances? I would only do things if they made financial sense. Therefore, I would probably not be a very generous person. If FUN is at the center, then everything else will be filtered through is this fun or does it make me happy? I would only do things as long as they were fun or made me happy. If FAITH is at the center, then everything else will be filtered through how does my faith affect this or how does this affect my faith? I would make decisions based on what scripture or the Holy Spirit leads me to do.

In this model, I believe there will be other spokes and circles around the spokes/circles off the main hub as well (I hope that sentence made sense) 🙂 I am by no means saying that if FAITH is at the center (and as a follower of Christ that would be my stance), that finances or fun should never come into play in making decisions – it would just be further from the original hub (and still ultimately centered around it). In Mathew 6:33 Jesus addresses this whole process.

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

He is saying, put the Kingdom of God in the center and the spokes will take care of themselves. It is amazing to me that when we place something else at the center (Fun, Finances, Friends, Family, Future, Fulfillment, Fame… there’s a lot more “F” words 🙂 ) the very thing we are chasing seems to be even more elusive. For instance, the more we chase finances, the more we can never seem to have enough… or even if we “achieve” what we were looking for, it leaves us empty, because it didn’t give us what we thought it would.

So – all that said – why in the world did I entitle this entry “Who in the world is Haggai?” That’s a fair question which hopefully I’ll be able to make sense of.

My next few entries I will go through the book of Haggai (it’s an OT book squeezed in between Zephaniah and Zechariah – I’m sure that helped a lot 🙂 ). It’s only 2 chapters long – a whopping 38 verses – yet, I believe this book is VERY applicable to us today.

Let me give just a tiny backdrop of what was happening in history at the time this book was written. Israel had been divided into 2 Kingdoms (the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom – also known as Judah). The Assyrians captured the Northern Kingdom but Judah remained ok for about 100 more years. In 586 BC Judah was conquered by the Babylonians (primarily due to spiritual corruption). They were taken into captivity and exiled about 900 miles away. Solomon’s Temple (their place of worship and the “symbol” of their spiritual heritage) was destroyed. They were devastated.

They were in captivity for about 50 years and during that time they were a lot like we are when we reap the consequences of our behavior… “Oh God, I blew it! I’ve made a huge mess of myself! Please forgive me and fix it” In 536 BC Persia came in and whipped the Babylonians. Shortly after that they allowed the Israelites to return to their homeland – to Jerusalem. Their FIRST PRIORITY was to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed.

When they returned home, they immediately started rebuilding the temple. They got the foundation laid, but then they started experiencing some opposition/persecution from their neighbors (the Samaritans) – so they stopped. They quit. The rebuilding project was the very reason they had returned – it was their top priority – but they became apathetic. They lost their passion. They lost the vision. As I mentioned in last week’s post they still had their WHAT, but they lost their WHY.

For 15 years they did their own thing. The temple simply sat there unfinished, barely started. Then God sends Haggai (the prophet) to speak to them…

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

Have you ever said, “I just don’t feel like the Lord has called me to do that” when in reality you just didn’t feel like doing something? Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there are things that God calls us to and I believe WHOLEHEARTEDLY there are times it is healthy, even vital, for us to say “NO” – but that’s not exactly what was happening here. We see starting in vs 2 that the Israelites were using “God din’t tell us to do that” as a cop-out to not do something they didn’t need the voice of God to instruct them to do. I love God’s response (through Haggai) – I believe it literally has a bit of sarcasm in it… He’s pretty much saying… “Let me get this right… I DIDN’T tell you to rebuild the temple, but I DID tell you to go ahead and build luxurious (a paneled house would be a house of luxury) homes for yourselves.” (on a side note, this scripture is not anti-nice homes, it all goes back to the beginning of this post… what’s in the center???)

I read that and laugh, but it doesn’t take long for me to apply it to my life – and then it’s not so funny. Because again, how many times have I said, “Well, God hasn’t specifically asked me to do THAT.” But how many of the other things in my life do I just do without a green light from God? I’m trying to think of the last time I felt God speak to me and say, “Glenn, you need to go to the golf course today” or “Glenn, make sure and watch the Sooner or Thunder game today” – Oh ya, it was NEVER 🙂 Now obviously there is nothing wrong with doing those things (unless of course they are the result of something unhealthy being placed at the center of my diagram)… but the point is…

When our faith is at the center of who we are and how we function, there are NUMEROUS things we don’t need to hear the audible voice of God about.

He’s telling them (and us), I didn’t save you, bring you out of captivity and bless your life for you to focus on yourself and build your own kingdom… He then follows that up by saying “Look at your last 15 years – you’ve pursued your own good… you’ve spent a lot of energy and effort on yourself – you’ve placed something else as your ‘center hub’ – now tell Me, how’s that working for you??” The answer was obviously, not very well… The same is true with me – I’ve found this to be a solid and consistent truth in my life – I make a terrible God for myself… I am, however (when left to my own vices) pretty good at messing stuff up…

On my next post I’ll continue on with Haggai (feel free to read ahead if you want to). But for today I want to leave you with this thought.


Their (and our) problem wasn’t wealth, time, or laziness – it was priority. And priority is always connected to the heart!


And if you’ve been around me for any period of time, or if you’ve read any of my other blogs, you’ve more than likely heard or read one of my staple/life scriptures…

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heartfor everything you do flows from it.

May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)

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