Easter is an Anniversary, not a Funeral

Every once in a while I google ways to be happy or inspiration for my day. I don't do it because I don't know but I do it because I like to see what other people think "the answer" is. It usually just makes me feel better about my own stance on such things whether I agree with them or not. Its kind of like stepping back from a painting to check on your progress. You already have an idea of what you are looking for but you want to see if you are getting there. Today I googled a daily devotional just to see what random strangers are thinking about today. I felt that the devotional was short sited in a way that many are around Easter. One thing that Jesus never does is manipulate. One of the most common questions is why does an all powerful God allow bad things to happen and a short answer is because he doesn't manipulate. Its not that he doesn't have the power to control, but its that he chooses not to. Some who know me well know that I'm not a fan of the film "The Passion of the Christ". (If you were moved by the film, don't be offended. I ball every time I see Tangled which has nothing to do with whether or not you like it too) The focus of that film is typical of human nature. It sends the message that because Jesus' death was so brutal, that I HAVE to be thankful. It takes wisdom to recognize the difference from encouragement and manipulation. I don't owe Jesus my devotion because he was beaten brutally. He could have been beaten more or he could have been beaten less and it wouldn't change how devoted I should or shouldn't be. The fact is that I actually don't have to be devoted to Jesus at all. That's what makes Jesus such a romantic. He didn't die so that I would be enslaved to him on the basis that he took such a brutal beating. Don't waste his death by groveling for the remainder of eternity. He died to make a way for love. He was paying an actual price. I don't pay extra money for an item to get style points but rather I just pay however much it costs. Jesus gave his life because that's what it costs. Him giving his life isn't why we like him but rather his that he died to pay for the opportunity to romance us in the present tense. He doesn't manipulate us or force us to love him. That is why WE CHOOSE to love him because he LOVED US and not because WE OWE HIM because his DEATH WAS PAINFUL. God doesn't "try" and motivate us with multiple pep talks because that isn't love. He doesn't beg for our love. If it was a person begging for love we would label it unattractive and its no different with the God of the universe. I understand that Jesus' death was brutal and from the bottom of my heart, I am thankful for that but trying to equate the brutality of his death with present tense thankfulness would be a waste of his death. What's the point of purchasing an item if your aren't going to use it? God purchased our freedom with Jesus' life, so I'm celebrating the free will to love God the father now that a way has been made. Its pretty attractive actually.


I'm Only One Man.....So Far

You know that situation you get in where you have one of you and you wish there were more of you because there a ton of things you need to do and you are the only one who can do them? The other day I was trying to delegate tasks to others but everything that had to be done had to be done by me because I was the only one of the group that understood the whole of the issues at hand. Whenever we have the thought that the world would be better if I could clone myself then we've missed something very important. When we sense the need to over commit, we are usually believing a lie that says you are the hope of this situation and it all relies on you now. If there was ever anyone that should be the one to make all the decisions, it would be Jesus. The interesting thing is that even he had lots of boundaries. Jesus really only invested deep personal and intimate time with a small handful of guys. He often withdrew to lonely places the bible says. Jesus knew his limits. You mean to tell me that even Jesus, the son of God had limits? The thing is that he came as a man and had the limitations of a man, but he had a genius plan to multiply himself so that he could be in every meeting and every decision for ever and all time. He said that it was better for us that he go so that the counselor could come. He was talking about the Holy Spirit and now through his death, we all have access to the Holy Spirit who is the great counselor, decision maker, artist, physician, friend, lover, father, leader, etc. The point is that when we over commit, we feel a sense of heroism where we need to save the day by giving the world more of ourselves. That goes against the plan of Jesus. He came as a man but he was God, and his plan was to give the world more of himself. He definitely has over commitment issues but he is also the only one who can be everywhere at the same time. What we need to do is to keep our eyes on Jesus and help others get to know the Holy Spirit, because we aren't able to be there every minute of ever day to help them make decisions, not that we would be that great if we did anyway. We are human. We have limits. Our job is to live within our limits so that we can get filled with the spirit and then give that spirit to others, resulting in the most perfect plan for world domination known to man; a king that has a personal relationship with every single member of his great kingdom. Live within your limits. Invest deep into few people and projects. Withdraw to lonely places. Get to know the Holy Spirit and let him be responsible for every little detail that ultimately isn't even in your control in the first place. Multiply him, not you.


He's a Righteous Dude!

I say that I hate things all the time. I hate it when this, I hate it when that. There are lots of words that we use but don't mean literally. Even the word literally is over used. I'm not trying to be the word police but I think there something interesting about how we use the word "hate". We were asking the question at our small group the other night, "what does God think about sin?" The correct and spiritual answer that was a group consensus was that God hates sin. This feels like a glass half full vs. half empty predicament. Does God hate sin or does he love righteousness? I think that both are true but the question is meant to reveal what you are focusing on. God wants us to live a life without sin, but its too late and we have already lived with sin. So God, because he "hates" sin as well as loves us, gave his own life to defeat sin. He didn't use the term hate like I use it. I sit on my couch and when I see something that bugs me on TV is say something to the effect of hating something going on in our world. The difference is that in my humanity, I like to use big words such as "hate" because it feels stronger, but true strength of hate would be to get of the couch and give of myself to see the opposite happen in our world. If I say that I hate crime, does that mean that I love to mentor at-risk young men? Does that mean I invest my time into them so that they grow up to be productive members of society? If you truly do hate something, then there is an action response of loving the opposite. How much would it really cost if you truly hated sin? If you really hated sin to the fullest extent, then you would give your whole life in the opposite cause; righteousness. Only one can claim that and that is Jesus. He hated sin so much that he gave his life to righteousness. To hate something means to give your life to see it changed. If you want to have glass half full perspective then don't go on tangents of how God hates sin, but get excited about how much God loves righteousness!


Making Eye Contact W/ Jesus

You know that moment when you're making eye contact with somebody and you get nervous and look away? We laugh at dogs when they think that we can't see them because they can't see us, but we are just as ridiculous. There is something about looking somebody in the eye that freaks us out. Its almost as if we're walking naked in public but nobody will notice as long as we don't make deep extended eye contact. I don't know how be unconditionally accepted. The majority of my life, I've shot for a "C" average. I think I've done that because if I actually got A's and I still didn't feel good enough, then I wouldn't have anything to blame it on. I guess I feel like as long as I give my 2nd best, then people can't judge me because they aren't seeing the realest version of myself. Its a way to hide. Again, I don't know how to be unconditionally accepted. I have a sick addiction to living unorganized because as long as I have a steady diet of failure, then there is always something that I can do to feel better. It gives me a sense of control, and if I want to feel better, then I just do better. I get a rush out of paying my bills late and showing up to work barely on time. Feeling unorganized keeps my brain noisy and if I'm not loved, then my brain is too noisy to hear about it. The problem is that if I am loved, I don't hear about that either. Jesus scares me because I can't manipulate him. Everyday, when I spend time with him, I'm always looking for something that I can do better so I can justify not feeling the fullness of his love. The scariest moment is that moment when I just quiet myself and look him in the eyes. When I know that I'm loved no matter what I do, I'm free; Free to succeed, free to fail. That's what makes spending time with Jesus so scary and wonderful, because I have to make eye contact with him and let him say what he will. I have to be seen and be put at the mercy of his judgment. God has made his judgement of me regardless of whether or not I look at him to know his findings. The truth is that I am a screw up and if I were to look him truly square in the eye, then I would surely die, but that's where Jesus comes in. God wasn't interested in my best but he was interested in me. He paid the price for me so I don't have to look at him and bear the shame of my own report card, but he has burned my report card and replaced it with Jesus' life in place of mine. When he sees me, he sees the best me. He's sees all of me and he loves what he sees. The question isn't whether or not I'm going to go to heaven, but the question is whether or not I'm going to look at him and collect on the freedom I have in him. As we go to him everyday, the challenge is to look more and more squarely into his eyes and learn to rest there. Out of that place of approval, we become the most unshakable, fabulously wealthy people and joyful people. Its like heroin, where it doesn't matter what happens, because we feel good because we have an approving mighty and powerful God with a love for us that we cannot escape. Dang Gina.


Killing Bears with BB's

Whenever its cold outside, there are a few different ways to decide how warm to dress. One is to decide what they think should do the trick and then wear that. The other is keep putting clothes on until they are warm. Its funny how I put on a sweatshirt because in my mind I think that that should do the trick when really it would take three sweatshirts to do the trick, but since that seems ridiculous, I just settle for being cold. Much of the time in life, we decide how much energy we are going to give to something and if that doesn't do the trick, then too bad because we've already decided how hard we want to work at it. I think of parenting for my future and how so many parents just give a lot of energy and hope it turns out okay. I don't want to be that kind of parent and more importantly I don't want to be that kind of person. If I have to have a one on one conversation with my child 50 times a day, then that's what I'm going to do if that's what it takes to raise a great child. Sure seems ridiculous, but if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes. I want to be a person that gets the job done and let it cost what it costs. One example in my life is having an iPhone. There was a time when I had an iPhone but it became a problem. I was always using it and I was never present with the people I was with. You would think that an adult should have the self control to have an iPhone and wield its internet powers but I couldn't. I had to make a decision that got me to the point that I wanted to be regardless of how ridiculous the cost seemed to me. Maybe this coming Christmas, you will be short on cash but you would feel tacky for not giving really good gifts to your friends and family. Don't make your gift giving decisions based on what you think would be culturally sound, but give according to your actual circumstances. We let our culture bully us into giving what seems reasonable but there are areas where we aren't getting the job done. This is lame. Do what you have to do. If you can't control your iPhone, sell it. If you can't stop watching TV, sell it. If it takes you twice as long to read the book for your class, take twice as long. If your family can only afford to camp in your back yard for vacation, then camp in your backyard. My last question for myself in light of this is; what does it take for me to love God more than anything else? I should be careful asking such questions, because I might go do something weird.


You look fat in that dress

Recently I've been really interested in watching how I respond to other people when given the chance to be honest. I'm not talking about the, "did you chop down this cherry tree?" type of honestly. I'm talking about the, "does this dress make me look fat" type of honesty. I recently had a friend tell me about how he had been handling some of his lady friend relationships and it was pretty obvious that the guy had some issues. I got caught in the limbo of smiling and nodding, but I felt so awkward about it. I felt like I owed it to him to tell him how I really felt. I felt guilty for having a voice in my head say, "you're and idiot" and my voice out loud say, "cool man." When I'm telling him a blow off answer, what I'm really doing is telling them that I don't find them to be worth the truth. We always talk about the presence of God, but we never talk about the presence of people. There are some people that their very presence brings out the best in me. There are alternatively people who bring out the worst in me. Sometimes I spend my energy wishing that someone who is wildly successful would take me under their wing and mentor me. I imagine if Billy Graham was my mentor, then I would be a better man of God. I imagine if Donald Trump was my mentor, then I would be a better business man. So in some ways I've felt like I didn't have to try as hard in life, because I don't really owe to anybody to be better because I don't see those people of greatness believing in me here in the flesh and blood. You know those, "what would your mother say" moments? They only work if your mother raised you to be someone great, otherwise it doesn't make you want to be better. Honestly I've have had plenty of "good" people pour into my life, but does that excuse me from striving to be "great"? What if I was a direct disciple of Jesus as he walked the earth? I imagine that if I started to stray from the path, and he appeared to me, then I would confess to him that I know better. There would be something about his presence that would convict me because I would come face to face with what his presence reminded me to be true. Now if some random man that I had never met came up to me and tried to remind me of who I am, it wouldn't really work as well because I wouldn't have history of that person believing in me. What kind of person are you? Does your presence command the respect of your peers? Are you the type of person that people feel comfortable gossiping to or does your presence convict people in such a way that they know better and they start acting more whole when you are in the room? The problem is that we all actually know better but it seems like the whole world is in on this giant conspiracy to act like morans but all agree to do it together so nobody feels embarrassed or left out. We need to have the courage to be who we know we can and should be, and then like God, our very presence will command something better from the people around us and that is true change.


I call it, "Untitled"

I went to a pro soccer game the other night when a friend who knows one of the players hooked me and some of my best friends up with free club level seats on one of those not too hot/cold t-shirt only nights. My debit card was loaded and my schedule free from responsibility for miles to come. You couldn't ask for a better set up. Here's what's messed up: all I could think about was how unfair my life was. Its not fair that other guys that are younger than me with half the character, got out of college debt free with better degrees in half the time to go on and find wildly successful jobs so them and their cosmically compatible, painfully attractive new brides and them can make ikea runs for their first place that they decorated with the same pictures that are taunting me on Facebook. All I could think about was how jealous I was of people I don't know. What a rip off.

Sometimes we mistake confronting our fears with paying hommage to them. We plead the power of positive thinking but really its just pretending. Ignoring our fear doesn't solve things. Its like when junior high boys try and just cover their B-O with axe spray. Can't fool me kid. You ever meet these people? Trick question! We are these people. We think that we're saving face by BS'ing our way through conversations, but people are watching. In my case, my fear is that something is wrong with me or I've made irreversible mistakes and for this, I must be single, in debt and God forbid, not being recruited by Google. I may seem happy, but much of the time, I'm only happy right then because of whatever situation I'm in. Switch my situation and watch me crumble.

Here's the deal, I actually am really happy. I'm happy because I don't keep my crap to myself but I share with people, letting them know that I'm not only human but my joy doesn't grow on trees. There are lots of things in my life that I'm afraid of and that are hard. Being invincible is boring. I want to be happy, but actually happy, meaning I face what's actually going on. God is actually really really ridiculously kind to me and sometimes I let in thoughts that don't belong in my head and every once in a while I need to let em' out. Find a friend. Prove to them that your human. There will be more air in the room. They may start to actually like you since they have their first chance at actually knowing you.