The article linked below from June of this year indicates, "The average American spends nearly half a day staring at a screen. A new Nielsen Company audience report reveals that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media during the first quarter of this year. The report...included how much time we spend daily using our tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs."
So, tomorrow, as best I can for at least the rest of the year: I'm going to tithe the one o'clock hour to unplugged silence. Monday thru Friday: No calls no texts no Internet no feed checks. Just Him and me and whoever else feels the nudge.
My hope would be to gather some steam to spiritually reverse the above-recognized trend.
You are welcome to join me.
Not everyone's schedule will work for the one o'clock hour, obviously.
But I'm going to go--as best I can--to Lutheran Church of Hope, my church, our West Des Moines campus and sit--with whoever is there--and really try to just engage in listening to my Abba.
I have quiet time most everyday, in the early AM. This isn't that.
There is something about investing our productivity time and listening corporately to His heart that makes me smile.
Plus, I feel like it was His idea.
So, wherever you are--whether it is a minute at one or an hour at midnight or longer if you have it and feel so inclined--let's lean in and listen to the heart of Our Father--more than we check Facebook or play Minecraft or Tweet or Pick-a-News source or Netflix or even work and make calls.
I'm going to start in WDM tomorrow: 12/01 at one o'clock.
I don't want to be religious about it; I do want to invest my heart in it--slowing down, on purpose.
I keep thinking about George Washington Carver and how he would just wander outside and say, "Lord, the world is too big for me--tell me about the peanut."
And what the Lord showed him, literally, helped to save a soon-failing economy no one at that time saw coming.
Hope this finds you blessed and rested!
Christine asked me to look for her sunglasses and I reported that they were not in her purse.
Now, in fairness, her purse I've nicknamed the Panamanian Mangrove and ordinarily refuse to go in there for fear of being trapped-to-drown when tide rolls in.
But this time, there were only like five items total in it.
Including her sunglasses.
This is not my first rodeo.
But like so many times: I sincerely didn't see them.
Because--as I've learned in some of my readings lately--I wasn't looking for her sunglass Case: I was looking for her sunglasses.
Plus, I have a lot on my mind, I'm discovering.
Today? Today was not heavy lifting: get the fab five to girls on the run 5K, find Uncle Nate, don't lose Jack, ooper, walk back to get goTessgo posters from van, walk back, wait; take cam back to van, we forgot SIM card at home, walk back, see them off, find a portapotty because WDM had closed down the restrooms for the season and a thousand people descended after I made and consumed coffee, bought donuts and heavy Duty Vitamin C as it is cold and flu season and the oldest was fighting off something night before last, talk to Jorgie and retired Marine, try to block oldest hearing old retired marine Wow-he-just-said-that, double time it back to the finish line in double double time because our middle was crushing her time and texted my friend about a deal we are chasing, then the other one and then we take the phone pics, pile in, get home, make and eat lunch, get our ladies out the door for a play back downtown for them and remember to get the gift for the youngest bday party tonight but don't forget your oops need to turn around forgot the things you pay with and the chip is fine but slow and no no, let's order CASEYS pizza because the littlest also has a basketball game tonight and we are out of homemade dough makings.
And I managed to pull off a nap and a couple hours of foursquare with the boysies before letting this stream of Saturday out along with some dishes and sweeping and a couple other texts and phone calls and emails and iPhone pics.
But the nap was for sure cut short because we have a doorbell and our favorite wee visitor loves to use it when our youngest isn't using it, himself. Usually when you guessed it:
There is a classic study on the subject of this attention tension described in Daniel Levitin's THE ORGANIZED MIND.
There is a video that comes from the psychological study on attention by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. Because of the processing limits of your attentional system, they essentially prove over and over that we don't see what we are not looking for--at one point in the video where folks have been encouraged to count how may times the players wearing the white tee shirts pass the basketball while ignoring the players in the black tee shirts--a man in a gorilla suit walks into the middle of the action bangs his chest and walks off.
And most in the study don't see him. I didn't the first time I saw it.
Because their attentional system is overloaded.
Like mine and like us, here in America, almost every minute of every hour of every day when we are not aware or on the lookout. And it is stressful and subconsciously, we feel like we are missing something--because we are.
A lot of instances of losing and misplacing and not remembering or finding things, Levitin suggests, is nothing more than our attentional systems being over-taxed.
Which brings me to Brenna Manning, who reminded me in ABBAS CHILD the other night that "the agnosticism of inattention"--the lack of personal discipline over media bombardment, shallow reading, sterile conversation, perfunctory prayer and subjugation of the senses--the awareness of the Risen Christ grows dim."
Whoa, wait: "--the awareness of the Risen Christ grows dim.."
We struggle with our a where-ness? I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten where I parked while I was on the phone heading in for a stroll at Jordan Creek. Thank goodness I can still hear when I set off the alarm to find it! Gang, we are becoming painfully distracted.
It s attention's tension.
Brennan continues, "Just as the failure to be attentive undermines love, confidence, and communion in a human relationship, so inattention to my true self hidden with christ in God obscures awareness of the Divine relationship."
There is a tension, though, isn't there? We have a lot on our minds--as I alluded to in a previous post, something like 35,000 decisions a day.
My attention is often divided between this and that and that and that's this and this' that before we talk about attention deficit disorder, which is sometimes I'm simply not paying enough attention to my own because I have't enough attention left.
In the realm of the Center for Relational Care, attention is all about entering another's world. And we are so often, anymore, if we are not careful to just purposefully slow down: just barely in the present of our own world.
The danger of not slowing down our minds on purpose is reaching epidemic proportion. Even just a few minutes an hour to breathe in where we are: and Whose.
Breatjing deeply, being filled with His inspiration and praying something like "Lord, I'm slowing down right now just to be with You," ever-helps--if I can focus long enough and remember in this land of forgetfulness to just do it.
This is an anonymous story Tim Meline introduced me to years ago in a Real Estate Ethics class (mandatory every three years--"forced fellowship").
"An emperor was growing old and knew it was time to choose His successor. He called the young people in the kingdom together and said, "It is time for me to step down and to choose the next emperor."
"I am giving each one of you a seed today. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge what you bring, and choose who will be the next emperor!"
Ling received a seed like the others. He went home and excitedly told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and carefully watered it. Every day he watered it and watched to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing grew. Three , four, five weeks went by, but nothing sprouted.
By now, others were talking about their plants. Ling didn't have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by; still nothing grew in Ling's pot. He believed he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. He just kept hoping for his seed to grow.
After a year all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for his inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot, but his Mother said he must be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his Mother was right.
When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the others laughed at him.
A few felt sorry for him and said, "Hey, nice try." When the emperor arrived, he greeted the young people and then surveyed the room. Ling tried to hide in the back.
"My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"
All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!"
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. The emperor looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!" Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?
Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees, plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!"
A few years ago, I typed this up or copied and pasted it and sent it to a leader as a gift: a prophecy. We'd never met, but I had this picture as I revisited this story: I saw him, a leader in the seed industry and I felt like he had many "Lings" in his life--and the Holy Spirit put SeedLings together and I saw a few were called to be emperors of sorts in the days ahead but would need his influence and that he actually was a Ling himself. I shared it with another former COO I was acquainted with as a springboard for something else I felt like the Lord was inviting him to in another word some months later. And as I said, Tim Meline shared it with me.
The enemy loves to try to convince us to feel bad about recycling words or stories in the prophetic: but it is a trick. Think about the Beatitudes or the Proverbs or the life of Job or really any section of scripture any number of people have found to be impactful or profound. Or a song. Or a daily devo. Or a movie. Or a poem. Same concept: if He lays it into your heart for someone, share it. It's perfectly acceptable to share words you've been led to share before. Think of them as seeds--same kind. Pick a song or a story or a Psalm you like and ask Him who you can share it with, if it applies and send it to them preferably snail mail or fed ex: that's as simple as prophecy gets--you purposefully encourage someone. To encourage means to give courage. Righteous are as bold as a lion!
I sent a text with a song in it last week to one of my faves and said I don't know who you're seeing in the nine o'clock hour this AM, but they need to hear it too.
I got this back: "Who do u know I'm seeing at 9?"
To which, I responded: "Just a sense when I sent it--nobody I know just someone who needs to hear this song"
I didn't know for sure they were seeing anyone but I've practiced sending it anyway.
They replied, "Love it! If u only knew who I'm seeing at 9." They sent this to me a couple days later, "We haven't had a chance to connect yet but Jen's song for my 9AM client was right on target. I'd forgotten but several months earlier I'd sent her the same song!" I needed this song, too! Thanks Jenn and Bethel.
Parables are illustrative stories and the word itself means "to throw down beside".
Think of Ling's story as we thrown it down next to Jesus' parable of the soils and ask: which soil am I, right now, Lord?
Matthew 13 (thanks to our digi-pals over at Biblegateway.com for the copy and paste)
That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea.2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.7 Others fell [b]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, [c]let him hear.”
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 [d]Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 [e]In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘[f]You will keep on hearing, [g]but will not understand;
[h]You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
The Sower Explained
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
When King David writes in Psalm 51, "..a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise", the word contrite means smashed to powder like talcum powder.
I wonder if our trials (or even some of our seedier moments ;) ) aren't really just heart-soil work in the context of God preparing us to receive a good word from Him--after our hearts are prepared.
I Peter 5:10 "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."
Who are your seed lings? Let them know you believe in them and specifically why.
Premature responsibility breeds superficiality the Internet tells us Einstein said.
My dear friend Jorgie was the first one I ever heard use the phrase loudership v leadership and it was laugh out loud funny--like a lot of what Jorgie says.
Often truth + pain = funny.
I was a louder on and off for many years.
It happens when you have just enough charisma or leader in you to be handed the microphone prematurely but too little discernment and humility to know when to refuse it.
Genuine authority is something that is easy to submit to.
Take the admonition many find so offensive: Wives submit to your husbands.
Louders use it as a bludgeon to get their way.
Leaders put it back into its context which is Husbands love your wives.
Love is easy to submit to.
My pal Gaz one year made my wife a pack of God cards for her birthday because at the time I was notorious for dropping the God card on her (meaning: sorry, honey, God told me X so your Why is unfortunately out--best submit to your husband now--uh, gross).
Louders love to drop the God card--because it seemingly gives them control of situations.
Leaders let God be God and not only ask "what are you getting"?, they try to listen to and maybe even employ what it is that you're getting.
The problem is, though it is typically more of an immaturity than rebellion problem, Scripture says manipulation is as the sin of witchcraft.
Leaders can become Louders especially when surrounded by Louders.
But Louders can become Leaders--especially when surrounded by Leaners.
Where do you find yourself?
So, religious spirits despise humility, by the way: because pride is what they eat and it is therefore how they survive.
Religiosity comes from a root system meaning `to bind with rope'.
So do you find yourself feeling bound/ "religious"?
Do you believe that what you believe is what there is to believe, period? Lot of spiritual nuance out there, pals.
Is judgment a faster draw for you than love?
Is it your authority that people generally need to submit to?
Do you despise immaturity?
Are you critical of most all leadership?
Is gossip a favorite pastime?
Do you kind of feel like "we" are right and "they" are wrong?
These are fun questions, aren't they?
Religious spirits live in the realms of politics, the church and the marketplace, by the way. Saduccees and Pharisees--one political, the latter religious. Mammon is a marketplace religious spirit that snakes into our woodpile-beliefs about money. They just add that little extra bit of hate/fear-fuel.
Paul said of his "we" that they were not unaware of his (the enemy's) devices; but I think actually a lot of times here in deep distractaville, we are.
Ever been with someone really intoxicated? Pharmakia is the drug and alcohol spirit (think wine and spirits was an accident?)--whose name originally meant the summoning of evil spirits through the use of chemicals.
Man, people get flipped out when you start talking about angels and demons and spiritual forces of wickedness and light--but they're all over Scripture and God is a Spiritual Being. Like Jesus cast out demons.
And if there is a real enemy and I'm not just filling space here--is it possible, as USUAL SUSPECTS suggests, that one of the greatest tricks the devil ever played is convincing man that he doesn't exist..?
Because candidly, believers are His favorite targets--if he can get us bummed out at each other--people who don't know God think He is a big-jerk like some of us and some of our loveless antics.
Religious spirits are the forces of darkness that enflame our too-susceptible beliefs.
We aren't rooted and grounded in His heart or love (as we learned at our retreat this weekend--the Book is our Life Textbook and God is Love) and so we are pretty easy targets.
I realize there is a lot I'm not even going to address is this post that may bum one out--fair enough?
But religious spirits love super secret special sauce that rhymes with "I'm right and you're stupid and wrong and Jesus loves me and you're probably going to hell." Which really when you stop and listen past all the religious-or-spiritual-sounding, actually sounds a lot like accusation.
Satan is called the father of lies and the accuser. Perhaps it is no mistake that Revelation 9:11 reads They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).
1 John 4:1 reads, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
I discovered the word `antichrist' doesn't only mean `against' or `opposed to': it can also mean `instead of'.
Man, we are well-intentioned; aren't we? But apart from His heart, we are so likely to be part of the problem because we represent Him and so if we do a schlock job of it, it makes the father of lies job easier which he is all about.
Many yrs ago I sat in the room with a minor league cult leader who was absolutely convinced that his was the way, the truth and nothing and no one but: oodles of disqualification-y language. You've got to say God's name a certain way and don't celebrate that and no trees for Christmas and whatever on and on.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free.
His belief disqualified maybe ninety-eight and a half percent of believers and made me feel literally unclean (insert high-pitched Ruxin voice on repeat from The League, "Unclean, unclean!!!") to be around.
But that it isn't all "it" (Scripture says we battle not against flesh and blood but rather against spiritual forces of darkness--it wasn't him, it was the darkness/what he was agreeing with) made me feel. It also made me feel--or as I like to say, it tempted me to feel--like I sort of wanted to Jack Bauer him in the throat a little more than just a little.
And as I was processing what all that was about with the Holy Spirit later, He was kind to reveal to me that my own lovelessness towards that man was actually opening the door to my own religiosity called: the need to be right/fighting back. And He said, essentially, "You'll never win that spiritual fight by being goaded into the fight--you simply don't answer a fool according to his folly."
#BUTLORD I had so much I wanted to say!
Mocking is a sign you may be wrestling in this arena.
Sarcasm comes from `to tear at the flesh'.
Lovelessness is one of the primary entryways. Lack of humility is another.
Shawn Bolz describes one of our strategies as seeing people at the end of the race with the blue ribbon in their hand. Seeing after the spirit or seeing as God sees will always be bright with Lovingkindness regardless of the moments' seemings.
York, right now, is practicing the nine word game-changer I touched on some posts ago three words at a time:
quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Actually a great antidote to religiosity.
It turns out religious spirits love to goad other religious spirits into cage fights: so all of a sudden instead of me disagreeing with someone from a place of honor and quietly listening to/praying for them: I become angry, dismissive and condescending. Dot: Not awesome. I not only don't invite the brightness of God into the situation, I help drive Him away by adding to the darkness--even though at the moment it seems so "true". It may be: it is just isn't the truth or it would move to set free.
Remember: where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
Not knowing what spirit we are of wanting to call down fire on entire villages for not digging our spiritual angle is part of the spiritual immaturity and zeal package. It is part of growing up and it is why He says WE have the mind of Christ. Ask for help in discerning.
So: when is my genuine smile easier than my snarky glance?
Is love easier than judgment?
Do I see people as they could be or do I define them by their has been/are behavior?
Am I patient?
As a finale to ponder--the immortal Billy Joel from a record once banned on a lot of stations.
I'm not a rousing endorser of all his Thoughts, here--but the line about her momma and prayer is the challenge I want to leave you with as it is what we ought to all be keeping an eye out for in our walks.
"Well, they showed you a statue, told you to pray
They built you a temple and locked you away
Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done
Only the good die young
That's what I said...
So come on Virginia show me a sign
Send up a signal and I'll throw you the line
The stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind
Never let's in the sun
Only the good die young...
You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
You got a brand new soul
Mmm, and a cross of gold
But Virginia they didn't give you quite enough information
You didn't count on me
When you were counting on your rosary
(Oh woah woah)
They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun
You know that only the good die young
I tell ya
Only the good die young
Only the good die young
Well your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation
Aw she never cared for me
But did she ever say a prayer for me?
oh woah woah..."
Do you ever ask God why you're afraid?
That was the question He asked me to ask Him some years ago. Bob Hartley issued the challenge: when was the last time you asked Him the question He was asking you to ask Him?
I asked Him and He said, "I want you to ask Me why you're so afraid."
What do you do when you're afraid? Joshua 1:9 reads, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
WE have the mind of Christ. We. I used to think it was the glory of the Lord to conceal a matter, the glory of a king to search it out. I got a nudge and re-read it. It isn't "A" king. It is Kings: the royal we. Us.
I was with my cousin Ted last night in this greasy spoon after a couple hours on the water where we were trying to bid bass goodbye until Spring. And we were having one of those talks that just stays with you--one of those talks that is not only for you but you know it is somehow bigger, you just maybe can't see all the details yet. We have been having them since we were 8. We were having them thirty-five years and change ago when I got dropped off at his house so Pop could go to the hospital for my mom's first breast cancer surgery. I was too little to much understand, but Ted was there and that was what I needed.
I'm hilariously blessed to have friends in a variety of arenas I can run to when I'm scared or overwhelmed--or just feeling off or ALONE.
Because they've been there and we know each other and they're safe and I trust them and they trust me.
I sat with a young married man whose wife was going through her first cancer treatments and I said, "So, who are your friends--like, who will you turn to for your heart through all of this?"
And he sort of shrugged and looked down like he didn't really have any and he said, "I guess I don't really have anyone except for her."
And I was so impressed with his next question, "What would you do if you were me?"
What would you tell him?
The one to whom I belong who belongs to me touched on it so poignantly in her post today:
Ted listened as I was describing some recent pain: the hard bench outside the divorce courtroom ducking the flying emotional debris of somebody's too-long-imploding marriage; a long-held insecurity and the roots I'm tracking; yet another old friend who said in response to my how are you doing, "Not too good. We're getting divorced. He wants the one thing I can't give him: to be twenty-five again."
I had tears in my eyes for really no reason except for being so grateful he was there to hear me and to share his heart with me: having been where I was. Being known is a big deal.
There is a fine line between fear, disappointment and self-pity and Rangers, we were not designed to do this thing alone.
Hebrews 10:23-25 reads, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
One of the greatest lies the enemy perpetrates against us is isolating us in our pains, fears and sorrows. It is sins own breeding ground.
"They're sharing a drink they call loneliness...But it is better than drinking alone." B. Joel
One of my most trusteds from the thought life says (and I confuse them in my brains but the gist is here)--
Depressed people are trying to deal with their sadness
Compulsive people are trying to deal with their anxiety
Controlling people are trying to deal with their fear
Angry people are trying to deal with their hurt
So last year I had this picture in the middle of the night of our Jack. He had come into our room the night before with a snake bad dream. And it reminded me of when that used to happen with York, I was like, well, buddy it was a dream, there are no snakes in your bed, you're all good, I'm tired, go back to bed in Jesus' name. And he would go stew in his own juices and come back a few minutes later and on and on. I was trying to give him what I thought he needed: the: `duh, it was a dream now f'real let me sleep' talk.
And I was sharing the nightmare thing with one of my short-list trusteds and she told me the story of her nephew who was utterly flipped out over the tornado that hit Huntsville.
And his dad was like, buddy: storm has passed, go outside, seriously--this shiz is getting ridiculous. The kid wouldn't go outside anymore, even on a clear day.
But when he started explaining it to his Aunt, she just sat down on the floor next to him and said, "Wow, buddy--I bet that was really scary. I know what it is like to feel really scared and alone."
She said the relief she saw on his face was palpable.
And he kind of nodded at her and teared up a little and he said, "Yeah, it was."
She just sat with him for awhile.
Storm terrors couldn't stay. Perfect love casts out all fear. I think in that place, perfect just means "the love that fits".
His Aunt really just said, I see and I care and me, too, once upon a time and ohyeah! you're not alone. No facts, no reasons, no logic. Just the comfort of knowing someone "got it".
Trying to sort out just what was going on with us, we took a road trip to the Int'l House of Prayer in KC: we packed up the when-they-were-littlers and rolled down I-35. My sister had a pal who lived close to the IHOP campus and stopped there for lunch.
We were doing what we knew to do, what in fact we'd done a lot over the years that had worked brilliantly yet seemingly nothing would fall right. Some of you may know what I'm talking about. In commission work, we get paid when transactions transact and they weren't and we weren't and it was getting for the budget-conscious, scary.
This book, The God of All Comfort was a huge key to rediscovering His heart for us during that season: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/smith_hw/comfort.pdf
The trees in Northern California are some of the oldest and strongest on the planet: because high above the Pacific Coast Highway, the ocean winds are ridiculously strong and near constant off the ocean so their root system goes beyond deep because they are used to taking breeze-beatings. We knew how they felt and it really blew.
You feel like you're in trouble and you feel like you're missing it and you feel like you're part of the problem. You feel like God is mad and deaf and mean and probably kind of a T-Rex.
But the more painful and honest truth is: you don't yet trust Him, you still mostly trust how you're doing to your checkbook--or at least that's where I was. And so He is shaking what needs to be shaken, like our woodful friends high above the PCH: good news, right?
So--What did you pray--do you remember? I have the benefit of hindsight: in journals. I know what I prayed. And He was answering my prayer, sneaky Deity.
God: I want to love You with my whole heart!!! God, I want to trust You with all my heart!! God, help me not to lean on my own understanding!!! God, help me to hear You! (I can hear Graham Cooke's English accent: "God, I just need to hear you right now! Please, just speak to me. Lord, where are You? Long pause, God says, lovingly: Shut up so you can hear, child)
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Discipline and disciple come from the same root system: learning.
Really the fastest shortcut to get us on our knees is not seeing your immediate future very brightly: for us on that drive it was a dough issue.
One of my father's very favorite phrases was `have you got the dough and are you ready to go?' The answer for us at that time for us, was, well, no.
And you do--you feel so stupid, like: didn't we used to be pretty flush? Like, hey, global commercial real estate economy: what happened? Hey, God, why are You so bummed out at me? Doesn't Scripture say You are our Provider? Geesh--can you get Lee Iacocca to stop calling about the Jeep payment, already?
So, we pull into KC for lunch and our hostess offers me a Green Apple Jones Soda. Divine!
Funny how you forget some small things; but not the huge small things.
I don't know of too many feelings like the old, ru-roh, Lord? Too much month here, Fella.
My fiscal strategy had always been; be good for the economy: spend more/make more/repeat.
The Word talks about becoming Rich towards God. So we are literally going to the House of Prayer to just ask Him--really, what's happening with us? Where did we miss it?
So before we even walk into the House of Prayer our friend hands me this Jones Green Apple soda and its cap reads:
It is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance. We almost turned around with our answer before we even went inside the House of Prayer. Today, I know the pilgrimage to Houses of Prayer can be magic thinking. But God meets us where we are and where we are headed.
He is my Friend. Holy Spirit is a phenomenal Fun Friend and constant Comfort.
Sometimes I used to struggle with how to introduce the idea of my Jesus to people. But today, He is a Person. He is real. He is my friend. He isn't pushy and He introduces Himself in a thousand quiet ways over a lifetime. More than anyone, He is trustworthy.
Last night, He was my Dear Friend in my dear friend, Ted.
Which friend does He want to BeFriend through you?
I have a strain of the Herpes simplex--specifically, the kissing disease. And most any time I'm too stressed or over-tired, I begin to have that bad tingling near my mouth: I have learned to cancel whatever I'm doing and go take a nap to avoid the red game of darts all over my lip.
So, which of the words above look familiar and feel like the simplex coming after you?
How about any of these?
Where do you find yourself?
Sometimes we just simply need more rest.
The above graph is one of my favorite moments in
I don't believe we know the full effects of all the screentime, yet; but there is clearly something to shutting it all down and going off the grid on purpose for awhile. Daily.
This last week, without consulting each other, both Straight From The Heartland's podcast https://www.facebook.com/sfthpodcast/
and our pal MitchMatthews' podcast Dream Think Do http://mitchmatthews.com/beating-decision-fatigue-deep-dive-mitch/ --the topic was decision fatigue.
Relational fatigue has been a topic of conversation in our circles, too.
One of the top ten promises in Scripture is rest; sabbath. Hebrews 4 is a great study on the topic of the Believer's Rest.
My wife and I were at a parenting class some time ago and a young woman was just fried and on the verge of tears, beating herself up for being the worst parent in history. She worked nights and was going through a rough patch in her marriage and was just apologizing for her current life/suckfest. We were pals with the instructor and I asked if it would be alright if I make an observation. He said sure and I said, "Sweetie, you're not a horrible momma: you're exhausted." It wouldn't be too much of s stretch to surmise that much of the disintegration of her marriage could be tracked to long-term exhaustion. Tangry-tired becomes angry.
Nobody makes good decisions when under fatigue. Matthew 11:28-30
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.”
Yoke is a picture of submission. That's a mission underneath: do you know Who your mission is underneath, right now?
Think of exhaust leaving the car; what it is, what it smells like. Think of a bodybuilder, stressing and straining every muscle to get the weight lifted.
Remember the worst fatigue you ever felt. I once drove from Los Angeles to Des Moines, straight through. Before it was done I was hallucinating chickens dancing on the side of the road. I rested for just a few hours, hopped in the Lincoln and my dad drove the last leg to Buffalo. Now that trip was wearying!
We have dear friends who live in one of the most dangerous cities on the planet and I pray not only for their physical safety but their mental and emotional rest because of the constant state of unrest.
Hebrews 4 is the place to engage the Believer's Rest, this land of promise that remains. Look at the cross-references.
It is interesting when you take it apart, the context of the Believers rest? The Word (specifically, 4:12--explore it).
Unwept tears and un-shard feelings can take wildly cumulative tolls.
Sleep, rest, quieting the mind, quieting the soul. That's what Jenn J on repeat will help you do.
"Oh let your faith arise
Lift up your Weary head
I am with you
Wherever you go..."
Close your eyes and let Him whisper rest into your story.
What follows are some simple meditative theme bursts and if you want, Word finds. Track themes to their Biblical contexts (Google is the 21st Century concordance):
In the Beginning...
Quick to Listen
Slow to Speak
Slow to Anger
Wait on Him
Thank You, Lord
Praise the Lord
Holy Spirit, Help
God is able
God is greater
Come Up Here
Come Follow Me
Be Not Afraid
Fear No Evil
My Cup Overflows
Set Your Mind
On Things Above
Hope Doesn't Disappoint
The Believers Rest
Let them hear
Land of promise
Love is Patient
Jesus loves me
God so loved
Love Never Fails
Some scholars believe David picked five smooth stones because Goliath had four giant brothers. As you track them through Scripture, David's mighty men take them all down.
Many historians believe the hill where Jesus was crucified, Golgotha, which means "the place of the skull", was none other than the most famous skull in Israel: "the skull" of Goliath (go lieth). That is a massive metaphor: Jesus, the Son of David, is crucified atop the place of the skull--He comes to put an end to where most of our troubles begin.
The Three Battlegrounds Francis Frangipane writes about in the book of the same title are: the mind, the church, the heavenlies.
Malcolm Gladwell points out that David didn't fight the giant on the giant's terms. He was essentially a sniper, avoiding hand to hand combat--he brought a sniper rifle (rock launcher) to an unfair fist fight.
What's your rock launcher? What's your fight?
It was easy for King David to recognize who the enemy was in that context: He was boasting and accusing all of Israel's army. But sometimes, our giant is just in our own way of thinking. There is nothing better than realizing what the problem is.
Did David see the shadow of the giant in the voyeurism on the rooftop that time when kings go out to war? Nope. And he therefore, himself, became a dark giant in another family's life...
What haunts you?
Depression? Maybe it is loneliness. Anxiety? Shame? Blaming others?
For me, for a long time, it was self-pity. And the key to its discovery was trusting someone more than I trust myself, on purpose, out loud.
The following is a sampler to ponder. It is a jumbo noodler salad: combining my journal notes with a John Paul Jackson interview about giants in the Promised Land.
1) KENITES--"fabricator" - temptation to self-defense thereby forget to love others--the blame game. Self-focus and the voices inside your head all get a hall pass: low discernment.
2) KENNIZZITES - "possessiveness or covetousness" - never achieve what you were uniquely designed to become--comparison. Always looking at how you're doing based on what you think others think. Codependency. Keeping up with the Joneses.
3) KADMONITES - "ancient ways" - "ancients/chiefs" - represents a religious spirit; tradition gone dark--treated as though it were equal to Scripture "old wine is good enough" "Your tradition has made the Word of God of no effect." Devotion to principle more than to our relationship with the Person of Jesus.
4) HITTITES - "Terror" - represents a fear of failure - so much so you won't / don't try. Broken down by spirital paralysis (but perfect love casts out all fear)--must learn to do it afraid--we must allow Him to conquer that which we fear by facing.
5) PERIZZITES - "Squatter" represents apathy-"things have always been this way"; "we can't change"; "I/we are helpless" Why even try? This is self pity's domain. If a squatter in TX stays uncontested on your land for 7 yrs, he owns it. Mike Bickle said it is always cheaper never to get a demon than it is to get rid of one. Opposite of love isn't hate so much as indifference.
6) REPHAIM "Giant" - it causes you to want to flee and run far away from something you were doing; makes you want to quit (one of the demons in this realm, Baphomet, steals from the Christian from wearing him out)--I feel like I am incapable, even if He is the one asking. Gideon early on in wine press.
7) AMORITES - "sayer" - meant to create inferiority and doubt in your mind--feels like people are talking about you; fear of man, worried about what others think of you (another strain of co-dependency)--God made a mistake when He made me--I'm disqualified--eeyore-ish. Tongue fire.
8) CANAANITES - "zealousness or premature opportunity or promotion"--causes us to not wait on God's timing We extrapolate God said I'm to do it--we say must be now and how. The result is when we are out of right timing we get discouraged and when we quit--become passive and we don't achieve what he called us to do because we blew off His timing (I think Einstein said, "premature responsibility breeds superficiality") - hates the nature of process
9) GIRGASHITES - "stranger" - feel out of place, no one knows me; keeps you from growing roots and maturing in fellowhip--nvr really get "we have the mind of Christ" Clapton's Lonely Stranger Here
10)_ JEBUSITES- "downtrodden" or creates feeling anxiety/depression victim mentality where we blame others for our lack of success ; Pro 12:25
Maybe gossip is yours. Fear of lack. Perfectionism. Shame.
I remember a very powerful encounter with Jesus in a heavenly place.
He looked at me and He asked me without words, "So...What kept you?"
I handed him my earbuds and as He looped them I could read:
And He put them in His pocket and said, without saying, "Now, how would you boldly approach the throne of grace in time of need for help?"
And I took off running across the sea of glass like a child, arms akimbo: free.
Whatever your giant: Ask Him. Don't wait.
He is an ever-present help in time of need.
Remember: the righteous are as bold as a lion and He calls you righteous.
Believe in who He has made you to be.