I am taking some time off this week. Here is a post I wrote some time back and never found a time to post it.
I’m just going to throw something out there today and be honest. Not that I haven’t been before. But it’s more about being honest with myself than with you guys.
I’m getting older.
I’m not old yet. Not by far. But I’m getting older. I’m rolling along. The years are picking up speed. I have a daughter in college and a son flying through high school.. Because of that I’m realizing a few things.
I need to work harder on my endurance. I will need that in the coming years.
I need to work on my strength. You tend to lose it if you don’t work at it.
I need to work on my flexibility. I don’t want to stiffen up as I get older.
I realize that I also need to continue to work on those things in my spiritual life as well. I cannot be content with where I am today or where I will be tomorrow. I have to keep pushing to work harder in these areas.
I need to be strong so that I can stand strong against the attacks of the enemy. I need to be strong in the faith so that those who look toward me will not lose faith. I need to be strong so that I will grow in the Lord until He comes or I go home.
I need to work on my endurance so that I do not grow faint in my walk. I need to work on my endurance because life is an ultra-marathon and it doesn’t end at any particular age.
I need to work on my flexibility so that I can grow in my love for others. Not that I will accept just any idea, but that I will be flexible and accepting of others.
I’m getting older. I need to continue to work and grow.
Are you getting older? What do you need to work on?
Today I’m not posting an actual post here on the blog. I’m guest posting over at RandomlyChad’s. Chad asked several of us if we would be interested in writing about anger. I responded and, quite honestly, did not give Chad my best work. I was afraid to really be honest and transparent about an issue I have been angry about. I rewrote it and you can read about it over at Chad’s. I’m not 100% over it, but I appreciate Chad giving me this chance to take a step toward healing. It should be up over at Chad’s around 6 a.m. EDT.
Over the last several weeks, I have pulled back and not published a new post daily like I had done before. I thought that this would help me write better posts. What it actually has done is give me an excuse to not write as much. I’m not sure I’m going back to posting everyday, but you will probably see more output from me going forward.
One of my co-workers on my team inspired me to write some more humorous posts. I’m not sure that they will be knee-slappers, but I plan on having a semi-regular series called Hi-LARRY-ous soon. I say semi-regular because I don’t know that I am capable of writing humor on a schedule. When I have one that I think will fit into this blog, then I will write one. I have a couple in mind. Hopefully I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Finally, if you are on Facebo0k, you can follow this blog. You can see how to do that over to the right.
You can also subscribe to this blog. I don’t have a free gift to give you for doing either, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have something in mind in the future for all blog subscribers.
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This is a work of fiction. You can find the other chapters here at my Fiction page.
Bill Johnson pulled into the parking space. He stared down at the steering wheel for a moment, searching for the words that he would shortly say. ”It should be easy”, he thought as he wondered what he had been thinking for too long. Doing the right thing, though, was not always the easiest thing.
He got out to of the truck and walked into Grace’s. The aroma of a multitude of country breakfasts greeted him. He saw lots of familiar faces as he searched for one in particular. He wondered how many of them would be walking through some doors to see him in the coming months. He had tried his best to not think about it, but it was looming there, hanging over him like a black cloud. He wanted to make things right with as many people as he could, many who he had hurt or had run-ins with in the past.
Bill spotted Tom Jennings sitting at a corner table sipping coffee. He began to make his way back there. He had seen a few fellow church members as he had scanned the room. He could feel many of their eyes on him as he walked past them. He wasn’t sure if they really were staring holes into his back or if he was just imagining it. Just a few short days ago he wouldn’t have cared. Now it was a different story. Maybe their opinion of him would change Sunday after the team gave their report. Included in that report would be the news that Bill delivered, news that he hoped would help heal the church and help it go forward.
Bill reached the table and pulled the chair out. He sat down and greeted Tom. A knot formed in his stomach as he thought about the conversations the two of them had been having and the plans they had made. He was ashamed of himself and wished he could relive those days. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The only thing he could do was to try to stop things where they wer.
“Morning, Bill”, Tom said. He had a folder sitting beside him. He was grinning like a possum. Bill could only guess what was in the folder, but he knew that whatever it was, it was his fault. Tom was doing the work that Bill had directed him to do. That meant that whatever it was, it was no good.
A waitress made her way over to take their order. Bill ordered some eggs and bacon. His appetite hadn’t been what it normally was. He didn’t know if that was the result of the news or of the shame he felt. Either way, he wasn’t eating much as of late. Tom ordered Grace’s biggest breakfast available. He was always a big eater and in some ways it was almost poetic to watch Tom eat. He entered all of the local eating contests and few people could match him. Kobayashi was his hero and he dreamed of making it to the National Hot Dog Eating championship on Coney Island. What really amazed people was the fact that Tom was so thin. They weren’t sure where or how he packed the food away.
“Bill, I’ve got some pictures I want to so you.” Tom glanced around to make sure no one was paying attention to them. He opened the folder and placed it in front of Bill.
Bill looked at the pictures and it was as he had feared. Tom was good at following orders and he had done his best at digging something up on Tom Davis. They had felt that he was the best target to start with. They had wanted to find something to try to force him off of the team. Bill could tell that Tom was proud of himself. He would have felt just as smug a week or so before.
Bill closed the folder and looked at Tom. He felt a sort of pity for him. He thought about how this man would do whatever he said. He had never really thought about the power and influence he had over some in the church. It was almost frightening and shameful.
“What do we do next, Bill? Do we go to him and force him to resign? She’s been staying at his place for about a week. We can’t have our deacons living in sin like that, can we?” Tom was almost grinning as he said that, a gleeful look that comes with victory.
“We aren’t going to do anything, Tom.” Bill looked straight at Tom and said this as seriously as he could. ”I want you to burn those pictures. That is Tom Davis and his sister. Then we’re calling this entire plan off. We need to support the search team and try to get the church unified and back on track.” Bill immediately felt better, the sense of dread departing with each syllable.
Tom sat there looking at Bill with a stunned look on his face. They had been working together for many month, first in running Donald off and now in trying to control the search process. He wasn’t sure what he was hearing.
“But Bill, why? What are you talking about?”
“Tom, it’s this simple. I have a tumor. The doctors don’t think I have a year to live. I don’t have time to do this. In fact, I have a new perspective and realize how wrong I’ve been. It’s time to make things right. In fact, you ought to confess to Tom Davis that you took these pictures and make it right with him. I’ve already worked things out with the search team. I’m going to try to do the same with the church on Sunday.”
Tom sat there staring between the folder and Bill . He finally spoke up.
“So what you’re saying is that because you are sick and may die, you want everyone to think well of you when it happens. You don’t care about whether we had a pastor who wasn’t doing his job. You want to leave finding a new pastor to these folks that you’ve said don’t have a clue. You don’t want to leave things better. You just care about how people will remember you. You don’ t care about those of us who placed their faith in you.”
Bill sat there stunned. He supposed he deserved this. It was the attitude that he had held and taught too many people in the church already.
“It’s not that. I’ve been praying and searching the Bible for the past few days. I realize how wrong we have gone about things. Do I want to make things right? Sure. I want to right the wrongs I have committed. I don’t care about my reputation. It will be what it is. I just don’t want to go out on a negative note. And that’s where we’re headed.”
Tom reached into his wallet and pulled out some money. He placed it down on his ticket and began his departure.
“You go ahead and do what you’ve got planned, Bill. If you don’t have the stomach to see this through, then play nice with the people you were laughing at just a little while ago. There are enough of us to carry on our plans. Just stay out of our way.”
Tom Jennings stood up and walked out the door. Bill just stared down at his plate with tears flowing down his face. It was the first time he remembered crying in years.
Do you ever feel the tension?
If you have been in the church any amount of time, you will understand what I’m talking about.
John Piper wrote a book a few years ago called Don’t Waste Your Life. In it he describes doing more than just spending your time in retirement looking for seashells on the beach. Or simply playing golf. Neither of those things are wrong in the right place. However, when those things become our focus instead of what God has called us to do, then we have a problem. Then we have a wasted life.
So you (or I) have decided that we won’t wasted our life. We want to follow Him and seek Him in every area of our lives. We want to find the role the Lord has for us in His church. We want to be on the front lines of the Christian life with our brothers and sisters.
And nothing comes. Nothing jumps out at you. The opportunities don’t present themselves to us.
So, we have tension pulling on us from that direction.
Then we remember.
We remember that we should wait on the Lord. Why? Because those who wait mount with wings like eagles. They run and don’t grow faint. They walk and don’t grow weary.
So, we wait.
And the tension pulls us in that direction.
The tension mounts.
What do we do?
This tweet hit the Twitterverse a few days ago: Activity does not equal service. Just because we jump in and start doing anything or everything doesn’t mean that we are actually serving the Lord. We just may be involved in some activity.
On the flip side, we cannot be found guilty of just passively waiting for God to act.
So, what are we to do? How do we combat the tension?
1. Find a task for the Lord you can do. Joyfully. In service to Him. It may not be big. It may be a tiny thing. But find just one place where you can joyfully serve the Lord.
2. Commit to it. Be found faithful. Get there early. Put your heart into it.
3. Listen to the church. They want you to work where the Lord wants you. They will recognize where you should be.
Actively wait on the Lord. The tension will work itself out. The Lord will present you with more opportunities.. Perhaps “bigger” opportunities. You will find out where you are gifted. You will find your place. You will defeat the tension.
What ways have you found effective in defeating the tension?
For many years, I have been happy to label myself as a conservative. I mean this in every area of my life. Especially my theology. However, my discontent of this term has grown and led me to a decision.
Don’t call me conservative anymore.
Unfortunately, that lumps me with people like Rush Limbaugh and whatever politician is pandering to the Evangelical Right. Quite honestly, I hate being pandered to. Plus my political thinking has shifted and is much less important to me than it used to be.
Don’t call me liberal. I am the furthest thing from being liberal in any area of my life. However, I am striving to be liberal in one area of my life and I have a long way to go. I want to be liberal in love.
Don’t call me progressive. I’m not that. I don’t throw out the old simply for something new. I don’t allow what is the popular current thought of the culture to make a decision for me.
Don’t call me fundamentalist. The last thing I want in my life is some sort of legalism controlling me. I don’t want that for you either.
Don’t call me evangelical. That term is so broad that I don’t even know what it means anymore. It might have meant something when Carl F.H. Henry was developing the term, but I’m not so sure anymore.
You can call me a couple of things, I suppose, if you want to.
You could call me a Christian, but I wonder if the shelf life of that term ended. A lot of Americans call themselves Christians, but I’m not sure about that either.
Once you could have called me Baptist or Southern Baptist and I would have worn that badge proudly.
Timothy Keller uses the term orthodox to describe himself and I like that term. Please don’t confuse it with Orthodox. I’m not that either.
You could call me Biblical, but I screw that up sometimes. I know that I am not infallible in my interpretations and that my eyes will be opened wide when I get to glory.
You could call me a believer.
You could call me a follower.
You can call me someone who is on the Way.
Or you can just call me Deuce.
Do you fit neatly into labels and categories? Have your labels or categories changed over the years?
Nine and one-half years ago, my family and I left a new church/church plant that we helped form. Some have said that we left because God led us to. Others would say that we did the right thing in leaving and moving in the direction we did. Still others might say that we were wrong in leaving.
Me? I can’t say what the right answer is. However, there is definitely one thing that I can say.
I went through almost a decade of the driest time in my relationship with the Lord and in my church life. It was literally a spiritual desert.
I spent most of that time in a church where I felt myself wither each week as I was so spiritually dehydrated I thought that I would wither up and die. My soul craved what I could not even express for the longest time. I was so negative about church and church life that I am sure that I drove people away from me. If affected my family and it certainly affected my writing and blogging.
I cried out to the Lord countless times to let me leave the situation I was in. What was the response I received? Silence. Deafening silence. No answer. I did this for years and with each passing month I grew angry with God.
Finally, I gave up. I relented. I told the Lord that I would stay in that church for as long as He wanted me to, even for the rest of my life if that was what He wanted.
What happened? Events that drove me from that church. Events of others and events of my own making. I was angry again and devastated and relieved.. God was sovereign so that even in a bad situation in which I was hurt, He answered my prayer and began moving me from the farthest reaches of the desert.
We began a church search resulting in us landing in what turned out to be temporary shelter. Dryness continued, but with what can be looked back at as a purpose. We moved further from our home only to develop a desire to gather with those in the small community we live in. If we were going to continue in church, that is.
We didn’t want to go to church anymore. We wanted to want to go, but it grew harder. We were at the point of giving up. Jan asked me what we were going to do. At our lowest point, it came.
Simple. Just an invitation.
Sometimes that’s all it takes.
We were welcomed and loved. Not that we weren’t elsewhere, but it was just……..different.
We are healing. We are coming out of the sand. We are drinking from deep wells.
We are home.
Have you ever had a long season of dryness? Has anything as simple as an invitation made the difference in your life?
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals
If you’re like me, it has been busy here at Christmas time. I have not had much opportunity to think about my Resignation series this week. I am going to put this series on hiatus this week and next. It will resume in two weeks.
I’ve had a rough time lately.
For a while, I had so many ideas that I couldn’t keep up with them. I had a stockpile. I was days ahead. I had posts scheduled day in advance.
Then it happened.
The ideas stopped coming so easily. The flow slowed down to a trickle.
I ran into what my friend Joe Lalonde called a roadblock. I fell on my backside. I didn’t know what hit me.
I was scared.
I wondered if I would ever have another idea.
I thought I was done.
Then, today, the ideas came back. The floodgates opened. I suddenly had my mojo back.
That happens to all of us. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. It doesn’t matter what your vocation or avocation is. You will run into a roadblock. Or a writer’s block.
What do you do?
Quit stressing about it.
Look for another direction.
Choose another course.
Ask the Lord.
The ideas will return.
I lost my mojo.
Now it’s back.
Have you ever lost your mojo? What did you do to get it back?
Yesterday was my daughter’s, Lauren, eighteenth birthday. The kids are also on fall break from school. Often times we take a vacation during this time, but high school football is standing in the way of that. After all, the head football coach told the boys that they have the rest of their lives to take vacations. After the campground service yesterday, we decided spend the day together doing some special things to celebrate Lauren’s birthday.