Archive for July, 2014

Not Too Bad

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

thThe other day at the Y, I asked Greg, the lifeguard, how he was doing and he replied, “Not too bad”.  It sure seems like I am hearing that expression a lot lately and mostly from young people. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean what it says – “bad”, but not “too bad”?  Does “not too bad” mean life doesn’t exactly suck, but it really isn’t anything to write home about either?  Actually, I believe that today “not too bad” actually equals “good”, “well” or even “great”.

I suppose it is an inescapable fact of life, that language is constantly going thorough metamorphosis. Tim McGraw had a hit song about that a few years back. For better or worse, the meanings of words do change. Some words have done 180s in my lifetime.  Today, in addition to the word “bad” actually meaning “good”, the word  “Cool’” used to mean, you better take along a jacket. But according to the Urban Dictionary, “Cool is now the best way to say something is neat-o, awesome, or swell”.

Here is what I’ve come to conclude: When the kids started wearing their caps backward, I thought it was crazy — for a while. Then I decided that it was really cool. I secretly longed to wear mine that way. Of course, I didn’t. At my age that would really look “bad” and I mean that the old way. But this language deal is an opportunity. If you want to feel a bit younger, the next time you make a mistake, say “my bad” instead of “my mistake or I was wrong”.  The next time you are asked how you feel, simply reply, “not too bad” and the next time you see something that is downright “swell” say it is “cool” and before long you might even begin to feel that way too!

However, before I end, I feel compelled to say that even though linguistics change, morals don’t. For instance, when Jesus condemned such things as pride, envy, adultery, hate, revenge, hypocrisy, badmouthing and the rest, he was speaking for the ages.  So in moral terms, those things never change. If it was wrong for the Pharisees to be hypocritical back then, it is still wrong today. Or in a more hip way, if that stuff wasn’t cool then, it is still not cool today. And that is not too bad!

Monday, July 21st, 2014

faith-doubt

There have been many times over the years that my faith has taken a hit. I know I am not alone. In the everyday and not so everyday storms of life, sometimes our faith is hijacked by the spiritual flu of doubt that has been going around since the beginning of time. There  is no vaccination.   This doesn’t necessarily mean we have failed. One night in a terrible storm, as  Peter’s faith faltered (Matthew 14), he reached out to Christ, the only one who could help. He was afraid, but he still looked to Christ for safety. When you are apprehensive about the troubles around you and doubt God’s presence or ability to help, you must remember that he is the only one who can help.  What I’m saying to you is, when you feel like your are about to drown in a sea of doubt, you’ve got to reach out!  That is all God expects you to do.  You do the reaching and he’ll do the rest. Next time you struggle in this area, Matthew 14 is a great read.

 Something to think about

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Time for Change

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

16_origlove daylight saving time, but lots of folks do not. I’m the kind of person who probably spends too much time wondering why things do or do not happen.  I wonder about people. It seems like some folks never change, while others seem to easily jettison the past to make claim to the future. I seldom like change at first.  It seems like my defenses always go up when I sense that change is coming.  Then nine times out of ten, after the change, I see and feel the benefits.  Like I had a cell phone that needed to go, but I held on to it way too long, because I knew how to use it. Finally, I got a Smart Phone. I love it!

Many of us spend great quantities of time thinking about making tweaks in our lives that require change of more or less degree. Like all those folks in Washington, we can talk a good game.  But we also know that some change is going to involve pain for us and often for others.  It is miles and miles from talk to action. Sadly, many of us don’t make it that far. Quite often, when we began the journey of change, we may have to pull some scabs off.  When you mess with a scab, you bleed a little and sometimes stuff oozes out, but a while down the road you feel much better.

In the last several years, my changes, both major and minor have served me well. I expect that maybe you have some areas of your life that need some change too. Maybe it is the area of anger, resentment, pride or envy.  Perhaps for you, it has to do with remorse or shame or maybe guilt or fear that someone will find out and won’t love you anymore.  It could be anything, but I expect we all could do with a few changes.

Perhaps it is time for change in your life. If so  say, “God I’ve had enough, I’m powerless over me”. I found that God isn’t powerless over me or any problem in my life. If we are willing to allow God to work his changes in our lives, then a while down the road, there will come a morning when you look into the mirror, you will see the man/woman you always wanted to be. Only through change does that miracle take place.

Something to think about

http://www.nashvillecrossroad.com/

Hang On

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

hang-in-thereI talked to a friend who is struggling with a major setback in his life. Right now he is up to his eyeballs in pain, confusion and doubt.  As I reflected on our conversation, I recalled a time in my life when I pretty much felt the same way. Although the human journey is unique for each of us, more often than not, it is composed of some shared twists and turns.

Unfortunately, one of the common ingredients is the absolute certainty of anguish along  life’s way.  I’m reminded of the words from the prophet  Jeremiah  in the Old Testament.   Here was a guy whose life was in a tailspin of gargantuan proportions.  For my money he got the blue ribbon for his description of pain when he penned these words: Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  Lamentations 3:17-19 (NLT)

At the time Jeremiah had seemingly lost it all. He had gone from a hero to a zero. There was a time in my life when I felt the same way.  I expect you can also recall a similar feeling. Each of us has had fingernail days in which we were barely hanging on. In fingernail days there is little hope, but enormous misery. Yet, as Jeremiah was hanging there twisting in the wind God spoke to him some of the most inspiring words ever uttered. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.  Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) 

Are we going to face times of trial, difficulty, pain, and sorrow?  Yep! You can book it!  Are there going to be occasions when you doubt God’s love?  Yes, I’m afraid so.  Are there going to be stretches when we feel hopeless?  I hope not, but honesty requires me to say “yes”;  some of us may experience hopelessness even today.  Does our hopelessness have to destroy us?   No it does not! I can tell you from my personal experience that hopelessness is never infinite nor does it have to kill you. And it won’t if you are willing to do two things. Do not isolate.  Talk to people, tell them how you are feeling. Tear down your walls. Let them see you; let them love you. Secondly, write that verse down on something and you take it with you everywhere you go.  And never forget it it’s a verse about you.  God has a future and hope for you!

Something to think about

Freedom from Sexual Abuse

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

 

Abuse-stop-child-abuse-fanpop-2-300x300Happy birthday America! For those of us in the USA, tomorrow is our country’s 238th birthday. Hopefully it will be a great day for you too. I expect there will be a record number of hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and watermelon going down the hatch, being chased by all manner of liquid refreshments.  Our celebration of freedom will be capped off with multitudes of bangs and booms from border to border and sea to shining sea by millions of exploding Chinese fireworks. In the spirit of freedom please indulge me as I climb up on my soapbox one more time. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. This week as I thought about those incredible 238 years of freedom for our nation, it dawned on me that for most of my years living in the land of free and the home of the brave, I was neither free nor brave. Sadly, I know from personal experience that I’m not alone. For me a secret shame hijacked my personal freedom at age fourteen, the day I was sexually abused by someone I trusted. That day I made two decisions. I would never let it happen again and I would never tell anybody – ever!  The first decision was a very good one; the second very bad.

Here’s something I learned over those forty some odd years of carrying that top secret pain. Shame kills.  For me it killed my insides, my confidence, my self – image and my “me”.  At the same time on the outside, most everything I touched turned to gold.  I lived in a world of praise and respect, but I could never accept my accomplishments. What I’m trying to say is that in spite of doing well and looking good I was never able to feel good about me.  The shame of the abuse was more powerful than the accolades of the success. It wasn’t even a close race. As I played my part of poster boy of success on the outside, on the inside the shame was choking the life out of my soul.

In the fall of 2005 I had enough. I decided not to live that way any longer. In short I craved my independence so desperately that I swallowed my pride-based fear of rejection, came clean, sought help and I found it.  It was not a complicated process — painful yes, but not complicated.  I unloaded my four decades long shame shackle with its accompanying chain of self-defeating behaviors and became the man I always wanted to be.  For the first time my inside matched my outside! Contrary to my life long fear, I discovered that none of the folks who love me shunned me; instead they loved me more and taught me to accept their love. They walked beside me through my fears and my pain. So the shackle of shame has finally been broken and at last I have my “me” back. I’ve discovered that Humpty Dumpty can indeed be put back together again.

I go public again today because I’ve learned that there are many others on this day of freedom who are not free for the same reasons or different reasons.  If you are one I urge you to make this your personal Independence Day.  Facing my fear was not nearly as bad as was the fear of the facing.

Something to think about