Category Archives: God

Perfect Imperfections

Stone Faced

I have a little confession to make…I’m a left-handed, Appalachian, perfectionist.  And while you might have mental images of a barefoot southpaw, the last confession item has been a real pain in my life for most of my life.  I want everything right in its place; symmetrical—perfect.  But then reality hits; we are not perfect—not even close in thought, word or deed.

I am quite aware of my own imperfections.  Some mornings, I stagger into the bathroom, gaze into the honesty mirror and utter a silent “Oh Lord, what are we going to do with”that” today?”  I am way too aware that I resemble more of a peach pit than Brad Pitt.  The years have successfully tap danced a fast paced number across my body.  Nature has a nasty sense of humor and it seems she is currently laughing hysterically.  How else can I explain having both gray hair AND acne at the same time?  My teeth have shifted around as if they are aligned on some active fault line.  My joints are starting to crack so much that when I stand up our dog jumps and scampers away…

I have tried to remedy some of these physical imperfections in the past.  One year, a day before our trip to Disney World, I decided to go with a more youthful look and had my hair and goatee dyed.  The stylist made a drastic mistake with the hair color and I walked out looking like Juan Valdez!  I was more than embarrassed as we walked through the Magic Kingdom donning my new black pelt; even the Hispanics were pointing and laughing…could it have been because my light brown Andy Rooney brows were sticking out like a sore thumb?  I have since embraced the gray—at least I still have hair…and as another side benefit, I occasionally get an accidental senior discount!

As the old adage states, “Nobody’s perfect” and what a true statement that is! However, sometimes we use that very statement as an excuse to not do the very thing God is urging us to do.  The Bible is chock full of examples where imperfect people were being used by God for His purpose.  Moses had a speech impediment, David had a thing for bathing beauties, and even Saul/Paul had a self-righteous indignation toward Christians to the point of persecution.  2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB) reads–And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Another words, we need to accept our frailties, our imperfections, our weaknesses and allow God to use these fallible traits for His purpose and glory.  But as a caveat, just know that when you decide to say “yes” and follow whatever God would have you do, you will never be the same.  For God does not want to leave us “Just As I Am” , rather He wants us to be more Christ-like.  Philippians 1:6 (NASB) reads, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 

So tell me, isn’t it time you took a good look in your own internal honesty mirror?  What personal imperfections or weaknesses has God wanted to use of yours that would be perfect for His purpose?  Truth be told, God wants your entire package of perfect imperfections…and mine.  And as for my perfectionism, God and I are still working on it.  I have not mastered it completely which my wife can attest as I follow behind her during cleaning and straighten up all the pictures on the walls…

Living the Trashy Life

dumpster

There is an unofficial sport known worldwide but yet goes pretty much completely unnoticed. These pseudo athletes do not appear on cereal boxes nor do they get pricey endorsements. You can normally see these “thrill seekers” meandering around neighborhoods near college campuses in late summer to early fall but they can be found anywhere at any time. Who is this elite group of daring individuals you might ask? Dumpster divers…

For some of you, this term brings on a snicker and an involuntary head shake but for others, well, they are feeling their face grow warm as the emotion of embarrassment overtakes them. These “divers” cross over socioeconomic lines and you may be surprised who around you has taken “the plunge” one time or another.

Ok, and now for the true confession….been there, done that. It was circa 1980 and my wife and I were about as poor as our government leader’s morals. We were living in Franklin House apartments just around the building from our complex’ dumpster. One day coming home from work, I spied an exercise bike sitting beside of the grime laden dumpster. I debated for a while and decided to investigate further, eyeing the primitive pedaling apparatus up and down with a critical eye. Not finding anything wrong with the piece of equipment, I looked all around me for prying eyes, picked up the bike, and cantered off to our apartment like a dog with a new bone in its’ mouth.

I beamed with pride as I showed my new bride the find of the decade. She returned my look with a suspicious glare. I mounted my mechanical steed and started pedaling, my upper body lunging back and forth in rhythmic procession. Suddenly my rhythm was disrupted by a crack of metal and my body being hurled toward the now exposed post of the defunct exercise bike; I narrowly missed impaling my at the time, slight, terrified frame on the “pedals of death”. My thrill was replaced with humiliation as I sheepishly picked up the now evident piece of garbage and retraced my steps back to its’ rightful owner, the lowly dumpster.

There is another type of dumpster diving that is far more destructive which I dare say is one of an unforgiving heart.   I think at times, we all have been guilty of holding a grudge or carrying a hurt left by another. And how many times have we heard the name of the person who committed the offense only to trigger something inside that entices us to dive into the deepest recesses of our minds to the dumpster of unforgiveness. Once there, you plunge in to the deep bin of bitterness laden with the stench of resentment, scrambling to find that one rotting memory so you can once again experience the painful sting of the event. Once relived, you carefully place the decaying memory exactly where you found it so you can easily retrieve it later; feeling justified in your righteous indignation and condemnation of the offender, you once again snap back into reality. When will we realize that we cannot inflict harm upon the ghosts of the past; we are only hemorrhaging our souls. Only our forgiveness of others can neutralize the pain of those excruciating memories and only Jesus can sterilize our hearts and place our hurts in the proper perspective of being healed memories and lessons learned.

And unlike my botched attempt at turning trash to treasure, there are many who have successfully found the unwanted, underappreciated waste of humanity and have turned the items into something beautiful and useful again. Hhhmmm…sounds just like Jesus; He’s in the restoration business, turning our sinful lives into bright, beacons of hope and grace.

So what about you? Isn’t it time to shed those rags of self-pity and breathe in the pristine, life changing air of forgiveness? For life is too short to allow bitterness and unforgiveness to rob us of our joy and zest for life that God so freely gives…

 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

Pacing in the Waiting Room

hash marks

I haven’t been writing lately…what an understatement as my mind has been absent of clarity for what seems like weeks. You see, my wife and I have been on a journey where we feel compelled to make a physical move to North Carolina. For months we have planned and worked toward that goal, knowing that in early 2015 the transition would be complete; and then nothing. It seemed that God had become silent on the whole issue and the promising job opportunities dried up like a plant devoid of moisture.

We suddenly found ourselves wandering around in the waiting room of life and it feels a little like the following scenario. You are dazed and confused, trying to figure out how you landed in the small monochrome hued room. You look all around to examine every detail of the dingy holding cell; the out-of-date magazines strewn about and the unmistakable wear patterns on the dirty putty colored commercial grade carpeting where others before you had paced back and forth, burdened with the same abstract state of confusion that is momentarily swallowing up your very being. You desperately look for a way out but all you find on the walls are hash marks where others counted their days in captivity. What I failed to notice was the door on the other end of the room with the old polished brass door knob. I turned the knob and walked through the door only to find out the door knob was only on the inside…

You see, I could have left my bondage any time I wanted…IF I had stopped pacing in the waiting room long enough to listen to that still small voice I had followed all along. God’s voice was the one we heard that stirred the initial sense of urgency in our souls. His voice was the same voice that urged us to plant those tulip bulbs in the fall because they would look great in the spring when the realtor took pictures of our property in preparation for our home sale. During that time of wandering, one of my siblings simply stated something she had heard…“Patience is waiting for God’s perfect timing”. At the time, I was just thankful she lived far enough away from me so I wouldn’t have the opportunity to smack the snot out of her…but she was right!

And here we are; we met with the realtors and the pictures were taken of our property, including the beautiful multi-colored double tulips we planted last fall. We gave the nod on a Sunday afternoon to put our home on the market. On Monday morning, I received an e-mail from Lifeway Christian Stores with an article from John Ortberg entitled, “Ready or Not…” and began with ““Feeling ready” is highly overrated. God is looking for obedience.” The article continues on explaining how we don’t necessarily need all of our ducks in a row; we just need to be obedient. This was really good to hear as we were taking on this faith builder without a job waiting for me as we continue this adventure.

On Monday afternoon, our house appeared on the different MLS related web sites. We received a request for a showing the next day and by late afternoon, had an offer for the asking price. We signed the contract on Wednesday morning and started the process toward the June 12th closing date.

The buyers who were looking at our home on that Tuesday arrived forty-five minutes early. Not knowing who the individuals were walking around the property, my wife introduced herself as she headed out the door with the dog. As it turns out, the buyers had been looking for quite some time for a house that suited their needs but always came up empty. The husband mentioned to Jenny that our home “just fell in their laps”.

And for the icing on the cake, God had laid on my heart some time ago a figure we needed to get from the equity of the house to apply to our next home in North Carolina. As it turns out, when all is said and done, there will be enough “equity” for that amount plus enough to pay off our car.

Some may say this past week has just been a series of fortunate coincidences; I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has all been a God thing!! So please use this “lesson learned” and remember; the next time you find yourself in life’s waiting room, don’t pace…stop, drop, and pray your way out…then listen…and obey.

 

Psalm 37:7-9 ESV— Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

Part two of this blog can be found under “Pacing in the Waiting Room Part Deux”

Lookie What I Did!

 

In hopes of one day selling our house, my wife and I continued our routine of “depersonalizing” our abode which basically involves removing anything that would be misconstrued as either reflecting the homeowner’s image, personal tastes, or anything being used on a regular basis by said occupant. Our latest attempt consisted of replacing any pictures of loved ones in an eight picture collage frame with photos of nature we had taken over the course of the past few years. As we poured over literally hundreds of pictures to select the top contenders, we were pleasantly surprised at how good most of the photographs actually were. We even exclaimed something to the effect of “BOY, we did a great job taking these, huh?”

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Almost instantly, I was dragged through Humbletown by a still small voice that echoed loud and clear in my ears. “Yes, you did a good job hitting that small, round button on the camera but Who gave you that moment in time? Who planted that seed or allowed the rain to fall or provided the nourishment in the earth to make the flower grow? Who gently blew on that blossom to make it open for all to see? Who put breathe in your body or eyes in your head to see and proclaim the majesty of God in all its’ vast and varied forms?” Yep, it was a “lookie what I did!!” smack down; a moment of clarity to put everything into proper perspective. A reminder to self that we are indeed the created and here only by the grace of God, our creator, to proclaim His magnificence.

Which begs the question, why this reminder? Maybe it’s nothing more than to remind us to fully enjoy everything God has created for us; to make it always about Him and not so much about us. Hhhmmmm less about self and more about Him? What a novel thought but it brings forth images of salmon fighting with all their strength to navigate upstream, against the current to their intended destination; for as Christians, we are constantly swimming against the current of this world’s absurdities. You see, we now live in the world of the “selfie” which unfortunately is a perfectly coined phrase for the bigger picture of self-indulgence.

My wife and I tried a selfie once…we were in the UK at Windsor Castle, standing in front of St. George’s Chapel, trying to “capture” this moment in time. Unfortunately due to my short Welsh arms, all of our selfies look more like two large insects attacking the camera lens. What we ended up with were two middle aged heads blocking St. George’s Chapel…

S and J selfie

If you have ever been on any social network, I know you are familiar with the term selfie. Sometimes as I peruse Facebook, I wonder about the motivation behind these images. Is it really just mere fun or more about a sense of significance and self-worth i.e. “Look what I did!” or “Look where I am!!” I think many times we wear ourselves out trying to impress each other or gain approval from other people who really don’t matter when at the same time, we neglect the loved ones who really DO matter. And if you have a hard time figuring out who that is just ask yourself, who would I want hanging around my deathbed?

So with that being said, I have a challenge for everyone. What would happen if we replaced our “selfies” with images of selfless acts? What would Facebook look like if we posted entries about how you helped your neighbor or friend or, dare we say it, a stranger? Do we really need to see another gluttonous image of someone seated behind a mound of overpriced incredible edibles? I can only answer that for myself; no…

The next time you pick up your camera or phone to capture that special event, please take a split second to think about your motivation, your intent. Are you about to embark on a self-indulgent moment that will fade as quickly as your Facebook post or are you investing that time to share something special with your loved ones or to proclaim that glorious sunset you are about to try and capture is truly a gift from God to us? Which one do YOU think would impress our Heavenly Father more?