Archives For hard

There are numerous misconceptions in the wide world about Christianity, about Christians, about faith. We’re all bigots, hypocrites, weak-minded, deniers of science. We’ve taken the primrose path of easy-believism.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A life of faith is anything but easy. Some have the mistaken notion that faith in Christ takes all of one’s problems away. That’s, as Paul would say, “dung.” If anything, faith multiples one’s problems, because:

Having experienced the love of God, we are forced to reconcile that love with an unloving world.

With hostility.

With health problems (in ourselves, or those we love).

With financial worries.

With children who seem hell bent on piddling away their lives.

We who know God know that He can step in, render aid; instead, He often chooses to walk, and weep, with us through the hard times. Where we desire the miraculous, He offers succor instead.

Faith, Christian faith, requires much more of us than we are willing to give; namely, dying daily to our expectations about just who, and what, God is. C.S. Lewis once said that “faith holding onto to those things our reason once accepted, in spite of our changing feelings.”

In spite of a world which, where it doesn’t actively oppose a life of faith, is casually indifferent to it (and that indifference is infectious in that it tempts us to forgetfulness of God). It’s all pretty relative, and tolerated, unless one stubbornly clings to the cross of Christ. That life, as the Bible says, is offensive. Because it’s rooted in the Gospel it gives off a certain savor; to the saved, it is the aroma of life. To the unsaved, it’s the sickly sweet stench of moldering death.

No one wants to be reminded that not only are they going to die, but that they are in fact dead already.

This, amongst many other reasons, is why it’s harder to believe than not to.

What are some ways you’ve found it’s harder to believe than not to?

'Oppositions' photo (c) 2009, Iliazd - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Those of you who have been readers here for awhile know about the appeal for help I put out on Father’s Day. And you folks responded in a beautiful, and powerful, way. At a time when I was doubting the community we’re building here, you showed me. You honored the ways I invest myself here, on this platform, by investing in me.

That investment is about to come to fruition. Soon I will be heading off to the Wild At Heart Bootcamp. I am going for healing, and for hope. For the resolution of issues that have plagued me since childhood.

But just getting there might kill me.

Ransomed Heart, the organization the hosts the bootcamp, sent the following:

“What you are about to take part in may be one of the most spiritually significant experiences of your journey.

Expect opposition.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a
roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in
the faith.” 1 Peter 5

Arguments with your wife. Health problems. Being inundated with demands on you at the
office. Assaults against your strength, your character, your work, your reputation. Roadblocks coming up between you and the retreat. Men, please know, these are ALL indications that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. The evil one does not want you to walk forward and take part in what God has for you at this retreat.”

I acknowledged this upon receipt–not really giving it much thought. My bad.

But it has been proven to be entirely prescient, altogether true. All of these things have happened.

And I am kicking against the goads. I have lashed out, tried to defend my honor–instead of letting Jesus do it on my behalf.

Can I get real for a minute?

I have no fight left in me. I’m tired. But I don’t want to give up. I want what the Lord has for both me, and my family. I want it like nothing else. Pray that nothing comes between me and my going up to the mountains.

Will you commit to praying for me, and my family, from now through August twentieth? I covet your prayers. Please pray the Lord covers in all the areas, and indeed mends the wounds I have inflicted. For I am the rough beast that slouches towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born. But I would not be that beast anymore.

Thank-you, and God bless!

How may I pray for you?

'Suicide prevention notice' photo (c) 2009, Samantha Marx - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/My cheeks are rose-tinted with the hot flush of a smoldering rage. Because it happened.

Again.

A smart, capable, accomplished woman—skilled in the art of healing, possessed of the patience of Job, and the bedside manor of an angel– was taken in her prime.

Not by accident, nor incident, but by the rigors of life.

I did not know her, but I knew her, you know? I know women like her.

My mom, for instance—a woman who: taught elementary age children, worked as a youth probation officer (her handcuffs were real—I know), and ended her career as a youth diversion coordinator, keeping kids out of the justice system. If anyone has suffered through the slings and arrows of life, it’s her. Add to that a troubled marriage, subsequent divorce, and one could safely say that life did its number on her.

She was:

Bowed, yes. Broken, assuredly. But alive.

Not so much this other woman I mention above. As a wife, mom, and
bringer of hope to many, she had none left for herself:

In her mind, the career she loved took the brunt of the blame for a
marriage that was failing. Somehow, it was solely her fault.
Despite a husband declaring his love for another, and a desire to
leave.

So this smart, capable, talented soul–a light to so many–snuffed out
her own light, leaving behind her young children. Soul crushed beneath
the weight of a guilt that wasn’t solely hers to bear.

How did we not see? We who knew, or knew of, her? Why did we not see
past the happy veneer to the hurting soul inside? How did she not keep
any hope for herself alive?

Why did she believe the lie that she was alone–that she alone was to blame?

Why?

Because smart, capable, and accomplished is no match for some lies.
Especially those predicated upon false premises. Falsest of all: that
you are alone.

Because you are not. Women—men, too–please don’t be the woman I here wrote of. We need you. We need your gifts, your talents… We need you. Only you can tell your tale.

Have you ever been there? Known someone who was? How did you come back from the brink?

The Walking Dead may not be your thing–I get that. But unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that one of the burning questions of the series was answered this past Sunday night:

The on again, off again, on again bromance between Rick and Shane has
reached a definitive end (though, in the interests of maintaining journalistic integrity, it was most decidedly on again–for a few moments, anyway).

That’s right, the question of will they, or won’t they, (kill each other) has been answered:

Continue Reading…

Since about February of this year, I’ve been on what can be termed a “carbohydrate-restricted” diet. I’m sorry, I mean, don’t call it a “diet”–it’s a lifestyle. This lifestyle has been great for my waistline–I’ve lost close to 40lbs–but hasn’t improved my sleep apnea.

Not one bit. I thought by losing weight, I would improve my nighttime breathing. Well, not so much. In fact, if anything, the apnea has gotten worse.

Not only that, though I’ve lost weight, my total serum cholesterol is 212, and my LDL is 143. Not such good numbers.

This, despite my “lifestyle,” and moderate exercise. Guess it’s all in the genes, or something.

Thanks, mom and dad! Thanks a lot.

Anyway, I thought I could get a handle on this without any additional doctor visits, etc. But it’s not looking that way. (You in the peanut gallery: shut up! I know full well it sucks to be middle aged). So, it looks like another sleep study is in order, and with a recurrent staph infection in my left nostril, a visit to the otolaryngologist (otherwise, like Treebeard, known as an ENT) as well. I hate going to the doctor!

All of this added to what my wife is going through health-wise: diabetes, adhesive capsulitis (“frozen shoulder”–for which she has been enduring painful physical therapy thrice-weekly for sometime now), and various other health issues as well.

Added to which, our son has had some issues with bullies at school.

All of which is to say that this introvert’s heart is on overload. Life is too much right now. So much so, that I presently don’t really care about my healthy regimen. I mean: eat right, exercise daily, die anyway, right? So I may as well eat what I enjoy.

Awesome headspace to be in, right? Can I get an “Amen?”

As you can probably guess–if you read yesterday’s post–I’ve been somewhat surly and withdrawn lately. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife. 😉

I’m sorry if this sounds like a pity party; that’s not why I’m sharing. I’m just trying to be real with you.

Insofar as I know, I ain’t dyin’, but I feel–chronically–only about half alive. I guess what I’m saying is: I could use your prayers.

Thanks, and God bless!

How can I pray for you?