Ever have one of those moments when something you have seen or heard or said, is seen or heard or said by someone else TO you? It may be in a book…or in a song…or in a converstaion…or on a show…or stuck to a bumper…or posted on a billboard…or heard in a sermon. Wherever it comes from it makes you go “WHOA! That is crazy cool. That is some serious confirmation that 1. I am on the right track or 2. I need to pay attention to that or 3. both.
That happened to me last night. It was Friday and my two high school children were at a football game; my youngest was with her newest best buddy at a bon-fire/spend-the-night; my middle son was huddled in the man cave with his oldest best buddy killing zombies on the PS3. My husband was in Tennessee with our other two children. So what is a girl to do? Go to the Redbox and get a movie? Take off the two month old purple toe nail polish and do some serious work on my barn-yard, from too much bare-footing, leather-like shod soles? (yea, pretty disgusting picture, huh? You should see the real thing…no, actually you shouldn’t.)
No, I did none of the above. I did something that proved to me that I wasn’t as much of a computer know-nothing as I seem to be to computer know-it-alls. I went on-line, printed out study notes for and listened to two sermons that I missed recently at my church. Crazy? Not the way that you would have spent your Friday night when there were lots of options? Well, it is honestly not my usual activity either…but I am SOOO glad I did it. You see, for me listening to a message from a really really good messenger is not a duty but a treat. And I have been INCREDIBLY fortunate to have found myself two of the absolute best teachers of the Word. It may not be your cup of tea to spend a non-Sunday couple of hours of your weekend listening to sermons, but I found myself saying, “WHOA! That is crazy cool. That is some serious confirmation.”
Confirmation about what?
If you want to Hear and See some of the things that I am about to say over the next week or so in my blog, PLEASE visit the website for Church of the Highlands. The Pastor is Chris Hodges. The Series of sermons that I am going to be reflecting on is called, “Fresh Air”.
Why “Fresh Air”? Because too many of us for various reasons are feeling stuck. Stuck in a bad job, stuck in a bad relationship, stuck financially, stuck spiritually or mentally or physically…stuck in lifeless, dead places where we need a breath of fresh air to propel us out of the situation. We usually find ourselves in this “stuck” place because we have made bad/ the wrong choices. We are helpless, powerless to “unstick” ourselves…but we don’t know what to do! So, we fake it. We keep our smile plastered on our face and when acquaintances (or even friends or family!) ask us how we are, we say, “fine…just great…never been better.” Southern women are good at this, but I think southern men are MASTERS at this! Lord have mercy if ANYBODY might see a chink in their armour! That would be tantamount to laying in the fetal position, on the 50 yard line, at an Alabama football game, with footy pajamas, a teddy bear and blanky, a thumb-in-the-mouth, saying “Mamma”…at least in their mind. So we don’t figure out what to do…because we don’t have a clue what to do…and when faking it with our smiles and “fines” starts to fail we start to deny the situation even to ourselves. We put off dealing with it. We tell ourselves it will be ok…we lie. Not dealing with a bad marriage does not make a better marriage. Not dealing with a bratty 7-year-old does not make a wonderful teenager. Not dealing with debt does not put money in the bank.
So because we see no way out, we lose hope and we give up. We give up on our relationships, on our bratty kids, on trying to find a job that makes us happy AND pay the bills. And ultimately, because nothing seems to be going our way…because we feel like our prayers have been ignored and there is Nobody there for us, we give up on God. Some people give up to the point that they “check out”…they literally don’t want to deal with anything anymore and they KILL the only part of their self that is still alive. They take their own life and leave everyone else to deal with the consequences that they couldn’t deal with. It is really so very sad…because it is so very UN NECESSARY. Yes, after giving up hope, a person dies. If not literally, then for all practical purposes. Some people have died mentally… they are just going through the motions like an automon…some people have died morally… they do whatever they want whenever they want with whoever they want without thinking about the consequences to them or to others. Other people have died spiritually. There are people in the world who are literally without the capacity to feel…to love.
But do not despair! As Chris Hodges reminds us, “Some of the “Greats” of the Bible have been there. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.”
Like I said in my last blog, I am not going to be anybody’s judge or god…and I will never ever give up on anybody until GOD, the One and Only worthy to judge, does. I don’t pray that God punish my enemies. I pray that God transforms my enemies… revives…breathes new life…fills with fresh air…propells them to a place where they can begin to make right choices…Namely fall in love with Jesus.
Tomorrow and the following days I will talk about THE CHOICE. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life.” Deuteronomy 30:19
We must choose well to stay out of… and to get out of our “stuck” place. But no matter what WE DO, it will never be enough…infact it will only make us more and more hopeless if all of our best efforts continue to get us nowhere. Forced external behavior IS NOT AT ALL the same as a transformation of the heart. “We don’t get close to God by doing great things, we get close to God so that we can do great things.” There is a difference. I didn’t listen to two sermons last night because it was required or somebody forced me. I listened to two sermons because I WANTED TO! I NEEDED TO! IT MADE ME FEEL GOOD. I had a date! And my husband would be glad of it…because it is the kind that makes me better for everybody!
I will leave you with one last thought and the words of a worship song written and performed at my church.
Parents (that would be me…for sure:), modifying our children’s behaviour through punishment, restricting, forcing…all things external…will not change their hearts. Showing them who God is through modeling and our own behavior is far more effective than demanding with lectures of “You Better!!!!” Yes, there are times when external punishment to modify behavior is necessary (grounding, taking away special toys, etc. etc.), but the only lasting modification will be from a choice made BY the CHILD…that they want to transform from the inside. If our children…and us… only knew how much easier it is to obey when it is a delight and not a duty. The teachings of the Bible and being “good” are hard, unless they are a by-product of our relationship with God. Because we LOVE God we will obey what He commands…because what He commands is for US. For our own good…to make our life EASIER and happier and not harder or miserable. A harder and miserable and stuck life is the life that we lead if we don’t have a relationship with God…Let the Holy Spirit come into you. Help your children know what it is like!
“Come like you promised. I am desperate to see Your face. Show me your Glory. I need your presence everyday. I will lift the name of Jesus high. I will live my life for Him. There is none who’s loved me greater. Come Holy Spirit. Walk beside me, unveil my eyes. Show me your power. Search my heart now and breathe new life. Sing, let it ring, for the glory of the King.” John Larson and Nicole McLean, Highlands Chuch.
Please leave a comment if you have had some type of confirmation lately. Let me know what it was, and if you want, and the story surrounding it. Also please let me know if you have any hints on how to help your children become transformed from the inside to do what God commands…and parents/teachers/others that respectful obedience deserve.
Thanks for reading. I would love to hear from you about your thoughts!