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Remember Me?

Buckwheat

“I’m Buckwheat! Uh member me?!”

There was an old Saturday Night Live skit with Eddie Murphy as a grown up version of Buckwheat from the Little Rascals. His catch phrase was “I’m Buckwheat! Uh member me?!” It was like that familiar friend from our childhood (okay, some of us saw the show in reruns) was back just as we remembered him. It was like he had never left.

Sometimes I feel like God says to us “Hey, I’m God. Remember Me?!” We get so caught up in our daily routine that we neglect the most important person in our life. Circumstances may come (be it a death in the family, loss of a job, divorce, etc.) and though it might not seem like it at the time, they will also pass. The comforting thing is the reminder that Deuteronomy 31:6 gives us –

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

The end of this month will mark eleven months that I have been without a job. It’s been a tough and trying time, but there have been many instances where God will orchestrate something in my life (like an unexpected interview) and it feels like He is gently whispering “Hey, remember Me?! I’ve got this!” I know that I will eventually find a job and I’ll be able to look back on this time in my life as something that was well worth the wait.

How has God been telling you “Remember Me?!” lately?

Photo Credit: By Michael Lehet

Psalm 40 and U2

March 26, 2012 2 comments
prayer

"I waited patiently for the Lord..."

This afternoon I had a coffee meeting with a friend from church. Before I met with her, I had few minutes to spare and so I opened my Bible to Psalm 40. For some reason I just found I could relate more to this passage right now. As I shared with my friend over coffee, I do not really feel like I have anyone against me…but I do feel like I’ve been through the muck and mire when it comes to things in my life lately – job search, SUV issues, and some personal matters.

I love how The Message version of the Bible translates several verses in this passage:

Psalm 40:1-2 “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked, finally He listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.”

I honestly feel like I am still in that “waiting for God” stage most days. I know eventually He will lift me out of the circumstances with which I am dealing and put me in a safe place, but right now I feel like He is using those circumstances to help grow me and to teach me something.

Psalm 40:11-15 “Now God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out. Soften up, God, and intervene; hurry and get me some help, so those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, so anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced, so those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy.”

In some ways I can related to David (the author of this passage). I do feel like I’m waiting for God to intervene and do something – and do it quickly. However, I do not feel like anyone is intentionally trying to make me miserable or that anyone is praying for my ruin. The only things that I feel like I’m facing are circumstances that are brought on by the devil (and not in a “the devil made me do it…he’s in everything that I see as negative” type of way, but I do believe he is alive and well and orchestrating things behind the scenes to trip us up and denounce our faith — “spiritual warfare” as it is often called) and I would love to see him embarrassed, lose face, heckled, disgraced, and a whole lot more!

Psalm 40:17 “Let those who know what You’re all about tell the world You’re great and not quitting. And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it, You’ve got what it takes — but God, don’t put it off.”

This is a great reminder that God is not finished with me (or any of us for that matter) yet! I agree 100% with David – I am a mess on my own, but through Christ I have the strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13).

Each time I read this passage, I immediately think of U2’s song “40.” Enjoy a live rendition of this song in the video below.

Photo Credit: By Chris Yarzab

Take A Break – You Deserve It!

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment
relax

It's okay to take time to relax!

When life gets busy, other things have a tendency to fall by the wayside. What makes matters worse is we start feeling guilty as a result. It is okay to take time away from the people and things we love and enjoy. Returning to these things only reminds us how much we really appreciate them. Give yourself permission to take a break.

Some religions believe in what they call “Sabbath.” This is just dedicating time to yourself where you can turn off your phone, shut down the laptop, and just refocus for a day. If you don’t take this time, you can easily experience burn out and you will not be at your best in whatever you do – be it personally or professionally. How you spend this down time is up to you. I enjoy spending time with friends, listening to music, or reading something fun. Each person is different and how they “recharge their batteries” is just as unique.

I have several friends who work for a church and as result they are typically working on Sunday (when most people take their Sabbath). These friends usually have Friday off, so they make that their day of rest and refocus. It doesn’t matter when you do it, it just matters that you do it. Find time in your schedule that works best for you and permit yourself to just enjoy time away from your every day life.

Do you take a “Sabbath” day each week and if so, what do you do on that day?

Photo Credit: By lukey dargons

Scars

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

 

This is something I recently found that I wrote back in 2001.

——————————————-

scar

Do you have any scars?

Webster’s Dictionary defines a scar as, “a marring or disfiguring mark on anything; the lasting mental or emotional effects of suffering or anguish.” Scars have been given a negative connotation in our modern times. Contrary to popular belief, there are many positive aspects of scars.

A scar can be an identifying mark. If you ever meet me, look closely above my left eyebrow. For you will see a scar, a unique mark that distinguishes me from others. John 20:27-28 gives an example of Biblical proportions. “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said ‘My Lord and my God!'” It was scars that allowed Thomas to identify the Son of God.

Our male species has a unique ritual of comparing scars. As strange as this may sound, it reveals yet another good thing about scars: they create a common bond. Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” We as Christians have the commonality of knowing that the scars, pain, and suffering that we cause Jesus with our sin brings us peace and healing through His sacrificial gift, Himself.

The most important thing is that scars tell a story. Mark 15:17-19 – “They put a purple robe on Him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Him. And they began to call out to Him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck Him on the head with a staff and spit on Him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to Him.” But wait, it gets better! Matthew 27:35, 39, 41, & 44 – “When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots… Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads… In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him… In the same way the robbers who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.” Praise God the story did not end there. Matthew 28:6 – “He is not here; He is risen, just as He said.” The ultimate scars (physical, mental, and emotional) tell the ultimate story.

I once heard someone say, “God will not search us for medals. He will look for scars,” to which one of my best friends jokingly added “He’ll probably want to start with my knees!” The more I thought about what my friend jokingly said, the more I thought he was actually right. Wouldn’t it be awesome when we meet the Lord face to face, if He sees scars and rug burns from where we have been constantly on our knees in prayer and humbling ourselves daily before Him? I long to have that kind of relationship with my Maker. How about you? May we never look at scars the same way ever again!

Photo Credit: By Lenore Edman

Remembering Paul Fife

December 6, 2011 8 comments
Paul Fife

Paul Lee Fife (1961 - 2011)

When you look back at the life you’ve lived so far, do certain people come to your mind? Do you remember the people who had a meaningful impact on your life? On Thursday, December 1, 2011 the world lost such a Godly, amazing man who was a great encouragement to me over the years. Paul Fife volunteered with the youth group when I was growing up at First Baptist Church Smyrna.

One thing I will miss greatly about Paul is his sense of humor. He helped make the awkward teen years more bearable. I remember one year we had a talent show and they asked Paul to be a part of it. They asked him what he was going to do and he told them to put him down as “miscellaneous.” When it was his turn, he got up on stage and recited (off the top of his head) a poem about a mysterious woman named “Ms. Allaneous” – all of this he created right there on the spot. We were all laughing to the point of tears.

Another example of Paul’s sense of humor involved a guy I knew named Chris. Chris was new to the church and being the new guy, everyone wanted to introduce him to the people at the church. Chris was “introduced” to Paul at least 10-20 times by various church members and each time Paul played it off like they had never met. They would say “Paul, have you met Chris?” and his response would always be “No, I’m sorry…Chris was it? So nice to meet you!” Those of us that knew they had met were biting our lips trying not to laugh and make the person introducing them (for the umpteenth time) feel uncomfortable.

What I loved so much about Paul was that he was funny, but he knew when to be serious. He would ask you the tough questions you needed to hear. I remember hanging out with him and a few other youth, just sitting in the church parking lot on the hood of his car talking about life. Paul was so easy to talk to and made you feel loved. You knew you had his undivided attention. You also knew where he stood on his beliefs – he loved Jesus and he wanted you to love Jesus as much as he did, but not in an in your face, beat you over the head with a Bible kind of way. He genuinely loved people and making a difference in their lives.

Paul, you will be missed but I know you have all the angels laughing right now.

 

Pastor, Say It Ain’t So – Dealing With Depression

November 4, 2011 Leave a comment
depression

Photo Credit: By Lloyd Morgan

The other day I was on Twitter and was bothered by what I saw. I follow a lot of pastors, as they typically provide words of wisdom and encouragement. One pastor really disappointed me though and I won’t reveal his name, as I don’t know him personally or why he feels the way he does. He went on a Twitter rant about depression and Christians.

This pastor commented in multiple tweets that “Christians should not take medication to help them combat depression because it was of the devil” and “depression was due to a lack of faith.” How can someone who is supposed to be a man of God tell people they are suffering from a mental disease because they don’t believe like he thinks they should? He might as well tell people who have cancer that they have it because of their lack of faith. Seriously?! It’s people like this who annoy me and make me understand why people don’t like Christians.

I am very close with two people who suffer from depression and medication has greatly helped them. Depression is caused by altered brain structure and chemical function. Neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) become unbalanced. You can’t will yourself out of depression. Depression is not a weakness either. The first step is being diagnosed and realizing that depression can be treatable – it’s not something they have done or not done and they are not a failure if they deal with it. About 121 million people around the world suffer from depression in some form.

Learn more about depression.

 

Big Brother – A Dissection of (Not So) Good Community

August 26, 2011 2 comments
There's More To Life Than Reality Shows

Looking for "true community?" Watch reality tv shows like Big Brother and do the opposite!

The subject of “community” has been on my radar lately. A couple of weeks ago, the sermon at church was on community. I am also starting two new community groups – one that I will be leading and another in which I am participating (a mentoring group for community group leaders). When I look up community in the dictionary, four of the definitions really stick out to me:

  1. “A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.”
  2. “A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): the business community; the community of scholars.”
  3. “A group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.”
  4. “Similar character; agreement; identity: community of interests.”

One of my latest guilty pleasures is the reality television show Big Brother. If you’ve never watched the show, it’s basically a group of people whom have never met and they have to live in a house together under the watchful eye of “big brother” (the American public). Each week there is a competition that determines who becomes the “head of household” and that person has to nominate two other residents to be considered for eviction. Residents then compete in another competition for “power of veto” and whomever wins this competition is able to veto one of the nominations or keep them as is. At the end of the week, all house guests must vote to evict one of the people who ends up on the chopping block. Once the competition is down to two people, the previous eliminated house guests vote on which of the remaining two will receive an enormous amount of money.

Needless to say, this show is a VERY bad example of  how a community should be:

  • Individuals on the show form alliances against one another – in community you must be willing to work together as one unit.
  • There is a lot of back-stabbing that occurs on Big Brother – members of community should not turn on each other.
  • Big Brother contestants are caught frequently calling one another names – those involved in community should encourage one another and not embarrass or put down others in the group.
  • Greed seems to be a common theme on Big Brother – those in community want to see everyone succeed in the group and actively celebrate those times with them.

If your “community” were to be filmed for a reality show, would it be like Big Brother?

Photo Credit: By Elaine Ashton

 

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