I Don’t Know Jack Squat!

Question Mark Graffiti

As I’ve gotten older, I’m realizing that I know less, not more.  You would think it would be the opposite, but it’s not.  I may understand random things a little better and learn to interact with people in a new way, sure.  I’m talking about the deeper stuff.  The whole “why am I here?” question and “discovering God’s Will”.  Heavy stuff like that.

Sometimes, the harder I dig, the more confused I become.  I’m ok with the confusion.  With not fully understanding God’s ways.  It’s like the finite trying to understand the infinite.  The apple trying to understand the orange.  Me trying to understand God.  It’s darn impossible to fully grasp all of God and what He’s up to.  I’m cool with letting God be God and me be me.  There’s something freeing about just letting things “be”.

I look at it this way: God wants me to be a willing vessel.  A blank canvas.  A moldable piece of clay.  If I can figure out how to just be and let God do His thing, I don’t need to know all the answers.  As God begins to mold me and use me for His glory, His love will be the stamp on my life.  That’s the key ingredient here; love.  Without love, how in the world will people dive into our story, let alone absorb the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Jesus hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes and the poor.  He loved them.  Simple as that.  No silly debating, just sharing.  Sometimes firmly, but always in love.  I want to be like that Guy.

I’ve tried the whole debating thing and, frankly, I suck at it.  Not just because I don’t know a lot of stuff, but because it’s not about that.  Looking back, there was too much pride involved there.  I just wanted to be right.  The most meaningful conversations in my life have been over coffee, face to face, openly discussing God, His mysteries and His plan.  That’s what it’s all about.

So for now, I’ll just keep searching.  Figuring out a way to let God break down my walls and loosen my chains.  God is a mystery, one I’m content with not solving.

What answers are you battling to find?  Are you ok with not finding them on this side of eternity?

God Bless,

Paul

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Like a Child

Group of five happy children jumping outdoors.

I take a look at my two boys and I see beauty.  I see simplicity and the joy that comes along with it.  They don’t really have to worry much about the future.  As long as they’re fed, comfortable and entertained, life is all good.  Their smiles light up my heart and their laughs make it overflow.  They’re just being who God created them to be.  It’s hard to believe that I was once just like they were.

So, what happened?  I am now an adult, with adult things to think about.  I have to plan for the future and I have to do my best to take care of my family.  It seems like most of the time, simplicity has been lost.  So where did it go?  I don’t think it’s gone anywhere…..I have just changed.  I really do think that we all can still maintain a level of simplicity in life.  We just need to push the reset button on our priorities.

If I put God as priority #1, things just seem to work out better.  I understand that sometimes, life is just life.  It’s fast paced and full of things to keep us “busy”.  It’s during these times, that it’s easy to put God on the back burner.  He suddenly becomes second, while all of our other stuff takes first place.  Typically, if I am feeling uneasy, anxious and confused, it’s because my relationship with God has taken a back seat.  He simply calls us to make Him the focus and all else will fall into place.  This is tough to do at times, I admit.

Jesus calls us to have faith like a child (Luke 18:17).  Meaning that, we need to re-tune our analytical thinking to simple thinking regarding our faith.  My boys listen to what my wife and I say (most of the time).  If I explain to them how to do something, they believe it.  No questions asked.  They trust me and have faith in me.  They want to follow my lead because they know that I love them.  It’s the same way with our faith.  Jesus wants us to simply just trust Him, believe in Him and follow Him, because He loves us.

If I can somehow find a pinch of the joy that I see in my boys, I will be a happy man.  Putting Jesus 1st and all else second will get me on my way.

Where in your life do things need to be simplified?

God Bless,

Paul

Bird Poop

Bird Poop

As a young kid, life was kind of rough for me.  I wasn’t raised in a cardboard box or anything, we had all we needed.  It was rough because I felt sad.  I didn’t like myself too much.  I let others define who I was.  Nothing terribly tragic happened.  My parents divorced when I was 10, but that’s about the norm these days unfortunately.  I did get bullied quite a bit.  I’m really not quite sure why, I loved people and I was a nice kid.  It seems to be an epidemic these days and that’s terribly sad.

One of the key bullying episodes was at our neighbor’s house.  In the corner of their porch, there was a huge pile of dried bird poop.  For some reason, the kids thought it would be funny to grab handfuls of the poop and shove it down my shirt and rub it in my hair.  I ran home crying, needing a bath.  Why does that stick out to me so much?  Maybe because it was underserved and gross?  I’m not sure.

Although it’s a funny comparison, we all have bird poop stories in one form or another.  People treating us bad for no reason.  Shoving painful stuff in our face.  Gossip, lying, selfishness, stealing, the list goes on.  It comes with the territory of life when there’s a bunch of broken people trying to co-exist.  How we choose to handle the poop is key.  Do we have grace?  How about anger?  Maybe self-pity?

I thank God for those rough years.  For the opportunity to grow from the pain.  For the heart it has given me for others.  For the undeniable proof of God’s protection and grace in my life.  I am forever grateful for those defining moments.  It’s funny that, although we don’t understand it, God uses even the worst of situations for His good.

I’m a firm believer that letting the past shape you is good, but letting the past define you can be dangerous.

What past experiences could you grow from?  What past experiences could have a positive impact on someone else?

God Bless,

Paul

Falling Short

Freedom

I tell you what, it’s hard to be perfect.  Oh wait, it’s impossible to be perfect!  I’ve tried and tried over the years to come close, but I’ve finally given up on that goal.  The truth is, we all fall short.  We are all sinners and messed up in so many ways.  You know the whole 10 Commandments thing?  Man, those rules are tough to follow.  Here’s the funny part.  God knew that none of us would be able to follow those rules perfectly.  He also knew that, as we looked at those list of rules, we would realize just how small and incapable that we were and how great and powerful He is.  I think this plan is genius.  It takes the focus off our own superiority.  It helps us realize that if it wasn’t for the grace of God, we would be nothing.

“….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”-Romans 3:23-24.  The second part of this verse is good news.  Although we fall short daily, we are justified by His grace.  Meaning that, through Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.  We are loved.  We are thought of as righteous.  Grace is the key here.  It’s underserved and impossible to earn.  It’s a gift from a God who loves each of us, even through our sin and baggage.

Unfortunately, there are those who live in guilt and regret on a daily basis.  Sin and failure just begin to pile up and we carry so much unnecessary weight.  It chains us.  So how do we get passed that trap?  How do we truly just accept His grace and live in His love and forgiveness?  What I’ve learned so far is that it’s much more simple than we think.  I have conversations with God through prayer constantly.  I just release or list all of my fears, failures, concerns, doubts, worries, you name it.  What I do next is contrary to what I naturally desire to do; I forget about all those things and move on.  Does this mean that I’m suddenly care free with no issues surrounding me?  Heck no!  It is a daily (sometimes multiple times a day) surrender.   I am trusting that, no matter what I’ve done, I serve a God who loves me, always, unconditionally.

I expect to fall short somehow, everyday.  I do my best not to, but let’s be real here, it’s going to happen.  I walk in the grace given to me, while having hope for a future of someday hanging out with Jesus in Heaven.  That’s my fuel.

Guilt, shame and condemnation hold no place in our lives.  Release the failures, spread those arms, point that chin up, close those eyes and accept His grace.  It’s awesome.

God Bless,

Paul

Becoming the Least

Heaven

Only the greatest, most popular, rich and intelligent people with the most stuff succeed in life, right?  I guess it depends on your perspective and priorities.  Here’s the thing; for the most part, this is all temporary stuff.  By temporary, I mean that, when we die, it’s all staying six feet under.

Jesus’s teachings would say something completely different.  In fact, He speaks the exact opposite.  “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”-Matthew 23:11-12.  What!?  Jesus was speaking to a crowd about the Pharisees (in short, very prideful, condescending, religious people).  He is calling them (and us) to live a humble life, to not be like the Pharisees.  It is so easy to get too prideful in life, thinking that we are the captains of our own ships.  That we are in control.  That our success is based on accomplishments.  God has some pretty creative ways of humbling each of us when we get clouded.  So He calls us to be humble, that He may be exalted.  What in the world does that mean?  In my opinion, it means that Jesus wants more of Him and less of us.  Practically speaking, it means that He wants us to put others first.  To share a smile with others, to share our stuff with others, to share love with others, to share Jesus with others.  His desire is for us to do these things out of humbleness and love, not out of obligation and guilt.

By us becoming the least, God has the space to become the greatest.  It allows God to take center stage in our lives.  It gives Him a platform to work, while our pride remains grounded.  When God begins to work, lives are changed.  Decisions begin to be made for eternity.  This is the good stuff.  The stuff that isn’t temporary.

It’s a daily battle.  A battle worth fighting.

Is there anwhere in your life that you need to “become the least”?

God Bless,

Paul

Let’s Do This Thing!

Road

Here we go.  I was out for a run last night, thinking and praying as usual.  Nothing too wild and crazy.  I felt the need to start a blog; this blog in fact.  An avenue to share my thoughts (whatever they’re worth) with others.  I’ve been thinking and praying about this for the last few months or so.  It’s time to make a move.  To take a step of faith so to speak.  I’ve heard that God often meets us somewhere in the middle, between the beginning and the end.  I think there’s truth to that.  I’m discovering that sometimes, just taking a simple step is all that’s needed. So I’m stepping.  I do concede that there are seasons in life where waiting on God is both needed and necessary.  I tend to get stuck in the quicksand of waiting though.  I sit there and think about why I’m in the quicksand, while never attempting to free myself from it’s grips.  I’m slowly discovering that sometimes, doing something is better than doing nothing.

So here I am, starting a blog.  I have no experience, no official training and no real idea regarding the direction that this thing will go.  I do have a relationship with God and a love for people that overflows from that relationship (I’m always looking to improve in this area).  In my opinion, that’s good enough.

I hope that this becomes a place of reflection, honesty and humbleness.  We are all attempting to discover life’s mysteries.  We are all searching for truth in some form or another.  We are all broken people, in need of repair, in need of a Savior.  Let’s do this journey together.  Let’s ask tough questions and attempt to find even tougher answers.

What areas in your life do you need to step in a direction?

God Bless,

Paul