Month: May 2012

Alone

At one time or another we have all felt a strange thing that happens to all of us.   It’s something we were never meant to feel, an emotion, a feeling that we were never meant to know and yet we all have felt it.   We have all had an overwhelming feeling of being alone.

Alone.   It’s a terrible feeling, a sense of abandonment, rejection, isolation.   Alone is a place we all dread and avoid with noise, busy lives and activity, but alone is there.

It’s the great fear of every man, every woman, the fear that we will be alone.

It was never meant to be this way. God didn’t design us to be alone. It was never an experience of Adam until sin came and then a sense of “alone” came. It’s part of sin. We were designed to forever be in fellowship with God. We were designed to constantly sense and be in community with Him, but when sin came along with it came “alone.”

Jesus came to take care of our sin problem, but He came to do so much more. He came to resolve my aloneness, my isolation, my emptiness.  He came to provide a way for us to once more be in constant fellowship with the one who made us. Jesus said, as he anticipated his disciples abandonment, “Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”

And now that is our solution as well.   The very ones who dreaded being left alone, can have that ever-present Father with us, in us, abiding, living with us every moment.

Now, in Christ, one of my fearsome problems, the problem of “alone”, is solved by the ever-present Lord of heaven living in me, with me, and I will never be alone again.


A Stain On The White Shirt of Society

A few days ago I wrote a post about my desire to not be misunderstood.  I didn’t share with you at the time but I was dealing with someone who had commented on my blog.  He told me (and I quote) that, “My writing was  a stain on the white shirt of society.  Now for the record, like most people, I am a person who likes to be liked.  BUT… if you don’t like me I am okay with that as well.  It is alright for someone to not “care” for me.  I have a list of people I am not too fond of myself.  I do not wish them any ill, I just would prefer to let them live their life and I will live mine. 

Anyway… my critic went on to inform me that what I wrote about was pointless and did no good.  I would be better off writing about baseball and try to convince a Red Sox fan to become a Yankee fan. I was fooling myself if I thought any different.  He said that no one pays attention to blogs anymore and that I should leave it to my preacher to share the gospel.  He then proceeded to tell me that he was a born-again believer and that he was believer that was “reformed in his beliefs” and that he followed the tenets of Calvinism.  He shared with me that it made no difference what I said because God already knew who was to be saved and who was not.

Now I will not use this blog as a forum to discuss the tenets of Calvinism.  For me, I have had this same discussion over 30 years ago when I was at Liberty University.  It is the same conversation and it usually ends in the same place… in an argument.   I will just say that when I was a freshman in college, I thought I “knew” every aspect of that argument.   I would study the subject more, sit under some very talented and intelligent professors, read up and listen to everything I could get my hands on over the course of those four years of my Bible training.  The end result was that as I learned more about the Greek language and gained more insight, I came to the conclusion that I “know” very little about the subject.  Thirty years later and I still have not “learned” more than what I had during my education.

While I will not shy away from I believe, I will just say that I believe that the whole discussion has no purpose.  We are called to be witnesses.  We are called and expected to share our faith to those that we come in contact with.  We are to be seed planters.  God harvests the field.  End of story.

That being said… I did want to point out that while my critic may be right about my writings, he  missed the whole point of my blog.   I am not trying to be a writer.  As I have pointed out before… I love to write, I never said I was a good writer.  I am not trying to reach the masses.  I write for me.  I write so that I have a record of my thoughts for my children and grandchildren.   If someone can gain insight and help them live for or find Christ along the way by reading what I write, then so be it.   I write so much more than I ever post to this blog.  Those thoughts and perspectives are meant for my family and while I do post some of it on Facebook for my friends and family to read, I do not advertise or join organizations that will promote my blog.  That is just not me. 

The bottom line is that for years my heart was hardened towards the things of God.  I was cold and distant from the things I truly believed.  Writing this blog keeps me accountable to my beliefs and to my faith.  It is a record and documentation of what God is doing in my life.

All through the Bible there are verses about not hardening your heart towards God.  I always believe He is talking to me.  Being aware of my own heart and relationship with God I see it more clearly in others.  There is a hardening of the heart that must happen when we choose to sin….especially if we are Christians!  The Holy Spirit will convict the Christian regarding sin and the only way we can choose the sin over obedience is to harden our hearts to God’s voice, His conviction, His wooing of us.  And so we drag around this hard, cold heart that feels nothing for God or for anyone else.  I now choose to keep my heart warm and open towards those things I once was cold and hardened to.

Writing makes my heart soft and pliable towards the things of God.  So… if I am truly the “stain on the white shirt of society” than so be it.  That is…just me.

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

I am just a soul whose intentions are good… Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.

This is a memorable line from a song produced in 1964 by the classic rock band The Animals.

Such a true line for all of us.  We are just souls whose intentions are good, and we desperately do not want to be misunderstood.   What happens when the inevitable happens and you are misunderstood? Instant messages, e-mail, tweets, are all ripe areas of communication where someone can easily become misunderstood.   Even two people face to face run the risk of miscommunication if they don’t practice good listening skills.

One of the skills that I have always struggled with is the skill of listening.  I have been blessed or cursed (depends on your perspective) with the gift of gab / talking.  But listening…not so much. 

Even if those who know me struggle with believing this, I do indeed try to focus on listening and try to limit my words.  I have to admit at times it does get away from me.  One of the aspects of my struggle is the fact that I am a stutterer.  I have written about my problem before…click on link<Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid>. 

It is something that I have had to deal with my whole life.  I don’t talk about it much because it is something that I have had to work very hard at not doing.   I have learned to mask it even from my own family.   Many times I have to avoid certain situations to keep myself from doing it.   Make no mistake, I am not making it up (do your own research) it is a very real and difficult situation.  Unless you experience it or have the problem yourself, you cannot fully understand the gravity and challenge it is to have what I have.

Let me try to explain to you what it is like to have this problem.

Again…I am a stutterer.  Not in sense that I repeat certain syllables called “repetition” like “to-to -to – today” or carry the consonant called “prolongation” like “bbbbbbb butter”.    I suffer from a problem called “involuntary hesitation” which basically means that I have to force myself to speak words  or force myself to stop speaking when I am in certain situations.

Some of the symptoms of people who have my problem are as follows:

  • They are slow or appear hesitant to respond to questions.
  • When they do respond, they tend to talk very fast.  The reason is because they want to say everything that is on the tip of their tongue  before they “have” to hesitate.
  • They often appear to be overly excited in their response to a question.  Shortness of breath and louder than normal voice level is common.
  • They will suddenly stop in mid-sentence and appear to  lose their train of thought.  This is not the case in  most circumstances…they just can’t formulate the words to say it out loud.  In their mind, they have already said it.
  • They tend to repeat certain words or phrases as “filler” in sentences.  This is done to mask the fear of “prolongation and repetition” of their speech.  For example,  in less severe conditions a person may use the term “like”, “you know” and “uh”.  I personally use the word “thing” as one of my filler words.  Don’t know why and yes, it is very strange.  Most people either don’t catch it when I say it, or they act as if it is natural because no one has brought it to my attention.  It took a recording of me talking on tape for me to really hear it for myself.  Strange…indeed.
  • They will tend to blurt out responses and interrupt conversations.

I am sure that everyone at one time or another has lost their train of thought in the middle of a conversation.  You are talking and suddenly your words trail off and you have no idea what you want to say next and cannot even remember what you were talking about in or the point you wanted to make.  My problem is exactly like this but it happens all the time.  It never really stops.  You just learn to control it at times.  You have to plan certain responses for certain questions.   It is easier if you control the direction of the conversation.

In a meeting where ideas are being exchanged however I am not such a good listener. I tend to get more excited about my own ideas while running the risk of misunderstanding the next person.

In the Bible when Jesus wants to relay something really important he makes sure he has attention by telling everyone to listen. Over and over again throughout the Gospels, Jesus speaks up and tells his disciples to listen; 

“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.”   – Mark 7:14

In this passage He not only tells them to listen He reminds them to understand.

So as I go and practice my listening skills, I will pray that others are doing the same. As I attempt to not misunderstand those who I come into contact with, I pray they will not misunderstand me.   My intentions are good, one day I hope to be understood.  When I use this blog to share my faith it is with  good intentions.  I do not intend to offend nor do I intend to give anyone the impression that I am judging anyone else.  The Lord is the judge and He knows my heart.  My intent is point those who read what I write to Christ.  I pray that the message of God’s love and His provision of salvation is clearly communicated… cause Lord knows I do not want to be misunderstood.

Values at The Core

This past weekend I spent a few days helping my parents pack up their belongings for their move from Washington D.C. to Knoxville, Tennessee.   It’s a big move for them.  They are in their 80’s and this is a huge undertaking.   I understand their hesitation and their feeling of being over-whelmed.  It is hard to start over  at this point in their life.

As I was helping them pack up the memories of 60 years together, I noticed that certain things that they had acquired over the years were so quickly discarded to the side… to be donated to charity or thrown out altogether.  Yet there were some things that they were holding on to.  Some of these things  I clearly could see the value in keeping and other things that I did not see why in the world they would want to keep.  They saw value where I did not.   What I deemed as insignificant, they held in high regard.

It wasn’t my place to question what they placed value on.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize that some of the things I placed a high value on is less and less satisfying to me.  After more than 50 years on this little planet,  I am aware that to pursue some of my old wants and desires, to please my appetites is shallow, hollow and un-fulfilling. 

My values have changed. 

In this world I live in, I have discovered that at the core of many around me is self-gratification, satisfying self, and getting every pleasure they can before leaving this earth.   I have discovered that those desires and goals are empty.  As Paul writes to the Corinthians he writes these words that captivate me with their simplicity – whatever my circumstance my ambition should be to please Him, to please God.  In that ambition, in that quest, we find endless possibilities, endless joy as we pursue what pleases the one who made us.

I’m discovering that this ambition, this quest to please God is fulfilling because it’s what we were made for, it’s how we were designed.  God built us to find our greatest joy in bringing him joy.  Imagine that.  And yet, in the world around me I see people busy with ambition to satisfy themselves and they are utterly miserable, unfulfilled, unhappy….because self-gratification is endlessly empty.

Therefore,  our values and our ambition should be to please Him.  Pleasing the one who made us because in that quest we find our greatest joy.  

At the core, it’s what we were made to do.