How to Survive a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Crappy Day

Written 9/21/15; revised 7/18/21

Have you ever had a really, really, really bad day?

You know…the kind of day where absolutely nothing goes right…where the only musterable reaction is a masquerading laughter to hide behind?

Well, let’s just say I had one of those infamous episodes a few days ago…

…one that was not only terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad, but one that gave a new and literal meaning of what it’s like to have a ‘crappy day’…

It all started last Wednesday, when I returned home from a decent day at work ironically enough. I was on the phone with my wife, Lyssah, discussing our next day travels to Atlanta and prepping to take our new puppy, Selah, on a walk when I suddenly slammed into a brick wall disguised as a sinister stench.

The smell was downright unbearable…like fermented dung reeking from the decaying innards of an infested beast.

Okay, okay…maybe it wasn’t that bad, but clearly something was wrong

After all, we had just finished decking the halls with cinnamon branches and autumn-wreath scented candles a few days prior. One would think the fragrance in the aftermath would be seasonal, not hinted with nuclear bowel explosions.

At any rate, while I could only pray the stench belonged to a deceased rodent, as I crept towards Selah’s crate, the writing on the wall became clear…and brown with streaks of splattered excrement. Like a chaotic scene from an abstract Jackson Pollock painting, my mission was now set:

I had to free Selah from her sharty prison…and the demonic oppression possessing her stool.

And so for the next hour-and-a-half, I devoted all energy to conquering Selah’s anal glands and my chemoreceptor triggers. After a thorough scrubdown, I then called Lys to discuss our Wednesday night gameplan in light of the situation. Initially, I was to meet her at church following my Selah break to pick her up from a Sunday service video shoot. From there, we’d return home, eat dinner, and head back out to church for our youth discipleship gathering; however now, due to changes in Selah’s health, Lys would forgo youth service and hitch a ride home to tend Selah leaving me to lead youth service alone.

An understandable predicament all things considered; unfortunately, since I’d lost 90 minutes cleaning fecal material and had to be at church one hour before service, I had no choice but to leave Selah unattended outside her crate. Granted, hindsight is 20/20, but at the time, I figured the risk was worth taking given what I had just cleaned on top of Lys having started her drive home. I mean, c’mon! What damage could Selah possibly accomplish in 10-15 minutes or less? Or so I thought…

Well, as it turned out, quite a bit actually.

Although I can’t vouch for every canine conundrum, at some point during that 10-15 minute window, Selah apparently snuck into the bedroom, located the sparkling spectacle that was my wife’s engagement ring, and devoured it.

Now, thankfully, I wasn’t aware of this prior to youth service; however, after returning home to a wife and dog pawing around the bedroom floor on all fours, it didn’t take long for the light bulb to ignite. A quick glance at my wife’s eyes told me everything.

Something valuable had gone missing…

…and something as valuable had contributed to it.

Needless to say, once I realized our furry companion had consumed Lys’s engagement ring, I couldn’t help but wonder what the crap was going on (pun intended). First, the fecal fiasco; now this!?! Sure, the day could have been a lot worse, but this was getting ridiculous. Something needed to give and fast.

Well, as it turned, I didn’t have to wait long or look far for motivation. For as I watched my wife morph into a modern day version of the woman looking for her lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), it hit me how our joy was being deliberately pursued.

Realizing the target on our backs, Lyssah and I stopped our ring hunt, prayed, packed our suitcases, watched a new episode of 30 Rock, then prayed some more. During the time, we were discouraged but hopeful God would shed light on the missing ring and cure Selah’s rectal dysfunction.

The next day, as we started our Georgia journey, we both sensed the same conviction: Although we did well in praying into the stress, we hadn’t taken every negative thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) to the obedience of Christ. Having recently preached on this with LEGACYouth, we knew full well what we needed to do.

  • First, given the small and big-picture anxieties, we recognized we’d been under assault from the enemy. So we acknowledged our authority in Christ and rebuked his schemes.
  • Secondly, we confessed we hadn’t been as immediate in our obedience to overcome. So we repented and asked God to forgive us and redeem any unsurrendered part of our hearts.
  • Thirdly, we renounced our fear and replaced it with godly belief and truth. And lastly, we expressed thanksgiving unto the Lord for all He had done for us.

Once we took these steps and laid our troubles at the feet of Jesus, I kid you not…the atmosphere in the car completely changed.

  • Suddenly, we felt secure in our circumstances knowing we’d been given everything we needed to be content in the Lord.
  • Suddenly we felt excited knowing there was nothing Satan could do to break our confidence in Christ.
  • Suddenly, we felt hopeful that God would meet our needs…and then some.

I mean…you talk about a weary car-ride transformed into a triumphant road-trip; no question, we had entered into a new peace as we crossed over into a new place both internally and locationally.

So why do I share all this?

Well, for starters, you may feel the emoji of your life right now is nothing more than a steamy pile of crap. You may feel burdened by adversity and think there’s nothing you can do when the devil comes after you. For others, you may feel indifferent or incapable of persevering through the obstacles in your midst.

Wherever you’re at, remember when your joy is being pursued, you can pursue joy in the Lord right back. Even when the bottom line feels like a loss, you can still choose to see endurance as victory and strength when you feel Satan is after your weakness. And if you feel powerless to do this, when in doubt, just pray…even if you don’t have the words or the energy. For it’s in these moments God wants to reveal His grace, power, and understanding to you…to encourage and remind you He’s not only present in the dark times…but all the times!

My encouragement to you, friends, is to be unwavering in your reliance especially when Satan seeks to rob you of the good you carry. Rather than feel helpless or assume you’ve done something wrong, dare to let Jesus answer the call. As Billy Graham once said, “He’s the best home security system there is“; therefore, we have nothing to fear and no grounds to worry. Whatever you’re walking through, the next time happy and crappy collide, consider the intersection a sweet spot where you can lean into Jesus and receive His love anew and afresh.

You got this!

Selah.

Cover photo creds: MasterKool

Eyes Wide Open: The Keys to Watchful Prayer (Part 2)

After discussing what watchful workplace prayer looks like in Part 1, I want to offer some verses and commentary when specific situations are encountered. For those who missed my introductory post, the goal of this series is two-fold:

  • To equip and default us towards God’s Word during stretching circumstances.
  • To help us hide God’s Word in our hearts so we’ll abide in His Word in our interactions.

Again, we’ll explore different vocational components as time goes on. For now, let’s start with how we can encourage saints at work and how we can endure when dealing with challenging clients/situations. Sound good?

If so…

Encouraging Unity

Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].” ~ Colossians 3:14

For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:9

Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].” ~ Ephesians 4:3

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ]. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.” ~ Philippians 2:2-3

Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

But continually encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “Today” [and there is an opportunity], so that none of you will be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [its cleverness, delusive glamour, and sophistication].” ~ Hebrews 3:13

Not surprisingly, the Bible has much to say about community and relationships.

Case and point: While I was stitching this six-pack together, there were still 8-10 more verses I wanted to add but couldn’t due to length and reference strategy. Honestly, the Word is just that rich on the matter.

Still, while many can agree to the principles of these passages, the struggle to stay consistent in them is worth discussion. Ideally, these absolutes reflect unconditionally regardless of setting; however, if we’re honest with ourselves, how we live with our church family and inner circle often contrasts how we work with colleagues and clients. Why is that?

For starters, I believe many of us compartmentalize who we do mission with because we’ve lost sight on what mission is altogether. Why do we do anything at the end of the day? Is it to hit our bottom lines? To feel fulfilled, meaningful…to belong? Or is it with the heartcry of as in heaven, so on earth (Matthew 6:10)? As in heaven, so in my office? As in heaven, so with my clients entrusted in my care? As in heaven, so with the team I get to serve alongside with? I could go on.

In fewer words, we rank, compare, and categorize any time we detach Kingdom from our uniqueness and calling. And while a closer examination of this point will take place in ‘Part 3’, for now…

  • Consider the temptation to tier off relationships based on the nature of individual connections over corporate identity.
  • Rely on the Spirit as you make God’s joy complete from one to all, in big or small.
  • Encourage colleagues/clients with the intent to build them up as God builds you up.

After all, we’re all co-laborers and co-ambassadors called to be co-dependent on God. As much as we love the ‘go’, we can’t get anywhere without the ‘co’.

Again, more on this in future posts.

Enduring Challenges with Confidence

Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:3

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments [that encourage you to sin], for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience [those who habitually sin].” ~ Ephesians 5:6

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-10

Tell them these things. Encourage and rebuke with full authority. Let no one disregard or despise you [conduct yourself and your teaching so as to command respect].” ~ Titus 2:15

While this one hits home and is borderline “too soon“, I can’t resist this palate cleanser of a series. In essence, Christ is the supreme relator to what we’re going through (Hebrews 4:16) and can be trusted in times of suffering since He set the ultimate precedent through the Cross. As long as we’re working as blameless ambassadors, there’s no shame to those in Christ and are rejected accordingly. Yes, mistakes will happen and yes, these miscues aren’t necessarily safeguarded by your ‘loved by Christ’ identity. Even outside matters of morality, we are a people who have fallen short; however, this doesn’t have to a source of disappointment. If anything, this should be the opposite, specifically an invitation to see the Rock of offense as the reason we forsake offense.

Again, this goes back to the turned cheek principle. When you consider how Jesus kept the Cross before Him, we can sympathize, empathize, and most importantly, pray for those who hurt, slander, even persecute us. Granted, this doesn’t save us from bad days when we’re wrestling to cope. It just means when we lack the strength to stand, we can rest in the arms of God, our living stone, the epitome of steadiness and steadfastness who happens to be the reason we live.

After all, we’re not only called as a royal priesthood but as fellow constants and faithful stewards declaring light in a darkening world. If we want to make a difference, why not start by extending grace and understanding to those craving refuge…and don’t even realize they do?

Cover photo creds: Scottsbluff Bible Church

Fearless Faceoff: When Clients Become Hockey Players

I’ll be honest. This week was …ummm…’interesting’…

…some ups and downs, a few unexpected convos, a couple rough patches. The works really. 

Granted, I’m stiff-upper lipping this as vague vulnerability is often wise on these platforms. 

Yet, as I type this at my local Denny’s 10:00 am CT on the first sunny Saturday morning in God knows when, I’m refreshed. 

Why? I don’t know… …correction: I know; hence, why I’m writing this. 

Here’s the thing…and I’ll try to keep this brief. 

While we all work hard, for some, our professions compel us to deal with difficult clients or patients on a regular basis. Given the sage savvy you possess, I don’t need to tell you how to troubleshoot vocational pests who get under your craw.

Still, there are times that just flat-out sting, like when a person with a noble title treats you in an ignoble way – who gives the impression of accepting your apology only to betray it with a vindictive power play.

What do you when an influential figure turns into a hockey player before your eyes? What do you do when a religious leader spearheading a dignified cause threatens or blackmails you? 

For starters…

  1. Don’t take the assault and character breach personally. You are not on trial. You are a peacemaker…a son of God (Matthew 5:9). As a divinely blessed ambassador, listen, acknowledge, and confess as needed. Whatever you do, in your thirst for understanding, do not take offense to the point you react on defense. 
  2. Slow down, take a breath, and give yourself time to pray. Pray silently as you talk, out loud as you declare, and all out once secure in a safe place. In this way, you can receive grace on the go…and later in the slow.
  3. Understand that challenges have a place and a purpose. As the story of Joseph reminds us, what the enemy intends for evil, God can intend it for good. Thus, when colleagues and clients unfairly criticize you with half-baked accusations, consider the character sharpening that can occur in the moment and how it can trigger a domino-effect of resolution.
  4. Forgive the offender. Whether lost or found, remember they are the ones with blinders on and know not what they do, mean or possess for that matter. Regardless of the emotional toll, aim to forgive by day’s end knowing there’s no forgiveness without ‘give’. For when we choose to forgive an offender, we give them a turned cheek, an opposite-spirit response with the Cross at the center. Sure, they may deserve retaliation; you may think you’re worthy of vindication; however, when you put the entire situation in God’s hands, you’re leaving the grudge on the other side and trusting God to deal accordingly. I don’t know about you but if I had to choose between bitterness and a humility aware of God’s ability to reconcile anything, give me the latter every time.

Back to my case, while I could have been more administratively aware, while I could have ensured my understanding wasn’t a ship passing in the night, in the end, I found the victory. 

‘Cause…

…any time you can come to the end of yourself and not only pray your new adversary finds Jesus but for blessings to follow their endeavors, God is clearly being glorified in that moment.

Not to sound like I’m tooting my own horn; hopefully as you know, I take zero credit abiding in freedom that’s already been given.

I guess my point in sharing this is: Although arriving at this point is rarely easy, it can be simple. All you have to do is know what’s right and have a gameplan on how to get there especially when you’re on the clock and in pressure situations. 

In summary (and I’ll let the Word do the talking)…

  1. Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message (2 Timothy 2:15).
  2. Know a false witness will not go unpunished, nor will a liar escape (Proverbs 19:5); vengeance is the Lord’s!
  3. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. (Mark 11:25)
  4. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12)
  5. Apply the heart of David who was no stranger to betrayal: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” (Psalm 55:12-14).

In short, abide in endurance and discern with confidence when you face pride and prejudice in the office. After all, you have the mind of Christ and by proxy, everything you need to stand up and stand firm in those moments. You got this!

Selah.

Cover photo creds: City National Insights

Lockstep Leaders: A SOAP Bible Study on Galatians 5:25

Scripture: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (ESV)

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (MSG)

As God-fearing vocationals, this verse packs a punch on multiple levels. On one hand, Paul is confirming the Holy Spirit as a perpetual gift received upon conversion; on the other, he’s charging the Galatians to see living as Christ as abiding by the Spirit. Given the acceptance of Christ is not detached from this process, the question, as captured throughout the second half of Galatians, becomes clear: “If I have the Holy Spirit through faith, what’s next?

In few words, if God’s Spirit lives within you, live by it; to live by it, keep in lockstep.

Simple enough, right?

Well, it can be…but to get there we have to remember the life we have chosen through free will and divine inspiration was also predestined from the beginning. Essentially, to abide in our calling is to not only believe God ordained it before creation but continually blesses it as we live. Big picture, the implications are massive but for starters, we’ll keep it basic:

Just as God is faithful to help us discover Him, so must we be faithful to discover Him through His Spirit

In worldly terms, the word ‘discover’ often implies a one-time or seasonal pursuit; however, with heaven in mind, believers can know as long as we have breath, we’re meant to discern and mature in the likeness of Jesus as sanctified new creations. Since we live by the Spirit, we have everything we need to remain tethered to God’s nature through His Word and the still small voice reminding us we can do all things with the mind and strength of Christ. 

Application: As for how this looks occupationally, I love how the Message translation provides focus. If we accept the truth that abiding by the Spirit is a daily exercise, we can further embrace our unique identity as dedicated stewards of the jobs we’ve been given. For instance, since we know perfect love hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), we can abide in God’s presence with confidence and accept His perfecting work knowing we’re 1:1 masterpieces designed to bring God glory.

Accordingly, it makes sense, as Paul suggests, to associate life in the Spirit with a life lacking room for vain imaginations and false comparisons; granted, in our insecurity, we can succumb to the idea respect and love is contingent on skills, knowledge, charisma, and chemistry.

Yet, as for you, dare to have more interesting things to think about and work towards. Sure, you may feel left at the altar with certain dreams; you may feel like you got the short of the stick in how people treat you. You may even struggle to understand why some don’t give you benefit of the doubt and/or are quick to write you off. Honestly, there many ways to struggle and wrestle in this day and age.

However, when we bask in this verse, we can know God not only as the one who has our back on the clock but also as one who never stops refining what He’s planted within. Therefore, while the daily grind may weary our flesh, we can delight through the Spirit as the gap between joyful dependence and fear-based anxiety expands over time.


Bottom Line: By abandoning the distractions of unholy fears and passions of former ignorances, we can keep each step in perfect sync with the Spirit as faithful stewards/marketplace leaders. 


Selah.

Prayer: “Lord, we thank you for calling us to a free life and celebrate your sovereign hand in guiding us towards your heart. As faithful workers, we are humbled to represent your nature to our colleagues, clients, and connections; however, we also confess we can’t possibly do this in our own strength. As willing vessels weak in the flesh but strong in your Spirit, we ask you continue to sharpen our desire to do your work your way. Develop and cultivate an internal thirst to stay persistent in perseverance and consistent in compassion. May our commitment to what we believe is true be a banner by which we conduct our behavior and affairs. Guard us from legalism and self-righteousness as we help others discover your plans and purposes. Help us get out of our way regarding prideful comparisons and coping mechanisms. Above all, as Galatians 5:25 reminds us, open our eyes to any place where we’re abusing grace, reducing the Spirit-filled life as a warm sentiment, as fortune cookie wisdom. Convict and channel what needs to waste away so we can taste your goodness in all things. Finally, create in us a new heart conformed to your precepts and new efforts seasoned in sensitivity and expectancy. While we believe good fruit and good days are ahead, we acknowledge you as the reason. Whatever happens in the weeks and months ahead, make us more and more like you as your will is perfected in us. Inspire and champion your ways in us today. In your precious name we pray, amen!” 

Graphics creds: istockphoto.com