Miracle in the Making: The Jubilee Journey (Part 6)

It’s a chilling 72 degrees as I type this.

Still rattling from another week of dodging arrows, taking them in the back in some cases.

I’m done with this. I’m so fed up and yet starving at the same time. Forget why; I just want to know when.

When will things get better? When will things start to turn around?

I look at Juby and I delight in her progress. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the journey…the literal baby steps one must take during these intense stretches.

But when it’s Monday morning and you’ve been out of home for three months. When it’s a brand new day and your only source of sanctuary betrays you, I’m sorry, I just can’t even…

…not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t given up or anything. Contrarily, I sometimes wonder if not knowing how to not believe is part of what’s working.

Yet, as I continue to wrestle and keep my head above the water, I discover new depths to what faith is like at the end of its rope…

…and it is gloriously terrifying. A place you relish and long to relinquish at the same time.

Like many paradoxes, the dichotomy is confusing. After all, vertical reliance is supposed to be uncomfortable – an achy burn as opposed to a contagious high.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I trust God has something in store for Lys & I once this season blows over. It’s just getting harder to move, to leave the house, to function really. Even though we’re hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, even though we’re perplexed on multiple fronts, but not [yet in] despair, the temptation to think otherwise entices me.

How can the life of Jesus fully manifest when all I can do is stand? How can His glory be revealed when I’m this lost searching for a horizon to light my way?

Sure, I can stiff-arm fear all day, but at day’s end, I just want to know where I am headed.

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there wondering this right now.

Disoriented and fatigued, my charge tonight is simple…

If you find yourself at the end of your rope, rejoice in the stillness and tie a knot.

You may feel like you’re trembling on a precipice, but where courage lacks is also where much is given. In time, you will be able to strain forward to what lies ahead. For now, embrace the opportunity to receive as you persevere, let steadfastness have its full effect, and hold fast the confession of hope without wavering.

Even when you step out of your car and a freak gear glitch causes it to launch into a neighbor’s yard before you somehow, someway stop it from crashing into their house, count it all joy. Tally up His goodness and scale your conflicts accordingly.

Take it from one in the trenches with you. Your life isn’t as broken as you think. And even if it is, there’s not a solve or repair unbeknownst to God.

Why not trust the handiness of His hands as you trade in your sorrows?

Just sayin’…

Selah.

Cover photos creds: Word Slingers

Miracle in the Making: The Jubilee Journey (Part 4)

So…I was going to write about some more NICU life lessons today…

…however, as you may have heard, the game-plan got rained on.

Literally.

Thanks to a washer malfunction, a waterfall formed in my house for the first time…leading to a half-inch of pipe water sloshing from laundry room to front door.

Of course, of all the seasons for this to happen, this happens now.

I mean…I know when it rains it pours. But c’mon, life, this is ridiculous.

Seriously, dear God, I know you’re up there! Can Lys & I catch a little break…maybe?

*Sigh*

Oh, wait. That’s right, Lord. You are the break when we need to brake. How foolish of me to think otherwise. When we need to stop and breathe, you are the breath in our lungs. I only have to look so far as the ventilator in front of me.

And as the bells and whistles go off again, I’m reminded to the extent we endure crisis with character and fear with faith, to that extent our capacity to trust in You increases.

Knowing this, I thank you for not only trusting me and Lys with Jubilee, but also with smaller-scale (yet still significant) troubleshootings through which we can model perseverance to our neighbors, both literally and figuratively.

Per 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (see below), reset that big picture once again so I may be good to go by your goodness.

As for you, my friends, when physical, emotional, and/or relational pipe bursts in your life, count in all joy, consider what God is expanding in your life, and ‘baby-step’ your trust in Him as you walk with Him.

It always takes a journey and often a village, but take it from a broken man. If all you can do is say, ‘Yes’ and roll with it, you have won…

…in Jesus’ name.

You have won.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Wallpaper Safari

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

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