Tag Archives: God’s will

(Change the channel or take a walk?) “The Show About Me” (part 2)


One of the most common responses people have when they get fed up with the re-runs of living their own small show is that they try to flip to a different channel. That is, they somehow realize a kind of radical change in life is necessary, so they try to re-make themselves.

Perhaps they start a new relationship, change careers, adopt a baby, buy a vehicle or expensive toy, go back to school, get plastic surgery, switch churches, move away, or in some way try to live out a better story. You’ve probably tried it, I know I have.

Maybe a person gets into religion, or he gets away from it. Maybe they start to need anti-depressants or anti-anxeity medication. Some abuse substances or live more dangerously. Something just seems wrong–and one tries to fix it.

Plenty of the time, these efforts do bring some distraction and change, and therefore a certain kind of freedom or renewal is felt (at least for a bit); but down deep, nothing important has changed at all. After a little while, the person still feels frustrated or undone. (Or something else unpleasant.) The channel may have changed, but what is lived out is just a Spin-off of “The Show About Me”. Sadly, very few fully realize that their perceptive, and how they live out reality, is fairly the same even after a massive change. The same troubles will assail them, in some way. However, the baggage gets heavier.

Our Creator is the true center of the Show (not us). The Supreme Being is irresistibly calling out, wooing us, and our thirst deepens.

It’s a fact that when a person is too dehydrated they may actually stop craving what they truly need-water/hydration and replenishment of nutrients. They may feel tired, ill, hungry, or numb, instead of thirsty. In an ironic twist, the person doesn’t desire what will make them healthy again. It’s a perilous situation. Without help, people die this way.

This kind of confusion happens spiritually too. Often, in fact. A common (household) term often used for what turns out to be a spiritual problem like this is most often called a “midlife crisis” or sometimes an “identity crisis.” It’s common for people to get a point where they need to “find themselves,” or re-define themselves, sometimes multiple times throughout one’s life. This “want to” to change is healthy, though many times misread. An identity shift like this may happen once or several times in one’s life where a person tries hard to better one’s circumstances, and find relief.

If you haven’t enter a stage like this yourself, I’m sure you can think of someone who has. For instance, in the last 18 months seven marriages at our church have spun out of control or failed. I believe a misunderstanding of this spiritual opportunity is a big reason why.

What must happen to be truly free, and on a full path to growth? Something more like a walk has to happen rather than a small show we create. A walk with God and changing one’s perspective to surrender to God and “his” Big Show (the authentic one “Reality”) is a path few take, or attempt for all that long. It just isn’t a simple or smooth road. It is a mysterious, sometimes troubling one, where the answers are rarely simple or pat. This is the path of faith (believing in what you can’t see, but still know is quite real). Sometimes changing the channel, multiple times, seems like the only sensible thing to do. The negative part is that we only get more of the same when we do that. It’s still our story we want to control, and our story stays small and frustrating.

As many who have done the enormous personal work to recover from drugs or alcohol can attest, one usually has to hit “rock bottom,” (or be fully ready), before surrender to a new, and bigger Show occurs (a life centered in God’s Reality). It all starts by doing something very rare and counter-intuitive. It’s something we all fear: Losing control and Humbly yielding to the Higher Power, and admitting that without grace, and true dependence on God and others, a better way cannot be possible. Perhaps the scripture comes to mind, …”if you try to save your life, you’ll lose it. But if you lose your life (yourself) for my sake, you will find it…”

In contrast, we wish to be self-made.… yet, only a small show about “me” is self-made. Transformation, growth, and sturdy happiness (joy) comes instead through the bravery of surrender to the greater Reality, and taking the more treacherous but rewarding path that comes with this decision.

In part III installment on this topic, I’ll mention some things that happen once this pivotal choice is made. A person’s attitude and outlook change; and how one orders one’s life undergoes critical and unavoidable development with radical shifts in thinking, acting, and relating to others–for the better! We’re talking here about spiritual formation.

I’ll describe that a bit more, soon, in part III. Check back in the next few days and see.

This is a lot to chew on, especially if this is a new concept, and you’ve never encountered these ideas before. Some people call it “being born again”…. and in a real sense, a new life starts for the person who is ready: A whole new life begins.

…to be continued…

Reflections questions:

Have I been living my own small story?

Have I longed for a richer life, but have really only being encountering re-runs or spin offs of a short-changed Show?

What is stopping me from walking a new life?

What are your responses, insights, or thoughts on this topic?

“The Show About Me”…is just re-runs (part 1)

Life *seems* like a "show about you" b/c you are in every scene and every episode.

If you’re reading because of my column in Schuylkill-News, welcome! (Be sure to join up with S-N on facebook, and get hip to the latest news items and great tips and stories before they hit the newsstands. Tell Amy you enjoy her publication! She needs to know.)

Thanks for reading, and please leave your questions or comments, now or anytime.

Deconstructing the “Show about You”

By default our heads are filled with an odd and faulty knowledge/sense that Life is a Show about ourselves. Each person thinks he/she must be the center of the universe (think: reality lived out), until something, or someone interrupts this notion. Living outside this worldview takes practice, increased maturity, and concerted effort. Cultural norms and money makers do not encourage us to turn the channel from “The Show About Me”.

Sounds like a blanket statement, right? It sounds like I’m saying everyone is a dirty, rotten jerk, and that can’t possibly be true?

Okay, let me back it up and just start with a few questions:

Think about these 5 questions as you read them and answer truthfully (to yourself, or if you feel that sharing will help others, leave your results in the comment section).

1. When you wake up in the morning do you think about the upcoming events in your day, or focus on your feelings?

2. Do thoughts of your past, present, or future occupy your time in your day?

3. Do you endeavor to find pleasure and avoid pain?

4. Do you mentally weigh the personal benefit when making decisions and actions?

5. Do you long for people to think well of you, and you make decisions based on this factor?

Okay, maybe you skimmed those questions.

Maybe you don’t want to do a personal inventory. If you want to move on, and this is getting weird or uncomfortable, you’re headed for a rerun. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Before that happens, please, go back, for one more minute and read and consider the 5 questions. After you’re done,consider your results. If you answered “yes” or “sometimes” at all, you are fairly normal, and you are also living your life as the Main Star of your Show. You perceive reality as something that centers around, basically, _________. <—— (say your name here.)

So what? you say, doesn’t everyone? What’s the big deal?

Well, friends, it’s only a big deal if you want to feel unstuck….If watching the same re-runs of yourself meeting the same sorts of dead ends and disappoints, and having the same insatiable cravings, growing frustrations, and restricted and delayed growth wears on you, then yes, the deal is starting to head into a biggish area.

Seriously, re-runs are really what you get when the season’s over. No one is working anymore, and the networks hope more rehash won’t be too egregious and lame. After two or three times of the same stuff, we usually want something new, something better.

A whole other Reality is going on, and has been long before you, and will long after you. You may have been skimming on the surface of it, but you have to wake up and realize thoroughly that you are not the Star of the Show, and more importantly, it’s not your Show.

‘Ever seen the movie the Matrix? It’s like, but with fewer people wearing sunglasses. …. oh never mind, The Matrix explanation is WAY too long and slippery. You’ll think you’re Neo, and we’ll be back where I started.

There’s a bit more to come:

In a few days, Part II of this reflection will get down deeper. Soon, I’ll also offer mental, spiritual, and emotional (concrete) ways many people have truly shifted their view to a more healthy one. We’re just getting the engine started on this vehicle to a new perspective. Let’s stick together–Meet back here soon.

Always feel free to leave your thoughts, experiences, or comments here. (Just after the tags below this post, it’ll say Leave a Comment. Not to be too obvious, and insult you, but….You click that.)

Or answer some questions:

Any guesses who the Star of the Show is?

What do you think Reality looks like with this different worldview/perspective?

And how would it be lived out? (examples, generalities, etc.)

Prayer-The Hope of Kingdom Come

A most calming, most hopeful way to see prayer in the light of Stanley Grenz describes it in his book, Prayer: The Cry for the Kingdom. (Eerdmans, 1998) He says that every prayer is eschatological (related to end times). By this he means that prayer is the cry, the longing, and the hope of God’s will coming in the culmination of all things. That time when God wipes our tears, rights all wrongs, and the fullness of time and creation enters into the Consummation of the Story of God-theologically speaking. It is a response and movement toward God and faith, and his plan of redemption in the ultimate sense.

Just the same, Jesus prayed for what else? “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s kingdom, spiritual is here now, thanks to our Messiah Kin. Redemption has been won. Yet, as we all know the earth groans to be restored, tragedies happen, evil is committed, and not all is well with people and the world. This is the cry of prayer, in every nation and tongue.

Have you ever seen prayer this way?

Faith and Fleecing God- Hoodoo Part II

Gideon and wool

A common tactic among Christians who seek God’s guidance and direction is to follow the example of biblical hero, Gideon. (see Judges 6:1-8:32) Many people searching for God’s will, lay out a “proverbial fleece,” and ask that God show them which way to go. They hope for a sign, or at least a strong feeling.

Let’s think about Gideon for a moment. When God called Gideon to lead his people in victory over their oppressors, the man was hiding out in the bottom of a winepress threshing wheat. Remember, to thresh wheat, one needs the wind, and open air, so the chaff can blow away, and leave the kernels behind. (One doesn’t get much of that, in a pit of a winepress.) This man was scared silly. One can’t expect to feel even much of a breeze in a hole! God calls him “mighty warrior” too. HA! What a sense of humor! He was either being totally sarcastic, or meant Gideon could be this with God’s divine intervention–in the future. (or maybe both, I wasn’t there to hear the Angel of God’s actual tonal inflection) 😉

Then, Gideon starts mouthing off, acting all bitter, and asks that the Angel of God to actually prove he is really God. To my knowledge, no one else in the Bible is this brash. Graciously, God permits this, instead of just smiting his sorry butt, he obliges him, and burns up a meal, right in front of Gideon. This, of course, scares the snot out of Gideon, and he believes, sort of. He’s still a big-time coward. God instructs him to take down his family’s idols that they all worship. God’s not a big fan of idols. DUH. God was already putting up with a lot of bologna. This garbage removal is an obvious “first things first” order of business.

Everyone in Israel knows you should not worship idols, EVER (they all are aware of those 10 Commandments, and laws of Moses stuff.) Gideon is totally justified to rip them down immediately; so he marches over and does it, no problem. NOPE. Not at all. Gideon goes the cowardly route, and tears down the family idols, by sneaking out to do it in the middle of the night, with a few buddies.

After gathering troops, still, Gideon struggles to feel right or the least bit courageous about God’s calling, or God’s Almightiness. This unlikely victor asks for, not just one miracle, but 2, yes two, miracles, before he follows God’s direction. Very presumptuous, indeed, not to mention faithless.

Here’s the kicker sometimes left out in this hero’s story. After a mighty, and completely miraculous victory, over a powerful and oppressive enemy, the Midianites (with a tiny fighting force of just 300), Gideon constructs a sacred golden object in his town that is soon worshiped by him, his family, and the whole community. WTHuh? I think Gideon and his ways boarder on ridiculous. He’s quite ordinary, in fact. Just like you or me?

While some use the fleece part of the story as a prescriptive idea for determining God’s will–a genuine way to find God’s guidance and will–I believe the Bible includes it as a failure of faith on Gideon’s part, one of several. Really the entire story is part of a greater witness to an idolatrous and unfaithful era in the times of the Judges. It’s really not a picture of Gideon as a good follower, at all, but instead a picture of God, and his forbearance with a very weak individual, a supremely unlikely leader, and a faithless people he has called his own, and wants to save. God continues to use misfits, and losers in his is amazing Story, but we don’t have to emulate these folks in their weaknesses.

In reality, Gideon was like a lot of godless inhabitants of the region; he was a superstitious sort. This was an unfaithful and tumultuous time in Israel’s past as they co-opted with many ungodly practices. Are behaviors of Gideon’s type really the best for us, or the most advisable? I say, “No.”

So if not, what should we do? I’d love for you to weigh in here on this! But, I’ll put in a few ideas.

First, we shouldn’t think of spirituality/the Divine as magic. “If I do this, I’ll know I should do this thing here, if this such thing happens.” Totally hoodoo. That is trying to get God to jump through hoops, so we feel more comfortable. Yes, sometimes God works with this shortcoming in us, but we should also understand that God will purposefully let us flounder sometimes.

Which way to go, or what to decide, might be part of our growth process. Also, Biblical narratives show that God will purposefully allow us to encounter temptation, or the opportunity to make an unwise choice.

Loyalty, and a close walk with him is one of the best guards against going hoodoo with God. (I call this close walk, Practicing the Presence of God. So did Brother Lawrence.) If we are being loyal/obedient, and we thoroughly love God with all we are, it is much easier to choose what God wants for us. And I really think it’s not always just one specific thing we have to pick that is his “will” for us. Sometimes, it’s the situation of good, better, and best. God doesn’t bite his nails wondering if we’ll pick the right thing, and then viola– “be in his will.” He redeems situations, even the foolishness we get ourselves into. It’s that much better if we pick wisely, and make him the center and glory of our decision making.

Yes, sometimes God will open and close doors, and almost seem to force our hand. If we love and trust him, we’ll be okay with that, knowing that he will do that sort of thing for our best benefit and interest, (though it may be hard to see what that is at the time.) To test God, by fleecing him, is to deny ourselves the opportunity for a close intimacy with God. He is a relational Being. He gives us opportunities to walk with him by faith, and not just by sight.

I would love to hear your responses to this post.

Leave a comment, if you will.

Hoodoo Voodoo Series- coming soon

 

movie with the best voodoo play on words

movie with the best hoodoo play on words Below: Scene from The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, 1945

 (info and photo from here)

hoodoo info below via wikipedia:

The dominant worldview in hoodoo is usually strongly Christian. Historically there has been an Old Testament strain in hoodoo thought. This is particularly evident in relation to God’s providence and his role in retributive justice. For example, though there are strong ideas of good versus evil, cursing someone to cause their death might not be considered a malignant act. For example, one practitioner explained it as follows:

“[In] Hoodooism, anythin’ da’ chew do is de plan of God undastan’, God have somepin to do wit evah’ thin’ you do if it’s good or bad, He’s got somepin to do wit it . . . jis what’s fo’ you, you’ll git it.”[12]

Not only is God’s providence a factor in hoodoo practice, but hoodoo thought understands God, himself, as the archetypal hoodoo doctor. On this matter Hurston stated, “The way we tell it, hoodoo started way back there before everything. Six days of magic spells and mighty words and the world with its elements above and below was made.”[13] From this perspective, biblical figures are often recast as hoodoo doctors and the Bible becomes a source of conjurational spells and is, itself, used as a protective talisman.[14]

 

The goal of hoodoo is to allow people access to supernatural forces to improve their daily lives by gaining power in many areas of life, including luck, moneylovedivination, revenge, health, employment, and necromancy. Due to hoodoo’s great emphasis on an individual’s magical power, its basic principles of working are generally felt to be easily adapted for use based on one’s desires, inclination and habits.

 

Hoodoo and Voodoo are often mistaken for one another. Some believe that the terms may have a common etymology. Simply put, Voodoo is a religion, whereas Hoodoo is a group of magical practices.