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Archive for the ‘courage’ Category

Sometimes we need the space to be honest. I’ve said before, one of the real values of having people we can truly trust is the ability to be honest when we really, really need to.

John Mayer wrote on of my favorite songs.  It’s call “Say”.  My favorite line is the little bridge to the chorus

“If you could only…Say what you need to say.”

And as I was listening to the song today I had the thought of people speaking honestly to their pastors about their own journey of faith.  (Don’t ask me why.)  And so I thought I would ask, if you could say something to your pastor or some person in spiritual authority, and really say what you need to say, what would it be?

If you need to use Anonymous, that’s okay.

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A Slow Growth

God is Brilliant!

I had a thought the other day while eating.  I eat because I like flavors and tend to eat too much.  And then food just sits in my stomach trying to digest, so I suffer for about an hour with the idea that I’ve apparently enjoyed a meal.  Basically I’ve caught myself in gluttony.

No this isn’t a post on the seven deadly sins.  I could count on six hundred fingers and toes the list of imperfect things about me.  And as I was sitting in Starbucks, I had a thought.  When we choose to follow Jesus we don’t become perfect in the sense that we stop screwing up.  And I was wondering out loud, why?  Why wouldn’t God create a situation where being empowered by the Holy Spirit immediately changes you to perfection?  It would seem to make sense, wouldn’t it.

But it doesn’t work like that.  The path to restoration is often painfully slow.

The Scriptures tells me that God still loves me.  I am being redeemed.  And to be honest some days I feel like God is not keeping up his ends of the bargain.  “Bring on the wholeness already.  I really am ready for it God.”  But I’m not done. I am then reminded of the days that I have felt done, that I have it all figured out.  What an ass I am.

And then I begin to realize that the problem isn’t God.  The real problem is me. I’m broken.   To follow Jesus puts me at odds with my brokenness.  When I stare myself in the face, I see the flaws and problems that I have inherited but refuse to let go of.  And it is at this moment that I am astounded that God can actually love me.  It would be easy to love Jesus.  He was perfect.  But how can God actually love me?  I sometimes don’t get it.

What if the problem is not simply our brokenness, which God tends to remove slowly and over time, but our ability to receive His love in spite of it.  My brokenness demands a verdict.  It shouts from the rooftops and begs to be heard.  And I can run, ignoring the bullhorn of my stupidity and feeble attempts at humanity, or I can face it and deal with its truth.  One requires courage and one a good pair of running shoes.

So I ponder the reality that my brokenness reflects the brilliance of His love.  It reveals God’s glorious nature, which is that He actually loves me…even in my brokenness.    Could I actually be of value to God, my Father?  Could love actually transcend my brokenness.  I want to know this God who could actually love me.  His love asks me to love my self at the deepest levels of my soul, to care for it and surrender it to back into the hands of my Father.

And this love doesn’t stop at my brokenness.  It calls me forward, to address my wounds, to confront the divides that have destroyed relationship.  It calls me to remove the obstacles between us.  I no longer want to walk away from but run to this God. And then it hit me.  Part of my restoration is my own participation in growing up.  If everything is done for me, if I never have to surrender, then I’m simply a passive observer. But if part of my growth requires me to get involved, to let go of my own bullshit, then I’m always being called into something.

When I look back on the journey, I realize that it was in the fumbling and falling that I was given the choice to continue.  Would I get back up?  And when I got back up, I was choosing to accept that love, to believe what my Father had told me.  And then I stand there realizing that it was the slow growth that made the story.  It was real.  It was true.  And it was mine.

Listening to: Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel

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The Will To Courage

I finally figured out why I like this commercial.  It’s about courage.

The commercial, which is for Nike, is not the best of what we can be.  It’s not what we typically think of when we think of sports.  It’s not about the glory or the even the victory.

The dominate image in the commercial is the moment when we doubt, when we wonder IF we can.  It also reveals the fear, the moment before someone scores, the moment when we haven’t done it yet.  This is the moment, not of victory, but of courage.  And I believe it is this moment that we need more than the one that follows.

I think of all the great heroes in my life, or in history, and I think about why they are my heroes.  It actually wasn’t because they were always victorious.  It was because they weren’t afraid. I think of Gandhi who was willing to put it all on the line and starve himself to death.  I think of Lincoln who almost lost the soul of the people of America only to regain it with his victory against slavery.  And he gave his life for it.  And I think of Jesus, who could have easily walked from the Garden of Gethsemane left us to our own devices.  But he didn’t. He chose the cross.

I want to be the one who faces my deepest fears, my most notorious enemy, and say, “Screw you.  I am not afraid of you.” I want to be able to rise up to the moment I am called and say, “I will trust you Father.”  I wish for the victory, but I need the courage.  It is in the will to courage that I find my soul.  It is in the will to courage that we find love.

Many of you pointed out that it has a killer (no pun intended) soundtrack to it.  Music has a way of resonating at a level of the soul.  And the line “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier,” speaks of fighting not just for a medal or award but also for our dignity.

PS: I completely forgot to mention my appreciation for all those who helped me with this.  It was very helpful.  Thank you very much.

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This is a question that stirs me.  So many have experienced significant harm, hurts, and wounds in life.  But it’s easy to bitch about it.  I want to hear the stories that inspire us.  I want to hear how you came out of religion to relaitonship.  I want to hear of your embrace of extravagant love.  I want to hear how you shed the lies that kept you locked in oppression.  So please share your story. Let it out. Don’t worry about brevity on this one.  How are you finding restoration?   I love hearing what people are doing to find restoration and how people are being restored.  Inspire us.

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A couple of weeks ago, my sons “graduated” from kindergarten. I know.  But it was fun being there and I took all kinds of pictures. What can I say. I’m just like that. And as my son was being praised by his teacher I noticed the four little signs above him.  I took the picture above.

The sign in red say, “We respect the rights of others.”

The sign in yellow says, “It’s intelligent to ask for help.”

The sign in blue says, “We are free to make mistakes.”

The sign in green says, “It takes courage to take a risk.”

And when I read them something inside of me said, “What would happen if we hung those in our local church?” Respect for others, asking for help, freedom to make mistakes, and my favorite, the courage to take a risk. I love it. And something in me also wondered if someone would take them down. Yet these were likely fundamental to the early church.

What would happen if you hung those signs in your church on Sunday?

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Have you ever lost someone that was really important to you? In light of the Steven Curtis Chapman tragedy, I was listening to the dialogs going on. Eugene Cho’s post struck me because he ask some good questions. I understand the outpouring. Steve has been deeply influential in my journey.

I have someone very important in my life who lost somebody very special, her mom. And the pain of this experience resides in the fact that this woman was an icon of love. She was that special. Everyone knew it.

But my concern for her now resides in the fact that she is still grieving, almost three years later. And the temptation of any event is to ask, “Why God?” I completely understand this. I think the emotion surrounding tragedy requires asking the question. It’s human to do so. But the real tragedy is when the original tragedy becomes the defining moment in our life, when we assume God has abandoned us.  This was the original lie.

The real risk in tragedy is to still trust. It’s just easier to guard against the pain and walk away. I look at the last seven days of Jesus life and I see pothole after pothole. His accountant traded in their friendship for 40 pieces of silver. His best friends couldn’t stay awake for him in His most pressing moment. His best friend abandoned him. He was lashed with a whip forty times that likely mutilated his back. He was crowned with thorns. He was nail to the cross and crucified. And it would have been so easy to just walk away. Everything in his path was tragedy.

Unless…he trusted. “Into your hands,” he said. This is the real risk. Do we dare trust in light of tragedy. Do we take the risk to discover what is on the other side of tragedy. Even Jesus got to grieve. He had every reason not to stick with God’s plan.But it didn’t stop him from trusting. He took tragedy and traded it in for the restoration of the world.

What if our restoration is found on the other side of tragedy? What if our resurrection is found in the courage to trust? What if God is calling us to trust in the brights lights of tragedy so we can share in what Jesus found? And when we do, affliction becomes healing in ways we could never have discovered unless we cross the bridge of chaos.

Recently I found this video by Coldplay. I cant’ believe I never found this song before. But I love the lines.

“And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what your worth”

And

“the lights will guide you home,
and ignite your bones.”

That’s healing.

I wish Chris Martin has written, “I will try to love you.” I don’t think we can fix people, but I think love can.

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Thomas Edison was once asked by a reporter and asked him how it feels to fail ten thousand times to invent the commercial lightbulb. Edison replied, “I haven’t failed ten thousand times – I simply discovered ten thousand ways that will not work!”

And this is to me what is at the heart of leadership. To succeed as a leader we have to be willing to fail…a lot. It’s the willingness to get back up again…and again…and again when it doesn’t feel good, when we look foolish for continuing. And if we’re worried about what people think, we’re likely never to take the risk.

And what I have found is that love is the one thing that drives us to get back up. Love is leadership. It’s the willingness to continue and even fail because the outcome is worth it. Love compels us to think beyond ourselves and to the restoration of something bigger, God creation. Love leads us into greatness because love lifts everyone up to discover our dignity and worth. Love is the journey.

May we be those who do get up and love.

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