What If God?

What if God wasn’t so much an abstract idea to be considered, but a glorious, majestic, and fearsome person to behold? What if we weren’t meant to idly chatter about each other’s misgivings about the religion our ancestors fed us but instead crawled on hand and knee across the desert to find Him? Continue reading

The Pursuit of Happiness: Which Part is Guaranteed?

If you follow my Twitter account, you probably already read this. But it was good enough I wanted to share here, and maybe expound a bit. The context was a larger political rant which I’ll spare you.

The Right to Pursue Happiness vs the Right to Happiness

this country was founded on the right to pursue happiness. to have the right to pursue, you have to have the right to fail at your pursuit.September 22, 2010 6:41 pm via TweetDeck

I object to the political parties who say we need bigger government in order to control all the poverty, and solve all the needy people’s problems. Each nation is built to fulfill a purpose, and it’s laws are constructed in such a way as to uphold that vision.

The United States of America were built upon basic inalienable rights. The right to life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness. Having a right to life means no one has the right to take your life from you. Having the right to liberty means no one can take your liberty from you. Having the right to pursue something means no one has permission to prevent you from pursuing happiness.

Our founding fathers were very careful and deliberate with their word choice here. Part of having liberty means you can pursue your own happiness to the degree that it doesn’t squelch anyone else’s life, liberty or pursuit. That leaves the door rather wide open.

Freedom to Fail

If you have the freedom to pursue, that means the outcome is uncertain. It’s your right to pursue happiness. You might get it. You might not. But if you drink away your house and marriage, it’s not the government’s responsibility to hand out money so that you can continue your lifestyle of choice. You get to pursue happiness through the means you choose. But if your choices fail to bring you happiness, you have no one else to blame or demand reparation from.

If you are free to pursue, you are free to choose HOW you pursue. And if you are free to choose how, then you are free to royally screw up your chance. And that has to be okay. Because you are free to try.

Here’s a bonus:

I agree with the Democrats’ concern for the poor, the unfortunate, and the minority. i disagree that it’s the government’s job to fix.September 22, 2010 6:13 pm via TweetDeck

Caring Doesn’t Equal Solving

It saddens me to see that the Democratic Party has become known as the sympathetic party. I love their heart for the poor and oppressed and unfortunate. I really do. But it’s not enough to care. Caring doesn’t equal solving. You can be dying of a gunshot wound to the chest and I can care so much for your pain that I run to the street corner and petition people to form committees to investigate the bullet hole, the cause of shooting in America, and what type of lifestyle needs you might have as a gunshot victim. I can spend time and money organizing. Meanwhile you’re dying. And you won’t make it another hour, much less in the time it would take to conclude our investigation and appeal to others for funding.

But I cared about you! I tried to help you! So much more than those other snobs who walked by and only said they cared. At least I DID something! But wait. This isn’t about making ME feel good. It’s about saving your life. It’s about doing what actually needs to be done, rather than what satisfies my need to feel charitable. I should have just laid my hand on you, commanded your body to be healed, and then driven you quickly to the hospital if nothing happened instantly.

You are not guaranteed health. You are not guaranteed happiness. You are given the freedom to pursue those things. But the government is not your parent. It’s not their job to clean up your mess.

The Right to Accept Favor and Grace

Let’s stretch our minds here just a second, and apply this to the Kingdom of God. We read about what God has said He’s given us: favor, grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, righteousness, etc. But I know many Christians, including myself, who aren’t experiencing these all the time.

Some will argue with my word choice here, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be more accurate to say God gave us the freedom to pursue favor, grace, and mercy. It’s more than that, I know. He actually HAS made it available. It’s really there, for the taking. But we don’t automatically walk in the realization or experience of those things just because we believe. We can accept Christ as Lord and Savior and still misunderstand plenty about who He is, what His intentions are, and what He thinks of us after we mess up.

And some of us will wait on our duffs for the day when God drops the answer out of the sky. But what if He already did? What if your answer is already there, and you’re just not seeing it?

If an Ideal Blogging Niche Exists for Me, Maybe it’s The Struggle

I don’t want to go over again how weary I am. I’ve been at a loss for a blogging niche I can emotionally and mentally commit to. A less stubborn individual might take that as a sign from God that maybe blogging isn’t to be the most important thing in my life right now. After all, God supplies bounteously according to our callings, right? Sheesh… I better move on to my point before logic and revelation deconstruct my last shred of blogging impetus.

Then it struck me: what if my niche is the struggle itself? The struggle for identity. The struggle to understand what it means to have a prophetic calling. The struggle between business and ministry. The struggle to end the struggling.

It “may” be that God has a time of hidden study for me, and I keep avoiding it and trying my darnedest to break out into the spotlight. If so, God help me. I’m more of an attention whore than I’d like to admit.

Sometimes It Feels Good to Feel Bad

After my men’s group tonight, I came home conflicted. Something doesn’t feel right. I’m upset, and normally I don’t allow myself to indulge in negative emotions. What could they benefit me, right?

But tonight, I felt like I had to be as honest with myself and with God as I could be. So I vented. I allowed myself to sound frustrated while I vented my thoughts to God. And you know what? I felt better. Not because anything changed. And I didn’t even experience a catharsis. But it feels good to be honest. To not put on a good face.

There’s a fine line between choosing to focus on the positive in order to avoid dwelling on negative things and choosing to be honest enough to share the real emotions that aren’t getting expressed often enough.

I don’t know what I’m saying, really. Just rambling at midnight.

On a side note, my heel has been aching when I put pressure on the ball of my foot. I’ve stopped wearing my Fivefingers temporarily while I let my foot rest. My chiropractor tells me I need to exercise more if I’m going to wear those shoes because my feet can’t handle the strain if they’re not strengthened properly. Probably true. I don’t know many people who wear them more casually than actively.

Back Before the Days of Twitter

Back in the days when no one had heard of Twitter, the dawn of civilization as we know it, quite a few bloggers actually published tweet-length posts. I guess people with Tumblr accounts still do, but let’s not get technical. So here’s my thought of the day, in 150 words or less:

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The World Washed White as Snow

It’s amazing what the biggest snow storm in memory can do to bring a sense of newness to one’s life.

This is Dallas / Fort Worth, where just a month ago it snowed for the first Christmas in 80 years and is now more than four inches deep. We could reach nine inches by the time this weather is through.

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Happy New Year

It’s January 1st, 2010. Praise God. We’ve made it. It’s a new day. God is building upon former stones. Taking us higher. Drawing us closer to His heart.

God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Be encouraged. We have an opportunity to humble ourselves before the Lord and receive His grace.

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98 Times God Mentions Dreams

Listening to Jim Goll today, I was reminded that in whatever are we want to grow, we should meditate on Scriptures about that subject. We’ve had a flurry of meaningful dreams lately, but we aren’t yet very confident in our abilities to interpret.

If you’d like insight on dreams, read through and study these passages of Scripture where God speaks about dreams. Remember, God says “Study to show yourself approved.

1. Genesis 20:3
But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
Genesis 20:2-4 (in Context) Genesis 20 (Whole Chapter)
2. Genesis 20:6
Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
Genesis 20:5-7 (in Context) Genesis 20 (Whole Chapter)
3. Genesis 28:10
[ Jacob’s Dream at Bethel ] Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran.
Genesis 28:9-11 (in Context) Genesis 28 (Whole Chapter)
4. Genesis 28:12
He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28:11-13 (in Context) Genesis 28 (Whole Chapter)
5. Genesis 31:10
”In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted.
Genesis 31:9-11 (in Context) Genesis 31 (Whole Chapter)

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When What God Speaks Doesn’t Seem to Be Happening

One of the clearest things God ever spoke to me was “study to be a writer.” This has been the bane of my existence as much as anything ministry related. Let me set the story for you.

The Background

It’s 1999. I’ve completed all I can do at community college. It’s time to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree. The two universities I seriously considered were SMU and DBU (I wasn’t as familiar with TCU, UTD, or UD at the time). I desperately wanted the credibility that SMU offered its alumni. But the cost was too high.

I desperately wanted to avoid Dallas Baptist University. It was only five minutes away from my parents’ house, but it was Baptist. To me, that meant “judgmental.” I was a charismatic Christian who hadn’t kicked my pack-a-day smoking habit. I just knew I’d be an outcast there. It’s one thing to be looked at as unpopular. It’s another to be considered a bad person.

My stress level went through the roof. I couldn’t figure out a way to make SMU work. I wanted that credibility so bad, I could taste it. And I didn’t know of any industry where a degree from DBU was considered an advantage.

One Fall day, I’m at my parents’ home with John Mark, a close personal friend. I realized I’d been saying some very sharp and unfair things to him, and I apologized. I explained that I was overwhelmed with stress and didn’t know what to do. I’m not sure whether he suggested it or I did, but I turned on some sort of peaceful music and stretched out face down on the living room carpet.

I finally reached my breaking point.

“What do you want me to do, God? I’ll do ANYTHING!”

Instantly, words formed and were displayed before my mind’s eye.

Go to DBU. Live on campus. Study to be a writer. Study abroad.

And there it was. Suddenly, as clear as a bell, my stress disappeared. I had no more confusion. I had no more doubts. I even had no more resistance to DBU. I knew where God was sending me, and I finally found rest because I knew it was where I was supposed to be.

I had no idea that four months later, my family would be moving to Oklahoma and I’d have nowhere to stay. So even though it made no sense to my parents for me to live on campus when it’s cheaper to live at home and commute 10 minutes, it became evident by the time that they moved that God had prepared a place for me to live.

The Benefits

I met my future wife (again) at DBU. I studied English literature, philosophy, and biblical studies. I spent some time with and grew to admire students in the Pew College Society there (now called Paideia College Society). I experienced the love of learning for the first time in my scholastic life.

The humor’s not lost on me. The majority of my DBU professors would have completely balked at the news that God had spoken to me directly and told me to attend their university. Good times. Anyway…

But what am I supposed to think when God speaks something that doesn’t seem to be happening?

I wrote all that to say that part of that amazing directive was “study to be a writer.”

That was ten years ago. Since that time, I have been a janitor, an office clerk, a Web copywriter, an SEO, a blogger, and a Web marketing strategist.

No books.

No scripts.

Nothing but a bunch of journals and a blogs that aren’t a primary source of income.

Study to be a writer? Really?

Second guessing God is really fruitless. I’m speaking from experience.

But you were a Web copywriter? What happened?

I’ll tell you what happened. I realized I hated writing soulless content for brands I didn’t believe in. Most companies want to SOUND much more noble and innovative than they really are. So I was paid to lie for them. They would NEVER have admitted that, but that’s how I saw it. And that ultimately made me so miserable I quit writing.

So did God misspeak? Or did you only THINK you heard “study to be a writer”?

Neither. It’s just a much longer and more profound process than I anticipated. And, well, let’s be honest – I’ve let my fair share of years go by without seriously attempting a novel or book of any kind. As with blogs and domain names, I get tons of cool sounding ideas, but most of them I lack the passion to follow through on myself.

The truth is that I haven’t prayed and asked God for direction with writing until now. My history of faith involved more throwing out my complaints and questions and running off to whine elsewhere without giving God a chance to answer.

Now, when I have questions I really want answered, I get out my journal. I write down my question, and listen. I write the response that comes to me (obviously discerning whether the answer comes straight from my personal desires or bias).

The Moral of this Story

If you’re like me, you may have heard a promise or two from God. In this instance for me, it wasn’t necessarily a promise, but a directive (just wanted to point out that I recognize that). And if you’re like me, you might want an easy to distinguish path to the fulfillment of said promise/directive. But I was lazy and ignorant. I spent ten years complaining at God more than talking WITH God. He still may have waited 10+ years to show me why it was so important to study to be a writer.

But now that I’m journaling my conversations with God, I’ve experience answers that don’t take 6, 7, 10 years. He actually responds to many of my questions immediately. And as He does, He builds a sense of confidence within me. I trust Him more. I expect more. And I’m encouraged to believe that some of the hidden things will actually be revealed sooner rather than later.

That’s my take on it.