Update and Upgrade and Yeah…….

Well, if this blog is any indication, I have been BUSY lately!  I know many of you have been busy too so you understand how it is. But the EXCITING part that the busy-ness was not all bad, but many tasks or events were AWESOME in nature and that is great.

One big even this week was Zack’s nasal surgery.  There were LOTS of items done because the poor kid’s nose was 99% blocked.  Makes me feel bad for all the times I told him not to chew with his mouth open!  Doh!  His surgery was on Wednesday and a bit rough at times, but he is making progress each day and made it through the painful recovery days.  We are praying and believing he will have a FULL reovery and the procedure took care of the blockage!

Great things are happening at our church as well.  Deana and I are blessed over and over again spiritually, emotionally, and physically by this body of believers that have become more like family.  It is comforting to know they have our backs, aren’t afraid to correct us or guide us, and love us and our kids.  We have grown in the Lord SO MUCH and we are so thankful!

On that note, check out a recent special worship song at the church here:

More big news is that Kirstie is moving to Texas!  Just days away and we are very excited!  We are praying that things fall into place for her here; that she finds a job, finds her own place, etc.  I will update you on this for sure!

So that’s what I have right now!

Being Whole vs Being Perfect, Part 4 & 5

This is a continuation of the sermon series recap taught by Pastor Bob Barker from Crossroads Community Church.  See previous posts from steps 1-3!

The 4th step in becoming a Whole Person and Christian, as modeled after the 12 step program many people who are addicted to substances go through, loosely states, “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”.  Pastor put it this way, “list your own faults.”

It makes sense that Pastor shared that, too often, people going through the 12 step recovery process leave programs at this step.  While we can often admit we’re powerless, that we need God to change, and that God is really the one who implements the needed changes in our lives…….going beyond that is more difficult.  Putting it down, in black and white….listing our FAULTS is another thing all together.  As Pastor shared – and as I fully acknowledged in my own life – many of us lie about ourselves or present a very fake/created front to survive.  And when you live like that, it usually involves so many lies that – when you begin to unravel them in this process – more lies come to light.  Pastor Bob likened it to the Wizard of Oz, who presented this omnipotent ruler and provider for a nation, but really was a little man that knew how to put on a good show.

I am that person on many levels.  SoI fully admit that breaking down the lies, then listing the faults associated with the lies (my very life) can be very intimidating!  And yet, even the Bible encourages this self-review!  Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

And it doesn’t stop there – you really need to WRITE THEM DOWN!  And once written down, sharing them with GOD and one other person is necessary- which is Step 5.  Loosely stated, this step says, “Admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  Can you say OUCH?  Pastor added that it takes real discipline to be able to confess our wrongs!  But it is SO important to stop the cycle that got us there in the first place AND to break the chains that hold us back.  The things that harbored resentment in us, maybe even as children, turns into denial as we age.  What does that mean?  Well, as I mentioned earlier, when you begin to list your faults, you realize it begins the unraveling process as more and more faults come to mind.  And to consider SHARING those faults with God (who really, by the way, will NOT be surprised in hearing them!) and one other person will certainly open a “can of worms”.  So often, as adults caught in a horrible cycle, we prefer to deny that we have any issues and leave well enough alone.  So it’s important to realize that when we RESENT things or people (those who have turned their back on you, for those who attacked you……the list goes on.) it can create JUSTIFICATION in your poor behavior and adds to your faults.  And most importantly, resentment hurts YOU, not THEM!

Resentment breeds diseases in our lives (physical, mental).  In manifests itself in perceptions such as feeling injured, violated, left out.  So how can I really start to break those chains?  Think about the resentment you have in your life and how it affects your life.  Write down something like this:

I resent xxxxxx because xxxxxxx.  This affects my self esteem.

I seek approval from my friends to make me feel better about myself.  This affects my relationships with them.

I rescue others/please others to be loved.  This builds resentment when they don’t xxxxxxxx.

Try this yourself to help break the chains of faults and resentments in your life.  Stop the cycle of perfection (or whatever your “presentation” is) and move to being whole as God intended you to be!

Being Whole versus Being Perfect, Part 3

This is a continuation and final installment of the sermon I heard at Crossroads Community Church this week, given by Pastor Robert Barker.

In the first two installments of this sermon recap, I shared that my struggles with trying to be perfect creates the need to break this dysfunctional cycle in my life.  Based on most 12 step programs, there are several truths to making this change.

Step 1 – I am powerless

Step 2 – I need the faith that I can be changed by God’s Power

If you’ve ever attended a 12 step program or have access to most lists on the internet, it’s easy to see that Step 3 says something like, “Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God”.  Pastor Bob put it this way, “Let God be in charge”.  Wow, what a profound yet simple concept!  And yet, for years I said the words and did little to allow God to guide me (even though I really have no power to stop Him!).

As Pastor was sharing this concept, as well as his own struggle with the presentation of “perfection” that I so resonate with, I allowed my memory to scan the last 20 or so years of my life.  I quickly realize I DID have some growth I could smile about and that was a blessing.  Yet, I also have to admit there have been many more areas where I continue to hold onto the lame comfort of my own efforts at this thing I like to call perfection, but in truth is a very weak film of fakeness.  I’ve been over that in depth the last few days here on this blog.  🙂

And yet, before I could begin to feel dejected by my own shortcomings, Pastor began to preach the Word.  We turned to Romans 12:1-2, which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Most of my Christian life has translated this verse like this – do not be like non-Christians.  Present yourself as holy, set a good example for non-believers, be a good picture as God’s Ambassador.

Given my struggle with presenting one thing……of being perfect and all that…….can you see where my translation of this verse was skewed by my dysfunction?  Can you see that it added to the perpetuation of the very thing I KNEW God was trying to break in my life?

But have no fear, Pastor Bob explained this verse to me and the others in attendance Sunday, and it broke so many mental chains for me that I have been shaking my head with joy and appreciation since!

Here is how Pastor explained it – don’t “fit in”.  Don’t conform to our cultures to present what we think we need to be to fit in.  Do not give people what they demand based on their OWN perception of things!  Instead, give all you are INSIDE – give the TRUE YOU – to God!  That’s all we need to do!  And before we know it, the authentic people inside (whether good, bad, or ugly) will begin to realize our powerlessness (step 1), will begin to trust God to take care of our shortcomings (step 2), and will give the reins to God (step 3).  And, I might add that He will NEVER shut His door on ANYONE!  “Come as your are” brings a whole new dimension to this amazing interaction that God is so excited to enter into with you and me!

Wow.  You mean, truly, that the INSIDE of my life can really REALLY match what others see on the OUTSIDE?  It’s not just a happy concept that everyone talks about but no one does?  I don’t have to hide, lie, present anymore? TRUE!

Yes, truly, that is what the Bible says.  That is what Pastor Bob was so wonderful to share with us, with ME.  And the Truth is more than a concept!  The Truth, as most admit, sets you free!

So today, think on the fact that this exodus of your spirit can happen – whatever it is in YOUR life that is holding you back can begin to change with these three steps.  I can’t speak to the amazing transformative areas of the next steps, because I haven’t learned them yet!  🙂  But already my life has changed alarmingly and gloriously in that last few days, and I pray that you can partake in this joy as well!

Being Whole versus Being Perfect, Step 2

This is a continuation of the sermon I heard at Crossroads Community Church this week, given by Pastor Robert Barker.

I posted yesterday that I struggle with attempting to be perfect, and in large part it started because I needed to create a presentation to the world to hide the struggle of my life from those around me.  Yet, Pastor reminded me that my cycle of dysfunction could begin to change once I admitted I couldn’t do it without God’s help.

Step 2 in the process builds on that – because knowing you NEED God is very different than accepting by faith that God can totally fix things!  Pastor said it this way, “Step 2 is the faith that we can change by God’s Power.”

As a began to realize that my dysfunction was being a perfectionist, the first thing I realized was that I don’t LIKE to rely on others!  I mean, part of being perfect is being able to take care of yourself, and I am sorry……..my solution needs to be BETTER than others!  So why would I ASK for help and why would I EXPECT that help to be better than what I could do on my own in the first place?  So, steps 1 (I am powerless) and step 2 (God can change me) are not concepts that I immediately, truly embraced.  Those concepts were truly – and often remain – in direct conflict with the image and personal ethos that I have carried with me for decades.  Oh, I could nod my head with the best of them, because remember “being perfect” in large part involves presenting an image to those around me.  So, I admit to you that FOR YEARS I said I couldn’t make it without God, and even said I believed He could fix me……..yet I didn’t accept that.  I didn’t WANT to accept that in many areas of my life.  I held onto my perfectionism, held onto my image, and was slowly dying inside because – really – I didn’t believe ANYONE could fix me…….even God!  Again, it was a two sided coin – I had begun to believe the image I presented to those around me (I am perfect and had everything under control) while deep down I loathed myself for the truth I didn’t want to face (you are so NOT perfect, and a fake to boot, and basically a hopeless case).

Maybe you have something in your life that you KNOW needs to change.  Maybe it’s a simple thing that’s gotten out of hand.  Maybe it’s a perpetuated image like mine that is 100% false but is 100% ingrained into who you ARE to everyone around you.  Maybe, in theory, you agree with me that you can’t change even though you may admit you need to.  You may even believe, in theory, that God’s Power can be the fuel to begin the change in your life.  But, then you start the implementation of the change and……….falter.  Stagnate.  And the dysfunctional cycle, so close to you and so a PART of you, continues to thrive.

Phil 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Today, I suggest you don’t look at the end and perhaps think, “Wow, I have such a long way to go to be healthy.  IT IS TOO MUCH!”  Instead, don’t look at anything but God.  Pray that HE gives you the faith that HE can change you!  Pray that HE wills and acts in you!  And not just for YOUR blessing (which, amazingly, He does care about in great detail!), but for HIS PURPOSE!  And as you begin to grow in faith and maybe stop looking at yourself so much, you begin to realize things ARE changing!  At least, that was my experience!