Pleasure

Couple looking serious

(A Conversation)

Stuck.

Stuck?

Yeah, that’s probably the best word for it.

As in, you’ve hit the ditch and can’t get out?

Maybe.  Or more like I get so far and every time I hit this wall I can’t ever seem to break through.

Maybe you don’t really want to break through.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Maybe you’d rather lose a thousand pounds than 20.

I don’t follow.

Isn’t it easier to lose one pound and gain it back, then repeat the process a thousand times, than losing 20 and keeping it off?

Okay now you’ve gone to meddling!  And yeah, maybe that’s true, but humor me.  Let’s assume I really want to lose the 20 pounds.  Or I really want to pray consistently.  Or I really want to stop feeling so insecure.

But you feel stuck?

I feel stuck.

Powerless to break free?

Yeah, that.

Tired of 1 John 1:9 being your life verse?

Yeah… Hey!  Wait a minute! Are we talking about me or you?

Well, let’s just say, to quote two former presidents, “Ah feel yur pain” because I’ve been “knee-deep in doo-doo” myself.

And what did you learn?

That I was a bad liar. [click to continue…]

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I have an urgent news flash for you:  Just because you know something is wrong, that doesn’t mean you’ll avoid it.

Shocking, I know.  And the corollary is also true: Just because you know you’re supposed to do something, that doesn’t mean you’ll do it.

Suppose you could interview Jonah – the Old Testament’s version of Gilligan – and ask him what the most important requirement was for prophets. What do you think he’d say?  My guess is that he would tell you that a prophet’s number one job is to speak what he hears the Lord saying to speak.

Why, then, did Jonah have to travel from the boat to the belly to the burp to the beach before he decided to do what his own standard said to do?

Resurrect a first-century Pharisee and ask him what it took to please God, and you’d probably hear something about keeping the law and prophets, serving God and walking in humility and discipline.

Why, then, did Jesus refer to the scribes and Pharisees as unwilling to lift a finger to meet a need, doing all their deeds to be noticed by men, loving the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and insisting on being called by respectful titles in public?  If serving God faithfully was so important to them, why did the Son of God warn people not to be like them?

Whenever the bad news breaks out about somebody who has shocked us with their oh-no, no-no behavior, we often ask silly questions like, “Well didn’t they know that was wrong?”  Of course they did.  Why, then, would someone violate their own standards of right and wrong?  [click to continue…]

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How do you gauge success?

Does being a Christian or being in ministry change that somehow?

I don’t know anybody who gets up in the morning and prays, “Oh God, make me a failure!”  But there have been many times when I and many others have used bad gauges to measure it.  Here are the three most common:

1.  Do I feel good?  Was the service pleasurable?  Do I feel encouraged, energized, healed or empowered?  Do I feel loved, important, or attended to?  Do I feel the pleasure of other people or God’s pleasure?

2.  Did I see something good?  In church world that is measured by the countable things like noses and dollars and building funds.  In the Christian business world, the same thing is true – it’s about profits and losses and tangible contributions to the community.

3.  Do I feel good about myself?  Do I feel affirmed?  Do I look good?  Did people tell me I performed well?  Did someone thank me or praise me or ask for my help?

So what’s wrong with any of that?

Absolutely nothing. [click to continue…]

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Bryce is a prisoner in his own home.  His really nice home with the pool, three-car garage, RV parking, and more bathrooms than family members.  His “friends” are (too) curious about his life and trappings, like something of a bad sequel to The Great Gatsby.  And despite his material success, Bryce remains restless, empty, and hungry for that One Honest Touch.

Tony is a prisoner in his own accomplishments.  A hyper-achiever, he lives in a world of “What mountain have you climbed lately?”  Last year’s exploits are old news to a bored world, many of whom live vicariously through Tony’s courage and imagination.  Inwardly terrified to admit he’s just as bored and scared as they are, Tony longs for that One Honest Touch.

Madison is a prisoner in her own skin.  Always a head turner looks-wise, for as long as she can remember, Maddie’s life has been revolving door of one vain relationship after another.  Superficial.  Super-physical.  Super-lonely.  Her striking beauty has always ensured her all the attention she could ever ask for.  But it never has given her what her heart cries out for most – that One Honest Touch.

Deep Connection

All of us were created with a capacity, and need for, deep connection.  A Touch.  And our spirits never rest until we have it. [click to continue…]

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I believe that it is not dying that people are afraid of.  Something else, something more unsettling and more tragic than dying frightens us.  We are afraid of never having lived, of coming to the end of our days with the sense that we were never really alive, that we never figured out what life was for. – Harold Kushner

The great Presbyterian pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse was once riding in a funeral procession in Philadelphia when he noticed a large cargo truck running in front of the procession.  From the way the sun was positioned, he noticed that the truck was casting a large shadow on the sidewalk.  That shadow crossed light poles, road signs, and even people, and didn’t harm anything.  No one would want to be in front of the truck, mind you, but the shadow was harmless.

Every one of us was born on the other side of something called “labor.”  We enter the world completely helpless and fragile, totally dependent on the protection, care and kindness of others.  We borrow the oxygen and assorted things for a span of time the Bible calls a “vapor.”   Despite our claims to ownership, we take no possessions with us.  And we end our sojourn on earth passing through something called a “shadow.”

Birth is a labor soon forgotten…

Life is a vapor quickly fading…

Possessions are an illusion suddenly passing…

Death is shadow silently creeping…

Is there any wonder we struggle sometimes to know what’s real?  And what’s valuable? [click to continue…]

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It all started with that 55-mph speed limit.   In the mid-1970s, Americans traded in their muscle cars for Toyotas and slowed down.

But a certain segment of the population balked.  These people were paid to transport goods to their destinations in a timely manner, and felt that the new speed limits were doing considerable harm to their livelihood.  So they started working together to cover each other’s back.

This created a fad that spawned a counterculture, complete with its own lingo, music, and personal identities.  Everybody, it seemed, rushed out to get a CB radio.

Once the stuff of rescue workers, hobbyists, and the like, citizens-band radios became standard equipment in many vehicles.  Gone were the official call-letters used by the “legal eagles” who actually paid for a license to use the things (KFN 0508, if you even remotely care what ours was).  Everybody used a “handle.”

A handle was a nickname you gave yourself so that people could “grab hold” of you by saying something along the lines of, “Break, one-nine.  How ‘bout that Blue Goose?  You got your ears on”?  And you, assuming that was your handle, would reply something like, “Ten-four, good buddy.”

No, children, I’m not making this up.

CBs, for the most part, have gone the way of the 55-mph speed limit, though our trucker friends still use them.  But you still have a handle – a unique identity by which you can be “grabbed.”  [click to continue…]

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Wisdom is Boring

by Andy Wood on January 28, 2010

in Gamblers, Insight, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Tense Truths

Wisdom is boring.

Wisdom is a nag.

Wisdom is a boring nag.

Wisdom sucks the life out of the party.

Wisdom is a boring, party-killing nag.

Wisdom asks questions about consequences when all I want to do is enjoy myself.  What’s wrong with a little fun, know what I mean?  Wisdom uses words like “safe,” “abstinence” and “consequences.”  Now THAT’ll get your blood pumping.  Zzzzzzz.  Look, all I want to do is have a little pleasure in my life.  I know there’s more to life than feeling good.  But I can control myself. [click to continue…]

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highway 2Today I give up my small ambitions.
I will give thanks for the pleasures God has designed for me to enjoy,
But no longer will I allow my life to be driven by the pursuit of pleasure.
I will no longer sacrifice joy on the altar of happiness.
I will never again measure my success by my ability to escape pain.

Today I give up my small ambitions.
I will give thanks for the material blessings God entrusts to me,
But no longer will I associate money with happiness.
Never again will I believe the lie that gain is godliness,
Or that my worth is measured by what I own.
From this day forward, I will use things and love people,
Not the other way around.

Today I give up my small ambitions.
I will give thanks to God for the ways
I can be a blessing to others.
I will accept with humility
The words of gratitude and honor I receive from others.
But I will never again live to please other men.
Today I choose to get off the pedestal,
Knowing that I don’t have to live in the gutter to do so.
I will find my honor in being no more than a man,
But no less than a child of God.

Today I give up my small ambitions.
And instead, I reach for the stars.
I will spend my life in pursuit of my God-given destiny.
By His grace I will fulfill the purpose for which
I was created and redeemed by Christ.
By His love I will touch the lives of those He died for.
And by His power
I will span the breech between time and eternity.

From this day forward,
I will seek dreams as big as the heart of my God
And visions as great as the need of this world.
And though through human failure
I may never see all those dreams come true,
When I stand to face my Lord and my God,
I pray He will see a heart determined to do exploits for His glory.

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