Monday, May 9, 2011

Things I Don't Say Enough

Can someone please explain to me why it is so hard to say things sometimes?!?!?! I would love to know why I can not seem to swallow my pride or get over myself long enough to let the things that my heart wants to say come flowing out. The funny thing is that it is not like I am talking about standing up and giving a 3 hour dissertation. On the contrary the things I really want and need to say are mostly 2 and 3 word sound bites that should roll off the tongue with such ease and eloquence!?!? To all of those in my life that I have robbed of these sound bites, I am truly sorry! I need to let these things flow from me more often and that is my prayer!







Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Shadows are Dark

I know that it has been a few weeks since I posted and it has not been because I don't have anything to say. Anyone who knows me will testify to the fact that there very few times that I am "at a loss for words"! I have found it hard to get my mind around everything that has been going on inside me and around me. Those that know me also know that I stay pretty busy. Between a full-time job, my family, the youth group, soccer and whatever else pops up; my days seem to fill up rather quickly. With all of that going on I have to guard myself against being too busy to here the Lord.

You see, the things in my life are not inherently bad but if they push God out of top billing then they become deadly. This battle is seemingly always present for me!?!? I am not sure if it is due to growing up having to do for myself a lot or if it is merely the sinful stubbornness that resides in my heart. What I do know is that my heart is "dark" and in desperate need of Jesus!

Last night I was able to go to the Tenebrae service at my church. I had not gone to a Tenebrae service before last year at this time. It is quickly becoming one of the hardest services for me but one of my favorites! For those of you who don't know what Tenebrae means, which was me a year ago, it is the Latin word for "darkness" and is often called "the service of the shadows". Throughout the service you are walked through the anguish and suffering that Christ felt as He made His way ultimately to the cross. There is very little light in the sanctuary and candles are extinguished during the service to symbolize the darkness that covered the earth when Christ died for us. For me it proven to be one of the best ways for me to catch a glimpse of what Christ choose to go through for me and it truly leaves my in awe of my Savior!

The hardest part for me is that I know my heart is still full of the dark shadows that Christ died for. But Christ continues to pursue me regardless of how ugly my heart is. I pray that I never lose sight of how much God loved me to do what He did and how truly undeserving I am of being saved. As darkness and silence covered the church at the end of the service last night it was hard to not feel completely helpless and sad! But then I remember that is beautiful fact....SUNDAY'S COMING!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Clenched Fist

The title of this entry comes from one of my favorite songs. It is by a duet called Ridgely and it helps put words to something I know is a struggle of mine and I feel sure it is a struggle for many others. The chourus go like this:

I can’t feel you anymore through a clenched fist
open arms cannot embrace me when I resist
lonely sighs will tie me down with a clenched fist
the simple fact that without you, I would not exist
brings a smile once again

You see, I often find myself struggling with my inability to "let go"! I am constantly desiring to be in control of life. I know that it is not the life that I am called to live as a follower of Christ but yet I am repeatedly reaching over and "taking the wheel" in this adventure called life. Why!?!? Why am I constantly trying so hard to do what I want? Why can't I let go and trust the one who knows exactly where to go?

Picture in your mind a clenched fist. It can only hold on to what it has at that moment; it can not pick up anything new. So obviously by living this way I am robbing myself of countless experiences that the Father longs for me to have. Stuff that is undoubtedly better than anything I could imagine. Sadly, I get so caught up in the "I know best" mentality that I am afraid I am missing out on a lot of life! That is a painful truth for me at times when I look in the mirror!

In order for me to "feel" life and need to open up my fist so that my fingers, and thus my life, are exposed to what God has for me. I pray that God will continue to chip away at my selfishness and stubborn tendencies. I pray that I truly grasp what Christ was saying in John 10:10!

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I am supposed to be weak?!?!?

Sometimes I wish that I could just fix it! Fix it all! Snap my fingers and make it all OK! Press the easy button and start it all over or find the quickest way to be through with the junk that comes up in life. I don't like to hurt and I definitely don't like to see others hurt.

The most frustrating thing to me is that I know that life is hard and I know that the Bible specifically tells us that we will encounter hard things. Yet I still get mad when things get tough and I still struggle with asking "why this? why that? why me?" when something happens that is hard or painful! The real question is why am I always so concern about my circumstances or the things that life dishes out!?!? I should be concentrating on what God is trying to teach me in the middle of it! I should allowing him to mold me and shape me in ways that I so obviously need!

I need to be on my knees more! I need to not fall into the same trap that Peter did when he took his eye off of Jesus when walking on the water. Peter was doing what no other person, other than Jesus, had done by walking on water and he still couldn't keep his eyes on Jesus!?!? So what hope is there of me doing as Hebrews 12:2 says of fixing my on on Jesus. If Peter who walked, talked and saw Jesus do His thing could not do it then how can I? Trust me I know the "right" answer. I know that I can only do it through relying on Jesus, but how do you really do it? How do I in all circumstances trust the Lord and not lose sight of the the prize?

Lord, may I never lose sight of you! May I always lean on you and know that somehow you are made stronger through my weakness!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who Am I....Plastic Man?

I don't know how many of you even know who "Plastic Man" was!?!? I simply might be dating myself by even bringing it up but oh well you only live once! Plastic Man was a superhero that started in comic books way before me. Then in the 80's, during my childhood, there was a Saturday morning cartoon with Plastic Man. When asked what "super power" you would want most people probably tend to pick flying, x-ray vision or something cool like that! But, for whatever reason I have always thought that it would be cool to have the super power of Plastic Man. His main power was the ability to stretch in seemingly limitless ways and distances!

OK I know that most of you are saying, "Rod has lost it!" or "What is this fool talking about?" Well over the past 6 months or so I feel like God has been treating me like Plastic Man!?!? He has been pulling and stretching me in ways that I could not have imagined! I can honestly say that it has been incredibly hard and painful but my soul hasn't felt this alive in years! I feel like I am being used in the lives of people again and in turn I am looking for ways to share the hope that I have inside of me! I have my youth group friends to thank for a lot of it! God has really used them to open me back up to "true life"! They are an amazing group of middle schoolers and high schoolers and it is a privilege to be involved in their lives! I really just want them to love the Lord and desire others to do the same. God has also used my family in this whole reawakening. My wife is amazing and I would be completely lost without her! She is the glue that holds our family together and I think I take that for granted too often. My 3 beautiful kids inspire me to be a better dad, leader, and friend! I pray that I never lose sight of the blessing they are!

Over the past week or two I have felt even more stretched than before. The transitions and changes of life have weighed heavy on me and I have had to lean more and more on Christ. As painful as it has been and to be honest still is I know God has a plan for it all. I must be all about allowing Him to bring His perfect plan for my life to fruition! My prayer is that through all the painful stretching I only allow God to define who I am! Lord make me clay in your hands!

Romans 9:20-24 (The Message)

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?" Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

All We Can Do Is Follow!!

There are a couple of things that I have come to realize throughout my 36 years on this earth. One of those is that a lot of the time life is hard. You see we would love for life to come easy; for all of our decisions and or problems to have clear answers. And to be honest, I am as guilty of it as anyone else. I want the fire from heaven or the voice of God to say, “Rod, go this way!” or “Rod, I want you to do that!” The bad news for me is that it is evident that I don’t know what I am doing and that I am incapable of being “in control” of my life. This means that I must learn to trust and follow.

I think that we can all remember when we were younger and having to answer the question about what animal you would say you are most like or would most desire to be like. As I recall most people would answer with some strong, powerful animal like a lion or eagle. However, throughout the Bible there is talk of us needing to be more like sheep. Really!?!?! Sheep!?!? Could this be more opposite than what most of us are taught growing up? Sheep by nature are wonderers. If gates and fences are not present sheep will roam all over the place even into danger. Jesus refers to His followers as sheep lost and need of a shepherd. The funny thing is that sheep are not considered to be the smartest of animals but somehow they know their shepherds voice. For most of my walk I have desired for God to ALWAYS act quickly, swiftly, justly on MY behalf. I now know that I must get it through my head that He is doing all those things but most of the time it is behind the scenes and often without me even knowing. My job is to simply respond to his voice.

John 10: 27-30 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one."

My prayer is that in the midst of whatever we are going through we would not loose sight of the protection and guidance that God’s hand provides for us. And, that we would always know that our only hope is to follow!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Too Shall Pass

I am writing this with a heart that could not be more torn right now! Tonight is ROCK night and I am usually so jacked and excited to get there and have an incredible evening. But tonight is a bit different. We are saying goodbye to 2 of our youth group girls and both will be missed more than they will ever know! They will be missed by their friends and they will be missed by their leaders! There smiles and personalities can turn a room upside down simply by walking in the door! The ministry will also miss their hearts for Jesus. The way they brought friends and tried to make all feel welcome. I know I can learn a lot from both of them.

I am excited to see what God has in store for them because both are sure to become mighty women of God and do great things for the kingdom! As much as I would like to keep them here I know that it would mean depriving someone and somewhere else of 2 of the brightest lights for Jesus.

So tonight will be an adventure and I am curious to see what God will do in the midst of all of this. I know that He is stretching me and I know that I will be better because of it in the end! For now I will enjoy the last few days of them being so close and I want them both to know that I am not that easy to get rid of and that they are basically stuck with me now!

Hannah and Amy, I want you both to know I love you and I am here if you need anything!