Learning To Dance

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It’s said that “you can never go home again” but what I thinks meant by that is that you can’t go back in time. And while that’s certainly true, at the same time it can seem impossible to move out of your past and into the present, let alone into your future! Despite all of that, earlier this year I did make a move! I moved my family from south-central to a new place in south-west Missouri,back to my hometown!

Not only my hometown,but to the very neighborhood I grew up in…

Even though I consider myself to be a sentimental person who as such is well acquainted with the “slings and arrows”which so often accompany it I’ll admit to being caught off guard by my subsequent reactions. It took a while for me to sort out why on a certain level I seemed angry about how so many things I remembered had changed! Like I was caught in the throes of some childlike egocentric fit over not having been “consulted”.

I didn’t say that the feelings were “right” only that I was having them!

Another thing I wasn’t really prepared for was the onslaught of questions that living in such close proximity to my past would move to the front burner of my mind or the rough terrain I’d have to traverse to find the difficult answers they demanded! Questions like…

“What the heck happened to my education?”

or

Just exactly where and how did my life “Jump the shark” so to speak…

 I want to make it really clear that this isn’t just some sort of pity party I decided to throw for myself nor am I attempting to fix blame on God or anyone else. Some of the events of my life have been rather unfortunate and apart from my aforementioned personal search for answers my intent or purpose in writing about them here is to encourage others who’ve had or will have similar experiences.Understanding our own issues of the past can be the key to moving beyond them into a better future! I can hardly express how important it is for me to be able to look back on my life and instead of feeling despair regarding certain aspects of it, to feel hopeful. Hopeful not only because I survived it but because I somehow found the courage to go on and the faith to believe there was something better waiting for me somewhere. lastly,to express my thankfulness to my Father in heaven who did then,and does now hold me in the palm of His loving hand!

I’d like to start with this video clip which was probably taken in the summer of 1971 when I was 10yrs old. As I watched it I remember being taken aback at how happy I appear to be! This video was taken by my father during one of the most difficult periods of my life,within a few months after my parents’ divorce.

The surrealistic background music provides a fitting contrast to the seemingly carefree display caught on the clip. It truly is a reality vacuum! Not only had my family recently changed in a not so good way, I’d also been the victim of significant sexual abuse on several occasions by people close to me. I’d recently become involved with a local church and had accepted Christ as my Savior, been baptized,and then when I stopped coming…forgotten.

I watched helplessly as my father who I worshiped became increasingly distant and more invested in his new life and family and less in me. I found out what it was to be hungry and to not have sufficient clothing that fit properly. And so at my lowest point,to then have my mother on whom I had become quite emotionally dependent begin spending a great deal of time away from me further compounded my feelings of insignificance. I was still just a bit too young to roam the streets after dark like my older brother…so I spent a lot of time at home alone.

When I watch this video…

I wonder what in the world I had to dance about!

And then it hit me…

I was playing the best cards I had in front of the one person I loved the most in the whole world! And despite everything wrong that had happened in my life up to that point in that moment,I chose to dance!

To block out everything else and focus on the only thing I felt had the potential to save me…

His love!

In my mind I was just doing what I’d always done…performing!

But what I was really doing was sort of the ultimate act of defiance.

I was in effect saying to the circumstances of my life,

You have not defeated me, you’ve thrown just about everything you could at me.

And guess what? I’m still dancing!

Isaiah 54:17

 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

It still inspires me…But what happened after that? You’d think that someone with that sort of “sand” would probably go far in life. I think what happened to me, and what happens to a lot of other people too is that we eventually become convinced that there’s nothing in this life worth dancing (or smiling) for!

When the subject of my education comes up what happened is no surprise considering I’d been a dedicated addict for almost six years at the age of 17. What I struggle to understand is why my school counselors and administrative staff chose to ignore what was happening. I attended a vocational course in the mornings which I was bused to and from daily and then spent the afternoons in various classes. As that last semester of my junior year came to a close I believe I was simply overwhelmed by the assignments which were due. Not knowing quite how to handle that I chose to simply skip the last eight days of afternoon classes…and so I flunked the eleventh grade!

I understand that I wasn’t the only “problem child” they were dealing with but I wonder could they of made a phone call to my parents? Aren’t there policies in place concerning this type of infraction? One last thing,anyone that reads this who attended my high school or any high school in the seventies for that matter knows what it was like as far as drug use on campus is concerned,and so, after they failed as an institution to provide a safe and secure environment for students to learn in and I become a victim of that I’m appalled that they could then decide that the thing to do is throw me out!

This took place during a time when my mother was going through another divorce from her second husband and we ended up moving from an upper class home in an exclusive neighborhood into a small two bedroom apartment. I did enroll the next year at a different school and lasted maybe a month before my principal at vocational school suggested that what would be best for me would be to quit school and get a GED. I did get a GED, and that was basically the end of my formal education although in truth I believe I learned precious little from formal schooling past the age of about 12.

One of the most common, if not the most common things you’ll hear Christian ministers say is “God has a plan for your life” and of course I believe that! I also believe that our enemy has a plan for us too…I’m convinced that on the day I made that walk down the isle and knelt down at an altar to accept Christ as my Lord and Savor there was a celebration in heaven! I also believe there was an emergency board meeting in hell! That meeting’s purpose was to put the kibosh on the plans my heavenly Father had for me and subvert the role I was designed to play in ushering in His kingdom.My sense is that there must of been no small amount of surprise and disappointment expressed by the attendee’s that their earlier efforts on my behalf had had so little present effect on me.

Knowing that my souls redemption was a done deal at this point, their only remaining option was to try and stop me from doing what I had the God given potential to do and be in Gods Kingdom by whatever means available to them! I mentioned at the beginning the feelings I’d been having and what I thought they were related to. However at this point I’d have to say that they’re actually directed at the forces of darkness which have for many years stolen so much from me in this life. Who’ve worked diligently behind the scenes orchestrating circumstances and events in my life to do towards me what’s prescribed in the mission statement below…

John 10:10

 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Obviously there’s a disconnect between those two premises…

Genesis 50:20

 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

These are all life verses to me…

They give me hope,encouragement and peace in the midst of my storms!

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

King David danced before the Lord. Out of joy that the Ark of The Covenant had at last been returned to Jerusalem. David had to go through quite a painful learning process as he endeavored to lay down his will and surrender completely to God. In my life I’ve been challenged by similar lessons,it seems as though I too was following the example of the Philistines! Learning to trust that God truly does know what He’s doing allows me to be able to sit, (or dance) so that He can stand for me! The answers to our problems are still the same for us today as they were for David then! All of us have a God sized hole which can only be filled by drawing closer to Him! By staying focused on The Father, through our Lord who is Love,which is the answer,instead of on our world and it’s problems! If we can do that, we can also experience the continual joy of being in the Lords presence!

To me,that’s what “learning to dance” means…

The Sacrifice of Praise

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In our society, if we don’t abide by the law, chances are at some point we could find ourselves answering to a higher authority. And then there are the laws of physics, far more absolute and impartial, but even they are subject to a “higher law”. Here’s an example…an airplane is much heavier than air and therefore according to the law of gravity it cannot fly. But when the law of thrust and air flow are introduced into the equation guess what? It flies! Because of the over-riding principles of a “higher law” which has dominion over it,what was impossible becomes possible.

The other day I was talking with a friend and I mentioned how glad I was to be “On this side of the cross”. I’d been reading some of the old testament books and was overwhelmed by all the sacrifices they seem to be constantly making. His reply to me was “We still make sacrifices,the primary difference being that everything we do now to honor God has to do with our hearts and not our hands!”

And he was right!

Mankind is still under the law,the wages of sin is still death! And of course the great news is that Christ’s death on the cross paid our sin debt freeing us from that penalty! Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law on our behalf and gave “Whosoever Believes” the opportunity to come under a new covenant based on higher precepts,or commandments. Ones that can’t be satisfied by anything less than the sacrifice of our own most precious possession…

Our Love!

Jesus told the Apostles this…

John 14:12

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Healing people,feeding thousands with practically nothing,raising the dead,turning water into wine, these are just a few of the things Jesus did! How is it possible for us to do these things which are impossible based on the laws we understand? By understanding a higher law!

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Didn’t Christ die to redeem us from the curse of sin,sickness and death? If that’s true,and I believe it is, then the manifestation of what Jesus said then is possible in the here and now! More than that, it’s a foregone conclusion…ye were healed! The victory has been won! We simply must, by faith, acknowledge this truth and the power of the higher law Jesus the Christ died to make available to us!

We’re called to proclaim His Kingdom!

Luke 10:8-9

 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

Matthew 4:23

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

The kingdom Jesus spoke of is a place where there is no sin. No sickness,pain or death. It’s a restoration of The Father Gods creation to it’s original condition as it was when He pronounced it “Very Good”. Not crippled,or sick, or afflicted in any way

Genesis 1:31

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The gospel is “Very Good News” and I believe that the stronger our grasp is on the reality of the higher law which rules there, the less power the laws of this present, perceived kingdom can have over us! We simply subscribe to a higher truth,Gods truth! We choose to operate in it! Choosing to believe what He says about every aspect of not only our lives but the lives of others and the world as a whole…in short,by our adoption into His kingdom we adopt a whole new belief system that transforms everything about our lives! As a result, we’re empowered to speak to the deception’s of Satan’s kingdom and command them to flee!

Healings, deliverance’s, manifested blessings of all kinds!

Wouldn’t you like to see that?

I believe it’s possible,in truth,I think it’s required!

But first, would you give it up for God?

Whatever it is that you love most…

Just like Abraham did with Issac.

Except Gods not asking for your son,

He wants YOU!

To perform a sacrifice of praise, to put your pride on the altar…

And then stand back!

1 Peter 2:5

 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Everyone’s A Winner!

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Did you buy a ticket in the recent mega-millions lottery? I heard that the odds of winning were somewhere in the neighborhood of being struck by lightning four times and surviving…It’s interesting that given those odds anyone would still participate! Apparently even the remotest possibility of us being a winner has a powerful draw on us. The siren song of the carnival barker seeks out such a hope in each of us. Playing on our vulnerabilities,our insecurities, boldly declaring that…

Everyone’s a winner!

But who are the real winners in life?

My guess is that we all know at least one person who based on our own specific criteria we consider to be a winner. There might be a number of factors that cause us to view them as such or perhaps just one thing that proclaims success to us. Untold fortunes have been made by authors, ostensibly trying to help the rest of us to achieve our potential’s and thereby enjoy the benefits of being a member of the coveted “winner” club.

I have my own theories as to what’s most essential, they go something like this. It occurs to me that all winners have one very important thing in common. They all know in the depths of their being that they are loved! The most successful young adults I’ve observed are those who’re able to remain focused on their life goals instead of being distracted by all of the misguided attempts engaged in by those around them to get this most important need met. Who can deny that this fundamental lacking is the source of many (if not all) problems in young peoples lives.

I’ve also noticed that people who have a winning attitude seem to fall into two distinct categories. There are those who believe that based on the merits of who they are see themselves as being quite deserving of the love they’ve received and then those who instead are humbled by the love which has been shown them despite who they are! What’s interesting about that to me are the ramifications of these relationship dynamics. One party,believing themselves to be worthy often operates from a place of insecurity while the other,believing the opposite, draws their esteem based on the unconditional love of another which relieves them of the anxiety and insecurity of living up to expectations.Being a winner by the worlds standards can be a very difficult task for most people. I understand that all too well! But what’s so wonderful to me is that I can be a real winner through my relationship with God The Father through His Son Jesus Christ! Because I know deep in my soul that I am loved! I’m not anxious about where I stand with Him because His love for me isn’t about my worthiness…it’s about His nature,it’s about who He is, Who once you have an encounter with will end your own misguided questing for love a love that grows more real and true with every passing day!

It’s also interesting to me that modern psychology teaches the former,

while Gods word teaches the latter…

I’m going to go out on a limb and make a few unqualified statements.

I believe that everyone wants to be a winner!

I believe that everyone IS loved!

Not based on transient things or superficial qualities,

but for no other reason than for just “showing up”

If only we could all know it…

That everyone IS a winner!

Even You!

 

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Bless This Mess!

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Have you ever seen a tongue in cheek petition like the one on the left displayed in the home of someone you know? Have you ever felt as if those words might be a pretty fair description of your own circumstances?

I know I have!

Sometimes the pace of the work in progress known to me as my spiritual life seems painfully slow or to even be moving in the wrong direction!Named among my numerous transgressions are things such as mean spiritedness or being judgmental and becoming quickly irritated or impatient with people or things I interact with daily. As much as I don’t like those aspects of my personality, what’s far more disturbing to me is my own tolerance,nay comfort with them!

It’s a bit of a mess…

One the most difficult,and yet most important things about being a follower of Christ I’ve struggled with is how a Holy God could love a very un-holy sinner like me…There are exceptions, but for the most part Love as I’ve been able to understand it is about deserving or qualifying for it in some way.In this world we pick winners and losers,we analyze and judge people constantly choosing to love in others the “good” aspects we recognize in ourselves. At it’s core it’s selfish and based on lies fed to us via our own personal self-exhalation express the ego. We rationalize their validity based on societal dogma, which is nicely packaged and fed to us under headings such as self esteem and positive affirmation. The truth is the only real basis for “self” esteem any of us can actually claim is that we’re loved by our omnipotent Heavenly Father!

That’s it!

That’s our “claim to fame”

And it’s much more than enough!

Why?

Because it’s a claim that’s based on something real, real because it’s unthreatenable! It doesn’t change or cease to be for any reason. All of the things we esteem in this world will fade away or can be lost in an instant, but NOT Gods love!

Recently I read a status on FB which said that God works through imperfect people and circumstances to accomplish His purposes. My reply was,

“Is there any other kind?”

Our Father loves each of us Just the way we are…

Warts and all

But He loves us too much to just leave us that way!

His death on the cross was a victory over sin and death that was done on our behalf, that we may have eternal life. I also believe that the power of His shed blood gives Christian’s the opportunity to claim that victory over their own here and now life circumstances

Truly, we’re all a bit of a mess!

How wonderful is it then,that…

 Jesus is the Great Mess-iah!!

Emmanuel עמנואל, “God is with us” Part III

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If we could, for even just a day, have our eye’s opened to all of the many way’s in which God intercedes for each of us on a personal level perhaps we’d better understand Paul’s seemingly impossible exhortation here…

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore.Pray without ceasing In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Maybe that means keeping a deer from running out in front of your vehicle. It might mean keeping any uncontrolled cell growth which commonly exists within each of our bodies from becoming cancerous.

Recently, it was the job I didn’t get that I’m thankful for!

I had applied for an over the road driving job with a smaller company who ran regional freight. During the ensuing interview which seemed to go very well I remember the owner telling me that because of how junky his equipment was I would have to drive around scales and that I would be paid on a percentage of what the load paid. Despite both of those pieces of really bad news I filled out the application he gave me and faxed it back to him ready to work if and when he called!

But he never did…

So I called another company that I had been considering who I knew ran first class equipment but who also ran a much bigger territory. I was hesitant about my ability to meet their expectations because it had been over four years since I drove on that level. The thing is,God didn’t really leave me any other options! Getting back into the transportation industry with no recent experience is difficult so I was ready to take anything…

but I was also well…afraid!

I struggle with anxiety and fear quite a bit, it’s one of the biggest areas my Heavenly Father is helping me to grow in! Mostly by protecting me from things that would overwhelm me totally, other times by just being close to me in the midst of any circumstances that I feel threatened by. What faith is to me is knowing that God had control of my circumstances yesterday, and so therefore also has my today and tomorrow under control as well!

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

That’s what this verse means to me…It’s also why I’m so thankful! There’s nothing as empowering and fear squashing as knowing that the omnipotent God who created the heavens, the earth, and all that is,is with you and that He cares about YOU!

Does that mean nothing bad ever happens to me?

We all know that “Stuff Happens” don’t we…

The question most people have is when does the “stuff” STOP happening?

It stops when GRACE happens! When we come to the place where we can truly say,

“Father, not my will but yours be done”

and mean it…

Several years ago I was driving along in my truck near Jamestown N.Y. on hyw 87 on my back west after doing four drops earlier in the day. I had heard that the D.O.T. was setting up in the rest areas inspecting trucks so I was very leery of being inspected. It was later in the evening, maybe 8pm,and usually they quit inspecting at dark so I thought I was home free…then I saw it,the flashing yellow lights on the roadside sign,”surely this is some kind of construction warning” I thought,but as I drew closer startled panic settled on me as the words “all trucks must enter” assaulted my unbelieving eye’s! I was trapped and there was nothing I could do…no ramp to pull off of and “fix it” so with cold resignation I pulled off onto the ramp twoard the man waving his flashlight holding hand at me.What else could I do but accept the fact that I was screwed,perhaps my full cooperation and good attitude would as they had so many times before see me thru,I doubted it.As I pulled to a stop he stepped up onto my side step and spoke to me,

How’re we doing tonight? Oh,I’m doing fine I guess…What’re you hauling? Nothing, I’m empty. Well, have a good evening then!

And that was the extent of it, I hauled out of there on an adrenaline high that would entice any skydiver,or cause a lion tamer to stare curiously in wonder,not yet ready to dip my chip in the “crock of life” I’d just been handed,it just seemed un-real to me. Why did ‘nt he at least ask to see my log book? thats S.O.P. basic stuff,you look at the driver,gauge his condition,look at his book,and then if all seems right,you send him on,or if,as was the case here,you’re not at all busy,just send him inside anyway for the 3rd degree check,you know,wanted/warrents/unpaid tickets/child support un returned library books,lol really! but he did’nt,so I’m driving down the road thinking, WOW! that could have been a whole weeks salary down the tubes but for some reason which I can’t explain I just walked thru the fire without so much as a mark on me…Does the Lord work in mysterious ways? did he know that if I would have been shut down/fined etc…that it might break my spirit? someday I’d like to ask him.

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