Eeyore and Grace!

Do you have any Eeyore’s in your life?

The message God gave me for this past Sunday was on grace. I am a pastor for those who may not be aware. We are studying our way through the book of James on Sunday mornings at RC4SQ Church and had come to chapter four, verse six where James writes, “But He (God) gives greater grace.”

The definition of “greater” means that there is nothing better; nothing bigger; nothing grander; no-thing at all greater than the grace God gives to you or me. Grace is not a concept either; it is a Person, the Person Jesus Christ!

As I was putting together my notes and power-point during the week I had run across this posting on Facebook…

“One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to be happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind, or ask him to change.”  (I added the picture)

eeyoreHaving been, and sometimes still feeling like Eeyore, I thought this statement was fantastic especially when looking at grace as the Person of Christ. You see, Jesus is that friend who invites me along for all the adventures and shenanigans. YES! It is OK to have shenanigans as a Christian, just within reason!

However, Jesus does not ask me to pretend to be something I am not, happy or otherwise. He does not leave me behind. He loves me anyway. As for change, He does that in and through me as He sees I am ready for it, then it is called growth and maturity.

I used Eeyore as my illustration because most everyone can relate to his situation. Tails fall off and we need help putting them back. Dark clouds do sometimes follow us around. People come into our lives that need help and have nowhere else to turn.

God even brought an Eeyore right through the front door of the church as some of us were still hanging around in fellowship. This Eeyore was in a mess. We helped how we were able. Did a follow-up this morning but cannot find the person.

What do we do? We stay available for the next time that tail falls off and we pray for God’s safety to be around and with this person. In short, we love this person anyway.

Look for the Eeyore’s in your life, love them anyway.

Oh, and did you notice…Eeyore does not where socks!

Searching? Look closer…

Have you ever been searching for something and when you finally find it, it was right there the whole time?
I’m not just talking about your keys (those are where you left them) or your glasses (check the top of your head), I’m talking LIFE stuff here!
 
Think BIG on this…stuff like who you will marry, where you will attend college, buying a home or the right car, seeking that new job, or should you make that move to another area… you know…life changing stuff!
 
We all spend a lot of our lives searching for things and sometimes we jump in with both feet only to end up with the dreaded “buyers remorse”, when all along what you were searching for was right under your nose.
 
Sure, this falls into the “grass is always greener” genre and is a bit cliche’ but then again…That’s Life! (Que Frank Sinatra sound track here!)
 
The BIG things we search for in life are not always in the immediate vicinity, but I’m finding out as I travel along this road and trust more in God everyday…He’s got a plan and He will give me the desires of my heart when I make my desires line up with His.
 
So, keep searching and try doing some of it without wearing socks!

Don’t call me if it’s broke, go to the Manufacturer!

Not long ago I read an article entitled, ‘When Life Cracks You Up’ by the inspiring author Rachel L. Proctor.

The link is having some issues at the moment or I would post that here. The message I receive is, “Something is amiss…one of the servers is crying out for help…investigating and resolving…blah, blah…”

The gist of the article was that her phone screen had cracked, and as she began to worry about the ramifications of screen leakage, cutting her ear on the glass, cost of repairs, etc. She realized that the protective adhesive cover was doing its job by holding things together and covering the damage, just as God protects us.

The following week after Rachel’s article was published, my Honey and I were blessed with a pastors retreat at Hume Lake Christian Conference Center. Hume is a purposeful place to relax and refresh. The staff is amazing, the food is very good to outstanding (better at some conferences than others), the weather is always accommodating, and cell phones do not work there! And a deafening silence fell over the crowd! 

Not being one who wears a wrist watch very often, my phone is my timekeeper. My protective case was getting worn and tattered and would sometimes catch on my pocket. Most times I was able to hang onto the phone. If it did fall, it was on a soft surface or the case took the brunt. Not so at Hume! My phone did a belly flop directly on the cobble stone walkway. Just like the proverbial ‘butter side down piece of bread’!

My reaction…”Oh man, cracked!”

The words of Rachel’s article were fresh in my head, but I had no protective film on my phone, and this was the third phone I have had since December of last year. (Other technical problems on those phones.) The crack wasn’t all that bad, I’ve seen worse, so I’ll just live with it!

When we got home from Hume my Honey did some account searching and alas, none of our phones were up for renewal. OK, I’ll just live with it, no worries. She even looked up repair centers and buy back programs…not worth the hassle.

Then I took a moment and did a search for DIY repair kits! For just under $60 I was able to get a new and more protective case. And from iCracked.com I received my replacement screen, handy dandy tool kit, and step by step Repair Flowchart!

The kit arrived yesterday and the first step on the Flowchart was to STOP and download the instruction video!!!

My Honey, ever one who encourages, told me when I ordered the kit, “If you can rebuild front gears on a 4X, repack wheel bearings, and figure out so many other things, you can rebuild your phone!” She sometimes forgets I have meat hooks for hands!

The paperwork said to take your time, it should take about 45 minutes, the screws are small keep them organized (small is an understatement!), note the placement of parts as you are disassembling your phone! I got this! Video on laptop, jawbreakers for energy, hands clean, tools laid out, Flowchart set…

Let’s do this!!! It wasn’t that bad, even for a guy with meat hooks that fit better on a wrench than minuscule screws!

I now have an intimate understanding of my phone that did not exist earlier today. I know it literally inside and out. Much like the relationship my Heavenly Father has with me…

To quote my Honey’s favorite passage:

Psalm 139:13-18 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” (emphasis mine)

I thought of this passage as I worked on my phone. I thought of how God knows me so intimately. I thought of how He knows that I am ‘cracked’ and still chooses to use me. I thought of how He will restore me better than new someday. I thought of how, even through my toughest times and now, through my journey with depression, He still has precious thoughts for me!

Don’t worry if you are cracked or struggling…God’s not surprised by it!

Stigma shmigma!

Stigma shmigma!

Men, there is a problem…cajones…got any!

Guys, yes, this is mainly for you today. Ladies, if you know a man, please share this with him.

There is an old saying…”The first step is admitting you have a problem.” It comes from the twelve step program.

For a person with thoughts of suicide or one who struggles with depression and anxiety, I believe (again, this is just my two cents here) the first step is getting the cajones (ie; nerve, ba**s) to ask for help in admitting there is a problem!

You may think this too harsh, especially coming from a pastor’s point of view. I’m supposed to be a loving, gentle and caring individual who sits with you and tells you stories of puppy dogs and butterflies and how everything will be alright, right?

WRONG!!!

Let’s look at it this way…

Your house is on fire…I’m standing in the street…you are unaware that there is imminent danger…do you want me to quietly and gently tell you from the street in my best “counseling” voice that you are in trouble? Or would you rather I jump to action, scream my butt off to get your attention and get you and those you love out safe?

Well, there is another imminent danger for men…

The largest percentage of completed suicides in our country right now are men ages 45-85!!!

Let me repeat that…

MEN AGES 45-85 ARE COMPLETING MORE SUICIDES THAN ANY OTHER AGE GROUP!!!

Anyone ready to admit there is a problem? Anyone ready to join in with jumping to action and getting others to safety?

I wasn’t…not just a few months ago. Then I did because my world was coming apart.

WHAT? A pastor with problems? Say it ain’t so!

SORRY…the problems and struggles that those in the pastorate have are causing between 1400-1700 servants to leave the ministry every month!

Most of those in ministry leadership are men. Men are fixers. Men don’t ask for help. I didn’t want to, but I did. (Check out my journey starting here.)

Seriously, we men don’t even like to ask for directions, the GPS has been the best invention in recent history!

Men, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, loneliness, or anything else like that, admit it and ask for help. Talk to your doctor or health care provider.

And don’t just think that a little pill for E.D. will help. That will only give you a temporary “fix” to a deeper issue! That’s not being a true man. Life is NOT like the commercials!

So guys…MAN UP…admit there is a problem…get help…get some cojones…you’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for coming by and hanging with this shepherd’s stance today and letting me rant!

Mile Markers

Isn’t it interesting how we are given natural “mile markers” in our lives? Most call them birthdays, a time to reflect on where we are in our lives.

A friend of mine turns 50 today. As I was speaking with her yesterday about what bothers us about birthdays – my issue being that others make such a big deal out of them, to which she retorted, “Just wait till you turn 50!” Yeah, I’ve got a couple years for that, we’ll see. Another friend of ours said 50 and 60 didn’t bother him, but now he claims, “It’s OVER!!!” I think I will still be amazed that I made it that far!

My youngest daughter just turned 22 the other day. When I was her age I was in the midst of living life in a haze. Drugs and alcohol consumed my life at that time. Sure, I remained functional, I had two young daughters to take care of, they helped keep me going. One of those little girls who kept me going turns 29 today. I am very proud of her, she has always seemed to have her life in order. Some would look at it and call it OCD, while others just see a driven woman raising her young family. Either way, she has always had a plan. She knew from early on what she wanted and how to get it. And she did! At 29 I was just getting my life back in order.

Even though I don’t have a birthday till late fall, I still find myself reflecting on mile stones. Having all of my children now over the legal drinking age; the oldest, our son, already closing in on 31; our middle daughter carrying our fifth grand child; our business of ten years being up for sale; this journey through depression…

All mile markers, maybe not your typical ones, but still mile markers. After all, its not how long you’ve been on the road that matters, its how far you have gone that does!

That’s this shepherd’s stance for today!
Well – Good Day!