What We Fight For, Cherish and Honor – But Almost Never ENJOY

Yellowstone National Park in Montana

Me, two years ago, stretching arms and checking a bucket list item in Big Sky Country at Yellowstone National Park. Freedom.

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.” ~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden

If you’re among the 16 percent who didn’t, count yourself as lucky – but recent statistics show 84 percent of Americans woke up this morning hating their job. That means sometime, most likely around 5 a.m., just over a billion Americans woke up and dreaded going to work. That’s billion – with a B.

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Roughly, 100 million Americans attended a church service yesterday. Forty percent of the church-goers left feeling frustrated, ostracized, criticized, guilty and unloved. They were frustrated that much of their church activity is centered around carpet, curtains, choir robes, procedure and doctrine – and they left wondering – is this what the church is really all about?

And I get that. Up until a few months ago, I felt guilty, condemned and spiritually insulted by every church I’d ever attended.

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Failure is not an option.Two months shy of the New Year, millions of Americans are already thinking about their list of upcoming resolutions. They’re frustrated with their busy-ness, lack of goals, or lack of goals achieved. They are shamed by inner-conscience guilt for their past failures and shortcomings. They’re mad about the analysis paralysis they experience because they just can’t trust their gut to take a leap of faith into the yet unrealized dream of launching a new business, losing 20 pounds or repairing a lost relationship.

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Here’s a quote from a Facebook friend, just yesterday, that got me thinking about this:

“Once you decide to step out of the program, the programmers (i.e.-controllers) no longer have the prerogative to fit you into the scheme of their design… that’s when you realize that you’re free to live as the One inside of you desires.  It really is for freedom that you’ve been set free.  Be free to live and love.

“In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off.” – Galatians 5:1

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And while we’re flirting around with the Bible, here’s another bit of truth that has me thinking about it further:

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

Show me a single place in the Bible where God says he wishes guilt, condemnation or shame on you and I’ll send you my next paycheck.

And either this is truth or it’s not. A boss once called me half-joking, but serious still yet – “a religious wack-job.” I’m sure it had something to do with the WWJD bracelet I wear on my right hand. And for the record, I almost always wear it inside out because it’s not for public display. It’s just for me. His remark was actually funny – I’m about as anti-religion as you’ll ever find. My friends will tell you I RAIL against religion.

Freedom to fail.

I choose to embrace the truth that God grants me the freedom to fail; that he’s not keeping account of my shortcomings; and that he won’t ask for my spiritual resume – EVER.

Last week, I re-read Bruce Wilkinson‘s Prayer of Jabez. If you’ve never read it, this was the young man’s audacious prayer:

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be upon me, and that you would keep me from evil.”

In the seven days I’ve been praying that prayer, I’ve:

  • Paid off three credit cards;
  • Paid off a vehicle;
  • Developed two new sources of income with two more strong potentials.
  • Learned a new golf grip that has me sailing a 7-iron about 155 yards straight down the middle of the fairway with the faintest of beautiful draws (this is among the greatest of blessings);
  • and started a checklist for a great new adventure that will begin on December 21. I’ll write much more extensively about that beginning a week from today.

That’s not braggadocio mish-mash. It’s God’s honest truth.

It’s not a prayer to Santa Claus. It’s a prayer to the God who assures me that he has a plan for my GOOD and not my GUILT.

July 4, 1776. We celebrate it every year as our Independence Day.

I’ll tell you the day you were set free. It was more than 2,000 years ago when every smidgen of your guilt, shame and regret was nailed to a cross – forever, done deal, over.

Success is 99 percent failure.

Now. Don’t just go celebrate your freedom. Live it. ENJOY it.

god of second chances

Embrace it. ENJOY it.

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Beyond Analysis Paralysis

“If you always place limit on everything you do, physical, or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” ~ Bruce Lee

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 “Let me hear your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; for to you, I lift up my soul.” ~ Psalm 143:8

The group topic was “Heart & Motivation,” and in the midst of a fairly deep conversation, the pivotal moment came right about here:

Group Leader, (who also happens to have all the more credibility because he’s a professional mental health counselor): So if we don’t have to prove ourselves to God, how does that make you feel?

Me: I guess it should make me feel free.

Group Leader: And why do you guess?

Me: Well, maybe I don’t necessarily have to question the motives for everything I do.

Group Leader: And why do you question yourself?

Me: (Long pause, and at an unusual loss for words.)

Group Leader: You’re saying you don’t trust yourself?

Me: (Suddenly enlightened) Yes, that’s it.

My immediate inner thought that I kept to myself: Why would I trust myself when a business coach just three months ago assessed me as having a self-sabotaging personality, and I already know that I second guess just about everything I do?

When a person gets to a place in life where he/she begins to question their own motives in everything they do it can be stifling at least, self-destructive at worst.

I pretty much do that, and I know it, and I’m looking for a way out.

“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” ~ Romans 7:14-15

ANALYSIS PARALYSIS – Here’s the Wikipedia definition … “Over-analyzing or over-thinking a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or ‘perfect’ solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.”

It makes me wonder:

      • Why was I compelled to stop on the side of the road and talk to a young couple holding a sign that read, “We need help.” Did I have a genuine concern for their well-being, or did I just want to score some points with God?
      • Why did I volunteer to host a group of friends from church to a backyard cookout? Did I have genuine hospitality in my heart, or did I just want to impress them in some way?
      • Why do I write on a weekly basis some four to five times a week and put it out there for the world to see? Am I addressing these things to help other people, or am I just seeking to draw attention to myself?
      • I’m writing my first book and the manuscript is about 50 percent complete. It’s a good book, and I’m fairly sure of that. Why don’t I get off my butt and finish the good work? Why do I feel paralyzed to finish?
      • Is my nature genuinely good or bad, and how will I ever know, and does it even matter?
      • Why don’t I love people more than I feel like I do?

Reading Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan recently had a profound effect on my thinking. The premise of the book is this: There is a magnanimous difference between being just a fan, or a true follower of Jesus.

Case in Point: I woke up early Sunday morning with the intention to write a new blog post and the title would have been something like this: “First Facebook Church – Am I Becoming a Charter Member?”

To explain: It makes me wonder when I write a blog post about faith, or God or Christianity … am I just trying to draw attention to what I do, or are my motives pure and designed for the good of others?

So at some point early in the morning “paralysis analysis” took grip and I wrote nothing, and then I went to church.

My church is a good church. It’s a safe place. It is led by really good men with the purest hearts I’ve seen. It’s an amazing thing to be in a place where you can feel love oozing out and permeating through and through.

Sunday’s message at Fellowship Bible Church was from Psalm 32. It is one of David’s many messages of God’s forgiveness.

I jotted down the following notes from the pastor’s message:

  • God has granted a suspension of justice in his mercy, and for our sake.
  • We are free to fail.
  • My performance really doesn’t matter. On judgment day, God won’t ask for my resume.
  • The only thing I contribute to my salvation is the sin that made the salvation necessary.
  • I need to tear up my transcript, and quit worrying about my motives.

It’s a message I need to hear every day. The Gospel is Good news.

And I come to this conclusion: Maybe I am bad. But thank goodness, Jesus is good.

Was this the appropriate thing to write today? I can only hope.

TOMORROW’S POST: A Few Things I Genuinely Believe.

(Check out my secondary blog: Latitude One @ http://wp.me/2tJ80

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