After the "Our Story podcast series, I am going to start a new series called "Christian Myths". In it I will be focusing on several Christian myths that people believe are in the Bible when in fact they aren't and are not true.
One such myth is that "time heals all wounds ". That simply is not in the Bible nor is it true.
Time in and of itself heals nothing actually.
The truth of the matter is that when it comes to relationships being mended or healed, with time alone, the wounds actually become much worse. Just as with a wound to our body, if left unattended, infection sets in. Left unattended longer, gangrene then takes over and the only remaining option is to amputate the infected limb.
No, time alone does not heal all wounds.
The truth is that what DOES begin the healing process is attention to the wound and desire to pursue healing. This applies to relationships as well, whether in marriage, family relationships or friendships. There must be equal desire on BOTH sides to mend the relationship by giving it the needed attention that hopefully will lead to that relationship being healed.
It's important to note the word equal. If one party wants healing and to do whatever it takes to get there and the other party doesn't share equal desire, it will only result in deeper bitterness from the one who has the desire to work toward the one who doesn't, as they perceive that the other party doesn't really care. In my experience as a pastor it never works when this is at play.
I call it the "desire factor". Here are some real life examples:
Again, the "desire factor". For a relationship to be healed there has to be equal desire, period.
The "desire factor".
No, time in and of itself does not heal all wounds. There must be equal desire from both parties as well as equal energy spent to see it through. If not, there will be no healing.
I leave you with the words of my favorite preacher, TD Jakes. Hope you have a great weekend!
"LET IT GO"
There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk.
I don't want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone. When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.
The Bible said that, they came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us.[1 John 2:19]
People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay.
Let them go.
And it doesn't mean that they are a bad person it just means that their part in the story is over. And you've got to know when people's part in your story is over so that you don't keep trying to raise the dead.
You've got to know when it's dead.
You've got to know when it's over. Let me tell you something. I've got the gift of good-bye. It's the tenth spiritual gift, I believe in good-bye. It's not that I'm hateful, it's that I'm faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He'll give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat I don't need it. Stop begging people to stay.
Let them go!!
If you are holding on to something that doesn't belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to past hurts and pains . . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If someone can't treat you right, love you back, and see your worth . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If someone has angered you . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents . . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you have a bad attitude . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you're stuck in the past and God is trying to take you to a new level in Him . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you keep trying to help someone who won't even try to help themselves . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If you're feeling depressed and stressed . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
If there is a particular situation that you are so used to handling yourself and God is saying "take your hands off of it," then you need to . . . . . . . .
LET IT GO!!!
Let the past be the past Forget the former things. GOD is doing a new thing in this season of your life!!!
LET IT GO!!!
Many years ago, I attended a Franklin Covey seminar on "Focus". It was about developing a Life Mission Statement as well as a set of Core Values being identified. After 3 days of prayerful thinking and narrowing down, my Life Mission Statement became "To live for an Audience of One."
To this very day that simple Life Mission Statement is what affects almost every decision I make.
Beyond that, I distilled a set of 6 Core Values that would further define HOW I would live out my life, from parenting, to being a spouse, to pastoring, to friends. I can say that by and large I have lived authentic to my self, whether in success or failure, to the best of my ability.
Without a set of Core Values, we drift aimlessly through life. On the other hand, with a strong set of Core Values deeply ingrained in our hearts, we live out our lives by these governing principles that are essential to us. We know better who we are at our core. Likewise others know us better as they know what we are about, the things we value.
Over the past few months, I have been doing the work of distilling what the heart and DNA of The Bridge Church will be like, our Core Values. These are different than our Statement of Faith or Vision Statement, which describe what we believe and what we see. Our Core Value Statement are rather about how we will LIVE OUT our beliefs, the governing principles that will control our behaviour and ministry decisions at The Bridge.
It is what people will FEEL when they get to know us and our fellow Life.Church movement of churches. It describes the 'air' of our church, our DNA. You could call it our "spiritual fingerprints"!
The 6 Core Values of The Bridge:
1. We are....... B old, faith-filled, bet the farm risk takers. We will never insult God with small thinking and safe living.
2. We are....... R adically outward-focused. We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ.
3. We are....... I rrationally generous. We truly believe it is more blessed to give than to receive.
4. We are....... D edicated spiritual contributors rather than consumers. The church does not exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world.
5. We are...... G lobally minded, dedicated to the Capital C church around the world. We believe that the local church is the hope of the world and we know we can accomplish inﬁnitely more together than apart.
6. We are....... E xcellent in all we do. We believe that excellence honors God and inspires people. We only do what we can do well.
There you have it! Each of these 6 Core Values will be deeply ingrained into our Core Launch Team as to what it means to our future as a church. Each decision will be weighed by these as well. It will likewise serve as a filter for those who come to us as to if The Bridge is or isn't for them personally.
Going over these again, one thing is for sure: WE ARE GOING TO LIVE OUT LOUD!!!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Bobby Lepinay
A few years ago, I was hanging out with a former Bible College room-mate who has been a missionary for over 30 years now, Andre Provost. We are as different as can be, but I have always appreciated his simple perspective and his ability to hear from God.
As we were driving along and I was filling him in on my at that point 3 years of marital separation and misery, and how I couldnt reconcile why God did not seem to be coming through to heal the marriage, he said, "I feel God wants me to share something with you that He spoke to me a few weeks ago."
"OK.....Andre, can you TELL me??"
"I was driving to a church that supports us and got lost, even though I was using Ms. Google. It then said, "Recalculating......then gave me a new route to get where I was going. God spoke to me at that moment and said, "Thats what I do when my child sins or loses their way and goes off course. I instantly forgive when they turn to me and ask for My help. I meet them exactly where they are and reroute them and will do so until they come Home to Me."
It spoke to me deeply. I needed to let go of my regrets and disappointment, my need to control the outcome. I had to trust my Chief Navigator, that no matter what, He would come through, that He would never leave me or forsake me, that He would redirect my course if needed, regardless the outcome of if my marriage was or wasnt mended, redeeming everything, for my good and for His ultimate glory.
It was and still is the best illustration of one of my favorite life verses, Romans 8:28, where it says, "And we know that ALL things (good, bad, delightful, horrific...) work together for the GOOD of those who love God and are called according to His purposes..." His ultimate destination is working the nature of His Son into us. And He will use EVERYTHING, the bitter losses and disappointments, failures, .....incredibly....even sin....to make us into the ultimate "us" He called us to be. When our course is finished and we get to the other side, we will understand. But on this side?
I am convinced there is much, if not most, I will never understand. I cant begin to understand how a loved ones death or divorce or other tragedies can possibly be useful. In my mind, it just seems so so wrong. And the truth is, it is. God didnt say all things would be right. He just said that He would USE the wrong things as well.
He is God and He alone can do that.
Ive heard the story of Job debated for years. Was it Job's fear that allowed all the devastation from the devil? Why would God allow something so wrong as the death of his children? On and on it goes. As we know, after God revealed Himself, the second half of Job's life was majorly blessed. But something I noted when I last read through the book was that God never bothered to explain anything to Job, no answers to a single question Job had asked over the previous 30 some odd chapters. He just basically said, "Are you Me?....No?....Then just shut up and trust Me."
I am convinced that Job never understood on this side, and probably even now if we were to ask him, would still say, "I have no idea why that stuff all happened. But I DO know this: HE's God. I am not. And He is good."
He is altogether trustable. Whatever you have or are facing, never let go of His hand. He WILL lead you home, rerouting as needed, forgiving, somehow using it all.
Yesterday as I was prayer walking, the following thought came to me:
"Holiness is about knowing God. Brokenness is about knowing yourself."
I began to think about the story of Jacob, one of the Patriarchs of the Old Testament. Jacob was born a fighter and from the very beginning, even in the birth canal, he struggled for first place with his brother Esau. They were twins but Esau had been born first.
A few years later as a teenager, he deceives his brother into giving him his birthright as the first born son. He then manipulates his blind father Isaac into thinking he is Esau and steals the firstborn blessing away from him. From that point he continues to be a fighter, using manipulation and deception to forge his way through life.
Yet God is with him in it and through it all, patiently waiting for the time to finally "break" his dearly loved son Jacob.
That point comes at Peniel, where Jacob wrestles with the angel of the Lord, the fighter trying to overcome in his own strength. The angel of the Lord touches him on his hip joint and from that point, the Bible says that Jacob for the rest of his life walked with a limp. He not only encountered God there but he encountered himself. The fighter would always be reminded of his fleshly tendencies to manipulate, deceive and control apart from God's grace.
From that point we never see Jacob resorting to the old tools he had used previously. The limp reminded him everyday of what he was capable of. He was still a fighter by nature, but now one who knew the backside of his fighter temperament.
I can very much identify with Jacob. Being raised by an alcoholic mother, the fighter instinct was forged into the core of my personality and temperament. Through my childhood and teenage years I would resort to using any tool I could, including lying, manipulation, ...... anything I could, to get my way and forge ahead. When I became a Christian and surrendered my life to Christ, my nature as a fighter was still there.
Let me be clear in saying that our basic temperament is God-given and to be used for the glory of God and I believe God used my fighter nature to help accomplish much in His work. I had a prophecy spoken over me in my early Christian years that God had made me a ram for his kingdom, to move things forward.
But like Jacob, our god-given temperaments have a backside. And like Jacob we have to come to the point to where we encounter God and are broken and know ourselves. We know our tendencies in the flesh.
We walk with a limp.
I can definitely say that this last season of my life has been my own personal Peniel. I used to force my way through life, often unintentionally hurting people around me with my unbridled ram-like nature. But thankfully God has touched me in the hip.
Hey, for those of you knew how I drove, you would be proud of me now! Robin even said the other day that in the short year we have been married she has really noticed how much more aware I am in my driving, much more mellow. I don't react like I used to. When I begin to get overly strong she will say, "OK Ram... Chill!!"
May God help us all to be broken. May he help us to not only know him but know ourselves, becoming the best version of what he intended us to be.
Love you guys,
I woke up this morning with a certain awareness. It wasn't mental. It was more like when you wake up just "knowing" a day holds some kind of importance to you. Something in your gut and psyche has been hard-wired through years of celebrating or recognizing a certain important date. It happens every time the calender rolls around to the day each of my parents died. It likewise happens when my children's birthdays come around as well as other important dates I celebrated for years.
Today, February 11th, marks exactly 20 years that Harvest Church had its first public services.
As I laid in bed and remembered all the way back to that day in 1996, the same feeling I had that very morning we launched filled me. It can best be described as butterflies mixed with nausea. I wondered if anyone would show up to the Silver Screens Theaters (formerly behind old University Mall). The night before I even had nightmares of standing at the door to the theater, waiting, waiting, waiting, with no one showing up. The small group of us who had met in our family's home for 4 months were totally stepping out in faith, with almost no money to speak of.
But God came through and people DID show up. Our first service attendance was 76 adults. Those first 7 plus years at the Silver Screens were something else. When it would rain, the ceiling would leak so we had to have 55 gallon trash cans throughout. The AC wouldn't work half the time in the summer. The carpets were always beer soaked with old chewing gum that would stick to your shoes.
But we had a blast!
In late 1999 I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me to drive around the city and pray to be led to what would be the permanent home for Harvest. I drove the whole circle of the city. When I came to Palafox, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me to park right in front of the Rex Theater.
The Rex at that time was totally dilapidated, but I felt to lay hands on it and claim it as our home. We made an offer. It didn't go through. I was SO crushed and disappointed, wondering how I could have so missed God. But we moved forward and a few years later moved into the former Plaza Theater off of Fairfield Drive.
We finally had a home.
For all of 18 months until Hurricane Ivan wiped it out.
Again, the heartbreak. But we continued forward and for the next 6 years met at night at the church that had sent me out to start Harvest, New Testament Fellowship.
That season became known as the "NTF Season". It looked different, but the heart and DNA was the same. Looking back, it actually holds some of the fondest memories as many great people joined us and it had a real family feel. But my heart has always been to reach the unchurched and I felt getting back to a theater would be more neutral for people not used to church environments.
That led to Harvest being at the Rave (now Carmike Theaters) for the next 7 years. That season took set up and tear down to a whole new level and I still marvel at the incredible people that did it week in and week out. The goal to reach the unchurched and dechurched was achieved and many, many lives were changed with multitudes being baptized through those years.
Finally, in 2012, the Rex Theater came up again. This time the offer was accepted and around this time last year, Harvest finally had its home.
I was thinking this morning about the verse where the apostle Paul says, speaking of the Corinthian Church, "I laid a foundation and now others are building on it." From the beginning, the foundation, it's core values, were:
H unger for God
A tmosphere of grace, mercy and acceptance
R elational integrity
V ibrant, Christ-centered worship
S oundness in life and doctrine
T urned out to a lost and broken world
Though I did lay the foundation, with God's help, so many helped to build Harvest through its 20 years that I wouldn't even know where to begin in listing them. The church is by far the most resilient church I have ever seen, having overcome much. But it has stood and today made it to 20 years. I pray the very best for it and its current leaders.
Happy 20th Anniversary Harvest. You will always be in my heart.
Though I am not at this time pastoring in a physical church, I am still pastoring many people from around the nation who consider me their pastor and who keep in touch with me. Yesterday I had a heartbreaking conversation with a young lady who has been informed by her husband of almost 10 years that he wants a divorce.
She was heartbroken.
Robin and I have both been divorced and know firsthand the anguish and pain involved. There is a reason that God hates divorce and it's because of the mass destruction that it causes across the board.
Nothing is ever the same.
That being said, I take issue when people say that the high divorce rate in our country as well as in the Body of Christ is a problem. The real problem isn't the divorce rate. The real problem is bad marriages. There wouldn't be such a high divorce rate if the Body of Christ was more preemptive and careful in giving out marriage licenses to those who have no idea how to be married.
Think about it for minute. To be able to get a drivers license you have to prove that you are capable of handling a moving vehicle that weighs approximately one or more tons amidst other moving vehicles that weigh the same. The dangers are incalculable, making driving something that should not be done by just anyone. In the same way, to say that we have a national problem with driving accidents is silly. What we have is a national problem of bad drivers who should've never had a drivers license in the
This applies across almost everything else in life. To get a license for anything you have to prove proficiency and skill. I can guarantee you the weddings I do in the future will be much more front-ended, taken much more seriously and more
time given to preparation.
Too much is at stake.
For what it's worth, here are my 3 filters. I used these for hiring employees in the past and will
apply them as well to pre-marriage counseling in the future.
"Character" is something tossed around a lot but harder to define. The book of James defines it as being tested and approved, having endurance. It means not being an easy quitter. Again I can guarantee you that if a guy has had a hard time holding down a job I will not be signing a marriage license any time soon. Likewise serial daters Who have bounced around from relationship to relationship will have to prove that they can be loyal to one alone. I've heard it said, "When someone shows you their character the first time, believe them." If we just used this filter alone we would knock out 40% of the 60% divorce rate, aka, bad marriage rate.
Yes, chemistry is important. 99% put it as number one over character which is again insane. But let me be clear: chemistry isn't just the butterflies you get when with your lover at the beginning of the
relationship. That's defined as Romantic Love and Romantic Love is only the first stage but unfortunately is all most of us are ever trained to seek. Almost every song you hear and every show or movie you see focuses on that alone, ignoring the other two phases, Realistic Love and then Mature Love.
I define chemistry more as a true friendship. I always taught my kids that marriage was simply friendship plus sex. You have to truly like and enjoy the person you're with. That is why it is unwise to get physical too soon in dating relationships. A base of friendship and camaraderie has to be built. Do you truly enjoy the other persons personality or do they annoy you? Next time around I can guarantee
you there will be personality test as well as pre-marriage counseling based on this. Too many couples go to the altar too quickly. In the beginning they tolerate the things that annoy them but in time those things become huge boulders and they become strangers living in the same house, roommates at best.
This should not be.
As I said before, every other kind of license requires skills and competency. How much more should marriage! I look back in my first marriage and realize how deeply incompetent I was in relationship skills. It makes me sad that I was so ignorant. But unfortunately church life in the years when I was first a Christian were based on having experiences and getting "highs" in the Holy Spirit (all great), but little in the way of actual skill development relationally. The Body of Christ needs a radical orientation change if we're going to see the divorce rate lowered. We have to focus on producing better prepared candidates for marriage from the time they are children. Things like selfishness, bossiness, poutiness, rudeness, self pity… on and on… have to be front-ended when they are young and not allowed to be brought into the marriage covenant. I am already working on a Relationships Class that will be at the core of my next pastorate. As sad as the loss of my first marriage was, it prepared me during the five years of separation/divorce for the fantastic relationship that I am able to enjoy now with Robin. But the skills were learned through much pain. How much better if they are taught and learned without so much loss.
So to summarize?
We need to stop focusing on the divorce rate and instead focus on preparation and taking seriously what it means to be granted a marriage license. I know many couples will pass on me once
they realize that it's not going to be easy to get to the altar with me as the preacher but so be it. Something has got to change and as the old saying goes, let it begin with me.
The season of the ending of what I now call Life 1.0 began around 2007 with the loss of my parents and ended this past year with the ending of a 30 year marriage, the selling of the home I built back in my 20s to raise family in, the giving away of my cherished dog Mia and the ending of my tenure as the pastor of the church I started 20 years ago, Harvest. After 33 years of living in Pensacola, I relocated to Norman, Oklahoma to support my new wife, Robin, as she seeks to finish her doctorate here at the University of Oklahoma.
There are no words to describe how intensely and incredibly painful and difficult this season of closure has been. I can somewhat understand the apostle Paul when he says that he "suffered the loss of all things…" When I sold the house back in late August, 23 years of life was reduced down to a 10 x 10 storage unit. I came to Oklahoma to begin Life 2.0 with whatever I could fit in the back seat and trunk of our Honda Accord, as I let go of my beloved Lexus as well before leaving Pensacola to pair down to the bare essentials of what I really needed.
Let me say, I have learned that there is not much that one really NEEDS. It has been very freeing in some ways to have very little in the way of material possessions as I enter Life 2.0. For the first time I am actually living out the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace principles as Robin and I have had to budget down to where every penny truly is accounted for. And again, it is much more freeing than I ever imagined and I find myself much more content than I have ever been. I understand in a new way what the apostle Paul meant when he said, "I have learned to live with plenty and I have learned to live with little. I have learned the secret of contentment."
I can echo that now.
Many of you have asked what our plans for the future are. If we've learned anything, we have definitely learned to hold loosely to all things. Our desire though is without question to start another church at some point, in Pensacola if the Lord so confirms. We both feel the Lord has given us the name for the church, that being "The Bridge: a place of new beginnings". We have met with the leaders of Network Churches at LifeChurch here and they are excited about The Bridge being launched in partnership with LifeChurch that at this time has over 66,000 people in campuses all over the US as well as online church that reaches over 1 million worldwide each week.
The verse the Lord gave me to build The Bridge upon last week is found in Jeremiah 49:6 where it says this:
If you are a Christian, a real one, you know that the Christian life is a life
of faith. The book of Hebrews the "Faith Book", tells us that "the just shall
live by faith" (Heb 10:38) and that "faith is the confidence of what we hope
for, the assurance of things we cannot see" (Heb 11:1). Without question, God
wants us to trust him and to not live in fear but in confidence.
But let's be honest: At times, there are circumstances that can overwhelm our life. Like a
tidal wave rising up out of the ocean, circumstances can arise that scare the
be-jeebers out of us, causing deep distress, even panic attacks at times. We
love God and trust God, but looking out at our future, all we can see is a big
question mark as to what is going to happen.
Again just being honest, Robin and I feel that way at this very time. She is teaching five classes at a major university while trying to finish her doctoral degree. The pay is low and what
will be available after she graduates is very uncertain.
As for me?
This past year has represented by far and away the biggest hurdles of my life, and I
have faced many, but none of this magnitude. As a freshman in college I gave my
life to Christ and to his service and entered Bible college. All I have ever
known is ministry to God's people full-time. When I surrendered to the call to
full time ministry, I burned all bridges and went full in.
But here I am at age 52, unemployed for the first time in my life, no paycheck or savings, being
told by churches I have applied to that they want younger pastors. I'd be lying
to say that there are moments where I am not white knuckled, holding on tightly
to my Masters garment, facing circumstances beyond what I have ever had to face.
Waves of fear overwhelm me, often many times during one day, and I breathe out
cries to heaven for help.
The awesome apostle Paul who most of us think was a fearless warrior for Christ, bowling his way through all obstacles, walking in victory all the time, in fact, wasn't. He had his times of deep fear and anxiety as well. Speaking to the Corinthian church he said this:
"We want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the troubles we went through in the
province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed, beyond our ability to endure,
and we thought that we would never live through it. In fact we expected to die.
But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God,
who raises the dead."
Wow. Let that sink in.
Here are 3 things to note:
1. First of all, there WILL The troubles.
Paul said, "we want you to
know, dear brothers and sisters, about the troubles we went through in the
province of Asia."
I have been a Christian for 33 years plus and still find this
hope in the back of my mind that there will be some point in life that I will
finally be pass troubles. As Robin said today, "We are like the hobbits. We are
always looking for the Shire." But the fact of the matter is in this life it
doesn't exist. Jesus said, "In this world you WILL face troubles…" It's part of
living in a broken, fallen world. A trouble-free existence just does not exist
and is a false expectation. That's the reason we eagerly await heaven where we
will finally be in the real Shire, at peace and at rest in the presence of Jesus
2. Second, sometimes those troubles can be so overwhelming that we
feel completely crushed.
The anxiety is beyond what we can take or control and
we feel despondent. Paul said this, "We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our
ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact we
expected to die."
Think about that. They were expecting the worst case scenario, that it was over, they were going to die.
Have you ever felt like that? It may not be that you were facing actual death but possibly bankruptcy or the loss of A loved one or something else.
You're not alone dear one. The great apostle Paul felt the same.
As I said, over the past few months I have gone back-and-forth as well, overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty, even panic attacks, going back to the Lord again and again for peace and relief. We forget that we are but clay and all so very very human.
3. And that brings me to the last point. We ARE so very, very human, and ultimately, God allows and uses troubles to break us from our self-reliance.
Paul said "that as a result of
these troubles that were so very vexing, we stopped relying on ourselves and
learn to rely only on God."
Paul had to learn and relearn to not
rely on himself. He had to learn and relearn to trust God.
I don't know about you, but that encourages me. When troubles come we all desperately look for
someway we can escape the trial. "I'll do this…or... I'll do that!" From our youth we are used
be the ones who have to make it happen.
"You have the ability! You can fix it! You have the strength!"
Except when we don't.
Sometimes we are boxed in and apart from God, things seem hopeless. We have no strength left. It's at that point that God enters in. Our natural strength is depleted, finally making room for HIS super
natural strength to come in. I love Isaiah 40, where it says this:
"Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting
God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can
measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and
strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young
men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new
strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow
weary. They will walk and not faint."
I hope this encourages someone out there today. Robin and I deeply appreciate every one of you and ask for your prayers. We will do the same for you. My plan is to blog on a weekly basis until
I can afford podcasting. If this speaks to you please share it with someone else.
Love you guys dearly,
Most who know me know that I am an "out of the box" type person. Being that I did not grow up in a Christian environment, my thinking, as well as how I pastored, were very much outside of the box.
Likewise, how God speaks to me has always been very "outside the box".
Late last year after a day of sermon preparation, I left the office and came back home for my normal Thursday evening ritual: Go for a run, take a shower followed by a relaxing hot bath, then fix a nice meal for myself and settle in to watch Netflix. After three years of marital separation I had settled into the routine of living alone. But as anyone who is single knows, nighttime can be a very very lonely time.
As I sorted through something to watch, I had heard about the show Dexter and was intrigued by the premise. I watched a few episodes and then put it down as my loneliness had turned to pain and I needed to walk through the house and pray for a few moments to "cast my burden upon Him". As I prayed, I acknowledged that ultimately, my heart yearns for my TRUE home, heaven, but on this side, I still yearned for companionship.
After a few minutes of praying, I went back to Dexter and an episode entitled "Argentina".
The premise of the episode is that everyone wants a place they can get away from it all, an "Argentina". But the truth is it's not about a place, it's about who we spend our lives with. That is where the sense of being "home" comes from. I will never forget the quote that Dexter states as the show ends:
"Everyone wants an Argentina, a place where the slate is wiped clean. But the truth is Argentina, is just Argentina. No matter where we go we take ourselves and our damage, with us. So is home the place we run to, or is it the place we run from? Only to hide out in a place where we're accepted, unconditionally, a place that feels more like home to us. Because there, we can finally be who we really are."I began to weep, as I knew God had heard my prayer. Memories of my childhood as well as how I raised my own family began flooding my mind.Growing up, I had never felt "safety" but rather continual fear. I would fear my alcoholic mom killing herself or if my dad was 15 minutes late coming home from work, I would fear he had gotten into a car crash. I can never remember in my childhood feeling at ease or at rest emotionally. 'Home' for me consisted of continual yelling and fighting tension.Likewise with my own wife and children as I got older I had become a perfectionist and put a very heavy burden upon the air that my family lived in. I sought to be a good dad and husband but realized how I in fact had not given them the thing they needed most: Home, a place of rest and security where they could just be themselves without continual pressure to perform. The world would give them the the pressure to perform for the rest of their lives. My priority should have been to give them what I had not received as a child, a place free from fear and tension, where their hearts could find rest in their parent's love and protection. Looking back, I wish I had done so much better.But I am thankful for new beginnings and fresh starts, that God does indeed wipe the slate clean and give us another chance.The other day Robin and I were heading back from our daily ritual of catching the beautiful Oklahoma sunsets at the end of each day together, just lying in each others arms by the pool with our little dog beside us, catching up on the day behind us. That day we began to express to one another the things we were most thankful for. She said these words: "I am most thankful for the fact that for the first time in my life since I was a little girl with my daddy, I feel the floor is not going to fall out from under me, that I am with a man that is solid and that I love and who loves me and most of all loves God, and that I can be who I am without judgment. I've never had that."Those words meant a lot to me. God has given me a second chance to not only be at "home" but to provide home for another. And I intend to give that to everyone I possibly can for the rest of my life.I challenge you, wherever you are in life, whether like me with now grown kids, or wonderfully in your first marriage with little kids, or, maybe even on your fourth marriage (or like the Samaritan woman, going on number seven? :-)..), seek God for a clean slate. Then press into God to first of all find your true hearts home in Jesus. Then give yourself to becoming a safe person for those around you, especially your loved ones. Give them fresh air to breathe and emotional space. Chill out and stop with all the expectations. Refuse to let tension be the tone of your home. Love people exactly where they are and let God do the work of changing them.My prayer for you:
"May you to come to know home in the truest way. May your heart find rest in the father's great love. May you give rest as well to those around you, your spouse, your children, your friends. May even the stranger be drawn to the rest and peace in your heart. May you find home and may you give home. In Jesus name, amen."
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