Death, Depression, faith, relationship, Women

An Apologetic

Today’s Jesus Calling (June 10) reminded me of a class I had in college. Doug Varnado taught a class called Christian Mind and Devotional Life for 3 hours credit, and it was during that semester that a song really came to light deeply on my heart and mind. Here are the lyrics.

I just want to be where You are dwelling daily in your presence. I don’t want to worship from afar. Draw me near to where You are.

I want to be where You are. Dwelling in your presence. Feasting at Your table. Surrounded by Your glory. In Your presence. That’s where I always want to be.

I just want to be. I just want to be with You.

cropped-cropped-mg_2841.jpgThe suffering servant is a very real reality for billions of Christians. Two of my friends are deeply suffering because their wife and mother have departed this life. An hour hasn’t passed since I found out that I have not thought about both of them. I wrote an entire post in memory of our beloved Bonnie. I went by her beautiful house, but Malcolm was out and about. I texted Malcolm III, and I posted on Facebook respectful comments of my grief for her passing. I knew Bonnie for over half my life, and her love, instruction and presence are impacting me now even in her absence.

Her absence makes my Father’s presence feel even more real, and when my Carey and my daughter were in Chicago I felt a painful void without their physical presence. We are constantly reminded that this life is to be lived by faith, but I am thankful that one day faith will be obsolete because we will gaze into the face of the One who defeated death. I have not concept of that now because I continue to “lose” people I love.

Mac, Bonnie’s husband, is an incredible provider for his family. His smile, unconditional love during the epitome of my depression inspires me now even though he may have no idea it does. I have an inkling into the pain he suffers from the loss of Bonnie from his Facebook posts, but I have no idea the pain he goes to sleep with or the pain he wakes up with without his precious lover near him in the same house.

He is not the first man to lose his wife, and there will be billions more who will experience the same thing, but the pain is real, and I do not glaze over it for anyone.

Two posts are hardly replacement for a life who impacted our eternity, but we draw comfort from the fact she is literally in the presence of our Father.

We long for that because the fallen nature of this world, and the fact that our hearts and strength fail is proof we are not here to stay.

Don’t grow too attached to what you have here, but invest in the things that remind you of God’s presence.

Scripture tells us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added.

That’s easier said, written and quoted, and sometimes impossible to practice because the pull of other things is so deafening and powerful in the face of our human strength. We are not left to our own devices because we have a Helper near and in our hearts and minds.

She/He intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express, and when I’ve been face down in pain I am given strength to rise up because of Her.

My Brother Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden well before Prozac was discovered, and my Father, who is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (every where all the time) and omnipotent (all powerful) is closer then the blood in my veins. Satan is not. Is he powerful? Obviously so. Turn on the television. But he is not all powerful. He was created like us, but he chose to reject the Father.

Bonnie did not, and I do not. Choose Him because He chose you (John 3.16).

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Body Image, Books, Death, faith, relationship, Women

True Peace

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I was at Mission Barbeque at Opry Mills last Friday, and when I went into the lavatory there was a picture of Marilyn Monroe over the urinal. I read this book about Marilyn Monroe, and as I wrote this post she came to mind. With all due respect to those who knew her I have to pity her because she never knew true peace. Her worth was found in men, and Hollywood used her the way I use a vacuum cleaner to clean Nashville homes. She allowed it however, and I think our Father’s mercies are upon her now even these plethora of years later as she is not subject to the discarding of Hollywood’s definition of worth. Never let a human being define your worth. Let my Father see you as a unique creation on which He does not fail. Period. 

A sense of humor is important, but there are some subjects within the context of community and more personal relationships when it’s too early to laugh.

I do not need to take myself so seriously that I can’t laugh at myself, but there is a time to take myself seriously as it pertains to overcoming a particular shortcoming or sin.

Coming to grips with the damage done is a very serious matter that I meditate on, but to gravel in guilt and shame is of course straight from the agenda of Satan himself. Satan may not be directly involved, but he doesn’t have to be for it to be grafted into the thinking of a human being.

We’ve always lived in dark times, but the statements created that become beliefs can be overcome.

We are not left alone to our brokenness even when the end is suicide. If someone drags you and a loved one through shit because they took their own life just walk away because you’ll get it on you.

Boundaries are powerful, and God created them for our protection.

That’s why the word propitiation is so powerful in the text. In my paraphrase I take “hilasterion” and phrase it “boundary.” Boundaries cover and protect, and my LORD’s “atoning sacrifice” and “propitiation” is a boundary from destruction, perishing or annihilation. I am forever secure in the presence of my Father even in death.

That is the reason fear is done away with literally. Oh, I have to choose to believe it because He does not force it upon me.

And I believe it, hence all things can become new.

I pray your faith dive to that kind of depth because you can take all the Prozac in the world, and you’ll never have that kind of peace.

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Arts, Church, Death, faith, Women

Bonnie Rose

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I taught 5th and 6th graders at Madison under Bonnie Rose. I got to know Malcolm and Bonnie and Malcolm III there, and now Carey and I are good friends with the Roses. 

This amazing woman is no longer with us, and it saddens me beyond words. Her Malcolm and Malcolm III are hurting deeply because now they have to go to Wilson Boulevard without her.

I think what I loved most about her was her tireless desire to make the gospel attractive. Her talent for art at Wilson Boulevard, Gallatin Road, Franklin Road and Charlotte Avenue displayed the greatest Artist with poise, dignity and beauty. Her hand of artistic expression honed at Lipscomb Academy and Harding University will live on in her absence, but I would not be surprised if our Father is gazing upon her beauty now.

Bonnie Rose was first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. She was Mac’s wife, and Malcolm’s mom, and my tears are heavy as I bear some of their grief.

Their generosity and love I will carry with me to my grave, and when I stop by Wilson Boulevard to visit my dear Mac I will forever remember the lady who was with me in my darkest night of the soul. She was not only there in the pit of my depression, but she was present as I “rose” above it in my groaning. I groan now because there are two men in my amazing city who have a void that will never be filled this side of eternity with our Father.

She took conflict as beautifully as she accepted her arthritis, and when I’d sit with her and Malcolm I could never tell she was in constant pain. She’s not in pain anymore, and the only thing the consoles me in this loss is that the smiles I see on Facebook, and the memory of her in my head are real and enduring. She will be one of the ones I will search for when the new Earth is created. Her place now at the right hand of an all loving Father wherever that is is assuredly a place of warmth and not pain that we can only imagine.

She had a plethora of voids in this life I know because we spent hours sharing our hurts with each other, and as the Holy Spirit worked through both Mac and Bonnie I can look upon our relationship with unadulterated love for the hope I express. Her hope is complete now, and her physical pain is no more, and though I have no idea what happens after death I suspect it’s better than here. I’m not ready to leave because I don’t think my time on Earth is through, but I long for the day to be where Bonnie is.

Bonnie was obviously a beautiful lady, but her heart and devotion to God, Malcolm and Malcolm made her beautiful on an entirely different level. She wasn’t out to compete with anyone, and she did not flash her money to shame anyone. Her heart was open because Jesus transformed her life to love the unlovable unconditionally.

We love you Bonnie, and we’ll miss you terribly as it’s already begun, but we know that when we join you “quietly, quickly and gently” that we’ll see your art, share your heart and hum songs of praise that will raise goosebumps on our arms in the presence of the One who conquered death.

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faith, Prayer, relationship, Story, Women

Tossing and Turning

Photo on 2011-12-06 at 11.52While I was cleaning a customer’s house yesterday I took a break for lunch to go to my parents. I went back to finish cleaning that house, and I learned some information I didn’t know beforehand that has me praying for a family I’ve prayed for many times before. After I finished cleaning that house I went to The Well for a 16 ounce mocha as I do just about every day.

Then it was time to pick up my daughter who was scheduled for allergy shots. Somehow on the way home from allergy shots we beat the rush hour traffic we normally run into, but I also drove with a lead foot. What was surprising is that Carey got home minutes after we did, and when she gets home before 6:30 it always makes me happy. I was doing whatever on the computer I’m typing this post, and she got ready to make dinner. We had fondue with a delicious blue cheese dip to go with our carrots, bread, green apples, strawberries and celery. The merlot was a nice pairing, believe it or not, with our dinner choice. Growing up Church of Christ wine was not a part of meal time, so nonetheless now we might have a chardonnay with filet mignon even though the wine snobs say no. I’ve read from some food reviewers that is just fine, but the fundamentals of wine drinking is that a chardonnay (white) goes with fettucine or fish, and merlot (red) goes with steak or tomato sauce. I say whatever. If you had been over last night you would have seen Carey with two pieces of ice in her merlot, and that is a definite no no. Again I say whatever. To each his or her own.

The rest of the evening before I retired I spent right here on this computer doing “work” stuff because it’s hard as a business owner who doesn’t have an office to separate business from pleasure. Well, I have an office, but it’s right here in this house. It doesn’t bode well for the constant barrage of existential questions that haunt my professional and private life because there isn’t any boundary to separate the two. I suppose I could close the “office” door, but the office belongs to two beautiful girls who live here too. It’s just not practical. And the flow of air in our 1950’s ranch house moves better from one end of the house to the other when all doors are open.

After reading about pitching reality tv I retired about midnight, and I actually tossed and turned for some time. This is unusual because after a week of working hard, the effects of my Trileptal and the the hum of my CPAP I usually fall right to sleep. It’s not unusual given that I’ve experienced it before as my thoughts can overcome the Trileptal, which is supposed to keep my thoughts from racing, but it does happen.

So there I am tossing and turning till I go into a REM sleep cycle, and I wake up at 7am with the same thoughts coursing through my mind. Coach Meyer always said to journal about what you learned, not what you did, but as an essay writer I have found it helpful to move from the mundane into the quandaries life presents. Story is imporant, and memoir writing is not always from point A to point B, but sometimes point A to point B is a good way to see a logical pattern to the confusion that life offers. Normally my essays are between 500 and 1,000 words, but I see this one going much longer. Bear with me. I’m actually asking for your replies because the cross I bare here at Beyond Sad is a difficult road that is making me into a better person, but these thoughts must get outside me before I see their real value. The Bible is all about human being’s relationship with the Father as they traverse the obstacles of life. Obviously we trace this struggle all the way back to the choices Adam and Eve made in the Garden, but the New Testament also says God did not give us a spirit of timidty and fear, but of power, love and self-control. There’s nothing quite as sad as a human being who chooses to make themselves a victim. I refuse to give up, even in the face of clinical depression, because my God is bigger than that. Community is vital in our search for answers, and when I see my friends Suzanne and Tammy like my essays on Facebook it sends a jolt of encouragement that I hope inspires them as they read these words. None of us is an island, and we only get out of life what we put into it. We can mire in self-pity because we have free-will, but that is a pathetic way to live, and I suspect people who do that live shorter lives. I’m all about living as long as I can. I’m not afraid of dying, and if it came down to it I’d lay down my life for Jesus and any of my family. Death is not the end, and my theology affirms the fact that it’s really the beginning. That’s a whole series of posts in and of itself. Moving on.

So there I am moving my thoughts and problems through my thinking processes. Part of the problem was that I got on Facebook. I started looking at the best part of other’s lives, and wondering why I am where I am. You’ve been there and done that. You might have come across this essay while doing that. Let me reach out and tell you right now that you are complete in God’s love for you. You do not have to compare yourself to anyone. Our Father doesn’t because if you were the only human being on the planet He’s still send His only Son to die, so that you’d have the gift of the Holy Spirit. If that doesn’t amaze you as a believer than you just need to reject Christianity. We are constantly trying to jump through hoops to make ourselves and others happy, and it never works. We put the cart before the horse everyday, and we have to stop because Jesus Christ grieves when we do it. Let’s not grieve our LORD and Savior who gave everything for us to have everything.

There’s not a one of us who is sinless or without problems to overcome. We have to face them head on, tell a few people about those sins and problems, and be serious about changing. There’s no way in and of ourselves that we can change, but we aren’t puppets on a string either. It takes to tango, and it takes two to heal. Let’s get to work. We have a Savior who is cheering for us 24/7, and I think that’s what the last 24 hours have been about for me.

I deeply hurt because of the rejection of the church, but I deeply rejoice because of the glory of God I see in the church. I think Joseph, David, Jesus and Paul can identify with me. I think you can probably identify as well. Our greatest curses can be our greatest blessings, and I still wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy, but in the same breath I praise God for the work He is doing in my depression. It’s brought me a laser focus to why I’ve had to go through what I have in my life.

Again, there is not a one of us who doesn’t suffer. Wesley put it well in The Princess Bride.

Life is pain your highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

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God has not called me to be anyone but me. God has not called you to be anybody else but you. We may not have answers to the sin, sickness or problems we face, but He sustains us through them all. I pray that He remove the depression from my life. He hasn’t yet, but I know He can. I’ve seen Him remove cancer from beautiful people who suffered from the pain it caused. He still heals, and He still woos us into His presence with a love we cannot give apart from Him. He longs to be near us. He wants every man, woman and child to choose Him. He does not force this on anyone. Satan is doing a number on so many, and some people use the name of God to justify bad, bad choices. God does not make mistakes. God does not sin. He does not take children with cancer from their parents. He did not cause my dear friend Ty to lose his only son. My heart bleeds in pain for the pain my brothers and sisters suffer through.

I was at a funeral home years ago with a mother and father who lost their daughter to a heart defect. As I stood with the mother another lady came up and said, “I guess God needed another little angel.” God did not need another little angel. That mom needed her daughter. Why did God let that little girl die? I don’t know. I do know that little girl will be reunited with her family, and the reunion will be filled with tears that won’t be sad. This blog is called Beyond Sad, but it’s about hope. I learned in college that hope is a confident expectation. It’s not wishy washy feeling that says, “I hope I get an A on this test.” If you don’t study for that test likely you are not going to get an A on it. Life is what you make it. There are things out of my control, but when I refuse to let the things out of my control to control me I’ve crossed a threshold to what it means to hope.

Never stop hoping. You might experience your own sad times, and God forbid you go through what some of us have to go through with depression, but in case you do know there is never a point of no return. When someone chooses to take their own life know too that there is an evil at work that that person is not themselves. Suicide has personally affected my family, and I condemn those who say suicide is the unforgivable sin. If God has to take a break on Judgement Day I will not volunteer to get up on the throne.

We can talk till we are blue in the face about Heaven, whether or not there is a Hell, and if there is who wil go there, but those answers belong to the One who knitted each one of us together in our mother’s wombs.

No one stands to fall before me. They stand to fall before the Creator who again loves us all unconditionally. He will judge those who reject Him as Father, His Son as our Savior and the Holy Spirit. How will He judge those who reject Him? Some think He’ll send those people to be tortured in the Lake of Fire called Hell to be tortured eternally. That is not my theology. I hold a very different interpretation of John 3:16. Perish to me means that those who reject Him will cease to exist. They will in fact be destroyed. You might disagree with me, but that doesn’t mean we cannot still be brothers and sisters. Diversity does not demand division. Christians for centuries have agreed to disagree. There’s nothing new about that. The Crusades were such a travesty because Christians murdered anyone who wasn’t a Christian. The Holocaust was evil because Hitler thought he had to “purify” the Arian race. Man has always used religion to justify their sinful behavior, and that continues. When we glory in our shame we do what billions have done before. It’s only when we as a nation humble ourselves before our Father that He will lift us up. If we exalt our “rights” then life will only get heavier. His yoke is easy and His burden islight. There is neither Jew, gentile, male or female in Christ. images

I pray that the entire world come to know our LORD and Savior.

Thank you for reading my friends.

 

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faith, relationship, Story, Women

I Like Mary

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…but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

The Bible is just amazing. No wonder it’s the best selling book year after year. The above verse from Luke 2 was just after Jesus was born. Here’s another one.

And His (capitalization is mine) mother stored all these things in her heart.

This was just verses later in Luke 2. I just told Carey it’s funny how the Bible can span a decade in less than 10 verses. Of course when these texts were written there were not verses. The Masoretes put chapters and verses in later, and I’m glad they did. Makes finding things much easier. That’s enough scholar stuff.

My point here is that so much happens in a lifetime that the Bible really brings things to a point, especially when this world has a lot of noise in it. Not to mention our own thoughts that can betray us.

I believe in a God who I think created the Earth from nothing, and He put all that is here into existence and told man to rule over it. I use the noun man to refer to mankind because men and women were created in His image, and we both marvel at the work of His hands.

Some things happened today that leave me in awe and silent pondering because I don’t have the words to fully express it, and I don’t want to ostracize someone in the possibility they might read this. Words are powerful, and we need to be more cognizant of what they can do.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, had it right. She watched, observed and silently contemplated the happenings before her, not the least of who was the birth of Her Son/Savior. In the second quote from Luke 2 you’ll remember that they were returning to their home in Nazareth from Jerusalem, and Jesus decided to stay behind in Jerusalem. They went back, and they found Him in the Temple. You know the rest of the story.

Mary again just ponders these experiences in her heart. I wonder if she wrote them on some parchment, the first century journal. Get that lady a leather journal Joel Butts. In any case the remarkable thing about the awe Mary had for her calling is moving because in her silence she spoke volumes to the holy ground we continue to walk on because of her Son.

Jesus continues to bring mercy, healing and empowering love to those who never had them or forgot about them.

Darkness is a very real foe for all of us, and we mustn’t take it lying down. It will chew us up and spit us out without a second thought because it literally doesn’t care for anything but destruction. The Bible talks about sheep in wolves clothing, and though I don’t think we need to live in fear or paranoia, we do need to know that we must be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.

Mary and Joseph knew this. That’s the reason they went back to Jerusalem to retrieve their 12-year-old son. Had they not been privy to this very basic of all parenting skills they would have let Him fend for himself. Love won that day, and because it won Mary had another reason to stand in the presence of the One who created her.

May we do the same.

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Death, Depression, faith, Prayer, relationship, Story, Women

Moved by the Son

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I love this picture for so many reasons. The actor who portrayed the Madonna did an incredible job, and so I’m enamored with her acting talent, but more so the real expression of love Mary might have actually made would have looked like this. May we never stop being moved by her Son. 

It’s overwhelming sometimes how the negative overshadows the positive. I was just trying to take a nap, but my mind would not rest. I started quoting a verse from memory, and it settled down a bit, but I still had to get up and come here to write.

I don’t write on any particular schedule except that clean houses dot biz is usually every day Monday through Friday because I seriously try to take the Sabbath (Saturday), and Sunday is filled with church activity. Some weekends are better than others, but for the most part I’m able to reserve that space and time. When worst comes to worst as I’m presently experiencing at writing time I’m driven here to write for real time release from demons. It’s the only way I know to explain the practicality of what depression does on a daily basis.

Our corporate worship assembly was just heaven sent because I “rate” a worship experience by the God presence I feel within a particular setting. I understand worship is all of life, and worship doesn’t have to always make me feel good but today’s gathering did. Looking into the eyes of my fellow believers with my Donelson family is a privilege from my Father I do not take for granted, and this morning was no exception except that the prayers, songs, table and sermon really hit me between the eyes.

Our time together focused on Luke 7 where Jesus reclined at table with an affluent Pharisee named Simon. A woman of questionable character comes in and wets Jesus feet with her tears she is so moved by His presence. I’m like that woman in my shame, guilt and adoration for a Savior who lifts my sights to see Him in salvation faith. Christ shows up all the time, and if you’ve never experienced tear shedding moments I pray your heart is softened like so many of us who have felt that pain.

I never wish ill will on anyone even though my anger management is non-existent at times, and I give full vent to ungodly expressions of anger that leaves me in deep-end guilt every time I do. My heart grieves every time a parent loses a child, and my heart grieves when someone has to declare a Chapter 11. Even if they are an enemy.

Hearts soften during times like this because I think we long for a place where tears and suffering do not exist, and there will never be reason for any kind of angry expression. We long for a new heaven and a new earth where death will be abolished, sickness will be associated with the old Earth, and tornados will no longer fall from the skies.

When dad was pastoring in Kansas I remember those prairies across which a powerful wind could pass uninhibited by any obstacle. The little parsonage where Joel, Jason and me shared a bedroom was up on the second floor, and there were 2 windows in that room. One overlooked Kerr McGee’s where we played Pac Man, and the other overlooked the front yard where Joel and I sold chocolate chip cookies for a thousand percent profit. Mom supplied all ingredients and labor, and all we had to do was sit there and accept the profits as buyers came by.

One afternoon I laid on Joel’s bed for some reason right next to the window that overlooked Kerr McGee’s, and the sky was foreboding with eery clouds like you see in the Wizard of Oz as Dorothy rushes home. It was just like that. Surreal really, but nonetheless scary. At one point a rush of wind came through and blew the trees unlike blown trees I’d ever seen, and I swear I cleared that whole flight of stairs in two steps to head for the basement. It was a false call, but I don’t think I’ve ever had such a rush of adrenaline like I did that afternoon.

Natural disasters whether they be typhoons (hurricanes) in Guam or tornados in Kansas show the magnitude of God unlike any other, and as I said before my heart grieves for any human being who suffers loss.

I write all that to write this. Depression and anxiety are no fault of anyone who battles them because there is an unseen force that is in many ways more real than what we see. I can’t prove it, I can’t explain it, and I can barely live through it because it’s part of a supernatural economy that is greater than all the world’s economies combined. I am not even a fraction of it because if I bragged I was I would loose the depth of the magnitude of what it means to be a child of the King. It’s more real to me now than it was when my dad baptized me in Kansas all those years ago, or when my mom lives her sermon of love before me as her unconditional love for me flows over her daily prayers for my brothers and me.

It’s not always pretty, as sometimes with sons you realize we can be quite vulgar, but even in the midst of a very ugly world we have been endowed with an honor to carry the name of Christ even when our failures are epic. Sin does not disqualify you from ministry. Never forget that.

Paul, one of the greatest Christ followers, who, and I quote, was “chief of sinners” created a mass following of Jesus believers that I still refer to him over 2,000 years later. His thorn in the flesh might have been poor eyesight. We don’t know, and it doesn’t matter, but I do know that when my thorn in the flesh gets the best of me that Christ continues to shine through it.

That’s a reality I live in daily even when Satan compels me to gravel in my sin.

I encourage you as we both fight the sinister lies he tells.

Refute them in the name of Jesus Christ who makes all things new.

 

 

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faith, leadership, Money, Women

God For President

The Olympics have inspired me to overcome the defeats in my life. Those athletes have trained, committed to a singular focus, and now some of them are back home from competing on the largest athletic stage in the world.

One Gold Medal winner gave all glory to God, and I sighed in adoration at her devotion to her art, and the Father who made it possible. She elaborated on the struggles, setbacks and failures during the years of training, but her consensus was on blessing, not her own will power to overcome those obstacles.

When we have nothing left in us to fight we can only rest in the promise from the beginning of time that He goes out to fight before us.

As Westerners we are brought up thinking that if we try hard enough we can accomplish anything. We aren’t told by our “leaders” that when you reach rock bottom the only thing that will lift you up is an omnipotent Father. Everyone from the nerd to the popular kid is taught that the smartest and richest among us is destined for greatness. Never mind that wisdom, knowledge and affluence come from the One who created them and defined them.

Trump angers me. Clinton angers me too because in all their semantic they make all these promises while bashing the other, and neither one is being honest. The only honest confession is that every last one of us is where we are because of the choices we’ve made, the choices our parents made, and a merciful God who hasn’t condemned us because of Jesus Christ.

Fact is you cannot make the crooked straight, and if God is for someone there isn’t a single one of us who can be against them.

It’s time to put our faith in the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb. I blame Adam and Eve, but Israel was to blame as well when they asked for a King. We went from a Theocracy to a Monarchy because they were keeping up with the Jones.

Stop comparing, grow a pair if you’re a man, become a woman of God, and embrace the beauty of being in His cabinet for eternity.

I approve this message.

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