Monday, September 21, 2015

How to Survive a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Crappy Day

Have you ever had a really, really, really bad day?

You know…the kind of day where absolutely nothing goes right…where the only musterable reaction is a masquerading laughter to hide behind…

Well, let’s just say I had one of those infamous episodes recently…

…one that was not only terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad all wrapped into one...but one that gave a whole new (and literal) meaning of what it’s like to have a ‘crappy day’…




It all started last Wednesday when I returned home from a decent day at work, ironically enough. I was on the phone with my wife discussing our next-day travels to Atlanta when I suddenly slammed into a brick wall…disguised as an offensive odor straight out of a National Geographic documentary gone wrong.

The smell was downright unbearable…like fermented dung reeking from the decaying innards of an infested beast.

Okay, okay…maybe it wasn’t that bad, but clearly…something was not right. 

I mean…if you deck the halls with cinnamon branches and autumn-wreath scented candles one weekend and a few days later, come home to a fragrance of “hazy aftermath o’ nuclear bowel explosion”…something has to be off, right?

At any rate, I could only pray the stench belonged to a recently deceased rodent rotting in certain porcelain confines. Yet, as I slowly crept towards Selah’s crate, the writing on the wall became quite clear…
…it just so happened to be in the form of droopy ordure (feces).

Before I continue, let me just say maybe someday, I’ll unlock the mystery of how projectile excrement can condensate outside caged quarters while also splattering the wall as if it was an abstract Jackson Pollock painting. For now, I’ll just say I found Selah miserably trapped in a sharty prison…and it was up to me to set her free from the demonic oppression that had possessed her stool.

So after spending the next hour conquering Selah’s anal glands as well as my chemoreceptor triggers, I contacted my wife a second time to discuss our ever-evolving Wednesday night gameplan. Initially, I was to meet Lyssah at church following [what I thought would be] a brief dog-sitting break to pick her up from a women’s ministry promo vid1 shooting for Sunday service. We’d then return home, eat dinner, and head back out to church for our youth discipleship gathering. But as it turned out, due to changes in Selah’s health as well as our church’s Wednesday night schedule2, Lyssah would have to forgo youth service to tend Selah’s “issues”, leaving me to fly solo on the youth front.
           
A perfectly understandable predicament…all things considered; however, having lost 45 minutes cleaning fecal matter, an additional 30 minutes due to our church’s Wednesday night time shift, and an additional 10 minutes of extra prep time as a result of Lyssah’s impending absence, I realized I had no choice but to leave Selah unattended, considering we had no “plan B” for her now “out-of-commission” crate.

Granted, hindsight is 20/20, but at the time, it seemed like a worthy risk. After all, Lyssah was already on her way home…and I mean, c’mon…what damage could Selah possibly do in just fifteen minutes? 

Well, as it turned out…quite a bit actually.

Of course, I can’t vouch for every canine conundrum, but what I can say is at some point during that fifteen minute window, Selah had snuck into the bedroom, located the sparkling spectacle that was my wife’s engagement ring…and devoured it3.
 
Now, thankfully, I wasn’t aware of this prior to service; however, after returning home to a wife and dog pawing around the bedroom floor on all fours, it didn't take long for any incurred exuberance to dissipate.

A quick glance at my wife’s eyes told me everything.

Something valuable had gone missing…

…and something just as valuable had contributed to it.

Needless to say, once I realized our furry companion had consumed Lyssah’s engagement ring, I couldn’t help but wonder what the crap4 was going on. Yet, as I watched my wife morph into a modern day version of the woman looking for her lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), it hit me how our joy was being deliberately pursued5.

So Lyssah and I prayed, packed our suitcases, watched some 30 Rock, then prayed some more…residually discouraged…yet hopeful God would shed light on the missing ring…and cure Selah’s rectal dysfunction.

The next day, as we started our Georgia journey, we realized we hadn’t taken every negative thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) to the obedience of Christ. Having recently walked this issue out with LEGACYouth, we knew full well what we needed to do.

First, we recognized we’d been under assault from the enemy. So we acknowledged our authority in Christ and rebuked his schemes. Secondly, we confessed we hadn’t been as immediate in our obedience to overcome. So we repented and asked God to forgive us and redeem any unsurrendered part of our hearts. Thirdly, we renounced our fear and replaced it with godly belief and truth. And lastly, we expressed thanksgiving unto the Lord for all He had done for us.

Once we took these steps and laid our troubles at the feet of Jesus, I kid you not…the atmosphere in the car completely changed.





Suddenly, we felt secure in our circumstances knowing we’d been given everything we needed to be content in the Lord. Suddenly we felt excited knowing there was nothing Satan could do to break our confidence in Christ. And suddenly, we felt hopeful that God would meet our needs…and then some.

You talk about a weary car-ride transforming into a triumphant road-trip…no question, we had entered into a new peace as we crossed over into a new place…both internally and locationally.

So I guess the moral of the story is: you may feel the emoji of your life is nothing more than a steamy pile of crap. You may feel burdened by adverse circumstances…and think there’s nothing you can do when the devil comes after you.

But I’m telling you…when you realize your joy is being pursued, pursue joy in the Lord right back…choose to see it as strength in the times you feel Satan is after your weakness. And if you feel powerless to do this, then just pray…even if you feel you don’t have the words or the energy. Why? ‘Cause it’s in these moments God wants to reveal His power to you…to encourage you…and remind you that He’ll not only strengthen you in the dark times…He is your strength every second of every day!

My encouragement to you, friends, is be unwavering in your courage, especially when Satan comes knocking at your door seeking to rob you of the light you carry. Rather than feel helpless and/or assume you’ve done something wrong, why not let Jesus answer the call. After all, as Billy Graham once said, He's the best home security system there is.

Footnotes

1)  Nightly classes had moved to a 6:30-8:00 pm timeslot as opposed to the usual 7:00-8:30 pm
2) A last-second assignment that had just been given to us the day before, mind you
3) A peculiar stunt considering she’d never done something like this before
4) Pun intended
5) Note: there were a couple other crunches & complications that occurred during this stretch (but for time/word count, I'm just going to leave it as is

Photo credits: sarah.theworkexperiment.com, nikkifort.com, imdb.com

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rethinking Authority: Part 1

No question, many of us have a bittersweet relationship with [our idea of] “authority”. We know it’s essential, we know it’s relevant…but we chafe when it comes to being under it1.
Perhaps you’ve wondered why “authority” rubs people the wrong way and creates quivers among the masses…
If that’s you, then you’re in the right place.
‘Cause whether you’re in authority and suspect the authenticity of your subordinates…or are under it and think the term is nothing more than a means for manipulation/a code word for power, addressing the issue of ‘what to do when you question authority’ is key.
With that said, here are a couple practical ways to rightfully deal with authority (as supported by Scripture):
1) Pray. As cliché as it may sound, voicing supplication is not so much a ‘good idea’, as it is a Kingdom mandate (or as I call…an "appointed opportunity") for us to engage. Take 1 Timothy 2:1-3 for instance. In this passage, Paul is urging his younger colleague to intercede for all. Yet, as Paul commences his rundown in verse 2, note how he doesn’t start with the Isaiah 61:1 trio (i.e. poor, brokenhearted, and captives)…he starts with kings and all who are in high positions!
Why is this important, you might ask? Well, if we start with Scriptural context, the higher-ups of Paul’s time were despised political groups, mainly Roman officials and religious leaders (ex: The Jerusalem Council). So by saying, ‘all who are in high positions’, Paul wastes no time in going after the white elephant in the room…which for his audience was “loving your enemies”.
Despite the challenging command, Paul’s initiative here is not so much the call itself as it is the hope of God’s faithfulness, particularly in helping us “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way2 (v. 2b). Thus, it should be no surprise Paul strategically writes this in an attention-grabbing way, considering the awesome reward promised through obedience. Pretty cool, eh?
So in short, Paul takes the Golden Rule and stitches it to prayer’s original design. More specifically, we pray for all men because it a) glorifies God and b) since we’d want others to do the same for us…regardless of how they feel. True, you may not want to pray for certain individuals, such as those who seem to have it all together...who disregard you...and/or who give the "peaceful and godly life" a bad name…
...but if you think about it, would not the world be a better place if what you hoped for actually happened?
Just sayin’…
2) Set the example. While prayer sets an inner tone, it’s important to set an external one as well. How do we accomplish this? By inspiring others to submit to authority! Granted, this may not sound like a thrilling concept; nevertheless, for prayer to be fervent and effective, it must ultimately be tethered to action, which in an authority context, is accomplished once we choose to be content wherever we are.
For example, you may be far down the totem pole with respect to your workplace hierarchy. You may think people look down on you because you’re young or have other priorities. Instead of grumbling, complaining, and/or risking a half-hearted effort, why not flip the frustration3 into rejoicing and be a living, breathing manifestation of Colossians 3:23:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
‘Cause truth is, when we focus on Christ, our ultimate authority, we not only promote a heart of humility, but we also position ourselves to better serve our earthly authorities, encouraging others to do the same…all the while preserving the integrity of our influence as the healthy outflow of obedience.
So by honoring authority, by word and action, we model a tangible faith with the power to draw people near to the light we carry. Sure, we may not always agree with our earthly authorities...heck, we may not even like them...but if we're faithful to rely on God as our vindicator...if we confess our desire to inspire the hope of Christ, then we'll better understand how a) God always appoints with a purpose (see Romans 13:1-7)...and b) He wants us to be a part of that purpose!
I don't know about you...but I want to accept the mission to not only honor authority...but love the way God positions people, regardless if it's impossible in my own strength.
Stay tuned next time for a ‘second half wrap-up’ of this post, in which we’ll address our final two points on rightfully dealing with authority.
Footnotes
1) Or for some, operating within or delegating it
2) Granted we stay faithful to pray for all people
3) Or temptation to be frustrated
Cover photo creds: banner personnel.com


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The Official 'Small Fry' Gender Reveal

Well, folks. All predictions have been locked...and the results are in!
Is Baby Fry a her-acane or him-acane? Watch the video to find out...



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