ALL Who Are Weary

My older son hates getting ready for church. Not going to church, or being at church. Getting ready. So much so that occasionally he will throw a giant fit because he doesn’t understand why he needs to get dressed up.

This morning I woke up at 0500 for some reason, and I looked at my phone, of course, because that’s what you do when you wake up. One of my sisters had posted the David Crowder song “Come as You Are” to me on Facebook and mentioned the song being beautiful.

She was right. It is.

That got me thinking about the Gospel, and more importantly, Jesus.

Come as you are.

I think the most beautiful truth about Jesus (in my opinion) that can be found in scripture is that of Matthew 11: 27-28

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In that passage, Jesus doesn’t make any qualifying statements about when you should come.

He doesn’t mention knotting your tie, or wearing a collar.

He doesn’t say anything about being ready, or in the right mindset.

He doesn’t even say you have to believe.

He says come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.

I will give you rest.

In my heart, he sounds something like this:

come to me with your doubt. Come with your loneliness and addiction. Come standing in that sin you just can’t seem to shake. Come mired in the filth of the world with your guilt about all the awful things you’ve done and seen hanging around your neck.

Come to me hurting. Come to me with your wounds still bleeding. With missing limbs. With that chasm down the middle of you that only I can fill. You don’t have to be ready.

Just come as you are.

As the year ends, have you been thinking about what’s missing?

Why 2014 blew so hard you don’t even want to know what 2015 will be like?

If I never write another word, or say another word, I think I would say this to you now.

Consider Jesus.

God.

Consider finding rest for your souls.

You may think Christians are full of shit, and many of them are.

Christ isn’t, I promise you.

You may think your life is too messy, that what you’ve done is too terrible for forgiveness.

It isn’t.

Consider Jesus.

Maybe you’re wondering about God, and yourself, and wondering what to do next.

Consider Jesus. Find a bible. You can get them free in the Kindle store if you have a smart phone.

Talk to someone.

Listen, folks. Maybe some of you will happen across this post and wonder who in the blue hell I am to tell you to do anything?

I’m no one special. I’m a man, like every other man. I’m a person just like you.

I doubt sometimes. I hurt and have been hurt. I am far from perfect. I lust. I hate. I mess up all the time.

But in March of 2000, I was able to literally lay my burdens down and it felt wonderful.

If you want to know more about it, scroll through my blog, or ask me in the comments.

If there’s anything you want to know about Jesus and how to know him from a regular person, I would be happy to answer any question I can without judgment.

If you don’t want to comment here, you can look me up on Facebook and message me. My name is on my blog page.

Talk to someone. Talk to God.

Come as you are.

Don’t wait.

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A Good Year

2014 has been a tough year, no way to deny it.

Tough at work.

Tough medically (emergency gall bladder surgery on Valentines Day followed at the end of the year by Bell’s Palsy and a corneal abrasion).

Tough financially (because mostly of the above reason).

Even a little tough at home every once in a while.

Yet many wonderful things happened as well, and that, I think, is most important of all.

We helped to launch an amazing and for us, life changing church.

A church where we could grow in our personal faith walks, while discovering a wonderful and vibrant ministry where we could serve together.

We bought a home, after half a decade of prayer and saving and paying things off.

We paid off a car.

Our kids are healthy.

Our friends are supportive and always there for us (through late night hospital visits, much needed fellowship, date nights, phone calls, and emergency dr visits, among many other ways. We love us some Knapps, Ohlands, and Antonellis, Crawfords and Youngs)

My San Diego family is loving and very supportive. Many old wounds are healing there.

Don’t want to imagine what the year would have been like without the Whitson family. My words fail me.

Finally, and probably most importantly:

God is still good, and worthy, and on the throne.

I’m old and broken down, but alive, and wealthy in the only way that really matters.

Blessings.

A Collision

All quibbling about the actual date of Christmas aside, tonight into tomorrow really does represent something extraordinary.

Heaven meeting earth; a representation of horizon both literal and figurative.

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It doesn’t seem likely, really.

Heaven

colliding

with earth.

God’s relentless love crashing into man’s desperate need.

The mere contemplation of such a thing nearly wrecks me, and all I can think of is…why?

Sweet Baby James

I just thought of something else to be grateful for this Christmas.

The few times I’ve gotten in my car to go somewhere over the past few weeks, I’ve had the same CD in the Impala’s CD player; Sweet Baby James, by James Taylor.

No, you’re right. It isn’t the least bit metal.

It’s good music, though. I’m not here to write an album review, but what I’ve been thinking about lately is how lucky I was to have such a wide exposure to music from a very early age.

My dad loved the big band stuff, and I heard a lot of that growing up. He had a pretty decent collection of 78 rpm records, and though I didn’t appreciate it much at the time, I love that kind of thing now.

My sister Lee Ann’s first husband, Jerry, gave my brother a box of old 45 rpm records–surf music, and some doo-wop, and other early sixties groups. I still enjoy that type of music when I get to hear it, too.

My sisters Debbie and Valorie introduced me to guys like James Taylor, and Kenny Loggins, and later on, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne as well as Bruce Springsteen.

That’s right. My sisters introduced me to metal.

My mother used to listen to KSON in the kitchen on this single speaker transistor radio. From her I learned about singers like Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Charlie Pride. Later on, my friends Shawn, Mandi, and Jackie would introduce me to more country–more modern stuff like Garth Brooks and Toby Keith.

Later in life, I would discover “Christian” music, and that was good, too.

So what I’m grateful for is music, all music. There is certainly plenty I neither like nor understand, but that’s cool. Someone likes it.

I could spend all day, probably, listening to songs and bands I like, and telling you about the people who introduced me to them, but I don’t feel like it, so I’m going to leave you with a song that’s been keeping me peaceful lately.

The Thing to Remember

There is something I don’t want to forget. It would be easy to, because I have a great deal on my mind right now, and it’s all tied together.

Health, family, church, worry, finances, Christmas and many other things all competing for my attention at the same time.

There is only so much to give and that’s what makes it easy to forget.

I am a broken individual, and in certain ways always will be. I am weird, and mixed up sometimes, and even though I wish I could fix myself and all the things that are wrong with me, I can’t.

And that is what I forget.

I can’t fix myself.

For me, that’s the reminder I need this time of year. That’s what Christmas is about.

We couldn’t fix our problems, so God made a way for us.

He sent Jesus, Immanuel. In a lowly way to a lowly place.

And that’s Christmas.

Whether it be in December (it probably wasn’t) or sometime in the Spring (it probably was), the thing we need to remember about Christmas is that it means there is no longer just us trying to do everything.

We don’t have to try and fix ourselves.

We are seen in the place we are right now. We are known. We are loved.

We aren’t alone.

We never were.

Merry Christmas.

Before

A lot of people don’t think Christmas is that big of a deal, all things considered. It’s a day set aside for good old American-style capitalism, right? Maybe the family gathers, and it’s one of the few days of the year a whole bunch of people who normally don’t go attend church. So that’s cool.

But it’s just another day, right?

Not for me, and not for most folks who believe in what many might call “traditional” Christianity, if such a thing exists.

Here’s why, to my way of thinking.

Before Jesus could learn in the temple

Before he could read the torah

Before he learned how to work with his hands at the side of his father on earth

Before he saved the best wine for last

Before he made the blind see

Before he made the dead walk

Before he fed multitudes

Before he healed hearts and bodies and minds

Before he was chained to a Roman whipping post and flogged to within an inch of his life

Before he felt the desolation of his father in Heaven’s abandonment

He had to be born.

Now, think about all those things passing before his eyes as he hung there with his head down. Did he know what was to come upon his birth?

We don’t know.

We do know that when he cried out “eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani” it was with his heart ripped out in a way that man can never know.

And that was for us.

Been thinking about that ever since Eric shared that this morning in the kids ministry devotional and communion time.

And that’s why Christmas is such a big deal to me.

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Crooked Face Dad

I hate that at my advanced and decrepit age, I both need and crave reassurance of things, but lately I’ve certainly felt that way. More so than in a long time.

The Bell’s Palsy has really sort of made things difficult. The left side of my face is stone paralyzed, including my eye, which I have to tape shut much of the time. The resulting dryness has made it more susceptible to injury, which has already happened once and was incredibly painful.

Can’t drive, so I haven’t been able to work. All of that is bad, and a real pain in the butt. The house is decorated for Christmas and I haven’t felt like enjoying it. The worst part for me has been the inability to kiss my wife and kids.

So I have been getting really good at feeling sorry for myself.

Then a couple things happened yesterday. My younger son and I were sitting around and he said “will you play with me?”

I was about to say I didn’t feel well, and then I thought of a movie line from somewhere (of course). You’ve only got one life to live. You can make it chicken salad, or chicken shit.

Yesterday I made chicken salad. We played cars, and scooters, and ate peanut butter sandwiches. We got mom a Christmas present (I made all right turns going to the store), and when we were done, my little guy kissed me smack on my twisted lips and said “I yuv you crooked face, dad.”

Jen came home and did the same thing. I guess sometimes a kiss is a kiss. It’s the heart behind it, not the lips in front of it.

It’s going to be a good day.