Thursday, December 21, 2006

Soul rest becomes impossible

Man's greatest moment of pride and character is when he is pushed beyond what he thought was his breaking point and succeeds.

I don't know who first coined that phrase but the man who made me and 45 other teenage boys memorize it was Jerry McDougall, my high school football coach. He is one of the winningest coaches in CT history. While I played for him we won two state championships and at the end of my JR year were ranked #13 in the country. He was the National Coach of the year. When he told us to do something we did it.

So I memorized that sentence and tried to live it. And it served me well for the last twenty years. Playing football in college, dealing with relational hurts, tackling the corporate world, even in ministry, those words echoed in my mind. I have willed myself to do things I didn't think possible. Gail will tell you I even claim to be able to will myself to not get sick when the rest of the family comes down with some nasty virus.

This belief that I can control outcomes has gotten me thus far. the level of responsibility in my life increases, daily, it seems, controlling outcomes and willing myself to succeed has become exhausting. I am tired. My soul is tired. I am learning there is much I cannot control. Then I read this paragraph from Dallas Willard this morning:

"...pride is the root of disobedience. We think we are "big enough" to take our lives into our own hands, and so we disobey what we know to be right. This distances us from God and forces us to live on our own. Soul rest becomes impossible."
(Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual transformation p 145)

I have spent my life trying to control outcomes. I don't like the idea of giving up control. I know that is what it is supposed to mean to follow Jesus. You give control of your life over to Him. And all these years, I guess I thought I had done that. I have let God lead an extent...but then it has been my job to insure the proper outcome.

Jan Johnson, co-author,
Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual transformation, suggests starting with this prayer as a way of "abandoning outcomes to God:"

" I trust you, O God. I want to simply rest in your life as you give it to me. Show me how to be at peace...Help me to look to the heavens and exclaim, 'Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. I'm thrilled O God to dwell in your house, O God, forever.'"

I'm, by no means, ready to give up but I want to 'simply rest.'

I don't believe God wants me to abandon the drive and determination I learned under Coach McDougall but at the same time I know God wants me fully surrendered to Him and to the idea that outcomes are His deal, not mine.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Random Bumblings

In the sad state of affairs department:

I have only been posting roughly once a week...that sucks.
I haven't had a real day off in very, very long time.
The assumption that Sunday school is boring. I had a conversation yesterday with a counselor about a child dealing with ADHD. I mentioned the child's difficulties in "Sunday School" and the counselor grimmaced and said Sunday school is especially hard for children with ADHD because it is so boring. The counselor had no knowledge of the specific church or program I was referring to. The assumption was Sunday school is boring...period.

On the lighter side of things:

I went Christmas Caroling on Sunday.....and had a really good time. I'm not, what you would call, the stereotypical caroling type, nonetheless it was a cool afternoon. We visited, what I could only describe as a housing project for seniors in the middle of suburbia. There were probably 25 or so of us, maybe 3-5 of whom had any business singing in public. The youngest caroler was 2 and the oldest was 52ish. I think we really brought a small piece of joy in to some folk's lives. We received hugs and handshakes and were even asked if we would take a donation. (We said no.)

Gail finishes her finals on Thursday.

Jared's Christmas thing for his preschool is tomorrow night. He is shepherd #3. His line is, "He will be a King someday, let's get started right away." The grandparents will be in town and I will have the video camera cranked up. (Anybody ever see the movie parenthood?????)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What do you bring as a symbol of your love and devotion?

That's me with the camera phone and my buddy Gary right before his wedding. It was a great day. He cleaned up real nice for the occasion about 80 friends and family were in attendance and despite my colossal lapse of memory it went off without a hitch.

What did I forget you ask? I forgot the friggin' rings. As the supposed responsible best man I was given the rings about 8 weeks ago because the bride and groom were afraid they would lose them. So Gary and Lexi are standing on the altar and it dawns on me....I don't have the rings. I turned to the groomsmen next to me..."I don't have the rings" Haha very funny was the reply..."No I don't have the rings."....hahahah again.
At this point we are starting to create a little bit of a ruckus at the altar. Finally, the groomsmen last in line and I go downstairs. I send him off with the keys to my house and God's speed to get the rings which were sitting on my dresser approximately 5 miles and as many traffic lights away.
I get back upstairs just in time to do my assigned reading. We all sit at this point as the ceremony progresses to two short slide shows at which point I tell my friend Rich who is conducting the ceremony, I don't have rings. I demand his off his hand and his wife's. Fortunately she was sitting right behind us; my plan was to use their rings just to get us through the ceremony if need be.
The ceremony continues. Ian, the speeding Groomsman, comes back upstairs, and discreetly passes, or so we thought, the rings down the line of groomsmen to me. Come to find out later everyone in the church was laughing at us. Then with the grace of a charging rhino I hand one ring to the matron of honor and with that Rich says Gary, "What do you bring as a symbol of your love and devotion?" "This ring" says Gary and looks at me and I calmly and coolly hand him the ring. Neither he nor Lexi were aware of the chaos spiraling around them. If I hadn't have told them at the reception they would have never known.
Like I said it ended up being a great day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One Punk under God

I saw this video from MTV over at It tells Jay Bakker's, the son of Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, yeah that Jim and Tammy and Fae, story. Jay and his church Revolution are also the subject of a new Sundance series called One Punk under God

Of all the reactions a kid could have to the circus that was his life, starting a church for the disenfranchised and the people the rest of the church have chosen to overlook is pretty cool.