Posted by: eightweleve | October 6, 2010

on character

Lately I feel like the Lord has been highlighting how crucial good character is, especially in the work environment. It really is everything. Things like hard work, consistency, flexibility, good attitude, willingness to help are areas that I feel like He is helping me to walk out. And its not that I am trying to get something from them, like a raise or promotion; its more that I am learning that those things are pleasing to Him. Because if they didn’t really matter that much to Him, then I probably wouldn’t care too much for them. They’re heavy and difficult to shoulder, especially with all of my other family and community responsibilities. His pleasure and help allow me to not only do them, but thrive in them.

We finished watching ‘Wall Street’ last night, and that movie was yet another highlight of the importance of good character. And I think that for those of us in the Kingdom, it is not only about good character; it is about so much more. It is not only about being a hard worker and upright; its about representing The Father’s Kingdom to those we are around as well. It is the good character that gives us a platform to communicate and demonstrate the Kingdom. It is about showing our colleagues that there is another way to live; a better way to live; a redeemed way, in relationship with the Creator of all things. And that is best demonstrated in real life, with real issues and doubts, yet overcoming. I pray that my life radiates His life and redemption.

Even so, come Lord Jesus. You’re beautiful.

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Posted by: eightweleve | May 13, 2010

on living in the shadow of the fall

Well, first I couldn’t get comfortable and fall back to sleep, and now thunderstorms are rolling through. So I might as well try to pluck out a few random thoughts about the last few weeks, especially since I jacked up my elbow a week and a half ago.

In a word, I just feel dissatisfied; extremely dissatisfied. But let me clarify first. I love my family. There is no one I would rather be with all of the time. Really…all the time.  I am completely satisfied with them. And therein is the root of my feelings.

Another thing I am noticing is just how ‘dadgum’ fast life is moving by. Mason is 16 months old today and I just don’t want to miss a moment with him and Sally.  And then I leave for the majority of the week at my job.  It is just tearing me up inside. Well, not lately, because I have been at home recovering from the elbow thing. It’s just, I wake up, go to work, come home, see Mason for a couple of hours, get some time in with Sally (which a lot of the time is recovering from the office), go to bed, repeat. Then the weekend flies back, and I find myself back in my office, wondering if it’s all really worth it (the rat race)?

I need to know what I am doing matters. And though I enjoy my job, my day to day work doesn’t really matter.  I try to pep-talk myself that the people there are important to God (and they are), but I have found it difficult to really see Kingdom impact because they are mostly women and that’s not appropriate.

Maybe I’m just feeling the weight of living in the shadow of the fall?

I’ve done the full time ministry gig. I have done the full time employee thing; both in interested and disinterested fields. I have considered more schooling (no thanks). And since I know that the corporate world is not a long term fit for me, I have begun to entertain the idea of owning my own business; whether that’s an actual company or store, or a decentralized asset growing (real estate, etc); whether that’s indoors or outdoors…I’m just itching for something that would foster a lifestyle that allows my best time to be with my family in my home city (Norman). But at the same, I realize that I have got a HUGE learning curve to get there. Ugh.

I could go on and on, wishing that I could do what I am naturally good at and enjoy, provide for my family, and be able to be with my family more…but my left arm is wearing out and I don’t have an answer. So Lord, I am placing all of this before You, and simply ask that You would be my help.

Even so, come Lord Jesus. Breathe in me.

Amen.

Posted by: eightweleve | December 29, 2009

on cursing fig trees

i have been reading this book called ‘The Good Fight of Faith: Following the Examples of Jesus’ by Alan Vincent (#amazon link#), and I would highly recommend it to all; probably the best book i have read in a really long time. its a wonderful book that has already taught me so much about receiving from God and faith, and im not even done with it yet. the 10th chapter is called ‘cursing the fig tree’, and i have had to read it twice already. it is still sinking in.

ok. hold that thought.

Matthew 21:18-22 reads:
”In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry,  and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

this is my ‘life verse’. these are the first verses that God ‘highlighted’ to me. ever. so the idea of cursing fig trees has been on my radar since before i even gave my life to Jesus. (i did about 2 months later, in case you are curious.)

anywho, what Alan Vincent teaches in this book (and i have since semi-verified in Scripture and in other commentaries) is that the fig tree is a Biblical allusion to a religious spirit. he begins by discussing how Adam and Eve used fig leaves to hide their appearance, and ever since then (over and over in the Bible) the fig tree is always a sign of an empty religiosity. kind of blew my mind. still is.

so what i am processing are the implications of what this means for my spiritual destiny, or to put it better, i am asking the Lord if perhaps my main role in the Kingdom might be to come against religious spirits (mostly in intercession)? even now a few memories immediately come to mind: a compliment about being the least pretentious person another had ever met; how emotionally angry i get whenever i encounter someone under a religious spirit; how i feel about ‘faking it’. and i love it (LOVE IT!) when someone from a background of religious emptiness truly experiences the love of the Father; whether that be through a prophetic word or healing or revelation. there is nothing better for me.

at any rate, i am really intrigued with this whole concept, and am excited to see how He responds to this over the next season or more.

thoughts?

(p.s. i just realized i have kept this blog going for about 15 months now. yeah for me!)

Posted by: eightweleve | December 12, 2009

on passion

(seeing how i am up with some nice acid reflux in the middle of the night, might as well post some of my recent thoughts online for the whole wide web to see…)

recently i have been thinking about passion; mostly about how i dont really have any. because my personality is pretty much the poster child for phlegmatic, there isnt too much that gets me excited. i am pretty chill most of the time; pretty even keel at all times. this works well for me, especially under pressure. and it is not that i am just some robot without feelings; i just happen to internalize them. a lot. i do have my moments. i get excited at sporting events occasionally. sometimes i can get worked up when i get going talking about something. but really, my only passion would be The Kingdom. and recently there hasn’t been a lot of passion flowing out of me in this area; just steady plodding.

i am not thinking that it is necessary to have passion all the time. again, with my personality, it wouldn’t work. i just noticed the other day that i do not have some overwhelming driving passion. there are some people whose passion is their profession. i have friends who own businesses that are a beautiful expression of their life’s passion. i watch movies directed by passionate people, acted by passionate people, which are scored by passionate people. i watch sports played by passionate people and followed by passionate fans. it seems as though i am almost surrounded by passion. i am in a community in norman and okc that is filled with passionately creative people. and here i am, most of the time…ho-hum.

i want to live with passion…at least, i think i do. of course, some passionate people maintain a lifestyle that is a unhealthy balance of self-centeredness. they can keep that passion. but there is something very attractive about a life lived with passion…especially in His Kingdom (ie. for the right things). i have started dialoging with the Lord about it, because the only real passion of eternal value is to share are His.  so that’s it really. no real conclusion at this point. i am merely documenting that i am beginning to be open to receiving His passion. i know i can’t manufacture it. it is something that has to be given, developed and cultivated entirely from Him. and it will take time. all i can do is place myself before Him as a son, and ask Him real simply to share His.

i want to live a life that matters. and if that is the case, then the only passion to have is His – because the only thing that matters is His pursuit of the hearts of men. even so, come Lord Jesus.

Posted by: eightweleve | November 2, 2009

on difficult Kingdom realities

“Jesus told many stories such as this one:“A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly, but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. Other seeds fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades. But some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!…Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain: The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a huge harvest – thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.” | Matthew 13:2-9, 18-23

I came across this parable again a few mornings ago. It always seems easy to understand, but so difficult to accept. When you have ‘grown up responsibilities’ (wife, child, full time job, etc) you don’t a lot of spare time to just sit and think. You have to pick your spots. I suppose what I have been chewing on since then is just the way Jesus describes His Kingdom; in such black and white realities. Though there appears to be a lot of mystery in following Jesus, there isn’t much wiggle room in what He said in the Bible. He used a lot of ‘either you’re in, or you’re out’ statements – which, of course, coming from Him, are always True…much like this parable.

He describes the hearts of men as soil. When the Good News of the Kingdom is sown, it either takes real root, or it doesn’t. End of story. Sometimes it appears to take root at first, but time reveals that the soil wasn’t ‘true’. I suppose this ‘true in appearance, yet ultimately un-true in reality’ soil has been what I have been thinking about these last few days. I just wish it wasn’t true. I wish that all who decided to receive the Word were good soil. I mean, if you really receive it, then it should take real root – shouldn’t it? I have had friends in recent years who might be of this sort. I say ‘might be’, because I hope that they are really good soil, who perhaps is just going through a rough stretch. I am going to love these friends regardless. I am not the one to determine the genuine-ness of their hearts. I can only look at the fruit of their lives (another difficult parable for another day). And that fruit doesn’t look too good. Actually, there is no Kingdom fruit at all (in this season?).

I know that I am treading close to a pretty large theological issue, but let’s not go there. Let’s just look at what Jesus said. He said that either the Gospel takes real, deep root in your life – or it doesn’t. And I look at the lives of these friends and wonder what makes me different than them? I know that I am entirely capable of the very same non-Kingdom things as them. I am every bit as susceptible as they are; every bit as able to make the choices they are making. But somehow I just don’t. And I promise, it is no credit of my own. I haven’t just figured it out better than them. I haven’t just wanted it more (maybe). It is exclusively the work of Him in my life. He is holding onto me. And I have absolutely no idea why it is me over them. I am sure that He doesn’t just love me more. The Father is crazy about all of His children. We are all His favorites. But for some reason, I am good soil – and they appear not to be. And it makes no sense. None whatsoever. And that is difficult to understand. I learned a long time ago how futile it is to ask God ‘why?’. You just have to trust that He is good and knows what He is doing…working all things for the good of those who He calls to His Purpose.

More than anything, I am humbled really. Humbled that He wants me; that He loves me and has role for me in His Purpose…and nothing can snatch me out of His hand – for the Gospel has taken deep root in my heart.

Thank you Jesus.

 

Posted by: eightweleve | October 3, 2009

on norman

i find myself recently praying more and more to be more in Norman. over the last couple of weeks i can remember asking the Lord after my weekly early morning prayer meeting that if He would open up an opportunity to be more in Norman, i would love that. and the funny thing is, i am pretty satisfied with my job in the city. i enjoy doing what i do (graphic design). i am fortunate to work for a great company; a conservative company; a company that appreciates its employees more than it does its bottom line. sure, there are a few discouraging things about my job – but that will be the case anywhere i work.

but it is more than that; more than just what i am doing at my job. i just have this sense that God really is up to something here in Norman. there is a lot of energy and expectation (healthy) within our church community. people are being healed and brought into the Kingdom – and its not that i dont think that He wants to do that at my work place too…its just different. maybe that spiritual momentum in Norman is what i am clueing into after each corporate prayer time? and i just want to be a part of it. simple as that. and it is just difficult at times to feel as consistent when i spend the majority of my day 30 miles away in a different city, ya know? i just wish that i could work for the same company, but be located in norman. maybe that is what seems so appealing to me with the thought of doing freelance design full time.

anywho, i just wanted to document my feelings about this recently. for now i am content to just wait on the Lord’s timing…whether He would open up something for me here in Norman (that would still be able to provide for my family) or not. i am hungry to be a part of what He is doing in Norman. even so, come Lord Jesus.

Posted by: eightweleve | September 23, 2009

on values

i am realizing more and more how my values are being refined in this season. and how different they are than the world’s values. i suppose i have never been able to communicate my values as clearly before, because they always seemed so overwhelming. the few times i have stopped to really try to pin them down, i have had a difficult time. i feel like i have a pretty good feel for my overall worldview, but when it comes to actually defining the specific values by which i am learning to live my life – i have found it hard to articulate. i remember when sally and i were going through pre-marital counseling and were asked to being to define our values. it was really tough. honestly, i dont even remember how we responded. i just remember feeling relieved, because we had a pretty equal value system (i.e. we are compatible). it is only recently that i am noticing my values, and mainly because they stand in opposition to those around me.

with all of the amazing Kingdom things happening in Norman, I am finding myself more and more wanting to be able to be in Norman full time. I was even dialoging with Jesus about it this morning; just asking that if He really wants me to be here, then He would open something up for me – that would still allow me to provide for my family. so, until that doors opens, i am content in my current situation. but through this interaction i am seeing how much i value the Kingdom, over ‘normal life’ – and how much i value serving faithfully in my local church community. i am not saying that the Kingdom can’t happen where i am at now. quite the opposite really. but in this instance, because normcom is focused on the city of Norman, and I work in OKC – there is just a little disconnection. i love what i do. i love the people i work with. i am really fortunate. i just wish i was in Norman…..yeah, tension.

the other value that is ‘showing’ in my life right now is family. maybe a better way to say it is family has the second highest priority in my life. currently i am feeling tension in my life regarding my high value of family verses the world’s highest value, work (aka. the pursuit of money, power, control). i dont necessarily feel overwhelmed with my job. my work load is just going to be more significant over the next month and a half or so. i am looking at some pretty consistent overtime, in which i will have to sacrifice time with my wife and eight month old boy. it is what it is. and i get that, and am totally onboard with doing what is necessary to do the job well and on time. but it also highlights how important family is to me. rarely do i have to work overtime or on the weekends, unless it is for my contract work – which is a choice of mine. but even when i do, i can see my high value of family showing itself. i am not going to be that guy that is a work-a-holic, or puts his career over his family. it just will not happen. ever.

i dont really have a point to all of this, other than just using this post as a place to document my thoughts. and as sally and i are learning how to doing this whole family thing, i am sure that further defining these values will prove beneficial in the long run. when i get it all figured out, ill let you know…actually ill probably just post it here.

Posted by: eightweleve | September 22, 2009

on being true

i wanted to title this post, ‘on integrity’, but then i discovered that i had already used that title on this blog before. and, being the good creative person that i am, i decided to name it something more creative – because there is nothing worse than unoriginality? (see anything nbc does on tv these days…anywho, i digress)

i had a meeting at work towards the end of my day that really emphasized the importance of being true; of having integrity. in a nut shell, i was blind-sided by some things i was told concerning how i am being perceived by some of our clients in our company – that is entirely off-base. now Jesus has really given me a lot of freedom in this area in the past; in this area of people pleasing – so, praise God, i don’t really care too much about how i am perceived, unless it is a character thing that i need to improve. but even then, it is almost a minor concern. but what had occurred in these particular situations was a lack of direct communication with me, and then some complaining/slander behind my back to those in indirect authority over me. and its one of those things that i realize that i cannot do a thing about. unfortunately the people making these complaints are just those type of people; ones that will tell you nothing by nice things to you, but throw you under the bus when you are not around – all in an attempt to make themselves look better, under the guise of ‘venting’.

as i sat there dialoging with this colleague, realizing there was nothing i could really do to change anything, i was struck by the importance of having integrity; of being honoring in all things. Jesus challenges me in the sermon on the mount to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. and honestly, laying here, i am not really mad at those people. if anything, i am sad. sad that they feel like they have to act this way; that my work environment is so two-faced. but, in a broken world, i am not surprised by things such as these.

but as i went back and tried to recall these scenarios, i felt pretty good about my interactions and responses with those people. i felt i was honoring, considerate, and more than accommodating. and, really, those are the only things that i have control over. if people want to complain about me, slander me, or worse, that is their thing. they will have to give an account to God about that one day. so all i can do is be compassionate towards their behavior, and look for opportunities to enter their world as Jesus would.

the easy thing is to compromise my integrity to ‘get em’, but the challenge is to be the man that Jesus loves.

i hope this makes sense. it seems really important to me in this season.

Posted by: eightweleve | August 19, 2009

on new seasons

lately i have noticed that most of my faithful blog writers have slowed a bit recently, and not many people are staying with it. the blogs i enjoy reading haven’t been updated in months, and i think i might be having a little blog withdraw? of course, then i realized that i haven’t written much on my own blog later either. so this is my attempt to kick start ole eight12.wordpress.com again. i promise i have thought about posting things for a while now, but nothing has really materialized of late. im not going to promise that i will write more going forward, because life is kind of screaming by right now. but if i do write more frequently again, maybe the posts will be a little more stream of conscious instead of cohesive essays (ha).

anywho, i digress.

sally and i have been in a season of transition for a while now. for example, the last two and a half years have seen us: get married, change jobs twice, buy and move into a house, and have a son. and mix in those big, grown up changes with the fact that the vision of our lives have been constantly redefined as well. a few years ago, we were both moving towards living overseas and working as missionaries in a different culture. then Jesus had us let that go (i suppose – though it still feels significant). and now we are just focusing on how to minister as a family where we are…and if we happen to make it overseas at some point, thatd be cool (really cool). and as much as we would like to think that we were getting closer to moving out of this season of transition, another change presents itself to us.

our church community (normcom.com) meets in home groups, called ‘clusters’. the cluster that we have been a part of for the last year and a half has been called the mercy cluster. it has been focused on reaching out to the poor and needy in our city (broad vision, i know). i say ‘has been…’ because our mercy cluster is multiplying out to three more individualized clusters – still focused on reaching the poor and needy. the group that we have been positioned with has about 4-5 couples in it, and is now committed to reaching out in a specific, lower income neighborhood – faculty heights. this is the neighborhood we used to live in before we bought our house. we stayed with this group because we had a little inroads into this neighborhood, but mostly because of the other couples in this cluster have become dear friends of ours. but lately, this commitment has become pretty heavy for us. i am working in oklahoma city (ie. ‘the city’) and dont get home until around 6p every day of the week. and then mason goes to bed between 73o-8p every night. so that leaves about 1.5 hours to get home, recover from work, eat dinner, and try to make it over to faculty heights to pray and/or meet people.

yeah, tough, huh? and heavy.

so we have spent the summer just waiting on the Lord to see where/how we are supposed to be…but hadn’t really received much leading. i had pretty much decided that we would just have to make it work, even if it took a little more energy (that we didn’t really have in the first place) to be more a part of the mission of our cluster.

(cue transition music)

so to get to the point of this post, (long story long) we have discovered that there is another cluster in normcom that appears to be a much better fit for where we are. i will spare you the details because this post is getting pretty long. (but if you have read this far, then i know that you are committed to finishing it – ha) the thing that sally and i have remarked the most about as we have been praying about switching is that it feels really freeing. it doesn’t have this heaviness over it, and it should be able to release us in the areas that we haven’t been able to have time for in this current cluster (our neighborhood ministry, inviting in friends, freelance designing, etc). and the focus is more on equipping and releasing us where we are, and then if God wants to do a new thing out of that, there is already stated freedom to be blessed to do it.

out of all of this i have been reminded about new seasons. there is something freeing and releasing about them; something i have been missing for a while now, without even realizing it. so if we have to stay in this season of transition just a little longer, i suppose i could be ok with that. we are just sojourners in this life anyways, right? we should probably just get used to it.

thankfully He sojourns with us.

Posted by: eightweleve | July 7, 2009

on my brain hurts

sometimes i think too much. and it makes my brain hurt. today it seems i cannot escape my own thoughts. i even spent an hour over lunch just scratching away in my journal. and no sooner did i have all of that particular issue down, another one popped up. so this is my attempt to journal electronically, because i think my hand might fall off if i physically write anymore.

i spent most of the day listening to bethel church podcasts while i was working. for those of you who dont know, bethel is a church in redding, california. they are seeing some paradigm breaking kingdom stuff (ie. cancers physically falling off of people, deaf ears opening, legs growing, the dead being raised.) i mean, c’mon! so this is where my spirit has been most of the day.

at the end of the day it is just myself and another co-worker remaining in the office. this particular lady has been feeling pretty crummy lately. she actually had to go to the emergency room a couple of nights ago because her throat was too swollen. anywho i was just talking to her, trying to cheer her up. and in that moment i totally felt poked a little bit from the Holy Spirit to pray for her healing. but i didnt. i just shrugged it off. and my response, or lack thereof, has been bugging me ever since.

i dont know why i really haven’t been more outspoken in my faith at my job. maybe its because it is my first adult job, and it feels a little awkward? but, really, i think it is just some fear of man in me. i am trying to save my life too much. and honestly, that kind of stinks.

there is such an interesting dynamic in my department regarding faith. i know that there are some believers around, but no one seems to be too concerned with making it too known (if you know what i mean). so i dont pray for my sick colleague, because (for some reason) i dont want to be that guy. and looking at it now, it seems pretty silly.

of course i want to pray for her. of course i want to see my coworkers really encounter the living Christ in a dramatic and life altering way. but, blah, sometimes i just get in the way. shouldnt i be over this whole fear of man thing already? (ha.)

so pray with me that Jesus would enable me to be more courageous at work in praying for people. but more than that, pray that i would live a unapologetic,  consistent, Spirit-filled life wherever i am. help me Jesus.

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