Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Release



I often have said to others when discussing various matters that I need to pray about it. I don't use that as an excuse to not respond or deal with an issue, I honestly think that some matters truly require more serious counsel. However, while I may never thought to verbalize this, I think my heart sometimes feels that there is some time needed to work out these issues, and that it may take a certain duration of time.

While that certainly may be the case, it clearly is not what I think most of my prayers need.

Recently, I have been going though a few significant struggles. I ended up calling on some of my brothers to pray with/for me over the course of the week as I in turn would be doing the same. My hope was to gain some discernment on some decisions that needed to be made, to make sure they glorify Him, and not just me.

I'll pause for a moment as I want to talk about relationships. I think many of us realize that while time with those we love is clearly important, it's not always the quantity, but the quality of the time. With Christ it is no different. For some reason I think I had this subconscious understanding that the longer I prayed, the more clear I would be on how to respond to His will. "Hey guys, I'm going through some stuff right now ... could you pray for me this week while I do the same?" To me that request screams "this is going to take a while".

So going back to my recent struggles, I found myself at the end of a dock this past weekend on a quiet dark lake pouring my heart out God. While it was a dark night on a floating dock (and I was a bit tired), the only thing that fell off was my baggage. I didn't need a lot of time, I just needed to have my heart in the right place. I didn't need countless hours of waiting for an answer, I just needed to leave it at the cross. I didn't need to carry it, I just needed to release it.

I walked off the dock with the same situations in my life I walked onto the dock with, however I wasn't the one carrying the load anymore ... He was. I did get a few nudges, a few hints, but not much more. However that's all I need, because He is in control, and I trust Him more than I trust myself.

There would be little that would bring me more joy than to know that you experience the same.

He is beautiful ... and you were worth the cross to Him.

His,
~Matthew

"I think sometimes those bumps in the road are just speed bumps. They slow me down enough so I see Him through the windshield again guiding my way. I picture Him saying, "slow down son" ~Me

Monday, May 14, 2012

Burned Out


Many thoughts enter my head when I see this neglected and abandoned old church. Let me be clear in stating I don't know the story behind this place, or what led to its end, but I do know stories that create places that look like this. As leaders in our areas of influence, whether it is a stay at home mom, a corporate executive, a missionary, or a pastor in the suburbs; our responsibility is to raise up other leaders for the future generation. We should be instilling our values in the ones we influence, so that when our time is done, we have helped encourage another to leadership. Too often I think pride and being in control can lead us to hold our gifts as leaders to ourselves, so that our vision dies with us.
 "and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)
This verse clearly is talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of Paul to Timothy and his commission for him. However I think it offers a glimpse into true leadership in general. It pushes me to ask myself, what kind of leader am I? At work, at home, and in the church?

I don't often write about work, but lately it has been a big struggle. I haven't felt like this in years, and I am having a difficult time finding my balance. I used to love what I did for a living, and I want to feel that way again. Yet I am beginning to realize that it is not so much the task, as how I choose to do the task, which defines my enjoyment. I know my comment may seem trite to some, yet I truly think that attitude defines how I will enjoy my day.

Is it demanding? Incredibly. Am I feeling burned out? Yes.

Yet when I look at this church, the building may be crumbling, but the Truth it reads still remains. I have a choice to pick up the rubble, rest in Him, and begin again. I can choose to eagerly look for those to support my workload, and teach and train them, or clutch tight to the stress and let it bring me crashing down.

I have some great ideas for what I can offer my employer, and I know that they would be willing to listen and support them. I heard one time that "your best employees burn out first". The explanation was due to the fact that your 'best employees' may be the harder working ones and thus will end up taking on too much. However, while there may be reasons to leave a position and company, I would say that your 'best employees' are the ones better at not letting themselves burn out to begin with. Your 'best employees' know their limits and function better as an individual and employee. Your 'best employees' are your true leaders.

What kind of leader am I?

May I learn from my Leader ... the One mentioned and read on a building that is crumbling yet still proclaims Truth. He is one Leader worth following ...

Rebuilding,
~Matthew

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Making it Reality


As a child making a trip "up north" to our family cottage was always one of my most fond memories. The road trip seemed to end in my mind at West Branch when we passed The Smiley Face! It was (and still is) a water tower, painted yellow, with a giant smiley face looking towards I75. As a passenger, once I saw that image from the car, I felt as if we were finally "up north". Yet it was almost something more magical for me than reality, and it wasn't until my adult years that it changed. One time I took my own children off the exit to go find it, see it, and even touch it! We were able to pull right up to it (in an industrial parkway) and place our hands against the giant water tower. My children thought it was quite fascinating, but I think it meant more to me looking back. Over 30 years, this was something that was not quite real to me; oh it was there, but not until I touched it myself as an adult did the mystery finally vanish, and the reality of it truly sunk in.


I think I do that with God all too often; I put Him off at a distance. I see Him as real, but all too often don't take the extra few minutes to walk up to Him and hold His hand. I tend to let life get in the way to the point where my daily routine is more real than I make Him.

There is a particular passage in Isaiah (chapter 44) that describes the folly of idol worship. The concept, rather specific to carved images, paints a picture of someone taking a piece of wood, chopping it up, cooking his food over half of it in the fire, and carving an idol out of the rest; in which he falls down to worship. The picture it paints is almost humorous to me with respect to the lack of logic it illustrates, yet it ends with a question that I can ask myself today.
"They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”  (Isaiah 44:18-20 ESV)
What lie to I hold in my hand as reality?

I may not sit down and carve an image out by the campfire, but I have carved images in my heart. Struggles that few know, stresses that burden me unnecessarily, and problems that I make more real than the solutions provided by Jesus Christ. My situations won't magically go away, they are real too. Yet just as real is the One who continues to rescue me and guide me, even when my stubborn heart gets in the way.

Making Him Reality,
~Matthew
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