Contradiction, It’s Where I Find Me

Contradiction

Contradiction, it’s where I find me
Success is promised, but tempted to flee
Strength is waning, never been so strong
Screaming out truth while surrounded with wrong

Heart breaks for broken, yet it’s harder than stone
Surrounded with people, feel so alone
Wisdom is clear, but it’s not convenient
Standards are high, yet fittingly lenient

Contradiction, it’s where I find me
Grace is free, but for others there’s a fee
Focused on the prize, eye on the goal
Culture sidetracks, stuffing this God-shaped hole

Disciplines obsessive, lethargies overtake
Foundations unyielding, yet easy to shake
Purpose focused, never in doubt
Roadblocks surround, quick to pout

Contradiction, it’s where I find me
Beauty disguised, ugly reality
Full of creativity, overcome with exhaustion
Frustration rules, leaning towards resignation

Days so long, life so short
Feelings rage, demanding to sort
Wealth of opportunity, a catalog of choice
Volume getting loud, muting my voice

Contradiction, it’s where I find me
Obsessed with acceptance, don’t care if they hate me
There’s chatter of courage, yet fear rules the day
Conviction is high, unless there’s a price to pay

Morality important, it cramps my style
Aim is focused, yet missing by a mile
Souls transparent, never wanting to fake
Portraying translucent, diagnosis opaque

Contradiction, it’s where I find me
Hiding pride, shouting humility
Spirit shrivels, heart breaks
Finish the race, whatever it takes

“Smack in the centre of contradiction is the place to be.” –Bono

We, people of faith, often times feel like we have to have it all together in order to feel like good, successful Christians.

We, people of faith, often times feel like we should have no doubts, no temptations, no frustrations and at the same time, have an endless amount of strength and faith oozing out of us.

We, people of faith, often times forget what the scriptures show us about the life of one of the most amazing Christians to ever live.

Let me share with you two examples:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” (The Apostle Paul) Romans 7:15

(“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ ”  The Apostle Paul) 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

The Apostle Paul, stuck in a contradiction, it’s where we find him: Tempted, discouraged, weak, and that’s why we need God’s Grace and not religion!

A Leader’s Lament

Sometimes I care too much, my ego trumps reason
Sometimes I don’t care enough, it depends on the season
I beat the drum often, not wanting others to forget
Not sharing in my passion, they insincerely acquiesce

Only a few things matter, yet my brain is scattered
One word of criticism, and my worth is shattered
When it comes to living, when it comes to teamwork
Everyone talks the talk, but the walk is misgiving

“We” are stronger than “I”, as long as “I” gets the credit
My humility most impressive, I’ll tell you all about it
I want the truth, desperately seeking transparency
Yet words are guarded, dishonesty flowered deceptively

I’m here for you, I’ve got your back
I believe in you, there’s nothing I lack
Unless someone disagrees, unless someone moans
Then I need to step away, I need courage on loan

A fish out of water, is a fish out of air
I have something in common, it’s something I share
Take care of my cause, take care of my needs
Then I’ll let people know, you are a wise man who leads

But leading isn’t popularity, it isn’t first to please
It isn’t taking polls, it’s not putting people at ease
It means having deep convictions, having secure beliefs
It means staying true to course, not taking relief

The hill I climb is lonely, often feeling stranded
The hill I climb is baren, often taken for granted
The hill I climb is noble, the hill I climb is inspiring
As long as it does not get in the way of your living

Females raped and murdered, where is the rage?
It seems important, but message gets back page
The church is the answer, the message of justice we bring
But the words get muted, arguing over the songs we sing

Children die before 5, $20 is the solution
My debit card is low, comfort my main concern
I have the money, but I’m keeping up with the Jones’
Car, House, Boat, busy paying off the loans’

The world needs billions, seems overwhelming
Billions would not compare, if Christians were tithing
I can’t do it all, but I can open the door
If I learn to say “No”, I can do so much more

Boys without role models, absent of fathers
They are not on my block, so why even bother
But the needs are great, the opportunities do not lack
I am the change I pray for, but my schedule is packed

Options are good, until there are too many
Poverty cries out, “I don’t have any”
America the beautiful, everyone given equal chance
Unless born in the hood, equality becomes a fat chance

More concerned about position, more about my security
My dreams are much more daring, as I live in my safety
Been told to be quiet, told “balance” is for the wise
There’s no more heroes, “well rounded” is our demise

I check my heart, I check by pride
I check my will, putting desires aside
I live in abundance, my challenges are few
When I say I have problems, I ask, “Compared to who?”

People want the world to be like them
I say, they should want the world to be like HIM
As soon as I say my theology is a lock
I have just put God right in a box

My faith is bigger than Republican or Democrat
My faith is stronger than where the world is at
Jesus created this world, then gave his life
He asks me to love this world, then give up my life

Sometimes I care too much, my ego trumps reason
Sometimes I don’t care enough, it depends on the season
But one thing I know, one thing I am sure
That loving orphans and widows is a religion that’s pure!

Change Your Words. Change Your World.

Have words ever gotten you in trouble?

James writes in the New Testament that: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness…Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing…Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”

The facts about our words are that they REVEAL OUR HEART.

Have you ever said something and then regretted it and made the remark, “I really did not mean it, I really am not that way.”

Well, the sobering truth is that Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

The facts about our words are that they can be much more HURTFUL THAN WE THINK.

Breaking news: The saying “Stick and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me”, is not true!

We all can remember mean-spirited and hurtful words that were told to us as children. Those are words we will probably never forget.

There is a Turkish Proverb that says, “A knife-wound heals, but a tongue wound festers.”

The fact about our words is that WE SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL AND STRATEGIC HOW WE USE THEM.

Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Very sobering and important words.

How can we use our words carefully, strategically and constructively?

One, be quick to listen, slower to speak.

I make a living writing, talking and using words.

Words are my friends and I love to use them and hear me say them, but the scriptures say that one of the smartest things I can do is to be quiet and listen.

This is not easy for me.

Someone once said, “You are not learning anything when you’re talking.”

There is an old American Proverb that says, “Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.”

Margaret Millar added, “Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.”

Solomon then finished the argument when he wrote, “Even the foolish man, when he keeps quiet, is taken to be wise: when his lips are shut he is credited with good sense.”

I am trying to be wiser these days.

Two, under promise and over deliver with your words.

About twenty years ago, my wife and I were newly married and had never been on a “real” vacation, and we were given an opportunity to go on a trip to a remote “resort” on the coast of Mexico.

The brochure was intoxicating. Tropical trees, beautiful beaches, high rise hotels, and pictures of a glitzy night life filled the 3 page booklet that was telling us that this would be the trip of our dreams.

When we arrived, we found an old dirty town, with a few palm trees, no high rise hotels, no glitzy night life and a couple of condominiums stuck in the middle that we were booked to stay in.

The first night in our room, a crow had made its way into our air conditioner duct and it squawked the entire night.

The brochure over promised and under delivered.

When we do this with our WORDS we lose credibility.

Three, tell people about their potential.

When was the last time you told someone that they were “fearfully and wonderfully made”?

When was the last time you told someone that God had given them talents and passions and abilities that the world needed?

My son lives, works and mentors children in the inner city.

One young boy he has been mentoring, who is fatherless and has a mother who is struggling with addiction, asked my son if he would be his parent on back to school night.

My son went and got to hear from this young man’s teacher how smart he is.

My son got to see the boy’s talents as he sang and danced in the school choir.

Now when my son sees him, on an almost daily basis, he gets to tell this young boy about how smart he is and how talented a singer and dancer he is

Who around you needs to hear the words from God, spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

And four, don’t forget the power of words.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

And God said, “Let there be sky,” and there was sky.

And God said, “Let there be dry ground and let the water be gathered to one place”
And it was so. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let there be plants and trees.”
And it was so. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let there be lights to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years.”
And it was so. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the waters be full of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the sky.”
And it was so. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures.”
And it was so. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
And it was so. And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

God’s word created the universe, but you see, God’s word also saved us.

The apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

And John goes on to write, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The power of words to create and save!

How can you use your words to create and save this week? How can you use your words more wisely?

Tom Stoppard writes, “Words… They’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they’re no good any more… I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”

Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.

It was on a hot summer day, in 1971, where two care-free 8 year old girls, one with blonde hair, the other brown, were running, playing, laughing, and doing what 8 year old girls do, in the basement of the brown hair girl’s home.

As they were playing, they found an abandoned freezer that opened from the top. They thought it would be fun to make that freezer their own little hideaway. So they climbed in and giggled and laughed and told scary stories and told each other who they thought the cutest boy in school was. It was their own little world where no one else knew where they were.

When they had had enough of the dark, and when it began to get a little warm and stuffy, they decided it was time to get out, but when they tried, the latch had shut and these two little care-free girls were trapped in an airtight freezer with very little oxygen left.

They screamed and yelled and screamed and yelled…and when they began to get weak…they prayed and sang Sunday school songs and then prayed some more.

The little blonde girl had asthma, and she was struggling breathing and she began to pass out, so the little brown haired girl would sing and pray louder while she was pushing her back as hard as her little 8 year old body could push against the top of the freezer, trying to get precious air for her best friend.

The blonde girl’s asthma overcame her and she passed out, while the brown haired girl would pass out and then wake up and start to pray and sing again. And then she would pass out once again.
Meanwhile, the brown haired girl’s mother, who had been frantically searching for them with no luck, heard an audible voice from God saying, “Go to the basement!”

So she did. She heard the cry of her daughter and lifted the freezer door to find her beautiful dark haired girl barely breathing, while the little blonde girl was not breathing at all.

They could not revive the little blonde girl, but the little brown haired girl lived. It is a day she will remember the rest of her life. She will never forget her best friend with the beautiful blonde hair. “Safe with Jesus” was the theme of her funeral.

She does not know why God wanted her blonde haired friend to come home to Him so early. She doesn’t know why God wanted her to stay. But she does know this. Every day is a gift from God to be lived fully.

You see, that little brown haired girl is my wife.

There is a prayer in the Bible by Moses that says, “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.”

Here are some ideas to live wisely:

Stop and thank God, right now, for the gift of life.

Call, text or email someone who has positively impacted your life and tell them how they have blessed you.

Forgive someone who has hurt you.

Smile, laugh, sing…in front of a mirror.

Breathe deep.

Tell your kids how awesome they are! (Even when they drive you crazy.)

Listen to a song that brings back great memories and dance.

Turn off the T.V. and computers and play cards or board games with friends and family.

Pray for those around you and around the world who are less fortunate.

Look for someone during the day to compliment and encourage.

Serve at a local food giveaway.

Go on a mission’s trip to a place that is different culturally than where you live.

Exercise.

Eat a bowl of ice cream without feeling guilty.

Invite someone over for dinner who never gets invited anywhere.

Take a cooking class.

Visit a nursing home.
Tell someone, “Jesus loves you.”

Do something that is hard, not putting it off until tomorrow.

Sponsor a child through “Compassion International”

Be a father or mother figure to those who need a positive parental example.

Stand up against injustice.

Wake up every day praying the prayer of Moses, “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.”

These are just a few ideas, but you get the idea.

Never take a day for granted. Live fully. Live passionately.

Don’t let a day go by without telling those who are close to you how special they are.

Don’t let a day go by without telling God how thankful you are for His Grace.

I think often about how that brown haired little girl has been the greatest gift of my life, and 27 years later I thank God for speaking to her mother about the basement, and my wife looks forward to the day where she will meet her blonde haired friend once again, this time, serving and laughing and celebrating for eternity.