Tag Archives: Coffee

Boxes

I hate to admit it, but I live in a box.  It’s a box created for me by others, by business, family, friends and the world around me. But the really sad truth is that I willingly climbed in the box and taped the lid shut…never asking if it was a box I should be in at all, never thinking about the implications of such a box in my life.  Like everyone around me I was given a box by someone somewhere and willingly made it my own and even wrote my name on it!  It became part of my identity.

Like children playing, making cars, houses and forts out of boxes we adults build invisible boxes for one another.  Boxes of expectation, roles, position, and a hundred other words to describe the box we have come to call our identity, or role, our “place”.  We never stop to think about what that box means, how it might affect us and our choices or the way we think. Our box limits our choices, restricts our vision, and frustrates our gifts.

This morning I had coffee with a good friend who told me I was living in a box.  He didn’t know where I got it, but he described it well.  As he listened to me he made me aware  of how restricted my vision had become because of the box I had accepted many years ago.  It was humbling to realize I had been given a box and had never questioned its role in my life.  Was it right? Should I get into it? Is this the way I should live?  Is this how I should think?

Without any questions I took the boxes handed me and made them my own. They have limited me, identified me, and restricted God’s work in my life.  How did I ever let this happen? Why did I believe this box was what I needed to identify me?

Children love boxes.  They aren’t so much fun when they define your life, your thinking or your values as an adult.  I can’t believe that I let this happen….happy to look out the hole I had cut in my box and survey the world around me….trying to make boxes like mine for others….only to find I had made prisoners of us all.

I’m taking a different tack today as I look at my thoughts and my life.  I’ve decided it’s time to be done with the boxes of childhood and walk in the freedom of the grace that Christ has provided.

Read Romans 8 as you look at your own life. What boxes have you made your own?  How have you missed God’s grace by accepting the boxes others have given you?

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Fear

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.

Fears in the night are unfriendly visitors. They wake you, trouble you and will not let you rest. Fear of what might be, fear of what you think is happening…..fear for fears sake is as good as a cup of strong coffee to wake you up in the middle of the night, but it doesn’t taste nearly as good.

We are in a time when everything is being shaken to the very core. Jobs, culture, finances and all we have trusted in is being shaken. It’s as if the great earthquake has already begun to rumble and the very tremors we feel cause us to be afraid.

After only a couple hours of sleep tonight I awoke with thoughts of great fear bouncing around in my head. I know fear comes when we feel a sense that we cannot control the things that are happening around us, but truthfully we never could….we only thought we could. Now, realities become clear that we cannot control the world around us and so fear invades even our rest.

Being a pastor does not make me exempt from these fears. All humans struggle with them…the fears that could fill a page if I listed them are all resolved by what we do about them….and so I go to Psalms to read the directions for the indigestion of fear.

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.

What I hate to admit, but is true, is that when fears invade my mind I’m not trusting God. And so, I must come back to what I know….God loves me, he’s fully in charge of all that goes on in my life, he’s working for my good, my world is not spinning out of control, but is fully in the hands of my Father. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in YOU, dear Father. There is no other place to run, no other place to hide, no safer place to be.

So when you awake with fears racing through your mind affecting even your heart rate, go to this short Psalm and realign your trust….come back to the one who will calm your fears and care for you. Whatever is causing your fears can easily be taken care of by our wonderful, loving Father. Trust in him……now…..back to sleep….

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Good People

I am out for coffee most mornings with different men in our church family. I love the encounters that happen in public eating places. The events of a coffee and the buzz around me is invigorating.

This morning, as I sat at coffee waiting for one of our men I couldn’t help overhearing (yes I listened in) a man at the next table say to his breakfast partner, “I’m a good person….”

There was more to his statement, but this one sentence caught my imagination. I’m sure this guy really is a nice person, trying to be good, but I wondered and wished I could ask him, so what does it mean to you to be a good person and why does it matter? What is the purpose of being good? Why did he need to say that to his friend this morning?

I wonder about these things because his statement made me immediately think about a young man who came to Jesus and basically said the same thing, “I’m a good person, what else do I need?” Jesus’ response probably stunned him when he replied, “No one is good but God alone.” From that came an encounter that left this young man depressed.

Why do we want to be good? What’s is our purpose in “being good?” Who are we trying to impress? Are we just trying to be accepted by others or do we think there is some merit in our goodness? I wonder how we measure our goodness. Compared to Hitler we are all pretty good! What or who was my breakfast friend comparing his goodness to? What was his measuring stick? Why does he want to be good?

I wonder about these things because I really have no illusions of being a good person. It’s funny that a pastor like me would say such a thing, but it comes from a perspective of really knowing my own heart and knowing my potential for evil. There is nothing I couldn’t do under the right circumstances. I have no illusions of goodness as far as I’m concerned. I know my heart and nothing good resides there so I have to find my acceptance somewhere else. I have to find it in someone else. That’s the very reason I’m a Christian! Knowing that I’m not good and can’t be good I am depending on someone else to be good for me, to accomplish what I can’t.

You will never hear me saying, “I’m a good person.” I’m not! Only in Jesus Christ do I find a goodness that puts me right with God. On my own I have no inherent goodness to offer to God. I’m so glad Jesus made my acceptance before God possible because in me is no good thing! So, from a brief comment this morning at a table near mine, I’m most grateful for what Jesus has done for me to make me acceptable to God. Praise be to God for his indescribable gift!

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Walking in the shadow lands

“Even when I walk through the shadow lands, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” -David, Psalm 23

I had coffee with a good friend this morning who is struggling with depression. It grieved me to see him in the midst of the shadow lands. It’s a hard place to live. I know. I grew up in the shadow lands. Depression is part of my heritage and a frequent part of my life. It’s not unusual for me to spend weeks in the shadow lands before I see the light of a clear day.

It was hard to see my friend struggling. He had never visited the shadow lands before. It’s difficult the first time. Depression is overwhelming if you have never experienced it before. It eats away at your energy, dulls your mind and makes the very nerves of your body tender. Walking through the shadow lands is a skill reluctantly learned, unwillingly done, but a wonderful blessing as you see God work in your life.

I gave my friend some tools to use as he walks through the shadow lands. They are simple things, but they really help. I’m praying for him. I’m praying that he, like David, myself and thousand of others, discovers that God is close beside him. That his rod and staff protect and comfort him as he discovers the shadow lands.

Today he’s just beginning a difficult journey, but as one who has spent years in the shadow lands I was able to encourage him and tell him that God is working wonderfully in his shadow lands. In fact, I think I have found my walk with God even sweeter because of the dark paths of the shadow lands. I hope my friend finds God’s sweet care as well as he walks through these dark days.