I Don’t Have to Be Strong Enough

Everywhere I look I see fear. I see the fear of parents that manifests in worry for their children. I see the fear of people as they worry or lash out at what the government is or isn’t doing. I see fear when people speak of their jobs and wonder if they will have them tomorrow. I see fear every single time I watch the dreaded news on TV. Sometimes it seems that the only thing that is moving this world today is fear.

People are trying to protect themselves from enemies, real and imagined. People are protecting themselves from relationships and getting hurt. People are protecting themselves from suspicious activity. People are protecting themselves and failing miserably. People are still getting hurt.

Nations are still at war. Our nation’s government is stymied by greed and corruption. Evil people are doing despicable things. Our hearts are still being broken. Fear continues to take hold, fester and grow.

Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. 6 I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. 7 Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! 8 Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people.

David had his own fears. He saw a lot of evil in his lifetime. He lived through wars, personal failure and plots to kill him.

But all through the Psalms I can see him lay these fears at the feet of God. He learned how to live above his fears. He found courage in the Lord.

When I am afraid, God wants me to know that I don’t have to worry that I am not strong enough to stand in all the chaos around me. I don’t have to be strong enough. In fact, understanding that I am not strong enough is one of the most important things to learn in life. Victory doesn’t come from me. It comes from God!

Does this mean that I just hide myself away and do nothing until he comes back to earth and does some face slapping and teeth shattering? Um, no. It means that I can boldly do what he tells me to do and know that even when my strength fails, my obedience continues to make a difference even if I do not see what that difference is.

I’ve never actually been surrounded by ten thousand enemies but if I ever am, I need to know and understand God and his relationship with me to be able to stand on top of my fear and use it to see what is beyond them. They cannot stand between me and where I am going. If I am obedient and trusting in God’s strength, I can continue on without fear. You can follow the trail of teeth to find me. God’s not a wimp and he will clear a path for me. I won’t remain surrounded.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

People, that’s me. Princes, that’s worldly heroes. When I place my faith in those who try and fail, it breeds fear in my heart. Puny humans will fail. That’s practically what the word “human” means. We expect some to soar above the rest and lead us to some sort of wonderful utopia. But they always fail, somehow, some way.

If they fail, how can I not? By trusting in God and not in me, that’s how. It is time to take a look at what I am trying to do in futility and exchanging it for victory in the Lord God Most High!

God’s blessings and victory today for us all.

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Evil Words

Some thoughts on shutting up!!!

New Hope for Dry Bones

I’d like to write about living a stress-free life but since I don’t ever remember living life like that, maybe I should stick to things I know a little bit about. So today, I am going to write about shutting up.

I know a lot about shutting up. I can almost always tell when I should have shut up and not said anything after I have said the things I shouldn’t have said.

The first rule of shutting up, for me, is to not say things when I am angry. If I get angry today, I need to find a place to calm down, think about what needs to be said and take care of things from a place where things can be fixed.

If I stop and think, I can avoid breaking things worse and lamenting a situation that requires some serious work to repair.

The second rule is…

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100 Kinds of Stupid

I like to look at life and critique it. I think that is where I will start off this morning. This is a rambling kind of morning. Let’s see where it goes.

I peruse my achievements and accomplishments and compare them to someone that seems super-successful and wonder where I went wrong, what I am doing that is so lame that my efforts amount to so little, how my talent just isn’t enough and why I should just give up on numerous endeavors I have embarked upon.

I browse through my physical characteristics and itemize the list of things this body could once do that it can no longer do well, do painlessly or do at all. I examine the blubber, the wrinkles and the gray and compare it to a nineteen year-old version of myself or even worse, a nineteen year-old version of someone I never was and feel like discarding this conglomeration of nuts, bolts, plates, scar tissue and arthritis.

I look at the way I act and think and wonder how a body can grow so old and my brain can be so immature. I often hate my thoughts, my wants and my actions and wonder why I just can’t seem to get my act together.

There’s no sense in going forward with this self-destruction of all God has created in me. I could go on endlessly about what is wrong with me.

Achievements. What do I know about achievements? What could I possibly have ever done that would satisfy my critical nature and be considered something that I would look at and not try to tear back down?

I often forget that I was created imperfect and incomplete.

There has always been a ton of work left to do to finish me and even though I am apparently on the dark side of the hill and going further down the decline every day, I am not yet finished.

When I compare this physical body to the one I had when I was nineteen, I forget that it housed a brain that was a hundred kinds of stupid. My battle cry was, “Hey, y’all! Watch this!”

This was often followed by, “Hold my beer!”

If I want to tally up an achievement, I can simply chalk up living past nineteen years of age.

I can also find some sense of accomplishment that my brain is now only fifty-two kinds of stupid.

When I get all hateful with my physique and my daily pain, I really don’t have to look very far to see that I am truly blessed to be walking around with a stiff knee and soreness in various joints and muscles.

Seriously, why should I have it so much better than so many others?

My mental state is pretty easy to complain about. Yeah, I have some pretty rough days with this brain that likes to lie to me, feel emotions based on a false reality and often just functions incorrectly.

But it isn’t quite the same brain it was a few years ago that I had about come to the point of not being able to live with anymore.

I see people every day losing the fight against the same problems I have overcome.

Even on my worst day, I am truly blessed. I have seen the evidence of God and his love by what he has done in my life.

No, he hasn’t given me everything I want. No, I’m not living the lifestyles of the rich and famous. No, I don’t breeze through the day wondering why life is so easy.

But, I’m fairly certain, those things have nothing to do with what I need.

This day is probably going to have all sorts of things happen that I could disapprove of. That means nothing really. I can choose to disapprovingly struggle through it or go with it and enjoy the things that are better than the life I used to live with.

Who knows? I may end this day only fifty-one kinds of stupid.

So, rather than tear down what God builds by critiquing the work of his hands, I need to seek out the things I should be thankful for and fortify what he is doing in me.

Nothing makes me look smarter than being able to recognize blessings when the easiest things to see are curses. Maybe I have spent too much time searching for intelligence that will never change anything rather than wisdom that can change everything.

Today

Here it is, today already.

How did it get here so fast?  It was just yesterday a little while ago.  Next thing I know, it will be tomorrow.

What do I do with today?

Yesterday came and went and a lot of what I should have done didn’t get done.  Will I do better with today?

I think I tend to measure my yesterdays by the amount of success I had, how much money I made, how great a job I did doing whatever it was I did, the praises heaped upon my by the throngs (I seldom experience praises in heaps and have never heard them from throngs) or the general feeling of exhausted satisfaction before my head hits the pillow at night.

I am very seldom satisfied that my yesterday was what it ought to have been.

I guess I succumb to a very worldly view of success and strive for things that don’t mean much in the long run and experience the emptiness of the void they leave as they fade away.

So, what do I do with today?

I think that today, I will set a more ambitious goal than making a million bucks, eating like a king or going to the store and buying myself a little piece of happiness.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

I think that is a pretty good thing to shoot for.

I guess I should try to be a peacemaker, not only pushing away the desire for me to not exercise the old “eye for an eye” philosophy but doing my best to douse the fuses that get lit on the powder kegs around me.

I like to think I am powerless to do anything about something that is about to turn into an emotional free for all between two other people.

Sometimes, that is true.  There’s nothing I can do.  But often, just as I have occasionally encouraged one person to release the hounds of hell upon another inciting things ugly and hard to reconcile, I can speak some peace into the turmoil.

I like to call staying out of other peoples’ affairs minding my own business but, in all honesty, I like to see a jerk get what’s coming to him and I sit back and wait for the fists to fly.

It isn’t all about actual fists either.  It is also the verbal fists that can bruise and break just as effectively as a knuckle sandwich to the booger box.

Yeah, this little verse is hard.  The bad guys don’t get what’s coming to them and I am told to do good to all people, not just the ones that deserve it.

But, I have a feeling that if I pull this off, when tomorrow turns to today, I’ll feel pretty good about the today that turned to yesterday.

 

Blinded by the Light

When I was a teen or in my early twenties, I’m not really certain exactly when this event occurred.  One thin I am sure of, it was late at night.

I was driving along on a road that was usually deserted at the time I was on it heading toward home.  In fact, home was just a few more twists and turns down the road.

I was probably driving way too fast.  It seems that most of my driving in those days was way too fast.

But as I was driving along this narrow, dark, familiar road, I approached another vehicle.  The dim red tail lights began to come more and more into focus and soon I could see they were attached to a beat up white van.

I was deciding whether or not to pass the van and the strangest thing happened.

The rear doors on the van flew open and a spotlight shone right into my eyes.  I couldn’t see a thing, well, except for a painfully bright light that made my vision completely useless.

I slammed on the brakes and the van got a ways in front of me, the light went out and the doors closed again.

I’ve gotta tell you, I was afraid to approach that van again and stayed way back behind it until I finally was able to turn down the gravel road that led home.

To this day, I don’t know what that was all about.  I don’t understand the point and I certainly don’t feel like the guys doing it were up to any good.

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

You are probably wondering what this verse has to do with some knuckleheads shining a spotlight in the face of a guy that just wanted to go home and go to bed.

Well, this is all about light and what to do (or NOT to do) with it.

I think I spent a good many years wanting to use this light like a light saber, whipping it around in an impressive display, slashing evil to ribbons and when I should have been letting my good deeds shine, I was spending a lot of time trying to let my ego shine.

I wonder how many were trying to get home, doing the best they could and I decided to shine my light, not in front of them so they could more easily find their way but straight into their eyes so they could do nothing but give up or crash and burn.

This light is to point the way, not get in the way.

When Jesus met up with a pharisee, he didn’t decide to blind them with the truth.  He always tried to open their eyes to the truth.

I am not supposed to be a Jedi wielding the light to conquer the sinful world.  The sinful world has been conquered already.  It just doesn’t know it yet.

No, this light is not a weapon.  It is a service to others.

I’m not supposed to sit in that city on the hill taking potshots with the light seeing how many I can make swerve to the left or the right by shining it in the eyes of the lost.

I have to get off my backside and take some light out there into the darkness, shine it out in front of me and anyone I can find to walk alongside.

This may not make a bit of sense to you.  If it doesn’t, get on Facebook and read about a dozen or so “Christian” posts.  Chances are, several of them are nothing more than sadistically shining about a billion watts of truth right into someone’s retinas and there is no way the rest of the world is going to see any truth at all.

There will only be blindness.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

I can’t show love to someone from up on top of the hill, or shining a spotlight out of the back of a van.

This light enables me to get out into the darkness, find the lost and light the way, not through beating them down with words or shaming someone into transformation, but by showing the way as I walk the same road they are walking.

I haven’t graduated from life and the struggles life brings.  I need this light to guide me as well.  I might as well use it to guide a whole gang of us rather than selfishly try to get myself to eternity and hope for the best for the rest of the world.

It takes the same amount of light to expose the pitfall ahead for many as it does for one.

Yeah, I need to start out each day looking at where this light is pointing.  Is it showing the way for myself and others or is it causing a few people to stop and give up or maybe causing them to veer off the road into a ditch?

My faith is not a weapon against those that need it.

I never considered that a spotlight could be shone out of the back of a van to blind someone until it happened to me.  I never really considered that the light of the world could be wielded to blind the ones who need it most either.

What am I trying to do today?

 

 

Don’t Call Me Shirley

“Surely, you can’t be serious!”

“I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.”

I was totally not expecting the way that conversation turned the first time I saw the movie “Airplane!”.  I laughed way too long about it.  Even today, I am sitting here thinking of other really bad puns that compare but it is pretty tough to beat the deadpan face of Leslie Nielsen insisting to not be called Shirley.

I don’t know why but I was reminded of this when I was reading the Book of Ruth.

Ruth 1:20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”

I am serious and don’t call me Naomi.

People used to put a lot of stock in the meaning of their names.  Naomi meant “sweet, pleasant”.  When Naomi went back to her home she didn’t feel sweet and pleasant any more than Leslie Nielsen felt like Shirley.

So she decided to rename herself Mara.  Mara means “bitter”.

Now, I must insist you do not call me Naomi.  But, I can relate to wanting to be someone else.

I became a Christian at a young age.  Not so young that I didn’t understand the concept of salvation but perhaps too young to understand that this life is small compared to the life that Christ purchased for me.

Everything about Christianity related to me on a physical level and it primarily was about today or tomorrow.

I didn’t see any big picture or grand plan for mankind.  I saw today and maybe tomorrow morning.  If things looked bad today, they pretty much seemed to be bleak for the rest of my life.

After I began to experience depression and other maladies of the mind and soul, I still had that kid’s mentality that said if today sucks, life sucks.

Naomi had been through a bunch of days that sucked.  People had died, famine had overtaken the land and she was just pretty much done with it all.  Call her Mara, she’s toast.

I have been there.  I’ve been through so many bad days that I thought I was not who I used to be anymore.  I wasn’t Mike.  I wasn’t a child of God.  I wasn’t made in God’s image.  I was no longer covered by the blood of Christ.  I was no longer looking toward a future in Christ but into a past filled with failure, regret and emptiness.

Don’t call me saved, Christian or anything else that God says I am.

But flip forward a few pages in the story of Naomi and Ruth, to the end of the story.

Ruth 4:16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

I can see her sitting there holding that baby, tears in her eyes as the last of the bitterness melted away, her heart full of love and hope whispering to the child quietly, “Call me Naomi!”

If you are struggling and have lost your identity in the mountain of lousy breaks, broken dreams, depleted hope and futility, cling to one thing.  Cling to your name even if it seems to mean the exact opposite of your circumstance or situation.  Cling to the birthright that was given to you by Christ when he made you a part of the family.  Hold firmly to the hope that endures even thought this world transforms into something you no longer recognize.

Because, once your name is written in the Book of Life, it is eternal.

I have announced a few name changes over the years.  Call me lost.  Call me broken.  Call me trash.  Call me whatever you want but don’t call me God’s child.

But his mercy that endures forever has easily endured what I could not.  It has brought me here to this place on this day and even though the past that seemed would once define me has faded into a powerless heap of memories, it is standing strong and firm, unmoved and overflowing.

Hello, my name is Mike.  I am a grateful believer in Christ who has saved me.  I struggle, often, everyday but I am victorious through the strength of the resurrecting power of God.  I am forever plunged into his care and will be His now and for all of eternity.

You can even call me Naomi or Shirley if you want.  I am who I am because he has made it so.  No man can ever change that.  No circumstance can alter it.  No devastating blows dealt by life can break it down.  Even if I cannot see it, it will remain from now on.

 

 

A Perfect Spring Day

When I think of what a beautiful spring day should be like, surprisingly my first thought isn’t of me fishing somewhere. It is more of a surreal kind of thing. I remember a day a long time ago and we had taken a road trip down to Puxico, Missouri to see my Aunt Mary. It was just warm enough to have the windows in the old Plymouth rolled down a little. Yeah, back then you actually rolled the windows down with the old cranks on the doors. You had to, the car didn’t have air-conditioning.

We arrived at my aunt’s house (she was actually my great-aunt) and being quite a bit farther south from our home in St. Louis, it was a few degrees warmer. The grass had greened up and flowers were blooming and there were a lot of them. Everybody went inside but as the grown-ups got to doing boring grown-up stuff talking about boring grown-up life, I went back outside. It was perfect out there.

I was the only kid on this trip and after a while I got tired of playing all alone. I was tired from the ride in the crowded car (my Grandpa and Grandma Ridenour had gone with us) so I opened the rear car doors and crawled in the back seat. I laid down and the sun shone on me as a little breeze washed slowly over me and I fell asleep.

It was the perfect spring day, at least that is how I remember it fifty years or so later. That uneventful dull day sticks in my brain and I can still feel it all these decades later. But with this being Missouri, it seems that there have only been a handful of perfect spring days since then. Oh, I know that there have been more than that but spring is short here. Once winter’s icy grip is released, spring darts in and out and suddenly it is full-blown summer. Spring never settles in here. It is constantly fighting for its time and never really gets to be much more than a brief moment of transition.

It seems like no one here in this part of the world is ever really satisfied with spring. It is always welcome but it is usually too windy, too cold, too rainy or too whatever to remind us of what our brains tell us spring ought to be like.

But I have learned that the weather is the weather and I can’t change it. I have had to learn to adapt to it and manage to get something done even if it is too foul outside to lay in the grass and take a nap. I don’t need to lay in the grass and take a nap anyway. I’d just wake up covered with chiggers.

If I can learn that the weather is out of my control, why can’t I accept other things that are out of my control? People do things that I don’t like. They do and I can’t change that. No amount of whining and complaining on my part is going to change that. Even if I could walk up to them and smack them on the noggin every time they did something I didn’t like, they wouldn’t really change and my hand would probably get awfully bruised.

Even if I worry real hard, they aren’t going to change. I have no power to change anyone. I never will.

I have even prayed to God, “God. I have a job for you. Get your magic wand out and give me amazing power to change that person before they drive me nuts!” Well, maybe it was really more like, “God, show me what to do to change their mind, help me show them how to change.”

This is all just silliness. God have never really given me the power to change myself. It is only through him, it is only by surrendering my power to him that I am changed. Why is it that I am often convinced that I have power over things that I am completely and utterly helpless to have any effect on whatsoever?

I need to realize that by my actions to attempt to do what God is doing that I am withdrawing my trust in him, one futile action at a time. I think I am doing the right thing but I am deceived.

James 4:7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

God isn’t the one deceiving me. I have to constantly remind myself over and over that I’m not God. I have to let go of my desire to control things and place that control humbly at his feet. The devil doesn’t want me to do that. He want’s me to be a weak man trying to fix everything around me while blindly stumbling all over God’s plan in confusion and disappointment.

If I want power, I must submit to God and experience his power.

1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

Wake Up and Drown

One day, earlier in the ministry of Jesus, he had been teaching by the lakeshore. I don’t know how common this was by teachers of the day. I have always thought that they liked to hang out in more religious places. I can certainly see the value of lakeside scenery in demonstrating the nature of God since God created nature.

Mark 4:1 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. 2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

This chapter in the bible contains several really great parables that Jesus used to give the crowd a deeper understanding of God. The truth is that most of that crowd knew very little about God. Even the very educated and religiously decorated knew far less than they thought they knew. No one at this time really knew more than a mere drop in the bucket about Jesus.

Yet a large crowd showed up here at the lakeside to hear him speak. They knew that there was something special about this guy. I would imagine that some of them were supposed to be doing something else, yet Jesus and the words he was speaking were more important.

After a while Jesus needed to get away from the crowd.

Mark 4:35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).

I can only imagine riding in one of these boats. The smell of the old lumber and the creaking of the wooden joints against each other as the waves gently rocked the heavy vessel on the water’s surface must have really been relaxing after a long day of teaching a crowd that seemed to just not be able to get enough. Some of them were following even as Jesus was making his escape.

Yeah, it was relaxing and Jesus was catching himself a nap. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that taking a nap is a bad thing. Sometimes it is better to grab a power nap than it is to eat lunch. But that really has nothing to do with anything.

Well, the gently rocking boat began to do a little more than rock and it became a little less than gentle. In fact, a storm came rolling in. I’ve been on big water in a little boat in a terrible storm. It is what I call “scary”. Waves large enough to keep you from seeing another boat just a few yards away are very humbling. I don’t like it and I don’t blame the disciples for being afraid.

Mark 4:37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

They were scared. Who wouldn’t be? And they had no idea who was in their boat. If only they knew, well, then they would have hope. But they thought he was just a great teacher and this wasn’t the Magic School Bus. The boat wasn’t going to morph into a submarine and haul them off to safety. They felt like this was the end. They were all going to drown out here in the lake and head off to the big boat in the sky.

Jesus was managing to sleep through this and they woke him up thinking that he shouldn’t miss out on all this terror and imminent doom. They didn’t call on him for help. It was more like, “Wake up and drown!”

They didn’t know who was with them.

A lot of the time I don’t know who is with me. I have my little ideas and notions but they are about as accurate as calling Jesus a plain old teacher. I don’t understand the power and awesomeness of Christ and that he is always living in me. I just don’t get it that my trust can be solely in him at all times because he will not fail me…ever. He is more than I can comprehend.

Sometimes, I not only realize that things are out of my control but I feel that they are out of his control.

Mark 4:39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Sometimes, I still have no faith. I need to stop and realize that he is greater than the wind and the rain, the lightning and the waves that come crashing against me. I need to realize that he is greater than my logic and intellect. He can do what I cannot fathom and conquer the unconquerable. I need to realize that he is God, and that is something exponentially greater than any power I can imagine.

Who is this God that calms my inner storms, that brings me from ruin to restoration, from disaster to a new life, from dying to eternal life? It is good to ask. If I ask, he will show me and my faith will grow.

Mark 4:41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Honk!

I think this one deserves a reblog!

New Hope for Dry Bones

A while back, I was sitting at a stoplight behind a guy that was talking on the phone. The light turned green and he was still there talking on the phone so I honked my horn, just a short honk, to let him know that the light was green. I thought I was being pretty nice by not just honking and making gestures and making road rage faces at him. I do a lot better when I drive now than I used to but it is still a struggle for me to be patient on the road.

The vehicle ahead began to move but the driver was furious. He slammed his brakes on trying to make me hit his SUV in the rear. I nearly did. Then he did it again.

I can understand a lot of reasons people get angry on the road. Sometimes it is due to nearly…

View original post 678 more words

Being Right

A week or so ago, I was reminded of my stubborn, deeply rooted desire to be right.  It seems that the first thing I do when I am in a conflict is to assert my “rightness” and the other person’s “wrongness”.

Conflict seems to signal a competition in my mind and I am off to the races at the very first whisper of a disagreement.

Before long, I have run so far proclaiming I’m right that I have committed dozens of wrongs in doing so.

Then I look back at how far I’ve come carrying the banner of rightness all over someone else’s feelings and want to just sit down and wait for a boulder to fall from the heavens, hit me in the skull and maybe knock some sense into my mind.

I’m not the only one in this boat.  In fact, this boat is full to capacity and is in danger of capsizing.  I think I’ll name this tub the S. S. United States.

But the United States and all the craziness that makes up this place isn’t responsible for my actions.  That is all on me.

I think I must feel I have something to prove, some idea in my mind that I have to show I really do have worth and I am not just a failed attempt by God to create something.

I start thinking about how to be smarter, more wise, stronger, faster and more ingenious than my accusers.  Even is my accusers are right as rain.

1 Corinthians 1:20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

When I rationalize and attempt to dazzle the world, deny my frailty and shove others down to raise myself up, I am using my brain.

However, it certainly isn’t being used to reach others for Christ.

And if I win an argument, what have I won?

This isn’t about me going out on a street corner and carrying a John 3:16 sign and shouting, “The end is near!”

This is about how I react when I don’t like what I hear, when I am about to take the blame for something I did or didn’t do, when I am tired and can’t take any more.

Conventional wisdom tells me to stand my ground, do whatever it takes to beat the opposition and preserve my great self-image by tearing another down.

Let me tell you this, I have lived like that a long time. I have laid in bed with my eyes wide open reliving the moments I have hurt others, times I have lashed out in anger, memories of my fists swinging at anything that stood in my way, watched tears I caused to roll down the face of someone that I was responsible for.

All those moments have brought me some form of guilt, pain and regret.

I have never lost a minute of sleep by putting my ego aside and being a peacemaker.

Life isn’t a competition about who is right and who is wrong.  It is learning to bring God to them through the foolishness of thinking of other before us, doing what is right for everyone instead of just what is right for me, working to bring love to people without any regard to whether they deserve it or not.

This is how we preach.

There has never been a time in my life when conventional wisdom looked more foolish.  Yet, people seem to be swallowing that Kook-Aid and asking for more even though it has a funny taste and the ones serving it seem to look eerily like Jim Jones.

I have to resist the urge to fear looking foolish.  The ones that would have me believe I am do not know foolishness.  They also do not know Christ and my primary focus cannot be making me look like a rocket scientist but as a humble follower of Christ that has more than he deserves, more than he can contain and more than he can imagine.

I don’t have to be right.  Christ has been right for me.  He continues to be right and forever will be.

I suspect a lot of opinions on who is right and who is wrong will change when we see what side of the resurrection we stand upon.  But for now, I suppose I should be trying to preach my foolishness by living the life Christ has called me to live, even if everyone tells me I am wrong.