Checking In

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A person's heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.
-Proverbs 16:7

I have my once a year check-in with one of my doctors today.  I have another one next week.

This blog is not really an autobiography, nor a memoir; but it is highly personal in that it's really for an audience of one or two.  They are notes to myself, and read by God; for me to remember, and to share with anyone who wants to read them.

I have a series of books, self-published by a pastor/missionary/apostolic author, who would be obscure to you, but is famous to his family and all the people he has ministered to who remember him.  One of his books has a story where he says can you imagine a sailboat with, "Jesus of Nazareth Ministries", sailing on the sea of Galilee?

Is there anything wrong though with advertising ministry?  It depends, and not inherently.  False advertising is a real problem.  Many books, seminars, and ministries probably promise what they can not deliver.  Or they try to get you to expend your limited capitol on them, when you would benefit more by choosing something that would impact you better.

I ordered a CD of a message by a minister once, of whom the title promised or promoted something I needed to learn about, know about, or be trained in.  It was something like an hour message, where he spent the first 30, 40, or 50 minutes telling jokes and stories that must have been to warm the crowd up or something; and he barely touched on the title topic in the last minutes and it was not very helpful.

I remember seasons in church where various pastors gave very uninspiring messages.  It would have been better if they gave the mic or the podium to someone else who had something fresh to say, or said "I don't really have anything", and then introduce us to someone else.

I got to a wedding once and the bride, who was the one who invited me, met me at the entrance to the church and told me, "we called it off", and said, "I'm sorry, I did not have your phone number".   She was actually very brave to do this.

I have three different degrees and only a small amount of people do all three of these at once, so I do one of them for a paycheck.  I have my story that is very personal on why I don't do those other two for pay.  Practically speaking....

I heard that many people don't have hobbies.  They go to church, have jobs and raise families, but don't have a hobby.

In the whole addiction paradigm, we become addicted to any and everything.  We may never touch alcohol but we are still addicts.

My hobbies are my pets, carpentry, and gardening.

Life has seasons and there are seasons within seasons.  Two people can be the same age and have the same score card in life, but be in different seasons.  We have the seasons of time (your 20's, 30's, 40's, or 50's), and the fall, winter, spring, and summer; within the years of each season.

I am in mid-life, in my fifties, and I think coming into a spring time.

Every season has opportunities and challenges.  Opportunities are many and can be greatly benefited from or lost.  Time is something we lose and can't get back, but it can be redeemed and we can be healed in our memories and have a new beginning, all the way to the end of time.

At one time, I wanted to post a new blog every day, maybe 5 days a week, with weekends off.  I found myself competing with people I admire, but don't even know. Most of the bloggers I've followed stopped at some point.

What is the rhythm for you?  I was a natural journal-er.  But do I want to journal publicly, and the answer is mostly no.  But some bloggers are intensely personal and they gain followings because people resonate with personal stories.  So, there is that.

I think about how it is different to be transparent and very self-disclosing with a small group, even when there are people in the room that you don't know.  But it is different to hit publish and now literally anyone can read your intimate disclosures.

But that is what some people do and some do it well and it can be powerful in how it ministers to us.  The Bible is filled with unvarnished stories.  And God is there, in these stories, in the midst of people's broken lives.  There is brokenness that causes us to dysfunction or live sinfully below our calling and then there is the brokenness of living in a fallen world among fallen people.

And really, that is what life is about: your story and God's story, intersecting in you.

If you have never been to a 12 step group, go now and see and hear.  Many 12 step groups are better at community and sharing than many church groups, whether Sundays or small groups.  There is a discipleship model, you go to groups or meetings where you really meet people who share your struggles and share hope and encourage or seek fellowship of fellow failures, and you are admonished to select and mentor, a sponsor, who will give you one on one time.

I went to church, K. thru 12, and into college; and didn't experience much of this.  But now I see that 12 step groups or programs, more encapsulate a Christian life giving discipleship model, that's akin to the ancient church; than most of our evangelical, protestant, and catholic churches do.

We do church in many ways, but what we really need is doing life.

Our life is filled with plans, while God enters into our stories.

We can't compare ourselves to others.  This isn't a competition.  Our evaluation is between each one of us and God.  How am I doing with God?  Is God good to me?  Do I love God and does God love me?  Who is God to me today?  What's my story with God?  These are the questions.  And our lives flow from these.  Like how we treat others.

There are a couple of tasks in growing up.  One is contentment.  We can be rich and pampered, yet discontent.  We can be poor and in agony, yet be content.  Contentment is not denial, but the ability to receive grace.

Another task is knowing yourself.  If I know myself, I can love myself better and then know God.  The big tasks are to love God and love my neighbor, as I love myself.  It is implicit that if I don't love myself I can't love my neighbor.  To illustrate this, Jesus told the story about how the religious guys did not love their neighbor and therefore did not love themselves nor love God, and that this is wrong and not God's plan.

The other task is to simply grow up and become an adult, a man or a woman, who is no longer childish.  Child-like and childish are two different things.  We want to enjoy life and be play full, as children of God, even though we are adults.  Childish is an adult who acts and thinks like a child: selfish, entitled, impatient, narcissistic, lacking self-control, pouts, lacks empathy for others, and wants to play and not work.

What time is it for you?  What season, macro and micro, are you in?  What is God doing in your life?  What have you been asking God for that you don't have?  What has God given you already that you are not using?  Who do you need God to be for you in this season you are in and the season you are about to step into?  Do you know who you are?  Is there some person in the Bible that God says you are like that person?  Do you have a life Bible verse or verses that are your life verse or verses?  What do you want to be remembered for?