Friday, December 28, 2007

Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)-“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

So, I’m having one of those weeks again. You know the one just like you have; when you just want one thing to go your way. You’re actually not looking at everything going on, to see the blessings you have; you’re upset because they-re not the blessings YOU want.

I’m working at my computer. It’s what I do when I get kinda down. I don’t aimlessly surf, I do organizational things; I do things that make me feel better about how it runs, or how fast it can access this or that. In other words, I’m just piddling around (for your Northerners, piddling is a Southern term. Find a hillbilly friend and ask him/her what it means.).

Anyway, I may have mentioned this before, but I am supposedly the resident IT guy in my home (that is the information technology or computer geek). If something goes wrong with the computer, I’m called from whatever I’m doing. If I’m asleep (a rare occasion-usually, if my daughters are up, I’m up) I have scrap paper at the desk for the little notes I get. I’ve at least trained them that when the error message comes up, they need to transcribe it EXACTLY as it appears on the screen. It’s hard for me to re-create something from, “I was typing, and I pushed this button, and I got a blue screen of death.” “Well, what did it read?” “I don’t know, Dad/honey/Bo. I’m just telling you the computer is broken.”

Great.

Anyway, the point is, my family has faith in me. They have seen time and time again, that when the box of circuitry has an error, Dad will come in and do some stuff, type in something, re-boot, and everything is okay.

So yesterday, I’m updating some software that we have installed on this behemoth. I’m already irritated, because the update manager for the software locks up EVERY TIME I use it. It’s annoying, because I have to babysit it to nurse it through. I’m tired of the garbage-so I go straight to the vendor’s website. A couple of judicious clicks and I find the update I’m trying to get installed.

All 332 MB of it. Now, ordinarily, this wouldn’t rile me, because I have a cable modem. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. So, imagine my face when the site connects and I get a box telling me that it is going to take 2 ½ HOURS to download this file.

I’m really starting to reevaluate the value of this software. So, I figure I’ve got time to kill. Fast forward to later…much later. I’ve got it installed, and it gives me an error; I have to kill the installation, and power button off the computer, since it’s locked up and won’t re-boot.

Now I’m getting really perturbed. I finally get it installed, re-boot the thing, and I get an error message stating that I have a keyboard error. I check my cabling, and I’m getting error lights on the back of the CPU. Now, I’m REALLY hot. I unplug one thing at a time, and I find what I think is the problem.


Oh, boy, this is NOT funny. It’s my 500 GB external hard drive. The one I purchased to have reliable storage outside my CPU, since I’ve had a tower hard drive go bad on me before and lost everything on the drive.

I am completely at a loss. I have no idea. If you knew what I had on this thing, there is only one question you’d want an answer to. “What was the look on your face, Bo?”

So, during all this, I’m close to sheer terror. I have no idea why, I just am. I can’t lose this thing. The pictures, all the music, the databases, everything….

“Is everything okay, Dad?” one of my daughters ask me. “Just having a bit of an issue with the computer.” “Oh, okay.”

Now, I know you don’t understand, but this is one of those moments of clarity straight from God. All my daughter said, was “Oh, okay.” But it was the WAY she said it that struck me. She said it in the matter-of-fact way they say things when they have broken it and bring it to me saying, “Can you fix this?” As Dad, you are obligated to say, “Yes; yes I can darling.”

She knew it was a computer problem, and I was on it. It wouldn’t be a problem for long. She had no doubt that she’d be able to get on later and update music on her iPod and e-mail her friends and all that stuff; none whatsoever.

I thought about all the stuff that has been going on this week. I thought about how many times I wondered who was going to fix this or that; who was going to help me; when was someone going to put themselves out for me. None of that mattered at that point; all that mattered was the simple faith my family puts in me, because they know God has gifted me.

They trust in what God does through me; but I don’t trust enough that God is looking out for me. I don’t trust enough that He has my best interests at heart during all the things I go through, good or bad. I’m thinking that I’m running this thing called life with God during the good; and by myself during the not so good. Where do we come up with this stuff?

God isn’t arbitrary in our life. He isn’t there one minute, and gone the next. In his book, “So You Want to Be Like Christ?” Chuck Swindoll talks about how God has not only laid out the course of our life, but He ran it before us through Jesus. And because of that, we have an example of how we should run. Jesus is not just our finish line; He’s not just a completion goal. He’s also an example. He’s the edge we need to win this race called life.

I’m feeling kind of winded this week. The race course seems so long; as well as being all uphill. But, if I give it to Him, and tell Him what needs fixing, He can and will do it. I only have to be prepared to LET Him fix it. And occasionally, His fixing will reveal another error that I didn’t see; it comes with the territory. I have to allow Him to work ALL the kinks out; not just the ones I’m comfortable with at this time.

When I let Him, He is the greatest IT guy around.

Today, right now, He may be trying to work something out in you. He may be trying to straighten out some scrambled code in your life. Or, He may just be preparing you for a new program He’s going to install later on. He has to remove some previous installations in order to ensure there are no conflicts with what He wants to do in your life.

I’ll be honest; it’s not something I like going through either. But man, when the clouds part for just an instant and I see through the glass clearly instead of darkly; well, I know that I know that I know that it will all work out in the end.

I just have to have faith that He is going to fix it. He’s not failed yet. Here, you want a piece of scrap paper to jot an error message down? I’ve got plenty.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.


P.S. For those still wondering; yes, my external hard drive is working. I had a conflict and un-installed, then re-installed the hardware. Amazing huh?

Friday, December 21, 2007

2 Corinthians 11:3 (NKJV)

2 Corinthians 11:3-“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

I’m sorry I didn’t write to you last week. I ended up visiting a friend in the hospital, and then one thing lead to another, and you know….chaos happened. I do like it, however, when you ask me if my e-mail was working or if something happened to my computer as you feel that must be the only reason God didn’t have me do something embarrassing for you.

It makes me smile. Something I don’t know that I do a lot of lately.

Part of me wants this to be something in the spirit of the season. I want to write something pointing to Christmas and its importance. I want to write about the Savior and the manger, and the star and all that jazz.

But it wouldn’t be me; it wouldn’t be honest.

Let’s face it; this time of year is no longer simple. We fill it to the brim with so much of what we think this is all about. And I’m not talking about the gifts and the shopping and the commercialism and the continual “Christmas vs. Holiday” wording.

I’m talking about us, as Christians, and our attitudes. We lose sight of this season as well. We lose focus. We make out these grand schemes to touch everyone and do for everyone and feed and clothe and put on plays and have suppers and do service and….everything. We make it hard.

Christ was simple.

Some of you cringed when I put Christ and simple in the same sentence. You think of simple as being slow, or backwards. A simple person to you is one who is, for lack of a better term, stupid. But years ago, to be called simple was a compliment. It meant that you didn’t get caught up in all the crap that the world threw at you. You maintained your integrity and manner in all situations. You were steadfast and immovable.

I’m not simple anymore. I’m complex. And in complex things, you have many factors, like a complex mathematical formula. But just like in a formula, things can go wrong. The more complex the formula, the more that’s available to go wrong. And one small error can magnify itself, like a nuclear chain reaction to enormous proportions.

If you look at our Biblical examples, however, they were simple men and women. They didn’t set out to take over the world; they were just walking and talking with God. A couple of my favorites are Elijah and Isaiah. They are an example, to me, of simple, determined children of God.

Chuck Swindoll, in “So You Want to Be Like Christ?” says it best. He is talking about the example of Paul the apostle and how that should be to us. Our depth should be patterned after him, as his was patterned after Christ. He said, “I want what they had, so that my walk is such that I walk in step whether I feel good or not. Whether I get a yes or no to my prayers, I walk consistently, even when I don’t get my own way.”
[1]

How’s that make you feel? Me, it made me realize how complex I have become. You have to take an honest look at your life, as I did mine. Some of you may refuse to acknowledge that you have become a very complex person. I feel sorry for you, because that’s your loss.

The change from simple to complex didn’t happen immediately, either. It was a gradual one; kind of like the old time story of boiling a frog. You don’t put him in boiling water, because he realizes it’s hot and jumps out. Instead, you put him in cold water, and then slowly heat it up around him and he never knows.

Until it’s too late, that is.

Once again, I’m putting myself out there for you. We have made this season into everything it’s not meant to be. We marshal all our resources for this one shot at unsaved people, and in some ways that’s good. But what happens on December 26th?

The story is the same before and after Christmas day. It’s simple because God made it that way. He did that, because He knows the kind of person I am. He knows that if I get a chance, I’ll louse it up by adding my own little twist here and there to just kind of “improve” it and make it better.

It’s simple for a reason.

Now, I need to get back to that reason. So, I have to find the factors in my formula that I don’t need. I need to erase some of the things that don’t add up to a hill of beans in this life. I need to get back to being simple. I need to remember my first love.

When I was simple, I did everything so much better.

I love the little stories we get and stuff that people send to remind them of this season. I won’t be sending them out, because there are enough of you doing that to cover the world. I’m going to keep it simple. If I abide in Him, He’ll abide in me. If I get close to Him, He’ll get close to me.

“But Bo,” some will ask, “what about everyone else? What about all the other people who need to know Him? We’ve got to do this and send this and all that stuff! Don’t you care?”

Jesus Christ encased Himself in our flesh and walked among us for 33 years. He partnered with 12 guys, one of whom was a traitor. And they changed the world. They didn’t have mass mailings, or plays, or anything like that. They simply walked and showed the love of God to everyone they came in contact with on a daily basis.

Look at what they did, from that simple beginning. I’m tired of trying to improve on it; I’m gonna try and get back to walking in the simplicity that He initially showed me.
How about you? Is your life simple or complex? Take an objective step back and see if you are all about filling your life with things and doing, instead of just being.

Jesus has an extra eraser for you, too. He’s got plenty for all of us.

Simplify.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. So, You Want to Be like Christ?, p.16. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

2 Corinthians 3:5 (NKJV)

2 Corinthians 3:5 (NKJV)-“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God…”

I want to declare spiritual bankruptcy.

I want to scream it to the heavens, and on the earth. I want to take my life, throw it down, and tell God that I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired of trying on my own, and I want Him to just take it now. I can’t make this work and I’m tired of trying to go on without Him.

I just can’t. You know what else? I’ve watched you, and you can’t do it either. You’re holding on just as tightly as I am to what you used to be. You’re holding on just like me to the patterns and habits of before.

See, I’m circling around the place where I just THINK that I’ve given it over to God. I thought I had given Him my life, and placed myself in proper relationship to Him. I was wrong. See, what I thought I was doing was giving over control, when in actuality I was just giving God a test drive of my life. I was really just allowing Him to get behind the wheel for just a bit. Then, when I got tired of Him driving, I pulled over and took the wheel again. Oh, it’s okay for Him to drive when I feel good about it; but that’s as far as it goes. I keep taking back over for Him, thinking that I’m ready to go this on my own.

I’m not really there yet. I’m not really at the place where I have given Him everything. In my mind, I’ve said, “God, please be Lord over my life.” But in my heart I’ve said, “God, please be Lord over these portions of my life. You can bless me here, here, and here; but the rest of these places are off limits to You.”

We all do it.

I’m really a jerk sometimes. I say things without thinking, with no regard whatsoever for what it does to the person I’m talking to. I read my Bible and study, but on some level that I either can’t find or refuse to see, I still think that it makes me smarter than you and thus able to look down my nose at you.

I’m impatient, uncaring, and coarse; so much so that sometimes I even disgust myself. But it doesn’t stop me from doing it. And then I have the nerve to pretend to God like I’m really sorry I said/did/thought the things I did.

This is the truth. I’m not worthy. I’m writing this because you need to know the truth about me. You need to know the kind of man you’re dealing with here. And you need to know that it’s time for you to be honest with yourself as well.

C. S. Lewis, in his book “Mere Christianity,” says it in a way I like: “It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.”

I have drifted away from my first, true love. I have allowed Pride and Arrogance to replace Humility and Charity (Love). I have forgotten that which brought me to Him in the first place. I have forgotten the feeling when I first realized that I had a hole in my heart that was shaped like God. I cried out to Him and allowed Him to fill it. Then, I turned into a Pharisee. I turned into someone who thought He was better than he really was in life. I forgot my upbringing.

So, here I am now, telling you this. Why? Because it happened to me, so I know it is or can happen to you. We are responsible to each other, as well as to God. He expects each of us to undergird and uplift each other through good times and bad.

Don’t look down on me in shame. Don’t stare at my fall from your high horse. You will find yourself in court one day as well, seeking protection from your own debt load. You’ll come in, looking for understanding and help. You’ll be like me, looking for a judge to hear your bankruptcy case.

When we get to this point though, the fight has really just begun. Now, you have to admit that you can’t do it on your own. You have to say, “My pride debt is too high, God. I can’t afford the payments anymore. I need help.”

You’ll throw yourself on the mercy of the court. And in the midst of it, you’ll see where you did actually do it; that is, declare your spiritual mismanagement to the world. You’ll admit that you’ve been trying to follow God only so far as to be able to still have your way, so you haven’t really been following Him at all.

You’ll see where you have changed and rearranged your priorities, because you have realized they are not priorities at all. You’ll see that nothing matters except what matters to Him; and what matters to Him is you becoming.

This hurts, because it shows weakness. It shows inability to do those things that I am expecting everyone else around me to do. It shows that I too am ready to scream for mercy for myself and justice for everyone else.

But it also means that I’m advancing. I’m progressing beyond what I was before, into what I am now with God’s help. It means that I’m learning what it means to walk with Him and be in Him. It means that I’m learning that it’s okay to be spiritually bankrupt. When I reach the point of least worth of myself, I’m beginning to be of the most worth to God.

I can be the weak one who is used by God; and its okay. Once I admit to Him how truly spent I am, He will open up the treasury of Heaven into my life and pour into me such blessings that I will not have room enough to receive it.

I’m really trying to give it to Him. And sometimes, it’s not the success or failure, but the CONTINUAL TRYING that means I have succeeded. And the best part of it all is that God doesn’t keep it on my record.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.