Tag Archives: Mercy

Wrestling with God

Well,

I just got back from a motorcycle trip where everything did not go as planned.  On the way to Dubuque, Ia my motorcycle broke down mid afternoon and did not have enough power to go up hills any longer. I did not know exactly where I was and was wondering …..”What the heck do I do next”.  Well, eventually a guy stopped by so I was able to ask where the nearest mechanic was.  The nearest mechanic was a guy that was a good mechanic was not really a motorcycle specialist , let alone a Polaris Victory specialist.  Well, we got on the phone with a guy from the Victory dealership and our best guess was that I purchased bad gas.  They said they saw this all the time. So we drained the gas and put in new gas. Cost for the mechanic plus new gas was only $70.

So I took off and it seemed to be at least moving.  I went to the next town and then I was getting no power on hills again… Drat!  What do I do now.  Well, back on the phone to the Vic dealership  and they eventually sent a tow truck, I spent the night in a hotel and they diagnosed a hard clutch.. or a clutch cable that was too tight!  The next day after adjusting the clutch cable,  I test drove the bike  but after 10 miles I was getting the same thing. I limped back to the Vic dealership and this time we had to replace the entire clutch!!!!  They had to overnight  a clutch but then I got the real bad news!  A 2nd night in a Hotel in a small town without much to do.. but the really  bad new was even though the bike was in warranty … because the clutch cable was too tight …. it was labelled as “neglect” and it would not be covered under warranty. Well, I bought the bike directly from a Polaris rep and eitehr he or his technician was the last to adjust my cable.   . My total bill for the new clutch was $1200 with the tow truck now! GRRR!

So instead of 3 days  riding I spent 2 nights stuck in a Hotel in Waukon, Ia.  I basically lost 3 days of vacation and never got to my destination of Anamosa, Ia to see the motorcycle museum. GRRRRRR!

Well, that’s the specifics of what happened but what was occurring behind the scenes of this broken down few days of lost vacation and personal isolation in Waukon, Ia.

Well I started out the trip and was meditating on Psalm 131 and the idea of resting under the umbrella of Gods providence!  However, even at the beginning of the trip I was actually wrestling with God… A LOT!  You see, recently we had some unfortunate leadership changes in my men’s group and I have been struggling with this for the last few weeks as the other leader in this group.   It has clearly impacted me.  As I was sitting on the side of a road for several hours this week, I had several opportunities to get upset at the mechanic.  I was working hard at managing my emotions.   Rather, than resting under the umbrella of Gods providence, I was wrestling with God.  How do I manage my emotions?  Do I snap out in anger at someone?  Do I do something even worse?  I was wrestling with God in a deeply spiritual way.

In the past these kinds of situations would have sent me off the deep end.  After all. I lost a ride I was really looking forward too and I lost 3 days vacation and I was stuck on a little dink town without much to do. In the past,  I would have found some negative behavior to engage in. Well temptation hit me several times as I wrestled with God over what to do!  All I can say is my trip that started out attempting to rest under the umbrella of Gods providence ended up in me and God wrestling for most of the time.

I opened my Bible and read the story of where Jacob wrestled with God!  At the end of a night of wrestling with God Jacob said “I won’t let you go till you bless me!”  What I can say is this that wrestling with God is not a bad thing … because it means you have not given into your fleshly desires.  And following this wrestling is a time of blessing.    Why do I say wrestling with God is a good thing?  Because the the option to not wrestling with God would have been giving into my anger and personal desires.  If you wrestle with God .. God will always win… and by default you will be blessed more than if you do NOT give in to your desires.

So my encouragement to those that have given in to your anger or desires is …. feel free to wrestle with God over your desires. FIGHT! Don’t give in!  FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!  Gods grace and mercy are more than sufficient for you as you work toward  the goal of “living under the umbrella” of God’s providence! In the end God will sovereignl work in the lives that love him and dont give in to their desires.

Now, as I attempt to write an e-mail to the guy I purchased the bike and contact Polaris over my dissatisfaction over my lack of warranty with a bike that should be in warranty….. I am sure I will continue this “wrestling match”… but I know God will always bless me as I stay in the fight!

So FIGHT! Dont give in to your desires. God will bless those that struggle against their flesh and “wrestle with Him”  as they work toward doing the right thing. My goal is to still rest under Gods providence…. but that proved to be very hard this week. So feel free to wrestle with God till you can find that resting spot! In the end God will always win!

The cosmic dance of life

My wife and I are taking dance lessons again.  A couple of years back we learned west coast swing.  Now we are learning a slow dance called night club 2 step.  I really like it. Not only does it give the two of us something  to do during our long winters in Minnesota, but I also love the symbology of dancing and how it is a communication style of  non verbal cues  between 2 people.  The entire dance hinges on a “connection” between 2 people.  For the dance to succeed in looking like a dance it requires some very basic skills of highly subtle communication. Once those basic skills are mastered you can move on to more “styling” in your dance.

For the dancing to start being successful it requires 2 things. First, I need to communicate the dance moves to Sue in a way she understands.   In dancing a lot of these are subtle things you do to communicate your intent.  This connection between 2 people is what makes the dance work.  If the leader gives the wrong understanding to the follower it does not look like much of a dance. If the follower back leads the dance it is not very much fun for the leader and its definitely not how dancing was designed to be like.

Second, to move on to where the dance really looks good and start making progress Sue needs to feel safe in the dance communication going on between us.  If that safety is not there she is not willing to move on to learning the next thing to make dancing even more fun.  Furthermore, A lack of safety sucks the fun right of out dancing for me and her.

Those are the building blocks of dancing. Communicating  our intentions with understanding  and providing a safe environment where can grow and move on to more advanced and more fun dance moves!!  Growing with my wife is is much like dancing.   Intimacy and closeness with  my wife requires understanding and safety. Safety and understanding are the building blocks of intimacy and both, like dancing, require effort and intentionality as we take specific steps to grow together.  To communicate with understanding and safety requires some very deep roots in Gods love and mercy because, quite often it is NOT safe to communicate our shortcomings and vulnerabilitites to other sinners.  Also, we strive and work hard to protect our image of performance as a good performing employee, nice person, or moral achiever.   We communicate our strengths but.. gasp!…. never our weaknesses.   When we live up to our performance expectations we feel good about ourselves and when we don’t we feel like failures.

However, when we create an environment to safely share our weaknesses (James 5:16) and we live with the grace and mercy narrative of the cross  in how we behave toward other sinners we have the recipe for growth and change and finally have a chance at …. real intimacy.  This intimacy is not rooted in the performance and expectations of the other person but it finally has real understanding.  It loves progress but does not demand perfection.   We can put finally put down the performance achievement mask and be real with each other.

Finally, intimacy must be about something shared.  For years as Sue and I were raising the kids we seemed to be on separate missions.  Our shared lives were dismal as I became rooted in my job and she became more rooted in the children.  So what are you sharing? For Sue and I we now share workouts together, walks, devotions, a few games, some deep conversations and of course … we are trying something new …. dancing.

As we enjoy our new dancing skills I also have a vision I established about 5 years ago that I am temporarily calling for this blog topic  “the cosmic dance of life” . <—Link

Merry Christmas to you all!

The Failure of Moralistic Preaching–Calvinism–Moral Inability

John Newton(poet and Author of the hymn amazing grace) wrote the following. It can be found at: http://www.reformedreader.org/rbb/newton/letter24.htm. I have some important things that speak to me underlined.

The Failure of Moralistic Preaching–Calvinism–Moral Inability
by John Newton

October 21, 1775

My Dear Friend,

The calls and engagements which I told you engrossed and anticipated my time when I wrote last, have continued without any intermission hitherto, and I am still far behind-hand with my business. I am willing to hope, that the case has been much the same with you, and that want of leisure has been the only cause of my not having been pleasured with so much as a note from you since my return from London.

I am loath, for my own sake, to charge your silence to an unwillingness of continuing that intercourse which I have been, and still find myself, desirous to improve on my part. For though we are not agreed in our views, yet while our preliminary agreement, to allow mutual freedom, and to exercise mutual candour, in expressing our sentiments, subsists, we may, and I hope shall, be glad to hear from each other. It may seem to intimate I have a better opinion of myself than of you, that while I seem confident your freedom will not offend me, I feel now and then a fear, lest mine should prove displeasing to you. But friendship is a little suspicious when exercised with long silence, and a plain declaration of my sentiments has more than once put Continue reading

The Crux of the book of Jonah

A brief summary of the book of Jonah:

Jonah was asked to go to Ninevah, but did not do what God wanted. After going through a mighty trial he finally did what God wanted.  When he went to Ninevah he asked the people to repent and turn from their evil ways.

Jon 3:4  And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!

Jon 3:5  And the people of Nineveh believed God. And they called a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Jon 3:6  For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne. And he laid his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

Jon 3:9  Who knows? He may repent, and God may have pity and turn away from the glow of His anger, so that we do not perish.
Jon 3:10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. And God was compassionate over the evil that He had said to do to them, and He did not do it.


Jon 4:1  But it was a great calamity in Jonah’s sight, and it kindled anger in him.

Jon 4:2  And he prayed to Jehovah and said, Please, O Jehovah, was this not my saying when I was still in my land? On account of this I fled before to Tarshish. For I knew that You are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and One who repents over calamity.

What I wanted to concentrate on was Jonah 4:1 where it says that Gods response of Grace and Mercy to Ninevah kindled anger in Jonah.  I believe this is the main point of the book of Jonah that God left with us. To examine our own hearts so we can clearly see the mercy and grace of God! This is not unlike the legalistic, performance based Christianity we have in today’s world.   We are not content when God shows grace and mercy to sinners. We WANT justice and God to throw down wrath and teach great lessons when God is not doing what we want to other people! Often we take matters into our own hands when God does not reign down his wrath on sinners and we almost always really mess things up when we do this!

Lets join the feast of the banquet as we relish in the mercy, grace, and love of God shown to sinners.  Lets not re-learn the lesson God had to teach Jonah.

In Christ,

Amen!

Its about depth, not distance (more on Intimacy with Jesus)

The Gospel is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

The idea of being Gospel centric means seeing everything through the eyes of Jesus Christ and the purpose of his sacrifice on the Cross.

With that introduction here is something I wrote a while back on a different BLOG

In recent years I have been working hard at understanding my core and to not deviate far from it. In essence to try to remain in the sweetspot of Gods word. The sweet spot to me is the Gospel message. Without keeping the Gospel clearly in our sites it becomes possible to eventually use scripture to hurt others as we claim obedience or attempted obedience in some judgemental way.

Continue reading