Tag Archives: holy spirit

Ghostman on third!

Mrs. Gwendolyn Jones’ third grade class was divided in half.  There was a good half and a bad half.  This was not a generalization of the social climate in the classroom.  There was quite literally a ‘good side’ and a ‘bad side’.

You had to earn the opportunity to move your desk to the good side.  You had to be quiet, do your work, clean up and be attentive.  I was good at three of those four things.  I was not good at being quiet.  As a result, my desk stayed on the bad side of the room practically all year.

If you were lucky enough to get promoted to the good side, you actually picked up your desk and chair and proudly moved them across the room.  However, if you acted up and got demoted to the bad side, you had to begrudgingly drag your desk (which immediately seemed five times heavier than before), back to the bad side.

Week after week, month after month, I sat on the bad side.  I watched my friends move their desks around.  I envied.  I coveted.

But, then there was one day, one glorious day, I earned the right to move to the good side.  When I got called up to the big leagues, I crammed all my books and papers in my desk (the really old-school kind with the flip-top) and scooted/strutted across to the good side.  Bye-bye, dark side.

My time (albeit short-lived) on the good side was amazing.  What made it extraordinary is that Mrs. Jones picked me to be one of two captains for a class kickball game.

More than just a ball.  A way of life.

More than just a ball. A way of life.

I loved kickball.  It was a way of life.  I can still remember how all my classmates kicked.  I know that Joe would kick it straight over first base.  Jesse would ground it by third.  Robert would slam into the outfield over second.  It’s what got me through the day.  Recesses was the second best time of the day.  First pitch in my backyard after school was the best.  Except, sometimes we didn’t have enough people to play.  There was nothing more devastating to a kickball aficionado than being ill-equipped to field a full team.  So, occasionally we would resort to two-on-two or even in the rarest of events, one-on-one kickball.  That’s when we relied heavily on the ghostman.

If you’re rusty on your backyard kickball terminology, having a “ghostman on third” meant that as a runner, you have advanced the bases as far as you can get on your own.  You made it all the way to third base and got stranded, leaving no one left to physically “bat” for your team.  So, we would make a declaration that there was a “ghostman” on third base (or whatever base you advanced to.) The only way for a ghostman to move to the next base was for you (the runner) to advance to the place where the ghostman was located, pushing the ghostman forward.

The purpose of the ghostman was to hold your spot while you did something else.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could have the ghostman with you all the time?  The boss needs a report?  Ghostman on Powerpoint!  Kids need a bath?  Ghostman in the tub!  License expiring?  Ghostman to the DMV!  Line too long at the grocery store?  Ghostman on lane seven!

The ghostman allowed you to still put points on the board even if you couldn’t get all the way home on your own.  The ghostman in kickball was like the Holy Spirit of playground sports.

I’ve been struggling a bit recently.  A few weeks ago, we did a spiritual gift survey in our Sunday school class.  I was not surprised at all with the top three categories, in fact, I quite expected the results.  But, the area that I scored the lowest in was discernment.  Huh?  Am I that bad at making a decision?  Am I that weak in understanding God’s will in my life?  Am I that oblivious to the Spirit’s guidance and influence over me?  What the heck?

I know, I know.  It’s just a book.  Books can be wrong.  But, the top of the spectrum is what I expected.  My top spiritual gifts are evangelism, leadership and administration.  Quite the conflict with discernment, wouldn’t you say?  Who wants spiritual guidance from someone who lacks confidence when assessing God’s will?  Who wants a leader who doesn’t judge well?

The book says that people with the gift of discernment know with confidence if individuals, teachings or motives are from God.  So, if I’m not able to interpret things clearly, I must be inserting myself where I don’t need to be.  I’m putting my needs first.  I’m not relying fully on God.  It’s frustrating because I’m trying to be obedient.  I’m trying to follow.  I think I’m going about my life the way God wants me to.

It’s a hard thing to deal with.  It’s difficult to be the head of your household and lead your family spiritually when you constantly are second guessing decisions.  It’s not easy being an executive at work and having to make decisions that effect hundreds of sales people and their clients.  Some times you just have to turn off the noise in order to hear things.

I had a refreshing drive home from work.  Typically, I have music playing all the time.  But, today I drove home in silence with the windows down so I could just listen.  I wanted to hear the cars.  I wanted to hear the breeze.  I wanted to hear the music in the car next to me.  I wanted to hear the clickclickclick of my turn indicator.

I think I need a ghostman to take my place so I can turn off all the rest of the noise in my head and just listen.  Listen to the world.  Listen to God.  Listen to my heart.  Just listen.  Maybe once I quiet down like Mrs. Jones wanted, then I can see what it’s like on the other side of the room.

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The Day Noah Left

2001 was 12 years ago.  What’s up with that?

To put in perspective how this concept has blown my mind, here are some things that happened way back then.

  • Steve Jobs introduced the first iPod

  • A gallon of gas was $1.46
  • Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died in a crash at the Daytona International Speedway
  • The XFL was launched and subsequently flopped

xfl

  • The most popular movies included Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Shrek, Ocean’s Eleven and Pearl Harbor
  • Dharma & Greg, Everybody Loves Raymond and the Drew Carey Show were still on television
  • Terrorists attacked the US on 9/11 killing thousands of people

ny-times-september-12

  • Oklahoma Sooners beat the Florida State Seminoles (sadly) 13-2 in the Orange Bowl
  • Baltimore Ravens won the SuperBowl 34-7 over the New York Giants.  Ray Lewis was the MVP.
  • This was the top song of the year:

In 2001, I was entering my junior year of college.  I was enjoying waking up late and eating food from the cafeteria.  That year, our lacrosse team was 4-7.  That year, I broke up with someone for the first time.  I like to refer to that day (October 3, but I’m not keeping track) as my Independence Day.

So much has changed since 2001 both in our culture and in our lives.  I was a happy student, surrounded by impressive grades and great friends.  But, I was missing something and didn’t even know it.  God was doing a work in me that I wouldn’t see for many years to come.

During my junior year, I started taking the first of a couple semesters of poetry writing.  I recently remembered the following poem illustrating where my thoughts were at the time.

 

Today I watched Noah sail away

everyone in town had been helping him build

they’ve been working for weeks

I’ve been sleeping for years

but I heard he wasn’t going by himself

so I washed in the best stream, put on my best white suit

and brought my tools, even though I’m not a very good carpenter

 

As I walked up to the side of the ark

I was pushed aside by a pair of antelopes,

two beavers followed, damn, and some camels, too

even a couple of doves flew overhead. I didn’t see them though

but I knew they were there.

they seemed to have dropped a little something on my shoulder

 

So I took off my white jacket, hung it from the branch of an apple tree

and then the skies turned from friendly to mean, light to dark,

I heard a heavy thump at my feet, it was a ladder

and Noah, his wife and sons and their wives, and hundreds of animals

looked down and waited

 

Looking at the bottom rung of the ladder,

I realized all I had left were some problems

and a black umbrella to hide me from the rain.

 

It’s very humbling to look back at this poem and see how God was filling my thoughts and convicting me about how I was missing him.  It would be another couple years before I would make a decision to commit my life to following Christ, but the Holy Spirit was already working on me.  Poetry has always helped me understand myself.  The subconscious creeps in and lingers.

The loneliness, abandonment and disappointment I was feeling when I wrote the poem is completely different now.  God has accepted me.  Christ has redeemed me.  The Holy Spirit guides me.  The emptiness I felt has been replaced with hope.  The desperation I felt has been replaced with joy and satisfaction.  The shame I felt has been replaced with love.  I thought I was completely unworthy, but Christ showed me my value.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  -Ephesians 1:7-8

 

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Preposition proposition

How many of you dreaded doing these in elementary school?

diagram_sentence_060513

I’m a sick and twisted kind of geek and actually enjoyed diagramming sentences.  I’ve always believed that everything had a place and there was a place for everything.  I liked finding a place for every part of a sentence and understanding their function.  I was especially good at identifying the prepositions in sentences (Mrs. Lessard would be so proud).

I remember learning the tips on identifying prepositions.  We used to think of things that could be done with a dog and a box.  A dog could be in the box, around the box, near the box, on the box or run through the box.  I’ve seen plenty of other ways of remembering prepositions, including this one that just makes me want dessert.

Prepositions_060513

The function of a prepositional phrase is to modify nouns and verbs while indicating the relationships between subjects and verbs.  I think about how my relationship with Christ looks as if it were a prepositional phrase.

Am I truly living in Christ, with Christ, near Christ?  Prepositional phrases have the ability of adding incremental elements of color and description to sentences.  For writers, it’s important for them to understand the impact of the usage in order for them to make the right choices.  Likewise, we should be able to diagram our lives as Christ followers so we can see if we are adding the same type of emphasis.

For example, are you living life among the lost? If so, maybe you need to step out of your silo surrounded by other Christians.

Are you living opposite of God’s will in your life? If so, maybe praying for focus is in your future.

Are you sharing the result of your life since following Christ?  If not, maybe you should practice writing out your testimony and presenting it clearly and concisely.

Have you considered how Christ defeated death after crucifixion and burial? or how he forgave us despite our sins? or how the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us? or how empty our lives might be without God’s mercy?

In order to grow spiritually, I need to constantly be evaluating where I stand in relation to Christ.  In order for me to modify Christ as a preposition modifies a noun, I need to bring something to the table.  The preposition provides detail or context.  My life needs to provide a strong witness that accentuates Christ and gives Him glory.

Sentences kinda have it easy.  The words are always the words.  Words don’t change.  Words don’t sin.  Words don’t rebel.  Words are consistent.  I am not.  Even in all my effort to modify Christ, I fail and fall short.  Just as diagramming might helps a writer figure out how to craft a wonderful sentence, I need to have the same assessment so I can craft a wonderful life as a disciple.

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