There are times in life
When your faith is shaking
and your heart pounds so deeply in your chest
There’s such a longing
a deep desire for so much more
You hope and pray for more
but the hope slowly fades and prayer just turns to guilt
A quiet voice says to fight
you should stand strong for what you want
On a foundation of doubt
and you have nothing to fight from
You could take swing after swing
but miss every time
When you don’t know what to aim for
you’ll miss every time
It’s times like these
When you look to see the horizon
and all you see is dirt
The dirt on your face
from the fall that you never saw coming
It doesn’t matter who warns you
you will never see it coming
Like a thief
it’s a ninja of darkness
There’s a million reasons
maybe even more
Lies that you will tell yourself
reassurances that you don’t even believe yourself.
You’ll pat yourself on the back
and congratulate yourself for fake accomplishments
You’ll amaze yourself
convince yourself that they were all wrong
You’ll hate yourself
convince yourself they were all right
There are alternatives
different ways to avoid the darkness of passion
You can stuff it deep
maybe even convince yourself that you never had it
You can laugh it off
pretend it was just a phase and try to save face
You can die inside
just tell yourself it was a bad dream and pretend it never happened
Passion without pain
Love without hate
Plus without negative
Black without white
Light without dark
They exist as a solo
but are realized to a depth against the other
To have passion is to suffer
to have suffered is to have been passionate
When you find the things closest to your heart
you find your place of weakest defense
When you know what IT is,
you can find the ways to protect it
to fight for it
to make it your greatest fight
an epic fight
I’m a creative
I think mostly with my right brain
You could ask those around me,
but I’d guess that I get all the bad characteristics of the left
I could hate the life that has darkness
but I have to remember the lightness of the past
I could totally buy into my self lies
but I MUST listen to the trusted voices that surround me
I have given up
I have been to the lowest of many places
But, I must be stubborn
because I’m still at it now
pushing through another day
still hoping for new day
still praying through my own self loathing
If I were relying on myself alone
I would never make it
4 My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. 5 Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. 6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest 7 I would flee far away and stay in the desert; Selah
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”
9 Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city.10 Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it.
11 Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets. (Psalm 55: 4-11)
It ended with my head buried in the chest of my friend. Sobs. Tears. A stomachache.
I had heard about my friends’ prayer walking on Monday nights in Atlanta. I had only the slightest desire to add my presence to the group, so I had ignored that desire and went about my own business on Monday evenings. But something changed last week. Maybe it was because I have many people praying for me, or because I am so terrified about my future that I decided to start talking to God again, but whatever the reason, I was impressed to walk the streets of Atlanta Monday night and pray for the Holy Spirit to do something. Something big.
Now, I’m a girl who grew up in a tiny town in southern Illinois, so just walking in the city in the daylight makes me nervous. The city after dark is a totally different creature entirely. My security needs were only somewhat met by the strong men I was walking with and the pepper spray that was tucked into my coat pocket.
We started at a trendy coffee shop full of tattoos, music, and Mac laptops. I didn’t really want to leave that shop.
We ventured out, hot chocolate in hand, and I stayed close to my friend Keith. Let’s call him my bodyguard for the evening. A large, decrepit building loomed across the street. The words “JUST LOST” were scrolled on the side in spray paint. Chris commented that maybe it should say, “JUST FOUND”. I was just hoping to get moving before someone tried to sell drugs to me.
Then Tim walked up. Tim was homeless but decently dressed. Tim looked like a beaten puppy dog. He shared his story and he sang songs to us. He said we were his angels. I’m wondering if it wasn’t the other way around.
After at least half an hour with Tim we resumed our venture down the street. I assumed that was going to be our one interaction with a city dweller for the evening, and as I stopped on the bridge above the train tracks I secretly wished for that to be true. The dirty train moved slowly beneath me and I looked from one side of the city to the other. Even the beautiful parts of the city seemed dead. Lights were burning inside, but they were all dead.
“The ground could easily open up and swallow this terrible place,” I remarked, if to no one else but myself.
Within the next hour or two we encountered a handful of people, two of which we had lengthy conversations with. One told us his story of hardship and trial and why he was on the street. I was skeptical, as usual. I realized that I don’t trust people much. And I don’t trust people I meet on the street at all. I ended up standing on a street corner singing praises to God with this man that I didn’t trust. Go figure.
The other man had a lot to say. I thought he might lunge at me at any moment. I was basically a spectator during his tirade, tucked safely behind Keith’s right shoulder. I nearly cried when this little man tossed his “homeless” sign over the bridge behind me and when he pointed his finger at me and asked, “What would you say?” I shook my head and looked away.
He had asked me what I would tell Christ that I am doing to save souls. I didn’t like that guy. I was glad when he walked away.
We made our way back to the coffee shop with one of our new homeless friends. He bought a coffee and some food and we all sat around for a while. I kept watching to see if he would steal money from the TIPS bucket next to the lids and stirring sticks. He didn’t.
Within minutes of my TIPS bucket stakeout I had my head buried in Chris’ chest. I was there for a while. I knew I was getting into David’s car and riding back to my car. I knew I had a bed waiting at home. I knew that I would probably never be sitting at a bar eating a meal bought for me by strangers that I met on the street late at night. I would be the girl sitting with my hat and scarf, my cell phone and my Mac, sipping a hot chocolate and chatting with friends.
So, why did we leave him smiling, and I left with a stomachache?
14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
(1 John 3: 14-18)
Recently it has occurred to me that no matter how small and trivial some of life’s tasks feel, that God must be there. But how? Where? It is easy to assume that God, in all of His loftiness and transcendent existence, must be too grand of a Being to be concerned with the mundane. Isn’t He the God of the supernatural and extraordinary? Then how can He also be the God of the natural and ordinary, the commonplace, the banal, the secular world?
Could it be that this perspective comes from how we approach God, rather than how God approaches us? Why or why not? What do you think?
You’ll Get It When You Give It - Tis the season to give and get. But let us not get so wrapped up in the festivities of the tradition that we forget about all the people who are hurting. For some, Christmas can be a cruel reminder of losses in life – lost loved ones through death or divorce, lost jobs, lost hopes or dreams. Just the simple fact that this time is suppose to be joyous may drive some into deep depression, apathy or anguish.
So why not think beyond ourselves? Why not give some time, money or presence? Instead of getting caught up in our own selfish celebration, why not remember what it’s all about – Jesus came to tend to and mend the broken and hurting. Then step out of your world and into another person’s and make a difference. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did as God’s gift to us?
I’m coming to understand in deeper ways how true the old saying is… “It is better to give than to receive.” Isn’t that what being a follower of Christ is all about? We have received the gift of His grace, so we follow His example and our lives are graciously being poured out for others? I had the blessing of buying two new tires for a friend this past week because the tread was coming through and she couldn’t afford to replace them right now. While I’m standing at the tire place waiting for the job to be completed, in that moment I felt more alive than ever. I remembered once again as I said to myself, “Now THIS is living!” It really is better to give than to receive because when we give, we are more like God. Have you realized this? You are more like God than at any other moment when you give a gift out of love. That’s why it is better to give than to receive, and why it feels so right.
A family we know needs a car. They are pregnant with their first child and both of their cars died beyond resurrection. The wife got laid off from work and the husband is making enough to support them but with the unexpected circumstances cannot replace their vehicles. So we thought, “Why not? Why not buy them a car?” If we are going to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” doesn’t that mean we will do for them what we would do for ourselves? So we sent out an email to some on our contacts list and explained the situation and the opportunity to do something extraordinary for others. Perhaps you got that email. So it worked, and God worked… we raised money to buy them a vehicle in less than 24 hours. God also directed us through a FUSIONeer to a car dealership that gave us wholesale price on a good used minivan.
We dropped it off after worship with an infant car seat in the back and a $100 gas card. The couple could not believe it. “Why would anyone do this,” they asked? They wept tears of joy and said this simple gift has renewed their belief in God and their faith in people and has changed their entire lives.
FUSION is all about Unleashing God’s Power Together . . . do you see that when we come together, united in Christ to do good, that God’s power is unleashed through us? God can use us better when we come together to explode His love into this world… I mean, after all, isn’t that how this whole Christianity thing got started? God exploded His love into this world through His Son, Immanuel = God with us; beginning as a baby in a manger and dying as a sinless Savior on the cross for all the sins of humanity.
God GAVE. Do you get it? He gave us love, grace, mercy. He gave Himself for us. Do you get it? Perhaps you’ll get it when you give it. So GIVE yourself away for others. You might be surprised at how good it is to be ALIVE, living in the image of God.
(Turn Christmas UPSIDE DOWN by gifting a donation to Jesus – it will go to help out this couple & people in tough times by creating a FUSION Relief Fund – mark envelope “UPSIDE DOWN” & drop in offering or mail to: FUSIONchurch P.O.Box 250168, Atlanta, GA, 30325)
2 Sizes 2 Small
We just began a new teaching series this past week based off the story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” You see, the problem with the Grinch was that his heart was “two sizes too small.” This explained his miserable Grinchy attitude.
How about you? Do you ever find yourself having a bad attitude? Do you ever find yourself thinking only of yourself, or placing yourself above others?
Whether your attitude and actions are downright Grinchy or if you’re able to disguise your self-absorbed ambitions, all of us could stand to check ourselves and see if perhaps our hearts need a bit of enlarging… For it is out of the heart that everything else comes.
Proverbs 4:23 says…
“Above all else, guard your heart for it affects everything you do.” (NLT)
I hope you will discover how to enlarge your heart in time for Christmas . . . so it is not 2 Sizes 2 Small.
EPIC :: From Wretches Into Warriors
What sort of story are we a part of? Who are we, where do we come from and why are we who we are?
Here are the topics:
EPIC Groups (small groups) are starting all over Atlanta. Contact us if you’d like to be part of one.
The main point of the article is summarized in these words:
“Is there power in positive thinking? A study just published in the journal Psychological Science says trying to get people to think more positively can actually have the opposite effect: it can simply highlight how unhappy they are.”
The article didn’t make any spiritual applications – but I suggest we do so:
Think of the implications of our commonly accepted practices to “better” ourselves and how people accept or reject human depravity and the need to receive grace.
Mark Driscoll, well-known pastor/author, once said something like, “Postmoderns have never been told, ‘You suck.’ They’ve grown up hearing how good and wonderful they are and no one has been telling them the truth.”
In light of this article, perhaps that’s one reason we live in an era of great skepticism. Have we been told the truth about who we are and how to deal with it?
What the research from this article is suggesting is that being told you are great and wonderful and can do anything is not the truth and when people hear something other than the truth, it makes them feel bad that they don’t measure up to where they’d like to be (or where they are being told they SHOULD be). In the process, it brings up unnecessary guilt and shame. So we need to be honest with our shortcomings, honest with our weaknesses, because you cannot deal with something until you recognize and admit it. That’s the first step in AA. It’s the first step in any recovery process, whether purely physiological, psychological or spiritual – to admit there is a problem and accept the fact that it is this way. That brings it into the light where you can remove unnecessary guilt and shame because you no longer are hiding it (or trying to convince yourself it doesn’t exist).
My basic interest in this research is this: if people would embrace this concept it would put them in a vulnerable and humble state of existence where I think they would be more open to hearing and embracing the Gospel… instead of trying to fix themselves. The Gospel is not a self-help program. It is a God-saves story.
The widely accepted theory among psychologists has been that WE can make ourselves BETTER through positive thinking. This is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible says all of our righteousness is as filthy rags and there is no one without sin. Popular psychology undermines the Gospel and diverts people’s attention from this truth by telling them all they need is within them… that they do not need any help from outside of themselves.
So this new research (in this article) is going against everything modern psychology has been saying by telling people — stop lying to yourself, it’s okay to admit that you’re a mess, that you’re not perfect, that you have weaknesses.
The sad truth about contemporary society is that it widely rejects the love and forgiveness of Christ in favor of self discovery and moral relativism. If society (including us) turns to self to make improvements, then we are making ourselves our own saviors and gods. People must understand their own human depravity, their wretchedness, in order to realize they cannot save themselves and therefore must seek for help. The Bible teaches that we need God in a huge way and ONLY through HIM can we experience a transformed life.
In other words – IF YOU NEVER KNOW YOU’RE A SINNER, YOU’LL NEVER LOOK FOR THE SAVIOR. And finally, these studies are supporting this spiritual truth by telling people “you have limitations,” and that’s where I as a preacher say, “and one of them is that you may be a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior.”
My life text is 1 Corinthians 15:10 –
Paul is commenting about how hard he has worked in comparison with the other apostles and then he makes this statement:
“…by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me has not been without effect.”
This is how I view myself – if there is anything good in me, if you see anything, it is by God’s grace and His grace has not been without effect in me – so you will see that my life has been changed and continues to transform. I think this is healthy improvement for my life… it is GOD-Help through honest thinking. The world could use more honest thinking.
What about you? Have you been disappointed in “Self-Help” practices or had great success? When have you held on to your negative views of yourself more deeply when someone is telling you positive statements? How might accepting your weaknesses or failures be a good thing? What power lies in knowing your limitations?
It is a 5-part teaching series.
The titles are:
1. Finding Forgiveness
2. How Can I Forgive Myself?
3. How Can I Forgive Others?
4. Is Forgiveness Really Forever?
5. Livin’ Forgiven
We are really excited about the potential healing power of this series, as each of us has issues to deal with and to begin or continue to receive the life God is offering us.
God wired you to make a difference in the world.
For 7 weeks we are exploring this truth.
The Series Titles are:
The Power of Influence
Envision My Future
Activate My Gifts
Deepen My Faith
Engage My World
Reproduce My Influence
What are you doing with your influence to make a difference in the world?
The offering from the grand opening is paying for Mercikley, in Brazil, to go to college!
This is a student who wants to become a doctor but cannot afford to continue his education. My cousin, Steve Wilson, and his family were on a mission trip to Brazil recently and they met Mercikley.
Just this week, not only did FUSION worship in music, singing, teaching, prayers and praise… they also raised money to send Mercikley, in Brazil, to a university for an entire year!
Yes, Mercikley will feel the power of FUSION… it will change his life forever. My prayer and confidence is this: that it will also change my life and yours… as we make a difference together!