Thursday, July 31, 2008

Knowing Fear

I have never been much of a "Dreamer" when it comes to sleep. Growing up I can remember a handful of times where I even remember dreaming, and most of them had some sort of personal meaning. I found out a couple of years ago, this was due to having a form of sleep apnea caused by a small trachea and a condition called "momentary leg movements". All that means is that my body was waking me up once every 5min at night when I was trying to sleep.

Anyway... I have since rectified these issues and now have a breathing machine that helps me sleep... But, I still don't dream often. Now probably dream (or at least remember dreaming) 1-2x a week not much else. Last night, before bed, I was working on re-constructing a raid array so I could retrieve some files. I have a tendency at night, when I do dream, to work on puzzles of a sort. Usually my dreams involve working through logic puzzles, coding, and any "Technical" issues I may encounter during the week. I remember beginning to dream last night, in my dream I was re-constructing a raid array so I could retrieve some files (sound familiar), when all I remember is a wash of fear over me and bolting straight out of bed to the sound of our fire alarm.

10seconds doesn't seem like a very long time, unless you are in the middle of a crisis. I remember in that short, very short amount of time from becoming alert to the time I stood up a whole slew of emotions and thoughts. First, was fear. Not the kind of fear where you can see what is happening but can't do anything about it-- like the dreams where you stand in front of a class in your underwear but can't do anything about it. This was a different kind of fear... one I don't every want to experience again.

The fear of the unknown!
This fear I experienced was of the unknown.
  1. I had NO Clue as to why I bolted straight out of bed
  2. I had No idea what the sound was that I was hearing so quickly
  3. I had no idea what to do or how to act in this situation
I felt completely helpless, and utterly defeated in a mater of a few seconds

The second Thing I realized was, I couldn't talk. I tried to call out to my wife, but I couldn't make words form... I could barely make any noise. Talk about freaky! Everything had happened so fast, my body hadn't had time to respond yet... but my brain was going full blast!

Mind you at this point my adrenaline had kicked into overdrive... ready to act, and to respond... but my brain didn't know what to respond to and my body was still taking a ciesta.

FINALLY after about 10-15 seconds, I was able to mouth the words to my wife... IT's OK, It's OK! Of all the things to say, why that??? How about What in the world is going on??
Thinking back on it, I realize that my brain had already determined that we were in no immediate danger. How Strange! I got out of bed and headed through the house to check on everything, by the time I stepped out into the living room, I felt like I was going to throw up! I felt like I had run for 40 miles (or in my case 1mile straight). I walked through the house and made sure everything was ok, and got the ladder out to "FIX" the Malfunctioning Alarm. I had to lay back down just to catch my breath and keep from puking it was so nerve-wracking. Once that was done and Eliza had gone back to bed I went into my office to sit and think a bit. I started thinking through what had just transpired, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.... I HAVE GOD ON MY SIDE!!! You see, I know this, and have for years... but these situations bring you closer to knowing who you trust than anything else! I spent some time praying and "re-centering" my self before I went back to bed.

I have God... what does that mean to me?? It means that in every unknown situation and circumstance, there is someone on my side that can see around the corner. Ipso-facto Nothing is unknown... just not experienced!

Does this mean I shouldn't be afraid.... well yes, I shouldn't.... however God also created me with certain innate reactions, like flinching when I touch a hot stove. Fear, Panic, and Terror, are most times reactions of the body to given stimulus, or an expectation of stimulus. Take MONK for example... even His fears, as irrational as they may seem to you and me, are caused by stimulus, or an expectation of stimulus.... germs, paper cuts, bad milk etc. (ok so I still can't figure out the crack thing unless it goes with the "Break your mothers back" thing).

Point is this...
Fear is natural, How you respond to fear.... give in and allow it to control you, or walk with wisdom and trust in God... is what matters most.

C.S.Lewis said, in "The Inner Ring"

Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.

If you give into the fear, it will be all you are left with in the end... fear
But if you conquer fear, through Christ, you will be victorious

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Would Jesus vote for Ross Perot???... An Introspective

(Yes it is a LONG Post... sorry)

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity of sitting outside of the Wilmington International Airport, waiting for my parents to arrive on the obligatorily late flight into our po-dunk (smells like something died outside because we decided in all of our wisdom to put the flight entrance to our city right across the street from our solid waste disposal plant and laughingly secured prison so you will know what we really think of you as our guest) airport.

As I was sitting there (at 12:30 am... yes as in morning and not even the birds are awake) I decided to listen to christian radio... something I don't do often for reasons I may eventually blog about. As I was sitting there the "Point of View" radio Broadcast came on.

Never having been one who follows the Fundamental Evangelical Viewpoints, weather on TV or otherwise... I was curious as to their particular beliefs on the topic of the night--- Abortion

The views written here on my blog do not reflect the views of anyone but me, If you have a problem with what I am saying, please respond... but remember at the end of the day they are still MY beliefs!

I have always had pretty strong views on abortion - against
But, in my years growing up and learning about the things of God, I have had some experiences that would tell me that we(as in Christians) don't always communicate our beliefs in the best way. I think there is a tendency in the world for Christians (as well as other religions) to treat others that don't believe exactly the same, and use the same verbiage, as a blight on society, and an affront to Christ Himself.

I believe as a christian that my life and my principles should be molded from the bible. The way I live my life, the way I view situations that affect me, and the way I present myself to others. I also believe, just as the apostle Paul taught, that there are different responsibilities to the "Law" under which you were born.

I was born under the law of "freedom from death" and Jesus Fulfilled the law for me because there is NO WAY I could have.

Jews are born under the law of "Abraham" and are still responsible to uphold it to this day

Those that are neither Jew, or christian... what law are they born under? What rules must they adhere to??

I submit, that they(for the most part... unless they are a part of another religion) are under the law of self preservation and self fulfillment (see worshippers of Baal) - You see this law is a lot different... it states that I am to look out for myself first, and no one else... it states that I am responsible for my own destiny... that I am my own God and I make my own rules... say what I want because I am not responsible for anyone or anything else!
NOW comes the hard question that I have often asked myself -
What am I accountable for?
Am I responsible to make sure everyone follows the law that I am under?

My responsibility is this-- to simply live in a way that glorifies God, to love God with all of my heart mind and soul, and to love my neighbor as myself-- PERIOD

In this, I have full freedom to encourage others around me to follow a different path, but no requirement for them to do so.

As I was listening to the radio, I realized that they were using a very questionable tactic to communicate their point.

I have always heard the 2 viewpoints of abortion expressed as
Pro-Life and Pro-Choice (emphasis on the individuals right to choose)

Here they were communicating Pro-Life And Pro-Abortion(emphasis on death)

What's the big deal you ask?
This is a very backhanded way of saying that if you aren't behind one group all the way then you are a murderer-- THIS IS SO NOT TRUE!!!

I DO NOT believe that abortion is right or a good thing, but I DO believe that it is NOT MY place to determine someone else path that they have to walk. Each person has to be accountable for their own decisions.

In this same discussion they also said that (bit of a paraphrase for time)
"states that are normally liberal are becoming more conservative, and that is largely because of the liberals views on abortion--- they are aborting not re-producing"

That's when it hit me!!!
These groups are not focused on loving those around them to a knowledge of Christ... they are focused on Politics-- Plain and simple! Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) A marketing tactic used for years to get people to believe a certain thing, or to buy a certain product. It is not designed to Love, or present a view of Love, but to manipulate others so they will vote a certain way-----

So I must ask myself - Do I represent a view that is calloused against others with different views? or do I really LOVE my neighbor, regardless of what their views are or what actions they take in their own walk f life????

.... just thinkin ....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Wilmington Milestone

This past week, Tim Blevins and myself had the opportunity to go spend a little time at PC3.
Without going into too much detail, let me just say, I was overwhelmed when I walked into their new sanctuary.

You see, I have lived in this town for many years, and most of my ministry experience and expectations have been built around this town. At my last church, when it was younger I spent a lot of time learning about church growth, and planning, and being a part of vision-casting sessions... and durring it all, I had this sense that there must be more. There MUST be a way to have a church over 1000 people that is thriving, growing and healthy. This week, I realized that PC3 has Broken the mold!

Sure there are other churches that have more than 1000 total members, but MOST of them are based on a doctrinal draw...

PC3 started from scratch, and this weekend are having the first service in their own building!

All I have to say is

GREAT JOB PC3!!!! You guys have set a standard for wilmington, that will hopefully NEVER go back!!

I am so thrilled to be in a town that can and will support such a thriving ministry!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Process

So for the last couple of months, I have been walking out my new role as Connections Pastor here at LifeCC.

Here's the update
  1. I am amazed every day, how much God likes to stretch me. some evenings I get home and squish into the recliner and feel like Mr. Incredible after getting hit by a boulder and re-solidifying--- I wouldn't change it for the world!
  2. I find out every day just how much I don't know and how much I have to learn about people and what makes them tick.
  3. People like green T-Shirts
  4. Guests to a church all have their own language and expectations... if you can meet them at the door and say "We are trying to meet your expectations"(or communicate to your expectations) at the front door, they will be generally more at ease the rest of the time(till you bring out the bag of snakes.... just kidding... SERIOUSLY!).
  5. You can "Lead" culture - The past couple of Sundays with the new T-shirts, I have seen more of a buzz created for relationship... last week we had quite a few "Core" people gone and you could see the buzz kept going, the relationships were still active and being formed with guests!! AWESOME!!!
  6. I need to Blog More!

Based on #6, I will attempt to chronicle our process, and my growth as we get better at our processes and flow, and bring people closer to God, and each other!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The TRUE cost of Deoderizer

In the interest of fairness and possible legal implications, I will tell you a story that recently happened to be, but WITHOUT using the company names. I will refer to them as company A and company POO (you will see why later)

A few days ago, I was on a mission... Shopping for church supplies. As any normal shopping trip would be it was a time filled with fun, laughter, song (you get the picture... it was shopping)
When suddenly a dark cloud began to descend upon me... more specifically on my bowels (at this point I will say, YES it is more information than you need to know, so I will stop there).

As the storm began to rage, I began to look for a place of safety and refuge from the storm (Do you see where I am going with this??). I stopped by "company POO" because they were the closest, in hopes that they would provide a safe shelter from the approaching storm. As I went into the shelter, I was OVERCOME by the grossest, most foul smell I have ever smelled in a public place. I began looking for a seat in the shelter (stall for those that still don't get it) but everyone I saw had "Stuff" on it.... weather that "Stuff" be "Rain" from a previous storm, or "Other" debris (Yes I am serious... why i call it company POO). Never have I been in so nasty of a shelter... even the local parks and rec "Shelters" are better maintained. I kid you NOT, I felt like I was going to throw-up if I stayed in there another second.

The storm was getting closer, the sky's swirling with rage.... I frantically began looking for a new shelter, and I came a cross "company A". I went into the shelter, and was immediately amazed by how well maintained it was... and the smell... oh wow.... almost a sweet smell of citrus, it vaguely reminded me of those orange Flintstones push pops I used to get as a kid. Each of the seats in the shelter were maintained, and clean, it appeared as if the "Grounds keeper" had maintained after every storm... so I felt safe.

The rains came, the thunder rolled, and the storm subsided.

As I began to leave I started thinking

What is the true cost of deodorizer?

--- The true cost of deodorizer, is a potential customer!

In the case of company POO
This was a major bookseller and a store chain, had I felt safe in their "Shelter" I would have browsed around when the storm subsided, possibly seeing some book or other trinket that I absolutely could NOT live without. Instead, their lack of cleanliness and deodorizer sent a potential customer "Running"out the front door. I also know now from that experience that if I ever am in need of a shelter from another storm, I won't even check there.... I will avoid it like the plague (or like I might catch a plague if I go in there again).

In the case of company A
My hat's off to you, and because of your excellent cleanliness, and wonderful smell in your "Shelter" I will promote you---
Company A was "Chic-Fil-A"! An American Icon of cleanliness and non-interactive customer service. Their cost for their deodorizer was not only more advertising via my blog, but continued loyalty from a customer.... who knows if I EVER need shelter from a storm, they are there, safe, clean, and they smell good!!!

Did you get that .... a new phrase I think I just made up??

Non-interactive customer service
JUST as important as the interactive customer service.... but I will blog about that later