It feels great to be upgraded to first-class when you're used to flying coach.
It feels great to get a better deal on something than you were anticipating, right?
When God tries to upgrade the quality of our life, why do we often resist this grace gift?
Maybe it's self-reliance, or perhaps we don't believe we are worthy of such a gift.
We have to have courage to move beyond our self-imposed limitations.
Seriously, what if God wants to bring a new friend into your life? A new significant other? What if God had a dream job in mind for you, but you missed it because you're overly loyal to what you've been doing for years? Or worse yet, you hate what you do, but stick around because it's easy and you can do it mindlessly?
Or maybe we like what is safe and secure? Maybe we’re not looking for the challenge of something new, but only desire to protect the status quo? If so, to each their own.
Not me though.
I'm a risk-taker.
Life is too short to not take a few risks! I crave the challenge and thrill that comes from living my life adventurously.
Life should be an adventure to be enjoyed, not a grind to be endured.
I've studied theology pretty intensely in the academic environment, but I've also developed my own arm-chair theology I call “Jeremyology.” It’s my personal take on God.
With that being said, I think God is brilliant and is continuously speaking to us in the hushed interior whispers we call our consciousness.
I think God is always looking for ways to upgrade the quality of our lives, whether it's through a new relationship, a new job, or a new investment opportunity.
It's like Leonard Ravenhill said, “opportunities of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity”
Most important to me is that God upgrades the quality of my life just being in mystic union with him through Christ. The mystery of his indwelling presence is something of pondered for years. I do not claim to understand it, but I have experienced it, and that always leaves me feeling like my life has been upgraded!
I’m a writing machine. I hope you're challenged or inspired by what you read here.
I leave you with one thought! In what way do you think God desires to upgrade the quality of your life?
Thanks for checking out my blog, and I welcome you to leave your comments below.
When life changes drastically it can be a hard thing to accept.
It's a natural tendency to resist change. For most of us, our sense of security is found in the familiarity of our routines. When those routines are disrupted by life, death, or other circumstances, it can really throw us off.
Adapting to the new norm can be difficult. Making adjustments in the present can make you feel like you're being unfaithful to your memories of the past.
Like it or not, acceptance was/is the answer.
According to the Big Book of A.A. on page 417, it states,
“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Page 417
I define acceptance as a mental and emotional commitment to making peace with my present circumstances. I have to accept that I can not change what has happened, but I can change my thoughts and how I relate to those past events.
So that's where I am at today.
Acceptance is the answer. After all, whining, pouting, and engaging in prolonged self-pity doesn't work for me. I must accept what is, because I can not change the past, no matter how traumatic it is or attached to it I might've been. I can only make peace with it and learn how to live again as I adjust my life and expectations to embrace this new reality with faith and confident expectation.
I am grateful for reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and for all that God has for me in the days ahead.
I am now living on life's terms, not my own.
They say perception is reality to the perceiver.
Do we all see things the same way?
Do we see one another, ourselves or God the same way?
Experience has taught me that emotions aren't the best lenses.
As a kid, I remember the course on drunk driving where they used the example of putting vaseline on your glasses as they attempted to explain how intoxication distorts perception.
Sometimes intense emotions distort our perception. They also compromise our judgment.
In times of grief and loss it feels like you just can't see everything clearly.
No matter how deep your denial, or how you rationalize and justify what you're doing to cope, there will be a time when it all comes crashing in on you.
In that moment, when you can no longer deny your pain, your anger, or your grief, the fraud of whatever story you've told yourself and others about being okay becomes obvious.
So, that's when I surrender and start to pray.
When I pray, I perceive. When I contemplate, I am content. When I listen, I know I am loved. I see and hear what God is trying to tell me.
He's telling me that I am loved, I am free, and that I have permission to embrace the life he desires me to live.
God wants us to perceive him so we can persevere in him.
You may not always understand your choices, or even what motivates your behavior, but God does. He chooses to love you anyway!
My life is a work in progress, not perfection, but I am perfectly in him and that is what matters most to me.
Before you throw yourself on the ground in protest, this isn't a post about gender politics or any other such social justice topic.
This is a post about being a man.
Maybe you'd agree that masculinity is being redefined while traditional concepts of masculinity are being called toxic.
I'm writing this blog post to add my two cents to the conversation. I don't get much traffic to this blog, so I doubt that it will be met with any controversy.
I welcome dialogue, and am not interested in a diatribe or monolog.
The following bullet points are what I hold up as masculine values. These are basic things men in my generation would’ve learned from their Grandfathers. These are also values that many women I've known report they appreciate in a man.
These are not ranked in order of importance, they are my values and I am writing them out as they come to mind.
That is all for now.
Agree or disagree?
Post your thoughts in the comments below.
I know it's kind of cliche to take about goal setting in the first month of a new year.
I like to set goals, it's like putting a bullseye on the horizon, it gives me something to aim at. I like to set short and long term goals. They say a goal, once achieved, no longer motivates.
I like to stay motivated and hustle towards the fulfilment of my goals. I love momentum. Don't misunderstand me, I also like stillness and rest. Both seem like contradictory goals, but if you can balance the tension of paradox, you'll see both can be achieved. I also like the creativity involved in goal-setting, and the energizing effect it has upon my cognitive functioning. It makes me feel sharp.
I love personal development, strategic planning, and doing an occasional SWOT analysis (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats). I enjoy reading anything that helps me to move forward in my life in achieving the goals I set for myself. The most important aspect of personal development is my daily connection with God.
The goals I am setting for myself keep me motivated and My relationships hold me stay accountable in achieving them and bringing them to fruition.
Here are some of my goals.
As you can see, I have a lot of goals. nothing is impossible with God, so I put my wholehearted trust and confidence in him.
Much love to you my beloved friends.
By the grace of God, my days are beginning to be filled with wonder and awe once again.
Day by day I work hard to fully immerse myself into this new life I’m living. At times it feels weird. What I mean is, I no longer have anyone to take care of, no doctor's appointments at the Mayo Clinic, no life or death medical emergencies to contend with daily.
I'm not complaining, merely observing what I suspect other people take for granted, which is a simple, peaceful life.
Is this what it feels like to live a normal life; a life without trauma, drama, and plenty of additional free time?
I am working full time doing what I love. I love where I live. And, I love those around me that I am reconnecting with and those I am just meeting and getting to know.
I am a wanderer living in wide-eyed wonder at God’s goodness as he see his plans and purposes be found to unfold in my life.
I don't like the pain I've been through, but I am growing from it.
I am grateful for all that has happened for me, not to me in the last 6 months.
I am developing my faith, getting back to the basics, and working through complex trauma that had built up over the years of being a caretaker for my late wife.
I just want to say thank you if you count yourself among those that have prayed for me, rather than gossip.
I want to say thank you if you count yourself among those who extended hand if from headship and forgiveness.
If you consider yourself as someone called to judge me or my life for any reason, I want to say thank you, and let you know that I am praying that God would give you a revelation of his grace. I pray that tragedy such as mine would never befall you.
I have no enemies, only friends I have won over yet by God’s grace.
I will continue to live out the adventure God has for me as I live in wonder while I wander!
Much love to you beloved friends.
*PS. I will be republishing my first book, A Ragamuffin Saint: The Messy Journey of a Dusty Disciple soon. It will be coming out in a hardcover format as well as being available on Audible. I'll keep you posted.
Hear me out.
There are times where I have felt very alone, very isolated, and missing my family. My family composition has changed so dramatically over the last year.
When my wife died (7/19/2021), my best friend died too. That's a lot for a guy to take in.
I felt lost, alone, and dissociated from the internal reality of my grief. I tried on a new life, that God hadn't called me to, one that left me feeling hollow and empty, like an act put on by a burned out actor who lost faith in his craft.
Recently, things have changed. I made bold choices. I went with God. I stepped out of an illusion and fantasy, into actual reality. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
I hope you're tracking with me.
Every experience, big and small, is an opportunity for learning, and I seem to learn best in the laboratory of life itself.
Professionally, I've helped hundreds of families over the years walk through grief and bereavement pastorally. I've done so with grace, love, empathy, wisdom, and tenderness.
None of that pastoral experience guided me in my own bereavement. I was lost, angry, and broken. For months I lived as an imposter, locked in a prison of my own making, not God’s creation.
I have come back to life. I've come back from death, God is raising me to a new life and a new life in him.
Even though my amazing daughters have left the nest, and my late wife has graduated to Heaven, it is well with my soul.
I am reconnecting with old friends, and making new friends. I am deeply connected to God. I've connected with my new church and pastor. I'm loving the recovery meetings I'm attending.
So, here is the point:
I no longer feel alone.
Much love to you beloved friends!
As I work through feelings of grief and loss over the tragic death of my late wife Cally, this morning at church God spoke the following words to me.
“Jeremy, you're entering a season of renewal and revival. I will restore what the enemy has taken from you. I am filling you with my presence, and I am reviving the dreams I placed in you long ago. I am filling your lungs, breathing my life into you. You will dream dreams, you will prophecy, your words will be my words to bring healing to the hurt, restoration to the broken, and hope to the hopeless. I am releasing you into a season filled with joy, peace, and abundance. I want you to enjoy life my beloved son, enjoy your friendship with Jesus, and insanely fun belly laughter with the Spirit. Pay attention, I am doing a new thing in you!”
This is a powerful word of knowledge downloaded into heart by God this morning. I am so grateful to hear from God after a season of not feeling like I was really hearing his voice.
Praise the Lord, I am finding hope and healing in Jesus name!
I will continue to walk down the healing path that God has set before me. Making new friends, connecting with old friends and witnessing the beautiful new life he has set before me.
We don't get to choose how people perceive us. I also believe that we’re not responsible for their assumptions about us or the lives we live. We simply do not have that kind of control.
That's why I've stopped trying to control how others perceive me. I'm tired of trying to look good without feeling good.
I think I have the right to have human moments too. Authenticity is better than imposter syndrome, even if it contradicts people’s unrealistic perceptions or expectations of me.
If you’ve ever been in any kind of leadership role, then you might agree with the statements I made in the paragraphs above.
Everybody excels at something, and everyone is a leader in some large or small way. We naturally look towards leaders because they show us an example of a way of thinking or living that is attractive or appealing. As a result, we often put them on a pedestal.
The bigger the pedestal, the harder they fall. You can hear the thud they make when they hit rock bottom. It's disappointing.
Let's keep our focus on Jesus.
The best leaders don't know they are leaders. The best leaders excel at serving others. So, serving others equals leadership by my math.
Here is the question I have been pondering:
Do leaders have permission to be human?
Think about this:
Leaders face a lot of scrutinies. But, because of the visibility related to their leadership role, they bleed publicly when they're wounded by life. What I mean is this, they may have lived a squeaky clean life before the tragic event happened in their life. They may have lived a life that checked all the right boxes and followed all the rules. But, when tragedy strikes, they make confusing choices that contradict the wisdom of the life they’ve previously lived. When they come to their senses, their emotions, their regrets, and any other pent-up emotions come leak out of them like blood from a wound.
Will you be there to support, like they were there to support you in your 11th hour of need?
When caught up in the suffering and trauma of their tragedy, leaders find themselves feeling alone, abandoned, misunderstood, and perhaps even let down by God. So, in their desperation, they allow the intense grief and emotions they're feeling to override their faith's logic and wisdom. The aftermath is usually embarrassing and humiliating.
What can you do to make it safe for them to come out of their shame and trauma?
I'm glad you asked!
Be sure to remember that spiritual leaders are human too. They make mistakes that can let you down, so don't put them on a pedestal. All attention and praise belong to Christ and Christ alone. Christ is the only one who will never fail you or let you down.
PS. God gives you permission to be human (me too).
There is a statement I remember hearing in regards to the old pharisaical and self-righteous practice of pointing out someone's sin or mistakes while ignoring their own. It's called “polishing your halo.” I've heard people refer to it as “wearing your halo too tight.”
Have you ever done that? I regret to inform you that I have.
It’s a fact that the righteous and the unrighteous are both capable of acting self-righteous when making judgments about others.
I think we’ve all done it. We’re all guilty of pointing out the sin in someone else while downplaying our own. I'm guilty, and maybe you are too? That's between you and God.
Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 7:5. He talked about removing the splinter from your eye before pointing out the plank in someone else's eye. I call it “plank eye syndrome.”
What we know to be true by faith must also be understood through the lens of faith-informed psychology if we are to help people who are struggling. This doesn't preclude the supernatural work of the Spirit to bring healing, it all depends on your relationship with God. When we do something wrong, whether overt sin or a failure to exercise spiritual discernment, it is God’s grace and forgiveness that restores us, not the idle gossip and judgment of religious-sounding busy-bodies.
For example, how often do prayer chains morph into gossip chains? I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it. I won't participate in it.
With all the latest research into trauma and how it affects the brain, it is clear to me that many of the choices we make that blow up in our faces are less in the category of sin, and more in the category of compromised judgment due to variables released a tad to poor mental health. It doesn’t rationalize or justify making poor choices while under emotional duress, it merely explains it.
I’ve learned the following facts throughout my life and ministry:
The church needs to follow the example of Christ in dealing with those who’ve experienced trials, trauma, and tragedy in their life by not judging them, but forgiving and restoring them.
There will be a time in each of our lives when we need grace and understanding from others. So, lets be sure to extend it on the front end, so we can receive it on the back end (in our time of need).
Grace and peace to you my beloved friends.
PS. You might’ve noticed I changed the name of my blog to The Rugged Grace blog. I did that due to what God is showing me about his grace. I’ll explain more in a future blog post.