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Fresh Mercies

The sun came bursting through the atmosphere this morning dispelling darkness, fog, and metaphoric depression. It’s Easter. A new day, fresh dawn, with new mercies, the old gone and the new has come.

Their lives, the ones who were cowering in an undisclosed location, changed and transformed; not because of a new mindset, not because of a bible verse, but because their leader predicted his rising up from being dead, then, first thing on the third morning, he pulled it off. He did it; he came alive after being dead for over 30 plus hours.

His eleven men, his inner circle, his disciples saw first hand his coming back from the dead, not as a zombie, not as a convalescing recovering patient, but as the conqueror of death, hell, and the grave. Plus, a growing total of over 500 people saw his resurrected, transformed, new-life body.

That would change your life; needless to say, it changed their lives forever. Appropriately their fear and remorse vanished. They weren’t even afraid of torture or death. Back-room panic and protection broke into shameless declaration. In an instant, fear was dissolved and gone. Gone. Gone!

History shifted that morning. The Son broke through the atmosphere and dispelled the metaphoric darkness, fog, and depression. He changed every life he contacted. He still does.

He is alive!

Post-Mortem

This was not a good day two thousand-ish years ago, and that is grossly understated. It was certainly not a Good Friday.

Their world had just been blown apart.

Everything they knew for the last three years has lost its hinge-pin. Death can do that, brutal death will do that more, it has a way of destroying every hope in you; it will strip you of your ‘why-a-bouts’ and void your reason without asking your permission or giving you advance warning.

Their reason for being, hoping, dreaming, future, for winning, was just gone. Gone. Gone!

They were terrorized. So, as friends, were trying to regroup and had gotten back together, loosely together, but now what? Would they be next? Who… would be next?

Peter, who usually had all the answers, was uncommonly silent, vacantly silent.

What in the world just happened? How could this happen?

Someone had provided some food, but nobody wanted to eat. Their system couldn’t consume one more thing.

Previously they thought. No, they knew things were going to change. They knew things would soon be very different, but this different? Not this kind of different.

Confidence and excitement were now just a blur replaced by angst and fear. They could vaguely recollect some things said, but it was mumbled in their heads with far-off interior voices.

Who, what, when, why, how? These cycling questions wouldn’t stop. They wouldn’t stop queuing in their brains.

As they looked over at each other, the ‘connection line’ began to thin. Their reason for being ‘with him’ ‘with her’ was gone. Common ground was now starting to have the appearance of foreign soil. Would they still be friends? Could they get through this? Did they even care anymore? Was being here with ‘them’ even safe?

Phrases like; ‘I hoped,’ ‘I knew,’ ‘I couldn’t wait,’ ‘did you see it when?’ ‘He healed him,’ ‘Oh and look. Lazarus, back from the grave!’ These phrases exited their mouths with almost every exhale.

This was a house of confusion, a house of mourning.

This was Friday, but it didn’t feel Good.

Fallen From Grace (A Fresh Perspective)

In the world that I grew up in, ‘Fallen From Grace’ was something catastrophic, an unwanted label, something hugely embarrassing, and something that had an irreparable air about it. At all costs, you wanted to avoid this humiliation, this shaming, this ‘DIS’ Grace. Coming back, if you could, from a fallen position was something that would take hours, days, months or even years to repair, and it might also bar you from a place in heaven. The message was as dangerous as it sounds. It was invoked with a warble in the voice and exaggerated gestures that made the most religious squirm.

That was then, and I for one am glad that it is over for me. Oh, there are still many who would follow that understanding, but for me, there is a fresh understanding that is light years apart from that and has brought back peace and purpose.

I believe that a person can and will fall from grace, but the definition of grace isn’t directly connected to a description of eternal consequence.

Grace simply put, biblically put, is God’s ability given to an individual to meet the task, problem, obstacle, or challenge at hand. God actually empowers you to meet face-on what you need to ‘get through.’ He gives you the ‘grace to help’ in time of need

Falling from that? Falling from grace just means that I have chosen to meet that same obstacle in my own ability and trying to use my own strength, or once again saying, “God I’ve got it.” That’s it. I can continue in that power struggle if I wish or I can yield.

But, that also intrinsically means that I can get back to where God is the one helping and empowering by simply admitting my error, “God I just tried to do this, again, in my own wisdom and ability. I want and need you. I need your grace once again. Amen.” No longer fallen, once again connecting and growing with Him.

Just like getting back on a horse, dust your self off, check out and correct your place of compromise and get back up and get going.

God gives grace to the humble.

Breathe Again

You’ve heard the story, now here are forty-two seconds of evidence. Fleas will only jump as high as the lid that was on their lives even after the cap was removed. Forever, and also to their offspring, they will just jump only as high as the lid used to be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBfniZuko3g

Several weeks ago we met a married couple that spent ten years in a third world country. The population of that country was huge, but the people there would never rise up and challenge the dictatorship they were under, even though if they wanted to, they would have the physical numbers.

The reason?

These people were trained, drilled, disciplined, and abused if they tried to think for themselves, all of this from their early ages and the first moments of cognition.

Even still, some of these people have become very skilled in the processes they have learned. However if you throw in a ‘why’ into their mix, they are at a loss. They have learned to process by ritual, by rote, by the system, but they were and are forbidden to think or inject their ideas into that process.

This dictatorship government has effectively put a lid on these people.

Growing up in Western Canada, I find it almost impossible to imagine such a world until… until I consider some of the lids in my own life.

I have lived with socioeconomic, educational, and most disappointedly of all, religious lids.

The process to the fresh air has been ominous, but I love it up here, and I am learning to breathe again.

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Small Victories

DCIM999GOPROI’ve had great moments where I trusted entirely. But, probably like you, that trust didn’t stay Front and Centre very long.

I, once again, rose in my humanness and took over the thought process. I once again began to fixate on things I couldn’t change, bringing tomorrow into today’s capacity and finding it overwhelming. Ya, once again.

Today is a small victory; today I decided that I would live like my prayers have been heard. I’ve decided that my faith and my action would be harmonious.

Now that I remember God’s got it, I’ll rest.

Ordered Steps, (321,090 of them)

Three times on our recent trip to Europe I got us hopelessly lost, twice in Paris and once in Helsinki. 

41043279-1eb4-4c30-b57e-3de605f9ed78Mostly we had an amazing time of meandering and discovery. Our amazing discoveries included; a cup of Cappuccino with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; the Changing of the Royal Palace Guard dressed in their royal blue regalia in Old Stockholm; Swedish Meatballs at an exquisite restaurant in a small, hidden, triangular courtyard; and Ratatouilles’ friend Remy alive and well at dusk in a hugely populated courtyard. (Chill your spine and curl up into a fetal ball on your chair encounter.) 

My wife and I have learned to travel together by meandering and off-the-grid discovery. It not only works well, but it also works best for us. We don’t spend a lot of money on tourist nets that have been previously set with our names on them. Instead, we discover great places to take a break and sometimes, too often, eat. Parks, bridges, architecture, and archways garnered photo ops by the megabyte.

The hopelessly lost part happened because we had to get to someone else’s ‘great discovery’ restaurant. The ‘have to’ combined with my North American grid mentality was not a right combination in a city of circles and wedges, especially when you add in about 10,000 extra steps.

Even a good relationship can get somewhat testy when you circle around your hotel an extra 2 kilometres in the dark cobblestone streets with rain, without GPS because it’s 11:20 pm and your phone has just died.

We loved the vibe of ancient Europe. We loved the clash and harmony of the architecture of days gone by with the new and innovative appeal. Europe for us equals an amazingly inspired time of pause and reflection.

In a quiet time this morning, I read, “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (Proverbs 20:24, NIV)

It occurred to me that not only our positive steps but all of our steps have a divine oversight because God really is taking us on a discovery journey, an amazing could be inspired time, of pause and reflection.

Is That It?

 

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Thirty-seven years, fourteen days, and fifteen hours and forty minutes ago, I almost said out loud, “Is that it?” The preacher had just said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife…” All I could think about at that moment was, “That’s all there is?” “We waited this long and spent this much and planned so intricately, and it’s over?”

The only thing over was that part of the ceremony. The work was just beginning. All-be-it, it has been considerable work. Right babe? Right…babe?

I’ve had it happen with holidays, destinations, stuff, and things. All the time spent dreaming and planning; the time of hoping and wishing is over in a moment of acquisition.

Life works that way.

We get that new car, and after a week we see someone has gotten a better car with more options on top of a better base package, for a thousand dollars less than what we paid.

Sound familiar?

Even though these things happen and happen with frequency, I believe that the question is a great question to ask, “Is that it? Is this all that there is?”

Some save the question for mid-life so that they can commiserate over it. Others try to ignore it all together.

Instead of allowing the question to intimidate you, come to the table with your sleeves rolled up and your strategy hat on. Ask the question. The fact that you are here to ask it means the answer is a definite, “No! There is more, way more.” The fact that you still have breath and thought means that a new course could be charted, a new normal can be achieved, a new standard can be realized; It just requires you to ask and answer boldly.

So, thirty-seven years, fourteen days, fifteen hours and twenty minutes ago, I ventured on a life-altering, sometimes terrifying, always challenging, and totally rewarding journey. It only required four words, “I do,” and “I will.”

What will you do?

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New Every Morning

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Lamentations 3:20-27 The Message (MSG)

It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

Turn Up The Heat or Wait For The Weekend

The other morning I was listening to one of my favourite artists sing. She dug deep and punched out her lead line with a bit of a growl. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I loved it again this particular morning.

My mind instantly veered down a path of passion, and within moments I was thinking of the great company of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)

My thoughts went to Gideon, David, Elijah, and Ruth and Naomi all who lived fully human, just like us. Then my thoughts continued to the more recent; how about Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa? Then there are a couple of my favourite people who lived and sung with passion, Andre Crouch, and Dannibelle Hall. These people from ancient and recent past all stood with an, “I’ve got something I have to do!” attitude.

“Phil, you are going to be greeted and surrounded by a myriad of people that could literally be defined by their passion,” my thoughts injected. “Are these your people? Is this what you are known for? Are you living with passion? Is your passion for the right things?” (At times my inside conversation bothers me.)

Let me ask you. Right now I am asking where things are at. In the last twenty-four hours, has your passion shown through? Or, are you waiting for the weekend?

Time for some changes?

Me too!

Three Unalterable Facts!

Living life has its challenges.

One of the challenges is, what do you do with the storyline in your head? What is it that you tell yourself in the privacy of your mind? You know, in that private world of quick explanation, what is the voice that comes over your inner PA system?

If you haven’t checked that voice, it probably sounds quite derogatory. It probably reaches to a moment of failure that has fought the test of time and broadcasts it back in living stereo to the isolation of your unique world.

“You’ll always come up short, when it matters, you won’t be there.” That was mine, what is yours?

I call this inner voice, or voice over, The Swirl in my book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl. Use this link to obtain your copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/

Reject the voice of condemnation! Renounce it! Literally say, “I renounce the lie that…” Don’t allow it to play through one more time knowingly.

Correct thinking, correct biblical thinking, will master that voice and create the new sound over in your thoughts, but you are going to have to spend some time on it.

So, here are three facts that I’m using and you are welcome to adopt.

    1. God’s default position toward me is that he loves me. “God loves me!”

    2. God has a purpose for me to live and fulfill. “I matter!”

    3. God only expects me to be me. “I don’t have to be like anyone else!”

When I keep these thoughts foremost, they conquer the swirl and video loop that wants to play again.

Here’s how it works:

When I face a challenge or shortcoming, I immediately call these three facts.

  1. God loves me, so I know that he is working through love for my best interest and best outcome. I can go to the bank on it! He will not reject me or let me go. He’s got this. (1 John 4:16, NIV)
  2. He’s got me on my purpose. He is directing the course of my life. I will fulfill all that he has for me and all that he has promised. This issue before me is engineered for my good and my best interest. It will work out okay because He surrounds me. (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
  3. I’m the only one here in this personal moment. God doesn’t want me to try and be anyone else. He uniquely created me and gave me the circumstances that have led me to this moment, and he will uniquely bring me through. I just need to respond to him and let him do what he is doing trusting that this ‘personal touch’ is well placed and directly appropriate for my best outcome. (2 Timothy 2:21, NIV)

This is faith at its core. Trust that God is and that he is working in my life. Or, trust that God is and that he is working in your life. (Hebrews 11:6, NIV)

Change your focus, He’s got this!

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