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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Address The Mess: Sick!

I had completely forgotten about my legalistic tendency.

I was raised in a Christian culture, and my family was considered godly.

Maybe they were, but I was challenged with a legalism which I have come to know is anything but godly.

We had a doctrine of grace and could teach it to you, but an unwritten code of performance. I, being a ‘good’ leader, in kind, passed that on. Grace was given with a smile, but adherence was expected to follow in a not too distant place. Remember, none of this was written down, just expected. I would probably be called delusional for bringing this up because like Jell-O, this code could not be nailed down.

You can only imagine the mess that this spawned.

In this regard, I was like Saul, before he became Paul, knowing that I was accomplishing big things for God, but in fact tying nooses around other’s necks and posturing a righteousness that indeed wasn’t by faith, and indeed wasn’t righteousness at all.

I am so incredibly grateful that this absurdity broke in my life.

There were two significant moments where this was driven home to me.

First:

It had been bothering me for a while, but when I showed up at family functions, I would frequently tell all that would listen about all that I was accomplishing. I couldn’t get the exploits out fast enough. I needed to let everyone know how well I was doing and how neat things were going for me, at least in my fanciful dreams. It was obsessive.

One day, while contemplating another gathering, I realized how I was ramping-up my preparation for the next day. I actually said out loud, “Phil you are sick!”

In a moment of clarity, I knew that my posturing days were over and I was able to walk free.

I started then and continue now to rest in the work that Jesus did for me. One of my favourite passages of scripture reads like this, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV) This passage is actually saying that God has taken our mess, all of it, and has given us in exchange his righteousness. No posturing, no performance, just righteousness.

God has taken my ‘sick’ and has given me right living, if I want it, in its place. I find that unbelievably incredible.

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I will share Second: next time.

Joseph Series: You Cannot Move Forward Until…

Owning your stuff, finding forgiveness, and trusting in the one who can make a difference, is the new normal; it was for Joseph’s brothers.
The brother’s lives depended on it, and they couldn’t move ahead without it.
Joseph had his brothers, his father, and their entire families move to prime real estate, the best Egypt had to offer. They moved from absolute need to unbelievable provision all because of who they trusted. They once despised him, but now they trusted Joseph with their entire lives and future.
Joseph’s brothers could not have been saved from their dilemma without this trust.
Joseph was a picture of God’s provision to his siblings and all of their families. He was deliverance from their dilemma, healing from their past, hope for their future, and their new way of life.
History shows; the Bible shows; even Broadway shows that they made the right choice and they trusted the right person. It took them a while, it took incredible hardship, but they finally got it right.
Joseph was left for dead, despised, rejected, and unjustly suffered alone. He was raised to a position second only to Pharaoh himself. Joseph used the new position of ‘fortunate’ to provide for everyone else, especially his brothers.
Anyone else in Egypt couldn’t have and wouldn’t have provided for the brothers. Only Joseph had the answer and the help for their deepest needs; it could be argued that this was unfair to others, narrow and extremely exclusive or it could be accepted that this provision was uniquely designed for their personal lives.
Your future life, your new purpose, your hope for what is yet to be are found here; just as Joseph foreshadowed his family’s future hope and provision, so Christ foreshadows yours.
Now, it is your story, your new normal.
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has its foundation in a true story, which when applied, will change your life.

Joseph Series: A Great Combo

 

A lot can happen in twenty-two years. A lot of dreams and vision can happen; conversely, a lot of dream and vision death can also occur.

Processing takes time. I’ve said it before, but it needs repeating. Processing takes time.

It took me many months for me to forgive an individual who hurt me deeply, and that was after I was trying and working to do so. Years later with plenty of new opportunities, I think I’m doing better. Forgiveness flows much easier. There are a lot of personal checks and balances that get applied along the way. It takes more than a weekend meeting or Saturday training course. Application or processing takes time.

When you are hurt, and it goes deep, you think and dream of what it will look like to be vindicated, but as time grinds on, you begin to lose your fleshly inertia; it gets processed out of you if you so desire.

We don’t know how often Joseph thought of his dreams, or of his vindication, if at all. We just know he was vindicated and could have bitterly judged.

There was no bitterness. No malice. No ill will.

Joseph authenticated what and who was before him, he revealed, he healed, and he restored.

The brothers, self-examined, repented and humbly accepted their new normal.

What a great combination.

Restoration, true to the heart, relational restoration, can only happen when both parties own their own stuff and, not until they do.

Great combos are waiting to flourish.

Are you ready to do your part?

That’s all that matters.

Joseph Series: Family Games

Joseph knew his family’s dysfunction, his brother’s propensity to lie and deceive. He knew that they only lived for their agenda. He didn’t know that it had changed.

Families play games.

My wife and I do, but we do it on purpose, with our kids now adults, and with delightful intent. We’ve done it their whole lives. For the most part, they loved it! How do I know? I told them so. Ha.

It’s the family games that everyone denies that has me greatly concerned. In fact, they aren’t games at all; they could more accurately be called deceptions, family code, and elephants in the room.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the demand that you fit into your role when you are with the family, the way that you act when your buttons get pushed; and no one can push your buttons like your parents and siblings. It’s the stuff no one will talk about, but everyone knows it’s there. And, you and your family do it every time!

Enter Joseph. Joseph was thirteen plus years removed from the family dysfunction, game, code, and he had to know if the code was still in play. He went to quite some length to make sure things had changed. Joseph tested his brother’s in their most vulnerable spot. He for lack of a better term pushed their buttons. Any future with them, had they not changed, would not have been pretty.

Joseph was satisfied to the depth of his emotions that change had come. What a delightful moment.

Thirteen years had taken its toll on the brothers, on Jacob, their father, as well as on Joseph. The brothers had come to realize that their shameful behavior had cost their family deeply.

They came forward and owned their stuff.

This action gives us an awesome picture of repentance. It was almost that the brothers were getting in line to say, “If there is any blame here it is to fall on me, I’m the one.”

Whether they grew into this or got forced into this through circumstances, they owned it.

In absolute humility they prepared for their fate, they couldn’t expect anything else.

This moment overwhelmed Joseph. I don’t think he could have hoped for such a spectacular outcome. Spectacular happens when such depth and hurt get healed.

So in this story, we see a beautiful picture of repentance and forgiveness. One is not complete without the other.

So this begs the questions?

What do you have to own?

What do you have to forgive?

Joseph Series: Expecting, Anticipating Heart

Even though he was detoured, waylaid, some would say stopped, Joseph kept looking for his dream. His dream lived in him.

From what I can gather Joseph didn’t have much, any, support from the immediate world around him. Potiphar and Pharaoh were not interested in Joseph’s dreams as much as Joseph was interested in his own, not even close. In fact, in that culture, slaves do not matter at all. So what if you have a dream?

Pharaoh’s dramatic dream now interpreted and in play had Joseph doing his job, what he was appointed to do. That was all that mattered to Pharaoh but not to Joseph. We know because he named his kids from out of the dream-pool that he had in his heart. His dream leaked out of his life.

1) Manasseh – first son – and means forget – “It is because God has made me forget            all my trouble and all my father’s household.” (Genesis 41:51, NIV)

2) Ephraim – second son – and means twice fruitful – “It is because God has made me       fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:52, NIV)

I’m about 60; no make that 70% entrepreneurial. I see more potential than I ever could take advantage of, or in actuality that my wife would let me take advantage of. That means that I often live with an expectant anticipating heart.

I tend to be the guy that wants to move on the dream taking what is current and moving toward what I can see in my mind’s eye. I want what I perceive to best, and I keep looking for it around every corner.

From my narrow slant on the world I understand dreams, I understand heartbreak, and I know the fulfillment of dreams that were thought to be dead. I also understand expectations that fall short of what’s real.

Joseph’s dreams became a reality. Maybe mine will also.

Maybe yours can too.

Joseph Series: Breakthrough

“Get changed! Get shaved. The king wants to see you now!”
You waited and waited, and then you waited some more, now things are moving so fast you hardly know you are involved.
This was Joseph’s breakthrough moment, well; this was the moment when all things changed.
Joseph’s breakthrough moment happened earlier. I wasn’t there, neither were you. Joseph in the privacy of his privacy had his wrestle with God and with no one else. He wrestled with the same God that changed his dad and the way he walked. How do we know? Joseph held his values. They came out his mouth every time there was an opportunity. It used to be he had a dream and was going to be… Now, God is the interpreter of dreams.
There still was a common thread, dreams. Joseph never gave up on his dream. I’m sure that the dream became very refined, but Joseph knew that God had given it, and he knew that God would now interpret it. He just didn’t know when.
Finally, we get to see the breakthrough.
The king’s dream must have been very compelling and convincing. He moved the entire responsibility of the Egyptian economy into Joseph’s care before a single crisis ensued.
We now read the story within a fifteen to twenty minute sitting and if we are not careful will miss the magnitude of what God did in, to, and for Joseph. We will miss what God did in, to, and for Pharaoh. We will miss what God did in, to, and for Jacob. Oh yes and remember those boys? We might miss what God did in, to, and for them.

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