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.


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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Address The Mess: Not So Perfect Picture

We can assume that it is our job to address someone else’s.

Most of the time that is not the case.

Cruise2017aI recently shared this picture on Facebook, and I love it. It captures the sass and the fun that my wife and I frequently have with each other. One of the comments by someone who knows us reasonably well was that it captures our personalities.

What it doesn’t show is the regular, the mundane, the hurt, and the pain that life can hold and sometimes deal out. It doesn’t show the low moments, the struggle moments, or the confusing moments that accompany every relationship and every life. It doesn’t show the hours of conversation or the short nights that it sometimes takes to work through the mess.

We can naively carry on thinking that others have a perfect life and “If I could only have it like them then things would be great.”

Everyone has snapshots that if captured and presented would represent a moment of bliss or euphoria. I am not so concerned about those moments. Instead, I want to address in this series the other 99.99%.

I can think that life is pretty good. I can take care of ‘my side’ and believe that everything is okay. My problem is that I often start with me and work out from there. However, that may not always be the best measurement, and much of the time it can be skewed.

Even though I can look good in a moment to you, or I can look good in my thinking to myself, I also have the potential to affect others, and that will not always have me in a great light. I struggle like you with being human, with getting it right.

I can even go to the scriptural extent that I’m busy trying to take out a sliver from your eye while I am oblivious to the log in my own.

I need to Address The Mess in my own life. That is where I start. Once I come to terms with how short I have fallen, how much I need, how far I have missed the mark of perfection, then maybe, just maybe I can begin to help someone else.

God provides tons of help and encouragement, but it is only available when I can be honest with myself and real with him.

“Woohoo!” It’s All in The Performance

Three separate things came into my world and joined hands just the other day.

1) My good friend’s daughter gave a stellar performance last week on the parallel bars and balance beam in her gymnastics competition.

2) Facebook reminded me of a performance that I joined my daughter in six years ago as she took on Victoria in, “Vancouver Island’s Got Talent.”

3) Another buddy walked into my house and with an ashen face said, “The doctor told me to prepare my will…I’m going to die.” They had found an aneurysm the size of a Loonie.

These three things kaleidoscope‘d’ in my mind and nailed a thought.

My friend’s daughter’s performance was videoed and put on Facebook. His heart leaked out of his mouth as he watched and videoed his accomplished gymnast, “Woohoo!” Three combined letters said it all.

Then as I watched, now six years removed, my pride swelled again as my daughter killed her performance and walked away with the prize.

My buddy, who five days ago had his holidays canceled and his life held over a cliff, had to know if he/we were praying to get God’s approval or if he already had it. When you are told that your brain could have an explosion at any moment, you don’t know whether to “blow or sneeze. ” Both are precarious.

My thought was this, “None of these things had love hanging on performance.” My friend’s expression didn’t leak out because all of a sudden his daughter had finally won his approval. No, her performance came out of a long relationship of love and support. She didn’t need to try and acquire, purchase or earn it; love and approval were already hers. She was free to perform just because of hard work and talent.

I traveled and joined my daughter to try and help out because I loved her and wanted the best for her. I didn’t develop that love pending on the win. There was a lifetime of love invested, but this was just performance time where she brought all her gifts to the table/stage.

My buddy, dangling over death, had to choose. He needed to know that in his ‘world collapsing moment,’ he was loved, and didn’t have to do anything to deserve it. He needed to know that his prayers were heard, not because he had negotiated the right price or formula to purchase an answer, but because his Father in Heaven crazily loved him.

Performances were nailed, and prayers remarkably answered, because of love.

My buddy is in Mexico today because love made a way through miraculous intervention.

So now it’s your turn. Are you performing because you are loved, or are you trying to get love by performance?

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