The Encounter. It’s My Fault!

“It’s me. Sir, it’s my fault. There is no one else to blame. I did it. Did you hear me, sir? It’s my fault!” 

These words pushed out of my mouth as I was being berated, at a very large volume, at a very close proximity, with coffee still on his breath, with many colourful words, on a very busy Vancouver street corner, with a whole lot of people looking on. He went up one side of me and down the other. I knew with ample awareness and bountiful description that we, I, had created a mess. 

I had committed the unpardonable sin by not delivering, on time, an entire job site’s paycheques on payday morning. This was long before Direct Deposit; in fact, this one occurrence may well be the reason for Direct Deposit. You’re welcome. 

Yah, I would have been mad at me too!

It was a simple mistake. No, it really was. I was supposed to deliver 711’s paycheques to their new location just under construction. The complicator? The job site was directly across the main intersection from the 711 store that was already there. I had delivered similar packages many times before. When I went to the store to give it to the person who’s name was on the parcel, the store attendant knew nothing of it and wouldn’t sign for it. 

The simple solution was to deliver it to the correct address right across the street. But, who needs an address when you have the name like 711 directly on the package? So the next best solution was to take it back to the depot and let it be reprocessed from there. Had it been for something of lesser importance, that might have been the correct procedure, but not for this, and not for this day. 

Then, to make matters worse, I finished my deliveries early, so I went for a leisurely lunch. My boss, who was almost unglued, rudely interrupted my solace when I got back to my truck. He required that I end my leisure immediately and deliver this package to the rightful owner, who would have had plenty of time to practice his communication skills. This was all done over the 2-way radio (before personal cell phones) with all my colleagues to hear. 

So, 2.5 hours past the intended delivery time, the encounter. 

Before this encounter, I had recently learned that when you make a mess, you have to own it. I didn’t realize then that I would be part of a practical exercise in this skill. 

It absolutely worked. When the construction boss finally heard me, he immediately calmed and then lamely apologized for his overreaction. We were good, my company was saved, and I learned a LIFE Lesson with far-reaching applications. 

When you screw-up, you have to own your stuff. 

“So, the first step to getting free from conflict and staying free is for us to come out of denial and correctly process our lives. We need to live transparent lives by owning our stuff, our actions.” (Sovdi, Philip. Path Out: Eliminate the Swirl (Page 12). Kindle Edition.)https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/

Is God Religious?

A couple of nights ago I was prepping a couple for their wedding this Saturday.

Part of the prep was to look at the ‘Love passage’ from 1 Corinthians 13. As we were going through it, it occurred to me that God isn’t religious.

I got to that thought by reading through and discussing, ‘what love is,’ with this couple. Then, in my mind, I linked the passage from 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (NIV)

Through the pen or stylus of John, God describes himself as ‘love.’ Love has nothing to do with protocol, although it can be included in the protocol. Love has nothing to do with tradition, although without it, tradition could be quite dry.

God could have described himself in an infinite number of ways, but he chose love. He didn’t say, I am the God of dotted ‘I’s’ and crossed ’T’s,’ he could have, but, he didn’t say that. From the pen of the one who spent three unbelievable years with Jesus, the one who heard him say, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father,” John writes, “…God is love.”

That’s it, that is all you need. That is all I need. Three up close and personal, very personal, years and searching for the right word John says it is ‘Love.’

John knew that Jesus wasn’t religious. He watched and heard him call those who were religious some pretty shameful things. He heard Jesus say, “You need to do what they are saying, the good things, but don’t be like them.” It is like John’s observation was saying, don’t switch the relationship from personal to performance. Jesus never did.

Why not take a walk with Jesus through the pages of scripture? Don’t read to prove something, instead, read to get the whole picture, and I think you will begin to realize that it was all personal with him. Jesus showed it was people that mattered to God, not religion. In fact, the only way that religion mattered at all was when Jesus said, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” That statement was even more up close and personal as it came from Jesus’ half-brother James. (James 1:27, NIV) God then and now desired to have intimate, personal, connect with people who were being kept away from him by the religion that was supposed to bring them to him.

So, today, God isn’t looking for you to get religion. I kind of think he hopes you won’t. Instead, God is looking for us to have a personal relationship with him that is only available through Jesus.

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.

Personal Care

So, I read a story today about a guy when he was young, who, almost cavalierly, asked God to fill his life with the power of the Holy Spirit. He accounts that God immediately answered and he felt God’s power. His life went on to be amazing. The events of his life took a positive graph position, up and to the right, and, looking at his life today, that appears to be exactly what happened.

That is not what happened to me. Oh, when I was young, I felt God amazingly fill me, but my life went anywhere but up and to the right. This reading today was an emotional GPS moment of truth versus feelings for me.

I would like to be able to tell the story of success and accomplishment, according to my version of those things, according to the way that story I read today worked, but that is not my story. Rather my story is one of a very Blue Collar, slug it out, and figure it out type of life. The two books I have written, Blue Collar Theology and Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl, tell some of these accounts.

My point?

Does God show favouritism? Do some get the “Blessed or Easy Way,” while others of us get to clean up the mess? Sometimes it seems so. But, it is not so!

God carefully, amazingly, intimately, and personally cares for you. He is working a plan that supports and includes you, even if it isn’t immediately obvious.

He wants to connect with you in such an incredible and purposeful way. All you need to do is what I did: Acknowledge him in all your ways, (this includes your emotions at the moment) Proverbs 3:5&6, and choose truth over feelings.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

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35 Years and Love

Things I have learned from 35 years of marriage:

Forgiveness – I have learned how to give forgiveness, and probably even harder, how to receive forgiveness.

Faithfulness – I have learned how God has shown up every time to help, heal and renew. I have observed how to imitate Our Father In Heaven in learning to be faithful.

Grace – Grace is not just a burp in God’s justice, but an enabling of his purpose in our lives and our marriage.

Change – I have learned that I need to change and that I cannot change my wife.

Repentance – I have trafficked here way too often and have had to seek forgiveness with repentance – and if not, how to repent anyway.

Courage – We are living our lives, unscripted, unrehearsed. We live to face the music each day’s song with a smile and hope for our future.

Respect – I have had to learn to respect just because. Respect is paramount to our success and our ability to move forward.

I have learned to communicate – She doesn’t always think my thoughts the way I think she should. Nor do I think hers. Thus, we’ve needed to talk and listen to each other.

Humility – Realizing that I am not what this is about. We are walking together; we are side by side; we are equally engaged and responsible. We, us, our, are our pronouns of choice. If I hurt her, it hurts us. If she hurts me, we ‘smart’ together. If I give up my life, I get ours. I win by giving.

Giving – We have decided that it is not 50/50. If we are giving, it is all in 100%/100%. What is mine is ours. What is hers is ours. We have given and had given up, but what we have given up we have gained back in spades. I would have us, we, and ours all over again. She and the marriage that she shares with me are so worth it.

Love – How much time do you have? – We have loved each other deeply from the heart. We believe that “Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:8, NIV)

Love is a four letter word and sometimes it is plain old work. Sometimes it is spelled, WORK.

These are some of my thoughts about today.

Here is my thought about my wife, “Linda I love you so much. You are the one that I adore, honour and serve with my entire life.” I love you, babe!

Phil

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You Don’t Have To Live; You Get To!