When We Can’t Stand, Love Stands By Us

Woman from John8 with JesusI was just reflecting on a well-known bible story. You probably know it, its the one about a woman who was caught in the act of adultery and dragged before a mob and Jesus by the religious leaders.  It was their obvious attempt to expose Jesus as a fraud while at the same time ensuring they looked good as the enforcers of morality and godliness.  (That happens too often, people doing deadly things to others while taking a moral high-ground to protect themselves.)  John 8:3-11

You know the story — they drag this unsuspecting woman Continue reading “When We Can’t Stand, Love Stands By Us”

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Hesitating to Believe? Maybe its time to take a walk.

Walking with Jesus Picture
A few minutes ago I was just sitting and reading a short blog story from a favorite blogger who always gets me thinking about deeper things I’d normally ignore (Craig McConnell of Ransomed Heart). Craig’s story ushered in a sort of invitation from God. (This often happens to us when we take a few moments to quiet ourselves and consider listening.)

Sitting there, quiet, wondering, I found myself longing, genuinely and expectantly longing to hear from God, to spend a moment with Him, just like Craig had described in his story.  And then, I heard God prompt me – time to take a walk.

I immediately felt what I can only imagine Peter must have felt when Jesus called to him to get out of the boat to walk to him across the water.  (Called not to some “show” for effect, but a call to come closer, to walk and talk with Jesus.)  I had an immediate and strong desire to jump up and go for a walk with Jesus.  For those few seconds, I had complete clarity of desire and purpose. (This doesn’t happen often enough.) And then… I remembered the cold (it’s a windy, 20 degrees outside).  No big deal, God said he’d take care of it. I’d be warm. No worries. Let’s walk!  But then the “wind and the waves” kicked up. (Matt 14:28-30)

I doubted. I paused.  I stopped to consider how it would all work. Man, I hate when this happens!  I hate the doubt and fear I live with… the hesitation to just believe… the incessant need to have my questions answered. The clever delays I build into my life that Continue reading “Hesitating to Believe? Maybe its time to take a walk.”

What does it mean to “Rescue The Beauty”?

titanic_jack_and_roseMy friends and I recently returned from hosting our 4th LIFEQUESTweekend event. (I’ve posted previously about these events.) We love doing these events and hope they change lives, mine included!  As any person who takes on the role of a “guide” or “teacher” or “public speaker” will tell you, what we’re really offering is our lives. So, it’s not just about mastering the material, it’s about living it, letting it have it’s affect on you.

It’s one of the things I’ve come to enjoy about these events, with all the preparation and planning, etc., it’s the impact “the message” has on my own life. This time was no exception. I don’t want to just learn the words, I want to learn how to really live.

So, this year I did something really risky — I asked my wife to “give it to me straight” about one of the main topics we cover in our weekend event. I asked my wife to tell me, “What does it mean to ‘Rescue The Beauty’?”   And more specifically, what does it look like, feel like, sound like for me to rescue YOU?

I had no idea what she might write.  I didn’t want it to just be something Continue reading “What does it mean to “Rescue The Beauty”?”

One Last Letter for Christmas (A Short Story)

If you’ve followed my blog recently and read my previous postings “Bringing Our Unique Self to the Surface” and “A Powerful Grip” you’ll know from where this next story comes. Let me say right off, the LoveGodLovePeopleLiveFree.com blog is not really a “short story” forum. It is about finding life and freedom by living out our stories, our hopes and dreams, our faith, in genuine and unfolding ways. So, I’m posting these couple of stories because they are part of my journey to find my calling, my passions, my purpose. I hope they inspire you to step into whatever stirs your heart.

Mark


One Last Letter for Christmas

A Short Story by Mark Wager
Atop a small hill in a not so far away place stands an old house. Picture in your mind an English country mansion, not that it is English or a true mansion for that matter, but whatever it is (or was) it stands large and majestic, tall and proud and generous with its brick and stone and timber. The house has a dozen windows facing a large lawn with trees and flowers and stonework. And on the other side are a dozen more windows facing a large courtyard. The courtyard hasn’t seen any use for years. Back in the early days it was a magnificent place full of life and laughter and play. Grand parties and social functions were common. It was, at its core, a gathering place. Oh, how we need our gathering places.
In recent years the house has fallen into a state of disrepair. The windows through which once flowed sunlight, and from every indication, life itself, now seem dull and cloudy. The blinds on many rooms are drawn, not opened in years.  The setting out front, however, rests in stark contrast to the inside. While the inside of the house has grown dark and worn and aged, the front lawn is a work of perfection. Cleanly cut grass. Rows of beautifully arranged flowers of all colors and sizes. Shrubs neatly manicured and shaped in whimsical, almost playful designs are planted in each corner of the property. It is not uncommon to see Mr. Lynch, the house’s owner, out front working on his landscaping. It seems a bit peculiar as I consider it, that for all the times I’ve seen Mr. Lynch outside, neat and polite, I’ve never seen anyone go inside the house. In fact, as I think back, I’ve never seen or heard of anyone being allowed to even approach the house itself, save for one man.

Each week, at the same time of day, a man would stop by the old house. His routine, and his intentions, were the same every day. And yet for all his desire and persistence he could never get himself to knock on the front door. Each time was the same. In his hand he carried a small white envelope. It was stamped and addressed, hand-written in pen and in clear print, thoughtful and deliberate. The letter could have been mailed, but as intention seemed to predominate, he held the envelope tightly in his hand and delivered it in anonymous fashion.

The man, as the story was told to me, lived on the other side of town. He had for years. CLICK TO KEEP READING THE REST OF THE STORY…

 

i am ‘The Stepchild’

This posting is a departure of sorts from my usual posts, but I felt compelled to post it. And so, out of obedience and with great compassion and sensitivity I offer this poem (below) written several years ago.

For years I struggled to put into words my life as a child, teen, and into my 20’s. And I needed to put words to it. We cannot move into the next chapter of our lives without closing the previous chapter. To do so without a healthy completeness leaves a gap. It’s like leaving blank pages that must be written for the story to really continue. This poem helped.

The poem (below) was written in my 30’s and brought me a step closer to healing and wholeness. Now years later, with a grateful heart, I reread these words and find them much, much less true of my identity today. There are still days when they flare up. But, it has been a long, hard, beautiful road and my identity is much healed. My core identity is no longer “the stepchild”. I now see myself much closer to “the beloved son” as I move closer and closer to allowing myself to be Fathered by God [Link]. Funny thing is, my Continue reading “i am ‘The Stepchild’”

How to Build Better Relationships (Holiday Edition)

How to Build Better Relationships (Holiday Edition)

The holidays are upon us. And this means parties, get-togethers, and family gatherings. So, it got me thinking about both the joy and the misery we feel when it comes to gathering together with others.  For those “social butterflies” reading this, you will read my words and think “Duh” and wonder why any of this needs to be said — read this as a sort of refresher and pick up an idea or two for your social toolbox.

For the rest of us non-social-savants, I offer my thoughts & ideas to give hope and encouragement in what we are about to encounter.  And for us all, I hope my words offer a really practical means of deepening our existing relationships, building new ones, and removing obstacles to joy in the rest.

I’ve learned this about relationships and parties/gatherings Continue reading “How to Build Better Relationships (Holiday Edition)”

A Powerful Grip (A Short Story)

I recently wrote my first ever fictional “Short Story”. I’d have to say it came from out-of-the-blue and ends up being a highlight of my year. On my last post (Bringing our Unique Self to the Surface) I blogged about the story behind the story. This time I thought I’d post the story itself for those who may have missed it. I hope you enjoy it. (The story begins below)

~ Mark


A Thought: The ultimate failure of humanity is arrogance.

It was the end of another long, hot day at work. Frank was relieved to finally be making his way out of the factory. He took his usual path out, making his way through the maze of halls and stairwells, past the offices (the “brains” of the operation as those inside were known to have refer to themselves), and toward the huge bay doors that would ultimately find him his way outside, to freedom. In almost every regard, it was a day like any other day. That is, until the incident.

The factory was busy today. The usually order, at least it was thought to be order, or more like orchestrated chaos, the usual order of the factory moving huge wind farm turbine blades by crane, it is almost a ballet. It was a dance like any other day until by mere coincidence the chain reaction was set in motion. No one knows exactly how it got started, but today the rhythm of the cranes as they moved and slung their suspended cargo from here to there, changed. It began with an operator on the 3rd line. An oscillation really, nothing that appeared jarring or abrupt, but a simple over-compensation was made. And it began a slow-moving swinging movement that was to be the end of Frank’s life as he knew it.

Frank was making his way to the 3rd bay door. Large doors, maybe 100ft tall. He could see the light of day, he could almost feel the warmth of the sun on his face. Then as he was about to take his final liberating step out of the large open door he noticed the swinging – it was out of control. Not that Frank could do anything about this, normally. He was, after all a maintenance worker. Powerless in almost every sense of the word. But, today something shifted. As he watched the unraveling begin, he sensed something… THE STORY CONTINUES – Click to view the rest of the story.

Or, Click HERE for an AUDIO version of the story read by myself.

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Bringing Our Unique Self To The Surface

It was 4am. Much, much too early to be awake. Maybe if you’re a truck driver or cop or a baker this is normal, but for me it is when I am supposed to be deep asleep. But there l lay in my bed – 4am – awake. I was right at that point of in-between. You know, that point in between awake and sleep. That point where I can decide to wake up or drift back to sleep. And as I lay there considering which way to go, this nagging thought begins to rise into my awakening consciousness: “Write this down.” It just kept running through my mind. And, I’ve learned to pay attention to it. It is usually God. ** Click to see what I wrote down

Then begins the dance. Maybe you’ve experienced this, too. I begin to question
Continue reading “Bringing Our Unique Self To The Surface”

No Shame in Stillness

I post my blog on http://www.wordpress.com and so I visit the site often. A while back while pursuing their “Freshly Pressed” page (which is a rotating display of selections from their immense blogging community), amidst the chaos and noise or all that tugs at our attention I stumbled upon this posting from “Jenni”.  I asked her if I could reblog it to you… I think you’ll enjoy it.


No Shame in Stillness

by Jenni

Today I did something shocking, socially unacceptable and so counter-cultural, it’s downright rebellious: I was still. To be specific, I put my feet up on the porch rail, leaned back in a deep chair, and sat in the afternoon sunshine for a while, accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Not exactly the picture of a revolutionary, is it? I know, but if you look a bit deeper, you might recognize that one action as essentially giving the finger to a powerful and ruthless dictator: the dogma that my busyness reflects my value.

Does the idea of sitting quietly, alone with your thoughts for a while make you sigh wistfully or squirm uncomfortably? Probably a mixture of both.

In my experience Continue reading “No Shame in Stillness”

What does Love look like?

Man Looking thru BinocularsWhat does “love” look like?  I was talking to God the other day and He asked me that question.

. . .

Well… it looks like spending time with someone.

— then spend time with someone.

And, it looks like research.

— then get to know someone. Really learn about them, their heart, their desires, what matters to them.

And, it looks like sacrifice.

— then, give up that thing that is standing in your way [from doing the above]

It seems so hard. I mean to really love. If feels beyond my ability.

— It is a marathon, not a sprint.  Learning to really love takes time. It is a journey that requires healing and compassion and trust.  It doesn’t happen all at once.  Stop beating yourself up.  Make the decision to head down this path.  And remain open and mindful of “what love looks like” to you.

Maybe Love isn’t as far away as it seems.

What does love look like to you?  Would you be willing to have this conversation with God?

Try it and see where it leads.  I’d love to hear what he says to you.

Still learning,

Mark

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Waking up again to the point of it all

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I have to admit, I’ve really struggled lately to stay focused. It is easy to slide into a funk when the busyness and chaos of life edge their way in. And I don’t mean to imply “bad” things have happened. Actually, some really good things have been going on. In April, my small “band of brothers” and I hosted another LIFEQUESTweekend Retreat (a 3-day Retreat for men, a place for them to come and focus and replenish and recalibrate for the journey ahead). It was an amazing, truly amazing weekend. And, since then I’ve spent a lot of time around family and friends, rebuilding and strengthening bonds. These are really good things. But with these things it has come a whirlwind of activity. And, I’ve struggled to Continue reading “Waking up again to the point of it all”

Dealing with the Poser & The Freedom of Being Real (Part 3)

Dealing with the Poser

Well, its been a while since my last post in which I asked you to note your responses to a few things in your life.  So pull out those notes. How did it go?  Did any patterns emerge? Any new ideas spring to the forefront? It can be tough to connect the dots in day-to-day living of all that impacts our freedom.  That’s why we paused to take note of a few specific  things. To be honest, I pause like this far too little. But, I want to live with freedom. (And I’m assuming you do, too.)

In the last couple of posts (Pt 1 and Pt 2) I’ve been writing about the impact on our lives of both being real and when we “pose”.  And just so we’re all clear… I believe we all pose. Yes, all. I’m hoping that you’re beginning to recognize it after the last couple of blog posts. So today I want to tackle the underlying question, Why?!  Why do we pose? And more importantly, what do we do about it? Continue reading “Dealing with the Poser & The Freedom of Being Real (Part 3)”

A Posed Life & The freedom of being Real (Pt 2)

A Posed Life

Ok… I’m going to admit something really embarrassing. (Be kind!) “You know this song is about Jesus dying!”, I said.  [U2’s ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday’ was playing in the background.]  And as suddenly as the words left my mouth there began a very obvious and very awkward pause. “No…”, said one of the 5 guys gathered around, “it was about a Massacre in Ireland!”  I felt so embarrassed.  It was humiliating. My plan was to cleverly join in the conversation, to sound like I knew what I was talking about, to fake my way through, but it had failed. I was completely wrong. I was utterly exposed. And even now after years have passed, it is hard to expose this to you. It still feels embarrassing. And it still tempts me toward the urge to hide… to pose as something I’m not yet.

So, why share my embarrassing story? Continue reading “A Posed Life & The freedom of being Real (Pt 2)”

The freedom of being Real (Part 1)

The freedom of being Real (Part 1)

We had a home appraisal recently. It was part of a refinance for our home.  When the appraisal was over, I began talking to my wife about it.  The whole process got me thinking about how life can be like our appraisal.

Yes, we can live life in much the same way we lived for our appraisal. Allow me to explain what I mean.For our appraisal, we had to prepare the house.  We fixed up things that needed fixing.  We patched holes that needed patching.  And, we deep cleaned!… I mean military cleaned. Top to bottom we cleaned the house.  But, we also live in the house, so de-cluttering was hard.  But we needed to make a good appearance, so we took the “paper pile” and put it away. We took the baby seats and cribs and stored them in closets.  We took the laundry hamper and stored it in a less conspicuous place.  We stashed everything that made our house look cluttered.  Andrea warned me that I was beginning to “obsess” in my cleaning efforts.  I doubled my efforts, figuring if we’re going to clean, let’s CLEAN!   I have to say, the house looked amazing.  With all our hard work completed, there was a tangible feeling of awe, or maybe just relief (“Aaahhhh”), as we stood there in the room.   The House was clean, organized, as close to perfect as we could get it… but it wasn’t real. Continue reading “The freedom of being Real (Part 1)”

One of the MOST Powerful Questions…

In my last post, Luke Skywalker was getting schooled by Yoda in some basic truths about faith… and we applied this conversation to our own lives realizing that, like Luke, it is our lack of belief that brings our failures more than our lack of ability.  It is our lack of belief that God can and will come through for us that causes us to hesitate, shy away from action, stand back and “wait to see what happens”.  It is why we “try” instead of “do!”  It is a faithless way to live… a belief-less way to see the world and our role in this story in which we live.

Some of you will argue with me, you will struggle to accept this, you will instead cling to a belief that it is our ability that matters most and that “faith” is more like motivation than power.  But that view isn’t consistent with the story Continue reading “One of the MOST Powerful Questions…”

And that is why you fail…

I was re-watching Star Wars, Episode V, “The Empire Strikes Back”, the other day.  There is this great scene in the movie that always gets to me… always gets me thinking about my faith. (Yes, my faith.) I believe it provides amazing insight into our lives as Christ-followers.  In fact, this scene depicts a central theme threaded throughout the bible. And I believe the message of this scene holds the key to our successfully living out the stories God has for us here on earth. Continue reading “And that is why you fail…”

Hijacked Thoughts

I was meditating on God the other day. Soaking in His presence, thinking about Him, laying a question before Him, and pondering.  Then, suddenly I started thinking of something totally other than Him.  A dialogue with someone else or in front of a group?  You know what I mean, like drifting into fantasizing about something worthless and then you kind of shake your head and come to and think, “What the heck?!  Where did that come from?  How did I get on that!?“. It’s like my thoughts were hijacked from right under my nose and I’m taken for a ride.

Is there a way to guard my mind?   Does that skill or discipline just come with experience?
Continue reading “Hijacked Thoughts”

Getting to know each other

My wife and I have been married for 27 years. I’m not bragging… I’m just mentioning it so you can that when I talk about getting to know each other, we’ve spent a long time trying. We’ve tried a great many things to stay connected, and we know how challenging it is. You’d think after 27 years we’d be able to coast, that we’d know everything we need to know about each other… maybe you’ve thought that about relationships in your life — friendships, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse.  Maybe you’ve thought because of the extended proximity to another person that you can now coast.  In my experience, it is not true.  People are alive… they change and grow and form new thoughts all the time.  So it makes sense… relationships take ongoing, intentional effort, forever.

Today I’d like to share something we’ve been doing for the past few months to stay connected to each other. And, I believe this may be helpful in deepening just about any relationship you have. Continue reading “Getting to know each other”

Forgive.

Occasionally, I re-post writings from others when I think they have things to say that fit our theme of journeying and learning to Love God… Love People… and Live Free!  As I considered my entry from a couple of weeks ago about “Interpreting Guilt“, today’s topic seems to fit perfectly. Here is a verbatim re-post of some great thoughts from a blog I follow. I think you’ll find it helpful and freeing.

Enjoy!

Mark Continue reading “Forgive.”

Discovering the glory of ‘Late Bloomers’

I’m reading a book published a few years ago, “What the Dog Saw”, by Malcolm Gladwell.  I love these quirky books about what makes people and society tick.  So, as I’m reading a chapter in this book about “LATE BLOOMERS” it hits me how true this is true for so many of us.  Whether or not you’re a late bloomer I believe you’ll see why I think this is so important for us ALL to know.  Changing our understanding about this could radically change the people around you… and it could radically change how you view yourself.

Let me start by introducing you to a trimmed version of the passage that got me thinking… Continue reading “Discovering the glory of ‘Late Bloomers’”