Biggest Problem

So often the biggest problem with me is me.

Just me.

I am my own biggest problem.

Not the circumstance I find myself in. Not the choices of others.

But the stuff within me. That seeks to control me.

Fear that stymies courage.

Pain that hinders growth.

Pride that conquers all.

I've seen the enemy. And he is me.

My own evil desires. My sin nature within me. My compulsions toward control, posture, pleasure, image, recognition, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, laziness. These and so many more lurk within. And they lurch for control.

And, bless my heart, I'm stuck with me. You think you've gotta it bad putting up with me sometimes? Well, you don't have to live inside this head. I gotta put up with myself all the time.

Or do I?

Can I somehow replace all that desires evil and ill with something that is better than I can imagine or achieve on my own?

Can I surrender self?

Can I hand-off my biggest problem?

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored. Romans 8:5-8 MSG

Having made that life changing handoff, let me resist wresting control back again. Or again. Or again and again.

What's your biggest problem?

How do you handle it?

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The Wind

I snapped this pic after my run today.  A joy to be out.  A joy to be done.  My day off, I'd waited til after the kids left for school this morning.  With the sun up over the horizon warming the 8 degree skies, wind at 10+ mph, & a real feel of -3, I layered up appropriately.  Out I went to run the snow plowed, yet patchy streets of our subdivision with the assurance I had the right gear for the conditions.

For the first few minutes in the sub freezing outdoors you wanna think, "Agh, I overdressed.  I'm gonna get too hot before I'm done."  Then you remember two things: first, you got dressed where it was 60 degrees warmer; second, you always feel this way until the cold presses in through your layers.  Wait a few minutes before turning home to shed some gear.

Sure enough a mile or so down the road the warmth you felt yields to the weight of the cold.  Your flesh is screaming the reality, "It's really cold out here, Yehu!"  Experience speaks to your flesh again before you are tempted to turn home, "Give it a bit more & you'll warm up."

And, if you've dressed right, you do warm up.  You feel great.  Cold face, yes.  Chilled a bit here & there, at times.  Yet generally, just right.  Run you do, picking your steps through the snow & ice.

Then, just when things seem to be going so well, you face another force.  One more fierce than the cold.  "You conquered 8 degrees? Ha! Wait until you meet me," it growls.

You turn into the wind.

The wind.  Bites.  Cuts.  Hurts.

All the warmth from being layered right.  All the self-congrats for choosing well & running strong.  All are laughed at by the wind.

You push through.  You steel your will.  You suffer on.

No matter how you feel you have gotta get your miles.  And if it's too tough to get all your miles, you at least have to get home.  These conditions will hurt you.

Isn't life like that?

You bring your best plans.  Your best stuff.  Your best prep.  You are up to the challenge.  You are ready to conquer.

Then you turn into the wind.

The fierce, frozen, cutting, angry wind.

You question yourself.  You question God.  You second guess.  You doubt.  You cry.  You complain.  You stumble.

But you gotta keep going.  You can't stay out there in the cold.  You gotta reach the peace & warmth of home. You press on.


The wind.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37

Magic Bible


As a pastor. As a friend. As a person. Who doesn't like injustice or suffering or pain or any such ugliness. I've said before, "I wish I had a Magic Bible."
There is no such thing as a Magic Bible. The references to magic in the Bible are negative. Yet. There have been times when faced with a situation or a person I wish I could change, I would make the incongruous statement, "I wish I had a Magic Bible."
Some folks who needed it: I'd whop 'em over the head to straighten 'em out.
Other folks, the kinder type: I'd wave it gently to make everything better.
There is no such thing as a Magic Bible. But wouldn't it be nice if we could straighten folks out or make everything better as we chose?
I've got friends now. Dear people. Suffering. Heartbroken. Hurting. Questioning. Confused. I wish I had Magic Bible. I'd make it all right.
I've got no whopin' needing folks around right now. Just the waving kind. So, heartsick for them, I was thinking this Magic Bible silliness when I was convicted. By someone real. With real power. The Holy Spirit.
"You don't need a Magic Bible. You've got prayer. Pray for God to do something so big, so good, so unbelievable that only He can get the credit."
Alright, then. Let me start with this one:
God, you are Big. You are Love. Will you, please, move. Show us your hand. Demonstrate your power. We don't deserve it. We can't earn it. But you are gracious beyond belief. And merciful past understanding. We love you, Father, and we beg you, please, for your glory. Move. Touch. Heal. Restore. Convict us to pray. Embolden us with courage. Strengthen us to persevere. We are your people. We offer the sacrifices of self. We sing glory & praise to you. You tell us that "the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Teach us to be effectual. Fill us to be fervent. And for your glory, by your power, may our prayers much avail. Amen.