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Vacation God Moments, Part 3 – Stop the noise Tuesday, 03/27/2012

Posted by Percy in God Moments, Personal, Vacation God Moments.
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So, as you can tell, I’ve taken a bit of a break from blog writing. I had something important come up that has demanded my full attention. ūüôā However, I’m going to attempt to get back on track for completing my 2012 goal of a blog post a week or 52 this year. I’ve got a few blog posts lined up, so enjoy!

This is the third and final post in this series. If you want to read the first two parts of this series you can read them here – Part 1 and Part 2.

As Sarah and I had stopped along the Blue Ridge Parkway on our babymoon, we were standing there just enjoying the weather and each other, something struck me in a pretty severe way. I couldn’t hear a single thing. High above Asheville, with no other cars around, on a non-high traffic area of the parkway, on a fairly calm day, there was absolute silence. I don’t mean the quiet we normally experience, which is usually just a dimming of the outside noise. I mean, complete, unadulterated, uninterrupted silence – the “pin drop” kind. Even my breathing seemed like it was thundering down the mountains. As they say, the silence was deafening.

Now, the interesting thing about this wasn’t so much that we had found a place of absolute silence. What struck me was how it made me feel – it unnerved me. I was uncomfortable. Here I was in this place that could easily be described as completely peaceful, and I couldn’t handle it. I’m so used to the gentle hum of life in the background. Even at home, I’ve never been in that kind of silence. There is always something going on – air conditioner running, birds chirping outside, people walking by our front door, the fan of a computer here and there (yes, I have a few), the fountain outside our door (when it was working), cars coming and going, the low hum of the fridge, etc. That’s the silence I’m used to. This was so pure and so different that it actually made me want to get back in the car where I could hear the hum of the engine. I honestly didn’t know how to deal with that kind of silence.

That’s what struck me. How often have I demanded “Stop the Noise”? Did I really know what I was asking for? It turns out that I didn’t. That day God showed me what stopping the noise was really all about. He showed me what He could do to make everything silent. It was so much more than what I had ever done on my own that it actually scared me.

How often do we ask God for something, and we don’t know what to do with it when we get it? Or, we don’t recognize it when we do get what we ask for because, in recognizing it, we’re presented with the real picture of who we are and who He is and that would terrify us? I’ve heard the old phrase “be careful what you ask for because you may get it”. How often does God do that for us – give us exactly what we wan and we don’t know how to handle His gift?

That’s just what happened to me. Yes, we were listening to Carisa’s CD at the time, specifically the title track, which drove the point home further for me.

Vacation God Moments, Part 2 ‚Äď God’s Love For Us Wednesday, 02/15/2012

Posted by Percy in Personal, Vacation God Moments.
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This is part 2 of some of the lessons that God started teaching me on a vacation a few months ago. ¬†Part 1 is here if you’re interested.

As I travel farther into this journey called fatherhood, I’m beginning to see God in a different way. ¬†I’m sure every Christian father goes through something similar. ¬†As we were driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway that afternoon, Sarah and I got to talking about our child. ¬†I had this overwhelming sense of love for this child (it wasn’t the first time) and it hit me that I’ve not even met this child yet. ¬†At the time, he or she didn’t even have a name. ¬†We didn’t know the gender. ¬†How could I love this child so much before I even meet him or her?

I thought about the progression of the relationship Sarah and I had. ¬†While she’ll be the first to tell you that I was quick on the “I love you” front, it wasn’t immediate. ¬†It definitely didn’t happen before we met. ¬†Now, you can go all metaphysical on me and say that God had prepared us for each other, and that our love existed before we knew it, and I would agree. ¬†However, from my perspective, it didn’t. ¬†We had to meet. ¬†We had to spend a considerable amount of time together. ¬†We had to engage each other in conversation and activities where we got to know each other. ¬†We had to come to a point where we thought we were mutually compatible. ¬†Only after doing all that did we get to the “love” point.

That’s not now it is with this child, and that’s not how it is with God and us. ¬†I already love this little guy or gal more than I thought I ever could. ¬†The most time we’ve spent together is just random kicks, punches or other movements that I can feel. ¬†I’ve only seen this child a few times, and those were grainy ultrasound pictures. ¬†By all appearances, I don’t know this child. ¬†That’s just it, though. ¬†I do. ¬†I don’t know how, but I do.

That’s the way God sees us. ¬†He knows us better than we know ourselves sometimes, yet He loves us anyways. ¬†What gets me is that He loved me before I was even born. ¬†Honestly, He loved me before my parents were born. ¬†How crazy is that? ¬†Again, I think Carisa captures the awe in that idea in her song “My King“:

Holy Father, you knew my name.  Called me as Your own before the stars were placed.

Wow, “before the stars were placed” God knew who I was and He loved me even then. ¬†Before this child even sees the light of day, before he or she even had fully developed eyes, this child was loved.

Vacation God Moments, Part 1 – Celebrating the Sabbath Monday, 01/16/2012

Posted by Percy in God Moments, Personal, Vacation God Moments.
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Sarah and I took a wonderful fall vacation trip up to Asheville, North Carolina right before Thanksgiving this past year – a “babymoon” of sorts. ¬†It’s the second time we’ve made this trip, and we always seem to find ourselves driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway at some point. ¬†I always feel that God talks most to me when I’m closest to His creations and this trip was no different. ¬†I think there’s a few things He tried to teach me during our afternoon drive, and I thought I’d share those with you.

The first of these has a tie in with a Sunday School lesson from around the same time. ¬†The basic premise was that God gives us the Sabbath as a gift, and we don’t always know what to do with it. ¬†Too, the point of the Sabbath is to rest, to change up your routine in such a way as you get energized and¬†rejuvenated. ¬†For me, this vacation was a Sabbath.

This vacation allowed us to rest – we didn’t have to do anything at any particular time, nor did we have to be anywhere at any particular time. ¬†We didn’t have any responsibilities other than enjoying ourselves. ¬†We could go where we pleased, when we pleased, and we surely did.

It also allowed us to reconnect. ¬†It’s easy for life to get in the way of your marriage, but that’s not why God put that perfect partner in your life. ¬†It’s through growth in your relationship together that causes you to grow more than you could individually. ¬†I don’t know about you, but for me, it takes me a while to “re-enter” my personal life after I’ve been working all day. ¬†It’s not usually until about halfway through dinner (and sometimes not even then) before I can shut off things going on at the office. ¬†And, it usually has to be a conscious effort. ¬†However, on a trip like this, where the time off has been planned for some time, I find that I can let the office go.

That actually brings me to one of the most important things to do while celebrating your Sabbath – disconnect from the world. ¬†It’s taken me a while to get comfortable with this and I’m not completely there. ¬†I have to disable my work e-mail and sometimes my personal e-mail. ¬†I leave my phone on silent most of the time, just to be sure I concentrate on what’s most important. ¬†You have to “Stop the Noise” as my friend Carisa Turner puts it (more on this in a later post). ¬†I find that God will speak to me in that low whisper, but I have to be in a place where I can hear it. ¬†Sometimes it happens because I’m really focusing on what Sarah is saying. ¬†Sometimes it happens because I hear a bird chirping on a sunny day. Sometimes it’s because I hear nothing at all and it makes me uncomfortable. ¬†I can tell you that it doesn’t usually happen in the “bing” of a new e-mail or the reminder of an upcoming appointment. That doesn’t mean God can’t use those moments – He definitely can. I find that, for me at least, those moments usually just distract me from Him or what He’s trying to show/teach me.

If you can’t tell, I’m not taking the Sabbath to only mean Sunday. ¬†I’m taking it to mean a time of rest and relaxation. ¬†It’s a time that’s set apart from your everyday routine. It’s sacrificing time spent in one area to spend time with God – in other words, Choosing to Cheat. It’s allowing yourself the time to be open to what He has to say to you.

Too, I’m still learning how to celebrate the Sabbath. I’m not always sure what to do with a gift like that, but I’m trying to get better about it. It’s about being intentional, and that’s what I’m working on. I’m putting this out there more as a reminder to myself.

So, how do you celebrate the Sabbath?

God moments Friday, 02/11/2011

Posted by Percy in God Moments, Personal.
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There are these precious moments in life where I believe God speaks to us individually in a way that is unmistakable as it is undeniable. I believe He can speak to us in many different ways. We can be reading scripture and it takes on a whole new meaning. We can hear a bird chirp which takes us out of ourselves and makes us pause so we notice the natural beauty around us. He can reveal new truths to us in songs that we know and love. I wanted to share one of those that happened to me recently. I hope this is the first of many posts like this.

There is a Men’s ministry program at our old church that I go to on Friday mornings. Currently, we’re looking at the biblical definition of manhood. In biblical terms, a true man is one that…
…rejects passivity
…accepts responsibility
…leads courageously
…and expects the greater reward – God’s reward

As I left our last meeting, I put my iPhone on shuffle as I made my way to work. The first song that came up was an older one – “The River” by Garth Brooks. I’d been listening to this song since I was in High School and I hadn’t listened to it in quite some time, so I let it play. Even though I knew this song backwards and forwards, it was like I was hearing it completely new. For the first time, I really listened to the lyrics and pondered them through the “lens” of the lesson that morning. God showed me how that song really demonstrates the characteristics He has set up for manhood.

The first verse of the song talks about “a dream”. When I first listened to this song, I took that to mean the sleepy time kind (“Man, I had a weird dream last night”). However, listening to it with “new ears”, I now take it to mean one of those life goals that seems just a bit out of reach (“My dream is to one day have it all.”) – i.e. A God-sized reward.

Also, the first verse says that we “must follow” the river that is our dream. Thinking about the “dream” like I used to, I thought that meant that, while dreaming, we were not in control and had to go wherever the dream took us. Thinking about it now, I believe that it means “the dreamer” is driven to accomplish the goal, even to the point of believing that its no longer truly a choice – a sign of true commitment to fulfilling your dream.

So, with that in mind, here are the lyrics with my commentary included throughout.

“The River” by Garth Brooks
You know a dream (the greater reward) is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel (accepting responsibility)
That must follow where it goes (rejecting passivity, expecting the greater reward)
Trying to learn from what’s behind you (accepting responsibility)
And never knowing what’s in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores (rejecting passivity)

And I will sail my vessel (leading courageously, accepting responsibility)
‘Til the river runs dry (rejecting passivity)
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I’ll never reach my destination
If I never try (rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility)
So I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away (we have a tendency toward passivity that we need to resist)
‘Til what we put off ’til tomorrow
It has now become today (accepting responsibility)
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline
And say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance that tide (rejecting passivity)

There’s bound to be rough waters
And I know I’ll tke some falls (accepting responsibility)
With the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all (expecting the greater reward)

You may not believe what I believe, and the truth is, I don’t know what the author of these lyrics believed when these lyrics were penned. That’s the beauty of free will. There are universal truths – truths that transcend time, situations and, honestly, beliefs. If you look at the successful men in this world, you’ll see most, if not all, of these traits. Too, this song is popular because it speaks to those kind of truths, and we find that we can relate and be inspired by what it says. I see God in that. Others might not.

So, if you’re still reading this, you may ask – “What’s your point?”. The truth is, I’m not sure. I had this moment in my life that had a profound effect on me and I wanted to record it and share it. ¬†So, take from it what you will.

Until next time…

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