Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vomit, cheese graters, whiskey, ninjas and hearing from God.

In the wee hours of July 4th, 2001 I vomited down the freshly painted khaki flat finished wall of our bedroom.  Did you know flat paint is not known for its vomit resistance? Actually just the opposite!  Sopped it up like biscuit. 

This was right after I first tried clawing my way through the blinds on our window thinking it was the bathroom door.

Which was right after we arrived home and I fell into bed leaving one foot on the floor to keep the room from spinning.  Which by the way, had never worked before, but hey, it’s what “they” say to do.  You’re always hoping this is time!

Which was right after we left the 4th of July party where I continued to put off my wife as she beaconed me to leave.  She didn’t understand that I had no choice but to settle a dispute about the inferiority of Southeastern University and the superiority of East Central University. “Baby, our honor and integrity must be maintained!” Which now looking back seems kinda odd since we were 200 miles away either one of those schools.  And somewhere along the way I think there were some derogatory Larry Bird references thrown in so I’m positive I had other reasons for staying.

Which was right after I consumed my weight in bourbon whiskey…my weakness.

Which was right after I was standing in the living room of our home promising my beautiful wife Christy, all 7 months pregnant of her with our first child Winston, that we wouldn’t stay at this party long and I would behave myself.  I convinced her that I fully understood she was way pregnant, it was July in Oklahoma hot and that the two did not mix well.

There you go! Me being real, open and as transparent as possible.  Just like I promised in my last post.

So, now that you've rewound, lets fast forward all the way to sometime in 2006 when I found myself over the kitchen sink pouring out a very expensive bottle of Gentleman Jack bourbon and saying, “God what are you having me do?? Do you know expensive this stuff is?” I kind of threw that out there to him hoping to get an Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac kind of miracle.  Like at any minute God would realize the cost of what he was having me do and stop my hand.  Then I’d look over and see one of my AC/DC concert t-shirts entangled in a bush that I could offer as a sacrifice instead.  Did not happen, but God did ask for the t-shirts later that same year though.

This is not an anti drinking post!  I want to get that straight. This is about responding.  This is a post about me dealing with my “demon” and the sin in my life and what God was asking me to give up.  Yours may be to stop gossiping or neglecting family and church for a hobby or cheating on your spouse or gossiping.  Oh, did I mention gossip twice?  Huh, for some reason we overlook that one as being on the same playing field as “the big sins” as if there is a big sin list anyway.   But this isn’t an anti gossip post either. If you want to check out all the things Paul included gossip with you can; it’s in Romans 1:26-31 NIV , you might be surprised.

When I talk about God “speaking to me” I’m not referring to an audible voice.  That would be cool but I’ve never had that happen though I’ve asked for it plenty.  What I meant was I knew that something or someone rather was telling me to dump out that bottle every time I opened up the cabinet to get the cheese grater out.  I just felt it, that’s the only way I can describe it.  This was pretty often too. We eat a lot of cheese at our house.  So one day that’s what I did.

I’m serious when I say it was unexplainable.  I just reacted like I had done in the past in training on way to becoming modern day ninja.  But I can’t talk about that…it’s still classified.  P.S. Hello NSA, I’m pretty sure using the words “ninja” and “it’s classified” will get me some face time in your system.  Just kidding. Ha ha!  Good luck with that whole Congressional hearing gig you have going on. It’s a joke. Get it?

Seriously, I was standing next to the sink and unexplainably dumping what I was using to create a sin I was hiding from my family.  Notice how I said, I was using this to create the sin in MY life? You see the product itself wasn’t sinful it was my abuse of it that was.  It was my sedative after a stressful day at work and before Christy and kids were home.  I could get a few drinks down in that hour, then conveniently pour one when everyone got home because one was acceptable with the fam and it would mask the others I had already downed. 

I wasn’t facedown puking on the wall much anymore so I felt like I was doing a better job and that was good enough; even though I was in a comfortably numb state a lot of days.  But to be honest I wasn’t even thinking about any of that.  My self-justified sinfulness was far from my mind at the time of the dumping.  I was only thinking, “something is telling me to pour this out.”  At times that’s just how God works.  What I am learning now is there are times when he just wants us to act out of simple obedience especially when it doesn’t make sense. I mean look what he did with Isaiah in the Old Testament Isaiah 20:1-4 MSG .

God, he’s known for messing up a perfectly good human plan.  Now looking back it was just one of many little things God has urged me to do to get me where he wants me.  He had to mess up my plan so I could get started on his.  God wouldn’t have entrusted me with the family and ministry I have today had I not stood over that sink years ago.  Why would he?  If he can’t trust me with the little things then why in the world would I expect him to trust me with bigger things? In Luke 16:10a (NIV) Jesus says in a parable, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much…”  He’s talking about money here but it so aptly applies to many areas of our lives.  Finances, family, ministry, hobbies, business, church…the list is endless and like a fingerprint is different for everyone.

What is God calling you to react to?  Many of you will be thinking about something right now you know you have been pushing away.  You’ve been closing the door on the cheese grater but it’s time to react like a ninja.  God wants to do more with you and through you! He has greater plans for you but you gotta take care of this first!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Extraordinary average guy.

One of my intents when I started this Ordinary Man blog, now almost 4 years ago, was to show how God had completely changed the person I used to be and leading me to do extraordinary things, me, just your ordinary average guy. [Insert Joe Walsh 1990’s lyrics here] 
Why is the “me” before important? Because if you knew me, I mean REALLY knew me!  Like, I’m in no condition to walk so make sure you drag me into the house and leave me asleep in the bathroom floor close to a toilet knew me!  Yes, you all know who you are from my past and I thank you for that care...I think.  Then you fully understand that it’s only by the grace of a loving, forgiving and powerful God that I am able to speak his truths on this blog and get to be called pastor today.  I am product of His ridiculously scandalous grace! 

Thinking back for a bit I’m not sure that I have been as transparent as I originally intended over the last four years.  I haven’t hidden anything at all but rather I feel like I’ve held back a bit.  My hope in some upcoming posts is to share with you some of my major failures and lifestyle changes.  I’m still praying through this and need to speak to some people to get some blessings but I do believe God is nudging me in this direction.  

Why would I want to do this?  It’s simple. My hope is that someone out there that hasn’t been able to relate to me before will be able to and in the process I can glorify God by showing his faithfulness, forgiveness and how he uses ordinary people as his megaphones.  He doesn’t have to use us jacked up humans to fulfill his mission, but he chooses to.

But for today I’ve been pondering this thought of ordinary and extraordinary.  How God uses the former to produce the latter.

Honestly, I came up with Ordinary Man title after I read this piece of scripture that inspires me still today.  Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

The word ordinary gets defined by a lot of people in a lot ways.  I know several amazing people that believe they are just ordinary.  So for now I’m going to leave what you think of yourself up to you.

For most of my life I saw myself subordinary. I don’t even know if that’s a word but it should be. Seriously!  To this day my awesome wife dresses me for crying out loud!  I’m colorblind and have no sense of style...those are two perfect ingredients for a subordinary recipe.  A few years ago I finally said, “Okay, I give up!  You buy it I’ll wear it, except for sweater vests.”  Eventually I even gave into the sweater vest on odd year religious holidays.  It’s only because of her that I’m not still wearing the same shirts I had when we met in college some 18ish years ago.  If there are no holes generated in the clothing from year to year I see no reason to discard.  Ordinary.

Now, extraordinary, that’s a word I want us to get excited about.  That’s a hard word for me to use to describe myself, even with everything God has done in me.  I mean that seems really arrogant to claim doesn’t it?    But to not claim it also cheats God out the glory and praise that he is due.  Lets take a sec to define that word extraordinary! 

Webster’s says it’s, “going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary.” I actually like that definition.

I want you to embrace the extraordinary that is right in front of you but I’m afraid some of you can’t see it.  You know like be bopping along at night in a 1974 International Scout with bad headlights and missing by inches a black angus cow standing in the middle of a country road and not realizing it until you have already blown by at a semi-high rate of speed at which time you FREAK out!  That kind of right in front of you that you can’t see! 

Heck, you may already be living an extraordinary life and don’t even realize it! If you are I don’t want you to sell yourself short. But if you aren’t I want to point out just a few simple thing that can flingo you out of the ordinary. 

Remember extraordinary is going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary.

Ordinary is accepting its okay not being the one-in-ten men who can say they have a close friend. An accountability partner if you will. This stat holds true even among Christian men. Patrick Morley once said, "Most men could recruit six pallbearers for their funeral, but hardly anyone has a friend he can call at 2 a.m." (Want to know more about accountability partners? Check out my previous post Howdy Partner! )

Extraordinary is having someone you confide in, meet with regularly and allow to ask you tough questions about what you are doing in your spiritual, married and work life.  Extraordinary is you won’t even lie to them.

Ordinary is being a part of the only 47% of families eating together two or more nights a week and knowing that teens in these families are twice as likely to take drugs, be "high stress," say they are often bored, and less likely to perform well in school than teens who eat with their families 5 to 7 times a week. (This stat from the Barna Group)

Extraordinary is sitting around the table with your family even if it’s over a bag of Sonic burgers and sharing your highs and lows for the day.  And for those sneaky kids that eat fast or try to cop out with “I’m not hungry”, well, they have to sit at the table too until everyone is done.

Ordinary is living 5-6 days a week at work one way and then changing the way you talk and act for Sunday’s morning church.  Your coworkers would fall out of their cubicles or down a flight of break room stairs if they knew you were a Christian because you don’t act any different than anyone else much less talk about your faith.  You fear being tagged as “weird”.

Extraordinary is embracing weird!  Sure, peeps will make fun of you publically but privately they know who they can come to when they need guidance, advice, or prayer when times get tough.  And times will get tough.

Remember friends; the world wants you to remain ordinary. It embraces the usual, regular, or customary.  That’s what the world is and it doesn’t want to be changed.  And as long as you are ordinary you are not a threat to change it.  Sure, make some changes and family and old friends will call you a phony…”I knew who he was” or “What she did”,  but don’t be swayed!  Remember those words of Acts… When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Take note of those first and last few words…saw the courage and these men had been with Jesus.  That my friend is the key to getting from ordinary to extraordinary, courage and Jesus.  If these few things I listed seem insurmountable then maybe you aren’t seeking Jesus first.  He will give you the courage to breakout.  The actions don’t do the transforming, he does.  I believe it was Pastor Perry Noble who said you have to change the heart before you can change the habit.  Seek him first!

I hope today you will decide to make one change to step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.  Once God can trust you with these simply extraordinary things, then HANG ON for the ride he’s about to take you on!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This is not perfect and I'm okay with that.

Hi I’m Tyson and I have a problem.  I have a fear of failure.  That’s why those first two sentences have sat on a blank page for over a week now with nothing in the body of this blog post.  I couldn’t figure how to tell “this story” and tie in “that scripture” and make this flowing into that and blah, blah, blah…  I couldn't come up with the perfect post.

This fear has crippled me in many areas of my life including the things closest to me including my relationship with God, my marriage (over and over again), kids and ministry.

So I’m about to post a very rough, unpolished blog post for the entire world to see, or at least to the small following of readers I have.  When I’m done typing this I am not going to check it for grammatical errors, I’m not going to check for flow.  When I’m done typing I’m going to hit the button that says “Publish”.  And I won’t go back in and edit this post once I read it live from the blog!! Done that before too. 

I’m going to heed the words of my beautiful wife from last night, “Babe, your writing doesn’t have to be perfect!  You just need to write.”

I’m going to break free of this! Two things are helping me through it.  One is this card that my counselor gave me a couple years ago and he asked me to commit to memory.

The other are the words of Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly whom I had the privilege to hear speak at a conference I recently attended.  Her advise (speaking about critics), “If you aren’t in the arena getting your “butt” kicked with me then I’m not interested in your opinion.  It’s not in the service of my work!”
Those words and the title of her book were derived from this quote from Theodore Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Teddy Roosevelt