Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confessions Of A Savioraholic

Control, alt, delete. Ever been there? You know what I'm talking about. The computer freezes up and you get some message like "program not responding" or "your computer is going to explode...RUN!!!" I know there's no message like the last one there, but there are times when I'd like to make it blow up. Anyways, its in those "computer freeze" moments when you hit those three keys, control, alt delete, hoping that perhaps that will help get things running smoothly again.

Now, I'm not a computer science major, so I'm not going to pretend to know the inner workings of a computer. But this much I do know, there are moments for whatever reason when computers just freeze up. Maybe, its because of too many processes occurring at the same time or some kind of virus or maybe even faulty software or hardware. I know there are a lot of different reasons. Again, I don't pretend to know all that much about the "whys," I just know its quite frustrating when it happens.

I don't know about you, but my brain does that from time to time as well. Its like all of a sudden something like this runs through my brain... oiuqwe09809kd;aldjp;ioeupoiwer. Has your mind ever felt like that? Like, brain waves are there but no thoughts are really registering? I get there sometimes. More times than I care to admit. Usually its at the end of a busy day or a crazy week. In moments like these, I just like to check-out for a bit. You know take a deep breath, stare at a wall, and just use as few brain functions as possible.

I remember when Lori and I first got married there were times when I would sit on the couch and just veg-out for a little bit. She would want to talk and my brain literally could not connect two sentences. It wasn't that I was disinterested. It was, just like those computer freezes, my brain had encountered too many inputs and was shutting down. It's not a stress related thing, or an emotional thing, just an exhaustion thing. Through the years I think she has become very good at knowing when my brain is at control, alt, delete stage.

One thing I discovered over the years is that I haven't been all that good at learning how to knock off work at a specific time. I carry it with me, much of where I go. My brain is so often in "work" mode, and I have a real difficulty turning it off. I will go to bed thinking, and I will wake up thinking. Again, for the most part its not worry, or fear, or stress, just a list of things that needs to get done or problems that need to get solved. Ok, I'll say it...yep, there are even times when I'm thinking "there's a world that needs saving, how can I rest at a time like this?" Yes, my name is Tim Stone and I'm a savior-aholic. I feel much better now that I've got that off my chest. I felt like a while back after I did my best attempt at playing savior of the world, and I was feeling completely exhausted, the Holy Spirit said, "So, how's it feel to play savior for a week? How's that working out for you?" It was in a time of prayer and I actually chuckled because I knew He was right on.

I think we humans are really good at loading things on our shoulders that we aren't meant to carry. We're walking through life with huge spiritual back-packs and wondering why we're worn-out, exhausted, and bordering on burn-out. God forbid we step back and take a breather. A day off? Are you kidding? There's too much to do. Got to wash the laundry, got spend time with the kids, got to go to work, got to mow the yard, got to return the phone calls, got pay the bills, got to run by the bank, got to run by the cleaners, got to get the oil changed, got to check facebook, got to check emails, got to wash the car, got to dust the furniture, got to take out the trash, got to clean the garage, got to cook dinner, and on and on it goes. Oh, yeah and haven't you heard there's a world that needs saving? So we go through life at the speed of light until we get to that point where Starbucks can't pump enough caffeine into their coffee to keep us going. Control, alt delete! Control, alt, delete! Control, alt, delete!!!

Unfortunately, we don't have those buttons to reboot us. God is really smart, though. He knew how we would do life and he instituted this thing called a sabbath. We've made it a religious thing, but God created it to be a part of how we do life. No, its not that hour long Sat. or Sunday thing we do. It was created for mankind, as a day to recharge and refuel. A day to cease from work, and take a breather. Its a day for us to allow the Holy Spirit to breath life into us and refresh us. Think about it, you were created with both the capacity to work, and the need to take a break. More times than not, those moments when my brain hits overload mode, its because I've failed to stop to recharge and refuel.

I know for those workaholics and savioraholics out there, its a tough thing for us to take a break. Afterall, there's so much work to do and haven't you heard there's a world to save. I'm just thinking it might be a little prideful for us to think that the world can't handle being without us for a day. I'm learning how to slow down. No, I don't always do it right, but I do believe I'm getting much better. Because, I'm a pastor, Mondays have become the day of rest in the Stone household. I still have my prayer time and Bible study time, and the rest of the day is family day. I don't check emails, I rarely answer my phone or return phone calls, and I spend the day resting and having a great time with my family. I know, there's a world to save, but I'm thinking I'll let Jesus be the Savior, since He's much better at pulling that off than I am. I'll do my part Tuesday-Sunday and I'll engage in kingdom business like crazy on those days, but I'm determined to follow God's design concerning the sabbath.

Now, even following that design for life, there are still those moments when my brain registers....laoiuer098029384roidad;flakdjva. They are fewer and much further apart though. As for my computer? Well, let's just say even taking Mondays off doesn't seem to help it at all.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Thought I Had Ups

This week my 7 year old challenged me to a slam dunk contest. When he did, my mind went back to the day when I soared through the air like Michael Jordan. Ok, so maybe Michael Jordan is a stretch and the fact is that any dunking I did back in the day was on a 7 or 8 foot goal. That being said, I do remember having some game. While Nike never came knocking on my door, it seems like I remember at least being able to move without feeling as though my feet were glued to the floor.

Now, being 43 years old, and having a challenge thrown down by my 7 year old, I was determined to lace up the shoes and to show him some old school moves. Lowering the goal to 7 feet, I was confident I was going to impress him. By the way, just so you don't get the idea that my kid is a giant, he has a small goal that he would be doing his dunks on not the 7 foot one. As we showed our stuff, I couldn't believe that at 7 feet, I actually missed some dunks. I figure with my 5'-10 1/2" frame and my long arms, it is only necessary to catch 1 or 2 inches of air to slam on a 7 foot goal. I'm guessing that apparently on several attempts the air beneath my feet was less than the required 1 to 2 inches, since I came up short.

While my son dazzled me with his fancy moves, I can assure you nobody was dazzled by my pathetic attempts. I was able to slam a few home, to save complete humiliation, but even my 4 year old appeared to have more ups than me. I think the lowest point of the contest came when out of a possible score of 50 my son gave one of my dunks a 36. If you know anything about the slam dunk contest, below 40 completely stinks and trust me, my boy knows that. To be honest, I thought the dunk deserved more like a 20, I'm just thinking he was being nice to his dad.

As I'm writing this, I have about 10 minutes left before I hit the court with my two boys for a little two on one. And while I have to work and have to take care of all the responsibilities that come with being a pastor, a husband, and dad, I must admit this is one thing I try to place a priority on. No, I don't always do it right and yes, there are times my boys take a back seat to all the other stuff. But, thank God for those times I get it right.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'll take the 36s on my dunks. I'll take those moments when my skills feel like they have got up and went. I'll take those moments when I feel like my shoes are glued to the ground. I'll take those sore knees and other aches the day after. I'll take every loss on the chin. I'll walk through it all if it means that I get to spend time with two of my best friends.

I could go on and on, but my 10 minutes is up and I've got a couple basketball players warming up on the court ready to take on their dad. Time for "Air Jordan" (that's my nickname) to lace em up and show these youngsters how to play this game. They're going down, today! Oh, yeah they are going down!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Joy Of Discovery

Had an interesting day a couple days ago. We took a family trip to IKEA. Now, if you're not familiar with IKEA, I'll try my best to describe it. Its a massive Swedish department store that is full of furnishings for the whole house as well as for the office. Imagine a furniture store, with a bit of Home Depot, Office Depot, and Walmart thrown into the mix, all of it with a Scandinavian flavor. Oh, yeah, and then throw in a restaurant complete with Swedish meatballs and a playroom for your little children. Upstairs is a showroom that seems to never end and downstairs is where you pick up your goods. No, this is not a paid advertisement.

I hope that paints a good picture for you. Now, picture a 4 year old full of energy walking through this show room that never seems to end. Ok, so maybe walking is not the correct term here. I'm not sure how to describe the process by which my 4 year old boy made his way through the show room, but lets just say he kept his mom and I on our toes.

"Look at this one mommy!"
"Wow, look an orange couch!"
"This one is really soft!"
"This one is softer than that one!"
"Mommy, the water doesn't work in this sink!"
"Daddy, look I'm sitting in this really high chair!"
"That bed is way too hard!"

On and on and on the exclamations poured out as he continued on his journey of discovery. He ran from couch to couch, from bed to bed, sat at every desk he could, and touched everything that was within reach. His older brother, an IKEA veteran, had a blast as well but I'm thinking most of his entertainment value came at watching his little brother as he experienced this Scandinavian wonderland for the first time.

I know its crazy that a store could hold that much excitement, but for a 4-year old the only thing necessary is for something to be new. There's just something about discovering things for the first time. This same joy of discovery is in us all. Its something we are born with. Although as adults, we may not get all that worked up about the funny shaped Swedish furniture at IKEA, trust me this joy of discovery is still in there. Just think of how you react to the latest technology on the market. Or, the excitement you feel behind the wheel of a new car. Or, when you slip on those new shoes, or new clothes. Think about the first time you saw mountains, or snow, or the ocean. Think about the first time you flew in a plane, or saw the Grand Canyon, or rode a roller coaster.

If we are not careful, though, we can get lulled to sleep by the things in life we have become acquainted with and comfortable with. So much so that discovering new things is something we rarely do. You know what I'm talking about. We go to the same restaurants and order the same food that we always do. We take the same route to work, never deviating off course. We go to the same vacation spot every year. We mow our yard in the same pattern every time we mow. We drink our coffee with the same flavored creamer every day. On and on the list goes.

God created us with this capacity to get excited about discovering new things. Although, that manifests in us as we take in the world around us, it was also meant to manifest in our discovery of Him. As I think about this, I'm reminded of a story in the Old Testament where the Children of Israel heard thunder and saw lightning as God revealed Himself to them in a small way. All of them were a bit freaked out by the whole event. So much so that they just told Moses to talk to God for them because they wanted no part of that. On the other hand, Moses gets close to God and desires to see more of Him. He's not satisfied with the part of God that he has been able to see.

The thing about discovering new things is that it can be a little bit uncomfortable for us. Sometimes, downright risky or dangerous. Yet, without this joy of discovery, life can get quite uneventful and bland. Like Moses, we were created with this built-in desire to discover God more intimately with each passing day. So often though, we are like the rest of that group that hesitates to go deeper with Him. It's risky isn't it. Mortal, imperfect man communing with an immortal, perfect God. Let's face it, the more we discover Him, the more messed up we realize we are. That of course, is completely uncomfortable for us as it requires a decision on our part to continue this journey of discovery or to stop right there. The crowd Moses lived with chose to stop when it got a little uncomfortable. Moses chose to get closer. If I had to guess whose life was more exciting I would have to say it was the guy who hung out with God so much that once he came down from the mountain with his face literally glowing with the glory of God. Incidentally, even that "glowing face" was a bit much for the rest of them as they insisted Moses cover his face. Yep, even that was too uncomfortable for them.

While discovering more and more of God can be a little dangerous, the joy of discovering new aspects and parts of Him far outweighs the risks. As a matter of fact, the only part of us that is in danger or at risk is the part of us that needs to die anyway. Whether it is finding Him in His Word, or in our quiet times, or as we take in His creation, there is a joy and excitement that comes with each and every moment of discovery. Just like my little one at IKEA, when it comes to our discovery of God we can choose to take in as much as we can possibly handle. Or, we can be like some of the adults walking through IKEA who have no idea what that orange couch feels like to sit in, or how comfortable that bed is to lay in. When we approach God with that kind of mentality while it is certain we will be comfortable, we will never experience the joy of discovery.