Being punished by God

Do you ever feel like you’re being punished by God? I had one of those experiences recently, and I’m so glad it didn’t last long. In those couple of days one thing I found interesting is that I had anger towards God. And that, my friends, is me admitting I’m not very spiritually mature. To think about it another way, try remembering when one of your parents grounded you. More times that not, we were instantly mad at our parents, right? Forget whatever we did wrong, that was totally beside the point! How dare mom or dad discipline us and RUIN OUR LIVES!!!!!!!
rain

“I turned my back on everything that was true.”

That’s the same way I acted when I felt like I was being punished by God. I was all like, “Wassup with that, God?” “Why me?” “Why don’t you care?” And God was all like, “Read the Bible!” “Isaiah 58.” “Chump!” OK, OK, not in those exact words but I opened up to Isaiah 58 and yowza, a scolding. A brief recap: God’s people were wondering why He didn’t seem to care about them (this happened quite a bit with them). They did this or that thinking it’s what God wanted. But He called them out on it, with beautiful clarity and insight. That’s the first half of the chapter, anyway. It goes on to offer what God desired from them, and for them. It’s sweet, actually, and very encouraging. After reading that chapter, I saw my attitude for what it really was: sour, unjustified, and immature.

“Left to myself I realize / I am the maker of my own demise.”

I was upset with God when I should’ve been upset with myself. What I blamed Him for was actually just a consequence of my own shortcoming. And while He may have allowed it to happen, feeling like punishment to me, it might have simply been Him using the consequences as discipline. Like if you’re a parent, maybe you did’t save your child from getting suspended when they got caught skipping school or whatever. Know what I mean? They reaped (rept? rooped?) what they had sown. It’s a chance for them to learn something, even if it’s the hard way.

Father-and-Son-Holding-Hands

“Some people gotta learn the hardway.”

This experience was a low moment, but I hope I never forget it because man, God is so good. He hung with me through it and even had a blessing for me on the other side. Totally unfair. A blessing. I was all like, “Really?” and God was all like, “Really.”

Not in those exact words. 🙂

-Out of the Wilderness

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So you’re a newlywed, huh?

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.22.49 AMI was chatting with a friend recently about someone she knows who’s getting married. We covered some of the details most people love knowing about when it comes to weddings: location, the couple, the excitement of the families. It’s great when two people love each other, and side note, if you’re a girl wondering if a guy might be interested in you, check out another post of mine: 10 Signs He’s Into You.

My friend mentioned that the two people getting married aren’t Christians and neither go to church, which is why their wedding is taking place somewhere other than a church and not officiated by a pastor. We sort of left it as hoping for the best for the couple and that their marriage will last. I enjoyed the conversation but always wonder why I come up with my best comments well after any particular topic is over.

In this case, I didn’t have much to say in the moment about the folks getting married not being Christians. But if I could do it over, I’d say something about all of us, no matter where we are now, started somewhere. We all have a story and sometimes a relationship with God starts at a young age, sometimes not. Sometimes it never starts at all. My hope for these soon-to-be newlyweds is that in the process of getting married, and being married, that God reveals Himself to them. After all, marriage is spoken about a lot in the Bible and I believe God holds it in very high regard.

Another hope: just don’t screw it up! I say that playfully, yet reflecting on how mankind has pretty much screwed up everything at some point or another. God has given us so many good things, marriage included, and we’ve managed to pervert all of it. And that goes for Christ-followers, too. Here’s the thing about that, by the way. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat. People who call themselves Christians aren’t any better than anyone else. Like it says in the Old Testament, “We all like sheep have gone astray.” We’re all looking for an answer. We’re all seeking peace, happiness, and something to worship.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.23.01 AMSo I still definitely hope for the best for my friend’s friends who are getting married. I hope it’ll last, that they positively wreck the statistics of divorce. And especially, I hope somehow they’re willing and able to understand a little more about God through their marriage. And if/when they have kids, they get another glimpse into the character of God, as it’s revealed through a parent’s love for their children.

Maybe you can’t exactly relate to getting married, being a newlywed or even becoming a parent. Hey, I certainly can’t! But we can all relate to one key take-away:

Whatever you’re doing, just don’t screw it up. 🙂
Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.22.36 AM-Out of the Wilderness

PS. All of these stunning photos were taken by amazing photographer Joe Hendricks. More incredible wedding photos can be seen on his website, along with breathtaking landscape photos (available for purchase)! Click here, you won’t be sorry!

The Reawakening: Part 12

The subtitle to this post is “Worth more than many sparrows,” because that’s exactly how God feels about each of us. Even in our most scary moments, maybe especially in our most scary moments, we can exhale knowing that He knows what we need and He will do it. He will. If he takes care of the birds, he’ll take care of me and you, because we’re much more valuable than birds!
bird2You may be reading this with a skeptical or unbelieving heart. Maybe you’re a Christian and maybe you’re not. That’s OK. God’s concern includes everyone; you, me, them, us, her, him, even…that one. You know the one. That guy or girl who’s so unlikeable or annoying.
annoyI’ve learned along the way that sometimes I’m that one.

But anyway, that’s another post for another time. Or just ask my siblings, they’ll tell you how annoying I can be! I like knowing that this one little human in Nashville is important to someone so big. A good comparison is a nationally-recognized, respected, winning coach looking over to his player sitting on the end of the bench, and giving him a nod that says, “Hey, I’m glad you’re on the team. We wouldn’t be the same without you and come Hell or high water, I will look out for you as a member of my team.” Feels good, right?

Well, moving right along, and tying this all together with my Reawakening series, I’m calling today Day 1 since my generous severance package from CMT ended yesterday. I should be nervous. I should panic a little. I should be losing sleep because I don’t have a full-time job. But I’m not. I won’t. And I haven’t. Because the more I read in the Bible, and as each day passes, I learn and see that I’m worth more than many sparrows. And I like that. So why would I worry? Why would I be nervous? This morning I came across the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.

“Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

Having health insurance is important, taking care of myself and my dogs is important, finding work I can thrive doing is important. But it seems that what’s also important is trusting God to take care of me. I think I can do that today, on Day 1. Seems simple enough, and a great reason to sing like a bird.

-Out of the Wilderness

Falling in Love: Part 2

Honestly, I’ve been sitting on that post for a while. It’s the most transparent I’ve been, well, the most personal. I love writing in a way that makes you laugh, that makes me laugh, but that one, obviously, is different. I sincerely hope you look at me with compassion, without much judgement, and continue hanging on as I make my way through this wilderness.

I know if any girl I was dating or about to date read my last post, they wouldn’t touch me with a ten-foot pole. But the post wasn’t about saving my dating life. To be honest, there’s not much to save anyway. I wanted to come clean, whether it’s to 3 readers or 3,000. Because there’s only one me and I’m trying to make that one me look like the me I want him to be. He looks a lot like my grandfathers. He acts like them, and acts like my dad…chivalrous, caring, maybe rough around the edges but has respect for people, and for women. That’s part of what being a Wilder is. Another part is extreme athleticism (OK I’ll stop trying to be funny). But strip away my last name, and you know what, it’s really part of what being a man is. Like Hozier sings, “we were born sick” and according to the Bible, it’s true. I was born selfish, dirty, and in need of some discipline.

These last couple of posts are about the journey since that birth day.

-Out of the Wilderness

There’s Something About That Name

“Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away
But there’s something about that name.”

It was the end of an evening, a fleeting moment. We were gathering our things to leave. Our coats. Our keys. The leftover food from dinner. A few Bibles. I glanced over to see a friend take a bowl that was stacked on a Bible, and set it beside.

Pride. Respect. Honor. Often these words are associated with the military. But in that little moment, I could see all those things in a small gesture of a friend.

It came on the heels of a night discussing offenses. These days in the U.S., almost anything a person says or does offends someone for one reason or another. We chatted about how Christians feel, or should feel, when the name of God or Jesus is used inappropriately. As Christians, should we be offended? Most said yes. If I’m honest, when I hear God’s name used like a curse word, or Jesus’ name used carelessly, I feel a sense of pride. Why don’t people yell Mohammed’s name? What about Buddha? This may sound odd or not make sense, but I believe it’s because there’s no power in those names. Think about it, whether the name of Jesus is being used the right way or the wrong way, there’s power when it’s used. His name evokes emotion.

It’s the name some people scream when they’re upset. Some whisper it when they’re at the end of their rope. It’s the name I thank when I see a giraffe or a sunset. It’s the name people remember when all else fails. It’s the name that rolls so easily off our tongues without a passing thought. It’s the name that divides nations. It’s the name that unifies families. No matter how you feel about it, there’s something about that name.

Jesus’ name is mentioned over a thousand times in the Bible, so I have a feeling that’s why my friend took the bowl off of the Bible. There’s something about that book, too.
Jesus

Booze It And Lose It

In 2006 I spent 2 weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam, the capital of a Socialist country. The biggest surprise was how free it felt there. When I returned to the U.S., I soon became turned off by the amount of rules and regulations we live with each and every day. My friend said it best, “We’re not free, we’re just free-er than most.” We may not be “free-er than most” for very long because if something’s happening, there’s a law that prohibits or protects it. I don’t blame the government, though. The problem lies within the people. If it’s possible for a nation to live by 10 laws (Israel back in Biblical days), then why couldn’t the United States? How did this overabundance of laws happen? It’s directly proportional to our morals. As morality decreases, rules increase. Just look at a few laws about motor vehicle operation.
I was recently on the interstate and saw a sign that said “booze it and lose it,” meaning you will lose your license if you’re caught driving drunk. If I were in charge of that sign, I’d have it say “booze it and you may ruins someone’s life for a long, long time. I sorta hope it’s your own and not some innocent person’s.” Then I’d have another sign that says, “stop reading this sign and pay attention to the road.” Am I the only one that thinks we have way too many signs in this country? For instance, this one:

Oh, really? Is that what I should do in case of a flood?

If we ask questions like, “Why shouldn’t I drink alcohol and drive? Why shouldn’t I text and drive? Why should I wear my seat belt?” The most common answer to all these questions is, “Because if I do these things, I’ll get a ticket.” Speeding down the highway at 90 mph, we’re more worried about getting caught than the physical damage we could do. We secretly text while we’re driving so the cops don’t see. The real danger is not the police, it’s the divided attention. The unfocused driver. The compromised awareness. Just like driving under the influence of alcohol. Groups like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) would tell you that getting a ticket should be the least of your concerns. Yet our warnings are about what we’ll lose if we’re caught. Unfortunately, we’re influenced more by warnings that affect our wallets or our perceived freedom.

“There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free.” -Walter Cronkite

If we can somehow live with basic morals (treating our neighbors the way we want to be treated, for instance), the government would be less involved in our lives. On a side note, this may be why a lot of people in America have a problem with religion. It often seems like another set of rules to obey and when the government already has a lengthy list of requirements, religion is the last thing a person wants. And I’m serious about the signs.

Flood, Pain and Prayer

It was the summer of 2010 and Nashville just experienced a 500-year flood that devastated houses and families.

There were many opportunities to get involved with the clean-up effort; through churches, charity efforts, and even places of employment encouraging employees to help by lending a hand in the hardest hit areas. The building where I work lost power for the entire week after the flood so once I caught up on my own long overdue yard work, I volunteered in neighborhoods needing assistance. At one house, I helped pull up soaking wet carpet. At another I helped with a washer/dryer extraction. One task was simply sweeping water out of a kitchen into the backyard. Joining in with some other folks, I helped take torn up drywall out to a trash pile near the street. At this house, we had two wheelbarrows, one with a flat tire. Some may say it’s because I’m awesome, others may say it’s because I’m double awesome, but I used the one with the flat tire, without gloves and pushed it up hill in the snow. That makes me a triple threat guy. Ok, I had gloves. And there was no hill. Or snow.

The wheelbarrow rolled well enough until the flat tire hit a hole in the ground and immediately came to a halt. The problem was that I kept walking. My shin was pierced by a screw from the wheelbarrow. Yes it hurt. Yes it bled. A friend nearby had a first aid kit and was more than willing to attend to my new wound. Here’s how it went down before she applied ointment:

Me: Is this going to hurt?
Her: Yes.
[pause]
[pause]
Me: Ok, go.
[cuss word]

In the few seconds between anticipation of pain and actual pain, I was able to prepare for what would happen next. And if it pleases the court, I’d like to make clear there was no cuss word, that was a joke.

That experience has finally served as a good example of how to handle the storm I’m currently in the middle of. This little storm started and I didn’t have time to prepare, just like my leg and the wheelbarrow. But as the rain falls and the thunder rolls, I’ve made time to seek shelter. If nothing else good comes from this storm, I can at least treasure the shelter and perhaps remember that the Lord loves me enough to carry my burden when all I can imagine happening is me crumbling. There will be resolution to this storm, the suffering will pass. It says so in the Bible: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Either this statement is true, or none of the Bible is true. So I’m going to, again, take my chances that once the storm passes, it will still just be a storm. But me? I’ll be restored (which is enough) but then I’ll also be stronger, more firm, and more steadfast than ever before. That’s where I win and the storm loses. So when the next one comes, guess what my prayer will be?

Me: Is this going to hurt?
Lord: Yes.
[pause]
[pause]
Me: Ok, go.
[cuss word]
[just kidding]