Sunday, June 28, 2009

Genchi Genbutsu

Genchi genbutsu means "go to the trouble spot." It does not mean go around it, hunt for it or go past it. No, it tells us to go directly to the spot with the big X on it.

After 10+ years of training in the martial arts, I've acquired a fondness for the simplicity and directness of the Asian culture. They call it as they see it.

The phrase genchi genbutsu got me to thinking how often we circle around the root of our problems because we don't (or can't) take the time to pinpoint it's epicenter. Yet, everything, when you think about it has an origin; a catalyst if you will that births the process.

Epidemiologists refer to Patient Zero as the source of infection, 9/11 is called Ground Zero, the birth of a star is a nova and the ultimate beginning of all time is named Genesis. Even tumors have a primary beginning that causes the spread of cancerous cells. No matter what it's called, it all boils down to the same concept: a creation or event that heralds the beginning of what didn't exist before. In other words, cause and effect.

For instance, maybe we have continuing trouble with relationships--either picking the "wrong" partner or subconsiously messing things up ourselves. Relationships crash and burn as a result. This might be something that is repeated over and over again until the root of the problem has been identified, dissected and treated. But, in order to do that, we have to become transparent to ourselves. We have to get figuratively naked.

Don't know about you but that's hard. It's hard to strip away our emotional defenses and be totally vulnerable. But, remember to "be strong and courageous" as advised to us in 1 Chronicles 23:12. With God by our side, we can face what needs to be faced, cut out what needs to be cut out so we can live fruitful, loving lives. God promises to "keep you from all evil" and "he will keep your life," so there is nothing to fear. (Psalm 121:7-8)

Going to the spot of trouble can bring healing and with healing will bring change. Are we ready for change or do we want to stay with the status quo, no matter how much it hurts or is not working? Not worth the trouble, you think? Well, think of it this way: if you keep sticking your finger in a dike will that fix the leak permanently? If all you want is a temporary fix, then you won't take the time to dig deep in prayer to heal your "spot of trouble." Permanent fixes usually take alot of work. It usually requires dismantling and rebuilding, like a cracked foundation. Yet, in the end, isn't all that work worth it?

Aren't you worth it?

Change is scary. Sometimes the familiar is easier, even if it fails or promotes hurt; even if it is toxic. If you are too scared to make that first step to fix your genchi genbutsu, think of these words from Jesus:

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flames shall not consume you."
Isaiah 43:1-2

I don't know about you, but to me that's some incredible warranty! Jesus has our backs at all times. There is no way we can fail. So, why not take a moment to identify your spot of trouble and go to it, face it and destroy it?

You've got everything to gain by doing so! Why not start now...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This Way, That Way with God's GPS

There was a time when I thought of life like one big chess game. In my mind's eye we'd plot our strategies, and execute our moves and countermoves. If we weren't careful and aware, we could be checked at any given moment.

What an exhausting mindset!

Now, I live differently. I know better. My heart accepts and understands that we are usually right where we are supposed to be. I say "usually" because many times even the most seasoned believers get impatient with the Lord's timeline and go after what they want because they think they know better. Waiting and staying in faith during a holding pattern can certainly test the best of us.

Have you ever been in a plane waiting and waiting to get clearance to take off --or even worse, circling high in the sky above your destination point, anxious to land and get where you're supposed to be? Can you imagine if you took matters into your own hands and took over the cockpit controls because you wanted--no, needed to land or take off now?
Well, in a way, that's exactly what you're doing when you decide you know best and take the reigns! There will be times, perhaps many times, when where we are isn't random or without purpose. In other words, we possibly could be precisely where we're supposed to be because God is setting up a divine appointment.

When I first learned about divine appointments (or DA's), I automatically associated them with incredible "can you believe it" tales. A part of me was wow'd by the stories and intense declarations of the blessings people had experienced....but I have to admit there was a small, secretive part of me that, envious. I mean, I kept hearing stories left and right from fellow Christians about all these death-defying interventions, last minute saves from financial ruin or miraculous healings and I had nothing to share; nothing, nada, zip! My DA cupboards were bare.

How could this be, I wondered? Wasn't I worthy of a DA moment myself? Yesssss, I know we aren't supposed to expect them or heaven forbid, demand that God wave his magic wand and conjure one up for our benefit so I could have my own DA story but come I didn't get one?

I pondered what I perceived as the Lord's oversight when gradually the mental fog lifted. Well, shifted is a more accurate description. Wait...hmmm...maybe I hadn't been deprived after all!
Maybe I had overlooked subtle, arranged situations. Shifting my perspective suddenly revealed a world full of DA's once I turned down expectations from visions of floodlights and angelic choirs. The DA's had been there all along but I had needed to quiet my soul in order to "open the eyes of my heart."

I tried that approach. I wasn't good at it at first. Ok, I'm still not that good at it. I still tend to fill my head and heart with "noise." Yet, it's exactly this mental busyness that filters out the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit.

So, once I stripped away my expectations of dazzle and bling and shock and awe, what happened?

Well, to be honest, nothing much at first. I think the eyes of my heart needed some time to adjust to the light once I took off the rose colored glasses. But, soon I started to notice little things, like maybe feeling a certain way and then hearing just the right words I needed to hear from a song on the radio. Or, struggling with a faith issue and then having someone pop up out of the blue with an email discussing the very same struggle and offering insight without even knowing my own private issues. Or, hearing a right-on sermon the very day and hour my heart was heavy and full of doubts.

These, I've learned, are my divine appointments. They aren't as grandiose as other peoples' maybe but I'll take them just the same. They were designed especially for me by my Lord and Savior and since I am his creation, I know he knows how best to not only reach me---but to teach me as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Newboys "In the Hands of God" cd review

I bought two new cds the other day. Yes, I have an ipod. I just like the real thing. Call me old fashioned but there are always a stack of cds in my car. For some reason, the sound quality seems better to me with a real cd. Another reason is I detest the whole cd-transfer-to-itunes-to-ipod-with-cable process, a major pet peeve of mine. Come on, we are nearly out of the first decade of the 21st century and they can’t figure out how to offer wireless transfers of music data in a less cumbersome setup?

But, I digress, back to the cds. So, while driving along one of the busiest interstate roads in my state, I blindly plucked one of the new cds from top of the pile. Head bobbing, foot stomping, good ole solid rock worthy music immediately streamed out-- not too heavy, not too pop. I was getting into it—and then the singing started. I stopped mid-head bob from shock.

I quickly ejected the cd. Instead of it being the band I thought it would be, it was the other band’s new cd; a band better known for fun pop/rock songs like, “Go (I Wanna Send You),” “Wherever We Go” or slower worship music like “Presence (My Heart’s Desire),” “He Reigns” or “Devotion” but sure enough, the cd label said Newsboys. After I heard the distinctive vocals of Peter Furler, I knew this cd would earn membership in my personal favorites hall of fame. The cd’s first cut, “The Way We Roll” starts off with a bang and instructs us to:

Put on your backpack,
Throw out your roadmap,
God’ll use anything, check it and see.
He’s using us more than we could ever ask for,
That’s the new way we roll cause we’ve been set free!

Another fun song that gets your heart pumping and singing in the car is Dance. The song urges us to shed our self-consciousness.

Dance like no one is looking
Sing like no one can hear
Love like you’ve never been hurt before,
Live like there’s nothing to fear

Ok, I know Chris Tomlin said basically the same thing in one of his hit songs but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this message to the masses.

One of my favorite songs on the cd , “Lead Me to the Cross” is one I sing in church. They didn’t fiddle with the original Hillsong arrangement too much either so it comes off pure and sincere, just the way it should.

With busy lives, we tend to forget we are mortal with a “finite number of heartbeats.” The song, “This is your life” doesn’t sugar coat its message. I may put these words in my profile:

This is not a warm up round…
This is your life
Treat yourself right,
Treat others right.
Live like you know you should…
Fight the good fight,
Fight for what’s right.
Do what you know you should.
Every living soul completes a finite number of heartbeats…
The devil knows you get just one shot…
Did you forget that heaven’s calling for your best shot?

That’s a good question to ponder. The Newsboys cd, “In the Hands of God” is a great addition to your collection.

Update: On March 9, 2009 the band announced that Michael Tait (formerly of dc Talk) will replace Peter Furler as the Newsboys lead singer.

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17
God's GPS