Mike's Life

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Dear Michael

Michael,

Don’t be afraid – of the waves,

as they come and they come,

as they grow and consume

all that surrounds you.

Simply let go – of your control,

and float and believe,

and have faith that the current,

which is filled with His love,

will deliver you somewhere,

to a place with purpose,

with safety,

with surprise and delight.

MMG 11-16-09

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You’re invited… No, I beg you to come

From the Heavens flow your amazing love,

Straight into me from Your kingdom above.

Now I surrender and unlock each door –

Giving all to You regardless how poor,

So that the darkness within me can be lighted.

You are invited… No, I beg…

Please enter each room of my life,

and do as you will, with all your might.

I accept your love and I need your grace,

so please envelope me now because I fear –

that my rooms may shut for another year.

The “Go” of Renunciation – from Oswald Chambers, September 27

re⋅nun⋅ci⋅a⋅tion / Spelled Pronunciation [ri-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn] noun.
An act or instance of relinquishing, abandoning, repudiating, or sacrificing something, as a right, title, person, or ambition: the king’s renunciation of the throne.

Listening to Eva Cassidy

Recently I discovered the late singer Eva Cassidy. She has the most amazing voice. I’ve read that she only gained popularity and relative fame after her death. Once again, Pandora radio has given a gift to me.

Being the person God intended (instead of only praying for arms and legs)

Being the person God intended (instead of only praying for arms and legs)

By Mike Griffith ~ prepared for our Band of Brothers meeting ~ 7-13-09

Last Sunday night I was hustling to find the 3 DVDs I needed to return to the video store so I could avoid the late fees. It was nearly midnight and I was just beating the deadline. I parked, left the car running with door ajar and started a clumsy dash to drop the videos into the return slot. Instead of a smooth delivery, my foot hit the curb and I launched onto the cement awkwardly. The videos flew from one hand, my keys from the other. I picked myself up and assured onlookers that I was okay. When I was back in the safety of my car I said a silent prayer for healing of my knee but the rumination had already begun. I knew right away that I had hurt my already injured knee and I was angry. 

When I arrived home Beth was surprised to see me limping and bloodied. Despite her helpfulness I was pouting in full force. After getting ice for my knee, Beth said to me: “I know you’re frustrated but let’s see what God has in mind for you and how God might use this.” I thought this would be a big setback for me so, at first, I took her comments as being overly optimistic niceness. However, her words sank in and I realized she was correct (she very often is, really).

Why did I have to view this situation so negatively? I was having a pity party! She snapped me out of it by sharing how she was positively impacted by Nick Vujicic’s presentation the preceding Sunday at Bay Pointe. We had attended separate services and apparently the 3 presentations were somewhat different from each other.

She described, in her words, Nick Vujicic speaking about how, in waiting for answered prayer, God’s glory can be shown to more people in our waiting (suffering and struggle) than in us just getting what we want and having our needs met.  What if God had answered Nick’s prayers for arms and legs?  After all, God has really been working through Nick just the way Nick is right now – without arms or legs. God’s time is the real time! A good question to ask yourself is: Would you rather God answer your prayer right now or,  if more people could come to Christ in your waiting, would you wait? I got the point and my knee injury became a “Wow” moment.  I think it is so very easy to make God small in our lives and to keep ourselves inflated. 


 I’d like to examine this further using some excerpts from other sources (references at the bottom):

Do people go to the Grand Canyon to increase their self-esteem? Probably not. This is, at least, a hint that the deepest joys in life come not from savoring the self, but from seeing splendor. And in the end even the Grand Canyon will not do. We were made to enjoy God. 1

  •  Dave Dravecky’s story is one of hope, courage and perseverance in the midst of dark and overwhelming uncertainty. Dave was first thrust into the public spotlight when his career took off as a major league baseball pitcher, a “southpaw” for the San Francisco Giants. Shortly after realizing his lifelong dream, Dave was diagnosed with cancer, a desmoid tumor, in the deltoid muscle of his pitching arm. The next years were a whirlwind of surgery, radiation, pain and depression. Eventually, Dave’s arm was amputated to stop the spread of the cancer and save his life. Through his personal experience, he addresses loss and suffering, faith, encouragement and hope, reaching out to others, and saying goodbye to the past. 3
    •  “My arm caught the attention of the entire school, when, as a teenager, I pitched my first no hitter…(Later) my ability to provide for my family was not based on how smart I was or how hard I worked. It was based solely on what my arm could do on game day. When people talked with me, it was the center of conversation. ‘How’s the arm today, Dave? Is your arm ready for tonight?’ My arm was to me what hands are to a concert pianist, what feet are to a marathon runner. It’s what made me valuable, what gave me worth in the eyes of the world. Then suddenly my arm was gone.” 3

 We are all bent to believe that we are central in the universe. How shall we be cured of this joy-destroying disease? 1

  •  Nick Vujicic’s authentic love of Christ shines through him so penetratingly that people are literally captivated and disarmed by the fact he can genuinely rejoice in his circumstances. Almost without realizing it, they discover that they want desperately that same factor that they see so clearly displayed in Nick’s life and messages, in their own lives. That factor that they desire for themselves is, of course, Christ…living in him, and working through him. 2
    •  “God has used me to let people know in countless schools, churches, prisons, orphanages, hospitals, stadiums and in face-to-face encounters with individuals how very precious they are to God. Secondly, it’s my pleasure to assure them that God does have a plan for their lives that is purposeful. For God took my life, one that others might disregard as having any significance and filled me with His purpose and showed me His plans to move hearts and lives toward Him. Understanding this, though faced with struggles, you can overcome too.” 2

The cure for this bondage (self-centeredness) is to see that God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act. In exalting himself – Grand Canyon-like – he gets the glory and we get the joy.

The greatest news in all the world is that there is no final conflict between my passion for joy and God’s passion for his glory. The knot that ties these together is the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Jesus Christ died and rose again to forgive the treason of our souls, which have turned from savoring God to savoring self.

In the cross of Christ, God rescues us from the house of mirrors and leads us out to the mountains and canyons of his majesty. Nothing satisfies us – or magnifies him – more. 1 

Questions / Discussion

  • What might the impact be to us and to others of NOT fully living the life that God intended for us, right in this moment, and in the next moment, and in the next day, and always?

 

  • Conversely: Through you, how far reaching could God’s love become if you stayed focused on God’s vision for you?

  

  • We often keep God small and try to keep ourselves big. How can we keep God big and us small?

  

  • How can we stay more “God-centric” in each moment – so that God can fully work through us, and so that we can fully experience his love and share that love.

  

  • Do you have a “Dave Dravecky arm?” – A part of you or a part of your life that defines you more than it should?

 

  • Would you rather God answered your prayer right now, or if more people could come to Christ in your waiting, would you wait?

 

  • How can God use your pain/discomfort/loss?

 

  •  How has God already worked through you?  

 


  References: 

1 The full John Piper article titled The Goal of God’s Love May Not Be What You Think It Is can be found here:  http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/passionate-articles-details.php?articlesID=17 

 2 The information on Nick Vujicic came from his website: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org 

3 The information on Dave Dravecky came from his website: http://www.davedravecky.com 


Some things need no prayer

I am currently reading Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. Just finished chapter 2. The book, to this point, has offered ideas at how to follow the Holy Sprit’s lead in our lives. In chapter 2 the author talks about believing that there are some things that need no prayer, and other things that we can stop praying about. He explains that in discovering our “God-ordained passion”, prayer is certainly vital but that at some point we need to quit praying and start doing. I agree with that. At the end of chapter 2 he asks the reader: “What do you need to stop praying about, and what do you need to start doing?” So, I asked myself the question and my first thought was that I need to stop praying for strength and just be strong. A little too visceral of an answer I think, not that my initial thought was wrong. Not at all. I feel there is definitely something valid about that, I just need to go deeper with it. Unfortunately, it is the “going deeper” part that makes my brain hurt. Okay… think, think, think… “stop praying for strength and just be strong”. Yea, I think can live with that answer for now. Discussing this at our Band of Brothers group tonight helped me see through the soup. I often have to verbalize before I gain clarity. Talk it out. I really need to follow that advice because I have had so many “ah-ha” moments when I speak the words and hear the words. Not sure why it makes such a difference. It’s the synaptical wiring or something. Anyhow, back to “seeing through the soup” – talking about it helped the sediment to clear away and allowed me to see it differently. I need to stop praying for strength because I have strength, I’ve shown strength, I’ve been strong, I’ve bent, I’ve twisted, I’ve been down, but I’ve never broken. God has seen to it that I haven’t broken. It is like Aesop’s fable about the oak and the reeds. The story says that the mighty oak stood tall, proud, and strong (and alone) and proclaimed: “No storm can break me, but look at you reeds down there, bending over at the slightest wind, twisting and flopping all over the place. You are not strong.” The reeds responded to the oak simply: “Someday you will learn.” Someday did come. It was a day in which a fierce storm came. A storm not just with forceful gusts but a storm with sustained strong winds and exceptional gusts. The oak did stand tall and strong, at first, but then his roots were pulled violently from the earth by the storm’s fury and down he came, crashing alongside the graceful reeds. The reeds looked at the oak, broken and dying: “You see”, they said, “you stood strong and proud, refusing to bend, but that very refusal is what has killed you. We survived, however, and flourish still because our strength is that we do bend.”  The reeds continued: ” The winds were indeed fierce, but today those storms have receded, and as the morning breaks across the land we rejoice, for now we are even stronger.” So, I am saying that instead of praying for strength, I need to use my strength, act on my strength, enjoy my strenth, and love my strength. I need to pray for God to help me apply my strength, and even then I might not need to pray on it for very long. I realize now that in knowing where my strength is, I know that my passion lies nearby. And in defining my passion, I’ll also discover my God-ordained calling. THAT is what I need to pray on.

God, my sovereign Father, I pray to you now and give thanks that you have blessed me with incredible strength. God, I know that I am strong, and I ask for guidance and discernment to help me live my life with that strength, and by your design, and to be filled with the passion you have crafted just for me. I pray to be so filled with that passion that it pours out of me and into the world around me. I pray that the passion you have gifted to me can be my map, and I open all of myself to you Lord so that you may work in me, and through me. I pray to you now that my God-ordained passion, my calling, my path, will be lighted by you. I know that my strength is growing, and that my love is growing,  and I know, regardless of  how clearly I see it, that I am truly on that path right now – I am so incredibly thankful for that.   Amen.

You

I crave –

to be righted,

to be lighted.

I desire –

to feel the safety of Your love,

to be warmed from You above.

I am –

sometimes weak, sometimes strong,

often struggling to belong.

Now I know that all along –

YOU –

You have been with me,

and You surround me,

and now I feel you all around me.

Finally, I know now that

You are in me.

    ~ Thank you God

MMG 04/07/09

Light Me

God – I’d like to ask if you know,

why my growth seems so slow?

Am I in your sight?

Why God, do I feel so slight?

Where is my path?

What’s the deal?

Could you brighten my road

to help me feel real?

           ~ Thank you God.

MMG 04/08/09

Pandora Radio gave music back to me

Pandora Radio Gave Music Back To Me

Music has played an important role in my life. Music was an early connector in the relationship between me and my wife (R.E.M. and many others). The power of music helped lead us to accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s hard to beat that! We currently enjoy a lot of Christian music but our musical tastes flow in almost every direction. My wife Beth was actually in a band at one time (you’ll have to talk to her about that!), while I failed out of piano lessons at age 7. Last summer I bought an old guitar at a neighborhood garage sale. It has been a goal of mine, or maybe more of a dream, to learn to play for over 15 years.  It was actually a questionable decision at the time to plop down the relative few dollars that the old thing cost. I had zero energy to haggle on the price. Anyhow, I would have been haggling based on the money I had (or didn’t have) in my bank account and not based on what I thought it was worth. I knew enough to know that it had probably been a nice guitar in its day. I’d rather have a beaten down well made guitar than a cheaply made and cheaply priced piece of junk. I thought about it as I wandered around the driveway for 20 minutes looking at all the other stuff the older couple had on display; old tools, used fishing gear, refurbished snow blowers, and an old red fire-fighter’s axe that was owned long ago by the man’s father. Certainly there have been times during the past decade where I could have afforded a nicer guitar had I chosen to learn to play then. Back then, however, I didn’t make time for things like learning to play music, writing, art, or even reading for pleasure. Being unemployed, like I was then, and like I am now, has changed things for me. So, feeling  just a little like when in the past I’d made a spontaneous purchase on the newest techno-gadget, I bought the thing. The odd thing was that, although the guitar cost about 20 bucks, and the tech-gadgets were in the hundreds of dollars, the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach was about the same. It is all relative, I suppose. I need not have felt guilty about buying the guitar though. It was a good buy, and for a good reason, and it would provide a mental health benefit as well. As it turned out, the thing broke about 10 days after I got it. It lasted just long enough for the desire to learn to play start to burn inside me. Well, this certainly created a convenient opporunity (excuse) to buy an inexpensive (but decent) new one. Learning to play has been very slow going, although I am still going, and intend to keep going.

Pandora Radio single-handedly brought music back to relevance in my life. I think Beth would share equally strong sentiment about Pandora. After our children were born music took several steps backward on the priority-meter. Music never leaves you, thankfully, but for 5 or 6 years we did not explore new music or listen to much of our existing collection. Between 2001 and 2007 all the sounds emanating from our speakers came from “Baby Einstein”, “Blues Clues”,”Dora The Explorer”, and any number of Walt Disney films. Pandora woke us back up to the beauty of music and to the vital role that music has played in our lives. Our children, ages 5 & 8, love music and already have their own separate musical tastes. 

Some of the great artists Beth and I have discovered through Pandora are Eva Cassidy, Josh Rouse, Snow Patrol, Missy Higgins, Say Hi (To Your Mom), Ben Harper, Jose Gonzalez, Janove Ottesen, Vienna Teng, Iron and Wine, Allison Crowe, Nickel Creek, Pierce and E.J. Maggi, The Decemberists, and many others.

What sounds best right now, is to go listen to my Eva Cassidy playlist on YouTube. Am I ever plugged in!

Much of the information contained in this post comes from my Pandora Radio profile. You can view our full Pandora profile and all of our bookmarked music at http://www.pandora.com/people/trueleader04

Today was Wednesday, not Winsday, so… Whensday?

God,

Wednesday is passing away now. 65 minutes remain. I’ve been told that it is important to live each and every day. I believe that axiom. I am certain that by “living”, it is not meant to merely exist, but to thrive, and to do my best, and hopefully to enjoy. Well, I believe I’ve failed you Wednesday. Wednesday, I couldn’t seem to remove myself from the stickum of my funk. So, I stayed stuck in the junk as you rightfully passed me by. With loss there is hope, and I hope that tomorrow will be “Winsday”, a day where I can remove myself from myself and simply be. Just be, me. I deperately need a victory, a win.  I’d like tomorrow to be “Winsday”, a group of hours where laughter may reign, or the quiet purity of worry-free anxiousness may prevail. Accomplishments and itineraries won’t matter when I’m set free. Tomorrow. If I do not give it all to God tomorrow, then I’ll just keep asking myself “Whensday”? When will it be that I can just be… me?

Goodbye Wednesday. Here’s the deal God… no more attempts to control, no more emotions to stockpile, and no more putting me first. Tomorrow, my sovereign Father, I’m givin’ it all up. I’m givin’ all of me to you. It’s gonna be so amazingly lovely when I’m set free. Gracefully me!

Thank you God.