Monday, January 18, 2016

Concession Stand Confession

Concession stands, useful for running to when we need to grab a quick snack. Convenient, low cost- umm not really, but considering the circumstances of a need or craving at the time, it fills a need; cravings however are only momentarily suppressed.
Some people prevent the cost and sneak things into events to save a buck. My husband worked at the school in our town with his brother and they helped clean up after a football game this year, he was telling me he found whole 6-pack rings in the stadium- wow, someone actually snuck in whole 6-packs; that takes skill, gotta hand it to them.
But I was most amazed as he talked about the garbage people left behind. Didn't bother carrying it out of the game with them some mere 30 paces to the garbage can which was located in the direction they needed to head anyway. They just enjoyed the game, walked away and tossed their "unneeded's" where they sat.
You know it amazes me people spend $100's to purchase little fitness trackers that track their steps and fitness goals but in the fury of selfishness we humans have a one track mind that won't take the steps needed to dispose of our own garbage, but before I render judgment I had better analyze my own self...let's go on with the rest of the story and I will better explain.
There was a very high wind that night after the game so when they went to clean up, he took a picture from the top of the bleachers looking over the junk left after the fun, that was blown into one corner of the bleachers. After clean up it would literally fill one whole large garbage can.
Someone always has to deal with what we leave behind. 
The concession stand image is what I want to set in your mind as I change the journey now onto us.
When does convenience drive us? By definition concession means: a thing that is granted, especially in response to demands; a thing conceded. Concede is an equally interesting word meaning: admitting that something is true or valid after first denying or resisting it and surrendering or yielding.
May I submit for our thought that perhaps our behaviors may be driven by our convenience and that convenience saps away at our purpose and compassion. Intentionalism is only created in a heart full of order. An autopilot system in navigation of an airplane is used to control the trajectory of the flight without hands on control. It is not a system that replaces an operator but assists them so that their focus can be on more demanding things such as weather, systems and other operations. Autopilot is a function that should be left to support safety in the air and not switched on in our everyday lives, as a self-preservation system. There are times in our lives we may well need autopilot to make it through but it should be a time of focusing on more demanding things like healing, helping another, focusing on the matter of importance but then more importantly remembering to turn off auto-pilot and not leave it on indefinitely.
So today I have a question for you, which side of the concession stand are you on? I believe life's difficulties can lead us to take up multiple posts; inside serving and outside cleaning up, maybe we are even guilty of purchasing conveniences and leaving behind messes for someone else to clean up. So whether the garbage has been piling up and blowing around for you to clean up, or you are lifting up the concession stand window open for business on the outside, set to serve but out of convenience and not passion. Out of "hours of operation" and not really living the dream, or you may even be the one leaving the piles lay, let us discover some reasons to get unstuck.
Let's start with taking up shop behind the concession stand, this has been a confession I have to make of myself recently. Demands. I have to confess for me my convenience has become "finishing" amidst heavy demands. The kind that pierce the soul so life runs dry. I open up the internal concession stand in the morning, I get my life in order best I can, I get my son ready for the day, I talk to my family, I go out the door. I switch into concession work mode, I get my work done best I can. Do you serve all day long? Do you open up the window to start the day and sometimes feel like leaving it shut? It is easy for life to become clinical, open the window, put on face, take money, serve others, close up shop, go home, do it all over again. Of course there are many more steps in a day, but for effort of simplifying the story do you know what I am talking about? Maybe it is the stress, the demands, disappointments, discouragements, maybe even hurts so deep that can cause us to become a cold and bitter feeling "worker in life"  mentality. This one develops slowly but in an eerie unfeeling way, such that we do not even know what we've become. God willing, He snaps us awake so we see the joy we are missing in this "motion rolling". Life is not meant to be survived but sometimes great pain makes us believe this. Negative words keep us stuck behind the protective roll down concession stand window of life, negative thoughts, bad treatment, judgment, fear...the like can keep us in a position where we are in control in our brick fortress and we determine the hours we will put up with life and then we can simply "check out," down goes the window, I am done now. This works great for a while, but the problem becomes, we are breakable. We are not superhuman. The concession stand mentality gives us the "denial view" that we are protected and getting things accomplished when in reality we are hiding and running away from something all while running a million miles an hour. Worse yet we do all this so good that we are giving people the wrong perception that we are fine and have it all figured out! We've set an idealistic standard for them in the process. Oh, we look like the one now leaving the garbage for others when all we wanted to do was survive. As much as I am not a feelings person- even people who prefer to be in the mind and not the heart like me- break. So what is the cure for the concession mentality? An active admission that this is not working, an active agreement with yourself to again participate with more that stepping through life out of survival. Why? Why you ask is this even important or why should we care? If there be any sense of meaning in this life, it matters what we do. We still are behind a counter of life- we still are serving others in some capacity whether we admit it or not. We count. Like it or not. We influence. We matter. If that is truth then what? Then what do we want to stand for...we have a choice but we also have a calling. We are called to be salt and light and move from glory to glory, not motion to motion. Christ designed the body which represents many, many lives. Any and all who call Christ Lord and savior are member's of His body. He designs the body the way He wants and He calls it glorious, pure and beautiful. He does not call it dead, tired and poor. We need to seek His vision for life and success. The Bible says life is in the blood, blood we have flowing through our veins and also covering us, shed for us to live abundantly. The problem is there are many things that can block blood flow. Blockages in our literal body can cause tissue damage, amputation and as we know blood flow interruptions in a vital area such as the carotid artery can cause brain damage, strokes and permanent impairments to speech and normal body function. We were never meant to have blood flow interruptions. May I set out before you that working the concession window is cutting off blood flow and living off of what we alone have. The first question I had to ask myself was why in this area of my life (that I had started going through the motions) did I have a blockage of the blood of Christ covering all and being all to me. My answer was in getting an answer I had not bargained for. I had been thinking I was to go one direction and when that direction came open I was disappointed in myself to see it was not the way. I was not sure who I was and this what I thought I wanted but it turned out not to be what it was. Instead of being changed to be what I needed to be, I was told no this is not the way. Instead of just crying out to the Lord I shut down for a time. Again, I am sorry to say I have been in this mode a few times and I can trace a blockage that was not dealt with to interrupting the truth flow in my life of Christ's sustenance. Sometimes we need to clean out the arteries so the truth can come through. It is ok to spend some time in the quiet in seeking, you may be surprised what is shared. When waiting for answers we do not have to pressure ourselves to "do something" it is perfectly ok to simply wait on His voice.
The next concession stand confession is the person enjoying the game but being oblivious to what we are leaving behind for others to pick up (which we talked about can be false perceptions we exude when we operate out of the concession stand of life). We can become so accustomed to our ways that they feel so natural and we don't even know what we look like from the outside in. Just like the picture earlier, we can leave little trinkets behind that someone has to handle, pick up and throw away. Maybe it is a reaction we have to another person that is really our heart problem but we view it as "theirs" and we dump on someone with our tone, our harshness, our lack of care. Maybe it is our preoccupation with something important- that chokes the very life out of someone who could have or should have been number one. Is it perfectionism that saps life and tells lies about how things have to be. Is it anger that fuels messes everywhere we go and builds harshness around us in cycles passed on and on. Or could it be that little story we shared, it was meant in good humor, but the other person didn't see it that way. We break or we build. We go into the game of life but are we the winners or the sore losers.....that we do not see because we are too busy leaving messes for others. Been here too. The ugly spots, I recently called them my ugly feet. You see Christ before His death was anointed by Mary with expensive perfume that was estimated to cost $10,000, AKA the alabaster jar. The disciples saw waste- this could have been used to feed the poor or for some form of ministry. But Mary performed the highest form of ministry in anointing Christ in preparation for the burial they did not yet understand, but Christ did. Then Christ reciprocated the action accepting His preparation as the Son of God, yet now turning and washing His own disciples feet and wiping them with a towel tied around His waist. This ritual in bible times was provided to the guests of a meal as a sign of honor, the master of the house would have the servant wash the guests feet. I don't know about you but I would find myself pulling back my ugly feet from Christ if I was there, not my feet Lord, not in feet that walked on dusty roads all day and not even today not my feet...Peter missed it as well when Jesus replied, "if you do not let me wash your feet you will have no place with me", Peter's reply "wash my hands and head as well". Jesus reply, "those that have had a bath need only to wash their feet...He being Lord and Teacher became a servant of light and truth. He personified Joy. I had to search one time because I had read the Bible never said Jesus smiled but that He wept....but Jesus is joy, it is who He is. You cannot be the Way the Truth and the Life without joy....There is joy in the Lord after all.  Sometimes instead of a motion to motion we need to break down the details of why and be the ones to change our situation out of motions to intentions. I have found it is not as hard as I believed to fix the unfixable when my hope is set on Christ. It is easier to trust Christ with my ugly places now than it is for me to have to cry out for help when they have walked me to disastrous places. It is also easier to accept the identity that Christ gives us than to deny Him His evidence on the cross. First we saw we are member's of His body of which He is head, now we see we are cleaned in His honor and receive His love freely. Has He not ransomed enough, has He not already pursued me to the ends of the earth? He has nothing else to prove. We are wanted.
Or maybe you are the janitor in life. There will always be those that are superficial that we have to deal with, there will be those generously sharing their undesirables with us. You are getting it from all sides. Then the giant gust of mighty wind comes and blows it all to one corner of your life, go ahead take it all in...just look at the lovely view. Is this it? Really? I do not have the answers as to why some have so much to carry and others have less even season to season. But what I can tell you is when we see these people with too much we should take their hand and help them carry some of it, even if it is a small help. Jesus told us not to say "stay warm" when it is in our power to buy a coat. I am paraphrasing. If we are in a clean up season we must fight to stay encouraged and not lose heart, it is in this season I fear we may go from cleaning up to taking us shop behind the counter on our own terms. We must set times to free ourselves of the garbage and not let it become our color, clothing and character. We are not garbage. It sounds funny to say this but if we take it on even for a minute it will become a magnet for more. I am not saying bad stuff in life is always garbage, hard times are also useful for correction, training and refining. It is just when we get stuck in a mode where we feel this is all there is or that it fills us and we cannot breathe we have got to save ourselves from the lack of oxygen and take care to guard our hearts. Do something to stay on top even in prison at midnight mind you Paul and Silas sang hymns. When we can't see we must still sing. It is what comes next that shakes things up. A great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, opened the doors and unfastened all the chains. Even in darkness Christ can make light and give joy. Some of my fondest memories of Christ have been in dark, dark times.
Christ is our all in all. Christ is the answer for all three perspectives His relationships with others show us how to live life well. He knew we would have something to overcome, He told us. We really are in faith school learning. The other day I was driving and stunned to a stop as I really heard a song that came on the radio. It amazes me that I can hear something 87 times and the 88th I actually "hear" it anew. Has that ever happened to you? So I heard, "there is only one way, one truth, one life" and it really hit me, shook me. One life. What am I missing, I have heard this verse I know the importance of one life in Christ, but this was different, there was a new door life. What if there is one way to go about life, one way to survive and make it in life.

My long-term boss recently retired where I work. It has been a very sad time yet exciting times as things change. Change is good but it stretches. You see I knew who I was at work, I knew who I was under my bosses leadership, not that I change now that he is gone but I feel I must "do over" as I am learning what my identity is in my new surroundings. When the surroundings change we must adapt to figure out what is safe, what is home, what end is up. I guess after a while my responses became automatic as I learned by boundaries and limits. In our own personal leadership abilities John Maxwell calls this "the law of the lid". This law describes the fact that we never exceed our own skills except by first improving our leadership abilities. My boss was an incredible leader, mentor and business man but he like us all had imperfections. God knows that change gets us uncomfortable which is good medicine because our "lids" of limits get challenged and we must again seek Christ for an answer to our identities which is what He lives to answer. He is asking us to remove our past lids, our expectations, our auto responses, our perceptions of people and their intentions....we are not to lid ourselves in. We were never meant to get stuck behind the counter in a dull, stuck hum drum survival game- we were meant to live with passion.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life John 14:12
11"Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13"Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.…
Christ said we could do greater things in Him....dare I even speak this without lightning striking me down...the Bible says it in .....Christ lived setting aside His deity and living as a follower just like us, showing us we can do the same- being empowered by the Holy Spirit. But we must CHOOSE to breathe Him in. This takes focusing on Christ and asking Him for life, ask Him about the One life....ask Him and He will show you the power of His life helping you come alive. Next if you feel like eternal clean up Cinderella of the universe, cry out....connect with Christ the man of sorrows- He will show you the freedom in sorrow, the actual joy in suffering, which comes from the blessing of closeness to Him in these times. He collects your tears in a bottle, whether you cry or stomp, thrash or fall apart He sees, cry out as David did in Psalms- shear emotion to Him who hears. Finally, if you are not sure if you are carrying or leaving garbage, ask. Ask Him who takes our weights, our sins, it all and He will reveal the path to removal. A good friend showed me that once we release our garbage to Him it is gone, as far as the east is from the west. We need not look for it again, the only finding of it we do is when the shadows come out and that is a shadow of it that comes from the pit of destruction, the father of lies...who seeks to deceive us. If we have truly given the sin over to Christ, take heart it is finished. His blood cost greatly and is no cheap substitute, such as the lies of the enemy to your soul are.

Finally, I leave you with some verses about service and a plot from a well known children's book turned movie, "Alice in Wonderland". The beginning of the movie shows Alice as she is faced with a major question, her hand in marriage. She says to her suitor in response to his question,"Well everyone expects me to, and you are a lord and I don't want to end up like (her single elderly crazy aunt) and I don't want to be a burden to mom. But I need some time." Then she runs off, falls in a rabbit hole joining Wonderland a land she named and visited as a child. It is not a dream it is a challenge. She is challenged on her identity, she has been told she must face an evil creature of the land of darkness alone. She feels a case of mistaken identity all along. Throughout her travels she grows tired of people telling her when and how and what to do till she decides on her own who she is and she faces the great black dragon like creature. She finds wonderland is a real place where she can be brave, courageous and take risks letting light win ultimately in the land through her standing. In the end she goes back to her "real" home in London to face the questions that need answers and she is able to answer all the silent opinions confidently. Why does it take the impossible to get us to believe we can answer and stand for ourselves in the simple demands of real life? In the words of Alice "I can defeat this dragon, I sometimes think of six impossible things before breakfast".
What do you believe is influencing your dreaming, living and service? 
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

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