“You Just Need a GOOD Pep Talk”

16316685052_e6c7a31581_mWednesday morning I sat in the office with a young woman whose heart was crushed and the vitality of life was no longer pumping through the veins and arteries of her soul.  She could only whimper and feel the tears run down her cheeks.  Her best girlfriend was with her and spoke for her.

Her husband had left the marriage six months ago.  He fell in love with another woman.  As she attempted to get back on her feet, she found herself on a dating sight and developed a relationship with what she believed to be, a great guy.  .  .and they had so much in common.  He made her feel special.  He made her feel beautiful.  He made her forget the sadness and pain.  .  .and her loneliness.  She trusted him.  She was falling in love.

They had been dating for a couple of months and just spent a romantic weekend together.  The following day he sent a text. “I’m sorry, it’s not about you.  My ex girlfriend called and I’m getting back with her.”  That was it.  That was all he said.  Of course she couldn’t wrap her head around his words, much less her heart, so she called him to talk; but he wouldn’t answer.  So, she blamed herself and was drowning again in despair and a self-contempt that was taking her life away.

     “He came to the house of the man whose                   daughter had died.   Her friends and family were deeply distressed.  .  . crying and wailing greatly.  And He said to them, ‘Why are you so full of anguish?  The girl is not dead, but she is sleeping’.  And they laughed at Him.  Then He went into the house with the girl’s parents and went in to where she was lying in her burial clothes.  He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha Cumi’ which interpreted means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise’ and straightway the girl arose and walked.” Mark 5:38-42

The woman’s best friend is a blessing.  She sat there and genuinely shared all of what is really true about her.  “You are a beautiful person inside and out.  You are a wonderful mom.  You are one of the most intelligent people I know.  You have such a great sense of humor.  You are kind and you are caring.  .  .and I am so honored to have you as my friend.  You have been there for me whenever I needed help.”  She shared much more.  I’m sure it was all true.  It was an objective perspective of what others see about her.  It was a pep talk.  .  .but it fell on deaf ears and I watched her gasp, like it was her last breath.

Pep: energize;  enthusiasm;  drive;  get up and go;  life;  animation;  vitality;  vivacity;  fire;  exuberance;  gusto; stimulate;  revitalize.  A good pep talk can do all of that.  Words intended to heal a crushed and broken heart.  Words that can inspire and give power.  Words filled with light to bring sight to the blind.  .  .to enable the deaf to hear.  .  .and to energize the lifeless.  Words to revitalize and stimulate and move a person from despair to hope.

“There was in the city of Joppa, a woman named Tabitha.  She was full of good works and kind deeds.  And it came to pass that she was sick and died.  Her family laid her in an upper chamber to prepare the body for burial.  Some men went to another bordering town to get Peter, hoping he could help.  He went with them to Joppa and arrived at the house and went up to the chamber where the young woman was.  Peter knelt down next to her and prayed.  He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, arise’.  .  . and she heard him.  .  . and she opened her eyes.  When she saw Peter, she sat up and he gave her his hand and he lifted her up.  They walked out together, hand in hand and Peter presented her, alive.”  Acts 9:36-41

The name of the woman in my office Wednesday is not Tabitha.  .  .but she is a Tabitha.  The New Testament, Greek definition of her name is, “a young gazelle (as beautiful);  an army within her;  a woman of prominence;  full of splendor.”  That is who she is.  .  .and she does need to know that.  .  .and she does need the Faith to believe that.  .  .so, she does need a Pep Talk.

       “From that time, many of his disciples left Him.  3572867869_f2bbf90f76_mThen Jesus said to the twelve apostles, ‘Will you also leave Me?’  Then Peter answered Him. ‘Lord, to whom should we go?  To whom should we listen to?  Who speaks words like you, Lord?  Only You have the words that create miracles and brings Life and Light into the soul.”  John 6:67-68

It was God’s Pep Talk that created the earth and the entire universe from nothing.  He Spoke it into existence.  When you find yourself dressed in your grave clothes, like the woman in my office, you are like Tabitha.  .  .simply dead and nothing.  And then, He Speaks to you.  He creates a new being.  A beautiful gazelle, full of the Power of an army.  .  .filled with the Fruit of Heaven.  Loved by God.  Always words of Love.  Only words of Love.



“Lord, Help Me”

boy with sheepThe very first time that I genuinely Prayed the words “Help me,” I was thirty-two years old.  It was four o’clock in the morning and I couldn’t sleep.  I had just gotten home an hour earlier from the bar that I owned.  I had snorted three grams of cocaine during the evening and was still high from it.  I laid there in bed, pleading with God to make me sleepy and promised Him that this would be the last time that I would do any drugs. I can do it, Lord.  He must not have believed me.  Sleep did not come.  .  .and drug use did not go away.  I realized months later that He knew me better than I knew myself.  .  .and it wasn’t the Right time yet.

       “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.  A time to kill and a time to heal;  a time to break down and a time to build up.  A time of Love and a time of Peace.  .  .God has determined the times, before time began, and prearranged all the circumstances.  .  .my times are in Your Hand. Ecclesiastes 3;  Acts 17:26;  Psalms 31:15

Sometimes when I have a client or a couple sitting in my office book of lifeand we are trying to find Hope in what is hope-less, looking for a Light and a Life at the end of the dark tunnel they are in,  I reach for my schedule book and open it up to a page.  “This is your life today, as it exists in every way, shape and form.  .  . and the next page is tomorrow.  Your intelligence, your reasoning,  your beliefs and the world’s philosophy will be challenged by this; but the fact of the matter is.  .  .this book that I’m holding is called the Lamb’s Book of Life and it contains God’s plan for you.  .  .from the moment you were born until the last breath that you take. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of time.” Acts 15:18

Over the last few months I have been blessed a couple days a week with the gift of baby sitting my grand-daughter, Shelby, the princess of my “grand” daughter Rachel and her husband Mark.  There are times in her life when she is the spitting image of what faith looks like.  There are moments when she opens her mouth and a prayer for help comes forth from her lips that moves me to rescue her.

imageShelby already has the “I can do it, let me do it, don’t do it for me” attitude.  She gets a little agitated with me when I see her struggling with a task and I jump in prematurely to help.  So I back off.  .  .and wait for the prayer.  At some point, after she’s tried and tried to do it and her frustration at her failure moves her to stop trying, she utters a single word that is making me teary-eyed right now.  “Grampa.”  This is her prayer.  A child-like prayer for help.  A dependence on another for what she cannot do herself.  A faith in a Love that has rescued her before and has proven to be faithful to her.  She has learned through her failures that what is impossible for her is child’s play for her Grampa.  .  .”what is impossible for man, is possible with God. (Luke 18:27)

       “I thank Thee O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou has hidden these things from the wise and the prudent of the world and has revealed the secrets of Heaven to babes.” Matthew 11:25

     “Jesus called a little child to Him and set her on His lap.  And He said, ‘Truthfully I tell you, except you be converted and enlightened.  .  .and become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Matthew 18:2-4

“Lord”.  .  .Supreme in authority.  Controller of all events.  Sovereign Power in the universe.  Master of my life.  Author of all things.  A Father who I love, Who first Loved me.

“Help”.  .  .Do it for me.  I’ve tried and tried and can try no more.  Your power is made perfect in my weakness.  You promise that I can do all things through You, giving  me Strength by giving me Your Son, by sending His Spirit into my heart.

“Me”.  .  .this helpless babe.  Trying to be something that I’m    not.  Trying to do something that I can’t.  Needing a Grampa Who carries me on His wings of Love and does all things for me that I cannot do.  Me, who marvels at your Love that covers over all of my sins and failures.  You, Who promises to make all things work together for my Good.


       “He gives Power to the faint and to           them that have no might, He increase Strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary and the babes shall utterly fall:  but they that wait upon the Lord and expect Help from Him, shall renew their Strength.  They shall mount up with wings like eagles;  they shall run and not be weary.  They shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:29-31

Another page.  Another day.  Another time.  Another Season.  A New Hope.

“Excuse Me. . .There’s Something Hanging From your Nose”

group of donkeysHi.  My name is Mike.  I’m a human and the colt of a wild ass.  (For vain man would be wise, though man be born the colt of a wild ass.” Job 11:12) Everyone shouted out,“Hi Mike”.   The Dumbo sheep and the Glow worms, the Fireman and the Sailors, the Lilies and the Roses, the soaring Eagles and the Sheep dogs.  All safe and secure in the Ark, the Eternal Love of God.

A few months ago I was looking over a paint project at a group of buildings with a very refined, retired gal who was the president of the condo association and as we stopped for a moment she reached over and pulled a sticker off the hip area of my new jeans.  She said, “I don’t mean to be fresh with you but I’m sure you’d rather not walk around with that on your pants.”  I felt a little embarrassed and it brought a nervous grin to my face. This incident was followed up with another a few weeks later, when I heard a stranger’s voice saying, “Your zipper’s open.”  I could have died.   It added to my growing list of moments that reflect that I’m gradually “losing it” and still feeling exposed and somewhat inadequate every time it happens.

Just the other day, my dear friend Steven told me about a recent incident of his own that caused him some momentary, deep distress.  He is substitute teaching for the first time in his life and was sitting with a young boy working on some learning exercises.  Out of nowhere the boy said to him, “Why is your hair so funny.” Steven had told me that his biggest challenge regarding his looks, is his thinning, receding hair line which is most prevalent on the crown in back and is very self-conscious about it.  Because this was only the second or third day of student teaching, he wasn’t accustomed to the honest and frank observations that most small children make, without any prudence.   In spite of the emotional impact it had on him, Steven was able to respond, “It’s because I’m a funny guy.”  Yeah, and so am I.  .  .and so is everyone else. Everyone.

Many years ago I was sitting in the office of a very sweet and lovely          6626817923_86edeaa1b6_mfriend of mine who was unaware that there was a profound hygiene issue.  It was chronic and no one, including the family was able to address it.  Me either.  Those of you who are relating to your own “funny guy” moments when you were mortified to be told something about yourself that was embarrassing or shame-filled, know about the dilemma of saying something to someone else.  I didn’t want to be the instrumentality of causing anguish in her soul and wound her heart, yet because of the Love in my soul for her, a Moment arrived in her office when Love reached out and freed her.

I sat there that day with tears in my eyes and God’s own, tender Love in my heart.  .  .and I told her.  And we cried.  And the Scent of Lilies and Roses filled the room.

     “Thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumph through His Son and His Love in us.  .  . and spreads everywhere the Fragrance of the Presence of His Loving-Kindness.”  2Corinthians 2:14

Thirty-five years ago as I was mopping up the floor of the bar that I owned, one of my best customers walked in.  His name was Tanz.  He is dead now.  His drinking killed him.  He was already intoxicated and strolled over to where I was working.  He looked at me and said what I was always dreading, that someone, someday would say to me.  .  . (“Why is your hair so funny?)   “I used to respect you and looked up to to you.  And now, you are one of the most messed up people I know.”  Every day I waited to see who would be the one to say it.  Who Knew it would be Tanz?

2455691162_aeef9132a0_mHe said the very words that daily haunted my own heart and filled me with despair and self-condemnation.  And denial.  Words I kept secret within me that were killing me.  .  .and now his words were a sword that pierced my heart and blood gushed forth.  A blood-letting to heal me and cure my disease.  Who Knew?  One of the most powerful philosophies that those in recovery share is, “You are only as sick as the secrets you keep.”  The ones that you keep from others.  .  .and the ones that you keep from yourself.

As I look around the room there are very few eyes making contact with   190126630_01ba29185a_mmine.  There’s an uneasy feeling in their gut where the source of all secrets lie and they know the pain when the sword pierces through to it. And here it comes.  .  .  You have something hanging from your nose.  And since the fall of Adam, when God said that death entered his soul, that death continues to evolve into this anomaly.  Regardless of the word you choose to define it as it hangs there, it has grown so big that it affects everything about the way we think and act individually and collectively as a society.  We have become a circus menagerie.  .  .and what hangs from our nose has made us a caricature of what we were.  We have become the consummate meme.

Meme.  Me Me.  A self-centeredness that is evolving into perfection, making us an aberration of the perfect original.  

It has made us blind and deaf.  Lame and senseless.  We have an insatiable appetite like my beagles, who are gone now.  If they were given a chance, they would have eaten until it made them sick, as if the portion that was given them, that was good for them, was never enough.  The word that God uses in the bible is “concupiscence“. In the original Greek language that the New Testament was written in, the word means a longing, especially for what is forbidden;  to desire and lust after with an insatiable appetite.”  Never satisfied.  A giant black hole in the soul and an utter absence of sensibility about it.

       “The heart and mind of man is desperately wicked and mortally sick.  Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9

3481988079_43a66239b7_mSome of you thought I was going to point out something else about you.  But I’m not.  If you have stayed with me this far, you have already identified your issues. You know what they are, even if you are still in denial, because others have been pointing it out to you.

When a client comes into the office, typically in great distress, the kind thing to do for them is to help them take you by the hand into the land of their secrets.  The mere fact that they have come is an indication that the sword of Love has pierced the heart and the blood is beginning to flow.  .  .and the Divine Surgeon’s Hand is beginning to cut away the anomaly, hanging from their nose.  It is a Hand-full of Mercy and Kindness, Loving away every secret, Healing every disease and Forgiving every sin through the blood that flowed in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. 

“Hi.  My name is Mike.  Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.”