My Second Half

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I’m not much of a sports fanatic. Occasionally, I’ll watch a basketball game (haven’t been interested in my Pistons since the 2004 squad disbanded); maybe even a football game (my Lions–nevermind). The second half is usually the turning point for a lot of teams who find themselves falling behind. It’s the time to refocus on the mission; to rally the individual players into a single unit, with the singular purpose of winning the game.

If we look at life as the ultimate game, then why shouldn’t we treat the second half the same way? Six months after my 45th birthday, I’m really looking back on the first half of my life, and taking stock of where I am. I’m also regrouping to plan on the second half.

For discussion purposes, we’re going to assume that I’ll live to be 90 years old. If I live longer than that…we’ll say I was granted that “1UP” life. You gamers know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I digress.

Did you know that many people deal with bouts of depression right around age 45? Of course you did. That’s where the term “Midlife Crisis” comes into play. Instead of replaying self-appointed shortcomings and failures in my personal game, I’d like to look at the lessons learned and accomplishments achieved. Successes and failures in life really boil down to perspective. It’s all in the way you look at things, that determine your attitude.

In my first half, I saw my wife and kids grow; wrote and published a book; wrote, produced and published music; and (most importantly) gained a relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, I found myself running life’s hamster wheel for more years than I care to count. Because of that, there are regrets of experiences I wish I could have given my family. But, I’m a firm believer in Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I have been called, according to his purpose. I have faith in that knowledge, so I know that the good and bad plays of my first half will only strengthen my gameplay in the second half. Someone might ask, “Enn, how do you plan to play your second half? What are you going to do different than the first two quarters of the game? Some might think your play pattern is set.” Well, that’s a great question.

If I take up the mantle of “coach” for a second, let’s pretend we’re in the locker room regrouping. My personal talents, attributes and dreams represent my offense, defense and special-teams factions of the squad. These are some things I might say to my team.

  1. In the second half, we need to go out there and gel. I can replay moments (during the first half) when offense and defense worked independently of one another, and each totally ignored special teams. Sometimes, my talents operated without the use of my attributes. I can’t follow my dreams if talents and attributes aren’t lining up. People who continue to fall prey to this, often look back on life with regret.
  2. We’ve got to execute. I’ve got all of these ideas in my head. My problem is putting action to those ideas. I’ll give you a prime example: A few years ago, I put together an instrumental album on Bandcamp and Noisetrade called, “Takin’ It Back To The Oldschool“. Now, if you know me personally, you know I love old school hip hop and actually produce my own music. I had the great idea of producing instrumentals incorporating that old school hip hop sound. Then I would reach out to old school artists like Will Smith, MC Lyte, Rakim, KRS-One, etc. to get them to flow new rhymes over these tracks. The problem was…I executed as far as producing the instrumentals and never reached out to the artists. Flash forward to 2017: Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff ft. Biz Markie and Slick Rick drop a video for Will’s song, “So Fresh“. Jeff and Will executed their idea fully. I only partially executed. Partial execution doesn’t score points in a game.
  3. We’ve got to defend. Listen, the older I grow, the louder the voice of doubt screams in my head. It reminds me that other people have the same ideas and better resources. It reminds me that I’m not as young and adventurous as I once was. It wants me to doubt God’s ultimate plan for my life. It reminds me that I don’t even know what that plan looks like! I can gel as a team, and execute to score all the points in the world. But, if I can’t defend against the opposing team’s attacks, I still lose the game. In my personal game, Satan is the coach of the opposing team. He has no problem with trying to thwart my plans and frustrate my faith. He’s frustrated my writing in the past. He’s frustrated my dreaming. He’s kept me running that hamster wheel for far too long, under the guise of “This is just how life works. Accept it and keep running“. As a Christian, I know he’s a liar. That truth doesn’t make his attacks any easier to block. So, in the second half of the game–my game–I need to step up my defense. My relationship with the Lord has to continue to grow. His word; His time; my prayers; His will for my life. This is my defense against the opposing team. At the end of the game, I want to be able to say what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Gel, execute, defend. These are the tactics for my second half. Maybe you’re in a season of life when you’re looking backward instead of moving forward. Maybe midlife has you questioning where you go from here. Maybe you just need to take a breather and refocus, friend. It’s never too late to refocus your efforts, or repurpose your God-given gifts. Make your second half count.

 

 

 

What If…

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What if everything you thought you believed about Christianity didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the truth of God’s word?

Many of us attend church regularly, participate in our religious programs and functions, try our best to live holy lives, read our bibles regularly, pray consistently, etc. Despite it all, many Christians struggle with faith, because it’s intangible; it can’t be quantified or physically grasped. The tales of Samson, King David and Jonah seem like nothing more than awesome stories. We see no living examples of biblical champions and anti-heroes in our time. Some Christians even struggle to believe in Jesus, and the Redemptive power of his work on the cross. I think this is why so many backslide to a lifestyle contrary to Christianity.

If so many struggle to find strength in faith, how can they even begin to believe in John’s Revelation? When I was a new Christian, a coworker—who I had never before recognized as a Christian, due to his actions and language—said something I will never forget. I made mention of Jesus coming back whenever God wanted to send him. My coworker said, “Well, that probably won’t happen in our lifetime,” with such authority, as if he knew this to be a certainty. That bold statement was somewhat deflating. But more than that, I think it actually shaped my perception of what God could or could not do. For a few years after that statement was made, I fumbled through Christianity believing we have all the time in the world to get it right, because Jesus might not actually come back in the lifetime of my great-great grandchildren! I knew the bible spoke of things to come, in the last days. I could see instances within today’s culture where biblical prophesies were actually happening; all the while believing we still have more than enough time to get this thing (called life) right.

What if everything you thought you believed about Christianity didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the truth of God’s word? Despite what the world might have you believe, what if the bible is true, and time is shorter than we think? Here’s what I know:

 

  • 2Peter 3:8 (NKJV) – But beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
  • I seriously do not delve into numerology. Something about searching for hidden messages in numbers rings too occult-ish for my taste. With that said, the number “3” seems important in the bible.
  • I learned that traditionally, A.D. timestamp dates back to the birth of Jesus. There is no 0-A.D. recorded in time. One year before the birth of Jesus, time stood as 1-B.C. Immediately following his birth, time jumps to 1-A.D. Hence, we have 2017-A.D. 2017 years after the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Christians believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We know he was murdered on the cross (the first day), and raised by God two days later (the third day). There’s that blasted number 3 again.
  • The Lord promised to return. Jesus never made a promise he didn’t fulfill. The Holy Spirit was promised and delivered. I think we can take his promise to return seriously.

Now look, here’s my disclaimer: this isn’t some off-the-wall, weird rant-type episode I’m having. This simply put things into some form of perspective for me. It’s not prophesy or claimed fact. It’s simply…a “what if” scenario. Do with it what you will, or do nothing and tell me how crazy you think I am. Just remember: I write fiction often so…

If 1000 years are roughly a day for the Lord, well then: 1-A.D. to 1000-A.D. (through day 1); 1000-A.D. to 2000-A.D. (through day 2); 2000-A.D. to XXXX (we’re into day 3). God’s got a habit of doing some pretty extraordinary things in three days. IJS, as the kids say today.

We Christians hear about signs and wonders and events to occur in the last days, all the time. What if some of those prophesied events are happening right before our eyes, but we’re so engrossed in the times of our culture, we’re too blind to see what’s really happening? What if O.J. really did do it?

(Sorry. A little light humor)

What if we really don’t have all the time in the world, to make a decision to whole-heartedly follow Christ? That’s what this is really all about. I have no idea when the Lord will return. I have the faith to believe his return is an absolute certainty, though; and that’s good enough for me to strengthen my relationship with him.

Matthew 24:36 (NKJV) – “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

 

Random Thoughts on Clouds

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I’ve never understood people’s fascination with clouds. In clear blue skies, they’re billowy-white. On rainy days, they blend in with the gray slate of the sky. It sucks that the last thing I’m going to see on this earth is a frickin’ puffy cloud shaped like a duck, floating directly overhead.

Where are the cops when you need them? On T.V., a guy gets T-boned in the middle of an intersection and 50 people rush to his aid. So why am I laying here, broken and bleeding, numb from the neck down, and no one’s standing over me? 

Did anybody catch the number of that truck? 

Did I turn off the coffee pot this morning?

Man, I’m glad I took a shower before getting on the bike. I’d hate to meet God smelling like a sewer-rat. 

God. I’m not ready yet. This isn’t how it’s supposed to end for me. I haven’t even proposed to Alecia, yet. 

Maybe it’s not a duck. It looks more like a…goose.

Bike’s probably totalled. I should have gone with Geico.

I probably shouldn’t have left Alecia crying like that. Should have waited. Maybe two seconds. Maybe…

I’m so sleepy. I wonder if I’m dreaming now? I wonder if she’s really right next to me, in bed? I should marry her; make an honest woman of her before it’s too late.

It’s an Eagle! Ha! No wait; it’s changing again. Clouds are stupid.

I deserve a raise, Mr. Berry. You and I both know I’m the best guy on your team. I should tell him that tomorrow.

“Oh no. He’s not gonna make it.”

“I’ve called 911. An ambulance is on the way. Buddy, can you hear me? You’ve been in an accident. Keep your eyes open. Help is on the way. Buddy?”

Why’s this guy miming at me? I can’t hear a word he’s saying.

“D…dude. You’re…blocking…my view, man.”

“What’s he saying?”

“He’s in shock. I can’t tell where he’s bleeding from the most. It’s everywhere.”

“Wait! You hear that? That’s the ambulance!”

“Thank God. Hold on, buddy. Help is almost here. Stay with me.”

He’s got bad teeth. Should probably think about seeing a dentist soon. When was my last appointment? I’ll have to schedule one tomorrow. 

It’s an albatross! Clouds are cool, I guess. Never stopped to consider them before. I’ll have to make time more often. Maybe tomorrow.

“He’s fading fast. What’s taking them so long? I can see the lights from here. Traffic jam down there?”

“I wonder if he’s saved, honey. Should we pray for him?”

C’mon, really? Now some chick is blocking my view! Who are these people? Why are they watching me sleep?

That cloud looks an awful lot like Je-

“No! Stay with me, buddy! Come on, you gotta fight!”

“Honey, he’s gone.”