Monday, December 28, 2009

Led Zepplin, Rolling Stones and God.

I am an old rocker from the ‘70s. To this day I enjoy the classic rock music of that time. I have hundreds of vinyl LPs stored in a closet that I just know one day will come back into fashion. I even have a really cool collection of concert ticket stubs from Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones to Peter Frampton and Queen. Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of the shows, but I know I went -- I have the ticket stubs.

I am not proud of all the times I was dazed and confused (Led Zeppelin) back then. I have actually started to finally get a clear mind after 25 years of sobriety. But back then I was a lost young man and most days I was trying to get some shelter so I wouldn’t fade away (Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter”). OK, bad puns but pretty true as far as who and what my search was from day to day.

I came from a broken home and found myself out on the streets and just trying to keep it together from about the age of 14. I spent the first 10 or 15 years of my sobriety still angry and blaming every one who abandoned that young boy wandering about on those cold nights back then.

However, I have a different outlook on it all today. I don’t blame anyone for the trials and hardships, the times I felt abandoned and hungry. I realized that I was training to be who I am today through those hard times. Those lessons prepared me to be in a place where I can understand boys and men who lived or are living those same trials. It prepared me to start Kids Outdoor Zone Youth Adventure Ministry.

What I mean is that I realize now all those things are the tools I can use when I speak into the lives of those God puts in my path. I understand the boy who is bored at school and wants to quit. I get it when a guy wants to get loaded and check out on everything. I understand the kid who is getting in trouble because he has no one to guide him along the trail. I understand the guy who works all the time or has issues with anger or alcohol.

There are a lot of us, men and women, who have life stories that are unique to just us. They are the fabric that makes us who we are, and my challenge to each of you who is reading this is to pray about those times, good and bad, and ask God to reveal to you what to do with them. Don’t just complain or whine about the hardships and screwed up things that happened back then. Use them to minister into the lives of others today. This new year can be a time for you to turn your past into something positive for the future. Do you think you had it worse than everyone else? Do you think nobody makes it out of the places you have been? I assure you that you do not, and there are people who have.

I have also experienced times I thought I was following His will for me, doing what I thought I was meant to do. I prayed about it, talked to all kinds of people trying to make a good decision only to find out I made a mistake. That will happen. The difference is the process, the way we go about trying to do His will in our lives. You will always make mistakes and pick the left hand when you should have picked the right one; we are flawed. God knows we are going to do that and loves us anyway. When we make the wrong decisions we need to look at the whole process, where it was wrong and how it kept us from Him and move on.

God has us all here for a purpose. When we live day to day without purpose, a reason to live for, we end up like the hamster in the wheel, caged and running in the same place getting nowhere. When Adam and Eve took the fall, that was the beginning of the end of the perfect life so we will have our ups and downs.

I love the way God loves on us, how He plays with us. I hope and pray that for me (and you), I do better this year in making decisions. I encourage you to ask Him what it is you are supposed to be doing to give back, to help Him with His mission in your life for others. You are special, unique and one of a kind, He loves you like no other could. Give it back, share your gifts.

Happy New Year –
TJ Greaney

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Changing How We Look at Christmas?

I believe in Santa. Period. He comes to our house, he leaves presents, eats cookies and drinks the milk we leave out. All my kids are at an age where they may have some different ideas about the physical Santa, that’s OK. When I have been confronted with that question by them I ask them two simple questions before I answer. One is, “do you like Santa coming to our home, the preparation, the surprise gifts?” The second question is, “do you want him to keep coming?” Both of these questions are always yes. Then I answer yes there is a Santa.

The questions are trick questions and they know that. The effort that goes into the whole Santa event that night before Christmas is pretty extensive. Santa has to get all the gifts in the right place, wrapped right, assembled, batteries etc. He is always very busy that night.

In the first two chapters of Luke in the New Testimate Jesus' birth is told in detail. The Immaculate Conception, the angles, manger and gifts. It is the most common story of Jesus birth and one of a glorious beginning to the redemption of man on earth.

There is another lesser know story on that day. It is a dark one. As Jesus was being born, Satan, a fallen angel, was close by looking for a chance to devourer Him. Satan is the prince of darkness on earth and the last thing he wanted was for God to come to earth, as a man, and mess with him any more than He already did. You can read this second less know story in Revelations chapter 12, it is crazy.

OK so this is not the Christmas editorial you wanted to read that made you feel all warm and fuzzy. But for me as I continue this walk with God I am shown so many new and wonderful things that inspire, motivate, capture, anger, confuse, worry, teach and move me to an new understanding of what life is about, what is important and how to live it, I want to share it.

Christmas can be a time of depression and anxiety for many. It can be a time when we do things we know we should not because we are under pressure to provide gifts or material things to people around us. It might spur memories of hard times or sad times when we were kids. It can bring back all kinds of emotions we might not want to feel. For those who are suffering from emotions or are experiencing hard times I am compassionate to your needs and feelings.

The best thing I can tell you is that on Christmas day 2009 years ago there was a baby boy born. His name was Jesus. You cannot deny His earthly influence. The calendar starts with His birthday. The book about His life is the best know, best selling, most widely published book ever, times 1000. His Father’s name is on our money. His dad is so popular almost everyone who hears a person sneeze says His name. Christmas is a huge celebration and it is all in his name, “Christ”-mas.

His purpose was to come to earth and give us all a chance to change how we do life. To receive forgiveness, to become the person I know we all desire to be inside, in our hearts.

I love Santa. I watch the movies Elf, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, The Christmas Story and others every year laughing, crying and enjoying them over and over. I love the decorations and the food, the music and the spirit that it evokes in so many people. It is truly a special time of year. But I also know the depth of what happened on that day. I am humble and live my life to honor and please the One who came Christmas day 2009 years ago.

Don't forget what Will Farrell said as Buddy the Elf, “ The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Jesus was born 2009 years ago, that is amazing and in my simple opinion, worth singing about.

Filled with wonder, Awestruck wonder.
At the mention of Your name
Jesus, your Name is Power
Breath, and Living Water
Such a marvelous mystery

Holy, Holy Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is and is to come, yea.
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of kings!
You are my everything,
And – I – will – adore You.

(Revelation Song)

TJ Greaney
Follow TJ on his blog.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pink, Hearts and Guns

When I watch people who are truly worshipping the Lord, I can really get a soft heart and tear heavy eyes. I am so mesmerized by His effect on those who have found His love and how they wrap themselves with it, especially kids.

Recently we had our annual Father/Daughter hunt on a ranch in South Texas. The place is made for our type of events with good sleeping quarters, lots of wild animals and my all time favorite cook shack. The daughters loved the time with dad. I still see things I could do to improve the event but God always takes care of the time we have with Him there.

The one girl who was there without a father was Kayla. Her daddy was killed in an auto accident. I have hunted and mentored her brother for years. Interesting fact, he has always wanted to be a paleontologist until last year. When we were filming a small clip with him for the Kids Outdoor Zone (KOZ) banquet he said “screw being a paleontologist I am going to be a KOZ hunting guide.” I am not sure if hanging with me has helped or not, but he does love hunting and fishing.

In the last few years God has taken this lost little girl who I had pegged for pregnant and dropped out by 15, and moved her into His arms. I feel my emotions welling up as I write this. I am so sorry I doubted you Lord, for doubting Kayla. She never liked the idea of all the hunting we did or anything about it . Then a couple months before the D/D hunt she mentioned she would like to go. I told her if she really wanted to, I would take her.

The first afternoon, Friday, I took her and several other girls to shoot the KOZ .17 rifle. This was her first time to ever shoot a gun and she hit dead on four of six shots and the other two were slightly to one side but deadly. Wow.

Saturday morning we were fogged in and could not shoot at what we saw safely. That afternoon we returned to the blind and watched a large group of javelina, some nice bucks, birds and all types of other wild game. Then it happened, the perfect opportunity. A lone doe came out and stood broadside. Kayla took her time, set up and dropped the deer in its tracks. It seemed at that moment I saw something in her eyes, a twinkle or glimmer, a light. I am holding back my emotions again as I write this. It was so clear, so pure, so real, God was there.

The loss of her father has never really come up much in conversations over the years. That weekend in the deer blind as we sat in the warm sun she talked about her feelings, how she missed him and how she loved her mom. I could see how God had made her strong in some areas. I could see she accepted His arm around her to help her walk through where she is in her life today and with the cards that have been dealt her.

On Saturday night at hunt camp I had the girls write a letter to their dad. Taylor my daughter and I talked about the letter with Kayla. She was OK with it. She took her pen and paper and went outside to write the letter. Her plan was to put it on his grave. I was moved by her strength.

Psalm 59:16But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

I collected the letters to be given to the dads at the end of the weekend.

Sunday came and Kayla shot a second deer that morning. The girls all did really well and harvested deer. My daughter Taylor had all the girls joking that retail stores were going to have to start selling bullets one at a time because they didn’t need to buy more than one or two. I loved that.

As we all began to go our way Sunday afternoon I gave the fathers the letters. My daughter had one in the stack for me. There was also one for me from Kayla. The instructions were to read them later that evening as well as the notes the fathers wrote to the girls.

In the letter I got from Kayla she tells me “Thanks for teaching me how to shoot a gun. I feel like I can accomplish anything at this moment. Thanks for the great talks and for taking me to a father and daughter event, I have never been to one.” My heart skipped a beat. I am crying again.

The time I got to spend with the girls on this event reminded me what true beauty is. What I see in them is beauty from the inside out. They are strong and courageous, determined and mindful. They are soft and gentle and funny and caring. They are searching for a loving Father and have begun to see Him in their walk with the Lord. They inspire me and make me laugh; they frustrate me and own my heart all at the same time.

Lord thank you for the opportunity to spend time with the girls hunting. Thank you for their joyous and wonderful hearts. Thanks for the clean shots and deer that were harvested. Thanks for the girls willingness to clean them and the cookies they made Saturday night. Lord, I also pray for the young men you have picked out already for these girls. I pray they know early these girls can shoot, they can handle a gut knife, a four wheeler, a credit card, a Chi hair straightener and they aren’t messing around.


TJ Greaney