Ray Hausler

Hope For Every New Day

March 21, 2014
by Ray Hausler
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Well Now They Know: How Confession Brings Freedom

It is embarassing to confess a sin that has been holding us captive.

Confession is revealing our vulnerability in full view. It runs the risk of public humiliation. It runs the risk of the wrath of loved ones coming down on us. It is that wrath that keeps us from confession. It is the fear of that wrath that keeps us stuck in captivity afraid of what will happen once everyone knows.

I will lose everything, we say.

They will hate me and despise me, we say.

They will know I am not perfect, we say.

They will see the depths of my evil, we say.

And so we stay stuck. Mired in the muck of destructive sin. Fighting hard to cover the lies we are living. Covering our tracks every which way we go. Desperately desiring freedom but not knowing where it will come from.

We have tried this confession thing before. And it resulted in a sermon. We have tried this confession thing before. And it resulted in loved ones leaving us behind. We have tried this confession thing before. And it resulted in being told how horrible we are.

I’m not going down that path again, we say.

But, confession is a key to freedom.

When it is received with grace.

Confession is freedom when it is Jesus receiving the adulterous woman caught in her sin, and saying “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” The “go and sin no more” part is only possible in full view of “neither do I condemn you.” By itself “go and sin no more” keeps the weight of the sin and condemnation on the offender.

Grace says to confession “neither do I condemn you”.

Confession is freedom when it is Jesus meeting the woman at the well, knowing her story of five husbands and a current live in boyfriend, and still offering life to her. Confession is being able to tell someone our entire life story and having that person not run away from us, condemning us to loneliness, but instead, staying right there with us guiding us to a new life.

Grace says to confession “I know where you have been and I am going to be with you in the new place where you are going.”

There are people all around us who feel trapped in their addiction. There are people all around us who are enslaved by their brokenness. There are people all around us who are lost in loneliness because they are afraid of rejection.

These people are us.

And we need grace.

Confession brings freedom when it runs head on into grace.

Let us be people of grace, so when people like ourselves need freedom, we have someone to go to for confession.

Let us be people who confess, so when people like ourselves need freedom, we have somewhere to go for grace.

February 13, 2014
by Ray Hausler
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Parenting: The Magnifying Mirror

“Children are a reflection of their parents,” I joked with my friends as their son threw a fit last night. “And you need to get your child under control.”

It is the accusation we are afraid of as parents. That our children really do reflect who we are, even as they are developing their own personalities and wills. It is why we freak out the most when our children freak out in public places.

We do not want to look bad.

A note came home from school this week. We get to set up an appointment to talk to a teacher about behavior at school. As I read that note I felt like I was looking into one of those magnifying mirrors that reflect every flaw. Every insecurity about who I am as a parent rose up within me and I wondered how I am failing my child.

Even at drop off at the school I imagined that the ladies helping each child out of their vehicles and into the school were looking at me, knowing that my child is not perfect in the classroom. I feel like it is my fault.

Children are a reflection of their parents. It rings in my head and fills me with guilt when my child does not meet a standard of perfection associated with school. Or sports. Or church.

As I looked at the note home from the teacher, I realized how often I am the teacher.

I imagined the guilt or judgment felt by parents of students in our ministry at church. Those parents who are struggling with behavior issues at home, or struggling to get their children through the doors of the church, or struggling to get their children to pray or read their bibles.

When they see me, all of their insecurities as parents rise up within them, and they do not know what to say or do around me. You know, the “youth minister”, the “expert” in youth culture. The friend to their child.

These are the things that cause me to worry about how my children are reflecting me wherever they go. I am the one other parents go to for help with their children. I am the “expert” and if my child does not meet the standard of perfection, then the entirety of my life’s work is called into question.

Like a magnifying mirror revealing every flaw.

The truth is, my child’s teacher simply wants help in determining the best course of action with my child. She is not judging me. She is asking for help.

Parenting is hard. It is one of the most difficult things we can do. Children have their own wills and are learning to differentiate themselves from their parents. Sometimes it is not pretty. Often they fail to meet our imaginary standards of perfection.

When that happens, it does not make us bad parents. When that happens, it does not make them bad kids.

It just reveals how much they and we need grace.

Grace is a mirror I can look into all day.

February 5, 2014
by Ray Hausler
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How to Troll Me In Three Easy Steps

In spring of 2009, we were able to meet Coach Carroll at USC. The boy is not quite sure what to think of him. I was elated.

I am about to tell you how to get me to get irrationally emotional. In internet terms it is referred to as getting “trolled”. Trolling is intentionally saying something on the internet in order to provoke an emotional response from someone else.

I’m learning to recognize a troll when I see one, and in many areas I have learned to stay quiet. But these are the quickest way to troll me. Perhaps I am admitting to them for accountability in avoiding trolls. My wife has been helpful in this regard, but sometimes, I still allow myself to be trolled.

Strangely, the area of my life you can troll me most is with sports. I’m not sure if I allow myself to become irrationally emotional with sports because it really doesn’t matter to me, or if it is because I care too much about sports. But here we go:

If you want to get an emotional response from me, propose changes to one of my fantasy football leagues. Thankfully this happens only in the context of the 12 owners in this league, but I have more than once been riled by a friend of mine proposing changes to our league. This is actually the muse for this post, as it recently happened, and as I reflected on why my blood was boiling I realized that I had allowed myself to be trolled whether it was intentional or not.

It is funny, when I get trolled I actually sit in my spot and fume, dwelling on why I am right and the other is not. And the truth is, it is where I feel myself not liking my response and who I am. It is when I feel least Christ like because I am more concerned with being right than I am with the person I am fuming at.

If you want to pick a fight with me, tell me about how much more superior SEC football is to any other conference. I grew up rooting for Pac-12 (10) teams and over the years have known a few guys playing for different universities on the west coast. Needless to say, my favorite team is in that conference. But talk about SEC superiority and I jump into the fight, giving all this evidence I have in my head about why it ain’t so.

So what if I am right? What does it prove? Other than a rooting interest, I really have no skin in the game. I graduated from a small university in California far removed from the Pac whatever and the Southeastern Conference. So why am I so emotionally invested in which conference is better. But I sit in front of my computer and fume anyway, proving my case. And most people could care less about foosball.

But the number one way to troll me? Call USC and Pete Carroll cheaters. So you’ve figured out my rooting interest. The quickest way to get me into an internet fight is to call my team and coach a cheat. You see what I just did there? “My team”. You know, that university I did not attend and football team I never played for in a city I never lived in. Yep, that one. Call them cheaters and I stand up to defend them. I get all emotionally charged and my leg starts bouncing.

Because people I do not know are having their ethics questioned.

I am learning to say no to trolls. But occasionally, especially when my guard is down and I am tired, the trolls drop by and ignite the fire in me and burn me up.

And I am left alone fighting a fight no one really cares about.

What do trolls use to get you emotionally riled up?

February 4, 2014
by Ray Hausler
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Follow These Rules, Or Else!

Rocky Mountain National Park Everyone has a set of rules they expect others to follow. It is often just assumed that the big rules come from us church folk. You know. How we freak out about how much alcohol you can drink, or who you can have sex with, or what you do on Sundays between nine and noon?

But as I read through my social media feeds I see all sorts of non religious fear coming from the ultra conservative libertarian to the ultra progressive anarchist. There are rules to be followed. or else. How many different companies am I supposed to boycott because they support this cause, or do not support this cause, or because they hired this gal, or because they fired this guy.

Sometimes I am even hesitant to buy someone a gift because I am not sure they are supporting the company who is making it. What do i do if I do not know the rules or the steps it takes to live righteously according to your agenda. How much research do I need to do  on my grocery store to find out if they are using produce companies who use “green” materials in growing my food? How do I keep tabs on who companies are hiring so I make sure I do not purchase a product from someone who sins. After all, I am supporting them by handing my money to them.

It is exhausting.

All these rules.

From so many different people.

Then there are those rules we use in our relationships. How and when am I supposed to give forgiveness? How and when am I supposed to apologize? How many days do I wait to call back? How soon am I supposed to return your text or private message?

What are the rules? What are the steps? How do i navigate this dance?

It is like when I used to go country line dancing when it was cool in the ‘90s. Do not lie, you were out there too in your too tight jeans and wannabe cowboy boots, before going back to your preppy life. But, those dances. I would go out there and dance the ones I knew how. And sometimes I would fake the dances I kind of knew. But if it was obvious I did not know the dance, I came off the floor. I did not even try. I did not feel like I belonged.

That is what legalism does. It causes people who do not even know the rules to feel like they do not belong.

That is why the way of Jesus is grace. It is why Jesus hung out with sinners.

The only thing rules do is define who is in and who is out. Individually we decide who belongs in our lives and who does not based on how they keep our certain set of rules. As if we are the ones who get to set them. As if we can even keep our own set of rules.

We do that do we not? We judge people harshly for not keeping to our set of rules when we are working so hard to keep them ourselves. And failing.

The way of Jesus is grace. He walks in mercy. He came declaring that God is indeed with us. he came announcing that the time of favor with God is today. Even for the rulebreakers. Especially for the rulebreakers.

We want people to follow our rules so that our relationships can be whole, according to our own terms. But, that is not about real relationship healing. That is some old dance we play and we are not completely sure of the rules or the steps.

What if today, we allowed people to break our rules and instead, showed them grace. The same type of grace you hope for when you break the rules.

Because legalism is not just religious.

That is why the way of Jesus is grace.