To The Last Man

What do you do when you’ve lost all hope?

What is your choice when you’ve done everything and all you hoped for is gone?

What do you do when all have betrayed you and you’re left alone, unwanted, unloved, forgotten?

The problem with the TV generation, the movie, Hollywood, Super Hero people who live their lives through the stories they see on a screen is they never know what to do.  When real life happens and things don’t go as planned, when there is no reset button to push or magical potion to fix all the problems, those that have not lived real life will lay down.  They will give up and let death take them.

Dylan Thomas said, “Do not go gently into that dark night.”  His stanzas speaking of there being more to do, to live, to “rage against.”

And in the light of this promiscuous culture, the family decimated by media, divorce, infidelity, pornography, addiction and abuse, it can seem that our hope, the promises we stand on, are awfully, woefully thin.

God’s love is not absent.  The power of the Holy Spirit has not waned.  But our reliance, our grasp of who He is and who we are in Him, is pitifully weak.

“Do not go gently into that dark night.”

So, though at times my hope is lost, I will stay in His word.  Though, at times, my faith is built on sinking sand, I will put on my helmet, my belt, my shoes, my breastplate, my shield and my sword.

And though I am bloody from every battle I’ve been through, I will rage against these giants and say, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of satan’s army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in America.”

And with my dying breath, I will let my children know, the children of my blood and of my spirit, that the living God reigned in me and I was His, will be His, forever.

Stand with me, by your prayers, your love, your worship, your sacrifice.

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What kind of fight is in you?

Being an averaged height person, I always liked to quote, “it ain’t the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.”

So many things come at us.  They attack and tear, condemn and hurt, messing with our faith, our hope.  And those hurts are so real, so painful, so overwhelming.

When Paul said, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood…” He wasn’t minimizing the damage we withstand.  And because the tools, the weapons wielded by our enemy, so often are flesh and blood, it becomes confusing.  We all know the broken places inside us though.  We know the reality of the emptiness we feel in betrayal, in tight fisted words.  We know the bruises of anger and hatefulness.

So what do we do?  what do we do?

I guess, right now, I’m turning that question around.  What do you want to do?  I’m asking myself, what do you want to accomplish?

Do I want the fights that I can “handle”?  Do I want the warfare that my wisdom and strength can conquer in?  I don’t think so.  Because just like those fights, temporal, worldly, so often meaningless, my victories will be the same, temporal, worldly, meaningless.

I want a God fight.  I want a war that only He can win.  I want a marriage that only He can secure.  I want a life that only He can bless.  I want to conquer enemies that dwell in the eternal, that war in the spiritual, that destroy not just the body but the heart and soul of my people.

I will be a warrior that fights by His rules, that wears His armor, that conquers in the name, the almighty name of Jesus Christ.

The size of the fight in this dog, is God sized, is Holy Spirit sized.

Come at me bro’.  Enemies of the cross – you don’t stand a chance!

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No Other Gods

No Other Gods.

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No Other Gods

The commandment was given, “you shall have no other gods before me.” Did that mean you could have other gods after Him?

There is a word that appears from time to time in scripture that is often translated as idols or household gods.  Rachel was sitting on them when Laban caught up to them after the fledgling nation of Israel fled from his domination.  She had stolen them and they were important enough to cause the death of whoever had stolen them.  We see them again being used to disguise the bed after David ran away from the Saul’s murderous intent.  The Hebrews were called on to put away their gods during times of revival.

All these godly people with idols in their homes?  What were they thinking?

At least one explanation seems to be that these were carved images of the God, Yahweh, Jehovah.  People want a symbol to go with their beliefs.  They want something they can hold in their hands, press against their chests.  We need something we can see to talk to, to trust in.

A.W. Tozer said that heresy becomes worse the closer it comes to the reality of God.  And there is nothing that defines us more, that guides us more, than our beliefs about God.  We are to be warned that holding on to an image, even of God, that is not God will only destroy us.

It shocks me that the man after God’s own heart, David, would allow an idol in his home.  It appalls me that I have done the same thing.  I allow images of God in my heart, in my mind, that are not God.  They are images of a God that is softer, friendlier than the true God of heaven.  This one ignores my rebellious heart, glosses over the black places inside of me.  And at the same time, I carve out an image of a God who hates me, wants to hurt me, is pleased when I fall on my face and my life is in ruins.

I live to know You, my King.  I exist to bring You glory and honor.

But it must be You.  I can not build up some image of a god who is less than You.  My finite mind can not contain the whole of who You are and so must refrain from the arrogance of claiming to know much of anything.  Teach me, guide me knowing that without Your touch I would also create an image of myself to worship, an image of my heart, not Yours.

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Down a Dark Trail

The trail ride had ended at the remote camp site in the middle of the woods.  I had taken it out alone, set up the sleeping arrangements, got the fire started and then enjoyed some great food.  Now came the tough part.

At 11:00 at night, there isn’t much light to navigate by.  The dirt roads and fields I had to traverse were well known to me but without any moonlight one had to be cautious.  Noises sound different, rocks and branches play tricks on your eyes.  And then there was “the cave.” That’s what I called it.  A place where the trees met overhead and, even in broad daylight, was dark and stuffy.  At night, you could literally hit yourself in the face with your hand and never see it.  It may have been only a quarter mile long, but to a nervous young man, it seemed like five.

I entered in and immediately lost sight of everything.  I couldn’t see my horse, couldn’t see the road, couldn’t see anything.

So what do you do when that happens.  My choice so often was to either fumble my way through, trying to direct something I knew nothing about, often – always making things worse.  Or, and this took some practice, lay the reins on my horses neck and let him get me through.  Horses see better at night.  Horses can smell their way through things and have a great sense of direction, especially an old quarter horse.

This week I lost my job.  What I was trusting in was no longer there to carry me and my family.  A dark, forbidding place surrounded me and I still can’t see my way through.

But I serve a great God.  He sees perfectly in my night.  He knows everything and has it all under control.  The surprise for me is that I ever, I mean EVER, pick up the “reins” of my life.  Why do I think I know enough, see enough, understand enough to wrest my life from His loving hands?  

My horse always got me through that dark place and I loved him for it.  I knew we were in it together and I could trust him completely. My God has never failed me.  He has never left me.  He has never been less than a holy, loving Father, a mighty Warrior that brings me to victory.

Here you go Lord….

I’m all Yours.

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Laish

Of the tribes of Israel, there is none that leaves a blacker mark than the tribe of Dan.  Interesting that the name means “Judge” but I’ll leave that for another post.

Israel was sent into the promised land to clear out the inhabitants because of the evil they were doing.  Sexual immorality, greed, child sacrifice being high on the list of their offenses.  But there appears to be one notable exception, the town of Laish.

I don’t know much about them, their practices, their religion.  The bible tells us that they were quiet and secure, and had wealth.  It would seem that, from the narrative, that they were to be left alone.  But to Dan, a tribe that had forsaken God, they were a gold mine.

We know that Dan had not “come into their inheritance” yet.  Seems an innocuous statement but it reveals a complacency, a lack of faith.  Israel had been told to go in and possess the land.  They had been there many, many years at this point.  And yet Dan still didn’t have their inheritance.  It can be surmised that this was due to their lack of faith.  The area that was allotted them was “too difficult,” so they went looking for another.  They wanted an easier prize.

Our struggles with addiction, our anger with God over “not coming through” smell a lot like the tribe of Dan.  And the evil, the sad horror of the sins we commit as we take the “path of least resistance” mar the name of Jesus and separate us further from His will.

What seems impossible to you?  What exhausts you just in thinking about it?  What feels so overwhelming that you can’t bear the weight of it?  Know that you have a choice.  Know that you want what only God can handle.  And know that, everyday, innocents die when we choose to not step out in faith.

It may sound like I’m condemning.  To my shame, I spent 40 years addicted to pornography.

This is a battle cry!  Fight!  Go save them!  Stand up!  Live!  That is the life of faith.

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Raven’s Story: Growing Up in the Child Pornography Industry

hawkinsm6:

Stand with me against this. Stand against it in prayer, with money, with work, with your voice. Please don’t let this crime go unchallenged, unfought because you think it is too much for you to deal with.

Originally posted on Hope for Survivors of Abuse:

Link to "He Was Supposed to Take a Photo"

Link to “He Was Supposed to Take a Photo”

Raven was only about 4 years old the first time her parents left her at a photo studio with a child pornographer.

Nicholas Kristof writes (linked above):

“This happens all over the world; it happens in America,” [Raven] said during a visit to New York. “It’s not necessarily children being kidnapped and swept away. A lot of times it’s someone the child trusts: family members or a minister or a coach.”

The child pornography industry is a facet of child abuse that has exploded with the rise of the Internet, and it’s widely misunderstood.

A Justice Department study reports that 21 million unique computer I.P. addresses were tracked while sharing child pornography files in 2009, more than 9 million of them in the United States. It’s not clear how many individuals that represented because some people may have used multiple computers…

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