Life Goes On

I will probably never understand why my brain does some things.

This morning I woke up with John Mellencamp running through my head. Permit me to rant a bit now.

“Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.”

This song sets forth the argument that after sixteen, life just goes downhill. It seems to make the claim that the best sex you will ever experience comes outside of marriage and somewhere near a “Tastee-Freez”. It actually admonishes people to, “hold on to sixteen as long as you can.”

Now I know, this is now an oldy. But has this heart, this spirit invaded our culture, our churches? Stay young, stay beautiful. The old are in decline. The youth of today are the ones that carry the relevant message of our day.

I love keeping things fresh, alive, especially in worship. I love the energy, the vitality of youth.

I am not dead yet. I am just older. My voice still needs to be heard. My life should bring encouragement and hope to,those that follow after me. I am still fresh, energetic, vital.

If I choose to be.

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My Glory and Joy

Many of you don’t know me personally, have never met me. I’m not impressive. I’m not tall. I’m not overly short, either. I have brown hair, hazel eyes, a scruffy face. I’m not skinny, nor obese. I think I am intelligent, but not frighteningly so. I am artistic but at a level that really anyone who tried at all could attain.

So what is the glory and joy of a person like me?

What is the glory and joy of any of us?

Riches, power, something, anything centered on me, on you is not worthy of the title of Glory and Joy. My God could be given that title, but it feels inappropriate. He is certainly glory and joy in and of Himself. But in giving that monicker, we claim some part in shaping that in the person. I can’t form or advise or encourage that in Him.

Paul called the Colossians his glory and joy. That makes me righteously envious. I think it is something that God puts in each of us. We were designed to be vessels, conduits through which His life passes to this world. We should seek out those we can pour in to, those that we can give to.

Come to think of it, you who read this are my glory and joy.

Thank you.

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Happy Birthday!

I won’t say her age.

But I wish my wife a happy birthday.

For twenty four years we have walked together as man and wife. Hardly a picture of the perfect, happy, Christian couple. We have struggled with finances, kids, tempers, addictions, betrayal, so much pain. But, we love.

Putting us together is like the proverbial round peg in a square hole. And I’m pretty sure we still don’t fit. Though, I think I’m a little more squarish and she might be a little rounder.

Well, truthfully, we’re both a little rounder now but that’s another blog.

Somethings about us seem like they will never change. We will always argue, badly. We will always want our own way more than God’s. But, as I look back over the years, I would never have guessed we would have made it this far. I would not have guessed that we would have made it at all.

So, here is to more years! Here’s to not giving up. Here’s to a wife who stands strong, who holds tight.

Here’s to the God who can guide us through!

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If you’ve read the Bible very much, you recognize this disease as probably the most feared and most talked about. The Law had strict guidelines for how to treat a leper. There are also several stories where it was used as punishment for people who did wrong.

Most of us have never seen leprosy close up and are left with not really knowing how biblical ideas surrounding this apply to us. Let me bring one out.

The bacteria that cause leprosy attack the peripheral nervous system. The infected person loses feeling, loses the ability to respond normally to outside and inside stimuli. In essence, the cells and tissues are cut off from the rest of the body. They receive the same nutrients, can appear normal for many years, but they are dying.

Satan uses lies, bitterness, pride to infect us with spiritual leprosy. We get hurt or disagree or even elevated and it disconnects us from the body, from the central nerves of community. We can look normal, but we are dying.

And how do we contaminate others, by our breath, just like leprosy. We say things we shouldn’t say, we lash out, we gossip.

But leprosy is curable. We can respond with love and forgiveness and restore those broken connections. We can be a part of the body again.

God can heal this leprosy too.

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“A stitch in time…”

Poor Richard never understood that the joy is in the journey.

There are two messages that I want my life to convey. Two simple messages that, if I could roll everything I have written, everything I have said, everything I have lived cleaned of all the dross of fluff and banter, purified of all confusion and folly, two things I would want you to hear.

God is great. Enjoy your life.

God is amazing and capable of so much more than we give Him credit for. He loves so much deeper than we can fathom. He believes in us and our potential for good.

It is man’s wisdom that says, “don’t fail.” It is satan that accuses every curve and pothole in the road of our lives. It is often our own heart that wishes we were someone else, someone better.

Yes, a stitch in time will save nine. If you don’t sin, don’t fail, it is better for you. But you will fail. To myself I say, you will fail. Do not give up. Do not hide from God. Do not listen to the voice of hate. Look to Jesus. Watch Him work and heal, fix all the brokenness. Laugh at the mistakes and draw close to God’s heart. He will reveal Himself in you.

Beauty, joy will grow. You just may have some more “stitching ” to do.

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“Though I walk through the valley…”

Light can often feel so dim.

I went down to wake my son up this morning. He lives down in our basement and when it is dark outside, it is even darker in his room. I carried the flashlight with me. The light helped so much with seeing the path in front of me, but it makes it harder to see what’s surrounding you.

When we walk in faith, it can be like that. The way seems clear in front of you but fears can surround you that remain undefined. You can’t see them or understand them and if you try, they become even more fearful.

We’ve all had the experience of a beast or ghost that turns out to be nothing more than a tree branch or a shirt on a hanger.

Hebrews talks about how we should “fix our eyes on Jesus.” Today, right now, I will choose to look only at Him. I will not let the unknown distract me from the plans He has for me. And, I will not trade His power for my own self-protection.

Today, I will trust.

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What was that?

1 Samuel 14
One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.”

I can almost hear myself as the armor bearer, “excuse me, what did you just say?”

I love this story of Jonathan. We don’t know why the idea came into his head and we don’t see further acts of heroism from him but this one is so cool.

The story goes that, as they went toward the outpost, they agreed that, if the Philistines responded by telling them to come up, God had given them a victory. And sure enough, they killed twenty men in their initial attack.

A couple of things stand out to me.

They took the threat as an answer to a promise. We often look at trouble as a sign that we’re going the wrong way. The enemy has threatened my kids, my family and I ran the other way. Jonathan didn’t see it that way.

The Philistines had no intention of killing them, right away. “We’ll teach you a lesson,” they cried. I think that the Philistines thought they were cowards, deserters. They wanted them to come up to take them captive, make examples of them. We hear the threats, the condemnation, the condescension of our enemy and accept it. We hear the voice of no hope and believe it more than the voice of faith.

They went looking for a fight. Why show themselves? Why not take the army with them? Their agreement was that if the Philistines said they were coming down, they would wait for them. They were going to fight no matter what. We go into fights with our enemy hoping we can figure out a way to avoid fighting. We come against him hoping he’ll just run away.

I am looking for a fight. I’m going after the enemy. I will have faith to know that, as I stand for Jesus, He will give me the victory.

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