Pushing It

I’m sick.

No, I’m really sick.

Breathing is difficult.  Head is spinning.  Photophobia.  Coughing.  Influenza.

How did this happen?  I rarely get sick.

I’ve been working as a janitor, a custodian for a church.  One of my jobs is to clean the carpets with a big extractor (carpet cleaner).  It is self-propelled.  Pull the trigger and steer basically.  Only trouble is it doesn’t go very fast.  I can’t tell you how many times I catch myself pushing it.

And do you want to know how much effect my body has on pushing a heavy machine that is set to go a specific speed.

Zero.

I have been doing that with God, with my life.  Pushing and pushing to see things happen.  Working really hard to get some where, to make things happen.  Trying to be a good husband, a good dad, a good servant, a good man.

Pushing it.

Influenza.

Broken immune system.  Fatigue.  Depression.

Today, I picked up my guitar and sang for no one but God.  I played, not to practice, but just to spend time with Him.  In my impatience and scattered thoughts, I had about a fifteen minute window with Him.

It was good.

I’ve been pushing too hard and too long against a life that won’t “get better”, circumstances that I can’t change, a past that won’t go away, a God who is immovable.

Here’s what I can do.  Be grateful for the good life I have.  Accept the circumstances of my life as a product of my decisions AND the Grace of God on me.  Forgive my past and let it go.  And ask what He wants instead of telling Him what I want.

And I can rest and cough and shiver and ache…

And heal.

Advertisements

The Stinky Kid

I’ve been practicing something for several days now but I’m not sure if I’m improving.

Bob Sorge (if you don’t know him, get to know him) does a seminar on “Secrets of the Secret Place”.

Well don’t watch it now.  Listen to me first!

Anyway, in one of the sessions he talks about asking for the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood over yourself so that we can come boldly before the Throne.  He asks you to imagine it and then imagine yourself crawling up between God and Jesus (who is at the Father’s right hand).  Highly recommend all of Bob’s stuff.

So, like I said, I have been practicing this.  I wake up and say, “God, sprinkle me with the blood of Jesus Christ.  Wash me, clothe me in your righteousness.  Now I come boldly to you.  You move people out of my way so that I can come up and sit with you.”

The funny thing is, I feel like the stinky kid.  You know.  The one you went to school with who didn’t take baths often enough.  The one whose clothes were old, out of style, torn and dirty.

See, I crawl up next to my Dad but then I turn around and cuss at somebody.  I still get angry and selfish and pout and whine and throw tantrums.

I wonder how I can have the audacity to do that when I’m sitting right next to the Holy One, the Righteous One, the Majestic One.  But, I still do.

I was talking to God a couple of days ago.

I said, “God, if you want, I can just go.  I know I’m stinky.  I know I’m bad.”

I just felt His arms wrap around me and heard Him say, “I don’t think you’re stinky.  I have washed you.  I have clothed you in righteousness.  And you’re mine.  Just stay right where you are.”

OK, if you really want me to, I’ll stay.

“I really do.”

Do you want to be healed?

We all have a sin sickness.

That thing that, despite our best efforts to conceal it, proves to us how messed up we are.

No one gets to escape it without the blood of Jesus Christ covering us.

No one.

It’s not enough to get saved, to find Jesus.  I’m sorry if you think it is.  I found Jesus and really all it did was open my eyes to my desperate need for more of Him, more of the Spirit, more of God’s leading and power.  I needed Him to HEAL me.  And I found, we have to want healing.

Not want like, “I want a breakfast burrito.”  More like, “I’m suffocating and I want air.”

In the jails, there are so many that from youth have been told the lie that they are just bad people.  In the bars, there are so many that believe they are not worthy of love, incapable of commitment.  The druggies, the prostitutes, the gays, the gamers that all believe that they can not hope for anything different.  That is just who they are.

Yep I lumped all those together.  Addictions, struggles, issues, whether society accepts and approves of them or not, have similar obstacles to overcome.

Oh, and in case it’s not obvious, porn, alcohol, affairs, work, temper tantrums, hate, control, arrogance are just a few of the others that fit into the same ideas.

The story in the Bible (John 5) goes that there was a pool where an angel would “stir the waters” (whatever that means) and the sick person who got in first was healed.  Jesus comes along and sees a guy who has been there for thirty-eight years.  His question hits me.

“Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus offers healing.  We offer excuses.  I want to be better, stronger, healthier, problem and struggle free.  But if solutions are presented, we see only impossibilities.  I’m not strong enough.  I can’t do it.  I’m just a failure.  It’s who I am and I don’t even need to change.

Jesus offers healing that comes in the form of wholeness, peace, joy, strength, victory.  And no addiction, no chosen lifestyle offers anything that compares.  And I know I need more of those things.  I want healing.  Now I just have to want it bad enough to submit myself to the authority of the one who offers it.

I’m tired of the sickness.  I sick of being sick.  I’m tired of the fight against my selfishness and self-actualization.

I just want Him.

He’s Moving!

In Exodus 33 there is a scene where God tells the people of Israel to go into the promised land.  He even says that He will send an angel ahead of them to clear the way.  But, He also says that He will not go with them.

Moses gives the right response in saying that if God doesn’t go with them, they will not move because it is God’s presence in their midst that distinguishes them from all other people on the face of the earth.

That has been my cry as I have gone through the years of barreness, where no doors have opened.  No promises have come true.

But that begs the question, what if He moves while I’m waiting.

See, I want to lead the way, praying that God opens the door for me to pursue my dreams and aspirations.  But, what if His presence in my life moves to something I didn’t dream of, or even see coming?  What if He leads to a new church, a new job, a different ministry and the only thing I know is that His presence is no longer in the midst of what I am doing?

This is not easy to see because my flesh, my own will gets in the way so much.  I hear my heart in rebellion against Godly leadership.  I feel my impatience and know my propensity for charging blindly “where angels fear to tread.”

That’s why I’ve been waiting.

But, right now, in this season that I’m entering, I sense God calling me forward.  “Come with me,” He says.  And I find I’m just as fearful of moving as I was of not being allowed to move.

And, I think I might not be alone.

Do you sense God moving to an area you are uncomfortable with?  A calling you have been afraid to pursue?  A relinquishing of control?

I see it in the church, not just my church, but The Church.  He is calling us out of a defensive posture, out of trying to justify our King, out of making excuses for why He does what He does.  He is calling us out to move in miraculous ways, to believe for more, to be a voice for truth and justice and life.

He is moving.

And I’m going with Him.

The First Stone

There are so many debates flying around and accusations laid against Christianity and our response has been so misguided.

I, of course, will now add my wisdom and insight to clarify everything for everyone.

Yeah…

I’ve heard many times, over the years, the phrase, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”  These are the words of Jesus and we love pulling them out when we’re confronted by someone for doing something wrong.

The story is about a woman who was caught in adultery that some religious jerks wanted to trick Jesus with.  They knew that Jesus was kind to prostitutes, to tax collectors (worse than prostitutes if you’re setting up a scale) and sinners.  He claimed he was there to heal that type of person but the Hebraic law stated she should be stoned, well her and the guy she committed adultery with, ummm…

Anyway, they thought that because of Jesus’ kindness, he would contradict the Law and let her go.  And I think that’s how we want to use his words even now.  Couple of problems though.

He could have thrown the first stone.  He was “without sin” and was God in the flesh and holy and all that.  He could have killed her and been “right” to do so.  No denying it, she had sinned.

He, because of love, chose not to.

Second problem, we want to compare our actions with hers.  She sinned, I sin and no one is allowed to judge me for it.  That’s what we would say.  But we’re different.  She didn’t deny what she had done, didn’t want anyone to say it was ok.  She knew what she deserved.  She held on to no hope because she knew she was condemned.

Our actions more closely resemble the thief on the cross.  No, not the one that Jesus said would be with him in paradise.  The one who said, “if you’re the son of God, save yourself and us too.”  Mocking Jesus, hurling accusations against his power and identity.

Weird that Jesus didn’t talk to him at all.

He didn’t want to repent, didn’t want to honor God and submit to His authority.  He just wanted to be allowed to continue living, doing whatever he wanted.

Jesus still stands there, holding out his hand of forgiveness and love, acceptance and restoration to those who ask for it.  Who want Him more than their own lives.

But He is holy, He is God and will not accept less than His best for us.

I have no hope but Him.

Underwear

In Christian circles, we talk a lot about the “Armor of God.”

You know, “helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel.”  Those things.

But, I was thinking lately that some of the “armor” hasn’t been sitting so well in my fight. Belt of Truth getting a bit tight, Breast Plate of Righteousness beginning to chafe.

Sorry, my metaphors are silly and intentionally trying to be humorous.

The reality is that if we solely concentrate on the armor, we miss something.  There are other aspects that we have to choose, things we must look for and put on.

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Now, most people will tell you as you live for Jesus, the Holy Spirit naturally brings out these “fruits of the Spirit” in our lives.  I would suggest that they are attributes that you have to choose, to clothe yourself with along with the armor.

In the military, you learn pretty quickly that, to protect your feet, you need good boots.  But first, you need clean, dry socks.  If you wear a sweaty, nasty t-shirt for too long, you’re going to get chafed (and you smell really bad).  And, if you don’t change your boxers from time to time, well….

And, the idea of not having these items is not something you should choose!

Is it sacrilege to compare the Fruits of the Spirit to underwear?

I think it’s biblical.

When you lift up your sword, make sure you put on love.  When you hold up the shield, make sure it is also wrapped in faithfulness.  When you put on the belt, make sure it is over the garment of patience.

And if all this leaves you cold, 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another…”

Now, I’m ready for battle.

And I think I look pretty killer, too!

Rising Evil

Christmas time is upon us and I find myself sad so much of the time.  Don’t even know why.

I think part of the reason is my disappointment with how things are.  We come to the end of a year thinking things should have improved.

But they haven’t.

Do I have more money?  A better job?  Are my kids closer to God?  Is my marriage better?  Is the world safer?  Has hatred, greed, selfishness, sin been removed from the earth?

Am I a better person?

I pulled into the gas station this morning and a guy pulled in at the same time and cut me off.  In that moment, I think I hated him.  I cussed at his rudeness and fumed until he approached me and apologized.

A nice man in a bit of a rush.

Why does something so insignificant turn me into something so angry.

Despite my prayers and times of singing praises, I am still a broken man.

I saw a movie recently that was apocalyptic.  End of the world.  Man-reaping-what-he-sowed kind of stuff.  Evil took over and everyone was dying.

Now I’ve seen the zombie movies, the plague movies.  I’ve read the books about economic meltdowns and world war whatever.  Death Star, alien life forms, all that just seem silly for the most part.

This felt more possible, more real in a sense.  Aside from plot holes and overdramatization, I could see this happening.

Except for one thing, you and me and Jesus.  Well, ok, that’s three things.  But, not if we do it right.

In the face of all that is wrong, we have a choice.  Will I let Jesus live through me?  How much will I let Him live through me?

That’s the promise of Christmas.  If we let Him in, let Him move and breathe and speak, there is no darkness so strong, no evil so powerful, that we can’t overcome.  I can stand though the weight of the world tries to crush me.

I can’t make myself, my family, my world better.  But Jesus can through me.