Weak one

I finished the first week of my new job.  I work as a custodian for my church and am so blessed to be there.  It is a dream come true and just the tip of the iceberg for what God wants to do in and through me.

Not all fun and games though.  I heard no angel voices.  I sweated a lot and got pretty dirty through it all.  We did not sit around in worship and prayer.  We actually had to work.  You would be amazed at how much prayer and worship can happen when you’re kneeling in front of a toilet.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I have not found myself growing stronger in this process.  I see clearly and feel keenly the sins that have hindered me over the years.  I know that I am nothing without Jesus.  I sense the pride and selfishness that seems to hide around every corner.

But there is joy in living for Him.  There is contentment in knowing that I no longer have resources but His are inexhaustible.  There is strength in knowing that I have decided to follow Jesus.

“Strength made perfect in weakness…”

“When I am weak, then I am strong.”

All for the glory of God.

Can’t Help Myself 

I decided to step out in faith recently.  I was going to trust God to catch me or die in the attempt.  I can see that God is catching me.  I will start working for my church in a week.  We have paid all our bills though I have had no work.  But, there are still scary things looming on the horizon.

I don’t recommend that everyone just quit their job.  I do recommend spending lots of time reading the bible, talking to Jesus, serving Him and people.

Listen.

What I’m finding in this process is that I love Him more.  I want His voice, His presence more and more.  I want to learn more and grow more.  I want to share more.  

Yesterday, when it came time for the offering, though we have so little, I wanted to give.

This is not natural for this stingy old heart.

I’m not bragging.  This came out of what God put inside, it didn’t come from me.  

I love to worship, that is normal for me.  It has been a temptation to want to manipulate God (yeah, I did this) by my worship.  I wanted to win His favor by showing Him how much I love Him.

There is a quietness, a peace that has entered the worship of my King.  That is not normal for me, but it is so good.

I don’t know what you think of all of this.  I certainly have my times of crankiness, of fear and doubt.  I don’t know where we’re going.  But, I’m starting to enjoy the ride.  I’m excited about the journey, excited about the future.

I can’t help it…

Demons

According  to Josephus (Jewish historian), Jews were able to cast out demons in the name of Solomon.  I didn’t know that.

So when Jesus asked, “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭12:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬), they could have said by Solomon.

OK, before I lose all of you, let me explain.

Today, I was reading Matthew 12 and became intrigued by two questions.  Could, and can people cast out demons without Jesus?  And, is Jesus referring to demons cast out by other means or demons cast out by any means when he talks about them returning to the person and making him worse?

Yeah, that’s how I spend my free time…

Sounds intellectual (or just weird) but there is a burning question that is at the bottom of it all.

Can I be free?

Demons can refer to literal spiritual entities or addictions, habits or mental predispositions that govern our behavior.  And I want to know if we can ever be really free.

If there is another way to freedom than the name of Jesus and, by association, His cross, then it might be good to pursue it.  Jesus wants all of me and the cross is just painful.  And if, even through Jesus, those demons might return to us, what is our hope?

I have only read bits of Josephus.  I am no intellectual giant or prophet or philosopher.  But I hear Peter when he faced the Jews.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Nothing else can save us. What are we being saved from?  Saved from death.  Saved from fear.  Saved from slavery.

Saved sounds like free to me.  The only freedom I’ve ever known is through Him.

The same answer applies to all these questions.

Only through Jesus can anyone be set free and only by remaining in Him, and being filled up by Him, can we remain free.  Psychology, religion, drugs, meditation, positive self talk can all be useful tools, but the demons will return.

But not to a life surrendered to Him.

Not to a heart and mind and soul that is surrendered to Him!

Send Them Away

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

His first disciples seemed eager to send people away.  Before Jesus fed the five thousand, before he placed the child on his lap, the followers of Jesus first sought to send them away.  Let them find their own food.  Let them find acceptance and love from less important people.

Both responses were rebuked.

“You feed them.”

But they couldn’t.  They didn’t have enough.  And they were right.  Not in their hands and not in their hearts, truthfully they did not have enough.

“Don’t hinder them.”

No question of whether the disciples had anything to offer here, and children smell a fake a mile away anyway.

Now I’m not writing to rebuke anyone, but to ask a question.

Are you hungry?  Come to church, come to God’s word, come to His heart.

Are you lost and hurting?  Just come straight to Him.  His people can help you and those who know Him best help the most.  His word, the Bible, is rich in healing and talks so deeply of His love.  But come to Him.

Seek His presence, listen for His voice.

All He is asking, right now, is for you to come.

Ridiculous

It makes me laugh to hear it now.

For years the accusation from satan has been to point out what a ridiculous person I am.

And it’s the truth.

When I cheer for someone, I sound like I’m angry (apparently) and I yell till I’m hoarse.  When I sing in worship, I get kind of pitchy, I often sing harmony and I sing till I’m hoarse. I’m overweight but dance and jump.  I laugh out loud, in church, with people watching.  

I’m not sure why the last two matter but I’ve been told it’s inappropriate.

I think the accuser is often honest in what he says.  He just doesn’t want to acknowledge God’s perspective.  It’s like that with lots of things.  And he isn’t the only one saying it.

We say it to ourselves.

I’m ugly.

I’m fat.

I’m stupid.

No one could ever love me.

So that’s two voices speaking the same truths.

And there are other voices too.

Ha!  But it doesn’t matter.

We have heard how God says He loves us.  We “know” he says we are beautiful, precious, worthy.  And we know that’s not true.

But here’s the thing, and I hope I’m saying this right.  God’s lies are more true than anybody else’s truth.  How He sees us matters more than anyone else’s opinions.

I’m not there yet.  And if I try to convince myself of God’s truths it turns into ego and religion.  I think the only thing I can handle right now is looking at Him more than I look at myself.

And He is beautiful!

And I’ll just accept that I’m ridiculous…

And keep dancing!

Time to Change

I think it’s time for a change.
I’ve been the bitter worshipper long enough and God has been way too good for me to rest there.

Let me elucidate.

I’ve been married for almost twenty seven years and in that time have given her so many reasons to leave, to give up. But she still loves me.

I’ve made so many mistakes.  Failed over and over again. Yet found the strength to stand.

Others have “failed” me, rejected me, disappointed me. But the gates of my heart are still open. 

I have yelled at God, fought Him at every turn.  And despite that, He holds on, He will not give up!

I’ve been bitter but God is changing me.

The tumors of fear and addiction have been removed.  The cancerous lies of Satan have been exposed and treated with the healing power of His great love.

I’m done with being angry.

I’m having too much fun being alive!

My Purpose, My Calling

We hear a lot about hearing God’s call, following God’s calling for you, receiving the call to ministry, finding your purpose in life.  Are you looking for that dream job, the career of a lifetime.  Well hold on to your seats kiddies!

I have the answer for those who are searching.  And if you thought you found your calling and now feel unfulfilled, I have an answer for you too.

I know, who knew such wisdom rested in this earthen vessel but, prepare to be amazed.

Your calling, your purpose, your life’s ambition is fulfilled in following the same call that Jesus yielded to.

Your purpose, my purpose, your calling and mine, is to die.

Well that just sucks!

Yeah, I wanted something cool and amazing, preferably center stage and that paid well.  Second best would be something behind the scenes, you know, nobody sees you but you’re making things happen.  Those on stage depend on you.  You are needed.

But then I looked at Jesus.  His calling wasn’t to do miracles, though he did some of those as well.  His purpose was clearly not to be king, or even start a religion.  He stated that his purpose was to “do the will of the Father.”  And the final act of that was to give his life up.

I saw “the Passion of the Christ” one time.  As I watched what happened to him, I cried.  I balled.  And I kept asking why?  Why would he do that for someone like me?  Why would he do that when he knew how I would receive it?  How I would throw the shit of my sin on the priceless gift of his love?

There is no explanation for why that my mind can comprehend.  But he accepted that price.

And now he calls to me.  He beckons me with his scarred hands, with the love, that held him to his purpose and to the cross, shining over me.

How will I answer him when He longs to take me through the cross?  How will I submit when it is more than my salvation that is at stake, when it will cost me everything?

“Not my will but yours, Lord.”