You Can’t Get There From Here

Not sure how the joke goes…

Something about a guy asking for directions and an old guy making that statement.

I feel depressed and frustrated. 

Life always feels so distant from what I wanted it to be.  Happiness, contentment, peace, joy, love seem so elusive, mirage like in their ability look so close, appear as possible, only to evaporate as I grasp at them.

I try to be a better husband, better father, better man.  I try to love more, hate less, not cuss.  I try to help, not complain, not be a jerk.

But I fail.  Over and over.

I talk to God.  “Can’t you make me better?  Can’t you make my faith stronger?  Can’t you make me want to try?”

And I hear Him say, “you can’t get there from here.”

All religions (including “christianity”) are based on the idea of trying harder, becoming “better” people.  And they all fail.  We hold up saints and monks and zealots and clergy as examples of how religion succeeds, ignoring the reality and embracing the legends we’ve made up.  Destroyed and disillusioned when we find out they were human after all.

And most watch us and shake their heads, knowing we pursue a lie that no one can attain.

You can’t get there from here.

Can’t we just backtrack?  Go back to the good old days?  Maybe there are multiple paths, maybe all religions have the same ultimate goal.

But the cross stands over us.  Not as a way to make us be better but simply to open a door.

Paul said his righteousness was as filthy rags (menstrual cloths to be precise).  The prophet Isaiah agreed.  Our best efforts, though nobly given, don’t make a crack in the wall that separates us from what God intended.

Somehow, I have a feeling that the lonely single mom, the addict, the father who worked everyday in a nowhere job, all the “losers” that pursued Jesus, through failure, through the valleys may receive a heartier “well done” than all the preachers combined. And when we stand before Him, there will be no shame, no disappointment, only a realization that He was always there, always with us.

I’m still sad that I’m not “better”. But, I think I’ll quit thinking about me so much and just fix my eyes on Him.

Is Anything Too Hard…

“Behold, I am the Lord , the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
Jeremiah 32:27 ESV

I wonder if you’re like me.

I don’t think I have trouble believing that God can do anything. I believe He actually parted the Red Sea, raised a shepherd boy up to be king, sent angels to surround an enemy army, calmed the stormy seas, fed the five thousand and conquered sin and death.

I just don’t believe He can use me.

It’s easy for me to see Jesus working for and with others. I particularly love to see my wife and her ministry and hear jow God is speaking through her into the lives of young people.

But, I have a temper. I don’t obey. I spent too much time in the Army and in factories for my mouth to say the right things. I get depressed and fearful. And, well, it all boils down to the fact that I just don’t obey.

Since I was a child my mantra has been, “you can’t tell me what to do.” With everybody!

God says “jump” and I say, “now wait a minute…”

I don’t want to be this way. But then God says “jump” and I say, “oh, I can’t do that!”

Why did He choose me?!

His voice speaks into my heart then.

“But child, I did choose you. It was not because of how great you were or what I thought I could accomplish through you. I chose you because I love you. Whether you ever DO anything for me or not.”

I feel sad. I stress and struggle and feel like such a disappointment.

What I need to do is rest!

In the end, it’s all about Him. He lifts me up. He accomplishes His will through me. He makes me willing and able. No glory belongs to me, all of it is rightfully His.

The greatest pastor, musician, evangelist, whatever deserves nothing of the glory that we give them (even if they think they deserve it). Because without Him, we are nothing.

So if you are like me, quiet your heart and the voices shouting their condemnation. “Fix your eyes on Jesus…”

Trust Him.

And rest.

Included

I just woke up from a really great dream.  It’s 5am.  I’ve had four hours (maybe) of sleep. 

But, I had to tell you about it!

I am a Yankees fan. Love the Yankees! Love baseball! But really love the Yankees!

My all-time favorite player, the one I personally put above every other player that played the game, is Derek Jeter!

The captain!

In my dream, I was on the field when Derek told the team he was retiring. People were stunned and saddened but we all knew it was time. Everyone was shaking his hand and letting him know we were behind him.

But the part that amazed me was that no one questioned why I was there. I talked with the players and coaches just like it was something normal.

I knew I was part of the team.

That’s what I want when I stand before Jesus. I know I won’t be the center of attention. I don’t want to be.

I also don’t want people looking at me like, “who’s he? What’s he doing here?”

That would be awful.

But standing there with great men and women of faith. Knowing that I DON’T compare, but knowing I’m accepted just the same.

That I was on the team!

Wow!

THAT will be a great day!

Pain (part 2)

You would never know it if you saw me, but I was and am a nerd (sarcasm). I was one who got bullied way more than I bullied. And when the opportunity presented to gain power so that I could hurt others rather than be hurt, I said yes, no questions.

Even when it was saying yes to evil.

Now I see shows like The Order and all things Harry Potter. I’ve heard the arguments.

They all fall flat when I see the pain in this world.

I know there are normal people out there who are unaffected. But I KNOW that there are those who will be affected. Who want their pain to cease so badly they will pursue magic, Halloween, fear, the demonic. Those that a scary movie will cross a line to something darker.

And heaven help us, as parents, our defenses will be so compromised and weak, our belief in Jesus will be so lukewarm and apathetic that our children will have no where to turn.

Pain

Why do we have pain?

Let’s back up and differentiate between physical, externally induced pain and emotional pain, that which is inflicted on our sole, our identity.

On a clinical level, physical pain can be treated, healing can take place, the pain can be tolerated. And often, pain has to be overcome for healing to occur.

Emotional pain ismore difficult, if not impossible to diagnose and treat. Despite what it says on their signs and in their pamphlets, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, along with their array of drugs, represent a pitiful arsenal against the issues we face today.

There is commonality in that physical pain can produce deep seated emotional pain and emotional pain can cause very serious physical pain.

But why did God allow it? Why do we have pain?

I want to know because I see so many people doing really stupid things, wasting insane amounts of money and resources, and causing more pain than they could ever hope to heal, all trying to make it go away.

I have pain of my own that I can’t seem to ever overcome. And it is nothing compared to what millions face every day.

The short answer is that it’s because of the fall. Adam and Eve sinned so we have pain. But if we make it so simplistic, it leaves us with the only solution being to, “suck it up.”

The exciting thing for me in asking this question is that I know my God. My King is a healer. My Lord is moved by every tear, every broken and contrite heart. When a child dies through abortion or cancer or abuse, no one sees it more, feels it more, knows it better.

The issue of pain is often and the center of the atheist’s arguments (knowingly or unknowingly). So it seems like we need to understand it better.

I want to hear back. Why do you think we have pain?

Bad Reputation

Insert Joan Jett video here.

I’ve heard multiple people how they were in line or walking down the street or some such scenario.  In the story they run across some foul-mouthed person (probably worked in a factory or paper mill) and they set them straight.  That language offends me or my children or a lady or something.

I keep thinking about that idea in the face of our current world situation and I’m trying to figure out how to justify it.

Right now, our world is crying out.  So many are afraid. So many angry, depressed, lost. We calling on the government, on health organizations, on doctors to save us.

They aren’t calling on Christians.

The reputation that we have is one of judgment, condemnation, short-sightedness, stupidity, well, you get the idea.

And on the part of many Christians, we want to point them to Jesus, to the bible as the answer to the world’s problems.

I don’t know about you, but I get the feeling He’s pointing the finger back at me.

We get this mystical idea that He’ll move in world events, change the heart of the president, sway the vote, remove the sickness, eliminate sin and poverty.

That’s not actually how He tends to work.

Oh sure, He CAN! But…

He invaded the earth. His Spirit invaded the budding church. And He left! But He left His Spirit in us.

This leaves me short of breath, heart pounding. That means when He said ‘go’, He meant me. When He said He would be with me, it was AS I was going.

So I need to GO!

We may have a bad reputation. But if we go, with the love of Jesus burning bright inside us, maybe we can shine it up a bit.

Unstoppable Love

There are some amazing people in the world. Some that I am blessed to call my friends. Their passion for Jesus and love for people is inspiring. But more than that, they never give up.

I need to stop here. We hear those phrases, the meaningless cliches and we relegate people to category of weird religious zealots, pollyanna, saccharine sweet, smile all the time, unreachable.

People like that don’t inspire me.

My heroes of the faith are normal people who stepped out of normal living. They face down criminals, reach into horrible places with love, touch people that we would rather not even acknowledge the existence of.

I see them as people who, if God told them to, would step in front of a train, and stop it. They would take a bullet for you. They face things courageously that would make this soldier hide in a corner.

One such couple is Reuben and Michelle Zook working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Indonesia as the organization Unstoppable Love International.

The more I’ve come to know them and hear their stories, the more I want to be like them. The more I want to help them. They are allowing the love of Jesus to flow through them and people are being set free. Slaves, REAL people who are being bought and sold, find freedom. They are given safety, a chance for classes and vocational training to support their children so that the cycle of slavery is forever broken. They lovingly but without compromise stand against pimps, corrupt officials and spiritual forces, very real demonic attacks.

They sacrifice their health and talents all because of love.

And they need help.

Check out Unstoppable Love Int. And please consider supporting them.

https://www.facebook.com/UnstoppableLoveInternational/

About Us

Remember

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time. All the things I’ve done and how it’s been…” Poems and Prayers and Promises (John Denver)

I remember as a small child going for hikes in the woods around the farm where we lived. I would get lost but was never afraid. I knew I’d find home.

I remember as a teenager being so angry, so lost, so afraid and so alone. I told God I didn’t believe and would rather serve satan than him.

I remember being trapped in my bed as demons tore at me, unable to scream, unable to move.

I remember the freedom and peace and joy I felt when I gave my heart, my life to Jesus.

I remember telling him over and over that he could do whatever he wanted with me.

I remember yelling at him, rejecting his commands. Medicating the pain he wanted to heal and never again saying he could do what he wanted with me.

I remember being rejected in love over and over. Coming to believe no one could.

I remember meeting her. Seeing her smile. Knowing I was done. Knowing she would never love me and I would never stop loving her.

I remember, despite my inner protests, she said ‘yes’. And then, ‘I do’.

I remember children and fighting and leaving and coming home and more children and fighting and leaving and coming home. And being so, so tired.

And I remember falling on my face and asking God to forgive me and help me with the mess I’d made.

And I remember healing and joy and love.

So much love.

And yes, though I got lost, God brought me home again.

Surprise Me

We want to know.

None of us really like surprises.

Oh sure, birthdays, Christmas, something special waiting.

Some say they enjoy the surprises of a scary movie. The horror waiting in the closet, the monster jumping out and eating someone.

We can appreciate the stimulus from the safety of a theater or our couch. We certainly would not like it if it was real, if it was really happening to us.

We want to know, to be prepared, to have assurance of victory.

So then I read in Numbers how, as the children of Israel get close to the Promised Land, God invites the to send out spies to check things out.

I wonder why He did that when He knew they would get scared and ruin everything.

Sure, they would want to know, to be prepared. And, a couple guys actually benefited from that. But most were overwhelmed.

Now I look at my life. How I have let fear and the magnitude of a task overwhelm me. I still want to know, to hedge my bets, minimize my risk.

And He won’t tell me.

He doesn’t give me the “plan”. He doesn’t let me know that I’ll be safe, that I won’t get hurt, or fail. He promises good things. He assures me that He’s right there with me.

But, it’s not enough.

So today I want to try something new.

Lord Jesus, surprise me!

I would like to know, to be prepared. But You know. You’re prepared.

Help me to be faithful. Help me to honor You. I open my heart to you. I trust you.

Surprise me!

Smartest Guy In The Room

When I was young, I thought I wasn’t very smart.  Read through the bible a few times and got my degree and, all of a sudden, I’m the smartest guy in the room.

Then I meet a kid who is explaining advanced differential equations to a PhD. I hear a pastor saying to his staff that God has revealed himself to the pastor in a way that they couldn’t handle.

May not be the smartest, but I’m not the dumbest.

Only then do I realize that my arrogance, the arrogance I see revealed in others and our collective intelligence is pitiful in comparison to the true smartest guy in the room.

Yet I hold on to my pride, my shame, my fear, my self-sufficiency and rage against my God who sees through it all. And then find myself on my knees, claiming dependence, my desperate need of Him.

And, He sees through that too.

I can’t argue people into heaven. I can’t impress them with my intellect, my giftedness, certainly not my spirituality. I have no delusions about condemning others or criticising their efforts to understand.

But can I introduce you to my friend? He’s funny and amazing. He really wants to meet you.

And He is super smart!

You can ask Him anything.