Beauty

Hollywood, Nashville, New York, and much of the modern church say you must be beautiful for me to listen to what you say.  The importance of your word is directly proportional to the face that speaks.

I would mention names but then that would take away from the honesty, heartfelt worship and real suffering that are a part of some very beautiful people.

My point isn’t to take away from what they say.

I don’t mean to offend, and I’m preaching to myself. But, if you’re “ugly” and you feel unheard, part of the problem is you.

Two things are at work. First, do you really believe in the God who called you? If you do, then preach it, sing it, live it, share it.

Second, who’s your audience? Who do you want for an audience?

Side note: I don’t accept that we have an audience of one. Remember, Jesus said we were to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. AND love our neighbor.

Where was I? Oh yeah…

I want the big audience. I want everyone telling me how great and deep and amazing I am.

I don’t want the audience that can only stand to listen to me for two minutes (unless I’m reading a book to them). Or the one that gets bored with my intellectual dissertation. Or the one that hates my God, my Bible, my faith, but still needs to see me love them.

We ask, “who am I? Why would they listen to me?” And allow ourselves to be quiet. We ask, “who are they that I should invest my time, pour out my heart and soul?”

I think it is time for the ugly to speak up, to let our voice be heard. We have a unique perspective on God’s love, His calling, a relationship with Him that the beautiful, the popular, the successful need to hear.

Most of them only see their ugly.

And as His light and live shine through us. . .

We become beautiful too.

Waiting On A Starry Night

Christians and prayer are a strange combination. We are ones who trust in an omnipotent, all-loving God and yet believe in our ability to manipulate the system.

Even when He says no.

I often think about my son that died. He wasn’t technically my son, but he was still my son. It hurts so much still that he is gone.

I prayed the prayers, sang the songs, believed in God’s power to heal. But, he still died.

He is still gone.

So what good does it do to pray?

I believe that our prayers move the heart of God, that our approach to God calls out the armies of heaven on our behalf. I believe that amazing, miraculous things happen when we pray.

But wait! There’s more! (TV infomercial voice)

I can’t manipulate or coerce the Great God that I serve. Shoot, my attempts to manipulate and coerce my wife are failures at best. And she’s just a human.

But I can join Him. We can talk.

That’s why I like the imagery of waiting on a starry night. I come out of my house amd look to the sky and see a God who is so much bigger than me. He surrounds me. He surrounds my whole world, figuratively and literally.

And I look to Him. My eyes, my heart, my prayers are open.

More an act of rest, don’t you think?

Home

There’s a passage in the Bible (Matthew 7:21 ff) where Jesus is talking about a sad scene from heaven.

The picture is this: people coming before God and telling Him about all the great things they have done for Him. And His response will be to say, “go away, I never knew you.”

It got me thinking.

A close second on the saddest events of that time will be this: I arrive in heaven and God allows me in. He even says, “I know you.” And I realize as He speaks that I don’t recognize His voice. I don’t know Him.

Some would say that it isn’t possible but I don’t know.

If it’s possible to prophesy, cast out demons, do mighty works in God’s name and still end up in hell, all because we never really had a relationship with Him. Then I think it’s possible to have entered into a relationship but allowed the voice of fear, the voice of the world, the voice of condemnation and shame, my own voice to be so loud, so dominant, that I never really listened to Him.

I want to be one that hears His slightest whisper, that seeks His voice in every situation, that stops long enough, is quiet long enough for Him to speak.

And it’s going to come down to the choices I make today.

The best scene will be Him saying, “I know you.” And me falling in His arms and saying, “Hi dad!”

Like I just got home.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Most people wish there was more passion in their marriage.

And, I’m not just talking about sex.

We wish for a return of the goosebumps, the increased heart rate, the involuntary smile when our other crosses our mind.

And we want to see the same response in their eyes.

And when it isn’t there, we blame.

We chalk it up to faults in the other person, in ourselves, the demands of our day to day, the fragility of love.

I was talking to God about it the other day.  I have a list of “blames” that sound like self-deprecation but really are just my way of blaming Him.  And after going through my liturgy, He surprised me by asking this question.

“Why can’t we be friends?”

I contrast my ideals for a perfect marriage with my relationship with my kids.  I never really think about a greater passion for them. 

The other night my boys got together with me to watch football.  We ate pizza.  Talked a bit. Turned on the game.  One fell asleep.  The other two were on their phones most of the time.  We just had fun hanging out.

Hold on!

Is God saying, or am I saying, that the way to a better relationship is to just not set the “bar” so high?  Don’t expect anything?  Don’t even try for intimacy?

Nope.

I think what He is getting at is that we need to pursue presence first.  Passion and purpose will follow.  Don’t blame, but let faults draw us toward each other’s needs. Reject distance and all forms of self-defense, considering the other worthy of our sacrifice.

And every day…

Do it again…

Hungry

I pretty much start every post with a feeling of needing to apologize.  My understanding of so many things is very limited.

This one is no exception.

Being an overweight person makes anorexia such a foreign concept but it plays into what I want to discuss.

So…  Sorry.

God has been hitting me with an idea from several sources so I feel the need to share.  I have some thinking that is just messed up.

A person that is healthy doesn’t treat food like a checklist.  The variety and tastiness of a healthy diet is not something forced, something that must be coerced.  It is actually a joy.

But then we look at our spiritual diet.

I was starving so I forced myself to read a verse out of the Bible.  I was overwhelmed so I threw out a ten second prayer.  I feel surrounded by problems, attacked on every side so I went to church and left as soon as the preacher said “amen”.

We have all been in that place where we feel like we can’t even get off the floor.  We can’t lift our hands in worship.  The songs won’t come.  There are no answers to prayer and no one seems to be listening.  The words on the page mean nothing.

The condemnation that religion would heap on us in those moments is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

But to stay there, or to never step into the fullness of a relationship with our Father, is equivalent to anorexia. Patterns of behavior based on false images, unhealthy concepts of who I am, and who I should be.

And we are dying when we should be so alive.

And so, like the anorexic, we have to force ourselves to eat, spend time in the Word and talking to God, until our taste for food returns. We have to spend time with people, many who are struggling just as much or more than we are. We have to look beyond ourselves and the absolutely screwed up view we see. Then reach out a hand – one to our healer, one to someone who needs healed.

We need to be hungry.

We need to be thirsty.

And start eating.

Warrior God

Oh, I need to rant a bit more!

I watched a couple of episodes of “Warrior Nun” amd it just makes me want to cry.

Literally!

Here’s what I know so far.  The halo of an angel is embedded in a person and it gives them special powers.  Should the halo fall into the hands of Satan or his minions, heaven will fall.  This power has been given to someone who has been abused and neglected by the church’s orphanage, who wants nothing to do with God or any authority.

I understand that this is all based on a graphic novel, not the bible.

But, COME ON!

First off, the halo is a symbol of God’s glory.  Its power, light, authority is wrapped up in God himself.

And second, the idea that anything, ANYTHING, can stand against God’s power, His person, His Kingdom is beyond ridiculous. 

James says that the “demons believe and shudder.”  (James 2:19)

So the biggest, baddest demon gets a thought about God and it scares the poop out of him.

Not to make light of it, but a pitched battle between God and all the power of hell and this world?  He wouldn’t even break a sweat.

My point is not to vilify a silly TV show. It is to raise up our courage. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Believe it! Act on it!

Let the demons come.

I have God’s armor!

All I Can Say…

I watched “the Good Place.”

In fact, I’ve watched several shows that depict God, Christianity, Christians and religious zeal.

We’re bad!

And I don’t mean a little bad.

Well, some are just weak-willed sheep. They plod through accepting whatever, questioning nothing. Pathetic. Extras in the scene.

But most pictures presented are downright evil. Murderous, hateful, vile.

And God, my King and Hero, is presented as, for the most part, simply not really there. Humans doing whatever they want. Demons having the real power, the real authority over humanity.

And we sit back, silent.

No, don’t start bashing the movies, the shows. They only glorify what they have been taught.

We need real Christians, living out the love of Jesus, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, moving by faith in the Holy, beautiful, amazing, one and only GOD.

It might even make a good movie.

Do You Believe?

So many questions…

So many unknowns…

I sing about God’s “Reckless Love”. I played “Walk By Faith” with passion on my guitar. So many songs.

Now I’m just embarrassed.

I think a year from now, when we sing those songs, they will mean something different than they did last year.

I want them to. I want my heart to go beyond the lip service I have given to God’s greatness. I want my life to have gone beyond what’s popular, beyond being a nice guy.

And for that to happen, I have to suffer. I have to boldly live out the miraculous. I must step away from safety, the false protection that I have raised up around me.

I have to believe.

Election 2020

I used to wish I had a large audience for this blog, forum for deep discussion, encouragement, healing. I know some people listened, received, but it was very few.

Tonight is no different.

As I watch the election unfold, I realize that nothing I say can alter the outcome, no one will change their opinions on masks or presidents.

But maybe, just maybe, you can hear this.

I confess I have been fearful these past few days and tonight, as I was praying, I told God about it. He gently reminded me, “do not be anxious about anything” – Philippians 4:6. He reminded me of one of my favorite songs.

He spoke to me about his promises. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

And ended by bringing me back to the place where He is my everything. No matter who is president, no matter where we are with a pandemic, or as a country.

He is enough.

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.