You Owe Me

I’m sitting in a hospital room right now.  My injured son lying in a bed very close to me.

I have spent many years angry and disappointed because opportunities have been missed, people didn’t see me.  I’ve wanted to do so many things but I just never got the chance.  I’ve been angry at God and frustrated with people.

And here I sit…

Does God owe me the opportunity to demonstrate my greatness?  Ever?

Is God obligated to give me a stage?  Let me perform?  Make people listen?

I’m sitting here and wondering why I ever asked these questions.  

Does God owe me my son’s life?  Is he obligated to spare him pain and suffering?  Everything inside of me screams yes.  But I know those who have suffered much more.  I have read the stories of those who never even had a shot.

I heard a story of a woman held in slavery that got pregnant.  The pimp tightened his watch on the woman, not because he didn’t want to lose the woman.  It was because of the value of the baby to his trade.

What chance is there for this woman, this baby that is not even born yet?

And as my son lies here, bruised and broken, I realize, God doesn’t owe me anything.

My son is alive.  He is my friend.  I am safe and called to risk everything for a Savior that died for me.  I am blessed and admonished to bless others with everything I have.  I am loved and commanded to love others with my whole heart.

God doesn’t owe me a thing.  
I owe Him.

I owe Him.

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Jesus Wins

I have felt such heartbreak over things in this world.  Suffering, human trafficking, divorce, pornography, wars, racism…

How long, oh Lord?

I listened to a song yesterday.  It is one of my all-time favorites.  And I needed the reminder.

See, Jesus isn’t shocked by racism, though it breaks his heart too.  He’s not overwhelmed by the cruelty of man, our propensity for violence and our exploitation of those weaker than ourselves.  His voice is not silenced by the tumult of evil.  His light is not dimmed by the darkness on the horizon.

Remember, oh my soul, He wrote the story.  He placed the characters and set the stage.  His death on the cross culminated in His declaration that, “IT IS FINISHED.”  

So do I live from His victory or do I wonder every day whether the darkness will win.  Will satan ever be able to defeat the church of Jesus, the Holy Spirit inside us, His resurrection power?

Not even remotely!

Jesus wins, has already won.  You can bet your life on it.

Trojan Horse

Most people know the story of the Trojan Horse.  The long battle between Greece and the city of Troy that ended when Greece appeared to have abandoned the war and left the gift of a huge wooden horse.  Unknown to the Trojans, the “gift” was filled withe soldiers who, in the middle of the night, came out and destroyed the city.  It is a story of trickery, heroes, love, death.

As I came to work for the church and periodically since then, I saw myself as that horse.  What were they thinking to let someone with so much evil inside him into the building, near women and children, unsuspecting old ladies?  I hear the accuser, see him laughing and pointing.  I catch myself dwelling on the stories of others who have served and damaged so much with their lies and hidden sins.

It’s all true.

But my God!  My God!  He is The Redeemer!  He is the Healer!  He is the Mighty God!  The King of Kings!

And in His will and with His power, I am a Trojan Horse!  

No one would suspect a chubby, old man.  No one would think that a washed up, foolish, grandpa janitor would carry the life and love of Jesus Christ.  No one would think that someone like me can have the Holy Spirit of the Living God flowing through his veins and bringing Him to those that need Him so much!

HA!

But I do.

And in that way, we are all Trojan Horses.  Paul said, “we carry this treasure in earthen vessels.”  As we carry the life and love of Jesus into this broken, hurting world, we are broken and hurting.

But we are being healed.

Satan is counting on our human nature to fail, to hurt others, to be selfish and hateful.  God is counting on us to let Him live in us and through us, to love and heal, to restore and bring hope.

And today, I get to choose.  You get to choose.  What will you carry inside you?  Who will you carry into your world?

And let the enemy of God Almighty beware!

Opposite Attraction

I come to this with some fear and trembling.  So do me and your pastor and your family a favor, if you’re not going to read the whole thing, stop here.

Still with me?

Ok, good, let’s move on.

“He’s a coward,” the lie came whispering.  I was thinking about a pastor, one of my pastors, and that is what I thought.  It felt so real, so true.  I felt myself agreeing, believing it.

Now, maybe he isn’t the bravest man alive, but anybody who knows anything about the pastors at my church know that they are not cowards.  Especially when it comes to the Word of God.

So why did I think and start believing what I knew wasn’t true?  Did it make me look better, feel better about my place in life?  Or was it just from the “father of lies?”

Does it matter?

It was a lie.

What is the advantage or who gains an advantage by my belief a lie?  

We get these thoughts from time to time.  In marriage we can get them a lot.  

“He’s a bum.”

“Why did I ever marry her?”

And to these lies, and the ones like them that surround everyone I meet, I like to apply the principle of opposite attraction.

It works like this.

“That pastor is a coward.”  I pray to the opposite.  “God, I thank you for his boldness in standing for you.  I stand with him as he fearlessly lives for you.”

“Why did I marry her?”  The opposite, “thank you for bringing her into my life.”

Here’s the hard part, sometimes it isn’t actually a full out lie.  But make no mistake, a truth that leads us to hate someone is never a complete truth.

“He’s unfaithful.”

“She hates me.”

Oh precious, broken heart, be drawn to the opposite.

“Raise him up to be faithful.  I believe You are working in him to give his heart completely to You.  You are making him a man of God.”

“She is loving and blessed.  I believe You are softening her heart to love despite the hurts she has endured.  You are creating a woman of God who trusts completely in You.”

And in praying to the opposite our hearts can be drawn to the possibility of the opposite.  Our anger and fear dissipate in the presence of the God who says, “all things are possible.”  Our trust is placed in the only one we should ever completely place it in.  And the noise of all the lies diminishes.

Turmoil is replaced by peace.  Depression is replaced by power.

Hate is replaced by love.  

I Have A Request

i return to Nicaraugua in a couple of weeks.  There are many needs that are weighing on us as we get ready to go.  We are looking to change the nation, not just do a missions trip.  We want others to follow Jesus but we also want to do practical things to make their lives better.

And you can help.

Please go to missions.me/projects and consider how you could join with us to bring joy and life to these hurting people.

Thank you.

Unseen

I work as a custodian for my church.  It is giving me a unique perspective on humanity and the God who loves me.

A good worker looks for places that no one sees and cleans them too.  They know that even if a guest comes in they will feel and possibly smell the hidden dirty places.

That is so much like our lives.  And reveals so much about our King.

He is THE KING, but He is also a good janitor.

We have so many dirty places.  Shame and fear, brokenness and discouragement, guilt and addiction often hiding beneath the chrome and porcelain coverings of church and religion.  We don’t want the Holy one to see, to touch the stains and decay of what we have hidden.  We wish He’d just stay off in His lofty temple, just be a statue on the wall.

But I see Him differently now.

I see Him pulling on some jeans, taking out a wrench, a screwdriver, a scraper and a rag.  He turns His cap backward and gets down on the floor beside me and my mess.

And if I let Him, oh if I just let Him, He pulls off the covers, exposes the dirt and urine and feces that I have held so close to my heart and He cleans me.  He scrapes away the build up of years, washes me with His tears and with His blood.

The KING, the righteous, holy King of Kings, washes me clean and I am free.

He wants to.  He loves to do that for us, in us.  It returns us to what He made us for in the first place.

And for us, we must let go of our pride and self-sufficiency.  We will have to show Him things that we like but we know He doesn’t.  We will have to let Him remove the things that are killing us, heart and soul, body and spirit.  And we will have to let Him make us live again.

Some of you know what I’m talking about, the slow, pervasive suicide we call our existence.

It will have to go.

But try to imagine being alive, truly alive.  Mornings that you don’t dread, challenges you don’t fear, people that you pour into rather than protect yourself from, running, flying rather than limping and crawling through each day.

That is what can happen when you let Him in.

He sees the unseen.  

Just let Him in.

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.