Shattered and Broken

Life is complicated.

The answers that humanity gives us are often complicated too, leaving us confused, without any real sense that we’re any closer to truth. The simple platitudes and cliches we hear betray us in that, despite the temporary warmth they provide, we know there’s more. More that’s required of us, more that has to happen, more that we still aren’t understanding.

Don’t worry, be happy.

Look on the bright side.

They’re in a better place now.

God is Love.

Be Holy as I am Holy.

So many.

Granted that the last two are quotes from the Bible and so are absolutely true, they are both tossed around by people, good, well-meaning people, to say things about God and life that are absolutely not true.

Does God demand that we come to Him through the cross of Jesus Christ? That, though He is love, His holiness requires a compensation that none of us can afford?

And does His holiness require a level of holiness, perfection, spiritual enlightenment from us before He can use us, before He can really be a part of our everyday life?

I think, if we’re honest, and we say yes to the first question, we must say no to the second.

And, just so we’re clear, yes is the correct answer to the first question. Which means the payment for us was paid and we are given a choice to have a relationship with God, or not. And that choice has eternal ramifications.

But, to my point, can we ever say that we have reached a point where God can and should use us?

The best of us are shattered and broken. The stories we love to hear, the legends, often cover the humanity we are embarrassed by. And when the humanity is revealed, we become angry and disillusioned. Anything good that was done or said is destroyed, discredited.

Can we not take joy, comfort, peace, strength, boldness from knowing that God is using us, is speaking through us, is shining out of our broken and shattered lives? Can’t we silence the lies of our enemy with the truth that it is never about us, never for our glory, only about Him? His mercy. His grace. His glory.

P.S. I love this video for the song itself but also for all the long-haired, tattoo covered, weird and crazy people I see singing in honor of my King and letting me know I’m not alone.

You’ve Got My Attention

Her little eyes peeked over the edge of the table. The blueberries she loves were just within reach between the two oblivious, conversing adults. A smile lit her eyes as she quickly grabbed a handful and stuffed them in her mouth.

Then . . . she waited.

I had seen her and she knew I was watching but she wanted to make sure. I sharply (playfully) called her name. She scampered away laughing and I laughed too.

Now I always cringe when I compare my actions to God’s. After all, He is divine perfection and I’m, well, not.

Lately, I feel like God has forgotten me. I work, sleep, eat. Nothing I do seems to matter, to make an impact on the world around me. I try so hard and no one cares.

I cry out, “what do You want from me?” And no answer comes back.

Until I watched my granddaughter. I had watched when she walked over, watched when she got lower and crawled up to the table. I waited till she peeked over the table. I saw her every move. She has my attention as soon as she enters my house.

I don’t have to cry out for God’s attention.

He’s never taken His eyes off me.

Meet My Need

We hear the statistics on divorce, abuse, suicide.  Some of which I believe is augmented to support a certain message.

I’ll stop right here to state that yes there is a huge problem with these three areas.  Problems that require our prayers, our focus, our pursuit of God – the only one with power to heal.

I just question the use of data that is outdated, truncated and obtained by dubious methods.

For example, the statistic has been thrown around for years that fifty per cent of all marriages end in divorce.  When a more accurate depiction would be seen through the statistic that ninety-five per cent of all marriages end in either divorce, suicide, abuse or apathy.

A statistic I just now made up.

But I come with, not just made up statistics and seemingly, overwhelmingly hopeless agendas.  I come with a message no one wants to hear and very few will take to heart even if they hear it.

Do you really want to see your marriage healed?  Do you really want to find hope and purpose to go on living?  Do you really want to end the cycles of sexual bondage, addiction and despair?

Good!

Now you have a choice.

We are designed for two things and two things only.

Number one is that we are designed, hard-wired, programmed to be complete, fully human, whole and healed in a relationship with God Almighty.  And that relationship is ONLY possible because Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead.

If I look to any…

I’m going to say it again.

If I look to ANY human, earthly, physical, mental, spiritual resource, other than the King of Kings, Jehovah Jireh (look it up), I will lack, I will starve, I will be ruined and disappointed.

That includes my wife, my parents, my church, my work.

They cannot meet my needs.

The second truth of our design is this, we are designed to meet the needs of others.

“Whoa, wait!  You just said…”

Our perspective is SOOOOO screwed up.  We expect others to meet our needs, deep, spiritual, emotional, mental NEEDS and ignore God.  Then bypass the whole reason for us being placed on this planet.

If the only thing God wanted was a relationship with us; our praise, worship, adoration, I would argue that He would’ve been better served keeping is with Him.  But, in the act of becoming His fingers and hands, His arms and feet and heart, we truly become “like” Him, truly become “created in His image.”

Does your life suck?  Your marriage?  Your job?  Your school?  Your family?

Flip it.  Approach God as the only thing that can complete you.  Ask Him to meet your needs for love, purpose, hope, understanding, every need you have.  And then go into your day looking to meet the needs of others, a divine laying down of your life for those around you.

Guaranteed you won’t get it right.  Without a doubt you will still struggle, problems will still raise their ugly faces, life will still occur.  But don’t give up.

Give it a day and peace will be there too.  Give it a week, and joy will be easier to find.  Give it a month and the adventure begins.  Give it a year and you’ll never be the same.  Give it your life…

Well I’m still waiting on that one.

But I know it’s got to be better than the suckiness of waiting for everyone to meet my needs.

Breathe

Bitterness, fear, anger, insecurity can surround my heart at such a level that I can’t see, can’t move.

And yet I hold onto it.

I lash out at those who would try to take them from me.  My wife, my friends, my church.  My God!

Then a moment comes, an event or circumstance comes and I stop.  And I find myself in His presence. 

Nothing changed except that I just wanted to sit with Him, stay with Him.  Not to yell at Him or ask Him to change who I am or what has happened.

And I started to breathe.

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 soul, 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 is more 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?

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.

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.

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…

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.