I Quit

I quit my job last week.  I still don’t have a job.  We have no money (well, very little).  I have only sent out one application for a job that I might not get.

This is a picture that I would not want to paint for anyone, and certainly did not want to paint for myself.

Everything is wrong except the part where I tell God that I’ll obey Him.  Now it has taken me a while to obey Him, but I did it in the end.

I tried to work up an emotional frenzy to decide to obey.  I became angry and bitter, largely because I wanted an easier path to obedience.  I wanted assurances that obedience wouldn’t cost me more than I could afford, or that there would be a payoff I could see before I chose to obey.

Yeah, faith in God doesn’t work that way.

I knew the stories of the priests stepping into the raging Jordan River, the worshipers, not the soldiers, that lead the charge into battle, Ananias going to meet with the murderous Saul of Tarsus.  But I really wanted an easier path, one with less risk involved.

In the middle of it, when I am experiencing the turmoil of fears and a peace that is beyond understanding, do I get to see God.  Worship is different and has taken on new meaning, and that is good.

I don’t want my praise, my prayers to be lying platitudes to a God I don’t believe in.

I want to fly.

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The Weight of the World

I deal with depression from time to time.  Things don’t always seem to go the way I want them to.  It can feel so heavy as to be unbearable.  I remember the times that taking my life was a better alternative than facing one more day.

I have looked at Jesus.  I have scoffed at the verse that says he was tempted in the same way I am tempted.  He never knew failure.  He never knew guilt and shame.  And because of this, I minimized his sacrifice on the cross.

He died.  Many people during the Roman occupation died, suffering for longer than Jesus did.  They were beaten too, mocked, humiliated.  It becomes a common theme when a ruling force ceases to value life, to respect something other.

I have looked at it differently this year.  God has been teaching me.

I know what it feels like to be rejected for a job, a ministry position, a loved one.  He knew the rejection of every person he had come to save.  They didn’t want him.

I know shame and failure from my own sin.  He knew the shame and failure of being the King of Creation and being nailed to that cross.  At some moment, though he knows all things, must have hoped that his love, his miraculous power, his wisdom and grace should have been enough to reach the world.  But it wasn’t.  His closest friends denied him.

And then I think about the weight of what I carry, the burdens I carry.  Then I multiply by the number of people living right now and add that to those that lived before, knowing that I am not alone in what crushes me.  And in that moment on the cross, I see him lifting that weight.  Not just the weight of the crossbeam of the cross but the weight of guilt and shame, the weight of failure and sin, the weight of hatred and lust and fear and every sin under the sun.

I see my Hero standing up under what would crush the rest of us.  And not only did he lift it once, he carried it and HE DEFEATED IT!!!

Amazing, truly awesome!

He did it all to set us free from it.  No one could do what He did.  I can not loose the chains that have bound me.  But He can, He did.

I don’t even know what the proper, appropriate response to this should be.  My singing, my dancing, my bended knees, my clapping and every note I could ever play, my life is not enough.

I will give it anyway.  It is all that I have.

One Day

I had a good day yesterday.  The day before pretty much sucked.

Yesterday ended with worship, standing strong, knowing the goodness of God and His faithfulness to me.

The day before, I just felt so lost.

So today….

Yeah today.

Paul said it a great way, ” 12  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3)

“Forgetting what is behind..”

I had a bad day.  Forget it.

I had a good day.  Forget it.

Do you know what I have right now?  I have one day, one moment.  The moment I am living in right this second.  I can become discouraged my the days and moments I’ve lost in this war.  I can become conceited, self-confident because of the moments I’ve won.  I have only this moment right now.

What will I do with it?

That’s the big question isn’t it.  What will I do with each moment that God gives me?  Because, in case you didn’t know, if you aren’t dead, God hasn’t given up on you.

And, I’ll let you in on a secret religion keeps from you.

God is excited about the time you have left.  He can see what a life lived for Him will be like.  He already knows the joy that can be yours as you give Him each moment, as you live each second seeking His face, wanting to spend one more minute with Him.  He can’t wait to spend a day with you.

He’s not concerned with what happened to you, how you failed, the weights that you carry.  He’s just ecstatic that you have stopped long enough to listen, to hope that He is there, to believe that He loves you.

See, it’s in that moment that He comes rushing in.  It’s in the moment that we give to Him that we find Him.

Yesterday was good.  The day before sucked.  Today…

I have today.

 

Grateful

Life has been interesting for the past several months.  And I just have not been able to write.  Several times I have been inspired but couldn’t get myself to face the keys.  I have concentrated on the difficulties and ran the risk of missing so many blessings, not least of which is the arrival of my twin granddaughters, Anna and Rebecca.

So, today I was thinking about the children of Israel.  Well, ok.  I was thinking about Paul and reading in Philippians.  Paul is in prison and makes the statement, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

I contrast this with the Israelites who have just been delivered from the hand of Egypt.  They are finally free and they respond with complaining and demands.  I get the one about water a little bit.  I mean they’re in a desert.  But demanding food, complaining about starving, hold on a second.

This is an agrarian society.  They raised animals and had throughout the history of the nation.  They had stripped the Egyptians of their wealth and taken their flocks with them.  But all they could see was what they didn’t have.  They wanted their cake and eat it too.

I can hear their hearts.  “What if I get to where we’re going and have nothing left?  What if something happens, gotta’ prepare for the worst?  I don’t have near as much as they do, so I’ve got to save all I can.”

Sounds like insurance sales.

I have to hoard.  I have to protect.  I have to prepare for contingencies.

Fear, unbelief, selfishness.  A Jedi craves not these things.

Wait…. What?

I mean a Christian craves not these things.

We serve a lavish God.  We serve a God that blesses greatly.  He loves us so much that he bankrupted heaven to redeem us.

Paul says in Romans 8 that, “if God is for us, who can stand against us?”  And the greatest prize is something no one can take away.  “Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”

I have been so ungrateful, so bitter and fearful.

But, God is good!  Oh so good!  Help me see it Lord.

Unknown

Sometimes, as I write, I think of the audacity that is evident.  That someone like me could attempt to express God in any terms, to think that my intellect, my words could simplify Him, make Him more approachable.

That would be my goal in writing.  Whether it is a novel or this blog, my hope and prayer would be that something I say would help you see Him more clearly and know how much He loves you.

But, it can be difficult to put God into terms that any of us can really grasp.  I mean, He’s eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, pure love, absolutely Holy!  All things that our humanity can only catch glimpses of.

And, the reality is, I’m a mess.  As I face daily struggles, much of it stems from the fact that I don’t understand Him.  I don’t believe that He is for me, not against me.  He is my amazing father, my King of kings, my Savior.

And so I come to you, hoping that I will help you see what I can’t see, help you know what can’t be known.

Funny.

But that is the pursuit of the Christian.  To seek Him, to know Him, to believe Him and what He says, even though we are hindered at every step.  So much like marriage.

I love my wife and she loves me.  I am male and she is female.  Nothing about me makes me capable of really knowing and understanding her.  But should I accept that and become complacent, I lose her.  That I won’t do.

So, I will pursue You, Lord.  Though I don’t understand and can’t wrap my head around You, I will continue to try.  Simply because in that pursuit, I find You and walk closer to Your side.

Self control

I’ve been thinking about the fruit of the spirit lately.  Is it shown in my life, my heart?  Do I show the evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control?

Hmmmmm…..

I question my self on all of them.  People tell me that I show love, peace, kindness, faithfulness.  But shoot, only in baseball would that be a decent percentage.  Sometimes, I see evidence of joy, goodness, self-control.  Well, self-control is almost never.

I tend to be one that does whatever, says whatever comes to mind and most of the time it is in the face of reason and good sense.

I see others like me but wow, what is the deal with the lack of control?

Then there is the opposite extreme, those who are extremely self-controlled.  They do not let anything get beyond their  control.  If they don’t see a way through, they just won’t go.  If they are not assured of a predictable outcome, they will not move.

I don’t think that was what Paul was talking about in Galatians.

Can I just start with saying, “God I’m struggling.”  I need more self control.  In the battle of life, I can choose to obey, choose to yield my heart.

But, the truth is, I don’t see it.  Even Paul, the apostle said, the good that he wanted to do, he didn’t do.  The “law of sin” working in me.

I think I’ll submit myself to you.  I think I’ll let you be in control.  I’ll obey when you speak.  I think I’ll worry less about being the perfect Christian and trust my life to the perfect Christ.

And, maybe in my heart being yielded, I’ll find the strength to be something that shows my Lord and Savior.

I’m Angry

Oh, we’re all so angry right now.

Trump lovers hate Hillary lovers.  Hillary lovers hate Trump.

We’ve seen this before you know.  Whites hate blacks.  Blacks hate whites.

And we let the hatred fly.

Now we have social media, the press, e-mails, texts, all to let everyone know just how pissed off we are.  We name call and blame, stereotype and vilify.  We are making our point, letting our voice be heard about the injustice of life.

Before it’s too late.  With all my heart I want you to hear, before it’s too late.  We have become a part of the machine of lies.

Trump is not the villain of this story, neither is Hillary.  They are part of all of us.  The power that they wield is limited.  The power that we wield is greater.

Love your neighbor.

It doesn’t matter who they voted for, or if they even voted.  It doesn’t matter what color their skin is or their sexual orientation or their views on ANYTHING!  We are commanded to love them.  COMMANDED!

That means you allow them to say what they want and then respond with love.  It means we see who they are, sin, faults, good and bad, and love them.

And hopefully they will love us too.  Because if they don’t, we get to pick up our cross and follow Him to Calvary.  We get to lay down our lives for another, unworthy soul.  Just like mine.

A hint:  that’s where we’re headed no matter what they choose.