Bring On The War

If you are looking for who is behind the rebellion, look no further.  Who is against the deterioration of our freedoms.  We’re right here.

See we believe in a GOD who heals us, who saves us, protects us.  We don’t fear disease, governments, vaccines or ANYTHING!  we know who has redeemed us, who holds us in the palm of HIS hand.  The reality is we are beyond your touch.

Does this sound like arrogance?

It’s not.

We know our failings, our weakness, our brokenness. We celebrate it. Because we know who saves us, who heals us and holds us.

We are fearless!

We are CHRISTIANS!

Naked

Do you ever laugh at yourself?  I do.

Today, as I got out of the shower, I thought about the day ahead and wanted to prepare myself.  As I usually do, I went through putting on the armor of God, and then chuckled.  There I was with nothing on except the armor of God.

Ah, but isn’t that how it should be?

My t-shirt will not clothe me in His righteousness.  My sneakers will not carry His gospel to my broken world.  My sweat-shirt will stop no fiery darts of the enemy.

And, spiritually speaking, my clothes are not worthy of consideration.  Even if I was dressed in battle fatigues with flak-vest and kevlar helmet, it would not protect me in the realm where I do daily battle.  But satan and his forces quake before a man (or woman) of God clothed in righteousness, armed with God’s word, shielded by faith.

And God notices too.  If I was dressed in Armani, He could not send me where He needs me.  But, armed and ready, He can send me anywhere.

Just so no one gets worried.  I did put clothes on, too.

Worlds Collide

She would rather not be noticed by anyone. She doesn’t seek accolades, recognition, or anything beyond the knowledge that she serves. She is so uncomfortable with eyes focusing on her that she avoids the front of a room.

He is not the same.

He thinks it is nice to be noticed but he doesn’t care if you see him or not. He will speak out in a crowd (sometimes quite loudly) without thought for whether the crowd is bothered by him or not. He intentionally seeks the front because that is where the “action” is.

And that is just one of the issues that has made our married life so interesting. She still cringes every time I open my mouth. It bothers her. I would rather speak out, be involved, play the game, than sit in the bleachers.

We drive each other crazy.

I hear a lot today about people separating because they have issues. “I just need time to myself so I can work on me.” I will probably offend some counsellors or psychiatrists, but I disagree with this. First of all, I don’t see it in scripture. Second, my experience has taught me that if left to myself, I won’t change. The issues I really struggle with can be buried, medicated, glossed over in every environment except marriage.

I look back over my life sometimes and think how good a Christian I seemed to be before I got married. I think of the evil that has come out over the years we’ve shared together, and I do mean evil, wicked, selfish sin. I would never have grown past myself without this woman that challenges everything I say, every thought I hold dear. Some people, some Christians, over the years have said we shouldn’t have to deal with the pain the other one has caused. No one should have to put up with someone acting that way. But God was there and we stayed together.

Proverbs talks about “Iron sharpening iron.” And we think that is some interesting metaphor for exhorting one another. But, it is actually talking about two rough, brittle pieces of metal that smash into each other, knocking off the dull places, the burs and the rusted spots. It is talking about friction that heats the metal, that goes against the expected norms.

Seinfeld fans will remember the episode when George didn’t want his girlfriend hanging out with his friends. “Worlds collide,” he shouted. But that is marriage, that is friendship.

That is life.

“Without delay he called them…”

This is only a small part of what Mark 1 talks about but it jumped out at me.  It could be worded another way, “Without hesitation, he called them.”

I often wonder why God picked me.  I know that, right now, I’m writing.  I’m speaking out for Him, sharing LIFE with others.  But, I’ve spent most of my walk with Him just being a punk.  When He first called me, I fought Him tooth and nail, cussing at Him, telling Him “no”.  And now, by the age of fifty-one and in the world’s eyes, I’m past my prime.  I should be thinking about retirement, taking it easy and dying.  I shouldn’t even be trying to minister, that’s a younger man’s game.  And, I’ve been told, no one wants me at this point.

Maybe you’re hearing those types of words too.  “You’re divorced.  God doesn’t use divorced people.”  You’ve been in jail, God can’t use you.  You aren’t a virgin.  You aren’t smart.  You aren’t pretty.  You aren’t successful.  You have no money.  The list goes on and on.

And yet you are a christian.  You have put your faith is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  And though you get afraid sometimes, you believe that God loves you and you trust Him.

Do you know that God did not look at you and wonder whether you would be worth the monumental investment He was about to put into you?  Do you know that God looked at you and without hesitation said, “This one is MINE!”  Do you realize that He sees your end from the beginning and knew everything about you before it ever occurred and still chose you to be His child?

Yeah, I need reminded too.

Bitterness of the Soul

Anger seems to be such a default response in me.  Consequently, I deal with depression, fear, anxiety, addiction.  They go hand in hand.  I constantly battle with bitterness.

I am no longer charming, or young.  I never was tall or good looking.  I’ve never been able to “sell” myself.  I have ear rings and a tattoo mainly for one reason.  I wanted to shout to the world, “accept me for me, not for what you want me to be.”  And have, for most of my life, dealt with the subsequent rejection that ensued.  See, I was the black sheep of my family, always in trouble.  In church, I was the one who asked too many questions, raised too many doubts, didn’t take things by faith.  In school, I didn’t accept authority just because of their position.  Respect was something you earned from me.  Friendship, trust, were things that were not given to many.  What seems so laughable to me is that I was accepted by many, part of many groups,  but always as one on the fringes.  I was a jock but not one that excelled, in the clique but not.   I was a brain but of lesser intelligence.  I was a druggie that no one ever saw take drugs.   I was on the fringes but too close to the cliques to be a real part of the fringe element too.  Friends with everyone but friends with no one all at the same time.

So much bitterness has come from this, and I think I was not alone in this.  I turn that bitterness on God.  Every lost opportunity, every chance that I didn’t take, was because He wouldn’t let me in.  “Yes, you can be a Christian, but I can’t really use you for anything great.  You just don’t fit the mold.”

Now, the reality is that many who are in leadership are looking for a type.  Young, charismatic, super-talented, years of experience wrapped up in someone who just graduated.  I had been told that, even at the age of 30, I was too old.  Now, some 21 years later, I am done for sure and no one will even listen to me.  I have been told that, should I take a more public role, it would actually hurt the efforts to attract the younger crowd.  Statistics are quoted, there is documented evidence.

And with all that, I can’t walk away.

See, the God that I serve doesn’t look on the outside.  He looks at my heart.  He sees past all the anger and fear and calls me to walk with Him.  And He isn’t done with me yet.  Amazingly, He is still in the business of using me even though I fight Him so much.  He knows my issues and has decided that I shouldn’t be tossed, I have a purpose in His kingdom.  I can’t fathom this because I have actually made a pretty concerted effort to get Him to reject me too.  Bitterness does that.

He just continues to love me, to heal my brokenness, to hold me to Himself.

I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I have a feeling that there are many, many people who feel the way I do.

Bitterness be gone.  I’m choosing to trust….and rest.

Be The Man!

 

Who wears the pants in your family?

 

It’s easy to look at life, at your job or ministry, your family, and question what is going on.  I spend so much of my time asking God why something is happening and what it means for my future.  I want to be happy and fulfilled in what I do.  I want to be a man of faith, a good husband, a loving father.  My family should see me as a voice of truth and reason in this crazy world we live in.

 

But all the while there is this dark undercurrent that I share with so few.  I am a failure.  I can’t do things right.  I am stupid and a disappointment to myself and my King.  He gifted me with so much and all I can do is complain, not trusting Him with everything I know that He is always good.

 

So the cycle continues, dominated by fear and anger, I push others away.  I want something so badly that I lose sight of others, I lose sight of God.  And in those moments of blindedness, I fall, I lose, I hate.

 

So what is the answer?  Is there an answer?

 

This is what I think.  My priorities are screwed up.  When I lose focus it is conjoined to putting good things above God things.  And what are the God things?  Number one is my wife.  Then comes my family.  This is not a cliche.  This is not a marriage seminar.  This is just reality.  Are things out of wack?  Then I’m not putting God first and His priorities are not defining my priorities.  And for all you pastors, leaders, ministers, deacons and elders, God does not care what you are doing as much as who you are loving.  God doesn’t care how big your church is as much as He cares about you cherishing the woman He gave you to walk through life with.

 

So be the man.  Lay your life down.  Sacrifice your life.  Give up your will, your plans, your dreams.  Trust in the God who knows you and holds you in His almighty hands.

I’m talking to you, bitter worshipper.  And God, I’m talking to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be The Man!

 

Who wears the pants in your family?

 

It’s easy to look at life, at your job or ministry, your family, and question what is going on.  I spend so much of my time asking God why something is happening and what it means for my future.  I want to be happy and fulfilled in what I do.  I want to be a man of faith, a good husband, a loving father.  My family should see me as a voice of truth and reason in this crazy world we live in.

 

But all the while there is this dark undercurrent that I share with so few.  I am a failure.  I can’t do things right.  I am stupid and a disappointment to myself and my King.  He gifted me with so much and all I can do is complain, not trusting Him with everything I know that He is always good.

 

So the cycle continues, dominated by fear and anger, I push others away.  I want something so badly that I lose sight of others, I lose sight of God.  And in those moments of blindedness, I fall, I lose, I hate.

 

So what is the answer?  Is there an answer?

 

This is what I think.  My priorities are screwed up.  When I lose focus it is conjoined to putting good things above God things.  And what are the God things?  Number one is my wife.  Then comes my family.  This is not a cliche.  This is not a marriage seminar.  This is just reality.  Are things out of wack?  Then I’m not putting God first and His priorities are not defining my priorities.  And for all you pastors, leaders, ministers, deacons and elders, God does not care what you are doing as much as who you are loving.  God doesn’t care how big your church is as much as He cares about you cherishing the woman He gave you to walk through life with.

 

So be the man.  Lay your life down.  Sacrifice your life.  Give up your will, your plans, your dreams.  Trust in the God who knows you and holds you in His almighty hands.

I’m talking to you, bitter worshipper.  And God, I’m talking to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Away

“It’s like a marriage.”  She looked at me and said, “sometimes you just need to get away from each other.”

At the time I was neither married nor given in marriage and my prospects looked dim but somehow what she said sounded so wrong.  For me, the idea of once getting a wife seemed so amazing that I thought I’d never let her out of my sight.  Why would you willingly choose to spend time away from your hearts desire, the love of your life?  It was akin to saying, “I just need some time away from my brain.”  Now after 23 years of marriage, I think I’m right.

But, of course, she was talking about time away from God.  Her attempt was to logically explain why sin is so important to the believers continued relationship with God.  The idea being that as we take time away from God to do our own thing, to “live a little,” it makes the disciplines and rigors of Christianity more bearable, more attainable.  It makes me shudder to think of what married life turned out to be for this person (she wasn’t married at the time either). 

But we all fall into this mentality from time to time.  If I just do this one sin, this one, “going my own way,” then I’ll feel better, calm down enough to stand for Jesus.  “I just can’t take anymore of this temptation.  If I give in this one time, that will get Satan and my flesh off my back and they won’t bother me anymore.” 

I know you’ve never put it in those terms.  I haven’t either but my actions reveal the truth.

But there was a nugget in what she said.  Our relationship with Jesus is like a marriage.  And just like a marriage we don’t need time away FROM our spouse, we need time away WITH our spouse.  We need daily time to talk over what is happening, to plan for what is coming, to pay the bills and talk about the kids.  We need time to tell them how beautiful they still are and how much we still care.  They need to know that we would give up everything for them, lay down our lives for them.  And we need to hear what they have to say, to know their heart, their mind, get reconnected.

Doesn’t happen by chance.  Doesn’t happen easily or naturally for most of us.  We have to make it happen.  Want it bad enough that we make it happen.  Everyday.

The Power of Love (part 2)

The reality of love is something so much greater than we allow it to be.  We say that love sees us values us for who we are.  This is so true, but it is incomplete.  God’s love also sees us for what we can be.  It is why he sees an addict and places things in their way, problems and blessings, to set them free.  It is why the issue of homosexuality is dealt with so harshly in scripture.  It is why sin required the sacrifice of the cross.

The adulterous man cheating on his wife, abandoning his children does not need accepted where he is.  The angry, hateful child does not need understood.  The alcoholic does not need genetic engineering to rid him of his curse.  We excuse and justify, demeaning righteousness to compensate for our weaknesses.  We placate and seek narcotics or a vast array of chemical alterations to change who we are and why we act the way we do.

God seeks to set us free.

It is sad and strange that we dress Him in the aspect of one who would keep us bound to rules and edicts.  It is sacriledge to think that He wants us to be something other than who we truly are.  Remember that “it is He who made us” – He is the designer of us and we were made with particular skills, purposes, innovations that are unique to us.  We are not copies of our parents (nor photo negatives).  And we are certainly not defined by our weaknesses, addictions, sexual tendencies or anger management issues.

Love looks at the object of its love with the ability to see past the scratches and dents, the rust and dirt, the chipped paint of the walls that we build around our hearts.  These walls that tell us what we can and can’t be.  It looks on the inside and seeks to draw us out into the light of itself where anything is possible and we show the glory of our Artist.

Let’s take a walk

I became a Christian when I was sixteen years old and in my exuberance told my Savior that I would do ANYTHING He wanted.  I first went to serve at a summer camp (Miracle Mountain Ranch – great place for kids) where I worked as a “Cowboy” leading trail rides and helping with horsemanship classes.  All well and good but I wanted to do “ministry”.  “I’m willing to do anything,” I would say over and over in my prayers.  “Can you lead a chapel service for the kids?”  I was asked by the person in charge.  “I guess so,” came the obligatory, unimpassioned response.  So with half my heart and 15 minutes of free time I plagiarized something for the kids.  I spoke to them as one who knew all and as one who would impart my wisdom to them.

Can you say bomb?  Catastrophe?

Well yeah….This is not what God “called” me to do.  I’m no good at dealing with little kids and they don’t “get” my level of wisdom and understanding.  The audacity of a prideful 16 year old.

I would not get many opportunities to preach to my equals in the life I have lived.  God just kept shoving me into things with kids.  And every time I considered it a waste of my time and talents.

I am so ashamed to document this for any to see.  Thank You for Your grace on mercy on me.  What I wasted were the opportunities to share Your love and life with so many precious people.

But You never gave up on me.

You never gave up.