Promises, Promises

Do we ever stand amazed by the fact that God promises us.  Not amazed by what He promises but by the simple fact that He promises.  And He is true to His promises.

I’m not sure we get it, and this may offend some people, but God doesn’t owe us a thing.

I watched a movie that portrayed the gods of Olympus as needing our prayers, our worship.  Without our recognition, the gods decay, grow old and lose their power.

It is not this way with my God.

If I pray to Him, I join myself to His will.  If I don’t pray, only I lose His blessing, His purpose in my life, He is unchanged.  If I sing, if I worship, He is glorified in my life, but His character, His person remains unaltered.

So, why does He promise?  Why does He say that He has blessings and hope for my life?  He could say nothing, let what He has done, on the cross and throughout creation, be enough.  But for Him, it is not enough.

What a Father, a daddy, we live for?  He wants us to know that we can depend on Him, that His thoughts are for our favor.  All because He loves us.  All because we are His children.  He promises to prove His strength, His almighty power in our lives.  He promises to prove Himself to us.

He didn’t have to.  He didn’t need to.  Oh, but I’m glad He did.

You are not Abandonned

alone_child_and_door
alone_child_and_door (Photo credit: Simone Dall’Angelo)

The once joyful, smiling little boy sat by himself in the room.  His tears would not fall anymore though the loneliness, the utter, desperate loneliness was a palpable wave.  It roared over him, surrounded him, crushed him beneath its suffocating weight.  Daddy would not be coming home anymore.

 

She was a beautiful bride.  Their smiles, their kisses, the warmth and joy they had felt seemed inexhaustible.  Children had blessed their home and life had moved on but there wTas love, so much love.  She had known that things weren’t great, harsh words, tempers, problems.  But it had not prepared her for his words.  “I’m leaving.”  The other woman, the lies, the betrayal sent her reeling into an abyss that had no bottom, the hole she fell into closed also.

 

The old man lay in bed, a confusion of tubes, beeping monitors and smells that assaulted his senses and further disoriented his feeble hold on reality.  He had been strong.  He had worked hard and provided.  He had been a father, a husband, a friend.  Now, his only companions rolled him over, spoke in harsh tones, complained over his accidents (a humiliation beyond description) and then left him too.  Where was everyone?  Where was God?

 

I have no answers to these all too common issues.  I could say that Jesus is the answer, which is true.  But it is false, just the same.  “Jesus will take away your pain.  He will heal you.”  True but lying in its intent.  “He will not put you through more than you can bear,” quoted from scripture but so deceitful in real life.  

 

Lay down your stones.  I am not a heretic.

 

We make the truths of scripture, of life, a lie when we look at those truths as quick fixes, easy answers.  Jesus does heal but it takes time, and faith.  It is often a process where further pain is revealed.  And what we can bear depends greatly on your perspective.  It is also a function of failure and further attempts, unbearable initially, bearable upon revisitation.  

 

We want the preacher to give a message that sends us home, patched up, ready to face the world.  We want the show to make us feel better, good again.  We want the miracles, the lottery, the breakthrough that makes our problems go away.  And often they exist to cloud the reality of our journey.

 

You are not abandoned.  God is there.  Jesus did die to heal you of all your hurts and fears.  But we must walk with Him.  If it takes yelling and cussing, do it.  HE WILL NOT ABANDON YOU!  If it takes opening your heart up again, do it.  HE WILL NOT ABANDON YOU!  You will be hurt again.  You will feel pain.  Feel it.  Know that you are alive.  You are not abandoned.

 

In the end, and along the way, as you hold on to Him.  You will see that He is good.  His love really does endure forever.  And you were not, are not alone.

 

Click on the link to check out my book:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384362

 

The Courthouse

We stand in a court where all are condemned.  We stand before a judge who sees every motive, every flaw, every lie, every pretense.  There is no jury of our peers, no technicality or loophole.  We have no defense for we know as we enter, if we’re truthful with ourselves, that before a Holy, Righteous God, that we will never be good enough.  Our best days, best thoughts, greatest triumphs are written on toilet paper when compared to Him.

But just before the gavel falls, we hear the simple words, “Father, this one is mine.”

It just stops me when I know this truth.  I know I will write, but I sense my unworthiness, how very unfit I am, to attempt to express what this means.

“This one is mine.”

Hebrews talks about Jesus, “Who, for the JOY set before Him, endured the cross…”  Not to go beyond scripture, but we should realize that He endured more than the cross.  He left heaven, the throne room of His Father, to come to earth as a baby.  He endured a life of hard work and discipline under the hand of a human father and mother, where kids could bully Him and tease, the indignity of colds, viruses, disease, and crushed fingers may have touched Him.  But he endured.  He had a goal, a prize to win.

And that prize was us.  Me!  You!

He considered us worth it and He still does.

We go through life wondering where He is in this mess, questioning what He will do to help us through our misery.  We see the hurts of this world and the brokenness that pervades everything human and wonder how long He will allow it.  But these are the wrong questions to ask.

He set us free, released us from a life of condemnation.  The question should be how long are we going to allow the brokenness, the misery.  How long will we wait before we realize that there is an answer to every need, a victory for every defeat.

He cried, “IT IS FINISHED!”  And, for Him, it is.

Serving You (Guest Blog)

English: Green, green grass at Damhead
English: Green, green grass at Damhead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon waking, you are what captures my heart, amidst the numerous distractions vying for a moment of my time. Reaching through this menagerie, your love takes me to a place where tall green grass bends softly in the wind. And as my child like innocence runs toward you, dances does my heart at the thought of serving You… this day.  Sharon Brooks http://www.arevivaloftheheart.com/

My fellow blogger has such a poetic way of sharing things that I thought I would post this comment for others to see.  It is my honor and joy to serve Jesus with everything that I do.

Does It Matter?

English: The symbol for chemical equilibrium
English: The symbol for chemical equilibrium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can I believe what I want to about Jesus?  Can I make Him my own?  Does it really matter how or what I believe, as long as I am sincere?

I think it does.

In the human body, in cells, in life there are things that create what I call a dynamic equilibrium.  Electrolytes, proteins, fluid, oxygen, and many other things are constantly flowing in and out of cells.  Too much pressure on bones and they break, no pressure and they atrophy.  Nutritive intake is a balance needing levels of salt, sugars, proteins, fats and a wide variety of micronutrients.  An excess of any one part of this creates an unhealthy organism.  Too much exercise is bad, too little is bad.  Fun without discipline has adverse effects, as does discipline without fun.

What does this have to do with beliefs about Jesus?  What is the dynamic equilibrium where God is concerned?

We know God is love but is that all we need to know about Him?  He is holy.  He is truth.  He is so many things that if looked at broadly shows a perfect tension that must be maintained for us to have an accurate idea of our King.  He is sovereign but He allows free will.  He intervenes in humanity and yet allows evil to continue.  He lives inside us but is too big for the universe to contain.

I spend time enjoying certain attributes of God, tasting certain evidences of His goodness.  But He is more.

And though I can never fully KNOW Him, it matters to me and to Him that I know Him well.

Consider the Following

People
People (Photo credit: Viewminder)

1.  My thoughts, my actions, my replies, my joys, my hurts, do they mirror my Jesus or my world?  Next time you see something bad happening, something you react strongly to, consider your response and see if it looks and sounds like Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Lake
Mountain Lake (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

2.  Despite what political pundits, doomsayers, rebels and rappers say, what do you see when you look at the world?  I’m not a pollyanna.  I don’t believe in the “power of positive thinking.”  But, I do believe in a God who is King of kings and Lord of Lords.  He is not thwarted by bombs or laws.  He remains unchanged despite all human agendas and natural catastrophes.  He does not bow to the greatest leaders of any era or bear the commands of any power in the universe.  But, they do bow to Him.  And He is good.  HE IS GOOD!  His love endures forever.  He can be trusted.  And He has put so many beautiful things here for us.  Do I see them?  Am I even looking for them?

 

 

Cross & Clouds
Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

3.  When things go wrong, when I fail, when all seems lost, where do you run?  And, I do mean run, move quickly, pursue without a thought for the consequences or repercussions.  We all run somewhere.  Alcohol, romance, pornography, work, music, drugs, church, Jesus, gods, Satan, hate, bitterness, the list goes on.  All places to run to where we demand, we make proclamations, we decide the outcome.  Oh yes, you can run to Jesus with the idea of Him making you feel better.  You can go to church to get your fix of feel good. What we are called to is the cross.  We are told to bring everything, our desires, our hopes and dreams, our failings, our lives and lay them at His feet, lay them at His cross.  “I am crucified with Christ and I know longer live…”  A shout of triumph over all that would hold us, all that would enslave us.  But we seldom go there when we feel lost and defeated.  We rarely look to that serpent lifted up when the poison of this life has entered our veins.  But we can.  We must.

 

 

“Daybreak” by Matthew Hawkins is available at smashwords.com.  Click on this link to learn more and to order:

 

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384362

 

 

I’m So Amazed

I’m so amazed by your mercy

I’m so amazed by your love

I’m so amazed that you came down on Christmas Day

I’m so amazed by your greatness

That You gave it up for me

I’m so amazed that you came down on Christmas Day

God’s Word that made the stars in the heavens

Became a child one Holy night

Let go His father’s hand

To reach for everyone

So they could finally be alive

 

There’s more to this but didn’t want to plug my own poetry.

 

I wanted to write a song to explain what I thought of Jesus and the audacity it took for him to lay aside his position in heaven to rescue us.  I wanted to express, somehow, an appreciation for what we treat with ignorance and contempt so much of the time.  Words are so inadequate.  Our hearts, our minds can’t wrap themselves around what took place.

We are coming up on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Our hearts can be so caught up in trappings, in dealing with family, in buying and preparing, and rushing.  Every year we hear the words, see the movies, read the stories.  Can we forget everything, if only for a few minutes each day, and focus our attention on Jesus, who left it all for us?  Can we take a deep breath and listen for His voice, His heart?

 

Thank You daddy for the words and melody for a song.  Thank you so much more for what can’t be explained.  Thank You Jesus.  My Hero, my King.

English: "Do you recognize Jesus?" i...
English: “Do you recognize Jesus?” is a collage that I made from oil pastel portraits which I drew in Chicago in the summer and fall of 2010. It can be folded in three and used as a Christmas card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)   

 

 

 

Blessings

It was a blessing to get up this morning.  I am blessed to be at work, to earn a paycheck.  I am blessed to have a loving Father who patiently leads me through life, walking with me, correcting me, moving me closer to His heart.  I am blessed with a strong, loving wife, children who I am proud to call mine.  I am exceedingly blessed to play and sing with the wonderful musicians at my church.

According to Glen Packiam, another translation of the word blessed is lucky (he wrote a whole book on the subject that is well worth reading).  So, I’m lucky when my wife disagrees with me.  I’m lucky when my kids think I’m a dope.  I’m lucky to deal with bosses, crazy monkeys, no raises, threats of unemployment, offensive smells, rat bites, and fatigue.

Now, in case you think I’m being sarcastic, I’m not.  God’s blessings are not how we would wrap them.  They don’t come in comfy, cozy, brightly colored packaging.  Sometimes they hurt.  Sometimes they cut.  Sometimes they make us angry, frustrating us to distraction.  His blessings are for our good, not our happiness.  His blessings make us better with the intent of us being better for other people (not just ourselves).  His blessings teach us, grow us, make us warriors and priests.  His blessings raise us up to a high calling.

Would I trade His blessings for ones of my choosing?  The height of folly.  Would I willingly walk away from His life for the good that this world, that I would offer?  A frightening thought, for I know my propensity to say yes to this question.

No, Lord.  I would choose You.  I would lay down all I want to gain You.

Bless me, once again, as only You can.

Charge!

I am tired.  Overly so.

I’ve been sick for the past  week and a half.  I still am working 50+ hours a week.  Worship was great this past weekend but also exhausting.  I am “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”

Now it feels a bit melodramatic for me to quote this concerning my life of relative ease, but I’m feeling it.  Family, finances, future are huge concerns that seem to weigh on me every day.

And I know I’m not alone.  Many people wonder what is going to happen next, politically, in the world, at schools and jobs.  No one is exempt from wondering how everything is going to get paid for.  And, every family has their nut cases.  Now you’d think that I wouldn’t be worried about that one, since I’m the nut case but imagine the pressure I must feel in trying to protect and guide my children away from my socioneuropathy (I made that word up I think).

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

We don’t lose heart.  No matter what happens to our outward body, Jesus, as we fix our eyes on Him, is renewing us day by day.  And in us, God is achieving an eternal glory.  A beauty and power that will out shine our darkest days.

I’m not willing to walk timidly into my day.  I am not cowed by the circumstances and trials.  God is working a victory in me, in you.

Charge!!!

My Shield

“Take up the Shield of Faith!”

I have heard this in many sermons and books.  We have cute little costumes for our children and muddled ideas in our heads.

“Take up the Shield of Faith!”

How do I “take up” an idea so elusive as Faith?  What kind of protection is a faith such as mine?  And just so we’re clear, this is the one piece of armor that appears to be totally mine.  It is my faith in my God that protects me from the darts of the evil one.  So why even hold up what is shaky and weak at best?

The shield that Paul is referring to in Ephesians was probably the shield that came to be known as the door shield, interestingly enough.  It was a large shield, two feet by four feet, made of heavy would covered by animal hide and then iron.  In the Roman phalanx, it became an almost impenetrable wall that nothing could get through.  It only worked well in the phalanx since this was dependent on the group all sticking together and becoming, virtually, a moving fortress.

So wait, let me get this straight.  The shield carries the idea that it protects against what would try to get in and works only when we stick together.  So my faith, what I protect myself against the lies of the devil with, is a door that I can open or shut that was never intended to be worked out by myself.  But how do I define, develop, build this shield so that it is functional and powerful?

By asking the questions.  “What do I believe about God?  Who do I think that God is?  What has Jesus done for me?  How does He see me?”  Questions like this and the answers that we find in the Bible are what build and develop our faith.  And, to clarify once again, answers to these questions that don’t come from the Bible will define our faith too, and are the reasons why so many of us have such weak shields.

Hold on!  Then my faith doesn’t come from me alone.  It is developed by what God reveals Himself to be through scripture and my relationship with Him.  My faith, what I am protected by, is the sum of all my failings and victories, confusion and resolution, doubts and answers that I have seen in my walk with my Lord.  How He has brought me through, the truth that I see as He has lead me.

So maybe it is not just my faith, but His Faith in me that work together to protect me, that serves as a door to my life.

What will I let in?  What has He let in to move me, grow me?  And, do I believe what He says?

He already has said He believes in me.