Do you want to be healed?

We all have a sin sickness.

That thing that, despite our best efforts to conceal it, proves to us how messed up we are.

No one gets to escape it without the blood of Jesus Christ covering us.

No one.

It’s not enough to get saved, to find Jesus.  I’m sorry if you think it is.  I found Jesus and really all it did was open my eyes to my desperate need for more of Him, more of the Spirit, more of God’s leading and power.  I needed Him to HEAL me.  And I found, we have to want healing.

Not want like, “I want a breakfast burrito.”  More like, “I’m suffocating and I want air.”

In the jails, there are so many that from youth have been told the lie that they are just bad people.  In the bars, there are so many that believe they are not worthy of love, incapable of commitment.  The druggies, the prostitutes, the gays, the gamers that all believe that they can not hope for anything different.  That is just who they are.

Yep I lumped all those together.  Addictions, struggles, issues, whether society accepts and approves of them or not, have similar obstacles to overcome.

Oh, and in case it’s not obvious, porn, alcohol, affairs, work, temper tantrums, hate, control, arrogance are just a few of the others that fit into the same ideas.

The story in the Bible (John 5) goes that there was a pool where an angel would “stir the waters” (whatever that means) and the sick person who got in first was healed.  Jesus comes along and sees a guy who has been there for thirty-eight years.  His question hits me.

“Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus offers healing.  We offer excuses.  I want to be better, stronger, healthier, problem and struggle free.  But if solutions are presented, we see only impossibilities.  I’m not strong enough.  I can’t do it.  I’m just a failure.  It’s who I am and I don’t even need to change.

Jesus offers healing that comes in the form of wholeness, peace, joy, strength, victory.  And no addiction, no chosen lifestyle offers anything that compares.  And I know I need more of those things.  I want healing.  Now I just have to want it bad enough to submit myself to the authority of the one who offers it.

I’m tired of the sickness.  I sick of being sick.  I’m tired of the fight against my selfishness and self-actualization.

I just want Him.

Time to Change

I think it’s time for a change.
I’ve been the bitter worshipper long enough and God has been way too good for me to rest there.

Let me elucidate.

I’ve been married for almost twenty seven years and in that time have given her so many reasons to leave, to give up. But she still loves me.

I’ve made so many mistakes.  Failed over and over again. Yet found the strength to stand.

Others have “failed” me, rejected me, disappointed me. But the gates of my heart are still open. 

I have yelled at God, fought Him at every turn.  And despite that, He holds on, He will not give up!

I’ve been bitter but God is changing me.

The tumors of fear and addiction have been removed.  The cancerous lies of Satan have been exposed and treated with the healing power of His great love.

I’m done with being angry.

I’m having too much fun being alive!

Raise Your Voice

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph.6:12

So much hatred.  So much anger.

I’m reading the articles about the people calling for assassinations,  ranting, rioting.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard this.  We create enemies and feel so justified in our treatment of each other.

There are many reasons we worship.  God deserves our praise no matter what it changes, or even if it changes nothing at all.

But it does change us.  We can’t help but be changed as we focus our hearts and minds on the God of the universe.  We can’t keep further away as we bow our heads and bend our knees to such a great King.  As we breathe Him in, our hands naturally open  against the clinging, grasping, clutching that divides us from each other, and from Him.

So raise your voice!

When you hear the cries of accusation, the shouts of anger and hatred, shout your praise.  When you hear the confusion and fear that would tear our homes, this land, to pieces, sing your heart out.  When you can’t see a way through, when peace seems so far away, pray.  Pray out loud.  Pray hard.  Cry out to God!

Healing, unity, love are still possible.

An Update!

I promise, I’ll write more soon!

But first, just to let everyone know…

Next year I will be returning to Nicaragua.  Missions.me has planned an extensive amazing outreach into the country of Nicaragua and I just can’t express how excited I am to be a part of it.  Check it out by going to the missions.me website.

I have already had $700.00 donated to my trip, such a blessing.  Thank you to everyone who has donated, and those of you who will donate at some point.  I don’t feel worthy but I love sharing this blessing and ministry with you.

Seriously be watching Nicaragua over the coming months.  God is changing the country at so many levels.  There is a culture that is present there that is warring against what God would do, but He cannot be overcome.  When our King moves, nothing, nothing, nothing can stand in His way.

Please stand with me in prayer for lives to be changed.  That God would awaken the people to His love and the greater purpose that He has for them.  Pray that there would be healing, restoration, financial backing for the cultural changes that need to take place.

And please pray for the children, the beautiful children that are caught in the difficult times this country has been through.  Pray for fathers to stand up and be men.  For alcoholism and the occult to be brought to the foot of the cross and left there.  Pray that hope would be restored.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  They mean so much to me.

LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

The Defensive Line

The chips are down, the proverbial crap has hit the fan, you are under attack.

Who do you run to?  Who’s got your back? 

When all hell is breaking loose in their lives, when they’ve lost hope, vision, purpose, who do they run to?

We have groups for everything; AA groups, Narcanon, men’s groups and women’s  groups, small groups, conferences and churches.

Who is your first line of defense?

I believe in accountability.  I believe in standing together in this fight we call life.  I think I just have a different take on who we should run to first.

Now the churchy answer is to say, “Jesus.”  But, for many of us, He has already provided the answer to our pleas. 

So here goes:

Husbands, your first line of defense is your wife.  I hear so much of the talk about how women can’t handle our issues, shouldn’t have to.  But who did God provide?  Your dealing with sexual temptation, business concerns, addictions, problems with no solutions.  Talk to her, open your heart to her first.

Wives, yep, he’s the one.  Your girlfriends, your bible study group, your counselor can not help you the way your husband can.  They can not bring truth, healing, life the way he can.

Young people, the TV, Facebook, your friends, YouTube, the lives of musicians, stars, sports heroes and politicians can not guide you through like a talk with your dad, your mom, grandma, grandpa.  No one, and I mean no one loves you like we do.

“Oh but you don’t know my . . .”

And the truth is, I don’t.  Our world is so broken, sin so pervasive, that the people we should trust are the last people we can trust.  People have abused me, manipulated me, hurt me.  And, that includes my wife.  I have done the same to her.  I have not often been a good dad or son.  I am human, the definition of untrustworthy.

But my untrustworthiness so often stems from my lack of vulnerability to the ones who can help me.  I can paint a picture for my bible study.  I can gloss the photo for my church.  I can get angry, cover, lie, protect myself  from so many.  They remain virtually unscathed.  It always damages the one I love most.

I want to turn it in its head.  Stand back to back, shoulder to shoulder, eye to eye with her.  I want to make her strong, let her beauty shine.  And I will never do that by hiding myself from her.

We face this fight together.  We are only safe in each other’s arms.

Side note:  please do not stay in a situation where you are being abused.  Get help, get healing, then seek restoration.

I Don’t Want An Enemy

I have walked with Jesus for 36 years.  So it shames me to make this admission.  But the reality is, I haven’t been very cooperative on the journey.  Much of my heal-digging and fist-shaking probably stems from one thing.

I don’t want an enemy.

I have spent some time in the Word along the way.  God makes lots of promises that the life and sacrifice of Jesus totally backs up.  But I can’t find where He promises no enemies.  In fact, I find the opposite.  He promises tribulation from the world, my flesh, demons, satan.

I still don’t want an enemy.

I want my steps of faith to be met with blessing, encouragement, praise from others.  And, I confess I have received some of these.  But, most of what I see, what I focus on, is the condemnation, the discouragement, the criticism.

I could say that is what I think I deserve.  Truthfully, I think it reflects more on my image of God.  

I can say with Paul that I am the worst of sinners.  But, I think I hear such negativity because I don’t believe God loves me.

But, He does.  He is mighty to save.  He is my strong tower.  His thoughts toward me are for healing and hope.  And He will take the field of battle with me.

Because, like it or not….

I have an enemy.

Punishment

(My friends from New Life will recognize the input from Dr. Michelle Anthony and her book, “Spiritual Parenting”)

Why do we punish our children?  Why does God punish us?  Why do we punish ourselves?

Many of us have lived in a culture of shame and condemnation, for years, for generations.  We see God on His Great White Throne of judgement, glaring down on His rebellious children, waiting for the moment they fail, so that He can strike us down.  When He doesn’t kill us, we think He doesn’t see us.  So there is no comfort in His lack of action either.  We crave boundaries, rules that we can follow and earn favor with.  To be left in an apparent vacuum creates confusion and stress.

Can I start this saying, “be still and know that He is God.”

Our goal in punishment is to make the act of our disobedience so painful that the sinner never wants to sin again.

And this never works.

Did you hear me?  IT NEVER WORKS!

People get good at covering their shame and guilt, gold-plating their failures and molding the rules to their advantage.  But guilt and shame, hatred, fear are all tools that satan uses, not God.

Always with God, the goal of punishment is healing and restoration.  He seeks to expose the hidden brokenness so that the root of our torture can be removed, so that His love, His Spirit can fill the emptiness.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:7-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

To order Dr. Anthony’s book, click on the link below.

http://www.davidccook.com/catalog/Detail.cfm?sn=106559&source=search

Cold Water

A simple request.  “Could you get me some cold water?”

And I heard the voice of God!

I practice and sing.  I want to be “good”, whatever that means.  Excellence is a core value for our church, and for me personally.  I know that I’m not that good.  I have seen to many excellent musicians, doing amazing things, to ever think that I am even in their league.  But I still push myself.  At fifty-one years, having played for almost thirty-seven of those years, I still want to get better, faster, more confidant, more artistic.

But one thing is blatantly revealed in my playing, I am inadequate.

This may sound like self-pity or a need for encouragement.  It may sound like self-deprecation or humility.  It is not.

I have so much fun playing.  There are few things that sadden me more than not playing music.  There are only a couple that I ask God not to take from me.  One of those things is music, as realistically limited as my skills are, it is something so deep within me that to remove it would kill me.

So what does God want with me, my skills, my passions, my heart and soul?  What does the Creator of the universe, the one who put me together, planned me from the beginning of time, fashioned me through physical attributes and the molding of time and experience, what does He want from me?

“Could I have some cold water please?”

Cold water in a glass on a hot summer evening.  Cold water splashed in my face in the early morning.  Cold water lapping at my toes as I walk the beaches of Lake Michigan.  Cold water pouring over my body in the middle of winter.  A cold shower, an ice pack, snow falling softly in the middle of the woods or coming in blizzards that blanket our roads, our houses.

Cold water can come in many different forms.  Is that what You call me to?  To be refreshing, awakening, calming, shocking, healing, quieting, covering….

Yes, Lord.

Where do we go from here?

He walked alone from the shop in that part of town that no “good” people talk about.  He watched the movie, looked at the magazines, stared at the pictures on the walls.  And now, he walked alone.  He walked in shame.

Where would you go if you were him?  What would you do now?

I talk to so many people, so many well meaning people, that have a thousand answers for what he should do.  He should give up, it’s just what guys do.  He should find a new relationship that “satisfies” him more.  He should go to church, join a group, pray a prayer, listen to music, think about what he’s doing.  And that’s just a short list.

There are good and helpful things on this list.  There are things that need to be done.  And this doesn’t just apply to guys addicted to porn.

In Exodus, the people of Israel were told to go into the promised land.  But then they heard the spies report.  “There are giants.  We’ll all be killed.”  And the people rebelled and refused to go in.  Then God rebukes them and says they will all, all that rebelled, die in the desert.  Then they’re sorry.  Please forgive us, they say.  We’ll obey you now, they say.  But God told them no.  They went anyway and many died in the battle that occurred.

The long and the short of this problem is that they, and we, are trying to fix ourselves.  Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the power of sin and death.  He came to give us life, “and life more abundant.”  We go our own way and the only solution to the problem is to stop going your own way.

Couples divorce because they fight and there seems no way out.  Teens run away because they hate their parents control and there seems no way out.  And people remain bound to sin because they can not fix themselves.

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Stop making your own decisions.  Stop finding your own way.  Stop listening to every voice that shouts in your ear.  Seek His face.  Seek His will.  Find Him again and let Him choose your paths.  He can heal.  He can restore.  He will help you.

And you’ll know where to go.

Does the Hurt Ever Heal?

 

One of those scary places to go.  Death, sadness, irrevocable loss, days, weeks, months gone forever.

 

In 1978 my brother committed suicide.  His body was found almost six months later where it had washed up on a river bank.  As we waited through the months when we knew nothing and then endured the questions and analysis of dental records and other comparative data, we were torn between wanting to know and not wanting to know.

 

It has been thirty-five years and it still hurts so much.  I can’t write now without crying.

 

I miss him.

I would’ve loved to see him meet my wife, my kids.  They would’ve laughed at his idiosyncracies, some very similar to mine, some that put mine to shame.  They would’ve been amazed by his talent and insight.  And, if they were lucky enough to hold his hand, they would’ve have known the strength and gentleness that, to this day, is my picture of the hands of Jesus.

For those of you who have suffered great loss (some are so much worse than mine, so much deeper) you know that the hurt never heals, never goes away.  We compartmentalize, we bury, we cope with what has happened but we don’t “get over it.”

And that’s OK.

My Jesus will not remove all pain until I stand before Him in heaven.  When He claimed that He had “overcome the world”, it didn’t mean that the world was gone.  It meant that He was greater, stronger, deeper than what would happen to us here.  His triumph is not over the cross, it is through the cross.

And in that, I find His peace.