Trojan Horse

Most people know the story of the Trojan Horse.  The long battle between Greece and the city of Troy that ended when Greece appeared to have abandoned the war and left the gift of a huge wooden horse.  Unknown to the Trojans, the “gift” was filled withe soldiers who, in the middle of the night, came out and destroyed the city.  It is a story of trickery, heroes, love, death.

As I came to work for the church and periodically since then, I saw myself as that horse.  What were they thinking to let someone with so much evil inside him into the building, near women and children, unsuspecting old ladies?  I hear the accuser, see him laughing and pointing.  I catch myself dwelling on the stories of others who have served and damaged so much with their lies and hidden sins.

It’s all true.

But my God!  My God!  He is The Redeemer!  He is the Healer!  He is the Mighty God!  The King of Kings!

And in His will and with His power, I am a Trojan Horse!  

No one would suspect a chubby, old man.  No one would think that a washed up, foolish, grandpa janitor would carry the life and love of Jesus Christ.  No one would think that someone like me can have the Holy Spirit of the Living God flowing through his veins and bringing Him to those that need Him so much!


But I do.

And in that way, we are all Trojan Horses.  Paul said, “we carry this treasure in earthen vessels.”  As we carry the life and love of Jesus into this broken, hurting world, we are broken and hurting.

But we are being healed.

Satan is counting on our human nature to fail, to hurt others, to be selfish and hateful.  God is counting on us to let Him live in us and through us, to love and heal, to restore and bring hope.

And today, I get to choose.  You get to choose.  What will you carry inside you?  Who will you carry into your world?

And let the enemy of God Almighty beware!


Wait a second!

I was reading about a very familiar story in the bible last night and it hit me. . .

Moses, children of Israel, trapped by the Red Sea as Pharoah’s chariot’s draw near.

600 Chariots!

Wait, 600 chariots?  How many Israelites were there?  Over two million!  Over six hundred thousand men!

Panic!  Run!  Help!  Pick up a rock?!

Now the chariot was the latest in battle technology at the time, and a real game changer as far as the damage they could wield, but come on!

Slaves for over four hundred years and now finally free.  Do you think you would role over and cry like a baby?  I hope I wouldn’t!

But, do I?

Set free from sin, clothed in His righteousness, filled with THE HOLY SPIRIT!  And sin comes crouching, fear and worry dig their claws in, bitterness and doubt shout their lies, and what do I do?

Mommy!  This is too hard!  I want my blankie!

Fathers!  Men of God!  Mothers and Holy women!  We must stand up!  We must stop them from taking one more of our children!  We must speak truth and life into their lives so that our families and loved ones know the difference.  We must live for Jesus Christ, daily in His word, constantly in prayer.

When you see the power inside of you and expose the toothless roars of the enemy . . . well . . . It looks like 2 million against 600.

Reality Check

He stood off to the side with his pal, though, for the life of him, he had no idea what he was doing there.  He was no criminal, no gangster or thug.  He certainly was no cop, no undercover narcotics officer, no remote affiliation to the DEA.  He was just a man.

They had the initial meeting an hour ago and now stood waiting, reminiscing over times from childhood, when they had last seen each other, when they had last been friends.  By chance, just meeting again on this day, at the worst, or maybe the best moment.

Two goons came up and stood before them.  “Mr. Dozer wants to talk wit you,” was all they said but they were looking at him, not his friend, not the armed policeman.  They were talking to him.  The guns in their hands allowed for no argument.

With quaking heart and watery knees he followed, coming to stand before the leader.  Sinister malice poured from the man wh stared at him now.

“You got your choice.  See we don’t know you, don’t know why your here.  That makes me nervous.  So you get to choose.  I can kill you now or you can take a test.  You pass the test, I let you in my gang.”

As he spoke, the two thugs were handed clubs.

“We’ll give you a chance, you don’t have to ace this.  But every wrong answer is going to cost you.”  They all smiled, the thugs tapping their clubs meaningfully.

He knew he would be caught if he answered wrongly.  He knew that he didn’t know enough to answer correctly.  Good chance that he was dead, no matter what.  So he did the only thing he could think of.

He sent up a silent prayer.  Then, reached out and grabbed a handful of hair from the man before him.  He pulled downward as hard as he could and kneed his enemy in the face.  Then, in one fluid movement, he drove his elbow into the bas of the man’s skull and killed him.  It took two seconds, at most.

Then, as the shock of what happened held them, he turned and walked away, seeming to disappear before their eyes.

My story is intended to remind you of two things.  With our enemy, there are no right answers, you cannot escape him, cannot outwit him.  He is really only interested in hurting you.  But, as the strength of Jesus, His resurrection power, flows through us, we can defeat our enemy and his schemes.  We can walk away untouched because of the life that is in us.  We don’t need to be afraid.  

We need to fight.

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.

Mighty Man of Valor

The nobody was found threshing grain in a winepress, hiding for fear of what the enemy would do to him.  His first words in return were complaints, questioning the goodness, the presence of God in his life.  His first act was to buy favor from God that God had already, freely, given, that the angel burned up with the touch of his staff, I might add.  His first act of “heroism” was to desecrate the gods, the idols, of people of his town.  Maybe even the gods that he had been worshipping up to this point.

I have been called a man of valor.  So have you.  Persons of valor, should we choose to be gender neutral.  But what do we do in reality?  We hide from our enemy.  We work out formulas, gimmicks, tried and true methods of praying down strongholds and breaking off chains, developing support groups, fasting and attempting to coerce the God of the universe to move on our behalf.  But we have been called, already it is declared over our lives, to be mighty, to have valor.

Tony Stark is confronted with his greatest challenge.  But first he asks to give him a suit of armor, um, just like the one hanging there in front of him.  Captain America is embattled and stops to send a message back to the scientists to give him strength.

No, no, no, no….

I feel so inadequate to put this into words.

You are mighty.  You are brave.  Act on it.  Praying for strength to face a temptation that you really want to cave into is messed up.  Asking God to protect you from satan’s schemes and the evils of this world is backwards thinking.  You have your armor.  You have the strength.  The Holy Spirit is alive and well inside of you.  Rise up in courage, fearless in your faith.  And though you fall, get up again, and again, and again.

My body can be hurt, killed, destroyed beyond recognition.  But my soul can never be defeated, will never be subdued.

What is strange to me is that there are those who will not, WILL NOT yield to God, living their lives in service to satan.  They are conquered by their enemy, the one who hates beyond reason or intellect, the one who would torture, would destroy every particle of their lives.  Their souls, their spirit defeated with no one to defend them.  But God would ask us to yield to Him, in essence turning the field of battle over to the unconquerable King, who then asks us to join His forces as we route our foe.

We yield and He sets us free.

Amazing!  Too wonderful to believe!  Too much for my heart and mind to understand!

Jesus, work on me till I get it!

I Am a Saint

Could I share with you all the thoughts that run through my mind?  Would you hear me and know me better if you could see the murder, the depravity that wells up inside of me on a daily basis.  I think not.  I lead worship and pray with men.  I am overcome by God’s presence and His power in my life.  I talk with Him, hear His voice, walk with Him through my days.  But still fail and struggle and wrestle and whine and pout and ….

Satan whispers in my ear, shouts to my heart, “You are a loser.  You will never matter.  Your life does not and will not make a difference to anyone.  When you die, you will simply disappear and no one will mourn your passing or notice your absence.”  He goes on for a while and I’ll not bore you with all that he says.  But understand, it is a lie.

Does he say things like this to you?  Does his voice of condemnation crush you with its lying truths?  Do you see in yourself the hopelessness of your life and know that you have failed.

Good.  We all need to be humbled from time to time.

Now, stand up.  Put on your armor.  Lift up your sword.  Shout out this battle cry.



We are His children, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.  We are not condemned for our sins were paid for on the cross of Jesus Christ.  We stand covered by His blood, washed clean, filled with the Holy Spirit.  Warriors of the cross that live victorious who overcome the evil one by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.  This is truth.  This is the reality that cannot be removed or shaken by anything other than our unwillingness to believe it.


Though I Walk Through the Valley

Dark days, dark hours.

Why do we fear the unknown?  If we’re truthful with ourselves, there are many things that we don’t know.  If we let it, we can be consumed by the fears of what we don’t know.

Oh wait, that’s what I’m doing right now.

David said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”  He was talking to God and actually had first hand experience walking through that valley.  I’m pretty sure the unknown part for him was when Saul would kill him, not if he would die.  But he says he’s not afraid.  He’s not afraid because God is with him.

I have God with me in a way that David could not experience.  Jesus died on the cross to save me and then promised that the Holy Spirit would live inside me and be my comforter.  God is in me.

And yet I fear.  Why?

I’m not going to discuss the Peter experience of seeing the wind and the waves and doubting.  I want to look at how I can face my God, my Savior and not know Him, not see Him clearly enough that I allow fear to invade my experience, to infect my decisions.

Who is God?  What is He like?  I tell you, my soul, my intellect, that He is bigger than you can imagine.  He is greater than all that would come against me.  He loves me beyond my power to understand.  He fights for me with passion and power that will consume my darkest nightmares.  I serve a God that holds me to His side, beyond reason and hope.


It is a good day!

I deal, daily, with children who have lost their fathers.  Some to sexual sin, some to alcohol, drugs, fear, anger, bitterness.  Some have died in war, senseless accidents, disease.  I get to see, first hand, their hurts, their brokenness, the fear that reveals itself in so many ways.

Has God gone crazy?  Has He forgotten us?  Why are these children hurt so deeply, so permanently through no fault of their own. 

And just to be clear, some of these children are no longer children.

Can I take a simple message to deal with the age old argument of pain and God’s sovereignty?  I don’t think so.  The arguments are too complex and emotions run to high for platitudes and cliches.  But I can tell you this.  God has not abandoned us or neglected His duty, His promises.

We sing a song called “Light Up the World (Desperation Band)” that contains the line, “I’m gonna believe that churches will become Your hands and feet.”  I know that God has not abandoned His children because I’m still alive.  You’re still reading this post.

See, we can say that nothing can be done to help all the hurting in our world.  We can say that it is too much to ask for me to lay down my life for the cross of Jesus.  But, that doesn’t heal the losses, the torment.  We can say that we are too ruined to be of any use, to bring any healing, but that won’t mend our hearts or stop the bleeding.

God made us to be His Body.  His blood runs through our veins.  His thoughts course through our neural pathways.  And we are alive.  This is such a gift, such a responsiblity to not look at each day in the light of what will happen to me, but to see it as an opportunity to affect our planet.  To be light, to be salt, to bring truth, to bring love, what an amazing adventure He calls us to.

It is a good day to be alive.

Sin and Worship

“Hi!  My name is Matt.” 

“Hi Matt!” the crowd responds. 

“I’m a sinner.”

“The first step to healing is admitting there’s a problem.”  But, there’s no “healing” from sin.  Try as I might, I will always fall short.  I have known many wonderful people along the way.  Not one of them is perfect and does not make mistakes.  We try and try to overcome first one addiction, one vice and, should we succeed, another will rear its ugly head.  We approach the again and again.

And that’s the point. 

We approach the throne because we need to, we have to, we’re dead if we don’t.  Everyone of us, from the pastor of the mega-church, to the meth-head dying of starvation and AIDs, can not breathe a single breath without the sullied presence of sin.  And our perfection should not be our goal anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Sin is a ruinous force that we should fight with every fiber of our being.  But consider this, why did Satan tempt us in the first place?  It wasn’t help us have fun, such a lie.  It wasn’t even to trip us up.  The devil’s great purpose was to hurt the Father by ripping His children from His loving hands, to separate us from our creator who designed us to be in relationship with Him.

So we approach the throne.  Sin drives us to our knees to seek our healing.  Our manifestly depraved hearts and minds render us helpless and dependent on our Holy God.  And we approach the throne not as sniveling, groveling wretches before a tyrant who would just as soon crush us underfoot as allow us to know Him.  We approach the throne in worship and praise because we are accepted and loved beyond imagining.  We face the Father who saw us coming and ran to meet us, clothing us in His righteousness, putting His ring of authority on our finger and feasting because once again we have returned.  We approach the throne in worship and praise because He deserves nothing less.

Funny that sin can work against itself in the heart of those who would seek our Savior.

A Song Breaks Through

See, I shout at the sky but I’ve got no where else to run to.  I have tried to deny God but find His presence insurmountable in the face of the vast body of evidence I encounter everyday.  I have attempted to deny His power over me or His concern but find His will invasive, His truth so domiinant.  Determined to shut myself off from all that are around me, only to hear the echo of their cries, the yearning in their eyes to plaintive to ignore.

So with trembling hand, and willful heart I reach out.  With quavering voice and downcast eyes I admit my need of Him and declare once again the immutability of His faithfulness.  And His voice breaks through.

“Oh my God, he will not delay, my refuge and strength always.  I will not fear.  His promise is true.  My God will come through, always…always.” (Kristian Stanfill – “Always”)

His presence comes so seldom in my strong times.  I sense Him so infrequently when I have no need.  But, oh He is good.  His love does endure forever.

So then tomorrow, I’ll get up in the morning and go to work.  I’ll log on to my computer and run the circle again.

And…His song will break through.