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There’s a passage in the Bible (Matthew 7:21 ff) where Jesus is talking about a sad scene from heaven.

The picture is this: people coming before God and telling Him about all the great things they have done for Him. And His response will be to say, “go away, I never knew you.”

It got me thinking.

A close second on the saddest events of that time will be this: I arrive in heaven and God allows me in. He even says, “I know you.” And I realize as He speaks that I don’t recognize His voice. I don’t know Him.

Some would say that it isn’t possible but I don’t know.

If it’s possible to prophesy, cast out demons, do mighty works in God’s name and still end up in hell, all because we never really had a relationship with Him. Then I think it’s possible to have entered into a relationship but allowed the voice of fear, the voice of the world, the voice of condemnation and shame, my own voice to be so loud, so dominant, that I never really listened to Him.

I want to be one that hears His slightest whisper, that seeks His voice in every situation, that stops long enough, is quiet long enough for Him to speak.

And it’s going to come down to the choices I make today.

The best scene will be Him saying, “I know you.” And me falling in His arms and saying, “Hi dad!”

Like I just got home.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

He is jealous for me,

loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,

bending beneath the weight of His wind

and Mercy

All of a sudden,

I am unaware of these afflictions

Eclipsed by glory

And I realize just how beautiful You are

And how great Your affections are for me

I sang those words tonight, sang them with everything that is in me.  But do I believe them?  Do I live them in such a way that would lead me to leap off of a cliff in expectation of His arms beneath me?

Quite honestly, I don’t think I do.  The season I am in has me reeling as I find myself with no options but to wait on God.  I have done what needed to be done.  I have been faithful in what God has given me and nothing is turning out right.

I need a job.  I have not had steady, life-supporting work since April.  Because of trying to work, I have no unemployment, no insurance, and no where else to turn.  Our finances, our utilities, our home are all threatened and life feels like it is on shaky ground.

Do you know that there is no better place to be?

Time to put up or shut up.  When you can not depend on anyone but Jesus, you realize that you never could depend on anyone but Him.  I realize that all along, I was really dependent on myself.  And that is a bad place to be.

That is not my home, my refuge.  That is not the rock I would build my house on.

He is my strong tower.  He is my refuge, my fortress.

Forgiveness

What happens when we won’t forgive?  Rightly described as a poison we drink ourselves, unforgiveness eats away at everything we are and live for.  It kills our hopes and dreams, sucking life from every facet of our being.

I am finding forgiveness difficult right now.

Some hurts reoccur with a regularity that makes it so difficult to let go of.  Some offenses cut so deep that they will not heal with band-aids and platitudes.  Marriage, brothers, parents, old friendships are where these things happen.  It finds no ground in the new relationship, the acquaintance, for they are easily let go of.  But in the soil of what should last, we find the place that seeds of anger, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness find their environment for growth.  The place where we are hurt, and then hurt again, and again by those who should never want to cause us pain, that is where this poison does its work.

And out of this venom, we lash out at those around us, hurting others out of the hurt that we feel.

And nothing can stop this juggernaut of destruction.  It will go on ad infinitum, through generations, through changes in culture and politics, despite all that we do to cover it, to medicate it, to deny its existence.  And the only way out, the only thing that can set anyone free, is to forgive.

I will not hold to your account the debt you owe me.  I will not make you pay for the wrongs I have suffered.  I forgive you.

This malignancy will no longer live in my heart, in my family, in my church, in my home.

I forgive you.

Emergency

Two Silos
Two Silos (Photo credit: jbdenham)

For our Thanksgiving celebration this year we admitted not one, but both of my wife’s parents to the hospital.  Large family gathering with six people missing.  Children playing, laughter, food but so much was lacking.  We watched the football games but knew that dad would have enjoyed the Lions winning.  We ate our fill but still felt empty with mom not picking on someone or saying something that  made us laugh.

And it makes us question things.  What did their lives mean?  What was the point of it all?

They lived as simple farmers, raising kids and crops.  They lived for and loved Jesus with everything, though they never witnessed to millions or held a large crusade.  They held their doors open, accepting many a wayward child to their table, to their hearts.  And I’ll always be glad that they allowed me into their family, a rebel punk so far from their ideal son-in-law, but loved just the same.

They attended a small church that did very little but serve and give and feed.  Disasters were met with quiet, busy hands that rebuilt, restored, cleaned and fed once again.  Anyone was welcome and Jesus was held in awe, in reverence.  Life was taught and lived with humility and grace.

My mom and dad (they’re mine too) never gave much thought to themselves, driving all of us crazy.  The injuries he sustained still make us cringe and shake our heads since it rarely stopped him from finishing his work.  The strokes he endured.  And, though frustrated and discouraged, he never allowed his faith in God’s goodness to waver.  The pain she tolerated, often barely able to stand, yet always helping, always serving, always giving.  Quiet, peaceful was this woman, but oh, she had fire too.

My heart hurts right now for them, for this family, as they go through this difficult time.  But I’ll take my cue from them and not feel sorry for myself or for them, there is no reason to.

They are a blessed people.  They are a family that loves each other, stands with each other.  They would give the shirt off their backs to anyone in need but family means more.  I get to be a part of that.  I get to see their love and faith in action, beyond fanfare, beyond glitz and rhetoric and fame.  I have seen joy knowing them.

I have known joy being a part of this family.

Quite a legacy, no matter how long they stay in their earthly shells.  A gift that, with all my heart, I would give to my children.

Who’s Your Daddy?

I have the best dad in the universe.  No seriously!

He constantly watches out for me and gives me personal advice for everything that happens in my life.  It gets kind of irritating sometimes because I argue with him even though I know he’s always right.  Funny though, I feel better knowing that I can trust him, though I do wish he would let me win from time to time.  I do get bothered by his constant supervision too.  I mean, I’m a grown man that can think for himself.  Do I really need his constant correction when I do something wrong.  He seems to let some of my brothers slide so much on some areas but not me.  Of course, I don’t know everything going on for them, but really he seems to favor them over me almost all the time.  They get new toys while I have to keep playing with the same old, worn out junk.  They live in nice houses while mine is just, well, not as nice.  It’s not fair.  He lets them do so many stupid things.  But, if I stray an inch from his goal for me, he is all over me with scripture I read and music I hear.  When I think about it, though, I can see that we’re closer to each other than some of my brothers are to him.  Somehow, even though I want things, more of him is worth more than more stuff.  And, I have to say, it is nice to know that he sees me.  I don’t think I could take it if I thought he didn’t care about my life.  So I guess I can accept his vigilance.

My daddy is really strong, too.  He beats up on the other dads in my neighborhood everyday.  And, he even lets me kick ’em in the shins from time to time just to help me be more like him.  I really want to be more like my dad.  The other day we beat the snot out of lust and impurity in Battle Creek, MI (yeah PK).  It was awesome!

I could go on and on.  The greatest thing about my dad, though, is that with Him I feel safe.  I don’t mean safe like boring, routine, never try anything safe.  I mean like, I can do anything!  There’s no such thing as impossible.  I can take the greatest risks and know that He will catch me, complete me, remove me if need be, keep me.  It gets pretty exciting though, I have to say, I still get scared sometimes.  I know I’m safe but don’t always believe what I know.  He always catches me, even when I’m scared.  And I think I’m getting better at trusting Him.

Does your dad sound like my dad?  If not, I’d love to introduce you to Him.  See, I didn’t even tell you the best part.  I’m adopted.  My old dad was mean and hated me.  He hurt me over and over.  Then, my new dad found me and asked me to be a part of his family.  All I did was say, “OK,” and He took me in.  He loves kids.

Maybe He can be your dad too.