You Are Chosen

In follow up to my last blog, I want to share something with you.

The world may call you worthless and say that you aren’t enough.  Your credentials may be weak, your heart may quaver, you may be downright homely, you may be caught in addiction, ashamed, forsaken, alone.

God is choosing you!

The God that created the universe, put planets in orbit, developed each strand of DNA and breathes life into every creature invaded earth and died, rising again to destroy the work of sin and hopelessness.

He then looked forward into time to make sure that you were on the other end of this post and reading words of hope, maybe for the first time.  Some of you already know this and believe in Jesus.  Some of you are not so sure.  Jesus is too far out there, to far removed by history and religion.

But He isn’t.  He’s right here, right now speaking to you.

You are chosen.  No one else may believe in you or give you and opportunity to live.  Not just be alive, but LIVE!

He wants your life, your dreams, your heart, everything.  He calls you to be a living sacrifice, to give your strength and love to others in serving, in giving.  But not to destroy you, to steal what little you have left.

He takes our broken to make it whole.  He takes are ruined to make it new.  He takes our falling, our failure to make us stand.  He takes what is dead and buried to make it rise again!

He has chosen you.

Will you choose Him?

I would love the opportunity to come and speak to your small group, church or organization about what God has done in my life and what He can do in yours.  As I seek to raise the remainder of the support for the mission trip to Nicaragua, please consider having me come and meet with you.  We’ll sing and share and pray together.

The Dust of Managua

We came back from Nicaragua this past weekend.  I have since walked through airports, through streets, through work and my home but I can still see the dust of Managua on them.

I don’t ever want it to go away.

You of course can’t see this but as I typed those last words I stopped for a minute.  

I’ll never be the same again.  I’ve breathed the air and felt the heat of the sun.  I’ve washed in their water and eaten their food.

And I’ve talked with the people.  

The children, the precious children have invaded my heart.  Their hunger for Jesus, their poverty and sorrows, their laughter and yes, in some, their anger have wrecked me.

It is good.

We go through life unaffected by those around us.  We see them but don’t know them, often don’t even want to know them.  And this is wrong.  It is just wrong.

We are made in the image of God and part of that image is love.  We have taken that off our hearts in the attempt to protect ourselves, to shield our souls from the dangers of this world.  And we are worse because of this.

The dust of Managua will fade from my shoes.  The memories will fade and life will go back to normal.  It is part of our humanity.  It is part of living.

And the only real solution is to let the memories change me.  Let them make me risk again, open my heart again, love again.

So you want to be in movies?

It’s not that I live to have people notice me.  I’ve lived through the fickle and fleeting attentions of humans.  I just ask myself, from time to to time, what am I doing with my life?

If they were to make a documentary on my life, would it even sell a ticket?

I’ve never gone to see a movie about a guy sitting around playing video games.  I’ve never gone to see a movie about a family watching movies.  Even the worst movies that I have seen were not completely about someone being entertained, someone disengaged, someone who wasn’t even trying.

We like movies about heroes and villains.  We want to see adventure, excitement, tension, things blowing up, romance kindled and rekindled.

But do we live that life?  Do I?

And here’s the best part.  If we aren’t, it’s an easy fix.  Put down the remote.  Turn off the TV or computer or game console and walk out your front door, live, talk to your neighbor, serve them, love them.

You’ll be amazed.  An adventure is waiting for you.  And who knows…

They may make a movie about it.

Point Man

I never did it in combat.  I was the commander’s radio operator and was usually somewhere in the middle of the column.  But in training I sometimes got to be the point man.  And, at least in training, it was something I was good at.

The point man, for those of you that are civilians, is the guy that is in front of the unit.  He has to see what is coming before it becomes a problem.  For example, I was leading a fire team through some pretty heavy brush.  I rounded a bend in the trail and saw movement.  I didn’t see a person, or the whites of anyone’s eyes.  I just saw movement that was out of place.  I called a halt and we were able to take out an ambush.

Sometimes people ask me why I want to be up front, why I want to lead worship.  Do I crave the attention?  Do I have to be noticed?  I know my heart is “desperately wicked and deceitful at all times”, but I don’t think my desires are centered around self.

I think I like being the point man.

The down side of being the point man is that the enemy will see you first, shoot at you first.  You carry the weight, the responsibility for all the lives in your unit.  If you’re good, people live.  If you aren’t, people die.  Simple as that.  

If I can lead people to worship the King of kings, people live.  If I can focus all attention on His presence, the movement of His Spirit, people live.  If I am attuned to His voice, speak and sing yielded to His leadership, people live.  And yes, I will take the shot, if it saves their lives.

As worship leaders, we face attacks that others never see.  We deal with issues and problems that others never think of.  Our prayer life has to be tightened, our time in the word more disciplined, our submission to His will more constant, or people will die.

So to my fellow point men (and women), I salute you.  “Be brave, be strong, for the Lord our God is with you.”

What an awesome privilege to serve and lay our lives at His feet!

http://youtu.be/BAGZ7c8V9SM

When to say when…

When is it ok to call it quits?  When do we get to take a break?  It can seem like a constant fight, constant struggle when you are in ministry.  You have pastors and leaders over you, leaders with you and people under you and at times your at odds with everyone.

When can we step back and reassess?  When is it good to question what you are doing?

Never, always, sometimes, I don’t know.

Let’s take a look at the battle weary soldier surrounded by the enemy, fighting for his life.  Not the time to call it quits, I think.  The temptation is certainly there.  Just give up, let them shoot you and be done with it.  But there are others around you, a purpose inside of you.  That is where you must know what you are fighting for.  This is the time to scream at yourself and in the face of fear, “MOVE OUT!  Get up, get going, fight!”

You might not know this, but one of the hardest times is when the “battle” is over and there is a time of peace.  Our purpose, our calling can seem so clear when we are fighting.  Then it all evaporates when there is a lull.  Time to take a break?  Yes.  Time to look for a new fight?  Yes.  Time to get some feeding and rest?  Yes.  Time to reassess, question, listen, get into God’s word?  Yes.  Because, as a soldier, you know the enemy will be back.  You know that it is only a matter of time.  Time to call it quits?  Please hear me.  Check your wounds.  Be honest with your brothers and sisters that hold you up.  Ministry can cut deep.  This is no place for wimpy christians.  We will get beat up and we have to have those around us who can honestly tell us when we’re to bloodied to continue.  We need bandages, ointment, stitches, breaks reset, tourniquets from time to time, people to lean on, just like any warrior would.  Know the medics in your life, and if you don’t have any, find them – be them for others.

And yes, in the end, there is a time when we pass the sword, the staff, the mantle, the fight onto those who can continue.  But let that be at the end.  Don’t see it until you’ve got no more fight to give.  Many are leaving, giving up before it is time.  Don’t.

“It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.”  So the hymn says.  Live more.  Love more.  Fight more.

Don’t give up.

Love Who You Are

I watched this video and thought of what I’ve been through, what I look like, who I am.

We can think of this as a catch phrase, a trite saying to deal with bad days, but, it is biblical.  Not in the modern, narcissistic sense of being the center of your own universe, focusing on yourself to the exclusion of others.  It is biblical in the sense of accepting the value that God has placed on you, appreciating the gift of who you are, your life, your purpose.

I am not tall.  I am not good looking.  I am pudgy, wear glasses, have gray hair.  I am loud and obnoxious, moody, intense, opinionated, argumentative.  I am not strong or fast or graceful.  I’m not a great guitarist.  My voice will never win any awards.  My attempts at sainthood have fallen pitifully short.

So what is there to love?

I am the only me that there is.  My voice is the only voice that some people can or will hear.  My songs, my heart are the only ones that have the potential to reach certain people.  My life is the only one that some will see the presence of God through.

You are the only you that there is.  Live like there is no one else that can do what you do.  Live like yours is the only voice people will listen to.

Live like God has chosen you.

Because He has!