Too Loud

I married a girl who leans toward the shy. I grew up in a family that talks loud, argues loud, laughs loud. The only time I’m quiet is when I’m really angry (or I’m asleep).

Over the years, one of her chief complaints is that I talk too loud.

Bear that in mind with the following:

As the world becomes more fractured and divided against itself, we need to be louder.

And be prepared, as the voice of love, the voices of truth and grace and joy in the middle of trouble speak out, the world will say it’s too loud. They will want you to join their voices of hatred and anger and condemnation.

They may even tell you to be quiet or face the consequences.

Jesus said we were to, “be of good cheer,” because He overcame the world. And we overcome, “by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of our testimony.” Revelations 12:11

I’m tired of the rhetoric. I’m sick of the way it eats at me.

And I live for the King.

Too loud?

‘Bout to get louder!

Ridiculous

It makes me laugh to hear it now.

For years the accusation from satan has been to point out what a ridiculous person I am.

And it’s the truth.

When I cheer for someone, I sound like I’m angry (apparently) and I yell till I’m hoarse.  When I sing in worship, I get kind of pitchy, I often sing harmony and I sing till I’m hoarse. I’m overweight but dance and jump.  I laugh out loud, in church, with people watching.  

I’m not sure why the last two matter but I’ve been told it’s inappropriate.

I think the accuser is often honest in what he says.  He just doesn’t want to acknowledge God’s perspective.  It’s like that with lots of things.  And he isn’t the only one saying it.

We say it to ourselves.

I’m ugly.

I’m fat.

I’m stupid.

No one could ever love me.

So that’s two voices speaking the same truths.

And there are other voices too.

Ha!  But it doesn’t matter.

We have heard how God says He loves us.  We “know” he says we are beautiful, precious, worthy.  And we know that’s not true.

But here’s the thing, and I hope I’m saying this right.  God’s lies are more true than anybody else’s truth.  How He sees us matters more than anyone else’s opinions.

I’m not there yet.  And if I try to convince myself of God’s truths it turns into ego and religion.  I think the only thing I can handle right now is looking at Him more than I look at myself.

And He is beautiful!

And I’ll just accept that I’m ridiculous…

And keep dancing!

Infection

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom and addiction.  I mean, once someone is free why would they ever return to their addiction.  Why do so many addiction programs fail to set people free in the first place?

Here’s my theory…

The heart that is not pursuing God can not be set free.

So only Christians can be free from addiction?

Yep.

So why do so many Christians struggle with addiction?

Because they stopped pursuing God, or never really started.

Going to church is not pursuing God, though it is a part.  Just like reading the bible, praying, worshiping, studying, memorizing.  They all have the potential to draw us closer to God but none can make us pursue God.

And maybe you’re like me.

I love God and want to pursue Him but fear hinders me.  I would love to blame others, my mom and dad, my wife, my job, my church to name a few.  But, I really can only blame myself.

Water is refreshing, life giving.  Food provides nutrients and tastes yummy.  I love milk.  I love chocolate.  But not after any of it has been sitting out for thirty days.

A wound will heal due to natural bodily processes if the infected tissue can be removed, drained, replaced.  But if it can’t, it will become gangrenous, poisonous.

That is what our lives are like.  We were designed to pour into others.  We were not designed to bury guilt and shame.  We were created for community, not isolation.  We came into the heart and mind of God with a specific purpose that can only be recognized as we are connected to Him.

God has invested so much in us through His word, the leaders He has given, the very life of Jesus given to us, the presence of His Holy Spirit inside of us.  We can live with what many would consider reckless abandon.

Or we can be an infection.

I Can’t Wait

I was praying for our youth group the other night and had this word from the Lord.  I don’t say that lightly, but don’t freak out on me either.  Youth group got cancelled so I thought I would share it with you.

I heard this:  “They’re waiting.”

Then I heard the following  (different voices), “I can’t wait till I graduate.  I can’t wait till I leave this house.  I can’t wait till I leave him.  I can’t wait till they can’t hurt me anymore.”

Then I heard, “I don’t want them waiting anymore.”

We are waiting.  We hold back from life because our circumstances, our environment is not what we want.  We won’t speak out about the wrong that we see.  We won’t speak out about the wrong that is being done to us.  We won’t pursue God, pursue His calling, pursue life with Him, because we’re waiting for life to change first.

It reminds me of a training exercise I was in when I was in the army.  We were attacking a fortified position and came under fire.  I hunkered down and looked back at my platoon sergeant.  He was frantically telling me to move and I refused.  I could hear the beeps from near misses on my training harness.  I turned back around and, “beep” I was hit.  The funny part was that I was mad at him for telling me to move.  It didn’t occur to me until later that he was trying to help me.

Well guess what, this is your call to move.  This is my call to move.  Don’t wait another second.  Speak out, speak up, get in there, get involved, press in, pursue God, pursue His love and calling on you.  Don’t wait.  You are not too old, or too young.  You are not too broken, too sinful, too ruined.  You are not DEAD.

The addiction that has its claws in you is not “fun” enough to hold you back from being what you were always meant to be.  So cast it off, be free.  Fear can not hold you anymore, rise above it and grab on to the Bible, His promises and truth.  Lies can’t deceive you anymore.  Live the way you were meant to live!

I can’t wait!

 

Unity

So much divides us.

We weather the political storms.  We weather the divisiveness that surrounds marijuana, homosexuality, our favorite teams, our favorite music group, our state, our culture.

Our individuality makes us unique and sets us, intentionally against the rest of the world.

I like punk rock.

I am a Christian.

I like chocolate and blueberry and Mexican and Chinese and Thai and Italian.

What can unite this diversity?

The world will say that Jesus divides us.  He says that he is the only way.  He says that no one comes to the Father (that would be God) except through Him.  He says that He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE.

If you don’t know Him, unity becomes difficult because we all say that we know the way.  We can define truth for ourselves.  We can determine our own morality, our own way of living.

But we can’t.  Oh my people, my friends, we can’t.

We are too selfish.

What can unite us?

It is called the cross.  He laid his life down for us, gave it up.  We lay our lives down for each other.  We love beyond reason, beyond self-fulfillment.  We submit ourselves to something greater, to something transcendent.

That is our only hope, our only bright future.

Image result for strength in unity images

You will never be…

You will never be skinny.

You will never be beautiful.

You will never be good.

You will never be brave.

You will never be worthy.

You will never be accepted.

You will never be loved.
You will never be more precious, no matter what your body type.

You will never be more beautiful than you are in His sight.

You will never be more clothed in righteousness than you are at the foot of the cross.

You will never be more fearless than you are with His Spirit.

You will never be more worthy to fulfill His calling, to obey His voice, than you are when you simply say, “YES!”

You will never be more accepted than you were when God had His first thought of you.

You will never be more loved than you are right now.
Feelings and voices may tell us different things.  But only one voice is speaking the truth.  

Which one will you believe?

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.

I Need A Miracle

I would love to write something poetic, deep, amazing to go with this title. The reality is, I need a miracle. Comforting cliches and perky platitudes will not pay my bills. The humility that I feel at not being able to provide will not be diminished by calming words. The voices whispering, “you’re such a loser,” will not be silenced by spiritual nonsense. I need a miracle.

I need You, God.

I got another rejection notice this morning. This one informing me that I had already applied to this position and the role that they have had listed for over a year is better left empty than filled with me. And yes, I have stooped to begging. Flippin’ burgers is looking good right about now.

Desperate times….

In the midst of my need, I remember again, I have no greater resource than my God. If i am desperate, let me pour that desperation out on You, my King.

“My God will supply…according to His glorious riches…”

Why Worry?

Worry seems to be taking over my life.  So many things that I can’t control.  So many things that are happening that I don’t like or want. I’m glad that God has brought me past the point of becoming angry over so many things.  But I still worry.

I hear people telling me that worry accomplishes nothing.  That worry is a lack of faith.  That things I worry about will most likely never happen.  All of it true.  And all of it is the underlying reason why I worry.

I worry because there is nothing I can do.  This in itself is a humanistic belief that I have stood on for way too long.  I can fix this. I can make this better.  But I can’t and so many of my efforts make things worse.

I worry because I don’t think God will do anything.  His timing is so off from mine.  I see problems escalating – no job, no money, bills unpaid, lose house, starving family – and He seems unmoved, unfluttered.  And sometimes, despite my prayers and fasting, despite my cries for help, He appears silent.

I worry because the things I worry about may not happen.  I’m old enough to know that there are consequences for bad behavior, that sin is still at work in this world, that people do stupid things, that I will fail again and again.  What I am not experienced enough to know is what those consequences will be, what destruction sin will visit on those I love, who will die because of stupid, ridiculous actions, what will be ruined because of me.

I love in Hebrews 12 when it says, “… we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” I can’t control much of anything in this world.  But I can do that.  Fix my eyes on the one who is strong enough, wise enough, patient enough, wonderful enough.  When I don’t understand, I can fix my eyes on the one who does and choose to believe that He loves me.

And when I can’t fix my eyes on anything because I’m too afraid, too discouraged, too defeated, I can trust in Him to lift my eyes up, pour His Spirit into me, and make me a warrior once again.

Because He does love me and He’s not finished with me yet.

Accurate vs. Real

I am sitting in my fear and unwillingness to move.  Sure that I will fail and that all my hopes and dreams will come to nothing.  In this mental desert, I find myself dwelling on Moses.

Moses was a great man of God.  He was humble and decisive.  He was courageous and powerful.  He was a lot of things that I would want to be as a man.  But he had problems, too.  It is interesting to me that when God tells him to go confront Pharaoh in the scene at the burning bush, Moses is found arguing with God.  “But Lord, who am I?  I’m a nobody.  I don’t speak well.  What if no one listens to me?”  What is surprising me right now is that Moses had legitimate arguments.  I’ve heard this story a thousand times and right now it is surprising me.

We don’t know everything about Moses but I am sure he had a speech impediment.  He had lost all standing in Pharaoh’s court.  He was now a shepherd in the desert of Midian, working for his father-in-law.  No land, no title, no army, no presence.  And no one did willingly listen to him, not even his own people, initially.

What is stopping me right now?  I have no money.  I have been a failure for so much of my life.  My wife doesn’t trust me, doesn’t believe in me, and she is justified in her opinion.  No one is listening and most of the time I feel like no one should listen.

That is accurate but it isn’t real.  These arguments work and rightfully hinder any ambition Moses had, that I now have.  But not in the face of the greater reality of my King.  He determines what He has called me to.  He walks out the process, knows the end from the beginning.  He commands favor and allows hardship.  He speaks over each challenge, each obstacle.  And because of Him, the accuracy of my failings becomes nothing, the truth of who I am becomes meaningless in light of the truth of who He is.

And in this, He is glorified.  He is praised.