Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hearing the words: "Well Done!" some day soon

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (NIV)

Watch this short film clip!

Well, we all know that some day we have to stand in front of our Lord and give an account of what we did with this life. And I gather that some people will literally hear the words “well done good and faithful servant”. But I wonder if any part of that will be left out when my turn comes around. Did I do anything "well" and complete? Was I really "good", or "faithful"? Can I sincerely be called a "servant", or was I self obsessed and selfish? I know as an athlete, there were times when I finished a sport completely spent, knowing full well that I gave it my all. But what about my spiritual life? How hard did I train? How much did I give? What does my scoreboard reflect?

But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NKJV)

I’m still in the game!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Gay people, seriously, just shut up!

So the people have voted, and a majority in California has chosen to ban gay marriage. I thought that was what the election process was all about. People have the power to vote; and then what the majority wants they get. Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Apparently not.

Here is the now famous video called Prop 8: the musical. Yep, there are some seriously funny people in this like Jack Black and John C. Reilly. But look at the amazing spin that is being put on social issues that have political ramifications these days. I hope you know enough of the Bible to see the absolute lies in this video. If you don’t, why not?

I don’t believe anybody in California is saying that gay people can’t continue to have civil unions. But I don’t even see where anyone has the guts to stand up and call the gay lifestyle what it is: wrong. The mastery of this propaganda is saying that someone who disagrees with your viewpoint is hate-mongering. I don’t see any hate in democracy. Actually, it looks like it is the other way around. Remember the old lady who gets the cross torn out of her hand and gets it stomped on? Or how about this:

Imagine if I went into a gay church and disrupted their service by handing out flyers about being straight. I’d be called a bigot and hate monger. There is definitely a double standard where political correctness is concerned in America. If I vote to pass a law mandating all illegal immigrants become naturalized citizens, I’d be accused of hating Hispanics. But when Jesse Jackson calls New York City “hymietown” or says that he wants to cut off Barack Obama’s balls, I guess that is OK. Greenpeace can torch Hummers to save “mother earth”. And PETA can throw blood on a celebrity in a fur coat yelling “fur is murder”. That is, of course…love. But when a Christian defends their belief system, they are considered hate mongers.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20
The beauty of these times we live in is that we are forced to take a stand. You know the old saying: “If a man doesn’t stand for something, he’ll fall for anything”. As the falling away begins, we must decide what we believe, why we believe it, and then become impervious to scurrilous attacks. Whiney gays, victimized blacks, and angry liberals love to accuse you and call you names like “hate monger”. But remember what Jesus said:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Need A Mountain Fix!

It takes a lot of guts for a man to speak the truth in love to another man. And a friend verbally smacked me down last night. I needed it. This blog has been taking a direction that is becoming less and less inspirational, and more and more negative. And that is because I have been feeling more and more tired, uninspired, and generally negative. That is a pretty strange phenomenon for being only a few days away from my wedding, huh?

I need a fix. And I’ll get it next week. People have various ways to “fill their tank” and “sharpen the saw”. My drug of choice: the mountains. And next week I’ll be in the beautiful Cascades in the Pacific Northwest at a private secluded cottage.

Ironically, God feels the same way. Mountains have played a prominent role throughout the Bible. The ark of Noah came to rest on a mountain. Lot and his daughters went to live in the mountains. Moses went up on a mountain to spend quality time with God. David went for protection from a raging Saul to the mountains. Elijah heard the still small voice on a mountain. There are famous mountains like Horeb, Sinai, and Zion sprinkled through the Old Testament. Jesus went up on a mountain to pray many times. And when Satan wanted to tempt him, where did he take him? To a high mountain. When John saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, where was he? Yep! You got it.

One of the Seven Angels who had carried the bowls filled with the seven final disasters spoke to me: "Come here. I'll show you the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb." He took me away in the Spirit to an enormous, high mountain and showed me Holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God, resplendent in the bright glory of God. Revelation 21:9-12 (The Message)

So I’ll post when I get back. And hopefully my words will reveal a new power, contentment, rest, and peace that I will find in the presence of my new bride and on the top of a mountain. The mountains are my drug, my fix, my refreshment.

And thank you J-Dawg for your brutally honest words! The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy. I appreciate it. I am not going to delete the post we discussed because it was honest, raw, and the way I felt at the time. Will it come back to bite me? Probably! But I can never be accused of not being honest and speaking my mind.
So blog reader, what about you? Do you need a fix? Or are you running on all eight cylinders and doing just fine? Can friends sense a loss of joy and power in your life? If so, I suggest you get back to where you were when you were at your best. And of course, I'll always recommend a trip to a mountain.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turn The Page!

Denial is like poison. I hate it. The worst part of denial is that searing pain you feel when you realize that you have been in it for some time. And denial is like a turd in the punchbowl at the prom. This should be the happiest time in my life. And yet I feel like I have been poked with a sharp stick as I sobered up today and had to face reality.

OK, so I am divorced and have been for almost nine years. During that whole time I was in denial about my children. I thought they were doing fine. I thought they saw at least one small positive about the whole ordeal. They are very much like me in one aspect: they can BS with the skill of an academy award winning actor. I guess they inherited that from me. I spent most of my life never being completely honest with anyone, much less myself.

So I am getting married in less than two weeks. I tried to make myself believe that this new blended family would work. That way I could feel happy about the collaboration of some very wounded and dysfunctional people.

Granted, I can deal with the fact that my soon to be stepson hates my guts. And I can even deal with the fact that my soon to be stepdaughter is being ruined by my soon to be wife. My lady love has yet to learn how to be a parent first and a friend second. And that type of relationship is scarring her daughter for life. But that is another story.

Today I had to come to terms today with the fact that my own children are shunning me. Maybe I am a bad father. Maybe they just don’t know how to process the fact that their dad is getting remarried. Maybe they have never really been able to communicate with me. If that is the case, the problem lies with me. I am the man, like Nathan the prophet said to King David.

I love my son more than any man on this planet. He is in another state doing an extremely amazing thing today. And I had to hear about it second hand through my daughter. I called him last night but he never returned the call. My daughter reached him successfully. Thank God for caller ID. That way we can let anyone we don’t particularly like go straight to voice mail. I asked him to be my best man at the wedding. He has yet to even call me to discuss the wedding. I hope he makes it. Because I’ll rent a best man or have my future step son (see above) be my best man. And that would be the saddest thing of all.

My daughter is my pride and joy. But she hasn’t been happy in a very long time. I had lunch with her today and I actually cried as I drove back to work. When did I lose her? Where did my little girl go? Did I ever have her, or am I completely full of crap? She shows so much tension towards my soon to be wife that I guess we will just see each other twice a year, Christmas and her birthday. I am between a rock and a hard place. I was told once that women try to pick someone who is just like her father. Will she end up with someone with whom she can have a true, honest, intimate relationship? Because if she picks someone like me, she will be screwed.

A new chapter in my life will begin soon. As I look back, I see a house that has been left in ruin and once connected inhabitants who have gone various ways in the winds of this world. And it hurts to see an empire in dilapidation. And now I take to myself new members and begin again. I feel old and tired. My wife will need strong leadership and a committed superhero husband. But I feel like she will get a false smile and rehearsed lines in order to keep a happy household. I love her, a lot! And if loving her means that I lose my children, then I briefly frown at God and yet still trust Him that He has this whole thing carefully thought out. I rely on God to take care of my children. I miss them so much, even though they are always within earshot. And I feel like I am watching them slip though my fingers. But the truth of the matter is that they haven't been in my palms in a very long time. I have been in denial. And I hate that realization.

Let the wedding come and let the new chapter in this already amazing life begin!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What is it about a gun?

What is it about a gun? My friend Beth was in the Ukraine and she visited the Kalashnikov plant where they manufacture the amazing AK47. She talked about firing it in fully automatic mode and she beamed like a lighthouse as she relived the experience. She can’t weigh 100 pounds soaking wet. Yet she felt really powerful. Her words: “It was so cool”.

Power is a funny thing. We all want it; lots of it. Jesus promised we would receive it after the Holy Ghost came in Acts 2. He said that all power was given to him. And he also said we would do the same things that he did here. So where is the disconnect?

Most of the Christians I know are fighting a real battle. They have to fight for their kids against the indoctrination of garbage like MTV. They have to battle their lustful thoughts every time they walk through a shopping mall and see women dressed like little whores. They have the daily battle against doubt, discouragement, the culture of a damned world, and propensity to do our own thing because the influence of rebellion and unrest is wafting through the air. Women have to battle for the affections of their husbands. Students have to find their place on the campus against the wall of peer pressure.

In the twelve step program, people recite over and over how powerless they are. But are they really? And isn’t it power that will eventually ease the war.

It’s time to arm up! It’s time to kick the enemy in the gonads. It might seem a little hypocritical because I have posted things in the past that were more of a faith statement than a report of current events. But I’m starting to get my power back. And it feels good. Maybe it’s my impending marriage. Maybe it’s God’s merciful intervention. But then again, maybe I’m just sick and tired of letting the bully come in, throw me down, and take my lunch money.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Planes are hitting my head!

Want to know what my problem has been lately? I don’t cast down imaginations. I hate them. But sometimes I listen to them, and let them set up camp in the fertile field of my mind. And the enemy knows that.

“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (New Living Translation)

In my life, every time I have periods of victory, it is because I have made the conscious effort to take captive my thoughts. Every time I get weak, pusillanimous, and become an eager partaker of sin, it is because I don’t cast down the tasty imaginations that seem to hit my brain at the most opportune moments. And that is what effective warfare is all about, isn’t it? Strike them when they are not ready where they least expect it. My head is a great battleground.

Look at the verbiage in that scripture: “knock down”, “destroy”, and “capture”. These are not wimpy verbs. And they do not describe something that can be done halfway. It’s time to kick some ass in the enemy’s camp!

I haven’t been very thankful lately!

I haven’t manned up and spoken to the enemy lately! And that is why things are not as they could be.

I have taken my eye off the finish line and somehow became diluted with the things of this world. Unfortunately, all the stuff I long for are about to be burned up.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10 (New King James Version)

So, what will I do? I guess the first aspect of change is to confess it. And so I lay myself bare on the Internet. It’s time to get back on track. And so I will! Because the stakes are too high!

“Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lamp stand from its place among the churches.” Revelation 2:5 (New Living Translation)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everything Changed at Mr M

I don’t remember exactly what grade I was in. I think it was the fourth grade. Maybe it was the fifth. I am not sure. But I remember being very afraid of the neighborhood bully Pat Reed. I don’t know why. He had never hit me. But I tried to avoid him whenever I rode my bike to “Mr. M” the convenience store a few blocks away. There was just something about him, an influence that radiated from him that made me fear him. So the day he told me he was going to fight me, everything changed. And I knew there was no way out.

“…but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.” 1 John 4:18 (King James Version)

I went home and told my mom that I was scheduled to fight Pat Reed at the Mr M after school. God how I miss my mother! She asked me how I felt about it, and I told her I was afraid. I had never been in a fight before, especially with the caliber of warrior like Pat Reed. She told me that she was going to teach me how to fight. And she did. We went into the back yard and she instructed me that I needed to keep my hands up. She talked about punching in the nose, and fighting fair. But mostly she told me to fight to win. I took an exam cram because the time of testing was at hand. As the hour approached, she took out some of my old Catholic School uniform khakis that I hadn’t worn since I started attending public school because she knew there might be a fray involved and she didn’t want me to tear my “good clothes”. I had to leave and I told her to stay at home. This was something I had to do by myself. I hopped on my bicycle and headed up the street. I wanted to turn around, but I DIDN’T.

“The children of Ephraim were armed and carrying bows, yet they turned back in the day of battle.” Psalm 78:9 (Amplified Bible)

The appointed time came. I was standing in the field adjacent to the store ready to get my ass thoroughly kicked. Pat Reed was late. I stood there with my friends anxious with anticipation. Time flew. Still no Pat. The sun started to set. My enemy, the object of my paralyzing fear was a no-show. In my mind he was going to make quick work of me and walk away in triumph with my bloody liver stuck to the top of a very sharp stick. It never occurred to me that the reason he never showed was because of my courage. It seems that as long as everyone feared Pat Reed, he had no need to show whether he was as tough as we all imagined or not. I never realized that my one single act of courage: simply agreeing to fight, would throw his world into a tizzy. And he would be exposed as a fraud. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing that day was. It was as if I walked out of a cave that imprisoned me my whole life into the light of confidence in myself.

Months later my friends and I were riding our bikes to the fireworks stand to buy some bottle rockets. We had made launchers to shoot Roman candles and bottle rockets at about everything we could. There on the side of the road coming towards me was Pat Reed. As his bike approached, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel fear. He stopped and looked at me, and demanded my brown paper sack full of fireworks. I dismounted my bike and said in defiance: “No”! Then I did something that changed the course of my life forever. I walked over to him and pushed him down. He got up, but he didn’t swing at me. He looked stunned and picked up his bike. He quickly got on and rode away as fast as he could. I couldn’t believe it. The object of my terror, the bane of my school existence, the nonvanquishable foe was nothing but a little boy with a need for some serious counseling. I was determined to never be held hostage to that kind of fear ever again!

So why do I write this story? Because I read my daughter’s blog tonight and it made me sad. I wonder if my mother felt sad when she thought about how much I was afraid of Pat Reed. And I also wonder why I never took my daughter in the backyard and taught her how to fight when she was young. I now wish I would have told her how to punch financial fears right in the nose. I lament not having taken out the khaki garments of faith and told her to “bitch slap” the enemy when he whispers in her ear how God will not provide for her. I regret not showing her how to hold her fist of assurance in God right in front of her face to fend off heavy blows. I wish I could hold her as fear rides her way on her road to the fireworks stand. And most of all, what I wouldn’t give to be able to watch her as she pushes the despair of her not knowing what to do right off of his rusty bicycle. She is such a warrior. But somehow I forgot to tell her that. I always tried to let her know that she is loved. But sadly, I did a very poor job of letting her know how strong she is. She has no idea that Pat Reed is actually afraid of her, and not the other way around. But if she will just ride towards Mr M in expectation, I believe that God will show her things that will change her life forever.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2 (King James Version)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

YouTube, MeTube, and UsTube

Occasionally something comes to me from a coworker that really matters. In my office we swap lots of emails, and plenty of YouTube videos. Most of them are videos that were totally a waste of time to watch. Granted I chuckle when I see stupid crooks or newscaster bloopers. But mostly there are videos sent to me that I won’t even remember watching one week from now. And then came this one. And I thought it was so significant that I wanted to share it here. Give it a look.

I know I am supposed to end each blog post with something profound. But the video did that for me. All I want to remind you of is that your life has been carefully thought out, and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. God knows who you are, and where you are. He knows how you feel, and sees your secrets. There is no dirty laundry hidden from the Lord. And His hand is upon you. Be encouraged that your Maker is thinking about you and smiling.

”For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (New King James Version)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Time To Loosen My Grip

Every time I spend time with my children I become a selfish brat. I know deep down in my heart the way that it works. Here is what the Bible says:

“Don't you see that children are GOD's best gift? The fruit of the womb, his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.” Psalm 127:3-5 (The Message)

So my head tells me that my children are “on loan” from God. They belong to Him. And I have been entrusted with their care and upbringing for such a brief time until I have to send them on their way. But I don’t want to. My inner untransformed brat wants them all for myself.

Two Sundays ago I spent time on the phone with my son. He is selling for Southwestern Company in Indiana, and is very busy all summer long. Yes, I realize that it is a “Cats in the Cradle” moment. But as I sat in my car listening to him talk, and swapping thoughts with him, I wanted to tighten my grip on him. I love him so much. And I don’t want him to grow up. I want him to stay the little blond boy that would curl up in my lap and sleep while I stroked his hair.

And what can I say about my daughter? She is my pride and joy, and a gift from above that I have never been worthy to receive. I spent the day with her last Sunday and can’t even begin to verbalize just how much I love her. We ate pitas and ice cream, walked around the square in Denton, and spent some serious father/daughter bonding time. What I wouldn’t give to have her five year old little hand holding mine as we walked. What price I wouldn’t pay to hear her little voice talk as her tiny feet patted the sidewalk and strived to keep up. I wanted to defiantly clutch her amazing life in my white knuckles, and yell at God that I wasn’t going to let go. “She is mine! All Mine!”

But the truth is that neither of those children has ever been mine. And the fact that our Lord allowed me to be exposed to them for as long as He did shows nothing but the generous and merciful character of God.

”Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation nor shadow of turning.” James 1:17 (Darby Translation)

So I thank my Maker for all the goodness He has so generously bestowed upon me. And I release my grasp so my children can be free of my selfish parental whims. I can finally derive pleasure watching them rise up to fulfill the amazing destinies that are already beginning to manifest for them in the world.

Thanks God for loaning me those two. Please keep your loving hand upon them. And give them their own children that were as much of a joy to parent as those two were to me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bum Nation: A Rant!

So this will be my first blog post that has absolutely no scriptures in it. But I have a pet peeve to air and my fingers are flying across the keyboard. I was on YouTube listening to different versions of an amazing song called “She Moves through the Fair”. It is an incredible song that is a cross between a Celtic love story and a ghost story from The Twilight Zone. All of my favorite groups from Pentangle, to Fairport Convention, to Richard Thompson, to Sinead O’Connor, to the enchanting Lorena McKennitt have all done great versions of this song. And then I came across this video. It is a beautifully melodic version of the song put to clips of the movie “Becoming Jane”. Give it a watch.

Don't look at the hoppy dancing they were doing. Look at the event. Look at the people. And my question is: where have the days of class and style gone? I remember when flying, one would dress up and head to the airport. Now, people dress like bums when they travel. I remember getting dolled up for church because it had a sort of respect and piety about it. Now, since the church has become “seeker friendly” and doesn’t want to offend anybody for any reason, we allow the most flirtatious and relaxed attire. Yes, we say things like “God looks at the heart and not at the outward appearance”. But torn jeans and concert t shirts would never have crossed David or Solomon’s mind. And even Jesus himself, who owned nothing, wore a robe so nice that his Roman crucifiers refused to tear it in pieces. They cast lots for it. Which they would probably not have done if He sported a "Caesar Augustus World Tour XXIV" wife beater tunic and cut-off gladiator shorts.

Granted, I speak as an American. I know it is different around the world. In Russia, they might only own one nice outfit, but they will wear it with pride and dignity. They have a brilliant mix of poverty and class. Somehow we love to be the “rock and roll country” where success can come looking like a beach bum, and achievement seems to surround those who lack style and grace. I wonder if people will eat like pigs, belching and farting at the marriage supper of the lamb. I wonder if people will recline and put their feet on the coffee table in front of Jesus. I wonder if teenage girls will dress like little whores as they seek the face of skanks like Paris Hilton and not the face of their Maker. Where has the class gone?

I have to believe that it is different “out there”. I have to believe that those who are called sons of the Most High God actually present themselves like princes. And ladies have the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; because I know that it is of a great price in the eyes of God. (1 Peter 3:3-5) (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I had to eventually throw in a scripture)

Are the Cary Grants of the world all dead? Does class only exist on the classic movie channel? Have the Doris Days been replaced by the Britney Spears of the world? Does anyone even know what panache and flair mean? Have grace and style been replaced by gangsta bling and booty calls? Are the words "Please", "Thank You", "Yes, Sir", and "No Mam" sitting in a glass case next to the dinosaur bones in a museum? Where are the men who open a car door for a lady and offer her their seat on a subway? Where has customer service gone?

What a strange time we live in. It is curious to see how this all plays itself out. Rant over!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just "Man Up"!

I hate it when I see something in the Bible that hurts a little bit because I know it applies directly to me. But I have been studying the life of King Saul and I got roughed up spiritually a little bit by something I never noticed before.

What do you immediately think of when King Saul comes to mind? Bad king? Trying to kill your hero David? The famous “to obey is better than sacrifice” story with Samuel? His willingness to kill his own son for eating honey? It is amazing how bad he became later in his life. But I believe that many of his mistakes were based on the fact that he really didn’t know who he was. And he didn’t act like his calling. And many of us suffer from the same malady. This is what I mean. Here is what the Bible says about Saul:

“There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.” 1 Samuel 9:1-2 (New Living Translation)
But when Samuel came to tell him that he was going to be an honored guest at his table, here was Saul’s response:

“I am the seer!” Samuel replied. “Go up to the place of worship ahead of me. We will eat there together, and in the morning I’ll tell you what you want to know and send you on your way. And don’t worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.” Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like thisto me?” 1 Samuel 9:19-21
So who is telling the truth? Here is a man from a wealthy family who had Brad Pitt looks and Fabio charm. Yet his answer was that he just ain’t nothing special. Was he trying to play Samuel for a fool with false humility? Or did he really see himself as nothing special? Could it have been a mistake?

“Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the LORD has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.” 1 Samuel 10:1
And to make sure that Samuel hadn’t been drunk or high, it came time for Saul’s royal coronation. Does Saul proudly step up to the plate and confirm the desires of the people?

“So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the LORD, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the LORD, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the LORD, “Where is he?” And the LORD replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else. Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the LORD has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!” 1 Samuel 10:20-24
Can you imagine hiding among the baggage when you are supposed to be crowned as king? Why did he do that? Was he afraid? I believe that he just couldn’t buy into the fact that he was called by God to become a king and lead a nation. This paralyzing low self image than many Christians have (me included) keep them from being all that God has called them to become.

So what does the new king Saul do? Does he take up residence in a palace? Does he start attending to matters of state? Does he become defender of the kingdom? Nope! It’s time to plow. And when the enemy comes, one can either rise to their destiny, or return to their common ways.

“When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the people about their plight, everyone broke into tears. Saul had been plowing a field with his oxen, and when he returned to town, he asked, “What’s the matter? Why is everyone crying?” So they told him about the message from Jabesh. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry. He took two oxen and cut them into pieces and sent the messengers to carry them throughout Israel with this message: “This is what will happen to the oxen of anyone who refuses to follow Saul and Samuel into battle!” And the LORD made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one. When Saul mobilized them at Bezek, he found that there were 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 men from Judah.” 1 Samuel 11:4-8

It took a visit from the spirit of God to transform Saul into the leader, warrior, and strong king that God had called him to be. And he turned a nation of crying, cowering weenies into a mighty battle force. Read the rest of the chapter. Saul kicks some Ammonite butt!

So I end with one scripture to think about.

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:6 NKJV
Jesus, like Samuel has called us to be kings and priests. Are we hiding in the baggage? Are we plowing in the field looking just like every other laborer on the planet? Or are we ready to drop the low self image, and buy into the image that Jesus has given to us. It’s time to back away from the ploy and draw the sword. The church needs leaders. There is some enemy butt to kick.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Quit!

Since we recently came out of the Easter season, your church probably spent a lot of time talking about the crucifixion/resurrection story. And I hope you had a chance to really meditate on some of the lesser known stories that have been told in the Gospels. Few ministers preach about Peter’s denying of Jesus three times. I guess we don’t really want to rag on Peter because we wonder what we would have done if we were put into the same sandals. I have never heard anyone preach about how John outran Peter to the tomb of Jesus. I used to wonder why that was mentioned in John’s gospel. But the more I thought about John and his indescribable love for Jesus, it makes perfect sense. How about Pilate's wife or the soldiers who were guarding the tomb? Ever wonder about Barabbas, the rest of the story? I do.

But there is a guy who I can guarantee you would have quit his job the minute his encounter with Jesus ended. His name was Malchus, and he was the servant of the high priest. You know the story.

”Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11 (New King James Version)

So here is the scoop. A band of armed Jewish temple guards come to arrest Jesus. Malchus is tagging along because his boss, the high priest is the head man in charge of this altercation. Peter doesn’t charge the priests soldiers. He doesn’t even charge the high priest himself. Who does he attack? Poor Malchus, who is just there because his boss called a midnight field trip. And after feeling the blow, he probably saw his ear sitting on the ground in a bloody mass.

Then imagine the hardened criminal and rebel rouser Jesus, whom you have come to arrest, reach down and put your ear back on. Can you imagine how much love must have been bursting through his eyes? Can you see what it might have felt like? Can you imagine how that encounter would have changed you forever?

The guards, even after seeing that miracle close up; continue in their arrest of Jesus. I wonder if any of them simply dropped their weapon and said “Forget this, I’m outta here!”

Could Malchus have ever gone back to work for the priests after seeing the meeting where grace and mercy encountered religious tradition? And in his life, grace won.

Have you had a close and personal encounter with Jesus? Has He touched your face? Has He shown you the kind of mercy that has changed your life forever? And if so, have you simply walked back to work for the world?

If you are the servant of the current religious machine, I challenge you to quit your job, drop your nets and follow the One who reattaches ears and reassembles broken lives.

Friday, April 04, 2008

My Daughter Made Me Cry

I apologize for not posting here for a while. But I want you to know a little bit about my daughter Chelsea. She might be the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. And I believe a parent can have no greater joy than seeing their children come to know the Lord, and then actually "walk the walk".

"Don't you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep." Psalm 127:4-5 (The Message)

So that being said, I was on my daughter's page on facebook today because she and I have a hot and heavy game of scrabulous working. And I came across the following post. My initial reaction was to be mad because I didn't help her and was totally unaware of her condition at that time. But I started seeing the situation beyond my own self-indulgant fragile male ego and started seeing the beauty of suffering and why God allows us to go through painful things. The end result is astonishing, and without faith it is impossible to please Him. Here is that post in it's entirety:

God wasn't lying in Acts 14:17

"So, as some of you know, I have been going through an incredibly rough time financially lately...and to be honest last week, I was really upset with God because I didn't understand why I was trying my hardest to be faithful to Him and my life was just so torn up and I was left with no sense of peace or hope. I did not understand what God was trying to do in my life, and I was so beat down that I had absolutely nothing left to give.

So, last Wednesday I cried out to Him for about the thousandth time and begged him for some money or some peace or something. I realized that I would need to make about $600 by the end of the month to just pay my back bills so that I would still have electricity and phone next month (that did not even include current bills or bills for April or credit card bills that have been accruing interest from school and a few unwise spending choices in my past). Now $600 seems a little impossible.. but I just continued to have faith that if God wanted to, he would bring it.

So, the next day I swallowed my fear and pride and went up to Hannah's to pick up my w-2 (which ended up being great because I was scared to go in but I had a long talk with some of the old managers, and it was really great). So, point being, I did my taxes that night, and my refund was $963, which is crazy since it was only $200 last year! Which was really awesome... but that could have been business days and that doesn't get me money in time... so I was a little worried still....but there was still my first weekend to work.

So, Friday night, my first night, I work my butt off and walk away with only $9. So, I was upset, and I didn't know what to do, and I was just emotionally exhausted literally... I just cried myself to sleep and begged God for help. So, the next morning at CR, I almost didn't go because I just didn't think I could take another day of focusing on more of my problems... but I felt really convicted... so I just went... and I sat there broken and crying the whole time... and when it was my time to talk I just broke down and told the whole story and asked for prayer... and it felt great to get it all out.

So, after church two ladies in my group pulled me aside and each gave me a hundred dollars...and I just cried and thanked them and thanked God and was excited that God provided.

So, if that wasn't enough, that night I made great tips, then tonight, three ladies from my CR group came up to work tonight to watch a movie they didn't even want to watch so, they could tip me.. which meant so much to me.... and then they handed me this envelope in it from one of their homegroups with almost $500 dollars in it! This was all money collected from women who don't even know me! So, in the last 5 days, God has given me almost $850 real dollars and hypothetically (counting my refund that is yet to be deposited) almost $1,800! In 5 Days!!!!(Which doesn't even include all the food and smoothies and massages me friends have given me. That is out of control! And all this is from people that I barely know or don't even know at all (or am lucky enough to be bound to through homegroup love)that just want to show me God's love.

So, how can anyone say that God doesn't provide for those who trust in Him? And even if you are someone who is turned off by God or by Christians in general, how could you not want to serve a God that stirs love and generosity like that in people's hearts?

So, thank you God, and thank you to everyone who has helped me out (fiscally, emotionally, or otherwise). Words cannot express my gratitude, and I just pray that someday God will allow me to help someone out like this, too."

I can't tell you how proud I am of my daughter. And how honored I feel to have been given the role as being her father in this plan.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (New International Version)

May you fathers out there be blessed with quality children like I have been. My daughter is a total warrior. She is stronger spiritually than any other woman I know here. And she deals painful blows to our enemy because she is covered in the blood of the Lamb and her testimony is strong.

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;" Revelation 12:11 (King James Version)

God bless you Chelsea. If you ever come across this blog post may you always know how cherished you are by BOTH of your fathers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A World of Sputterers

It is so easy to completely BS our fellow Christian brothers. Seriously! Churches are full of “sputterers”. They look just like you and me. They sing with raised hands and pray with scripture quoting expertise. But they are about to sputter out. It's called "image management" when a man's insides don't match his outsides. And that is why Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. If you are not sure what I am talking about, then watch this video. It is a catchy tune by a group called “eels” and it may be one of the best representations of what I am saying. Watch it to the end and pay particular attention to the lyrics. It's dark, but oh so true.

We use lots of things as Novocain for the soul. There are two things we can do with the pain we accumulate from living in this world. We can stuff it and try to act like everything is OK. Most of us are masters at the art of image management. But the problem is that it will always eventually keep resurfacing. So what do we do? We keep injecting ourselves with “Novocain for the soul”. It may be sexual things like porn, masturbation, strip clubs, or promiscuity. They will definitely deaden the pain; at least for a brief time. We use overeating, overworking, and over-just-about-everything to stay distracted. And it works for a while. But then we are right back where we started. Drugs and alcohol are the preferred deadener of choice for much of Christianity with secret lives and thriving addictions. That is why programs like Celebrate Recovery are so popular in churches today. Or maybe we can just live vicariously through others by wasting our lives away in front of American Idol or Desperate Housewives. That way we don't have to face our character flaws.

The second thing we do is the only one that really works. Or as eels say:

“You better give me something to fill the hole; before I sputter out”.

Jesus is the only thing that can fill that “God shaped void" some have in their born again lives. Even saved sons can feel pain and anxiety when they wander away from the one who called them into His kingdom. And Jesus spent lots of time seeking for those who are sputtering out. He came for the "lost sheep". And even lost sheep are still sheep; but somehow they have lost their way.
“He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.” Isaiah 42:3 (New Living Translation)

And how does Jesus do that? He uses people just like you and me. We are the ones who are called to find those who are sputtering out and show them the only real way to fill the hole.

"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way" Isaiah 35:3 (New International Version)

Have you helped a brother in need lately? Are you one of the Christians who look great on the outside, but inside you are weak, hurting, lonely, and feeble? If we don’t help those who are sputtering, who will? I admire the honesty of the group eels. They are speaking for an entire generation who are losing it. “Life is hard. And so am I. You better give me something, so I don't die.” Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly.

Grab a sputterer this week. Take them to lunch. Listen to them without judging them. Love them like Jesus would. Those who have been forgiven much will love much. And love covers a multitude of sins.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Britney Spears and Job's Wife

A week ago I thought Britney Spears was nothing but a skanky ho. There was absolutely NOTHING about her that I really cared about. And it made me angry that our media spent so much time reporting about her chaotic life. From her pantiless shots with gal-pal and fellow lowlife Paris Hilton, her numerous mental breakdowns, frequent rehab visits, and her continually showing herself to be possibly the worst mother on the planet; to her latest ambulance drama, she was a non issue to me. So it floored me when I heard the voice of the Lord during an intercessory prayer meeting tell me to pray for her. I actually wanted to rebuke Satan for what I thought was a false mental message. Why should I pray for someone that I have absolutely zero interest in? Aren’t there homeless Russian children that He wanted me to intercede for? I wanted to pray for someone that really deserved prayer, not someone like Britney. But God taught me an interesting lesson that day, and He did it by prompting me to think about another lady in the Bible that nobody ever really talks about.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time you have read the book of Job. There is no greater story of trial, perseverance, and restoration anywhere in the Bible. You Joseph fans might debate me on that one, but let’s move on. The book begins with a bang. God has a dialogue with Satan and the devil is given free rein to destroy Job’s life. He wastes no time in bringing swift destruction to everything Job holds dear. Everything except the one thing that I thought Satan would go after first: his wife. Why did Satan kill everyone but Job’s wife? And what could that possibly have to do with praying for Britney Spears?

The only thing we really know about Job’s wife is that after his trial began, she said the famous words that makes every man snarl under his breath:

“His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" Job 2:9 (New International Version)

Ouch! That one must have really hurt. Satan is the master of using people for his own gain if they will let him do so. And the fact that he kept Job’s wife alive to speak words of discouragement is a brilliant tactical move on his part. There is nowhere in the book of Job where it says that his wife comforted him. A dog licked his sores. But as for his "better half" there is nowhere where it says that she stayed with him and helped him or cared for his wounds. His three friends at least sat with him and had open dialogue. But not his wife. Granted, she had just lost her children and possessions also. But only one thing could be more discouraging to Job than seeing his beloved wife killed? It would have to be seeing his wife live and verbally cut him down, and then abandon him.

Satan has tried this tactic on many occasions. He spoke through Peter to Jesus, and Jesus rebuked Satan while talking to Peter.

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Matthew 16:23 (New International Version)

You will find many times in the Bible where the words of a friend were used as a weapon of attack. And Satan will use and abuse people in this world until he is done with them. Then he will waste them. I know that is not a foreign concept to you. There are probably people coming to your mind right now that fit the bill.

Here is an example from my home town of Arlington, Texas. Does the name Shannon Wilsey ring a bell? Probably not. But she became one of the biggest porn stars in the world under the name Savannah. And when the devil was done with her, he had her kill herself. That is his modus operandi: use them, abuse them, and then waste them. You can probably think about many victims from celebrities to rock stars who have been used and then wasted.

So what does all this have to do with Britney Spears? I wonder what would have happened to Shannon Wilsey if people would have interceded for her from their knees before she killed herself. Was her "profession" so reprehensible that comfortable Christians wouldn't even pray for her? Had she gone too far? And I now have no doubt that the God who will leave the 99 and go after the one lost sheep has decided that he loves poor, misguided, lost Britney Spears just as much as He loves both you and I.

Our task dear friends, is to deliver as many as we can from the jaws of the enemy before the death blow is dealt. I challenge you to ask God whom He would like YOU to pray for. Maybe it will be someone you could care less about. It is a hard thing to pray for a pedophile priest, a mass murderer, a wife beater, or some foreign terrorist. But those are exactly the type of people that Jesus came to this world to save. And it is our duty to be salt and light to the most unlikable of people.

“And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Jude:22-23