Foul Weather Friend

Fair weather fans are chided for their lack of dedication when the going gets tough. Is the team down and out? Call them bums and distance yourself until they get on a hot streak. When they start winning again quietly slide back in and claim you had been there the whole time. I want to postulate that we do this in a bit of reverse fashion with God, we are indeed often a “foul weather friend”.

In the book of Luke chapter 17 verses 11-19 there I a story about Jesus healing 10 men of leprosy. When He enters the village they are standing at a distance and cry out to Him for mercy. He tells them to go show themselves to the priests. As the men are on their way to do so they realize they are cleansed of their leprosy. Only one of the ten returns to thank Jesus; the Samaritan.

There are many things we can pull from this story, but I just want to focus on one….nine really. Nine foul weather friends of Jesus. They were all, “Hey buddy take mercy on us; life as a leper is rough.” Jesus being the wonderful God that He is did just that. The only problem was these nine guys never showed back up to say thanks or give Him glory for the miracle He just performed in their life.

How many of us today treat Jesus the same way? Life is hard. I think I have mentioned before that it baffles me how people get through life without the Lord to do the heavy lifting. No wonder so many people are crushed under the weight and turn to all kinds of worldly sources promising relief. We just weren’t designed to handle the effects of sin.

Now to get back on topic, I was describing life without God, but what about those of us who believe in God and choose to live like the nine lepers? Foul weather comes our way, the storms of life begin to rage and we are in great turmoil and despair. “Jesus, have mercy on me; life is so hard and I am so weak, I need Your help.” The Lord steps in and rescues us from our situation. Do we go back and thank Him? Or do we say, “Now that I’m back on my feet and settled I’m ready for whatever comes next.”

We might pay homage to the Lord a time or two, but all to soon we fail to recognize any sort of real need for Him in our life. The adversity we were facing at work is gone, the troubles you were having in your family have gone, the financial pressure you were under has been relieved. The things that were bringing tears and driving you to your knees to call out to God; all the pain and pressure has been removed. Do we shout out praises and thanks or do we go right back to our busy lives now that we don’t have anything tripping us up?

I can only speak for myself and I know far too many times I have found myself in the company of the nine. Let us today decide that we will dive deeper into the free-flowing living waters. Lets make serving God and seeking Him a way of life and not the result of circumstance. If we will prepare our hearts and minds to know Him in the sunshine; He will be our umbrella in the rain.

photo credit: jaci XIII <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/34700343@N08/32653079762″>Rain and wind</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

 

Humble Christian or Comfortable Coward?

I have viewed this topic from generally two viewpoints in my life. I’m sure they aren’t the only two, but they are the main two that I often come back to. How to handle sharing my faith with others. Do I go about it in a manner that is the quiet church mouse, no pun intended. Or banging the alarm until there is bleeding of ears. I often hear people say things like; I don’t need a t-shirt to let people know I’m a Christian. I  understand that, I really do. It can also be a good test for yourself if you are living out your faith. Are you bearing fruits that go much deeper than words? Would the world recognize your Christianity if your tongue were cut out? I respect this position and view of impacting others; but I seldom take it.

I know a lot of our approach can be personality. I’m naturally outgoing. You would think going out and just talking to any old Tom, Dick, or Harry about Christ would be a breeze for me, but it’s not. I have all the same hang ups as every other person. I turn into the worlds biggest introvert. In these instances, I prefer the quiet; let my “actions speak” method. I’m not trying to say every person who operates under these pretenses is a comfortable coward; but from my own experiences at times that is an easier road for me.

Other people see keeping God as a background in the conversation as a polite way not to be too forceful with their religion. What if it was like this with your family? What if you came into work and started talking about your days off and the fun you had with your spouse/children/parents and I said knock that off you’re really offending me with the way you’re forcing your family on me. Would you comply and then separate conversations about your family out of your everyday work life? How can we be expected to do the same with our creator; the one who loved us enough to die for us, the one who suffered and was judged guilty so that we could be pronounced blameless?

I’m not saying we should be pestering people twenty-four seven at work or public spheres about accepting what Christ did on the cross and reconciling their relationship with Him so as to give Him glory and spend eternity in heaven……..but can anyone tell me why on earth you would never bring up the matter of where a person is going to spend eternity? Ultimately any approach is better than no approach, but in a culture where Jesus has to be eradicated from the public square make sure your audience doesn’t mistake your attempts at displaying Christianity for mere “niceness”. Occasional dialogue about the cross of Christ is only offensive to those who parish.

 

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Is the Truth Worth It?

There are fights worth having, and there a fights that you just walk away from and let go. I’m wondering if the truth is worth having a fight over. Will you stand on an island and be bombarded by enemies for the cause of the truth?

Our society at present appears content on ripping its face in half. We are a house divided and we will not stand. People apparently are ready to set fires, assault one another, loot stores, and pepper spray those of differing viewpoints. Not the worst thing happening in our country today, but a sad sign of things to come none the less.

I am not going to make this post political. I don’t really care if you are a democrat or republican. Perhaps you are the noble independent who doesn’t play into partisan politics. Great, each and every one of you people need to stop and think about what the truth means to you.

Regardless of your particular thoughts on the political atmosphere of today; there is a truth that transcends left and right, gay and straight, black and white, pro-life and pro-choice, legal and illegal. That truth is Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. What does that mean for those of us that know the truth? Lets look at a few examples from the bible to see what is in store for someone who wants to rally behind that truth, for someone who isn’t willing to allow man to dictate to him what he must think or say, but someone who will freely worship Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

“Yea, and all that live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12)

strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith. “We must endure many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:22)

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:9-10)

Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are being beaten, tortured, and killed by their governments and countrymen. We have an incredible freedom of religion in this country, but it doesn’t keep itself intact.

Regardless of the enemy of liberty, be it the left with their continual replacement of God’s moral judgements with their own; or the right trading freedom for the hope of security via an interventionist military across the globe…..someone should stand up for it. When our liberty is gone, so too is our liberty in religion. On the current path; within a generation or two we won’t have to worry about making it to church on time, because church will be a crime.

photo credit: Ben Ledbetter, Architect <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/53041695@N00/32149647430″>Let’s just hope your meeting doesn’t go too badly.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Thank You

I was so hungry then. I was naked, destitute. I was a total stranger. I didn’t know you, you didn’t know me. Everything in my life was just so dark. You though,you are amazing. You took me in close to you. You fed me, you clothed me, you brought me out to see the light. I knew nothing without you. Now while I do know pain; I also know joy and contentment. Look at us now….look how close we are. It feels like we have been together for a lifetime, and I guess we have. Thank you for leading me into this new world, and leaving behind an empty womb.

For Mommy, from London.

Heed the Red Flag, or Face the Jolly Roger

We are all prone to failures in our lives. We give in to the demands of our environment, and to the demands of our own internal desires. Most times these are various vices spread out across our lives and while they are a problem, they are not a continual debilitating problem. Then there those of us who have vices that consume. They elevate themselves to a position of authority in our lives and command our attention. Habitual sins, addictions, human nature on steroids; whatever term you use the outcome is the same. You make choices that you wish you hadn’t and hurt yourself and others in the process.

This post is for those of you who have gotten free of a particular vice. Was it superstars of sin like drugs/sex/rock and roll? Or is it the more mundane inability to keep from talking about people behind their back or perhaps gambling your family’s wealth away? No matter what the problem is, Jesus is the solution. He doesn’t solve all these problems in the same way. Some are cured at the drop of a hat in a miracle moment, others are a long process of failing more than you succeed. The point is, once he has brought you to a place of freedom, how do you avoid going back into chains? The Jolly Roger is the skull and cross bones flag of many pirate ships that I’m sure you are all aware of. There are other flags that come up before you find yourself a captive of the enemy, red flags.

Red flags are the still small voice of the Holy Spirit prodding us away from temptation. The Lord doesn’t want us living in bondage to sin. Most people these days think that freedom is their freedom to do whatever they want. They fail to recognize that living in that manner leads to bondage. True freedom is in the fact that  you are free to say no to these sins. You are not under their power. That is the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, the freedom to say no.

The trouble comes when you have been saying no for quite a while and start to forget that it is the power of the Lord that allows you to say no and not your own. This is when the red flags start for me. If you find yourself trying to rationalize away your red flags you will find the enemy boarding your ship and taking you hostage again.

I know a major red flag in particular for myself is when I start to think, “Oh, I can handle that situation.” The second you find yourself thinking this do me a favor and run to the Lord in prayer, or to a friend to ask for help. That is the whole point, we are supposed to comfort one another and help one another overcome sin. If we don’t heed the red flag because of pride though, eventually our own strength will fail and our tireless enemy will conquer.

Don’t be a victim of a lack of attention to red flags. They are warnings to guide your life in the right direction. They are there to help you have life and have it more abundantly. Our Lord desires that we have the best in life, and the best in life is life without sin. Strive for that and trust His strength and not your own. Stay focused on the Lord and encourage a brother or sister.

 

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3 Reasons I Left Facebook…You Won’t Even See #5

Happy New Year, and God bless. I hope your 2017 is starting out great. How are you doing with your resolutions? We are only a week in so I imagine the diets and gym memberships are still holding strong. How about you smokers? Stress got you down yet? Hang in there, the fight can be won.

2015 was my smoking resolution and if I made one in 2016 I’d say I didn’t achieve it because I don’t recall what it was. This year my resolution is to exit Facebook. I haven’t made up my mind if it will be forever or just for the year. If you made it to this blog off of Facebook it will be because I had my wife share it. Am I allowed to criticize the almighty blue “F” without everybody getting defensive?

People are funny. When you put it out there that you are a Christian and pleasing God is your goal; you’re actions and motives are suddenly suspect. Do the wrong thing and you’re a hypocrite. Do the right thing and you are ok, unless you take it too far and then you clearly think you are better than everyone else. For instance; when I say I haven’t drank since 2008 (All glory to God, by his grace and not my goodness) I usually hear, “Well that is good, but remember the bible just says not to be drunk; there isn’t anything wrong with a few beers.” These are the same people who will have to be sure I know that they aren’t on Facebook too much, and they just use it to stay in touch with family/friends, and to stand up for God against the army of wicked memes. This isn’t about any of you fine  Facebookians or the way you choose to spend your time. It is simply about a decision for me. I would encourage you just to ponder the reasons I’m leaving and ask yourself if you might want to curtail your usage any at all.

With all that being said, why the exit?

Reason #1: Time. I didn’t realize just how much time I was wasting mindlessly scrolling along.  I have been able to get a ton more productive things done this past week. Obviously it hasn’t been very long, but the difference is noticeable and I’m liking where it’s headed. Between this change and my wife’s knack for knowing what I need to be doing this looks to be a productive year.

Reason #2: Sensory Overload. I have found that I sometimes can’t silence the onslaught of memes, comments, and clickbait article titles bouncing around in my head. When you spend so much time connected, sometimes putting the phone down long enough to charge isn’t enough to disconnect. When I can’t quiet the noise even when going to pray or read my bible I take that as a good indicator I should probably just walk away.

Reason #3: Digital Bar. Facebook is like a digital bar. There are some fine folks there who just want to have a few drinks and socialize. The problem is the plastered girl shouting obscenities, the guy sharing memes of half-naked women, the girl sharing memes of half-naked women that somehow opposes the guy sharing memes of half-naked women (I’m as confused as you are by it, only militant feminists get it), the man and woman locked in a verbal death match over political policies, clowns, gorillas, memes making fun of fat people, people threatening to kill people sharing memes making fun of fat people…….I quietly “unfollow” my way to the back door and in the quiet sanity of reality ask a few friends, “You want to meet up somewhere else? This place seems a little crazy to me.”

 

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The Nothing

Do we have any NeverEnding Story fans in the blogosphere? I loved those movies. I recently discovered there is a third movie in the series, so I’m going to be checking that out. You can tell I stay real current with the flow of culture. Anyways, there was this villain called The Nothing. He stripped all the life away from the people and the world in the movie, he just sucked them all in. It wasn’t so much a he, as much as it was a state. A state of dying dreams, apathy, and unbelief. The spark and wonder of life sucked in and extinguished. I feel that way sometimes with my life. I have all these bursts of energy, hopes, dreams. Fresh ideas of ways to serve the Lord, ways to influence people; to impact them. Then comes The Nothing.

I am sucked in to work, to mind numbing apps, to YouTube, Facebook, to anything this world can offer. Anything that can distract me from the mission. The mission of sharing the love of God. That is what we are here for; to share His love and glorify His name. I know I’m only capable to do things through His strength and not my own, but I am responsible for obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You know when God isn’t going to use you? When you are three seasons deep into a tv show to the point that you would rather be watching that than take a call from an old friend, or have some company over. Maybe if said company wants to not speak and quietly be entertained by our magic  box on the wall. The only way for The Nothing to be defeated in the movie was for Bastian to immerse himself in the story; to call out the reality of the good lands of Fantasia, and to believe in it.

How do we break the spell of The Nothing in our own lives? Are you ready for the quick and painless brand new sure-fire way to break it? Me too, but that just isn’t reality. The truth is that it is hard, full of pain, and as old as mankind. Drawing closer to God. It really is this simple….bible study and quiet time in prayer. I was talking to someone today about how easy it is to fall asleep when you pray or read your bible, but I can sit and play games or watch tv until the wee hours of the morning. I say this to my shame. These things shouldn’t be, this is the opposite of the intentions of being ignited for Christ.

Sit down and make a list of what you do with your time. I have listened to people complain so much about “religious” people for so long that I am sometimes afraid to combine anything about my relationship with God to a time schedule. If I make it a scheduled thing I feel like I’m turning it into a ritual and being religious. We need schedules, we need structure. I used to think it was kind of fake to force myself to pray for a certain amount of time, or force myself to read a certain number of chapters in my bible. This isn’t organic, this is just being religious I would tell myself. Is the athlete that pushes himself in the gym when everybody else has left after practice not genuine? Is the day shift dishwasher attending night shift courses for a nursing degree just trying to be something they are not?

No, these people are passionate and have a desire to achieve something. Well, my desire is to achieve a closer relationship with God. To know Him, to walk with Him more closely; to be close enough to hear Him whisper. To really see what it is he has for me in this life. I’m sure the fifty year old would say I’m a young man, but at thirty-two I’m feeling the clock. I guess I give myself a ninety-six year clock when I imagine it in my head. (I used to give myself to 110 but some poor lifestyle choices have led to lower that) Realistically I don’t even have a ninety-six day clock. Dig in and press in now. Help us all Lord to wrap our heads around the idea of storing up our treasures in heaven. I don’t want to invest all of my blood, sweat, and tears into things that won’t last. Jesus gave His blood for the things of God, and that is the example we have. Lets be the best little copy cats we can.

Oddly on Christmas Eve at 1:54 am my post has nothing to do with Christmas, but then again….maybe it has everything to do with Christmas.

Specks are Cool, I Hate Logs

I’m pretty much about done with this whole blog experiment. I never get to be the hero I always used to always see myself as in bible stories. I tend to be the bad guy every time. The worst part is that I tend to do it under the misconception that I’m doing the good guy part.

“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 (ESV)

The Lord has brought a little (minimize it for comfort) character flaw up to me here lately that I thought I would share. I externalize standards and internalize grace. That is to say looking out my eyes on the world I see all the standards of the law and right living. The things that one would expect out of “good Christian folks.”

Looking in my eyes and onto my heart I see all the grace. I have a thousand faults; be they actions, words, or thoughts that are wicked. I immediately search for that tender merciful grace that the Lord offers lowly sinners like me.

I seem to get grace right where it matters least. The Lord said that the world would know us by our love for one another. I find most often that I have more grace for the stranger on the street than someone in my own church family or family of origin. This is because of an expectation. We all profess the Lord, so then the expectation is that the behavior of those following the Lord will follow. I get all high hopes that showing someone their behavior isn’t really matching the expectation is going to se the lightbulb off in their head. “Thank you so much brother for showing me the error of my ways, mighty fine of the Almighty using you like that, appreciate ya.”

The reality is usually much more along the lines of awkward glances, tension in the air, and a dwindling away of relationships. I’m glad the Lord has brought this to my attention, but also ashamed I’ve let myself fall prey to such text-book tricks of the enemy. Take a good intention and use it to harm and destroy. I hope anyone I’ve ever made a little less than comfortable about their walk with the Lord can pass the grace sauce my way.

I think ultimately the more we seek to impact others in their relationship with God the less we will. The more we seek God in our own relationship; the more we will impact others in theirs.

Who has a blanket and can I sit by your fire?

 

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Fogging up the Truth

We live in a time and age as one of my favorite apologists Ravi Zacharias has put it, “where people listen with their eyes and reason with their feelings.”  This could be applied to our current system of information relay in this country. We see something on our TV, on our phone, or on a website and begin to think based not on logic, research and facts; but more on an internal subjective view. That view can vary wildly based on the viewer but generally must fall into one of two categories, true or false.

The very fact that all information must fall into one of these categories is the one thing that spurs on the attacks on truth. People don’t care about the truth. They care more about pride, being right, and being in moral comfort. This is easily demonstrated in politics. Folks on the left side of the bird justify murdering babies by calling them fetuses, and folks on the right side justify murdering world leaders and calling it liberation. Both sides call out the other for these actions but neither side tends to be against both of these actions.

Move away from politics though and turn to the public education. We can teach our children that every thing under the sun is right and nothing refused, except the thought that there is an ultimate right and wrong. What ruler are we using to determine that teaching children as young as six about sexuality is ok? If the leading thinkers (where they are leading is a scary thought) had been leading in the days of WWII the Nuremberg Trials couldn’t have convicted anyone. The men were simply acting according to the laws of their land.

There is a truth beyond what man says, there is an objective truth, there is an ultimate right and wrong and each of us will have to stand trial before that standard; not these ever-changing relativistic standards we are imposing on our people today. I see a lot of political posts filled with passion on my Facebook feed. Discussions back and forth sometimes very lengthy. This is good to have passion about defending freedom in America and maintaining traditional values. What I don’t understand is why there are not nearly as many passionate posts about the source of those traditional values. Why is the spotlight for many the American flag and not our savior on the cross of Calvary?

Our culture is decaying and rotting before our very eyes. It has been doing so since the 1960’s when the church decided to disengage from culture. A swelling festering infection of sin has grown and metastasized in our lands and the church has acquiesced to it more than stood against it. We must return to a land of moral reasoning. A land where we can identify that our creator endowed us with rights as free moral agents.

We must fasten again our culture to the anchor of God’s law or it will go wildly off base and murder millions more than it already has just like any other government who let militant atheistic thinking dictate policy.  The first church went to the synagogue continually to teach and preach the message of Jesus. They were continually on the offensive, engaging those Jews who did not believe in Jesus. There actions lead to more than one beating and imprisonment, but they counted the sufferings of this life nothing compared to the glory to come in the next life.

In a time of darkness, blaze a trail with the fire of truth.

Truth #1…..There is objective truth.

 

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The Tomb

It’s dark, but incredibly warm. I feel so alive, but I know that can’t be true. There isn’t enough time for that to be true. A sea of loneliness, but your love comes through. Interconnected through this divide, gratitude abounds for what you provide. The clock ticks, and that’s what I hate. A better time and this might be death’s empty plate. Instead he waits to have his meal; the table’s set let’s make a deal.  A savior I thought moves into position; I’m torn apart, good physician?

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