December 12, 2001

Time is a perplexing thing. ..Created for us to use in our lives as a standard… It’s gauge to measure where we’ve been and how we did , as well as how we will do in where we are headed…We wake up every morning left with only the mental images of the days before,never realizing that in those moments our memories are being created right in front of us.. Time was given to us as a way of stamping these memories with a signature.. A signature much like the one in the title of this ..

Dates are the way that we signify the importance of a particular moment in time. The importance of these dates vary as much as they are many , although we do share plenty of mutually important dates as people. The reality is that each day has its own significance to us because each of us have our own lives and our own moments.. Our own time.. Our own signature.

I cant remember off the top of my head the date of the day I learned to ride a bike , or the day I dove off the diving board..I don’t remember my the date I learned to play an instrument. When I really think back , many of these great moments in my life – moments that sculpted me , and defined me – don’t have a date . Although they are as clear to me as yesterday – I don’t know the dates of these pivotal moments . Does that mean they have no importance?..Of course not. It means that I am defined by something MORE than these moments. Something MORE than things I have done. Something MORE than ME.

I remember clearly the date of the day I gave myself to my wife and became her husband.. and I remember clearly both of the dates of the day that I became a father ..I remember these days and dates because they required something of me. On these dates I was required to not only think of myself anymore , but to shift my focus and to the someone else s best interest’s above my own..to become Selfless.. But if the act of selflessness is the thing that qualifies a a time signature , then there is one date above all.

On December 11, 2001 I had been studying the bible with a man who is now a dear friend . He ,myself and my wife had been studying together for about a month. On this day I was in an “undone state”. I was undone because of my selfishness.. I had broken vows to my marriage..and I had broken vows as a father… My addictions had taken over and I was  ,in fact – as broken as one could be…

I was a complete failure of a human being..

During our month long study I FOUGHT with ALL my might that there was no God and that this life was futile.. That there was no way possible that all of this had a meaning or that there was a bigger picture than we can see with our eyes..That IF there was a God  there is no way that he loved his creation enough to DIE for it  because there was NO WAY that I could be LOVED THAT MUCH …because after all I had done , I was completely unlovable..It seemed impossible.

So on December 11,2001 – I was still “undone”..

The next day I woke up with a different mind. I woke up thinking about the same thing I had the night before ..and the night before that and the night before that.. but for some reason on this day- It was different. I had been presented undeniable evidence and the desire to keep fighting it all of a sudden came to a halt.This desire to fight the truth was coming from a selfish place.. A place that had  not served me well by that point in my life and was going to keep me right where I was. I HAD to let that part of me go.. So for the next several hours ,for the first time ever  in MY life – I spoke to God.

I told him how tired I was , and that I was sorry for who I had become.. I told him that I was done with that life.. I wanted a new one.

  Within an hour , I once more gave myself to something MORE than me.. I gave myself to God in Baptism and left that part of me that had hurt so many that I loved – including myself – dead in the water…On December 12,2001 – God put his OWN signature on me.. and he now calls me SON… because I am loved THAT MUCH…

The roaring lion of selfishness and suddenly grown quiet and the silence of a clear conscience  was deafening.. In THAT moment I was no longer “Undone”..

This date IS my defining moment above all others…because in this moment a change began that continues still to this day . A change that has made every aspect of my life better , my relationships stronger and my responsibility greater…

You see I tell you all this ,  because I was told the truth and I listened …

It is my hope that if you haven’t listened to the truth , that you will… Because every passing moment is another opportunity to turn it all around..Today could just be the date that YOU remember above all others..

The invitation to study the bible is still open  😉

Read Ecclesiastes 3  and Hebrews 4:16

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Sunburn

…”Never tell a man that he is sunburned – he knows“…

I don’t know anyone over a certain age that hasn’t experienced the stinging afterglow of a day well spent in the sun. We sometimes don’t realize that its gift is upon us until its way past the time to do anything about it , but make no mistake – we are ALWAYS fully aware once it has set in and need NO reminding of it… The ever present burn and tingle just below the skin is a more than adequate reminder of our oversight or carelessness … But trust – Someone is going to inform you at least once more , and you’ll be forced yet again to bite your tongue..

Don’t misunderstand me – Sometimes people don’t know that they are getting burned  ,like I said -we sometimes don’t realize its upon us and a kind word of warning could spare us unnecessary pain later.. But sadly most wont say anything because “they dont feel it’s their place”. These same people are usually the ones after the fact who have NO problem reciting the already painfully obvious -“uh , you have a sunburn!”…

Yup – thank you , where were you when I needed you ?..

My point is this – Most of us are PAINFULLY aware of our shortcomings ,our flaws and of course – our mistakes. These 3 live together in the culmination of our past  ,present and contribute to the shaping of our future . They , like a sunburn – reside just under the skin making them easily accessible and easily irritated .

Our flaws and shortcomings live in the front of the mind because we deal with them on a day to day basis. There is a constant battle between the acceptance of them , and the desire to correct or eliminate them . Never really knowing the victor of the day , we only have our past to use as a gauge to see if we are really “improving”…But our past is another battle altogether , and by making judgments about someone BECAUSE of their past -will keep them there in that moment and make the daily battle of progression a losing one..

Don’t judge for what they USED to do ,but rather make judgements about what they do NOW  – after all , if our past is forgiven , what say do you have in it?.. However , being present for someone in the “now” is where the difference could be made in this battle…

Coming to terms with who we “used to be” , “who we are” and “who we want to be” is more than daily battle – It’s a war fought over the course of a lifetime.

It’s a war that rages on the very fringes of your mind body and soul ..and at times as it takes it toll  – hopelessness sets in . During these times we find ourselves  exposed and vulnerable ,like a turtle on its back. Reverting back to “who we used to be” becomes more and more attractive as the uncomfortable waters of “who we want to be” have become too tumultuous to continue on . Caught in a moment of weakness – we jump ship only to find the decision to be one of those times where a kind word of warning would have been warmly welcomed as opposed to the current predicament… An after battling the hostile waves of a mistake to make our way back into the boat , pointing out that we have a Sunburn is NOT a welcomed nor appreciated observation.. Again , Where were you when I needed you ?

1 Thessalonians 5:1 saysThere for encourage one another and strengthen one another ,just as you are doing.”  – Is that too much to ask?

You never know what someone is going through  – so pay attention. A cry for help isn’t always a scream from the edge of a boat. Sometimes , its a subtle look from screaming eyes begging you to ask “what can I do?”…and in an instant , you could help prevent the oversight of a desperate soul by simply offering a kind word of warning or encouragement …

If you are a friend , it IS your place … Offer some shade .. or at a minimum – some SunScreen.

The Invitation to Study the Bible is STILL open..  😉

Read Psalm 86:7

My love for the Dying…

It sounds morbid , doesn’t it? It’s true though… I have a deep love for the dying. The truth is , that is all of us. We all are born with the same two  inevitable but  central issues to be concerned with – Life and Death….

Life was breathed into the first human being from the Almighty God himself (Genesis 2:7). To know that Adams first breath in was not his own , but the very breath of his creator should be an overwhelmingly vivid proof of the love and care that was given to us – and in turn , govern to a great degree how we live that life… But just as it was with the first human being , we go about our lives at times with no regard for anyone or anything other than ourselves and our selfish desires – much less a given thought to our Creator and his purpose for us.. And by this – we now all suffer the same consequence of our older brother Adam..

By disregarding the love shown to us first by our creator , WE DIE…

Death in this life is a direct consequence of sin , this is both undeniable and unavoidable. With death comes a myriad of thoughts, questions and rituals… but the most common reaction is sadness and mourning. These are the ways that we deal with death . They are a healthy part of the process of letting go… And although I have had plenty of opportunity to be sad and mourn for the loved ones I have lost in my life – it is not the dead that I mourn for the most… Its the living.

Jeremiah 22:10 says “Do not weep for the dead or mourn for him(the dead)But weep continually for the one who goes away; For he will never return Or see his native land”…  I weep and mourn NOT for those who die PHYSICALLY – but those who die SPIRITUALLY. I weep and mourn for those who live with the KNOWLEDGE of God and yet choose NOT to respond to his commands…. I weep for the ones who live for self and by doing so destroy the very first gift God EVER gave us – LIFE…

I weep and mourn for a world that chooses not to know the LOVE that was poured out on the cross for it and  so that ALL  may not taste ETERNAL DEATH – but ETERNAL LIFE.

This kind of mourning DEMANDS something from me… And so I respond.

In Mathew 28 starting in verse 18 it says “ And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them int the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”….

It doesn’t say “PREACHER GO” -it simply says”GO”… this implies ALL OF US. There is a lot in this passage that I could go on about – but my focus today is “GO”..

 So we GO. We go into a world that doesn’t want to hear this message ,because it infringes on its “desires” that so many have decided are it’s “right”s – May I remind us all , the only rights we are given is to LIVE and to DIE…Everything else is a “privilege” – don’t confuse the two..

All the while , we are reminded of our humanity – that we are flawed but beautiful creatures that God loved from the beginning enough to die for …in doing so we learn that to truly “Live” – we must “Die” to OURSELVES…

And in this process I have realized” My love for the Dying”..

To be witness to someone giving themselves over ,completely to God by submission to his will in full obedience to the Gospel is a knee buckling experience… Proving that Death is truly BEAUTIFUL.. because as you die to yourself in the watery grave of baptism , you are raised a new creature ..and in living for HIM – DEATH loses its grip on us and we truly ,truly begin TO LIVE.

CHOOSE LIFE. CHOOSE GOD… after all , HE CHOSE US..

The Invitation to Study the Bible is STILL open…  😉

Read Ephesians 4:17-24 and Colossians 3:5-11




The Simple Complexity of Good Intentions

The above title is an oxymoron If I have ever heard one – but an honest and true one it IS..

I want to believe with all of my strength that people always begin with the best intentions . Starting this way is simple because in good intentions there is truth and the truth is ALWAYS simpler than its counter part , DISHONESTY.  Somewhere along the way they get sidetracked.. Once off course ,frustration and stress set in and bring a host of problems driven by the nemesis of Truth –  and DISHONESTY begins to drive this already speeding locomotive …. A crash is inevitable and seems to be unavoidable as this speeding mess of complexity takes on a life of its own while you seem to be frozen, watching the whole thing unfurl right in front of you with your hands metaphorically are tied by helplessness…

Then it happens… and with what seems to be the velocity of a crashing jet plane , the whole things violently lands on you..

Caught up in what seems to be a hurricane , you find yourself helplessly thrown about until you finally it the ground , and then everything goes dangerously quiet…

Dread and fear of the consequences loom  above as you contemplate whats next… and that’s where you live until you can finally be freed of the burden that this mess you brought on yourself . You FEEL guilty because you ARE guilty –  and the only way out of this mess is going to be THROUGH it…

From beginning to end , this process takes its toll. Shame and guilt plague the soul and have a noticeable effect on you…all the while you are just looking for shelter.. for solace… for COMFORT. The funny thing about all 3 of those is that they cant be found anywhere else except YOURSELF through the TRUTH… So  you FESS UP..

The worst part is yet to come.. Once you have told the truth , once you have been forgiven and supposedly cleared your conscious  –  You then continue to punish yourself….WHY?

Have you not revealed the truth? Have you not asked for and received forgiveness? Have you not cleaned the slate?… If yes – WHY then do you continue to live in the aftermath of a mistake?

Because guilt is a powerful thing.

We live in a cynical and jaded world that loves it when you lose..and nobody loves it more than the one who helped you bring this mess to life ,and keeping you guilty is one of the ways he keeps his power over you…They say the road to hell is paved with GOOD INTENTIONS… you better believe it – the Devil does and asks for you BY NAME..

SO – if you have been forgiven by those you have wronged and more importantly been forgiven by GOD – the who are you NOT to FORGIVE YOURSELF??

For every second you wear your guilt around your neck like a MEDAL , you spit in Gods face and the forgiveness he has offered you – and in doing so allow the medal to become a weight around your neck that pulls you down the very road you never INTENDED to go down…

Take your guilt off ,set and own and LEAVE IT..

GO TO GOD , GET OVER YOURSELF AND GET ON WITH IT… Yes , it is THAT simple..

Keep your life simple – by keeping your intentions good –

The invitation to study the Bible is still open  😉

Read Romans 5:8

Monster

I want to be positive.. I really do. I try each day to make it my focus.. There is already SO much negativity that surrounds us and begs for our cultivation…It begs to be validated and justified..I don’t want to feed it..but it calls for me… It calls me BY NAME.

Negativity is a monster that preys on the light in us ..It preys on the good in us , and the purity in us..devouring all that we are CAPABLE of being and leaves us with what we are in danger of BECOMING – vacant and jaded soul-less shells  of what used to be full of grace and beauty  , and are now just full of spite and ugliness…

It and its hunger is INSATIABLE…and it calls me by name – DAILY.

But I resist… We all MUST resist.

There are a great many things that have recently occurred within our culture that have brought this monster out in FORCE.. Religion , Politics , Celebrity Tragedy etc.. All these are delivered  right into our homes by a biased media with agendas on BOTH sides ,and we welcome the monster in with open arms…

TURN OFF YOUR T.V.

CNN doesn’t have the answers. Nor does Fox News , nor HLN or MSNBC. They feed us what they want us to eat and you choose which one based on your appetite..The truth  is , Conservative and Liberal agenda’s have muddied the waters of RIGHT and WRONG. They have made  it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to tell the difference by turning the clear water of TRUTH into stale gray waters of DOUBT, leaving  it up to how you “feel” about something to decide if its right or if its wrong by casting aside the ONLY real standard of truth – God and HIS words.

If we keep feeding this Monster of negativity,the very freedom that makes this country great , will also be our undoing…

1 Peter 5:8 says  “Be sober-minded; be WATCHFUL. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to DEVOUR… If you have ever seen a Lion hunt ,it doesn’t charge full speed ahead to attack -it creeps.. Quietly ,slowly and cautiously it methodically  sneaks up on its prey until he has it perfectly positioned making escape impossible f.. Then it POUNCES with unbridled aggression and sheer ferocity, utterly and completely devouring  it’s prey ..

The Lion is upon us people.. what are you prepared to do?

Should we listen to Men with corrupt agendas ? OR – do we listen to God? I say with all sincerity – Don’t listen to me either if you think I’m wrong!!!  Read the bible for YOURSELF..Don’t take my word for it , take HIS.

Negativity is the enemy’s strongest tool because it doesn’t bring attack from the outside , it brings it from within.. Don’t give him another moment of your life ..He wants you and calls for you by name , as he does the rest of us..

Whom will YOU listen to? Whom will YOU obey? Whom will YOU serve…?

“As for me and my house , we will serve THE LORD”– Joshua 24:15

The invitation to study the bible is still open…   😉

Read Mathew 6:24 ,Acts 6:27-32 and Joshua 24:15

The Process of Letting Go…

 I can vividly  remember being 9 years old and gripping the rope I was holding on to with force that would rival a Python gripping his latest soon to be meal…Nervousness  was all over me like a bad suit and he had brought his friends fear and fear with him (yes, I said fear twice-apparently there is strength in numbers)  , but –  I being the stubborn hard headed punk I have always been ,  was determined to beat this…

Then it came – that one moment where this whole journey had led me to…The moment when I was forced to choose… To LET GO…

Seconds later I was submerged in the cool flowing waters of the Flint River..I HAD DONE IT!.. I had swung from the rope swing attached to the tree growing from the high bank of the river.. I had beaten the seemingly unbeatable  , little did I realize that the unbeatable wasn’t the rope swing that dauntingly hung high above the Flint River –  It was FEAR.

Fear  , a true “4 letter word” If I have ever heard it.. While healthy fear is often referred to as “respect” and is the only way to  begin to learn about God (Proverbs 1:7) – this is too often the fear we don’t practice. We give ourselves over to fear of failure,rejection,pain and a laundry list of other hosts that feed on the energy we give it..And with THAT fear , we open the door to sin and welcome it into our lives like the sickness it is  – But , like every illness there is treatment -and in this case not JUST a treatment  but a CURE…

LETTING GO.

For many of us , our understanding of “Letting go” is associated with weakness and it is in fact –  quite the contrary. True strength comes from doing what we KNOW is right NO MATTER the consequence – This is the birth of COURAGE and beginning of the Process of Letting Go.. So allow me give this encouragement :

GIVE IN – Give in to the will of GOD by submission of your own will to HIS… Submission isn’t a power struggle but rather a mutual relationship of love ,humility and respect.. Understand the PRINCIPLE of submission and you’ll understand the PRACTICE of submission. – (1 Peter 1:14)

GIVE UP – Not as in failure , but but in Prayer.. Give the things that plague you to God. Psalm 118:5 says “Out of my distress I called on the Lord;the Lord answered me and set me free” ..

MOVE FORWARDGiving in to the Lord and Giving up your problems to him in prayer is absolutely the right and best way to BEGIN – but a beginning is ONLY  a BEGINNING if you move on..You MUST commit to moving away from where you came in to the fold ,lest you fall out.. For this read 2 Corinthians 5:17

Things are just things..and like everything around us -things decay and disintegrate..The harder you try to HOLD ON , the more they slip from your hands and take you with them on the path to destruction…Imagine for a second that you are at Heavens edge and God Almighty is standing there waving you to “come in” – only every time you make your attempt , you are blocked by a figure that you cant quite identify. The harder you try , the more its gets in your way..All the while God keeps bidding you to “Come in”..

Finally , you overcome your fear of what this figure will think of you, or what it might do to you ,or what it might say to others about you and you shove it to the floor and RUN TO THE LORD where he is patiently waiting for you to respond to his invitation..Just before getting to him you turn to look one last time at your menacing opponent only to realize that the ENTIRE time , the one in between you and the LORD – was YOURSELF..

What will keep you from God and his rest for you?..Nothing except YOURSELF and your FEAR…. So Let it GO – Let go of the rope that this life will ultimately hang you with and fall headlong into the cool  flowing waters of Christ… In him there is no fear ,only love.. No weakness,only strength.. No labor , only rest…

Linkin Park’s song “Iridescent” says it better than I’ve heard in quite a while..In the last line of the chorus that chant”Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up hope, but failure’s all you’ve known..Remember all the sadness and frustration..

And let it go.

I for one  , couldn’t agree more… The invitation to study the Bible is still open.. 😉

Revelation 21:4 -“  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Intervention

A&E’s Intervention is one of the only “self help” shows that I can really give any acknowledgment to in this particular genre. Maybe its because I can relate to both the addict and the family trying to help the addict as I have been on both sides of that battle..To see someone completely lost  and defeated ,surrender and give over their bruised and battered soul and submit to the invitation of the ones that love them to the begin the healing process , is nothing short of breath taking . It’s both brutal and beautiful to watch..

More than that though , I love the consistency of the process. For the loved ones to tell them with broken hearts how much they love them ,yet they will no longer accept their behavior and will cut them off if they don’t take the help that’s offered.. It’s through this “bottom line” that the addict decides whether or not the addiction is worth losing the ones that love him.. This whole process is done with LOVE and there is no doubt in my mind WHY it works EVERYTIME… because it’s BIBLICAL.

 It would be wonderful if the ties of fellowship were never broken by our sins. However, this is not always the case. It should make all faithful Christians mourn when one of our fellow brothers or sisters refuses to repent of willful sin and become unfaithful. We know from God’s word the conditions by which fellowship is maintained (1 John 1:5-7). However, the same inspired book which reveals unto us the means by which fellowship can be enjoyed, also records for us the means by which fellowship must be withdrawn (2 Thessalonians 3:14).

Any Christian who deliberately and persistently rejects the authority of scripture and refuses to be in fellowship with God and His people, must be withdrawn from according to God’s’ instructions. To do otherwise would mean that we are not in fellowship with God ourselves (1 John 2:3,4; 1 John 1:7; James 2:10; John 8:31). We must love God more than man (Matthew 10:37). We must obey God, NOT man (Acts 5:29)

However , this topic isn’t looked on as favorably as it is on the show Intervention , although the very tactic they use is modeled after this … and this is more heartbreaking than any episode of that show.. The truth is  , most people are TOO SCARED of being viewed as harsh or judgmental by MAN’s standards , rather than GOD’s.. We run,  and it is WRONG.

The act of Withdrawal is NOT unkind nor should it be viewed as such.. it is in fact the OUTPOURING of TRUE LOVE for a family member that has lost their way.. It is a “Spiritual Intervention” … To see a fallen one restored is also truly breathtaking ,at times brutal – but ALWAYS beautiful to watch..

If we were determined to be valuable enough to DIE for by our creator , then surely we also are worth FIGHTING for by each other..

With MUCH love –

Read Mathew 18:15-18 and Luke 17:3      😉