RESOLUTE

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res·o·lute  ˈrezəˌlo͞ot: determined, purposeful, adamant, single-minded

God’s redemption plan for your soul was not random. Jesus revealed Himself to mankind as a little baby, and that was no accident. His life of service, love and passion was purposeful. His mission was to give Himself away for you and for me. He was intentional about our redemption. Hopefully over the last couple of weeks between the parties, the gift wrap and doing your best with not being annoyed with just about everyone who got in your way while shopping, you were able to take some time to celebrate Him.

We are closer than ever to seeing His promised return. It’s going to happen. So, what do you want to be found doing?  We’re into the first week of 2016 and many of us have already broken those New Years’ resolutions! Listen, I’m all about making an effort to rid myself of bad habits, trying to be more disciplined in certain areas of my life. But I’m believing that 2016 has so much more to bring to us than simply dropping a few pounds of fat, getting out of debt, quitting smoking and maybe volunteering time somewhere. (Those being some of the most common and quickly broken resolutions!)  Look, if your overweight, then yes, do your best to drop a few pounds. If you’re spending money recklessly, then get it under control man! But understand that He has even more for you! And if you’ve already compromised that goal, start over…right now! Listen, God is calling us, His anointed, gifted and called ones to dig deeper. Ephesians 5 says this: “…see then that you walk carefully, not foolishly, but wisely, redeeming the time that you have, because the days are evil. So be wise, and understand what the will of God is.

By the end of November, we will have a new  President. (Unless Obummer initiates martial law!) ISIS terrorists will continue butchering people all over this planet. Morality will continue to erode and the economy will flail up and down. Maybe you’ll make a few extra bucks this year. Maybe you’ll be able to buy a better car or a bigger TV. (A nice Visio 50″ currently hangs on my wall!) But that can’t be it! 2016 must be about redeeming the time, redeeming those who are right in front of us, and dare I say  real revival? How do we do that ? What has to happen inside of us to break the mold of the mundane? Change your mind! Change your thinking. Change your attitude! Change your heart! Even now you may be thinking, “Man I’ve tried this so many times before.” Well guess what, you have not even began to have exhausted Gods love, patience and especially His power to EMPOWER you to make a mind shift! “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Eph.4:1)

Get on your knees before Him and ask Him, plead with Him to give you fresh revelation for your life. If you have been redeemed than you have the potential to play a vital role in effecting the kingdom of heaven! Sit with Him. Open your heart and invite Him. Let Him come just a little closer. Give Him just a little bit more than you ever have before. Let Him stretch you! Yes, that is going to take some faith on your part! Duh! Listen to Him. Let Him fill you up. Let Him remind you of His amazing redemption story that is within you.  And let Him lead you to those who are desperate to hear of His love, of His power to heal, and of His hope for their tomorrow. “…God has raised us up with Christ,  seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, so that in our tomorrow’s He might reveal the incomparable riches of His grace and His kindness that He first showed to us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:6) You belong to Him. He’s got you. He’s blessing you. His grace is overtaking you daily! And the cares of the world will grow dim in the light of His presence.

Guess what: in His word, He reveals His will. His word will reshape your heart. His word cleanses your soul. His word changes your mind. His word empowers your spirit. His word gives you hope. His word forgives you of each and every sin you repeated today and the ones you will tomorrow. His word brings peace to the frail mind. His word breaks bondages. His word delivers victory.  His word is your_____.  (Fill in your blank)

2016 must be about His Spirit filling us up over and over and over again, letting Him flow out onto all those around you. Stop settling. Change Your Mind. Chang Your Attitude. Change Your Heart. Change your Actions. Be all about Him. Our redemption draws nigh.

Peace friends.

HOW DO WE RESPOND?

BIBLE GUN

 If you have a heart at all, then you’ve probably been pretty angry at the recent massacre in San Bernardino, California. Radical Muslim terrorists once again decided to take the lives of innocent Americans, this time killing 14.  These mass shootings seem to be on the increase here in the United States, and God forbid they continue to escalate. While the Federal and Local authorities try to figure out the motives of this terrorist couple, the rest of us who are doing our best to follow Christ, look on and ask, “How do we respond?,  What are we to do? and How do we process our anger biblically?” It is difficult to process. It is difficult to manage our emotions when the most natural response is to seek revenge of some kind, yet knowing in our hearts that we are first and foremost called to represent Christ and His character to the world.

Honestly, that’s not my first reaction when I see these tragic acts of violence against humanity, especially here on our soil while being perpetrated by those who hate us so much. With the increase in these mass shootings, there has also been an increase in gun sales.  Background checks for gun sales spiked 11% in June compared to last year. In fact 1.53 million background checks were reported in June, and that was only for in-store purchases, not including gun show or private party purchases. I am a firm believer and supporter of the second amendment, the right to bear arms and to be able to protect ones self and his family.

That being said, there is this underlying fear/reality that the government is talking out of one side of its mouth saying that it is protecting them, and yet out of the other side they are posturing to take away our right to bear arms.  So what’s next?  “We the people” will be left with taking matters into their own hands, being pushed to respond in anger and haste while packing a firearm. An uprising, a new revolution of sorts could take place while at the same time terrorists continue to perpetrate their killing upon the shores of America.

As a believer in God Almighty, the Maker of the heavens and the earth, I have to take a step back and first ask the question, “Why is this happening, especially in America?”  Without sounding too simplistic, let me say that this country, not too long ago, honored God. We gave Him room in our lives. We blessed Him in song, lifted Him up in our courts, pledged our allegiance to Him in our class rooms. It used to be patriotic to be a believer in God, in having Him as your moral anchor. Yet, slowly and steadily we are removing Him from our culture. We now allow lawsuits and ruin the lives of those who stand for a different moral code than what has now become “acceptable” to our culture.

What’s worse, and perhaps the greater problem, the Church has lost it’s self and is becoming swallowed up by Babylon and its ever-present influence. Yep, we have all compromised ourselves  to the culture of the harlot. Music, TV, Netflix, HBO, social media and even the mainstream news have tirelessly hammered our conscience’s to mush, so that His Spirit has nearly nothing left to fashion. We don’t even recognize how deeply we’ve traversed. It has been reported that people from other countries have refused to allow American entertainment into their homes because of the debauchery, lewdness and plain immorality that Hollywood and the industry glamorizes. We’ve become the frog in the pot of slow boiling water.

Why would we listen to the Pastor on Sunday decry sexual immorality, killing in anger, lying to one another, adultery, covetousness and then engage in those very acts via the TV screen, the laptop or your wi-fi enabled mobile device?  If we would not walk into a room and watch someone having sex right in front of us, then why do we watch it on a screen? If we wouldn’t stand in the same room while someone is “cussing the chrome off a bumper” taking Gods name along with him, why do we do it through music, TV etc.? Why have we suddenly become accustomed to watching lesbians make out on prime time network TV, when just a few years ago Lucy & Ricky couldn’t even be shown in the same bed together? Why do we “give thanks” on Thursday then trample people on Black Friday just to save a buck. Babylon has invaded the culture and the church has been caught up in the groundswell.

We should not be giving radical terrorists any fuel to their view of America being the great satan. And yet we have. Of course in the natural and in the global sense, America is a road block for radical Islam taking over the world. Our aircraft carriers are stationed all over the world, our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and our support of Israel  are all major reasons they hate us as well. Thankfully, our military is still a force to be reckoned with. America is a friend of Israel and hopefully always will be. I’m a firm believer that the God of the Bible, YaHWeH is greater than any world power and, with a whisper, could wipe evil off the face of the earth. So again the question is, “Why is God allowing this to happen here on the shores of America?” The Church is too busy living in Laodicea.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.” (Revelation 3:15-20)

 If we want Gods favor, if we want His blessing to continue to be upon us, the first thing is for His people, His church to do is repent. It begins in the house of the Lord:  “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land..” 2 Chron. 7:13,14)

Sit before Him. Take an inventory. Now is the time more than ever before. Look at your life and ask Him what needs to go. There is nothing, absolutely nothing in this world, no one thing, no experience, no possession that is not worth giving up in order to hear His voice again, to allow Him to move and to cause a revival like no other generation has seen. There is always hope n Him, but there is always a cost, and we, the believers must count that cost, and act. Or it may be that all we really have left is to buy some guns, load up on ammo and wait for it to break loose. Have mercy Lord.

Peace friends.

BE RECONCILED.

RECONCILED

Reconciliation is a beautiful thing. It is the core of who God is. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s heart for reconciliation is revealed. Christ left His place in heaven,  humbled Himself to the point of giving up His own life, unto a horrible death, for the sole purpose of man being reconciled back to His Father, while offering the vehicle to reconcile humanity with each other: Himself.

Though our spirits are dead, it is in Christ and all that He is, that we are made alive in Him. We are brought near to God. In Christ, we find our peace. In Christ we have access to His Spirit to overcome anything and everything that this world throws at us. Yes, everything. Peace can be found in any circumstance in Him. That’s the power! That’s Him! In Him, we become fellow citizens with all the saints all over this beautiful planet. (Eph. 2) We are reconciled, but just as we have to receive the gift of our salvation, we also have to take hold of the reconciliation.

The picture posted above is not just a picture of two friends. It is a testimony. A testimony of God’s work, His faithfulness, forgiveness and of His restoration. Five years ago, those two men could not stand in the same room together. There was a division in the body of Christ, a falling out and eventually a church community, broke up.  A perfect storm is described as, “a particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors.” The storm was brewing, many missed the signs and the enemy seized the opportunity to divide and conquer.

But God! If we are humbled before the Lord, if we are willing to submit our emotions, our pain, our hurts unto God, He has this beautiful way of providing opportunity for healing and reconciliation. God in His amazing wisdom, has the ability to take something that humans have completely trashed, and turn it into a treasure, a vehicle to restore not only those involved, but also those who hear the story. I’m not going into details because who wants to re-live that! What I will say is this,  our Abba Father, according to His perfect timing and through His loving grace, uses  our scars to tell His beautiful story of forgiveness.

As I was working on completing my ordination, I was prompted to reach out to my former Pastor and friend, Eldon. (Picture with me above after 5 years) We were able to reconnect. We both dropped our guard, let Christ in, and His healing took place.  In fact, Eldon was one who eventually participated in validating my character, my gifting’s and my call from God. He is the signer of my ordination certificate that will forever hang on my wall as a reminder of God’s amazing grace, faithfulness and forgiveness unto me.

There is freedom in reconciliation. Life is restored. New life blooms. Healing happens. God is glorified.  That is my path, to strive to do my best to glorify Him, to offer hope and to bring healing. I am not a complete man by any means. I have made many mistakes and will most likely continue to make mistakes, until He comes to get me. But, like Nehemiah,  I am taking my spear in one hand and the trowel in the other and, just for today, I will do my best to rebuild that which was broken and fight for souls of the kingdom heaven.

Don’t let life sucking bitterness, hurt, or your own pride keep you from experiencing God’s amazing peace one more day. Sit before Him. Unload on Him. Let His forgiveness wash over you. Soak in Him. Let His love break open your calloused heart. Let His Spirit overwhelm you, empower you to begin taking those scary steps towards reconciliation. Rest in Him. If He moves your heart to take action, trust Him. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Faith rests in trusting in His ability to take care of everything else. Be Reconciled.

Peace friends.

IN THE CRASHING

crashing over

“It is often the disturbing intrusions of others into our lives that enables them to become Gods agents of troubling grace in our pilgrimage.”  R. Mulholland

There’s an old Peanuts comic strip that shows Snoopy sitting atop his doghouse with his pal Woodstock at his side. The caption below that read something like, “The world would be a great place, if it wasn’t for the people.” That’s certainly how many of us feel at one time or another. However, if you are a believer of God, than you know that He has built into us to learn,  understand and to express His love. The world is a hard place. We’re all pretty self-centered. A simple glance in the mirror brings that reality close to home. If you have walked with God for any amount of time, you don’t need any convincing that it’s not an easy thing to love people, that is, the way He loves you; graciously and unconditionally.  It’s often very difficult and sometimes  just downright painful.
***
Like it or not, we are designed for human interaction. We are built to engage in all types of human relationships. It’s in that interaction that were are shaped, in the crashing together of those relationships,  that we are challenged, brought face to face with perhaps a different point of view other than our own.  And there’s the “rub”; when someone challenges your point of view. The most natural and often instant response is to defend yourself. You can choose to dig your heels in and not budge, and demand that your point be heard. Or, you can give way in the moment, take a step back, reflect and maybe learn something. The other alternative is to choose isolate ourselves, avoiding those relationships altogether, or at least any kind of conflict. The bummer there is that we can miss out on a potentially “God ordained” moment of impact,  a specific purpose which He desires to accomplish within you, which is stirred up during the moment of the “rub”.
***
God has instilled within us all a deep need to “relate” to people, to engage.  Genesis gives us a first glimpse of this ‘need” within mankind.  Adam was given the purpose of naming the animal kingdom. I’m convinced that it was through process, even while in utter amazement of witnessing the entire  animal kingdom for the first time, Adam realized that He was “lonely.” He senses a disconnect from the animal kingdom, longing for something, someone like himself. It’s not as if God made a mistake in fashioning His most precious creation or was somehow neglecting him. On the contrary. In His perfect timing, and according to His will, Adam was allowed to feel this gap in his heart.  According also to His perfect timing, Adam would experience the amazing joy of God revealing his woman to him. “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23) You can almost get a sense of Adams excitement as he proclaims in essence, “Now that’s what I’m talking about Abba!”
***
In John 17, Jesus was preparing His heart to accept the cup of giving Himself up on the cross.  He was praying to His Father saying, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in you. May they also be in Us.”  Jesus is interceding on behalf of the disciples, asking His Father that they would be so closely connected to each other, just as Jesus is connected to the Father, and that together, His people would be deeply connected to the both the Father and the Son.  This beautiful process manifests as we, His people, learn to abide together, through the difficulties, forgiving one another, encouraging one another, and yes, disagreeing with one another and yet exercising grace to one another, so that God would be glorified.
***
Yes, there are times when agreeing together just isn’t going to happen. Our struggle with our own weaknesses are still present.  Even Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15 had to separate due to a “sharp contention” that occurred between them. In their case however, the spreading of the gospel was not hindered, but in fact  actually increased due to their splitting up. Fortunately, in 1 Cor. 9:6, Paul mentions later his support and affection for Barnabas and his work for the gospel.Guess they worked out their stuff.
***
There are other times when you just have to walk away, because there is no agreeing, at least not in the moment. The parties involved in the midst of the “rub” just aren’t seeing eye to eye. In fact it can get ugly. Offenses can be exchanged in the heat of the battle and long-term damage can often result. It takes a wise person to see this building, to see the warfare mounting from the enemy who, by the way, is always seeking to create dissent, and to divide people, households and churches. Sometimes disengaging is the best answer in attempting to salvaging the relationship.
***
A few weeks back, I was scrolling through a social media page and I dropped a brief, six word, comment on a friends previous post. (I know, I just wrote about social media mishaps a couple of weeks ago!) It was regarding some form of “art” that he had posted. Wow! Did I strike a nerve.  I got blasted…by the whole family.  There was a brief exchange. (My mistake) Then, as I tried to follow-up in my defense or to further explain my comment, I was being interpreted through their grid of my apparent “hate and racism.”  I took the bait, got hooked and yanked into an argument. What a waste.
***
It took a couple of days to process what had taken place.  I tried a couple of times to reach out, to offer an “open door” to actually talk about what ever offense they had perceived. About the time I was getting over them blocking my every effort, I received a scathing email from the dad. I was accused of being racists, a hypocrite, misrepresenting God, being one of those kind of “Christians” (?) and a host of other “sins”. I was cut off, unfriended,  blocked from e-mails and phone numbers. This wasn’t just one of those random Facebook friends, you know like one of your “500 closest”. I loved this man and his family, and I still do. We had not spoken for a several years due to life just simply taking us different directions. But what he laid on me was so far from who I am, it appears that he really doesn’t know me after all, or that his unjustified anger greatly clouded his perspective. I believe the latter.
***
I know that I am an imperfect man. I check the mirror daily, so to speak. I’m a broken individual, doing my best to walk in the healing, redeeming grace-laced blood of Jesus on a daily basis. Yet, I also know that I am not what he accused me of being. The whole experience did cause me to pause, to take a step back. I asked God to show me where I went wrong. I asked Him to reveal to me if there was any truth to what was said about my character. I did not want this clashing to be for nothing. I know it was not about loosing a friend. I had to seize the opportunity to ask Him to show me something. I found conviction and peace in my Savior’s arms, and a little heavenly insight into my friend as well. I made every effort possible to reach out and restore what had been broken. I “laid down my offering at the altar and went to my brother to seek restoration”, but to no avail. I also realized that I didn’t have to chase after my friends approval or apology. I did my best to reach out and to restore it, but for now, it’s resting. Although I am sad for the loss, I am hopeful that it is temporary. As long as we have breath, God has opportunity.
***
Some issues aren’t going to get resolved, at least maybe not right away. That’s ok as long as your heart has been open to God’s directing in “the crashing”. Quite often, time does heal. It enables us to reflect, to grow, to mature and to let go of the hurt and to invite Christ in, to be our healer. Heaven is coming for the those who yield themselves to Christ’s redemptive work. There’s going to be a lot of people there, some you may not have expected. Maybe my presence there will surprise my friend and his family. Hopefully by Gods grace we can find healing before we arrive.
Peace friends.

You Never Know

one man

Sometimes I can really get it wrong. I was meeting with a few contractors today on a jobsite to get an estimate for a project. The usuall three  showed up and we proceeded to go over the work to be completed. I thought to myself, “I don’t know why this “3rd string” guy keeps showing up; he’s never competitive. Kind of a waste of time for him and me. He’s never really been able to compete with the other two for the last year or so. If he doesn’t change something soon, he will loose out on a lot of work.” I was thinking back to some of the other job walks he had shown up on. He never really spoke up much, never asked too many questions. He’s pretty mild mannered, which is not the norm among contractor personalities! I had formed my opinon of him; he didn’t know how to adjust to get the work. I kinda questioned his ability to estimate. I’m sure his boss was wondering if he was missing something on these job walks. Today though was a little different. After the other contractors had left, he pulled me aside and wanted to ask me a couple of questions. This was a first, and I was about to get an education.

I have found that our culture today actually efforts to push us away from having real conversations with everyday people. We don’t really have to pick up the phone anymore to communicate. In fact in the businees world we are told we “better write it down. Email everything so there is a paper trail to cover your butt.” (Hillary really should of thought twice about that.) We can text a message in an instant, instead of talk. We can bank online instead of going into the bank and talking to the teller. We can shop online instead of actually going to the store. And, when a story breaks, everyone jumps to social media to voice their opinion. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube all create an environment for your voice to be heard, and while that can be a good thing, the problem is that we don’t take the time to filter our thoughts about much of anything. We quickly form an opinoin, defend our stand, make a judgement and blast it out for all the world to hear, often without having all the facts. We react, and often too quickly, and sometimes in complete ignorance of the situation at hand.

I remember growing up in the late 60’s and 70’s and we actually had to wait to get our information either from the morning paper or wait for the evening news. I know, can you believe it! No Facebook streaming propaganda type headlines trying to grab you, no mass attack from the talking head reporters or commentators trying to educate you on “truth.” And, if you wanted to voice your opinion, you would have to get out a piece of paper and a pen and actually write out your “blast”, put it in an envelope, find a stamp, and drop it in a mail box; and, in a bout a week it would get to the newspaper or TV station. That was a good process. It took time. That time alowed you to filter your thoughts as you wrote them down. When the pen would dry up have way through your letter, you might have to start it over. This allowed you to proces your opinion and maybe even to change it. There were no emoji’s to take the place of expressing yourself with your actual voice. The news would spark conversation and people would talk over a cup of coffee or a meal, at the water cooler at the office and process the information together. Yeah there were arguments, but it is in the listeng and the dialogue that common ground can sometimes be struck.

Jesus had a couple of these kind of friends. Actually they were some of his closest decsiples. When Jesus was traveling from city to city, they came into a village in Samaria and the people there basically rejected Him and his brigade. That didn’t sit well with the “sons of thunder”. In fact when James and John heard the news of Jesus being rejected, they immidiately said to Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them]?”  But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.” (Luke 9:54, 55) It’s easy to see that they overreacted to the situation. But honestly, I cannot say that I would not have done the same thing! The disciples knew that the Samaritans were a hated people group among the Jews, and how dare they reject the Messiah! Thankfully, Jesus, being wisdom incarnate, knew that these people’s opinion of Him or his group of friends would not change who He was or change His mission. Even Peter, when the soldiers came for Jesus, wanted to take off the soldiers head, but only getting his ear with the swing of his knife. But Jesus, even knowing the evil intent of the soldier’s hearts, reached out to the soldier and healed his ear. Overreacting. Casting judgement. Just in too big of a hurry.

As a Christian, it’s tough to slow down and process things in our fast paced get- it-now world. But, we have been called by Jesus to represent Him in all things. At least that’s the goal. Some of us get there slower than others, we stumble and have to reset, almost daily. I certainly had to reset after my conversation with the “3rd string” contractor today. When we walked over to my truck he asked if he was legally bound to turn in a bid for this project or for any future work. He wanted to know if he could terminate his contract without any liability. I was getting ready to put on my Contract Administrator hat and remind him of the process and procedures that are in place…blah, blah, blah. He went on to explain that his best friend and business partner had suddenly passed away. It was just about a year ago that he was diagnosed and passed away within a two week window. He was there, alive and well running their successful business together with their families, and then two weeks later, he had lost 50 lbs. and suddenly died in a hospital bed. They were friends for 20 years. They had been in business for a long time. His partner was the field guy and he was the office guy and had been struggling to keep the business going forward by himself. I could sense that, though it had been nearly a year, it was all still very fresh in his heart and in his eyes. I realized that about the same time I started getting those non-competitive bids from him, was about the same time his friend had passed. I had no clue, but I had certainly formed my opinion.

Conversations can be very educational. Jesus was the master at conversation. He listened, and always spoke directly to the heart of the matter. Man I wanna be like Him. He has given every one of us a mission, those of us who call upon His name; to go out into the world with intentionality, and represent Him, not ourselves or our opinions. We are always to strive to represent His heart. We can’t always do that on the fly, nor should we be compelled to. Don’t be forced to react, don’t feel that you have to say something, anything just because the world around you is acting in a panic or out of utter need to just to be heard. Slow it down. Seek His face. Read His words. Filter your thoughts and opinions through the grid of the truth of scripture. The Holy Spirit is so good at giving revelation regarding issues, situations and even people’s circumstances. Trust His Spirit to speak to you regarding those in your realm of influence before you cram someone, or some situation, into your pre-fabbed box. Listen.

Peace friends.

 

Ripple Effect

image

The sun is setting on the lake. There’s a boat making its last run before the sun is completely gone. As it passes by about a hundred yards out, the wake is huge. The boarder gets his big air and hits his landing. Run complete. As the boat fades away on the water you can faintly hear the motor getting softer and softer. But then, moments later, the wake comes up to the shore, crashing into the sand and carrying out some of the shells and rocks back out to the waters with it. The ripple effect. Although it wasn’t immediate, impact of the wake did eventually reach where we were sitting.
I had a conversation with a friend today. It was a hard conversation. He’s going through a divorce. His wife has some issues with drugs, depression and he found her cheating on him with a neighbor. Difficult stuff. He is a believer. His faith is definitely being tested and strengthened. I listened to him. His eyes welled up several times during the conversation. He was just a couple of years away from retirement. His house was paid off and she was leaving him; taking half of everything, though she hadn’t worked in a long time. She racked up debt and had abandoned him and the kids several years ago. All I could do was listen and let him know that I would be praying for him, that God’s presence would be very real to him.
In the course of that conversation, he made a very powerful statement. He said that even, in the midst of the struggle, his daughter had noticed a difference in him. She had commented that he was handling the situation better than she had thought. She had said that her own level of anxiety from the situation had tempered a bit. He was having a ripple effect on her. His choice to stay close to God was helping level out her anxiety. In his fighting to find God in his situation, he was bringing peace to those left at home. In our conversation, his faith and humility were affecting me as well.
Psalm 69:5, 6 says, “Oh God, You know how foolish I am, my sins cannot be hidden from You. Do not let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me.” (NLT) Our sin will often find us out. One way or another, the consequences of our sinful actions will have a negative effect upon those in our world around us. How blessed are we when we are obedient; when our faith holds strong and we see God in the midst of our horrible circumstances, and those around us stand in awe. We can seize that opportunity of praise and claim it for ourselves, or we can honor the One from whom we know our strength comes; our Abba Father.
Don’t be so self-absorbed to think that the blessings and consequences of your life choices only affect you. They will come crashing in hard on those that are very close, or they will lap up against those who are even at a distance. Either way, there is a ripple effect.

Peace friends.

HERE’S TO WEAKNESS

2

So I had a great conversation with a family friend this past week. We’ll call him “Sam.” He actually called me for some prayer and encouragement. Sam seemed to be in a rather desperate place. I listened to him describe his situation for several minutes. He was broken. I told him that was the best place he could be right now. It’s really only when were broken and desperate for something to change in our lives, that we become vulnerable and often, our hearts become soft, creating an opportunity to allow God to move. There is a great life verse that I am learning to lean upon: “But Jesus said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That’s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. (2 Cor.12:9, 10)

Our culture is screaming for identity. Media and its contract Corporate America is demanding that everyone buy the identity they’re selling: Power, Wealth, Confidence, or at least the perception thereof. Men aren’t men unless they have the body of an athlete, drive a top selling car, have a fat wallet and can perform miracles for a woman in bed. Women aren’t women unless they are built with perfect curves, can strut the latest fashions with confidence and show off their curves to the world with boldness and attitude, while leaving little to the imagination. Man, Jesus operates so differently! Jesus spoke to Paul when he was complaining to Him about wanting a haunting issue to be removed from his life. This “thorn” was a real identity crisis for Paul. Yet, Jesus instructed Paul to be grateful for his weakness; that it was good because that thorn made Paul vulnerable in the hands of God. It enabled Jesus to be able to step in and move on Paul’s behalf. We think we need to be living a way that always displays strength, living a lifestyle that enables us to handle and even conquer anything or anyone that gets in our way. Actually, when we think that we’ve arrived, that we really got it made, our actions and even our attitude have simply left no room for God to work in us, let alone through us.

I’m so grateful that Sam responded to God. I’m really grateful that God was able to speak through me! I just encouraged him to honestly come before God and lay it all out. That he would ask God to start cleaning up what Sam had messed up. Our God is so good at that. I reminded Sam that he was no different than any other man or woman that has made mistakes. That the only difference was that those before him were willing to come to Christ, and perhaps for the first time, simply be honest with Him. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing to seek and to receive. Sam yielded. He allowed himself to be weak before his God. Then God began to move.

Sam left me a voicemail a couple days after our fist conversation. He had a joy in his voice. I could tell that there was a sense of hope breaking through. When we finally spoke, he told me how things began to shift over the weekend with his circumstances. Needless to say I was stoked. I don’t even know why I was surprised though; that’s what God does! We yield, turn to Him in brokenness, agree with Him in our weakness and He fulfills His promises, extending His beautiful grace toward us. In fact, He’s always fulfilling His promises, were just not always in the receiving line. Were thinking we can just self-check our way out of the fast lane and into happiness. Sorry, no shortcuts. Lane closed.

Sam still has some work to do. He’s just out of the starting gate with really seeking the face of God and allowing Him access to his heart. I’m glad to be running with him. I know God is waiting to pour out more and more grace, mercy, strength and power for this young man and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

Here’s to weakness. Peace friends.