Has He really risen?

  Seriously, you have to ask the question. But not in the way that you think. I’m not suggesting some heretical view that Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead. On the contrary. He did, and they’ve been digging in the dirt for years trying to find a body to claim that it belongs to Jesus. That’s the great news, that they never will. 
No, this question is personal and it’s directed to you: Has Jesus risen, that is, within your own heart? There are life changing consequences no matter which way you answer. It’s the question everyone must answer at some time in their life. Yes, everyone. Simply avoiding it doesn’t make it go away, nor does it make it any less important. In fact, the longer its avoided, often the more difficult it becomes to respond in the affirmative. Time is of the essence like never before.

There are lots of reasons as to why it’s avoided. We can be very creative with coming up with excuses. Relax. You’re not gonna stump Him. He’s heard ’em all. You may have been hurt. That hurt has calloused your heart. You blame God for it. That’s ok. He can make your heart whole. You may think it’s foolishness to believe some ancient story. That’s ok. He can illuminate your ignorance. You may be afraid of the unknown. At least your life as you know it is predictable. That’s ok. He can restore your hope. Maybe your just stubborn. That’s ok too. He’s very good with exposing pride and washing it with His grace.

So, take a deep breath. No really. Take a couple of slow, deep breaths. Now listen: Nowhere, nor in anyone else will you find real, deep and lasting love. Nowhere, nor in anyone else will you find a greater understanding of life and it’s purpose, and nowhere nor in anyone else with you find freedom; freedom from yourself, from the expectations of others and real freedom from anything and everything that robs you from your sleep.

Jesus. He’s not a curse word. He is your only real hope for today and for your every tomorrow. There is no other name under heaven by which you can, and must be saved. Yes, even you. Jesus. He’s your lover and He’s your friend, and yet He’s the King of kings. You can know Him intimately, and yet never completely. Jesus. His love and the freedom He offers for your soul, is absolutely free; yet it cost Him his life. Jesus. He’s right here, right now, and He beckons your answer. Peace friends. 

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Losing Daylight…

red sky

What a circus. The 2016 presidential campaign will probably go down as one of the ugliest campaigns in U.S. history. As you look at the candidates, you get to choose from the following: an over-the-edge, self-admitted communist, a far-left-leaning socialist criminal, a billionaire bully, and a couple of well-polished and well-financed mainstream politicians. No wonder the American people are pissed off!

It’s obvious that Trump is moving large crowds of people to turnout at the caucuses and to show up at his rallies. He’s hit a nerve with “The People” and they are rallying behind him. Let me just say, that I don’t like how he presents himself. I don’t like how he talks to people. I don’t think he will make a great president. On the other hand, I don’t think he would do any worse that Barry Sotero, aka Obummer.

Trump has exposed the corruption of the political process by simply being Trump. By being himself, he displays for the American People what it looks like when a candidate isn’t being bought-off by other millionaires and lobbyists. Its just too bad that he’s so mean in the process, and may I say, a bit ignorant. Ignorance can be overcome once your in the Whitehouse because once your in, you can then surround yourself with a lot smarter people than your self. Even though it’s the bullying side of him that has helped him make his millions, thats the scary part of his personality that most likely will stick around.

This week Mitt Romney has come out as an effort by the Republican Party to warn the American people of the dire consequences of electing Trump. The Republicans prop up Romney as this beacon of integrity, while in the process, he exposes himself as a blatant hypocrite. Romney stated in his speech, “Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers.” How ironic since just a few years ago (2012) when Trump endorsed Romney for President, Romney stated while standing next to Trump, “…having the endorsement of Donald Trump is a delight. He has shown extraordinary capability of how an economy works. He knows how to create jobs…he’s one of the few that have stood up against China…” (You can watch it or yourselves here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmwzGMmGcJw) From extraordinary capeabilities to being a fraud. This is exactly why the American people are pissed off at politicians; they talk out of both sides of their mouth. At the very least, with The Donald, what you see is what you get.

One of the most disheartening aspects of this race is what some of the polls are reporting; that a lot of evangelicals (37%) are supporting Trump. A recent poll from Politico  stated that, “Among white evangelical Republican voters nationally, Trump earned the support of 37 percent, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father is a pastor and has played a key role in recruiting faith leaders to support his son, is at 20 percent.” A recent op/ed appeared in the LA times which read, “America’s evangelicals have become secular, more interested in the pursuit of wealth and political influence than fidelity to the teachings of Jesus.” The point is, that if the polls are true and if a lot of evangelicals are in fact flocking to Trump, then it is an indictment against the current state of the church in America. We’re selling out because were too short sighted. We’ve lost our focus. We’ve forgotten who our real King is.

Back in the early days of Israel, only a couple of hundred years after being redeemed from the Egyptians through the Red-Sea-Exodus, the people of Israel became very restless. They fell back into their old ways and began grumbling against God. They became complacent and intermingled within their surrounding culture. They married pagan women, had babies and served foreign gods. They walked away from their redeemer. They were so immersed within their surrounding, to the point of being overtaken, that they failed to recognize their compromise and how far they had fallen from God. They lost their way. God, in His mercy raised up Judges who called out His people to repent, and thus began their cycle of sin, repentance, regression…repeat. After nearly 450 ears of repeating this cycle, they had grown tired of not operating like the other nations and cried out o God for a king to rule over them. 1 Samuel 8 says, ” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know that the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” They had no clue why they were asking for, and neither do the people today when rallying behind Mr. Trump.

The Republican establishment is freaking out. The Democrats are wringing their hands. The people today are crying out for a change. Evangelicals and the non-religious are fed up Americans hoping that maybe it will be someone outside the establishment that will shake things up….and we find that they’re settling for…Mr. Personality. They’re crying out for the wrong leader, and they just might get him. If Trump wins the nomination and ends up beating-the-snot out of Hillary, what in the world will the U.S. look like under his leadership? If Hillary wins, you can expect more of Obama’s socialistic and progressive take over of the US Constitution. If Bernie wins, you can kiss the U.S. as we know it a big good-bye. God help us.

The Circus is purely for entertainment. It is only an escape from reality. Real hope, real change, real deliverance only comes when the people realize their own broken desperation and their utter need for help; and that kind of help aint coming from anyone on this planet. Now is the time, more than ever before, for the Church, God’s people in this beautiful country of ours to repent, to wake up from their slumber, and start being the Body of Christ. Time is getting short, and we’re losing daylight. May the reckoning on the horizon, bring revival. Peace friends.

 

 

 

WARFARE

crushserpent

Spiritual Warfare is real. It started in the beginning, in the garden, (Gen. 3:1) as an all out war against mankind and has continued throughout history. The goal: to infiltrate every person on this planet. Evil presents itself in many forms: greed, lust, desire for power, murder, rape, lying, cheating, stealing, addictions. Satan, aka Lucifer, is the source of all evil and he doesn’t care if your rich or poor, black, brown or white, he is alive and well, he hates you and he wants to destroy you (1 Peter 5:8). He will seek a way to gain access into your life. He will hunt you down looking to expose your weaknesses. He will try to convince you that he is your friend with one arm around your shoulder, while the other one holds a gun to your head Gen. 3:4,5). He will use you for his purposes and he won’t give it a second thought about crushing you and your loved ones as well (Gen. 19:8). He will lie to you (John 8:44). He wants to sift you. He will deceive you into thinking that you are strong, that you can do anything that want to do without any accountability to anyone but yourself (Gen. 3) As soon as you think you’re strong, he will pull the rug out from under you, sneering at you as you fall, stomping on you while you’re down. And you try to get up, he’ll kick you again, telling you that there ain’t no use in tryin’ again because your life is meaningless. He’s a relentless accuser (Zech.3:1) and wont give up until you deny Christ and breathe your last breath, (Matt. 27:5) knowing that you will join him in hell, forever separated from love, joy, peace, hope…God.

If you’re doing life apart from God, then you are susceptible to his puppetry. You may think you’re free to do what you please maybe because of your money, influence, or maybe you’ve learned to manipulate people to get what you want. Or, because of some kind of evil that was done unto you, you have purposed in your heart to be accountable to no one. Please understand friend, you may think you’re free because you don’t follow God. Though you may not be an outright Satan worshipper, his strings are still attached and he will yank them when you’re most vulnerable. You may be thinking, “Yeah, whatever Bob. I’m doin’ just fine without needing any help from your God.” That’s exactly my point. He’s got you right where he wants you. Do not be unwise.

There is another way. Many are doing their best to walk with God in this life, who know that there is hope beyond this world, that God’s amazing love and grace fills their lives everyday. Yet the follower of Christ can also be harassed by the enemy. In fact, Satan generally will attack you harder after you have made some kind of declaration to follow God. Or if you take it a step further and decide to get involved in advancing the Kingdom of Heaven, then you can be certain he will come at you. Hey, if he came after Jesus thinking he had a shot at keeping Him from the cross, don’t think for a minute that he can’t and won’t come after you! (Gen. 3:15, Matt. 2:16, Mark 6:27,28, Luke 4:3-12, John 18, John 19)

So how do you combat such an evil enemy?

1. Understand that you’re in a war. Before you made some conscious effort to start living for God and not yourself, you were not a threat. You belonged to the enemy and you were directed by your own desires. (Josh. 24:15, James 4:4, 1Peter 4:3, Rom. 1) Yet now, as you seek to honor God and do His will over you own, you now battle against your own flesh, the direction and sway of the world, and against the influence of the Enemy. You crossed over to enemy territory when you chose God.

2. You must prepare for war and be ready to battle. If you wouldn’t stand on the front lines in a war without a weapon, or with a weapon that you didn’t know how to use, why would you choose to wake up each day and not prepare your heart and mind for the battle that lies in front of you? The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. (Heb. 4:12) Its alive, active and its truth is your weapon against every lie that comes at you every day. Understand where you’re weak, and find your weapon of truth in His word. (Matt. 4, Luke 4)

3. You must learn to recognize the attack and know its source. Most arguments in a marriage boil down to selfishness. Often, one of the two usually won’t budge or forgive, breaking the bondage of anger. I can tell you that 100% of the time, when there is a division in the marriage, its source is from the pit of hell and its main occupant. If Satan can divide the marriage, he can break the family. Break the family and you seriously disrupt Gods will and harm His name. Repeat that process enough times, and it become the norm and God becomes insignificant. Satan is not a respecter of people. He comes after anyone and everyone. He pursues you like a roaring lion. (Job 1:6-8, 1Peter 5:8) When you are about to make a decision to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, do harm to yourself or someone else and you get the feeling in your gut and there’s that ever so slight pause…that’s the moment he whispers in your ear, “its OK…just do it!” Understand, that ain’t God talkin’.

4. Your gonna take some hits. Jesus tells us that the world isn’t going to treat us with kindness. (Luke 10:19, John 16:33, 1 John 2:13) We may get knocked down, but we have a great advocate, and He will lift us up and enable us to overcome anything…yes anything. (1 Cor. 4:8-10, Hebrews 11)

5. Remember who you are. I almost think that this is the most crucial to remember. If you are not walking with God, if He has not taken up residence within your heart, than that door is wide open for Satan to take residence there, or for one of his oppressors. You are so vulnerable to his influence and you have nothing to fight him off with except your worldly knowledge. The evil one has been around a long time, you’re not gonna fool him on your own.

For the follower of Christ, this is truth to stand upon: You are an heir unto God, you have ben chosen by Him. He is your advocate. He is your intercessor. He is your King, the King of all kings. Your life is hidden in Christ. Your weapons are not of this world, but are mighty for pulling down strongholds. You have the promise that He is with you everyday, always, until your last breath…and then you’re ushered into His presence. The words of God, His promises, The truth is sharper than any sword and can pierce down to the bone marrow. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in this world. You overcome everything in Him, through Him, because of Him. You have been made priests and kings in the kingdom of heaven. What He has started in you, He will complete it. You are not alone. You have been sealed with His Spirit and where there is Light, no darkness can dwell. Your soul is safe in him. I can lay out the references for all of these but it is my hope that you will grab a bible and look them up and own them for your soul.

Don’t think that just because things are ok today and that you’ve gotten this far without God on your side, you can make it the rest of the way. Satan is very patient. He will wait an entire human lifetime if that’s what it take to snag you. My father spent nearly twenty years indulging in pornography until it finally broke his family. He lost his marriage, his kids, his career, and eventually was incarcerated. He got a second chance after getting out of prison and created a thriving career in sales, eventually bringing home a six figure income. But for the next twenty-plus years, that old nemesis crept back into his life and with the porn, he brought an intense load of guilt and shame along with him. That unbearable cycle slowly ate away at my fathers soul. Satan’s goal is to get you to give up. He will tempt you, cause you to fall, shame you, and then tempt you again. He wants to lead you to the brink of utter despair and hopelessness. That hopelessness met my father in a lonely hotel room at the age of 62. He laid down on that hotel bed and put a Smith & Wesson revolver to his head and checked himself out.

It may not be porn for you, you may not have an addiction at all. But I guarantee you that evil beckons at your door. You may be doing great today and life may be pretty good for you. I hope it is. But I hope more that you’re enjoying this life walking with the One who loves you deeply, the one who can set you soul and your mind free. I pray that your life is covered by the blood of Jesus. That you are walking in the light of His presence and not wandering in the darkness. Stand firm my friends & remember who you are.

Peace.

RESOLUTE

<p><em>Rising over 1,500 feet above the desert floor stands the magnificent Shiprock.  Shiprock is the most famous landmark in the Four Corners Region of New Mexico.  Located on the Navajo Nation, Shiprock plays a significant role in Navajo religion and mythology.  Locally known as "Tsé Bitʼaʼí" (rock with wings), the rock is mentioned in many Navajo legends. The amazing beauty of this place has brought many film and television productions out to New Mexico to use Shiprock as their backdrop. </em></p> <p><em><br /></em></p> <p><em>| Exclusive Limited Edition of Two Hundred and Fifty |</em></p>
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.
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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”.
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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!”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.