Monday, November 17, 2014

Still I will worship

As most if not all of the people that have read my blog in the past know, I have been very sporadic about my postings for quite some time.  Quite some time ago something happened in my life that really spurred a certain amount of unforgiveness inside of me.  It took me quite a while to move beyond it.  It ate me alive from the inside and really changed how I saw my interactions with people.  I was torn...broken....angry....

I have been told many times that I am stubborn.  I know I am.  I can get so stuck on principle. I live a large part of my life based on a lot of principles, while other areas are less fixed. I've been told I am strong willed....which I totally embrace.  I think being strong willed is a good thing and to a certain extent pray that each of my kids can be....granted I don't want to have those battles with them either.

Anyway, I have found myself questioning my beliefs.  Not that I doubt God, but I have had thoughts run through my head like, "what if I have been wasting so much of my life following a God that is just there to make us feel better and make us better people?"  I've had numerous things happen in my life that can't be construed as anything other than God playing a personal role in my life, but then again He did the same for the Israelites and they too had doubts. So I know I'm not alone.

I also found myself loosing my trust and hope in people.  I know that we are to put both of those in God, but I just felt so naive for believing that certain people could be trusted or that I could ever hope for something different from them.  Losing hope is quite the killer of one's spirit.

Quite a while back (Well over a year ago), I shared a song by Shane and Shane that I have gone back to many many times. I love the song.  It bring so many thoughts rushing through my head bring me comfort in the midst of hard times, yet I never really applied to my life as a whole.  I never really applied to it where I have been and where my mind has been stuck for so long.

The song says,

"Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need."

I woke up this morning with this song running through my head as if God was once again was reminding me of what I had said time and time again.  He reminded me that I needed to apply it to my whole life and not just specific circumstances.  It was a reminder that regardless of what has happened in life I can't let anything consume me more than my heart for worshiping God. 

Perhaps not a lot changes other than my outlook on life and the reason's I am motivated.  Perhaps my understanding that you can't trust some people and there might not change is not in vain. God allows us to go through certain circumstances to help us better understand what He is trying to teach us or based on who we are in Him.

Maybe I am the only one that deals with this sort of stuff.  Perhaps my strong will and stubbornness keeps me there long than most other people.  Either way, I have to believe that God works in some crazy ways to reach us sometimes and while I don't always care for my circumstances I have to believe He is still all I need.


Thursday, October 16, 2014


Last night, my wife lit a candle in remembrance of our most recent loss.  October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss remembrance day.  Several times, I turned off the lights to watch the little candle burn as the only source of light in the room.  Sure there was light coming in from outside, but it wasn't anything like the brightness that came from that little candle.

Three times during the evening one of the kids would put the lid on the candle and the flame out go out.  Three times my wife or myself had to relight the candle so the flame could once again burn bright.

As I sat there watching the candle and thinking about the events and situation surrounding that candle, I couldn't help but keep my mind from a string of thoughts.

First, I thought about how without darkness the candle light would be so lost.  If you light a candle during the middle of the day the light is barely noticeable. Sure you may notice the flame, but you really won't see the light that comes from it streaking across the room.  It paints a perfect picture about how often we take something so small for granted.  We take our spouse, our kids, our family and friends all for granted until one of them is no longer with us.  We may see them and understand they have an impact, but until the darkness comes, we never realize how much light they really shared.

Then my mind went to how the kids put out the light.  Not intentionally, but because they were interested in the fact that when you put the lid on the flame it would just go out.  I wonder how many of us that has happened to.  People, either intentionally or unintentionally get in the way of our source of life and we begin to suffocate until our light goes out.  Regardless of how strong we are, how bright we are, how long we seem like we could last put under the wrong conditions and we can fade quickly and stop producing light.

Then there comes the thoughts of relighting the candle.  I ignite the flame from the lighter, but I didn't create the fire.   I am just the one willing to use a tool to reignite the candle.  I have control over if the flame will reach the candle or not. I have to be willing to light the lighter, move across the room, and put the flame to the wick.  I wonder how often we are willing to do that in our every day lives.  We know we don't own the flame, we don't control the flame, but we can certainly be used as a tool to pass the flame.  We can also be used to stop a flame from being lit or re-lit.

Lastly, they flame burned all night. I woke up frequently to see it still burning.  It kept the room lit well and was a constant reminder.  It made me think of how many illustrations throughout the Bible that God uses light as an illustration to help us understand.  Light can be used in so many ways.  It can be ever so complicated, while allowing for so many simple thoughts and ideas to be shared.

I wonder.....

How do you see yourself in relation to a flame?  Are you a single flame in a world of darkness?  A flame that just keeps getting put out?  Are you one that is being used to light the flame in others?  Are you a flame that goes seemingly unnoticed because of the brighter lights around you? Perhaps, you just need to see the flame to remember? Maybe, it's none of these, but rather a totally different way of  associating yourself with the flame.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Press on...even when all seems lost.

Before you read this, I want to ask you to take a minute and ready Isaiah 6.

Personally I have always had a hard time reading Isaiah, because of prophesy that takes place within it.  I've never been one to really try and find "other" meanings behind a text.  If this is you, please bear with me and read it.

As I have spent a great deal of time this week reading over this passage and other passages in the Bible that reference it, I have come to a point of thinking perhaps many of us have been reading it wrong.  Perhaps there is something in this passage for us beyond just understanding who Isaiah was at this point in time and his prophesying of what was to come.

The first thing I notice in this passage is Isaiah has an encounter with God. He realizes and understands that he is unclean. I find this interesting because we are 5 chapters in and this encounter is about to change his whole life.  He has already been a prophet but he understands that parts of his life have not been acceptable to God and that he needs God to do a work is his life, so he can be cleaned.  

This is important, because I think that is the same for us.  It is so easy to get caught up in doing the right things that we try to hide from the fact that we have to have an encounter with God and that we have to willing to accept we are unclean.  We have to be willing to allow God to clean us. When we do, our lives will be changed. 

The second half of this passage has really made me think.  You can find commentary after commentary with people all saying different things about how God made people blind to who He is, while others say that the people were already blind and God obliged and let them stay that way.  

The more I read it, the more I wonder if the reality of the situation wasn't as much God telling Isaiah to keep people in the dark about who He is, but rather He was letting Isaiah know that he was to continue to share with people about who God is and what He was doing, but these people were spiritually blind and until they realized it and realized they needed God, they would never get it. They could continue to hear about the wonders of God and who He is, but would be lost because they had become so desensitized to the message.

Then Isaiah asks how long....I can only imagine what it is like to be told you need to preach to people and share with them about God while also being told they won't get it. It would seem like a total waste of time and energy.  God tells him to keep sharing until things are utterly ruined. For me, that pretty much sounds like God is saying keep preaching until things are no longer the way they are.  These people would have to loose everything before I want you to stop.  In other words, don't.

Lastly, the last verse sounds like hope.  God says even though it will all seem meaningless, it is not.  There will be a few that will get it. Those few I will heal and they will last even when all else is gone.

So what does this all mean for us.  

I think it means first that we have to realize our need for God and our need for a Savior.  We have to realize that we too may have become desensitized and may just be going through the motions.  We have to be willing to let God change us, cleans us, and be willing to take on whatever mission He calls us to.  Personally, I think this may be an ever going challenge for each of us.  I know time and time again in my life I find myself going through the motions and wanting to hide the fact that I am not perfect.  

Secondly it means that we have to be obedient to God when things seem hopeless.  God may give us something to work towards that we may never see the end result in.  We may spend the rest of our days doing what He has asked only to feel like it is in vein and that our life has been meaningless.  Yet, we must be obedient because we may never know what impact our obedience may have.

Lastly, through our healing, relationship with Christ and obedience God will make a difference.  We may not see the difference and perhaps it's not for us to see.  However, God wants us to know that regardless of what we see there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope in the end.  He is working out His plan and He has asked us to be a part.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I don't know

I don't know.   Probably three of the hardest words for me to say.  Perhaps they are for you as well.  I've had quite a few instances recently where I've had to say them.  I like learning and I like to be able to say I know at least something about a lot of subjects.  However, I've also had to learn that sometimes saying "I don't know," is ok.  I've found it even harder to be ok with "not knowing."

Several years ago, as a youth pastor, I began to wrestle with the questions, "do I believe, what I say I believe" and "If I believe what I say I believe, does how I live my life reflect that?"  I loved wrestling with these questions.  It challenged me.  It made me think.  It caused me to search into the things I believe. The problem was, I've come to places where I can't conclude the same things on various topics that I thought I believed.  I've met people that have challenged my perception and understanding of passages of scripture that I had always thought were so easy to understand.

As I mentioned before, I like black and white.  I like for things to be either yes or no; right or wrong.  I like knowing for certain the way something is or the way something should be.  I like to have answers.

I've come to the conclusion, that I can't have all the answers.  I have to be ok with saying, "I don't know," when it comes to my faith.  In a way, that is what faith is right?  Being able to believe that God knows and we don't have to?

It is a hard place to be for me.  It's hard to live a life where you know you can't have answers; you can't have understanding.  It's hard to say, I don't know.

Perhaps you are in the same boat as me.  It's a hard place to reside, yet I think we have to.  God is bigger and doing bigger things that we can even imagine.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How do you see it?

Over the past few months, I've given a great deal of thought about how different people react to different situations.  It's often difficult for me to understand how a group of people can see the same scenario, image, circumstance, etc. and walk away with much different perceptions of the reality of it.

A couple weeks ago as I was really trying hard to find a way to explain how and why I see things, I came up with an analogy that I think helps (me atleast) understand how and why I respond the way I do, while others respond differently.

Take a look at this image.  I have recently become quite fond of black and white images.  There is something about them that for me is just calming and really makes me think.  A lot of my life is like a black and white image.  I spend a great deal of time learning the ins and outs of how things I'm interested in work.  Perhaps I don't dig as deep as some, but I study things I am interested in until I come up with "formulas" on what should and shouldn't work. When faced with a problem or situation often times I only see the black and white (sometimes grey tones) of what the reality is and base my reaction/response/feelings off of how I have perceived it.

Now, look at this image.  Full of color.  Very little black and white in the image.  The color adds beauty to the image.  I have met a lot of people that see life this way.  They see life full of color...full of emotion...full of things I just don't typically see when I am by myself.  Often times, I have to have other people help me see the color.  I can learn to see bits and pieces on my own, but again it's almost trying to find a way to create color out of black and white.  It doesn't always work the best.

I have found recently that I really do enjoy a good story/illustration.  It is through stories and illustrations that I am able to experience color in my ever so black and white world.

Now take a look at this image.  I can't say that I am really fond of it. It is has color.  It has black and white, but to me, it just seems messy. There is another type of image like this called "selective color," it's where you make a particular object or color stay in color while you make everything else black and white.  To some, it looks rather cool, but to many photographers it a sign of a beginner who wants to try and look cool while not realizing it makes them look amateur. The reason I went with this type of image over the the "selective color" is because I've come to believe that those of us who see black and white can allow those who see in color to paint in our lives and let us see life as they see it. When you live in a world of black and white, color can be so appealing.  It can help you see things different than you have before.  It can change your life.

Just for grins, take a look at the second photo one more time.  When I took that photo I was so focused on the black and white of taking the shot.  I knew what steps to take to get what I wanted.  I knew all the right settings to adjust. I even took it back to the computer, did a few minor adjustments, and printed it off because I liked it.  As I was standing there looking at the print I noticed something.  Right in the middle of the picture was a box that contains bags to collect dog poop and a trash can.

It just goes to show that regardless if you see life in black and white or color something can seem so perfect so beautiful and yet there are imperfections in both.  Perhaps it's just up to us to decide if we want to focus on those imperfections or if we embrace the beauty in who we are and try to understand and see how others might see.

Friday, July 18, 2014


I heard it over and over again.  "Sports become gods in our lives." "You see these guys going to stadiums, yelling and screaming and paying lots of money; for what, so they can have some huge thrill of watching people demonstrate their strength over someone else?"  Perhaps sport can be gods.  Perhaps people do spend a great deal of time investing in a sport for some reason.  What if there was more to it than that?  What if it was because that is where they find community.  What if that is the only place they CAN find in within their lives?

As some of you may know, I recently started playing disc golf.  It always sounded fun, but I never invested the time to really learn much about it or even took the first steps to learn how to play.  A couple months ago I decided I would take the leap and learn how to play.  It only took once before I realize how enjoyable the game was and how I wanted to keep playing.

Shortly thereafter I was doing some reading about the sport online and came across a tournament that was designed to give beginners a chance to learn the sport.  It was relatively cheap and everyone got the discs they needed to play.  It's a win win situation for getting to know new people as well as finding other people that might want to try it out. I decided to take steps to host the tournament in our local town.  What I didn't realize is that there was a community of people out there just waiting to be brought together in new ways and waiting for an opportunity to play with others. 

The more I have spent talking to the other players the more I realize there is something more to this than what I realize.  There is a community here of people who enjoy the sport so much that they really care about the others they are playing with.  They try to help each other out.  They socialize and enjoy a game with people who they normally wouldn't spend any time with. 

It really got me thinking, what if we often get it wrong.  What if instead of trying to build our own community we invest our time in getting involved in communities that already exist or that are waiting to be brought together?

I have had the privilege of getting to know people and connecting people with others in ways that I never dreamed would be so easy. You get to really get to know people and get an opportunity to invest in people.  I know a lot of churches that don't even have a community like that and that is what so many strive for. What if instead of trying to get people to come to us, we begin going to them and just showing them Christ's love?  Perhaps the community would be stronger and we would be able to get a glimpse of what the world around us is really like.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Your thoughts...

Today is an opportunity for you to share your thoughts.  As I was thinking about the whole Hobby Lobby issue today and as people were bringing up other things in relation to Hobby Lobby I began to wonder how people choose which places to support and which places not to support.   Is it something you even consider when shopping?

I'm not really looking to find out what side of which issues you choose to stand on, but I wonder if for many people they just shop where they want to shop because of price, quality, service, etc.

I hear people all the time criticize big businesses for where they purchase their goods, the quality of service they have or the quality of the goods, but do we ever stop to consider our own purchasing habits.

We criticize companies for buying goods from China, yet we purchase from so many companies that purchase from China.  We criticize businesses for their  poor customer service, but we give them poor customers to begin with.  We criticize companies for the poor quality of their products, but we aren't willing to pay for what we get.

What if we examined where we purchased our products and how we interacted with those we purchase from?  Would we be able to find businesses that only aligned themselves with our values?  Where do you draw the line?  Are there any larger companies that check out all of their suppliers to ensure their vendors are operating the same way they would want them to.  Does it matter? 

We all have our own opinions of what is right and what is wrong.  Which businesses are good and which ones are bad.  Many of us want a free market and what the ability to choose where we buy our products.  Are companies allowed to be wrong?  Do we allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions?  Do we support them if they are right and so many are against them? 

When was the last time you paid extra for the higher quality and better service you get at a small mom and pop store?  Did you check out their business practices?  Why did you support them.

Perhaps we go looking for reasons not to support big business.  Perhaps we don't do enough to support small business.  Perhaps we forget to examine ourselves....

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Have you ever noticed that we can do more with our lives when we have a little confidence in what we are doing? 

Maybe it's just me, but when I have something to share that I am confident others would be interested in, it makes it pretty easy to talk to people that I don't know. Otherwise, I tend to keep to myself.  It's not that I don't want to speak to people, I love talking to people.  I think it is just a lack of confidence in knowing that I have something worth talking to them about and can become a burden on them.

I began to think about this last night as I was working on sharing a Disc Golf tournament's information with some local guys I didn't know.  I've been watching for players the last couple evenings and have had some decent conversations with a couple guys about Disc Golf.  As I was walking away last night, it hit me. 

Why is it so easy to share with these guys about something so unimportant in the scheme of things, but so challenging to speak to others, some of who I am close to, about my faith?  Why do I feel like what I have to share with them is another thing that just burden's them. 

I don't think God needs us to be His salesmen, but I believe we should be willing to speak to others about Him and what He has done in our lives.  Perhaps the difference is that I approached people that were already at the Disc Golf course so I knew they might be interested.  Do I do the same thing about people that are at church? 

Anyway, I just found it interesting that having confidence in what we believe and know can so change the way we interact with people. Do you have the confidence in God that you would be willing to share what you know, what you believe, who you are (both good and bad) with others that are seeking to know God?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Discuss vs. Argue - Part 3

Over the last couple days I have covered different issues I have been considering lately when it comes to discussing or arguing with others.  I reference Biblical topics but the concepts can also be used in every day life.  Biblical topics tend to be what is conflicting in a lot of conversations I have been having lately so I have had a tendency to lean that direction, not to mention by blog has been mostly about my beliefs anyway.

Today I want to start out with a passage of scripture.  It's a bit longer than what I normally would share, but I think it speaks a lot to this situation.

 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also. 10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.    - 2 Timothy 2:7-3:17

I figure I can probably go on and on trying to explain this passage, but I imagine you probably get it. We have a few crucial things that we need to focus on, but ultimately we need to live for what God has called us to.   When we argue, we cause others pain and destract each other from what our true focus should.  

Perhaps, consider this: Why are you arguing anyway?  Is it to be right?  Is it to be a better "Christian" than your neighbor?  Have you actually won anything if you "win" the argument?  Perhaps we can consider discussing topics with others as a way to sharpen each other, but arguing results in little good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Discuss vs Argue - Part 2

Perceived reality. It's very much a challenging concept.  We each have our own, but rarely are will willing to allow others to have their own. 

People perceive life differently.  We each have our own unique set of circumstances that make up how we few the world we live in.  Often times even the ones closest to us see the world a little different than us and that being the case one can only imagine how different it get's as the circle of influence gets larger.

Take money for example.  For some $40k a year is a lot of money.  For others, that's one months salary. Many live on less than $1 a day ($365 a year) and for many of us, that wouldn't even last 2 weeks. Our perception of money and how much it takes to live is drastically varied from person to person; town to town; state to state; country to country.

If we understand that so well in some areas of our lives, why are we unwilling to allow others to have a different reality than us when in comes to following God.  I'm not saying that we through all doctrine out the window, nor am I suggesting that we let people believe whatever they want to believe.  What I am saying is, similarly to my blog yesterday, that we need to try and understand other people and how they perceive reality before we completely write off what they believe.

I know a great deal of people who have always lived by the rules.  They find comfort in knowing they have general guidelines to follow and in turn they can keep their heart in check because they have drawn lines in the sand to keep them within bounds and give them some control over their lives.  For instance, the Bible says not to get drunk so they don't drink.  There might be several reasons why they adhere so tight to that rule.  For some it could be that they have an addictive personality and want to prevent themselves from getting addicted, others they may have family that has abused alcohol, yet others it could be that they have always been taught it was wrong so they stick to their convictions.

In the same area, we have other Christians who partake nightly, weekly, or monthly in the consumption of alcohol.  They abide by the general concept of don't get drunk, but don't believe they have to fully abstain; after all Jesus turned water into wine.

One could argue it's all about how you read the Bible, but I would suggest that even how we read the Bible is often influenced by our perception of reality.  Try to read a few stories from the Bible and picture them in your head.  Now think about how those images in your head came to be.  What are you using for reference points to know how to imagine what is going on.  Do you understand the culture in which the story was written in well enough to formulate an image the is accurate or is your perception of reality effecting it.

I say all of this, because I have found that often times when we argue with someone we haven't taken the time to try and see what they see and how they perceive reality.  Sometimes changing one piece of reality could really shake them to their core. Perhaps it is better left to God to show them new things.  Perhaps it's God has shown them things He has yet to show you. 

There are several basic concepts that are without a doubt true Biblical truths that Christians have to agree on.  Other concepts really aren't that important and ultimately it could come down to the fact that none of us really know.  We might like to think that we do and we may even have a lot of research to back up our beliefs, but we have to leave room to say, "I could be wrong," "I was wrong," or "I'm still learning."  After all, a God that we can fully understand is a God that we have created in our minds.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Discuss vs Argue - Part 1

Over the last number of years, I have been introduced to a variety of people who have challenged my personal views on Christianity.  I admit, I have learned a great deal from them and about myself in the process.  On the other hand, I have seen a number of people cling fast to their beliefs because of what they have been taught.

The point I want to cover today, is the concept of truly discussing something rather than arguing about it. I remember a number of years ago listening to some college students say "define your terms, when you want to discuss." Two of his friends were in an arguing and getting a little heated.  He stopped them and had them define their terms and come to find out they were arguing the same point just using different words.

We all know the English language is not the greatest language in the world. In fact, sometimes it is downright confusing.  The point is, unless we define our terms and really strive to fully understand what the other person is saying we can often be trying to argue a point that doesn't need to be argued.  Sometimes it is a matter of cultural context.  Sometimes it's a matter of perception.  Sometimes it's a matter of using different words to say the same thing, but words carrying different meanings to different people.

I think it is important to try to fully understand what the other person is saying prior to arguing with them.  I have found this true in my marriage and it's amazing how looking back a lot of issues could have been resolved so much easier.  If that is true when it comes to someone who is so close to you, why then wouldn't it be true when trying to discuss something with someone who you don't know as well.  Without really knowing them, you have no clue what value or meanings your words might hold for them.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Peace in Obedience

I mentioned the other day that God wants our obedience more than He wants our self deprivation.  The more I thought about that the more I realized, it is in those times of obedience that we can truly have a peace that passes understanding. I think back over the last 9 years that I have been married. It is in the times that I was obedient to what God had asked of me that I found myself having a peace that under any other circumstance I wouldn't necessarily have had.

However, the adverse is also true. 

Has there ever been a time in your life where it seemed as though peace was no where to be found, even when things were going good?  I wonder if sometimes the lack of peace comes from a conflict between what we want to do (what may seem easy or not important to God) and what God wants from us.  Perhaps many of the times in our lives when there really isn't peace in hearts are times in which we are truly choosing to either be disobedient to what God has asked from us or we are living in a lack of faith.

It amazes me sometimes at how a simple act of obedience can effect one's ability to connect with God and leave in peace.  For me, sometimes I don't even fully understand that I have loss that peace until I begin to regain it. I can go periods of time trying to figure out what is missing and then when I finally reach that place of peace, I can begin to understand what it was that was missing and can begin to look back at where I missed the mark.

As I think about how all of this plays out in my life, I can't help but see where God had His hand in all that goes on in my life.  I certainly believe that He allows me to have free will and that I make my own choices, but the perfecting timing of events in my life, show me at least, that God has His hands on our lives and works to allow us opportunities to grow and to deepen our relationship with Him.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Church Progression

Over the past year or so I have spent quite a bit of time contemplating what a church should look like, how it should function and the mission of the church as a whole. Numerous times I have come across materials that speak to the progression of the people of the church and how important it is.  One author and pastor went so far as to say that in his church if people weren't progressing he would confront them about it and has ultimately asked people to leave over the issue.

What do I mean by progress?  I mean moving people from consumers to followers to doers.  This can have all sorts of implications and can look like different things to different people.  However, I would imagine most of us would agree that most churches have an issue with people who just want to be consumers and believe that becoming part of a church gets them benefits or what many call Country Club Christians.

Country Club Christians only go to church because of what they can gain, for the fellowship (which isn't always a bad thing) and because it makes them part of the in-crowd.   Fortunately, for us, being a Christian doesn't carry as many social "perks" as it once did in our culture.  However, there are a great deal of people that still fall into this category.

So, back to progress.  Moving people from consumers to followers isn't always that easy.  Many pastors try to just speak to the fact and call people to be more than just consumers, but few truly require or push people to become more. 

Becoming a follower can look like joining a small group, participating in a Sunday School class, or engaging in a Bible study that requires you to be open about who you are and your walk with God. A follower connects with fellow followers and grows from being a consumer and just attending to being someone willing to grow deeper in their faith and earnestly seek to find what God has called them to in their lives.  They become followers of Christ rather than just a consumer of a sermon and worship music.

Once people become followers, it is time to start calling them to leave beyond themselves.  People need to progress from just learning and engaging with each other to using their talents and gifts to serve others.  It can be challenging to get people to move to this step, because it requires a greater commitment to something other than themselves than either of the other two categories.  It asks them to give of their time and possibly money, which many hold so dear. 

It is the doers that will bring in more of the consumers and the doers that can set an example and teach people how to be more and how to progress from one stage to the next.  Without the progression from one stage to the next the church will end up with a bunch of baby Christians who are still taking a bottle from the pastor.  Have you ever seen a 15 year old drinking from a bottle?  Talk about awkward.  Why then would we allow 15 year old (spiritually) Christians to still drink from a bottle rather than moving them to being the one that hands out bottles to the true baby Christians.

How is your church doing?  Does your church have a way to track the progression of people?  Does it truly ask people to progress? 

Have you ever considered that you will get what you require from people?  If you don't require much, you won't get much.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Preperation and Obediance

Life is about being intentional. However, sometimes, your intentions don't always turn out the way you intend for them to.  Sometimes it's about your obedience rather than actually ending in results you anticipated.

Last week I was driving to work when I heard someone on the radio say, "God is more interested in your obedience than your sacrifice."  I began to ponder that for a while and how that really plays itself out in my life. I think of times when I would "give up" something believing it would honor God in my self denial.  Then I think of other times when I was truly obedient to what He was calling me to and often times they didn't turn out the way I expected, but rather have developed into something I couldn't have even imagined.

Sometimes I think we believe God has called us to a life of complete self deprivation. We, as Christians, can easily slip into following man made rules or turning God's laws into something they are not and we miss out on what He is offering us.  We begin to focus on what we can and can't do rather than keeping our focus on Him and what He CAN and DOES do.

I would love to say that I have a perfect illustration for this, but I don't have a short one.  I think my life IS an illustration of this.  I can look back at times where I missed the mark and times where I hit it.  Many of the times I hit it, the outcome was far from my expectations, but because I was obedient I was prepared for what was to come and things turned out for the best.  I also think of times where I denied myself and tried to do my own thing without being obedient and while I may have still had encounters and experiences with God along the way, often I found that until I was truly ready to be obedient again I just felt stuck.  I could sense that something was off and that things weren't as they should be.

Perhaps it's time to begin trying to intentionally be obedient to God.  Perhaps we need to listen closer to what He is asking of us.  Perhaps it's time to reflect on what He HAS asked of us and begin by being obedient in those areas so we are able to hear Him when He calls us to something greater.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Do you respect people with conviction?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how a lot of people I know have differently Biblical beliefs.  Growing up, it seemed that churches were about unifying their beliefs (being of one mind) and I never really questioned much of what I had been taught.  Now that I have gotten older, I realize there are few things I was taught that I now disagree with.  Many, if not all, of my primary beliefs are the same, but there are a few areas outside the basics that I see differently.

As I think about how diverse churches have become and how many churches now use their differences to separate themselves from other believers, I begin to wonder how and if churches will ever be able to unite once again for a common cause.

I've seen churches where it seems like there is little conviction.  People are pretty much allowed to believe whatever they want, teach their own views, and they can be as spot on or far off the mark as they so desire. On the other hand, I have seen churches that are so staunch in their beliefs that if you don't agree with everything they believe, they consider you a sinner and all but condemn you to Hell.

My thought for today is about how I respect people with conviction.  In a world where it is often a "whatever works for you," mentality, I have a deep respect for those who hold to their conviction and share it with others, but also respect and love other people enough to know when to share and when it isn't the best time.

I believe that if churches are ever going to unite, they have to have that attitude.  As the old saying goes, "if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."  I think that is true when it comes to our walk with Christ as well.  We have to know what we believe and be able to explain why.  We also have to be willing in some cases to be wrong, agree to disagree, and lovingly share our conviction with other people. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Chapter 12 - Holy Spirit

Marcey and Noah were talking a while back and Noah mentioned he wanted to be baptised.  She discussed it with him for a while and then later told me about it.  Last night, I had the opportunity to really talk to him about it and what it means to be baptised.  I asked him why he wanted to, and he said that it was a way for him to show other people that he had the Holy Spirit in him. 

For those of you who don't know.  Noah is 8.  I don't know that I really understood what that meant when I was his age, but he really gets it. In fact, I think sometimes he gets it more than I do. 

The rest of the converstaion was a very thought provoking experience for me.  Through the course of discussion, he told me he knew he had the Holy Spirit in him, because one night he couldn't help but read the Bible.  He knew he had to.

I hear people speak about the Holy Spirit, but rarely do I hear them speak as if their will is no long a part of their life.  I know Noah still makes decisions for himself and will make mistakes, but for Him to feel that he had to read the Bible because the Holy Spirit was telling him to profound to me. 

I couldn't help, but finish our discussion with letting him know about how Jesus loves little kids and calls us all to have a child like faith.  I had to explain to him, just like this experience, there are times when God will use children to teach adults.  There is something about children who really "get" it, that make me question my commitment and my faith and how it fleshes itself out in my life.

When was the last time that you couldn't help but read the Bible?  Are we that willing to follow the Holy Spirit's leading?  Are we willing to have faith like a child and move beyond our experiences and preconcieved ideas?  Are we willing to follow?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

First sign of grace

There are many ways to read the Bible.  Some have tried to start at the front, while others start with the gospels, and yet still others just pick a random place to start.  Some friends of ours were talking last night about how they have started to read the Bible, chronologically.  I've never done that before, so I thought it would be interesting just to see how everything played out if you read it like that.  It's amazing what you can get from the same passage when you look at it from another angle.  (Change in View)

Anyway, so I began with the ever so popular first three chapters of Genesis.  Most of us have either read it or heard the story so many times.  It starts off with creation and ends with God sending out Adam and Eve after they have been disobedient. 

What I saw this time, was something different than what I have ever seen before.  From my earliest memories, I only remember people speaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I have heard about the Tree of Life, but for as long as I can remember it was always either skimmed over or grouped into the same tree as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

As I read over it and raelized they were actually two seperate trees, one that represents life and one that represents death, it began to change their story for me a little bit.

Could it be that when God sent Adam and Eve away from the garden, that it wasn't necissarily to punish them, (albeit they were cursed) but rather to extend them grace?

I know it sounds a little odd to think of a "punishment" as showing grace, but if you consider the fact if they had stayed in the garden and continued to eat of the tree of life their physical bodies would never die.  If their physical bodies didn't die, they would have had to continually deal with sin.  God gave them grace in allowing them to physically die, so that they could be reunited with Him once again.

I know the thought seems so simple, but it is so easy to overlook.  I wonder how many places in the Old Testament that we see God as being a harsh, brutal, vengful God when rather He is either allowing us to have what we have asked for or He is showing us grace in a way that seems wrong to us.

Once you understand this idea, you can consider what areas of life God might have been showing us grace, but we see it only as a punishment.  We almost never know all of the facts surrounding our circumstances.  Sometimes, our "punishment" could really be God showing us grace and keeping us from what could be.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Grace:  Definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
a :  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b :  a virtue coming from God
c :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace 
I've been doing a great deal of thinking about grace recently.  So many people in the church use the phrase "give them grace,"  "God's grace," or something else similar.   If you don't hear these sorts of phrases in your church then you probably hear more about what you should be doing and what you shouldn't be doing.  

As I think about many of the churches I have attended over the years, most of them fall into one of those two categories.  Very few fall in the middle.  They may preach one or the other or preach something in the middle, but the overall attitude is either "give them grace and let them be" or "You better quit doing that or you're going to hell."

The more I thought about it the more I realize I have thought on this subject many times before, but under a different light.  Before, I was coming at it from a judgement standpoint and how I believe we should judge one another.  If you are reading this and haven't read my others posts, just hear me out before leaving.

I believe God gives us grace.  He would have to, if there was any hope for us.  I think we should extend that grace to other people.  If for no other reason than out of the gratitude for what Christ has done for us.  However, I also believe that we have our own personal responsibility to how we handle the grace we have been given.  

As Paul put it in Romans 6:1-4, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
I find it interesting, that this verse represents the same basic discussion.  It speaks of a balance of grace vs our own personal responsibility to "walk in the newness of life."  
I have a hard time when it comes to people trying to outline what is a sin.  I believe, as one friend put it, that anything that gets between you and God is a sin.  Anything that becomes your God is a sin.  It's pretty plain and simple.  It's not always easy to overcome, but that is because we choose not to.
I also have a hard time with people just teaching grace.  Not just grace, but a grace that allows people to continue to live their lives without regard to what God thinks and a grace that doesn't ask us to change and work towards getting to be more like Christ.  We will never be perfect, we can't be, but that is where grace comes in.  
I believe God wants us to want to be like Christ, to strive to be like Christ, to learn to be like Christ.  When we stumble, and we will, that is when grace comes into play.  He knows we have an inward battle.   The goal is win the war, which he won for us.  However, we can't win the war if we aren't fighting the battle.  
Extend others grace because God has extended grace to us.  Keep others accountable, because God keeps us accountable. Love others, because God loves us.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The church as a community

Last night, I was talking with a group of guys about the subject of the American church and what is has become.  Most would agree that the "church" as a whole has become very much like a business and a lot less like a community.  I say less like a community, because the original followers of Christ were very much a community and very much lived that way. 

Honestly, I think there are certain parts of a community that need to function like a business.  A community needs to have a leader, a community has to have a common goal, a community needs to be organized, a community needs people. However, when you look at the church as a business people begin to see it either in a consumerist mindset or a sales mindset.  They either want something from the church or they want to sell their church to someone else.  In reality, a church should be run like a community in which people look after each other, are honest with each other, and strive to strengthen the community not so that it can be sold or so that they can get more, but because it moves them toward the common goal.

The one aspect I wanted to touch on today was the idea of community and being honest with one another.  As I was thinking about my own family and how in a since we are our own community.  Within that community honesty is important.  God calls us to be honest with one another.  When you are honest, the struggles in your life will become known to those you are honest with.  Once they are known, others can keep you accountable.  Once you have others to keep you accountable, you have no justification for failure.

Let me give you an example.

If I struggle with lying and I confess to my wife about my past lies it is going to hurt her.  From that point on, however, I will have to earn back her trust an in order to do so, I will have to be accountable to her.  If I truly love her, I will be honest with her and choose to tell her the truth as to not hurt her, earn back her trust, and to express my love for her.  With that accountability, I cannot fail. If I fail, I am not showing her love and I could ultimately lose her.

I think the same thing goes for our church community.  We are called to honest with one another so that we can hold each other accountable.  We should judge one another and express our concerns with each other when we see someone we are to keep accountable stumbling.  We don't want them to fail, just as we don't want to fail.  We want to help everyone to reach that common goal.

I think all too often we get hung up in going and participating in churches that want to look like communities, but  people refuse to be a part of one.  It's easy to pretend things are great and not worry about telling people who you really are and what you are struggling with.  However, just like any other community that can only last so long before all is lost.  There really isn't a community has all become....a business.....I get what I want and the church sells what it is selling.

I've had this idea for a few years of living in a community with other believers.  A community in which, like the early church, people take care of each other, live in close proximity to one another, and invest daily in each other.  To live like that, most often you would be called a cult, radical, or weirdos.  Wasn't the original church somewhat considered the same thing?  Weren't they hunted because they were a "cult" of that day.  They were going against what was socially accepted at that time.  Maybe.....just maybe....things could be different.  Is it too hard to change?  Is it possible to change?  Can one living in a community like that survive our culture?  Has our view of what a church is become so corrupt in our minds that we no long recognize what it really is?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.  For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. -Romans 8:18-25

I spent a lot of time thinking over the last few months. If you followed my blog at all in the past you will know that I quit posting about 3 months ago. As I was thinking last night I finally realized what was different in months prior than the last few months.  Over the last few months I began to lose hope in various situations in my life.

I didn't lose hope in God (at least not in the sense of being saved), nor did I lose hope in my family.  It wasn't even a sense of lost hope in life to a point of depression.  Rather it was a loss of hope in individuals.  A loss of hope in circumstances. A loss of hope in rectified situations.  A loss of hope in certain things would change.

When you remove a man's hope, you remove a big part of his ability to function.  I tried hard not to lose my ability to be a good husband and a loving father. I knew I couldn't completely resolve to complete abandonment of responsibility.

I've heard it said before that we shouldn't place our hope in people.  I agree, but sometimes....sometimes I wish we could hope that people would change....that they would chose to change.  I know in my heart that really anytime any of us change for the better, it is because God is doing something in us. We are not really creating the change, but rather allowing God to change us.  It's just hard when situations don't change...circumstances don't change.  After a while... it is easy to lose hope.  It's easy to lose hope in things we can't see.  It's easy to lose hope when you can't see the future or know what the future might hold. 

I can see why Paul tells us to have perseverance and to wait eagerly.  He knew it would be hard, but he also knew the end result would be great.

Every once in a while I have to go back and watch the section of my last blog that I have shared below.  It was a video by Zack Arias.  While a big portion of the video is about photography, I see a great deal of the concept of hope within it.  I don't know if he is a Christian or not, but the video sure reminds me of the hope that I can have.

I don't really have a plan as to where to go with this realization of lost hope.  I know it will be a  process of learning and trusting again.  I also know that I don't want to stay where I am at and that I want God to continue to show me new things in my life.