Cure for Discombobulation


waitingDo you ever feel dis-combobulated? I do. (I’m not sure what it means to be combobulated, but I don’t like it when I’m not.)

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Trumping Trump [& the Lions]


lion-dNFL players – e.g. the Detroit Lions & Dallas Cowboys – are required to play by certain rules that help maintain some semblance of order and fairness in the game. For instance, the only guy who can be tackled – legally – is the guy with the ball. There are “roughness” limits when it comes to crushing another player. There are legal and illegal ways a player can use his hands to dominate another player.

Christ-followers are also required to play by certain rules. These rules do not apply to the “grand-standers.” We are citizens of a Government that has an eternal perspective and purpose. Things that do not make sense to a non-citizen of heaven may understandably be called non-sense, or even “foolishness.”

For instance, Paul instructs U.S citizens who are [first of all] citizens of heaven to be subject to the authority of the leadership of the United States [Romans 13.1]. God permits the election process dog and pony show which often results in the people “substituting fools for knaves.” No worries. God has a Plan that supersedes the temporal triviality of the majority.

Without an eternal perspective, it makes perfect sense to wring our hands and spew our frustration with the craziness of our times. If all we have is what we can see, we have reason for despair. And we have reason for spewing hostility toward the government. That is, unless we’re citizens of heaven.

As citizens of heaven, we have a unique vantage point. We’ve been born into a life that makes eternal sense out of the momentary non-sense. We are subjects of a King whose authority blows past any authority that has been given to a mere mortal. And our King has instructed us to keep our eyes on him rather than becoming distracted by fleeting authorities.

We are ambassadors for Christ, living in a foreign land. We’re only passing through on our way home. As ambassadors, we are not to legislate Christian morality. That is not our purpose. Our purpose is to allow the light of Truth to shine through us – unobstructed by our flesh-stained agenda. We are not here to change the behavior of our neighbors. Our neighbor’s behavior will change when his or her heart is transformed by the grace of God.

We have not belonged to this world since the moment we became Christians. As citizens of heaven, we accept the momentary insanity of democracy, knowing we have a higher calling. Because of our eternal vantage point, we are set free from the worry of the world. We are invited to live in the freedom and joy of our forever citizenship in heaven…in Jesus’ name!

(P.S. GO LIONS!)

(Author’s note: Any disrespect, either to Mr. Trump or the Cowboys, is unintentional.

My respect for the Cowboys has grown to a point near what it was when Tom Landry was coaching “America’s team.”

And regarding the “dog and pony show” and “fools and knaves” comments, I borrowed them from Randy Yeager, author of The Renaissance New Testament [see Romans 13.1 Comment]. The election process “dog and pony show” often [emphasis added] results in the people “substituting fools for knaves.” Whether or not Mr. Trump leads with wisdom [or foolishness] remains to be seen. Time will tell.

In the meantime, those of us who “identify” [sorry, I really tried to resist] as citizens of heaven have an unprecedented opportunity to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. That’s what makes it possible for us to live in submission to “authorities,” and yet maintain our inexpressible joy, as we are receiving the goal of our faith – the salvation of our souls.)

A Crash Course in Joy


Boy on Bike (2)Some of the most successful people I know have discovered that failure is an inevitable part of success. The only way you’re ever going to get from where you are to where you want to be is to leave where you’ve always been. And leaving the “familiar” is scary. Our fear of failure keeps us stuck. The sooner we get over our embarrassment of failure, the sooner we’ll be able to get on with life transformation.

You may remember the first time you got on a bicycle – without training wheels, of course – how scary it was. Everything felt so awkward. You got on, you rode a ways, and you fell. You got back on, you rode a ways, and you fell. But you didn’t quit. You stayed with it. Soon you were able to ride like the wind.

Failure didn’t stop us when we were kids. Why do we allow failure to stop us now?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1.2-4

I don’t know of anyone who lives this out in their day to day lives better than my friends Jerry and Gina. They’ve been through one of the most devastating things a couple can go through. They watched their business that had once been vibrant and profitable dwindle down to a trickle. For seven years they tried everything they knew to keep it afloat. They buried themselves in debt trying to keep their employees on the payroll. Nothing worked. They eventually filed bankruptcy.

Today Jerry & Gina are two of the most positive people I know. They’re at peace with their lives – and they’re at peace with God. Today they’ll tell you their lives have never been better. Things didn’t go at all the way they had hoped. But they’ve accepted the way things are. And they trust God in the trials.

And Jerry and Gina have learned one of the most powerful lessons on earth: God loves us and cares for us in ways we can never truly grasp as long as things are comfortable in our lives.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds” – knowing that God’s got it. Get up. Keep going. We can embrace the trials – and failures – in life when we know that ultimately God is the One who’s going to take us from where we are to where he wants us to be.

Are You a Naked Warrior?


Barefoot (2)Are we bold enough to pray with Paul that God will give us the words we need to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel whenever we open our mouth? It’s a bold prayer. [Ephesians 6.19]

Here’s what strikes me about this prayer: Paul knew he was incapable of sharing the the mystery of the Gospel – apart from God’s power at work within him. And he was the Apostle Paul! Yet he was just like us – incapable of the work of the Spirit apart from the empowerment of the Spirit. More

Guard Your Heart


Guard your heart_June 2015Have you ever noticed that a lot of “relationship” issues are not really relationship issues at all, but are actually issues of the heart?

If we’ve decided to live God’s way… “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth” [Ps.86.11], we will continually face this choice: Will we respond according to what we’re feeling at the moment, or will we make an intentional choice to respond in a way that’s pleasing to God? It’s about our heart submission to God.

The best way to fix a relationship issue is to allow God – INVITE God – to fix our heart. IF we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek God’s face and turn from our self-serving way, THEN we will begin to experience more heart-to heart intimacy in our relationships. God-honoring relationships flow from a God-honoring heart.

“Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~Proverbs 4.23

Living Woelessly


SilloetteWe have the ability to change the way we think about the challenges in our life. Many people seem to be surprised to learn this. We tend to excuse ourselves from taking responsibility for choosing a more God-honoring approach to life because, after all, “This is just the way I am.” We whine about the way things are as if we’re victims of our circumstances. We get stuck in the “woe is me” default mode of our humanistic thinking.

We need to get this foundational life principle:

Living the way God designed us to live greatly diminishes the importance of outward circumstance.

Why? Because we’re “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12.2]

Circumstances will always change – sometimes from one moment to the next. But Jesus will never change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 18.8]

Jesus is the Rock we cling to…the shelter in the storm…our sure redemption.

For this reason, we can “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” [James 1.2-4]

We can change the way we think about the challenges in our life, knowing there’s a purpose beyond our momentary afflictions. And knowing we serve an unchangeable Lord and Savior who loves us with an unwavering love…and that he has a plan for us, and the plan is for GOOD!

All That & A Box of Chicken ~ the PRIDE TEST


PRIDE TEST_Jan 2015

 

[Inspired by the Message My Own Worst Enemy at Sagebrush Community Church by Todd Cook, January 11, 2015]

 

Second to One


Feet on Chimney RockOn our 10th wedding anniversary, I find myself reminiscing about the way it all began. For us, it happened with the click of a mouse on a dating site called “Love & Seek.” I lived in Michigan at the time. Rose lived in New Mexico.

Anyone who’s played the online dating game knows it’s actually a game of hide and seek: players tend to hide the truth about who they really are – posting photos of themselves from days long gone – while at the same time seeking the perfect mate – hoping against hope they’re the “real deal.” A major component of the game is scrolling aimlessly through the hundreds of smiling faces vying for attention. Every now and then, one might pause to take a closer look, and then scroll on…and on…and on.

Following a late night of sitting at the campfire in my backyard, contemplating the glowing embers and other wonderful mysteries, I meandered back into the house. It was late, and I was ready for bed. On my way toward the bedroom, I passed by my laptop, and gave in to the urge to take one last look. Just in case.

And there she was. Beautiful brown eyes were looking back at me…the most gorgeous eyes I’d ever seen. She was wearing a black cowgirl hat, and her smile literally made my heart trip over itself. She was stunning.

So I clicked to take a closer look. She was obviously an outdoor kind of gal. She mentioned something in her profile about “racing to the top of the mountain,” which quite honestly quickened my pulse just thinking about the possibility. Then I mustered all the courage I could to take the next step; that is, actually communicate with her. I typed the words, “So what’s happening in New Mexico?” And I hit the send button. [I know, not all that creative, but I was a little enamored at the moment.]

And she clicked back! She thought I was “safe” since I lived so far away. She was on the dating site because a friend of hers had convinced her that she needed a pen pal. She invited me to the Balloon Fiesta–and nearly fainted when I accepted. We hiked in the mountains, and she raced me to the top – and won. [I blame it on being a lowlander.] A few weeks later she met me in Detroit when I returned from a trip to Kenya. A month after that, we got married – the 3rd time we were together.

That was 10 years – and a multitude of amazing adventures – ago. I never imagined I would be married to a woman as wonderful as Rose. And there’s a secret to the wonder of who she is. It’s a secret she shared with me in the spirit of “full-disclosure” shortly before we got married. I guess it was a confession of sorts. Rose told me I would never be number one in her life. That place had already been taken. Her Papa God was her number One. I was welcome to the number two place in her life.

I’m not sure when it actually hit me – the significance of being second to God. But that’s what I am – number two to God [at least in Rose’s life]. I’m married to a woman who seeks the heart of God with all her heart, and I’m the beneficiary of the love that pours from my heavenly Father through her. I’m married to a woman who honors me as her husband – not just with her words, but with everything she is. She believes in me, and she forgives me when I become impatient or distracted. She shares her heart with me, and she listen when I share mine.

I’m number two to the One who blessed me with my beautiful Rose.

Happy anniversary, Rosa Maria…I love you eternally!

IF you Abide…


Hand Holding Finger (2)God’s greatest conditional promise: “IF you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” ~ John 15:7-8,NKJV

This verse starts with a two letter word – “if.” If is a conjunction that ties one thing to another. In this verse, “if” is in conjunction with the verb “abide.” To abide is a choice “to remain, to continue, to stay constantly connected, to dwell on with expectation and patience.”

As we abide – as we remain connected to our Creator – something supernatural happens: the desires of our hearts change. It is in His dwelling place that our deepest thoughts and desires are revealed. As we grow in our relationship with Him, our worldly worldview perspective begins to dissipate. It is replaced with the mindset of our Heavenly Father.

Things that were hidden become illuminated by His Light. We receive clarity in the things He desires for us. We not only receive wisdom from above, but discernment – an understanding of what is right in His eyes. We hear His voice in the stillness of abiding. He speaks and we answer. He calls and we follow. He reveals and we trust. We abide and He gives us the desires of our hearts.

Our desires are no longer contaminated with impurities. They have been replaced with the longing to be more like HIM…to live a life in step with our Master.

It is when we connect the “if” with the “abide” that it all begins to make perfect sense. It is then that we find our sweet, secret dwelling place with our Papa God. It is then – and only then – that we can rest and trust. No matter the force of the storms that rage on the outside, they cannot penetrate the sanctuary of our soul…our resting place with Him. It is there that I rest in perfect peace. Being still…..

“Papa God, give us eyes to see! Give us courage to remain connected to Your heavenly guiding hand! Give us patience to stay the course no matter how strong the storms may rage. Quicken Your Spirit within us and let your sanctuary be a fortress so strong that nothing this world throws at us can penetrate or shake us loose from your mighty grip.  Protect us from the unnecessary and disrupt us when we slumber.  Your will be done, in and through us…In JESUS’ name”.

In HIS STRONG LOVE,

Rose

Jesus is COMING…Look BUSY!


Boy working    I saw a bumper sticker earlier this week that read: JESUS IS COMING…LOOK BUSY!

So I began to think about the importance of being busy about my Father’s work. My natural tendency is to be busy—about something…anything. Sometimes my busyness is the thing that “easily entangles” me [Hebrews 12.1]. Others’ natural tendency may be to “veg out,” feeling grateful to know we are neither required nor capable of “earning” our way into heaven. Many find themselves resting on that assurance.

Back in the 70s there was a popular mantra in the air that went something like this: “Be a human being, not a human doing.” It had a catchy ring to it, and I think it caught on for many reasons, one being that it offered a valid excuse for checking out of mainstream society.

It was around the time of the “make love, not war” love-cry in the air. It was a time when iridescent posters glowed in the black light of weed-smoke-filled head shops, serenaded by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead. Back then I enjoyed strolling the streets in Old Town, Chicago, with the scent of incense in the air, basking in the afterglow of love and peace.

“Far out, man.”

And there’s some truth to the mantra of being rather than doing. It’s easy to get so caught up in the frenzy of doing that we lose the art of being.

But it’s not an either/or kind of thing. It’s both/and…both being and doing.

We are designed to be human beings doing the things we were created to do… “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” [Ephesians 2.10]. It amazes me that God has invited us to participate in his kingdom plan. We sometimes call it being “the hands and feet of Jesus.” So much of what God wants to do about the needs of his people happens through his people.

And there are times when God will accomplish what he wants accomplished without involving us at all. It’s easy to lose our place in the plan—exaggerating our importance– acting as if we believe we’re more vital in the grand scheme of things than we actually are. So our Creator also reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God!” [Psalm 46.10]. One version puts it this way… “Cease striving…” [NASB]. In other words, God reminds us “I’ve got this. Step back from all your activities, cease the frenzied pace, and rest in My sufficiency.”

We serve most effectively when we’re resting in the sufficiency of God. Our soul is most deeply satisfied when “in all our ways we acknowledge him” [Proverbs 3.6] as the source of all we are. We are nourished as we live in alignment with his calling and purpose in our lives, just as Jesus said, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work” [John 4.34].

We experience deep satisfaction as we participate with God in his kingdom plan. We discover peace that boggles human understanding when we rest in his sufficiency…remembering that “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” [Philippians 1.6].

We are human beings doing life with God…both when we are resting in him, and when we are busy about the work of his kingdom in our day-to-day lives.

Jesus is coming. Be found doing life with him…and fulfilling your role as a member of his body.

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