Is That You?

The sudden slapping sound of metal on metal made by the tumblers in the door lock broke the empty silence and her eyes opened.

Covered by blankets and the heavy darkness her breathing goes shallow to listen more intently. Her mind sorts through scenarios, and then if only to satisfy her anxious internal voice and quiet her fears she calls out in a voice just loud enough to be heard…

Is that you?

Practically every married couples lived out this scenario or some version of it and at times our relationship with the Heavenly Father is also this way. We’ve been together a long time,during which His Holy Spirit has been a counselor and guide. We’ve walked together,He’s carried me, I’ve walked away, He’s been faithful. You’d think we’d be more discerning of His “moving” by now but somehow at times we still find ourselves feeling like the woman under the blanket. Seeking confirmation of what we think we know, anxious and fearful of the unknown, and that can be dangerous because many times we only see what we want to. Our spiritual eyes can easily become accustomed to an environment of darkness!

I know that there are definitely times when I find myself asking…

Is that You?

I find biblical context for my confusion In Luke’s Gospel chapter 7:19-23.

What John was experiencing was definitely not what he or any of the other apostles had expected to occur. At this point John was perhaps facing death, so I can understand how difficult it must’ve been for him to trust who he thought Jesus was.

I don’t make very many life or death choices but given what was at stake here I can totally understand how he might’ve wondered if he’d been mistaken somehow.

He needed to ask Christ in as direct a way as possible exactly who He was. He chose to send two of his friends to ask Jesus because he was imprisoned. Can you imagine that? Telling your friends and most likely people who you’ve taught about Jesus to go and ask Jesus this most basic question! As awkward as that prospect must’ve seemed to him, I believe his biggest challenge was to first face his own fears.

Fear of being wrong, of not seeing things as they really were and of exposing his own humanity to his friends. He had to first understand that thinking you know something is the greatest obstacle to learning anything!

That’s certainly a mindset I can relate to.

Recently I’ve had occasion to reevaluate some of my own beliefs. Take abortion for example…I just don’t think that denying that choice to a woman is very much of an expression of love which is what Christian people are called to do and be in this world. I understand that it’s about the unborn child but it’s still the woman’s real estate that it has to be conveyed through…

Our Father hates all sin, as should we, but He gave Adam a choice because
without it…

It’s not love…it’s just the law!

and while God’s word certainly carries that authority He’s too much of a loving Father to treat us like programmable robots, no, He gave Adam a choice!

What I’m saying is “Who are we to insert our authority over the lives and choices of another when God Himself who is love, chose to do otherwise”

Do I hate abortion? YES! but standing outside an abortion clinic harassing people who’re already going through perhaps one of the most difficult times of their life doesn’t seem all that loving to me…

We’re not called to be anyone’s judge or to be argumentative like an attorney…we’re just supposed to be witnesses of the difference His love has made in our lives! To be ever-ready to give an answer when asked about the source of our hope!
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I see the people outside the clinic with the huge and unspeakably gruesome pictures of aborted babies on display. I look into their accusing self righteous faces as I walk by and then stop for a moment and ask…

Is that You?

I know it’s me…

Listening to the lyrics of a song recently I was struck by their accurate reflection of my own life!

I want to know what became of the changes, we waited for love to bring. Were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening?

Jackson Browne “The Pretender”

I’ll admit that sometimes I feel that way. I’m certainly not as committed to living my life for the Lord as some are! And I do feel somewhat frustrated and discouraged over the status of my own spiritual life! It’s been quite a challenge to me that’s with me to this day! At some point, who knows when…I’d like to find my own state of grace where I can truly accept the full measure of forgiveness that Jesus was crucified to secure for me!

Take this guy for example…

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I met him one day while I was taking a break from driving. He told me drives this bus up and down the west coast doing his ministry which he claimed was based on Seventh Day Adventist teachings…
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He told me that Christ had established his true church in 1866 which had me wondering what the second chapter of Acts was all about!

My issues with this particular variety of religion are numerous but in a nutshell, well…it’s a religion! A man made set of rules that when followed entitle you to go to heaven. Based on the belief that Christians are still under the law instead of the “new and better covenant” spoke of in Hebrews 8:6.

Is that You?

If what your looking for is a perfect representation of God the Father in Christians or the institutions they establish you’ll never find it! If you think otherwise I believe that’s an indication of how you see yourself, Perfect!

I know I’ve found it to be true in my own circumstances…

Can you see the problem?

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We’re all created in Gods image but our sin shattered it into shards and fragments that show a perverse reflection. There are times when man does reflect enough of Him,or is able to die to his self to such an extent that what we see seems like perfection…

We call that “art”

In the ninth verse, thirty eighth chapter of Marks gospel,John brings to Jesus’ attention certain other practitioners they’d observed who were engaged in a deliverance ministry of sorts. The idea being to get His approval to “forbade” them from it. My sense is that based on His reply Jesus wisely observes that “if our policy is to shut down everyone who doesn’t have it all together who’ll be left?” And tells John to basically leave them alone!

None of us have got it all right…

No need to ask, “Is that you”!

We are the woman,

we’re also the bride.

We are the pretenders,

prevented by pride.

From seeing the truth,

Through our fractured eyes.

We fear what could save us,

And instead cling to lies!

Gods In It…(Pt.2)

It was in May of ’08 that they re-possessed my car, a 2003 Subaru Brat, and within a week or so I was given a car to use that had been given to my pastor at the time by one of his congregation. Losing that car was hard, but it was fortunate for me in that by doing so I became eligible to receive food stamps without which my wife, daughter and I might have gone hungry! This was also the last month that I was able to make my mortgage payment of 700.00 on my home and 63 acres. It was along about this time I started thinking something was up and that my circumstances were a conspiracy of sorts.  The things that I was able to do successfully were quite limited and for many months consisted of going to the grocery store, church, writing and an occasional venture into West Plains to Wal-mart or Aldi’s for necessities. One day I was reading another blog and I came across this bit of wisdom which seemed to describe my situation, it said…

“Sometimes when it seems as though you’ve lost everything that’s the time when God shows you He’s really all that you need!”

Those words seemed to bring me comfort because more and more I was understanding their truth and relevance in my life. I spent that summer blissfully unsure of whether I was in a state of grace or one of perdition. Despite the fact that my world was crumbling around me and I was apparently unable to do anything but watch it happen, this was an incredible time of  spiritual awakening within me. I’ll always remember things like walking down my driveway at sunset talking to the Lord in the cool of the evening, or how even though we had hardly any money we always had gas to go into town to church and we even paid tithes!  We still had a roof over our heads and plenty to eat and I wrote some of my most heart felt blogs about my deepening relationship with Christ and my total dependence upon Him. It was my “surrender” that allowed me to have peace knowing that there was a purpose to all that my family and I were going through.

My inability to pay my child support became a huge issue, I was summoned to court to show cause and I tried to explain my predicament to the judge. There was absolutely no way in the world that I could get a job without my having a drivers license which they had suspended! I was asked to return again at a later date which I did although the situation remained unresolved. My third scheduled appearance I was unable to make because I didn’t have the 100.00+ it cost’s in gas to make the five hour trip so I faxed the prosecutor asking for a continuance.  Very soon after that I was told about the possibility of getting a job driving a school bus. I knew that you had to have a background check done to get it and that I probably had a bench warrant out for me so I stopped in at the sheriff’s department one afternoon and sure enough I was a wanted man! They seemed pretty shocked by what I was doing but dutifully took me into custody. I spent the next ten days in jail, after two days they sent a car for me to take me back to Cass county, it was a five hour ride in the back of a cop car with my hands tightly cuffed behind my back “Cass-catraz” I believe the inmates called it…

After I got out I didn’t get the first job that I was after but within a few weeks a friend at church told me about another school that was looking for a driver and eventually I was hired! One of the things that was so incredible was that I was hired with barely enough time for me to work and receive a paycheck so that I could make a 400.00 support payment that the judge ordered me to make! When I first got this job I was so broke, I remember that I had to ask the superintendent to loan me twenty bucks until I got paid so that I’d have enough gas to get back and forth to work. That was in October of 2008, and for the next eight months nothing really changed except that I added “Go to work” to my routine and had a little more money. Speaking of money, here’s something that will put my financial situation in proper perspective…In 2008 I made a total of 2950.00! I actually paid more in child support than I made the whole year, they took my 3900.00 tax return and I paid them over 600.00 to get me out of jail, 400.00 to keep me from going back to court and two or three hundred more in Nov. and Dec.

My home mortgage was almost a year behind by now, and even though my banker was a very kind and patient man who tried to help me avoid losing my home we both knew what was coming. My house had been on the market for over a year and the only real offer I had was for 100,000 which was rejected by our sales person without bringing it to us first for being too low.  Ironically our house ended up selling for about 25% less than even that offer when it was all said and done!  My house and property was appraised by the bank and came in at 148,000.00 I owed about 72,000 which is what the bank sold it for, I walked away with nothing…