Bless This Mess!

Have you ever seen a tongue in cheek petition like the one on the left displayed in the home of someone you know? Have you ever felt as if those words might be a pretty fair description of your own circumstances?

I know I have!

Sometimes the pace of the work in progress known to me as my spiritual life seems painfully slow or to even be moving in the wrong direction!Named among my numerous transgressions are things such as mean spiritedness or being judgmental and becoming quickly irritated or impatient with people or things I interact with daily. As much as I don’t like those aspects of my personality, what’s far more disturbing to me is my own tolerance,nay comfort with them!

It’s a bit of a mess…

One the most difficult,and yet most important things about being a follower of Christ I’ve struggled with is how a Holy God could love a very un-holy sinner like me…There are exceptions, but for the most part Love as I’ve been able to understand it is about deserving or qualifying for it in some way.In this world we pick winners and losers,we analyze and judge people constantly choosing to love in others the “good” aspects we recognize in ourselves. At it’s core it’s selfish and based on lies fed to us via our own personal self-exhalation express the ego. We rationalize their validity based on societal dogma, which is nicely packaged and fed to us under headings such as self esteem and positive affirmation. The truth is the only real basis for “self” esteem any of us can actually claim is that we’re loved by our omnipotent Heavenly Father!

That’s it!

That’s our “claim to fame”

And it’s much more than enough!

Why?

Because it’s a claim that’s based on something real, real because it’s unthreatenable! It doesn’t change or cease to be for any reason. All of the things we esteem in this world will fade away or can be lost in an instant, but NOT Gods love!

Recently I read a status on FB which said that God works through imperfect people and circumstances to accomplish His purposes. My reply was,

“Is there any other kind?”

Our Father loves each of us Just the way we are…

Warts and all

But He loves us too much to just leave us that way!

His death on the cross was a victory over sin and death that was done on our behalf, that we may have eternal life. I also believe that the power of His shed blood gives Christian’s the opportunity to claim that victory over their own here and now life circumstances

Truly, we’re all a bit of a mess!

How wonderful is it then,that…

 Jesus is the Great Mess-iah!!

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Emmanuel עמנואל, “God is with us” Part III

If we could, for even just a day, have our eye’s opened to all of the many way’s in which God intercedes for each of us on a personal level perhaps we’d better understand Paul’s seemingly impossible exhortation here…

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore.Pray without ceasing In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Maybe that means keeping a deer from running out in front of your vehicle. It might mean keeping any uncontrolled cell growth which commonly exists within each of our bodies from becoming cancerous.

Recently, it was the job I didn’t get that I’m thankful for!

I had applied for an over the road driving job with a smaller company who ran regional freight. During the ensuing interview which seemed to go very well I remember the owner telling me that because of how junky his equipment was I would have to drive around scales and that I would be paid on a percentage of what the load paid. Despite both of those pieces of really bad news I filled out the application he gave me and faxed it back to him ready to work if and when he called!

But he never did…

So I called another company that I had been considering who I knew ran first class equipment but who also ran a much bigger territory. I was hesitant about my ability to meet their expectations because it had been over four years since I drove on that level. The thing is,God didn’t really leave me any other options! Getting back into the transportation industry with no recent experience is difficult so I was ready to take anything…

but I was also well…afraid!

I struggle with anxiety and fear quite a bit, it’s one of the biggest areas my Heavenly Father is helping me to grow in! Mostly by protecting me from things that would overwhelm me totally, other times by just being close to me in the midst of any circumstances that I feel threatened by. What faith is to me is knowing that God had control of my circumstances yesterday, and so therefore also has my today and tomorrow under control as well!

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

That’s what this verse means to me…It’s also why I’m so thankful! There’s nothing as empowering and fear squashing as knowing that the omnipotent God who created the heavens, the earth, and all that is,is with you and that He cares about YOU!

Does that mean nothing bad ever happens to me?

We all know that “Stuff Happens” don’t we…

The question most people have is when does the “stuff” STOP happening?

It stops when GRACE happens! When we come to the place where we can truly say,

“Father, not my will but yours be done”

and mean it…

Several years ago I was driving along in my truck near Jamestown N.Y. on hyw 87 on my back west after doing four drops earlier in the day. I had heard that the D.O.T. was setting up in the rest areas inspecting trucks so I was very leery of being inspected. It was later in the evening, maybe 8pm,and usually they quit inspecting at dark so I thought I was home free…then I saw it,the flashing yellow lights on the roadside sign,”surely this is some kind of construction warning” I thought,but as I drew closer startled panic settled on me as the words “all trucks must enter” assaulted my unbelieving eye’s! I was trapped and there was nothing I could do…no ramp to pull off of and “fix it” so with cold resignation I pulled off onto the ramp twoard the man waving his flashlight holding hand at me.What else could I do but accept the fact that I was screwed,perhaps my full cooperation and good attitude would as they had so many times before see me thru,I doubted it.As I pulled to a stop he stepped up onto my side step and spoke to me,

How’re we doing tonight? Oh,I’m doing fine I guess…What’re you hauling? Nothing, I’m empty. Well, have a good evening then!

And that was the extent of it, I hauled out of there on an adrenaline high that would entice any skydiver,or cause a lion tamer to stare curiously in wonder,not yet ready to dip my chip in the “crock of life” I’d just been handed,it just seemed un-real to me. Why did ‘nt he at least ask to see my log book? thats S.O.P. basic stuff,you look at the driver,gauge his condition,look at his book,and then if all seems right,you send him on,or if,as was the case here,you’re not at all busy,just send him inside anyway for the 3rd degree check,you know,wanted/warrents/unpaid tickets/child support un returned library books,lol really! but he did’nt,so I’m driving down the road thinking, WOW! that could have been a whole weeks salary down the tubes but for some reason which I can’t explain I just walked thru the fire without so much as a mark on me…Does the Lord work in mysterious ways? did he know that if I would have been shut down/fined etc…that it might break my spirit? someday I’d like to ask him.

Emmanuel עמנואל, “God is with us” Part II

Long before the first wisp of chimney smoke makes it’s way up the flue and is carried along on the chilly November breeze to our olfactory senses, the preparations have already begun. With the passing of the oppressive summer heat and the previous vocational opportunities it afforded me I made new plans. It’s fall,and so it’s time for me to shift gears once again…

Literally!

Working in the logging woods is one of the cornerstones of the local economy where I live employing perhaps half of the local people in various capacities. In the past six years my involvement has been in nearly every aspect of it at one time or another.I’ve operated sawmills,skidded logs,hauled logs and sawed out products such as railroad ties and “cants”. However,one thing I’d never done before was haul bulk logs on a “pole trailer” which is basically a very long piece of steel pipe with log stakes attached.

                                     looks like fun doesn’t it?

Well let me tell you it’s not…At least not for me it wasn’t!

The reality of the dangerous nature of the work I was doing combined with the questionable mechanical integrity of the equipment I was operating was the source of much anxiety for me. Hauling the massive loads of logs to the local mills was also problematic in that I was sure any DOT officer worth his salt would certainly shut me down and ticket me based on the numerous safety compliance violations of said vehicle.

But what a blessing…I immediately made a renewed commitment to praying!

I did it before leaving,quite often during the trip,and then I thanked God after and despite all of the aforementioned complications I was able to be quite successful. From my perspective God was faithful to me in so many ways during this time. A specific example of Gods favor toward me was that despite the fact that I was carrying very heavy loads on some very thin trailer tires over roads full of sharp rocks I only had one flat tire! If I’d of had that flat on the state highway instead of on the gravel road where it did happen it definitely would’ve been a much bigger deal! It happened right in front of this old country church which gave me the opportunity to check it out and take some really neat pictures of it’s interior! I’ve had people tell me it’s a symptom of being delusional to place unwarranted significance upon chance occurrences or to read too much into what is most likely just coincidence and I understand that…but when you’re hauling a load of logs down a two lane hilly,curvy road and you experience a sudden loss of power due to a lack of fuel and then at the last moment before you stall out in the road you see a perfect place to pull over it’s hard to just brush it off as luck…over and over again

I wonder if they understand that?

Emmanuel עמנואל, “God is with us” (part 1)

That seems to be the only possible title for a post that endeavors to describe the many ways in which God’s been faithful to me in the past year…I truly am the grateful recipient of His grace which is defined as the unmerited favor of God.

What else can I say?

He loves me!

It’s the only way I can begin to understand how my family has once again very comfortably “made it” through another year! Especially a year like this past one in which so many were negatively affected. As it draws to a close and I look back on the many ways Gods cared for us I feel many emotions. First of all I’m humbled,and then I’m bewildered at His love for me. It’s hard to truly understand what I mean unless you’re someone like myself who is at times perhaps a bit more “human” than most in that I have a history of making more than my share of mistakes and bad choices. Most people find it pretty easy to explain away the “near miss” or disregard what could’ve happened under slightly different circumstances but I can’t. I suppose that’s because I’ve seen it happen so many times or perhaps it’s because I’ve been “blessed” to see myself so clearly for who and what I really am without Him.

It’s been quite a year for me, the job I had at the beginning of the year ended when the teenage girl I was working as support staff for flipped out one day and took an overdose of her prescription drugs. It was quite traumatic for everyone involved, afterwards everyone was put under investigation by the department of mental health. I was cleared of any charges of neglect,which is a very big deal and I was extremely relieved. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong but I also know that people get wrongly blamed for stuff all the time.

Thank You God!

My next job was a blessing in it’s self. I worked over the summer for the Eleven Point River canoe rental outfitter in my hometown shuttling people down to the river to go on float trips!

It was a great experience for me to meet so many interesting people and to be able to play a part in their summer fun! Where I live is such a beautiful place and I never grew tired of introducing others to it’s wonders. Oh,and on top of all that I got paid for it!

God…You’re my rock,and you ROCK!

Among the things I’m most thankful for this year I have to include being invited to join a small study/worship group which meets at a friend’s home nearby. For a while prior to that I had stopped going to church. I soon found the groups emphasis on study and open discussion as well as the great time of fellowship we shared to be just what was missing!

It’s wonderful to come together with other Christian’s and really be the church to those in need in your own community. That’s what attracted me to become involved with an organization called One Hope Outreach located in my hometown of Springfield, Mo. They’re focus is helping homeless people find permanent housing and empowering them to make positive changes in their lives. This photo was taken at a fundraiser which was held at a local restaurant.

Thank You Father for meeting ALL of my needs, both physical and spiritual! Thank You for giving my life meaning and purpose!

I’m afraid you’re right!

Do you ride horses? I haven’t recently,but many years ago I remember a time when a friend took me on a short ride. We had stopped for a bit, the gentle mare I was riding bent her head down and began to graze on the grass there at her hooves. “Don’t let her do that” my friend said,

You should always maintain control over a horse…once they get the idea in their head that they have the control they’re just no good to be ridden anymore!

A horse is an extremely strong animal, much stronger than any man! Despite this obvious physical superiority they can be trained to do various tasks using a small “bit” in their mouth that’s attached to a set of leather reins. Many horse trainers also use a whip or some similar instrument to terrorize the animal,seizing upon it’s natural fear of man to bring it under submission.

There are only a few animals that seem to have no natural fear of man! One such animal is a Cottonmouth snake also known as a “Water Moccasin”.

 

Another is the particularly aggressive Salt Water Crocodile. Include Grizzly bears,Great White Sharks,and Elephants! What most of these animals have in common is their extreme territorial nature. They own their domain and take any challenge either real or imagined very,very seriously…

Fear is extremely powerful. To this day I still don’t care to swim in the ocean because the movie Jaws scared me so much! And snakes? forget about it! Especially a Cottonmouth,they scare me to death!

Consider the role fear plays in each of our lives, are we like the horse? Do we let ourselves be “ridden” by a much less powerful creature who subdues us with fear and uses a bit of some kind to steer us? What would happen if we understood how powerful we are and decided to take control of our situations?

We wouldn’t be any good to be ridden anymore would we?

Are you sick of your life being one bad thing after another? Of being depressed or anxious because your life is just an endless stream of disappointments and failures? Do you worry about things that might happen, or sometimes just feel hopeless about your situation? Do you ever wonder what’s the point of living if it’s just a pain in the butt that you somehow manage to survive!

You may have someone on your back riding you…

Okay sure, I can relate to some of the symptoms you mentioned and I am sick of it but what can I do about it?

I’m glad you asked but right off the bat I’m going to tell you that whoever or whatever is on your back will not give up without a fight. How do you suppose a horse would go about getting someone off their back? They’d rare up and throw them off that’s how! No mamby pamby pleading with it or half measures here will get the job done. It doesn’t matter what issue it is that’s got you down, they’re all weapons formed against you by the enemy which is attacking you on a spiritual level and so you have to use the much more powerful spiritual weapons available to you to defeat it!

The number one weapon is Gods word!

A book of your rights as a child of the Most High God. A personal love letter to you that’s filled with lifesaving promises which are truth, that when spoken by you to your problems carry His same authority and are guaranteed to scatter the comparatively petty demons that are making your life miserable! You will get immediate relief, but they’ll be back to see if you’re serious or if you really meant what you said so continue to read The Word and hide it in your heart so that you’ll be ready to put another “whoopin” on ’em when they do!

If, I’m sorry…WHEN you run into trouble, or just aren’t getting the kind of relief you’re seeking you need to find a group of believers and ask them to agree with you in prayer over your needs. Here’s where it can get tricky, first off you’ll have to face your fear of walking into a church and at some point asking to be prayed over. That’s when our enemy will do everything he can to prevent this from happening and you from being helped! Try it, but be ready when our enemy starts to tighten is grip of fear around you and begins to speak lies to you because he most definitely will!

After all, he wants to continue to ride you…

You may go to a church and the people there seem like they don’t know what you’re talking about or that might even say,

“We don’t do that sort of thing here”

At which point just say “Okay thanks”  and just keep looking until you do find one!

When you do find some other believers and you and them pray together, the only way the Holy Spirit can work is for you to have faith. You’ve got to believe that Gods word and His promises are true, if you doubt that God can fix your problem or that He loves you enough to do it then you close yourself off. If you doubt that God is willing to fix it you’ll do the same thing. God loves you, He can do all things,and He is willing!

Matthew 8:2-3 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Tragically, our situation as Christians is that even though we may understand that through Christ we’ve been set free from the penalty of sin for all eternity we don’t seem to realize that eternity starts here and now! Someday all of us will stand before the Father and give an accounting of our lives. I’m sure we’ll tell Him about the many struggles we faced and point to our circumstances that kept us down. We may even try to explain that the reason we didn’t grab hold of the plan He had for us and become all He designed us to be is that we were paralyzed with fear.

You know what I think He’ll say?

What did you do with My Son?

In conclusion, I think that this is the whole point I’m trying to make…

If you’re saved by faith in Christ, you’ve been born again to rule over those things that would rule over you.

How Do I Know?

A story was told to me many years ago about love. About how when we’re truly loved by someone whom we see as being wonderful the effect is transcendent. We’re lifted up, empowered, the phrase used in the story I heard was…

If I said it was because of the way He so faithfully provides for the physical needs of my family and I, which I believe He does, I wouldn’t be able to explain why it is that God loves everyone but some in this world go without.

I could say that I know God loves me because He sent His Holy Spirit to be a guide and counselor to me who leads me in all things but His Spirit is like the wind. You can’t actually see it…even though you can easily see it’s effects!

Would it be easier for people to understand how I know if they could experience His peace? If instead of feeling anxious about their circumstances,both present and future,they could cast their cares upon Him knowing He cares for them?

 That’s a lot of “If”s” in one sentence…

I used to walk through life carrying heavy burdens that I couldn’t put down! I know Jesus loves me because He took my burden of condemnation and sin and made me free!

What about the way Jesus is working in my life to heal me from all of the wounds I’ve suffered from the weapons formed against me by my enemy, continually transforming me by the renewing of my mind…

Would my testimony be convincing?

Oh I know! It’s the joy I feel in my life which is the fruit of His Spirit! It’s very attractive to others but can be so difficult for them to accept because it’s a gift!

All of us have placed our faith in something. Mostly in the things we can see like science,technology,and of course people! Every time we pay attention to anything we give it tribute and power in our lives. If we place our faith in Christ it can be said of us that though we may be in this world we’re not of it.

Our faith is the only requirement for us to receive our Father’s real love! But have you ever tried to explain what love is to someone? If so,you no doubt know it’s futility.I can tell you how much God loves you, I can show you in His word how He’s shown it, I can let His love shine through me for you to see, I can show you a world of miracles based on His love for you, but would it be enough?

The choice belongs to each of us,to decide what it is we believe.

Of course the responsibility for those choices is ours as well!

Into The Mystic?

Would it surprise you at all if I told you how thankful I am to have the limited amount of intelligence I posses? On my better days I’m a person to whom humility comes easily and who harbors few if any misgivings about his place in the grand scheme of things. I suspect it was a product of his own similar revelation and his subsequent observations of me that my father once said,

“Son, you don’t have to be really smart in this world if you have smart people around you”

His words stung a little then but now serve as a confirmation to me of a blessing that has in may ways characterized my life and that’s helped me to be more comfortable in the many supporting roles I’ve played since.

Genesis 3:22

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever

Knowledge can actually be a curse, look what happened to Adam after he “got smart” via the fruit of the forbidden tree! I think God is saddened by what’s happened, it’s as if He understands what a burden it is to know, to understand, and that as a result man will now be held responsible to choose good over evil…

Can you not see how much better off Adam was before just being

“dumb and happy” ?

In a recent post I wrote about our freedom in Christ and how Christians have allowed a spirit of fear and deception to keep them from experiencing any possible benefit or blessing from things like yoga,the martial arts, or even performances by theatrical magicians and I still believe that. I understand dancing is now considered “okay” as well…However, when it comes to things like Christians practicing Transcendental Meditation or being involved with any other altered consciousness producing practices I think you’re on very shaky ground and through your own freewill are in danger of coming under their mastery and of being in an idolatrous relationship. It’s more likely to be a person who’s real god is intelligentsia who comes to see themselves as some sort of “mystic” Christian. People who because of their vanity, pride and egocentric perspective have moved out to form a new Christian elite of  super apostles enabled to be our metaphysical snake handlers, qualified by Christ no doubt to handle things that would cause the rest of us to stumble…

After all, they’re the Most Holy People of God!

I write about things that are personal to me and this topic is certainly no exception. I struggle with my own rebellious folly but thankfully I’m not smart or creative enough to come up with the necessary lies and perverted logic which would allow me to continue in it’s pursuit. No, I’m a real amateur compared to people like Thomas Merton who laid the groundwork that “enlightened” generations of free thinking people! People who are, both then and now, spiritually seeking and who because the church was asleep at the wheel or busy organizing a bingo game somewhere were left without a proper challenge to this heresy which seemed to meet that need . I’ve noticed that people refer to him as a spiritual visionary. A so called Christian mystic who sought to bring together all of the worlds major faiths and traditions. Sounds good right but there’s so much more! I believe that in the very near future it’s going to be people such as Merton who will be the new age metaphysical apologists for the anti-christ and his one world religion!

When I first began thinking of writing on this subject I wondered if there were any real or legitimate examples of what could be considered Christian mystics. What about John of Patmos the writer of the final book of the bible Revelation?  St. John of The Cross who’s writings so many Christians find inspiration and comfort in? And in conclusion I think the answer has to be yes! But I don’t think they’re the pretentious, self-important, whack jobs that are attempting to pass themselves off as such today!

But what do I know? I’m just dumb and happy!