Are You Serious?

It can be difficult to know who is!

It’s always been a challenge for me to figure out and I suspect others probably wonder  the same about me! Of course at times I wonder how seriously some things actually should be taken. Perhaps it’s because of my analytic nature that I focus so much on details and have a tendency to be more literal in how I understand things. I’m someone who’s quite serious,too much so in fact,who’s trying to interface with a read the fine print “Just Kidding” world.

This fixation of mine seems to play out most noticeably in my relationships, both personal and professional. I don’t think it’s really so unusual or remarkable in any way,on the contrary! I see this mindset as being rather common hence the familiarity of the phrase in our culture. However,when combined with any sort of OCD or perfectionist tendencies it typically leads to disappointment and frustration on the part of all who’re trying to understand the appropriate roles of the respective parties in any given situation.

Enough setup?

Looking back on my spiritual journey which for me began at age nine or ten it seems to of,almost without fail, follow a distinct pattern. I find myself being drawn into “all things spiritual” until I reach a point where I can’t find answers to my questions or perceive “it” or myself, as somehow being in contradiction or one of us not living up to the associated claims. All of this is based on or evidenced by how I see “God” manifested in the world, in myself,and in other Christian people I know. At times the answers I do find seem to conflict with what’s taught or simply lead to more questions.

Here’s one…

Is Christianity the perfect ideology for people with low self esteem?

The idea of redemption was never hard to sell to me…As a youth I was so full of self loathing that the idea of being someone other than myself or a better version of who I was seemed like an answered prayer! (I’m still rather frustrated on this score) There are times that I think Christianity would be the greatest thing in the world, that it’d be worth screaming from the rooftops about if it simply did what it claims to do! I suppose that yet again I’m just “doing it wrong” but it’s awfully hard for me to conceive of a God who loves us so much and yet Who would make it so complicated or confusing to be redeemed or to get a taste of that victorious life we’re teased with!

In first Corinthians fifteen Paul talks about our faith being in vain. I don’t think I’m taking too great of an interpretive leap here to juxtapose the relevance of his statement to our spiritual lives. To me He seems to be saying that if Christ didn’t walk out of the grave then what we believe is in vain. If we’ve been crucified with Christ,born again and are in truth new creations in Christ which will someday rise just as He did,why are so many of us still dead in our sins?

“Because someday hasn’t come yet dummy and as long as you dwell in this tent of flesh,you’ll fight this battle regardless of how you feel about it”…The Holy Spirit

WOW! He’s in a mood today…

Anyways, my point is that if our new lives in Christ aren’t a miracle of some kind isn’t what we’re believing also in vain? I understand the eternal aspects of this statement but I also have to believe there are significant implications for our here and now lives as well! It is a bit confusing when you read what Paul says in Philippians about his own righteousness.

Philippians 3:9

KJV And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Or verse 12 of Chapter three in which Paul goes on to say…

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

And of course this confusing admission of his own inadequacy.

Romans 7:14-16

KJV For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Obviously Paul saw himself as a work in progress! That he was running a race,not that he had finished one…

There are however ways to know we’re on the right road!

Galatians 5:22

KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Certainly I”m not SO arrogant to in any way expect more from myself than Paul did!

Or am I?

Or pigheaded enough to be unforgiving towards myself when God the Father has already seen fit to forgive my many sins…

Surely not!

WHEW! Glad that’s been cleared up…

So, then what am I really so unhappy about or what are my real expectations?

Oh not much…

I once heard an analogy when I was in addiction recovery that related to what’s known as “recovery time” and “clean time”. It served to help distinguish the differences between them. The phrase “clean time” relates to how long someone has gone without using whereas the term “recovery” is an indication of the healing that’s occurred in someones life, of how much of the causative component involved in a persons addictive behaviors have been dealt with. Clean time is also known as “white knuckling it” the idea being that a persons sobriety is a function of their own “self will” and that inevitably it will fail.

Recovery time is so much better because once we understand the reasons we used to begin with we’re much,much less susceptible to their influence. Nothing is quite so liberating to an addict as understanding why it’s not just “okay” to be who they are and sober but how actually fantastic it is! They’ll never go back to using because they understand how much better off they are where they’re at! It’s no longer a struggle to stay sober,because from this new perspective you know that YOU’VE WON! And that you can live in victory over your addiction because you have something that’s SO much better!

That’s what I want from my spiritual life!

I’m tired of white knuckling it!

And I can’t stand the frustration of the failure that comes with it.

Which is what most religion comes down to in my opinion

and I definitely don’t believe in that.

What I do believe in is love.

And it’s transformative power!

So what I want is a personal encounter with it, or Him…

1 John 4:8

KJV He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

After all that I’ve been through…

all that I’ve seen and done.

I have to be honest enough to say I don’t have it!

which gives me the perfect opportunity to end this post using my title and the likely reaction to it by some!

Are You Serious?

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.

Look At Yourself…

I don’t know any perfect people.

I’d even go so far as to say that I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least a few issue’s that they’re working out, myself included of course. The same goes for people I don’t know, be they Christian or Atheist, rich or poor, even if you’re the Pope or the Dali llama it really doesn’t matter! All of us share the same gene pool, and there below our fancy Latin taxonomic name I think it should say in parenthesis…

One common approach used by those who feel compelled to address this greatest of all truths as a spiritual problem or sickness is to engage in various forms of self medication. To, by the use of ritualistic practices, behaviors or good works, overcome or compensate for their bad or evil nature with good or righteous acts. For Christian people this sometimes means regular church attendance or being involved with some personal ministry or outreach effort that their church supports.

One thing I’ve noticed about volunteer work in the church is that there’s usually far more people who’re willing to sign on to do high profile activities such as taking meals to homeless people or visiting the sick than there are who are willing to work at the church.

There are certainly exceptions, but usually they have to pay people to come in and do the cleaning, lawn care, and other more mundane tasks that are essential to the function and care of the church whereas outreach ministries provide their participants with an immediate “this looks AND feels good for me”  pay off.

I do understand that in the body of Christ there’s a place for everyone to serve and I’m a huge fan of doing so but have you ever wondered why people who consider themselves to be servants all seem to be gifted the same way?

Call me cynical or whatever but it’s hard for me not to see it as strange, it’s as though what they’re really wanting is for themselves to be glorified by these works instead of God.

Over the past several years I’ve been on both sides of things. I’ve been the person in need and I’ve been the one who was in a position to give. I’ve been helped, and helped others as well. I’ve also been confused by people who would help you as long as by doing so they looked like a hero but then, when it was a much smaller matter where perhaps just a word from them asking after me and my situation would’ve meant a great deal they suddenly seemed rather indifferent.

I can still recall how struck I was by my own feelings when after volunteering with a local outreach ministry I found myself filling out insurance forms so people could get medicines at no cost from pharmaceutical companies. Within a couple of weeks I began to dislike doing it because of how boring and confusing it was at times. I began to feel uninspired, wishing I could be involved in some other aspect of the ministry that I might find more interesting.

I remember thinking… “this just isn’t my area of spiritual gifting!” I continued to show up and tried to do my best. It sounds bad to say it but when I eventually became financially unable to continue making the hour long drive in twice a week I was actually sort of glad.

These scenario’s are just small examples of what I think it means to look into your own heart and see how self centered and prideful each of us are. Of how desperately each of us are in need a Savior, and how amazing the grace of God which is extended to each of us through His Son Jesus is!
To me, the most remarkable part of this story is how faithful God has been to me. How He’s shown me through untold small miracles how much I mean to Him. How is it then that I can turn away from what could’ve been an opportunity to share Christ’s love with someone else through simple things or grow weary in serving God because I don’t think it’s a good fit for me? Things like spending time with people you may find repugnant but who God has put on your heart, or perhaps doing boring, tedious things you may not actually like to do.
Who knows, maybe if by our doing these things in a selfless manor hoping for some privilege to share Christ through it we might just find our real place of service. We all want to find our purpose in Gods kingdom and play our part in His great plan. For some it’s to be center stage with the white hot spot light and Gods anointment on them, and for others it’s to work in the background in a supporting role of some kind.
What most of us don’t realize is that it’s only through our trusting God and being willing to do whatever He calls us to do in whatever circumstances we find ourselves that we’ll ever truly find our way. There comes a point where we have to stop looking at ourselves and start looking only to Him as the source of everything! We don’t look down, or back, or anywhere else but to Him! That’s when the power of the Lord our God will be seen in a mighty way in our lives and in the lives of those who we’re seeking to serve in His name!

I can’t believe it!


My father was married six or seven times, I’m not sure exactly I lost interest after number four or five. Obviously my father wasn’t good at maintaining relationships but one thing that he learned well was how to end them. I recall having a conversation with him on the subject, he shared with me his too often tested criteria for deciding when to end a relationship. He told me, “Once you get to the point that you say to yourself, That “expletive“,  I can’t believe she did that, it’s over!” My father went on to say that he couldn’t understand being friends with an “ex” either, his feeling was that if you could tolerate them at all then you probably should’ve  just stayed together. My father had some serious boundary issues with women,  by giving them everything they wanted he would eventually create this “monster” who then began to value only what he could provide for them. It was his way of being, to each woman he was with, the best thing that had ever happened to them. When you’ve been married several times you feel the need to distinguish yourself with your partner in some way, as if to say “Remember me, I took you on that vacation to Florida, or I bought you that furniture you always wanted that your ex didn’t”. Yes, it was all sweetness and light until one day, or more likely after many days, he came to an always painful realization that he had been used again,  the first clue to this is when people quit asking you for stuff and just start helping themselves to whatever you’ve got without so much as a thank you.


In my life I too have had relationships of all types that I’ve suffered under or that have “used” me. And while I certainly am not condoning how my father handled his relationships or his not taking responsibility for fostering his own problems, I have been able to use his technique to rid myself of things in my life that required nothing short of change on a wholesale level. When we come to see how sin has “quit asking our permission” and has taken control of our lives, or how it’s not only affecting us but also the people around us we all may need to have an “I can’t believe it” moment.  If I did believe it, I would be extremely upset with whoever or whatever is responsible for the stuff that’s going on including myself. Dealing with my own complicity should be my first move, accepting my responsibility and understanding that when I find myself in a hole, in order to get out the first thing I must do is stop digging…and then, I can focus on my extraction! Like it or not, we all have a relationship with sin in our lives. For most of us, it’s lost it’s pretense of being our “friend” or the courtesy of asking our permission that it once had and has shown itself to be the cruel taskmaster it really is.

Okay, it’s time to use the lessons my father taught me!

My heavenly Father is in control, and Satan can’t do anything that God doesn’t allow him to do so naturally I have to wonder why a loving Father would allow death,sickness,or tragedy to occur. This is my conclusion, how we react in our free will to these circumstances determines who is glorified through them. If we allow them to paralyze us with fear and steal our joy in life Satan has made a profit off of us, but if we decide that what God said in His word was absolutely true and that “I CAN believe it” and decide that we’ve simply had enough we can decide to rise up and turn on our enemy and command it to leave. I didn’t say ask it nicely and patiently wait for a response…I’m talking about serving it with the divorce papers baby! You are outta here! and your little band of demons too! When we finally decide that we’ve had it with Satan’s game plan to kill, steal, and destroy and get mad enough to MOVE we can start by saying,  “Satan, you are done messing with me, my friends, my family, and I’m making a stand right here! Oh, and I also want everything you’ve stolen from me back right NOW!”  guess what? We discover that through Christ we’re infinity more powerful than him and when we use that power God is glorified by it!

I think God is up in heaven looking down saying,

“Somebody please pick up that baseball bat and knock that devil into the next millennium!”

When any of us do that I think He smiles, and says “THAT’S MY CHILD!”

From as far back as I can remember, to this very minute, I have loved my father. I loved him with a love that couldn’t see his many short comings and failures. I just simply didn’t know how NOT to love him. There were also times as a young man when I dis-respected and abused our relationship, but it was during those times when I found out how much he loved me!

Our Heavenly Father has no short comings or failures, His love for us is unconditional, it would be contrary to His nature to not love each and every one of us no matter what we may do! He’s also seeking to have a relationship with us but unlike my father, He’s not going to just give us everything we want and then get mad when we don’t love Him back!

If by chance you’re someone reading this who feels as though they’ve never personally experienced unconditional love then this is for you. If you’re struggling today in your life with any health problems, physical or emotional, or experiencing financial hardship’s, please listen…perhaps you are wondering, “why am I here” or just know in your heart that your current situation cannot be all that life’s about? (you’re right, it’s not!) Then your day has come! In the very face of the spirits of doubt that may be surfacing in your mind right now as you read this, begin by thanking God for continuing to love you through all of your rebellion against Him and ask for His forgiveness.  In the midst of your affliction, cry out to Him as Abba Father in your time of need. We might be tempted to ask for His help but It’s going to be much easier to fix your problems if you will simply lay them at His feet. Ask Him for His strength and His courage to be continuously victorious in your life, and for His Holy Spirit to guide you in all things. We also need wisdom to see the snares that the enemy sets for us to step into everyday. It takes plenty of light to see them, and the experience of someone who knows what it’s like to walk in our shoes, and that’s who Jesus is! I sincerely ask that you to do what I’ve just suggested with an open heart and let His love be poured out on you! And then you too can say “I can’t believe it!” except that this time it’ll be because of the great blessing He has given you!

Ephesians 1:2-10

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.