Against The Wall

All of us enjoy a good story, but what is it that makes a story good? I suppose that’s an entirely subjective question, one that if I knew the answer to I’d be writing screenplays or books instead of this blog! But I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark if I were to say that most people are drawn to a couple of specific things. Most people love hero’s and how they inspire us with their courage and “never say die” attitude. It’s their charisma, confidence, leadership and direction that compels us to follow them.  I was ready to fight in the Roman Colosseum myself after listening to Russell Crowe  lay out the simple facts of life and death to a band of hopeless slaves as Maximus in the movie

“Gladiator”

“Whatever comes out of these gates…we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together! Lock your shields! Stay as one!

Stories about brotherhood, love and honor that through their medium remind us that there are no dress rehearsals in life…that it’s all real and it all counts

“Good Will Hunting”

Let me tell you what I do know. Everyday I come by to pick you up, and we go out drinkin’ or whatever and we have a few laughs. But you know what the best part of my day is? The ten seconds before I knock on the door ’cause I let myself think I might get there, and you’d be gone. I’d knock on the door and you wouldn’t be there. You just left.

This next scene always gets to me, some people take love and friendship very,very, seriously

What problems does he have, Sean? that he is better off as a janitor or in jail or hanging around with–And why does he hang out with his friends? Because any one of those kids would come in here and take a bat to your head if he asked them to. It’s called loyalty!

Most great stories are about overcoming adversity of some kind, we love to pull for the underdog! We seem to identify with people who find themselves fighting the good fight for the sake of all against evil and insurmountable odds.  Typically they’ve got nothing going for them other than their heart and the fact that they have nothing left to lose and everything to gain.

Years ago I heard a story about a football team in a championship game. Things weren’t going well at all and they had taken a pretty bad beating over the course of the afternoon. With only minutes left in the game, and what would be their last possession, they had the ball deep in their own territory.  They needed only one touchdown to win but as they walked towards the huddle that goal seemed impossible, they all felt as though they were already beaten. As they leaned in together to hear the Quarterback’s final direction, this is what he told them.

“Good job guys, I think we’ve got ’em just where we want them…They’ve counted us out, they think we’re whipped, and my guess is that most of them are already thinking about what their going to do after the game is over, but I’ll tell you what we’re going to do right now! After that ball is snapped we’re going to completely take them by surprise, we’re going to play like it’s the first play of the game instead of the last, like a team that knows it’s going to win! I look around at all of your faces and I know you want to win, well I’m telling you how we will, and that’s together! Men, no victory is as sweet as one that is pulled from the fearsome jaws of defeat, seize this moment, it’s yours for the taking!

Perhaps you’re wondering if there’s some point I’m trying to make with all of this or if maybe I’ve decided to turn this into a film review blog. If so, hold on…

Do you hear that grinding noise? Don’t be alarmed, that’s just me changing gears.

There’s a story that’s playing out all around each and every one of us everyday. It’s about us individually and the church as a whole.Our combined stories are all part of a much bigger story that we also have a role in.  It’s a grand drama, a classic tale of good and evil with hero’s and villains, winners and losers, it’s a full cast! Some of you probably know what I’m talking about, the rest of you think I’m nuts, that’s okay.

Anyway…

As I see it this little story is kind of coming down to a scenario that reminds me a great deal of the examples I mentioned. We are indeed behind, and we appear to be losing ground on just about every front. We’ve taken some hard hits and been thrown to the ground. Through clever tactics, our enemy has succeeded in dividing us and causing us to fight among ourselves in order that his plans might go undisturbed. Even now, he’s infiltrated our ranks and seeks to maintain this subversion by sowing complacency and preaching comfort. We’ve been led to believe there is no battle, that instead this boat we’re on a is a luxury cruise liner instead of a battleship. And yet, right before our eye’s he’s savagely attacked each of our families. The deeds he’s committed are so reprehensible that our minds recoil in disgust and we must turn away!

Now is not the time to wring our hands in hopeless despair, or to mourn what’s been lost.

Instead NOW is the time that we must attack!

In order for us to be successful it’s going to require that we all put aside our differences and come to a new agreement as to what is our common goal. We need a plan that involves putting our strengths against his weakness’s. One that he can have no defense against because each of us is more than willing to die if necessary to accomplish it.

We represent the kingdom of heaven and the living God, and to reveal them to mankind is what we live for and stand for and are ready to die for. Bless God! John G. Lake

Sound extreme? I’ve no doubt that some people who read this will mistakenly equate or compare what I’m talking about with the kind of violent acts committed by terrorists but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s only love that can conquer hate, and so it’s only through love that any real victory can be won!

It’s easy for actors like Russell Crowe who are playing a role to be brave when they know what’s going to happen in the end. Well guess what, I’ve read how our story ends and we should be SO much bolder!

As members of the body of Christ and of Gods one true church we should have the kind of love for each other that puts a bond between us that nothing can break, we should be loyal servants of each other! If we’re more concerned with our possessions or if we can’t see beyond the temporal nature of this present world then we’ll always be vulnerable to being infected with the disease of  “self ” and will be of little use to Gods Kingdom in this battle.

Where do you see yourself in this unfolding drama? You might be among those who don’t believe or who won’t understand it until the very last days when the fight is on your doorstep. You’re much braver than me if your counting on having an opportunity to make the right choice then when you finally realize that it’s your back that’s…against the wall

Gods In It…(Pt.3)

In some ways this is the most difficult part for me to write because it tells the story of how I went from being a regular three time a week church attendee to striking out and”accidentally” establishing a ministry of my own. It’s difficult because what I’ve got to say is critical of certain aspects of not just my church at the time but mainstream churches as a whole. Over time what I began to see and hear became very frustrating to me, the message I kept hearing was that we need to be a church outside the four walls but as far as I could see there wasn’t any real practical or specific plan as to exactly what that means other than to just “be a good person” or “invite someone to church”. Being able to confidently share your faith with others is a weak spot with most Christians. But from my perspective, after all of the ways I had witnessed the Lord’s provision in my life through all of the circumstances I’d been through it was very natural for me to tell others how good He was to me! Over time what I was hearing just ceased to minister to me.  I wondered if I was being spiritually prideful or if I was just tired of sitting in a pew week after week hearing the call to GO being given but not feeling as though it was something most took seriously. I tried to make suggestions for various outreach activities but they were all ignored or dismissed. There’s an old joke about a church that was seeking a new minister, they were particularly impressed by one man and asked him to return and speak to  their congregation again, he does but he gives the exact same sermon! The elders met together and asked the young preacher “don’t you know any other sermons?” he relied “Sure, and as soon as this congregation start’s practicing THIS one I’ll preach another!”

One Monday morning in October of 2009 I couldn’t get my car started and wasn’t able to figure out exactly what was wrong with it and fix it for 26 days.  During that time I was unable to attend church and when I finally did get my car fixed I just didn’t want to go back. What happened was kind of sad but in another way it was a blessing because it forced me to make a change that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have otherwise made.  The next twist was what I thought was a God ordained partnership with a new friend I had found. Instead it was another necessary nudge that also helped serve the purpose of moving me from being a pew sitter to a well, whatever it is I’ve become…An evangelist, a counselor, or perhaps just a Christian who’s wiling to trust in a God that has brought him through so many things, and in His promises of a plan He has for my life to establish me and not to harm me!

In the beginning of this three part series I used a card game as an illustration to expound upon the ways in which I believe God has shown Himself in my life. Playing cards requires that you pay attention to what’s in your hand and that when you have something to “lay down” it’s best to go ahead and just do it. To me that’s what my blogging has always been about, trying to tell or “lay it down” to others that it’s not about what we may go through in this life, it’s who you go through it with that gives it meaning or value! Every story I’ve told here is about how God showed up in the midst of my circumstances and kept me from hitting bottom. I’d also like to say that what I’ve written here is a very abridged version of many, many ways God interceded on my behalf, far too many for me to even mention!  Nobody in my family has ever been hungry or gone without any thing they really needed. Even during the worst of it, when I lost my home, He made sure I had enough money to rent a truck, that I had help moving, and most important a place to move to! God knows me so well, and He knows what I can take and what I can’t take.

The following verse in Isaiah really sums it all up for me.

Isaiah 54:17

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Our enemy comes only to kill,steal,and destroy! If the trials and troubles that you have in your life can steal your joy or make you doubt Gods great love for you than his weapons have prospered! It’s only through the blood of Christ and the sustaining power of Gods Holy Spirit that we can have victory over life’s most difficult challenges. For what was meant for evil against us, only God can turn into good!

One of the most common questions I’m asked by people regarding what I’m doing in my ministry is “How are you funded?” and the answer is that I’m privately funded by Jesus!

Say What?

That’s right! He’s sustained me through all things and now and has moved me into the position I’m in and even though I only make about 13,000 a year I’ve been able to financially support my ministry! I live a wonderful life It seems like I always have plenty of money for life’s little extra’s, going out to eat occasionally or just buying something I need, it’s absolutely true that you can’t “out give” God!  He’s made a 17yr old car that I got as a gift with over 255,000 miles on it last for two years and just last week I was given another car that’s the exact same model and color except it’s 10yr’s newer and in immaculate condition!

He’s made sure that my daughter always has nice clothes to wear because He knows that there’s no way I would be able to do what I’m doing if I thought she was being made to suffer because of it or if it prevented me from taking care of her. I’m sure that there will be some people who read this and say “Your circumstances were the result of your own bad choices!” Sure I’ve made some bad choices, who hasn’t? But if I had gotten the choices I wanted I would’ve gone back to work driving a truck, remember? or “I think that there are quite a number of other more practical ways to explain everything that you’ve attributed to God“, and in response to that I say, “You’re right! But this is my story and I’m going to tell it how it make’s sense to me, I was there, I lived it, and from my perspective it definitely doesn’t make sense to me any other way so I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree as to whether “Gods in it” or not!

Well, I’ve laid all of my cards out on on the table, and slid my entire pile of chips into the pot. And all I want out of the sum of my life’s experience is to be able to say that when it came to my faith, “I wasn’t just shuckin’! To be able to say that my belief in God not only sustained me but moved me into action, and that I chose to step out in faith and answer what I feel is the call on my life which ALL Christian people have. To live, despite the circumstances of my life in such a way that others just have to say…

Gods In It!

Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.