Archive for the ‘Not Mine But Thine’ category

The Case for Being a Man.

April 19, 2014

It’s so hard to be a man, even, a man who loves his own wife more than himself.
Too many things are destructive and harmful for my health.

Why is the call of being a father feel so burdensome at times?
All these things on the world wide web, pulling for my allegiance and my mind.

Even a simple quiet devotion time can so easily become a self-destructive binge.
The computer or the smart phone all blinking for my eyes, making my doors come unhinged.

Focusing on the taste of my beer,
rather than thinking and praying about the things I fear.

Some of those very fears have become my own bone-crushing reality.
My life so close to ruin at times, too near to coming untied actually.

What would I do without the redeeming power of the love of the Father?
Without him, my life would be nothing but simple fodder.

It’s time to open my eyes, turn on the lights and let this truth spur me on.
To live my life out of this truth, that my life is worth way more than I let on.

The time is now, the consequences of not acting are life changing.
The action is needed right here and right now, it’s about time for some rearranging.

I have a second, a third, and even a fourth chance to make this all right.
To come to grips with the notion that my marriage and my kids are damn worth the fight.life-long-quotes

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Seeing clearly through the Pride

April 5, 2011

For the past few years I’ve grown more accustomed to this blanket of pride that I let envelope my life. Not so much the pride in thinking I am better and I know better than everyone else. But the pride that causes the San Andreas fault to divide my life in jagged sides. The pride that tells me that I am better and I know better than God himself. This is dangerous ground to say the least. These seeds of doubt aren’t fully succumbing to the world that I don’t believe in the God who created all this from nothing, I honestly do believe in Him. But, to slowly take that power out of His hands and put that raw power into my hands.

I know and am convicted to know that the power is not the same vibrant power that God possesses, but a lesser power to control my life; or what seems like control; but is really a fractured state of mind that takes all the power out of this life. God, who needs him? This, is a scary scary question to ask, and I find myself asking this question too many times. Most likely not out loud as I don’t want anyone to know that I’m asking this of my; of our God. The hardest part of the whole thing is that I can see my God through this veil of pride with tears streaming down his face, longing for me to walk towards him and not away with my head turned watching the gap between us growing darker and deeper.

Listening to this coversation in my heart and in my mind reminds me of lyrics masterfully crafted by Jars of Clay in the song Worlds Apart.

“I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all adds up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
To give and die”
More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/j/jars_of_clay/#share

This is such a beautiful picture of the state that we live in all too often. Like the story of Icarus, the wings his father Daedalus fashioned to fly with were adhered to his body with wax, and with a warning of his father not to fly too high. But, while flying above the earth, the sheer excitement of flying clouded his judgement and he went higher and higher despite the loving warning, and fell to his death to the sea below. This story, as in the lyrics of Worlds Apart, remind me so much of the story I find myself in. Feeling free to explore further than warned by my loving God and Father, finding myself in peril too many times. Flapping my arms with the wings I thought I had, all the while finding myself in a deep dark pit of despair wonderig where my Father went.

This place of brokenness is humbling, and so brings on the asking my Father for help. Feeling afraid that he may shy away from my request, but He swoops down and rescues me into his arms of love. To be humbled, and to accept that humbleness is a leap back from that scary, prideful mess that I get myself into. I find it freeing that I am loved despite what I do and the choices I make. I admit that I am still a far way off from living my whole life out of that love, but I accept it now and I pray for the strength to hold firm to this realization and live my life remembering that we don’t live to gain victory, but that we live a life that has been victoriously won by Jesus on the cross, already!

Thoughts on Heaven and Love.

February 27, 2011

Just read an article about Rob Bell, who some believe is a false teacher. I don’t believe he is a false teacher but is writing a book of the love of God simply stating that all have a place in God’s kingdom. He brings out the point that we are not judges of salvation but tools to usher in the grace and love and salvation that God offers through his son Jesus Christ who is God and who is love.

I can see why the author of this article would pick out this 30 second spot or preview of a book and categorize Rob Bell as being a Universalist, which I do agree is a bad thing; but nowhere does Rob Bell discount there is a hell. He is simply stating that who are we to judge? Is Ghandi, Hitler, Che Guevarra, Stalin, Kark Marx….the list of “BAD” people continues. But has anyone ever really been to hell and taken a head count of who suffers there? NO!

Anyways, I know that Rob Bell is controversial and pushes the envelope a bit, but hey so did St. Justin Martyr (who spoke against Plato who he had learned from, displacing Plato’s teaching and teaching a Gospel of a loving God) Martin Luther (who taught against the teachings of the early catholic church and viewed by some as a heretic and constantly had threats on his life…for simply teaching that Salvation is a free gift of Grace from a loving God), Abraham Lincoln (Who by the way never became a member of any church said, “When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior’s condensed statement of the substance of both law and Gospel, ‘Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and thy neighbor as thyself’ that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul.”—he is simply pointing to a God who accepts everyone on the basis of their faith in him and not for any good works we can do, but by believing in Christ.)

I can think of many other envelope pushers who have been criticized for their thoughts on God. The Gospel to me is a subject of good news….the good news that we have redemption in Christ and anyone and everyone is accepted into the kingdom of God. There is not one exception to that list. I like that Rob Bell isn’t afraid to speak what is in his heart, all the while knowing there are people who don’t agree with him and think his teaches contrary to the Bible and to God. Heck I’ve also heard other Pastors, Teachers, and fellow believers say the same about Brian McLaren (author of A New Kind of Christian) Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz, and Searching For God Knows What), or William Paul Young (author of The Shack) who all have a very controversial ways about them (in the essence that they are not quoting the bible rather than sharing the thought out of their own creativeness that God himself blessed them with. With the articulate knowledge to write books that will influence people in different ways.)

I believe that there is not a ‘single, one way’ to be saved. Yes to be saved is to believe Christ is who he says he is but what are the 10 quick steps to doing that? I really don’t think that there are pin-pointed steps to becoming a person who will live for eternity in heaven. But God will meet everyone where they are at, knowing where we all are at the time that we will accept him into our lives. Can God not meet a Gihadist Muslim on his way to blow up a building full of innocent people? Yes! Read the story of former PLO terrorist Muslim Walid Shoubat (http://www.shoebat.com/) I think that if you are seeking God you will find him, if you are asking God to come in then he will open the door, no matter where you are, what actions you are doing at the time and no matter how black our hearts are…God is here to redeem us by his Grace and Love.

The following is taken from the Bible in Romans 1:14-17 “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” —this says that if you have faith you will have a place in heaven.

We just need to remember that God is bigger than us, he will always be bigger than us as He has been here before there was a here. We also need to be careful not to put God in a box as to easily understand him….the fact that we don’t understand God is a good thing. As Mike Erre (former pastor of Rock Harbor, and now pastor of Mariners Church Mission Viejo) has said, “The greatest hindrance to actually knowing something, is believing you’ve already got it figured out.” All this to say that if we look at all the attributes of God other than Love and Anger is a massive God who reveals himself in endless ways. I am finite, and He is Infinite. All the questions that we have about Heaven and Hell will be answered when we get there….but I honestly think that by the time we get there we will be so distracted and in Awe of God’s creation then we will not even remember the questions in the first place. I am committing from this day forward to preach a gospel of Good News, that all have a place in God’s kingdom and that the Lord will reveal himself through His Spirit any way that He sees fit….even if that means we all experience is differently. I will point to the God above for all the answers, I am just the messenger.

Who is God? I AM or HE IS…

February 3, 2011

Being floored to your face isn’t always a fun or pretty experience. If I hadn’t been driving I would literally have been on my face weeping . This is what happened on my way in to work this mornig. What brought on this wave of emotion was that I relistened to the first teaching in the series titled “God Is…” from RockHarbor taught by Mike Eerie. I need to be constantly reminded of who God really is, who he says he is and who I believe he is. Many times I think of God as being this distant, unknown being that is out of reach and out of touch with reality. Or I see God as an angry, punishing God that is out to get all the evil people in this world, including me. These are not the only ways that I, or society views God, but probably two of the most common views nonetheless. But what I think is crucially important is that we remind ourselves of who God really is….The God of the Bible; what does the Holy Bible say about who God is?

Towards the beginning of the Bible in Exodus 3, it speaks of God as a provider and and out for the people’s best interest. But, there is no physical image of God. He appears to Moses in the form of a burning bush, or in Israel’s sake, he appeared on Mount Sinai in the form of thunder, lightening, fire, and smoke that enveloped the entire mountain and shook the ground everywhere around them. I can’t even imagine the power of the presence of the glory of God would feel like. I think this is why any recolection in the Bible of people being in this presence can do nothing but fall face down on the ground and worship him. 

Also, the way Isaiah describes God is in this way, “I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” –Isaiah 6:2-5. As Mike said in his sermon, “This is the vision of God that the American church needs to get back in touch with.” This is so true. God has become a God who is out dated and out of touch; just plain out unrelevant.

Also, as Mike points out from Ezekiel 1:4-5, “I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human…” 1:22, “Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome…”, 1:27, 28, “and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown…” Shame on us for stealing the power of the Lord away from our culture, we turned God into nothing. This is very humbling to me, and the main reason why I was broken this morning, and why I am allowing Him to start working this out in my life. I want to hold on to the power of God in my life…until then I will continue to be a stagnant, uneffective person.

These are awesome exapmles of who God is…but at the same time these are very figurative and pretty crazy examples. I wish I could have seen these visions of God and his glory, but Lord knows I’m too weak at heart to bear this power in my finite mind. But as I read in Matthew 1:21-23, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). This is such a great reminder. The way we can get the most accurate vision of view of God, we look toward Jesus. Who is the exact representation of the Grace of God. I can do nothing but be extremely thankful that this powerful, almighty God is also available to each one of us. We gather our strength by the power that is revealed through Jesus and his death on a cross to redeem us; the us of this world are not worthy of this kind of love. But I am reminded again of what a friend has told me, ‘It’s (this life, everything) is not about what we can do for Him, but what He has already done for us.’ This is so important that we recognize that we aren’t worthy, but by going to Jesus, we have direct communication to a God who is with us, who embodies a complete powerful and loving God.

I pray today that I may be reminded of the power of the glory of God and that it will affect my life in the deepest way possible. That I may stop waisting my time away and allowing the enemy to steal away the joy in my life. I pray that I may focus on the price that is already paid for our salvation. A different friend has also told me that, ‘we don’t fight for victory, but from victory.’ Lord may I plug into your love and your grace and your power that I may affect the world around me. That we can all affect the world around us. May I come back to a place of awe and reverence in your power, and that I may portray that in the most effective way possible. So people will see you through my words, and my actions, and the way I live my life in a consistent fashion.

–This writing is inspired and quoted from “God Is….” taught by Mike Eerie at RockHarbor.

Like Moths To Flame

November 24, 2010

Today is a day of being broken; a bittersweet breaking. My innermost being is being blended up like food processor, it’s way uncomfortable but way necessary. I’ve been praying, seeking, and asking for the Lord to reveal himself to me in a powerful way. He is answering my prayers, maybe not in the order I thought, but he is nonetheless. Being at the bottom of a cold dark pit for far too long with a way to get out this whole time, but finding comfort and contentment in the darkness, not being stretched by others, not having to be transparent to the close people in my life. But, my time is up, it’s time to start my upward climb into the light, and into a better understanding of my calling in him.

I understand that the more we desire to be content in the Lord, the more Satan fights to get us distracted on our own misery and hardship. I desire to live a live of thankfulness and freedom that I have in Christ, to be used and to be a tool for Him to complete his work. I leave myself vulnerable all to often for the enemy to get a foothold or a lid on the dark compartments in my heart. I get beat down with self doubt, with sickness that comes from being self consumed, and with an attitude of knowing that my faith is little and not worth a lick. But, as a friend told me today, it’s not about how small or little our faith is but how big and faithful our Lord Jesus Christ is. Life isn’t about what we can do or say to be right with God, but what Christ has done and said to us and for us. It’s a complete mind switch of what I have known for 30 years of my life.

Too many times I catch myself complaining about something that is relatively menial or trivial. How many times do I say things like, ‘I don’t have enough money’, ‘Why do other people seem to have a stronger faith than I do?’, ‘My car is a hunk of junk, I want a new one,’ or ‘I have too much to do but too little time to do it all.’ But, I am sick and tired of being complacent and full of excuses that I am disgusted to look in the mirror sometimes. Thankfulness is a gift that we have that seldom gets the focus it needs. Being thankful should be a way of life or an attitude that we practice everyday.

While driving in my car, on this day before Thanksgiving; the lyrics of the song Like Moths To Flame by Thrice seeped into my heart and continued this breaking process.

“Once again these bitter herbs the perfect compliment to all your cryptic words I nod but don’t know what to say, but I know you and I believe you’re who you say you are so I? I will follow you, lay down my life I would die for you, this very night once again the bread and wine but it seems the meanings may be deeper still this time and you surprised me when you said I’d fall away, don’t you know me I could never be ashamed of you, no I? I’ve never been this cold, the fire’s gravity compels like planets cling to soul, I feel my orbit start to fail like moths to flame I come, too close and all my oaths are burned as stars begin to run, all my accusers take their turn and calling curses down, from my lips lies like poison spill and then that awful sound, the sound of prophesy fulfilled and then I met your eyes, and I remember everything and something in me dies, the night that I betrayed my king.”

It talks about the truth of the Lord and what it means to live a life of faith in the unseen. ‘I will follow you, lay down my life, I would die for you, this very night,’ is such a powerful sentiment. Most likely God will not require us to die for him but I think what this means is to take this life seriously and realize it’s not all about us. It’s about the truth and the powerful faithfulness of our Creator, Father, Author and Perfector of our lives.–This leads me to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to grip my life that I would live for meaning and purpose and truth. No more lies, no more complacent laziness. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:12-15

Overcomplicated or oversimplified?

October 30, 2010

I think it is way too easy for us to focus on gaining knowledge about Christ or of Christian ethics and lose sight of the truth. Truth; being the very person of Jesus; and how often do we lose sight of Jesus? It’s crazy to think that we either overcomplicate or oversimplify the gospel to the point of it losing it’s power and potency. It’s also pretty scary to think that by doing this to the Truth, or more directly to Jesus we end up pushing people away from the Word of Truth; rather than bringing people into the true faith in the truth and in love.

The ways that we overcomplicate the gospel is by piling too many steps, formulas, or ways in action that we must follow in order to have that right relationship with our Father Christ. This is what was happening in and around Jesus’ time on earth with the Pharisees. There were countless laws and rules that the Jews had to follow to be seen as holy, all the while missing the point or important things entirely. Jesus came and debunked all of the Pharisees teachings, and creating a bad name for himself in the eyes of the religeous folks, but he did this knowing that this would bring others into right relationship with him and the Father.

Jesus came and redeemed the broken, loved the contrite in spirit, emboldened his followers, hugged the loveless and the outcasts, touched the untouchables; He reversed everything they thought about what it truly means to be holy and truly religeous. This is how faith looks in it’s purest form, that if we love Christ first all the glory and riches and honor are added unto us. No rules or regulations, but an honest, transparent, fire-catching love for our Savior.

On the other hand, we tent to oversimplify the gospel by getting so far away from the rules. Then taking very few of the things that make true faith and putting too much importance on them, while leaving certain things to wilt away. For instance, we take the issue of going to church and zeroing in on this. Making it a mandatory thing and perhaps leading to taking away the desire and the wanting to go out of the picture. Which leads to the building having much more importance over the action of church and worship and fellowship. As if these things can only occur if we go to the “church” we meet in. Or the issue if reading or studying the Bible for 25 minutes a day for example, and using this gaining of knowledge or the putting in of my time, while the Bible becomes a faith bandaid. We use this as a ‘look at my faith, I read the Bible everyday.’ 

Or the subject of community; some christian circles of which I have been in and also been on the outside of, so I’ve seen this firsthand. But, the act of living in community is taken to the extreme and made out to be a matter of if you don’t live in the same city as the church you go to we are somehow living in sin or apart from Christ. But, I think is is more broad than that, it doesn’t come in such a pretty box with a neat little bow. Christ lived in community whenever and wherever he went. He is essentially and literally community himself, so; where Christ is so will be community. The actions Jesus took by loving on the people he came into contact with, is how we can live in ‘right’ community with each other. If we are loving Christ in all we do, wether in word or deed; than community will come with us, not containing itself in a zip code or a 1 mile square block. This is how we can be effective and non-complacent Christ followers. For us to be a willing people and to live available lives to Him, then there is no force in this world that can quench that flame.

As it says in the Bible; “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perserverance; and to perserverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brother kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have these, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from past sins.” –2 Peter 1:5-9  

–Lord of heaven, may I turn away from this thing called ride and this narrow mindedness. I pray that you may allow me to see you and your purposes clearly with ferventness. Keep me excited and burning for your truth so that I may be effective and productive for you, rather than push or turn people away. May I live for noone and nothing but your glory. To this I commit my life. Amen.

Rid the Yard of Sticks.

October 28, 2010

The following article was written by David Crowder and it has fully touched my heart and I can’t help but share it with you all. It reminds me how narrow minded and self centered we are as a generation, a nation, and a human race. We are so consumed by what conveniences us and want to live in our personal little bubbles. We avoid eye contact everywhere we go and everyone is busy messing with their BlackBerry’s and Iphones to be bothered for anyone. I pray that the Lord can renew us and to break down our comfortable little suburban lives to be bothered by the people who need help. It breaks my heart that there is so much heartbreak, lonliness, lusting, sickness, poorness, and loveless people out there that we simply pass by without so much as a smile. Shame on us!!! Allow me Lord to touch people’s lives and invest in the needs of others, to be a tool for your glory, to bring people into the love that I have grown to know. Prepare to be blessed by this amazing story by an amazing man.

Rid the Yard of Sticks

By David Crowder

++ CATALYST MONTHLY EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE

It is a Saturday afternoon in Waco, Texas and I am at home sitting on the couch with my wife. The television is on and it is displaying a golf tournament and we are observing this through half-opened heavy eyelids. It’s rather lovely.

I feel the need to point out that I live in one of the more economically depressed sections of town, as in, seriously, two of our neighbors call themselves the Rockstars because, they sell “rock,” (as in crack cocaine) – they do a brisk business. So, again, this time with context, my wife and I are sitting on our couch on a Saturday afternoon watching the “sport” of golf with lots and lots of Fidelity and Buick commercials.

Abruptly, I am jarred from this, my privileged slumber, as, “David! David!” is yelled at loud volume from somewhere behind me. I now feel the need to point out that we do not have any curtains on our windows. We’ve been in our house 6 years and curtains have held only occasional importance, like now, with, “David! David!” being shouted from the street at the window located directly behind my head, which is again causing me to think, “Seriously, we’ve been here 6 years? We need some curtains.” I turn and peek over the couch. It’s John. I say this to my wife, “Oh, man. It’s John.”

John is an elderly black man who has no home. He is one of Waco’s homeless. He is my neighbor. He comes around and wants to pick up the sticks in my yard. He says, “David, I’ll just get these sticks out of your yard if you can spare a few dollars.” We do this often, rid the yard of sticks. It’s really helpful – you can imagine – the ability to move about your yard without the obstruction of sticks. So, here is John, standing in the street outside of my window, watching us watch golf, when he decides he needs to tell me something. Peering over the couch, my eyes meet with John’s and I am left with no choice outside of meeting John at my back door.

“Hey John.”

“Now, David. I don’t mean to disturb you. I see you and your wife in there just relaxing, watching the TV, the golf I see, my apologies.”

“That’s quite all right. What’s going on John?”

“Well, like I said, I don’t mean to disturb you, I just wanted to say congratulations.”

I pause. I’m not sure what my line is supposed to be. I had all of my lines ready. I had formulated them on my walk from the couch to the door. I have no idea what he’s talking about. I think to myself, John is genius. This is a new angle. I’m trying to anticipate his next move and I’m forming fantastic pieces of discussion that will totally make John get a real job and stop living on the street and asking me if he can pick up my sticks. I respond, “Uh, thanks.”

“Yep. You’re gonna do it. We’ve all talked and we know you’re gonna bring ‘em home. Just like last time. Yep, congratulations. We’re all pulling for you.”

“Uh, OK. Now what might this be regarding?”

“Those Dove awards. You’re gonna win ‘em! We all prayed and we know you’re gonna do it, you’re gonna bring ‘em home you hear me?”

I pause. I have no idea where to put this. John has basically told me that the homeless population near my house is 1) aware that there are such things as “Dove Awards” and 2) that my band and I have been nominated for some, and, 3) seriously? (!) The homeless had some type of meeting, or assembly, or whatever, and are praying we win? What on earth! That is the most ridiculous thing ever, and – what, seriously? Thoughts like this are in my head: David, you make assumptions that are wrong. You need to repent. You are evil.

Social or civil justice issues are incredibly difficult objects to get my head around. It is a given that most of us desire to live in a just society; the awkwardness lies in agreeing upon just how exactly we arrive there. It’s easy to become pessimistic and passive even when attempting to effect change, i.e. after hearing Red Campaign marketing costs, or reports that mosquito nets I sent contributed to a water shortage crisis due to the nets actually working and people surviving malaria. Thus, obviously, it resulted in a rising population and a rise in water consumption, thus resulting in a water shortage, which now those same people are dying from.

To carry the story of God in a way that makes a real, tangible difference to those we live among can be really frustrating at times. I think the only way to not become paralyzed by the task, is, to get close enough to these issues for them to turn into names and faces that walk up to your fence on a Saturday; who lean in and yell your name and give you something that leaves you smiling and tearful and repentant and a little more in love with the people God has made.

 

David Crowder recently won four 2008 Dove Awards, including Worship Album of the Year for REMEDY , and Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year for “Everything Glorious.” David co-founded University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, where he lives with his wife Toni.