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Restoration

In the midst of the busy day, I am once again, reaching, searching, and struggling to find an answer. What was it that was said again? I can scarcely remember, but oh how I wish the stain would dissolve as fast as the accuracy of the words that are now fading. Wounds made from sticks and stones heal quicker than those made with words. The tongue truly is a loaded weapon with the potential to wound, maim, and destroy. If only blessings flowed from these lips as freely as the reactionary morsels of pain do. For then, and only then, could one conquer this unruly member.

And the words that have been forgotten, where are they now? They are lodged in the corner of a heart that is reminded with each beat of the costly encounter. This encounter between friends has turned into a gunfight full of insults that shoot bullets in self-defense and avoidance of the truth. With voices raised and caution abandoned, hurtful pride steps into the room and quickly dissolves any resemblance of friendship. Could there be a cause so noble worth fighting for that calls for the destruction of character between two souls who once served together and protected one another? I say no, except for the purest form of stubbornness. Self-centered and shortsighted are the descriptors that dangle from the wounded heart of shame.

If only there were a medicine to relieve the pain now. If there were a cure, one could run and buy it by the bushel and store it for seasons like these. If rewinds and do-overs really existed, I am afraid that perhaps a button representing this upon our lives could be worn out completely. Tragically it is true, that if our tongues had no distance between it and the thoughts in our mind that more damage could be done than could ever be repaired.

Oh what arrogant people we are. Destructive and hopelessly messy in our actions, we try to impress those around us by attempting to diminish our flaws. In so doing, we fail to recognize that we are all the same. Convincing ourselves that we must be better, we leave God’s grace behind while looking to justify our humanity with more imperfection. Words fall short when formed into the shape of an excuse, and can only reveal more of our inadequacy. Futile attempts on our own are as dry as the very dust we are made of. The answer to fix what was done could not possibly come from human effort alone. And so the question remains, “How can one ever repair such vicious damage between friends?” Such a distance formed between two people would require a miraculous intervention of sorts. Something perfect is needed to begin the repair.

There is a material for building a bridge between parted friends, and it does well to fill a gap when the ravine is deep and wide. It is a tested and tough substance that is not easily found, and yet it exists in all of us. It is one of humility and lowliness. Selflessness and acceptance are a couple of the ingredients that make up this wonderful bonding agent. Longsuffering and kindness are the emulsifiers that solidify the desired shape and result when carefully placed in the crevices of darkness. In it’s purest form, it is simply called love. Its elasticity stands the test of storms, fires, and earthshaking arguments. Its resilience is reassuring and patient. Love will stand in the face of doubt and calmly whisper, “I am here for you.” Love is the first one to apologize and the last one to give up. Love never fails.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Living With Pain

Pain is one of those topics that can be as uncomfortable to talk about as it is to experience. For some of us, we try to eliminate it at all costs, while for others, it is an unavoidable part of life. Let’s face it, pain is something that none of us really thoroughly enjoys. Moreover, in all honesty, that is OK. Because you see, pain is meant to be a motivator for change. When handled properly, it can be a lifesaver. It can stop you from doing something detrimental to your body, and to your life. On the other hand, it can be merely a sign that something different is happening.

Think of pain as a road signal that directs you what to do next. If you ignore it, and keep moving in the same direction and in the same manner that you are traveling in life, there could be some consequences up ahead that may be much worse than the pain you are currently experiencing. This does not mean you should get off the path you are on or turn around and go back to where you came from, but it could mean that you need to adjust a few things. Maybe you need more gas or energy to continue at the pace you are traveling in life. Maybe you are neglecting something that really needs your attention. Or, in some cases, yes, maybe you DO need to get off the path you are on and change your course. If the pain is repeatedly occurring no matter what you try to change, a change of course could be your answer.

Some pain is not a warning at all. Rather, it is a sign that you are not used to doing something or that you are going beyond your comfort zone. Take for instance working to improve your body through physical exercise. In this case, pain is a symptom of stretching and fatiguing muscles. As they relax and begin to repair themselves, they are forced to work harder than normal to bounce back. While this process occurs, there is a need to become larger and stronger, so they attract more blood and nutrients to speed up the healing process. In the end, your muscles become firmer and more rigid. It is as if they are saying, ‘Ok, now we are ready for the next time this happens.’ This type of pain is good. It is a sign that things are changing and improving. That is the reason for the saying, ‘No pain, no gain.’

Does pain always equal gain? Not necessarily. However, if handled correctly, pain can always ‘point’ a person towards gain. There is another old saying that refers to always ‘shooting yourself in the foot.’ This is the embarrassing moment of realization that we continue to make the same mistakes in life without properly adjusting for success. Though many have different feelings about guns, please allow the use of this topic simply to make a point. In the old west, guns were as much of a necessary tool as a horse and saddle. Without the use of a handgun or pistol, a cowboy could not effectively do his job. And to be politically correct, cowgirls were no different. Guns were considered a tool to get a job done. It allowed versatility and speed when a rattlesnake or predator was in need of extinction. Rather than take the time to pull a rifle from the scabbard, and then taking careful aim across the sights on the long barrel, a pistol could be drawn in half the time and pointed in a direction simply by extending the arm and aligning your eyes with the shorter sight on the end of the gun. Long story short, pistols were faster and just as accurate in tight situations requiring immediate action. There was a small problem with pistols though. If not handled correctly, there was a good chance of firing it too soon while pulling it out of the holster. And since the holster was generally worn on a belt and strapped to the leg for stability, the first place a bullet would fly when firing in the holster was at your foot! Now, instead of inflicting pain on the predator, you have inadvertently caused pain to yourself. This is why patience and caution must always be practiced when using tools of this sort. The more powerful the tool, the more damage can be done if not handled correctly. Even though a particular tool or method is the right choice for getting the job done, it is very important to be selective and patient when deploying the use of the tool.

My mom is a great example of the use of patience when dealing with pain caused by others. I remember a particular time in her life when someone caused her pain and discomfort. What the other person had done to her was wrong and needed to be discussed and corrected. Instead of becoming extremely angry and dealing with the situation while emotions were very high, she chose to wait for the right opportunity to address the problem with the offender. She knew from experience that timing was crucial to getting the proper result. In a situation like this, there is no sense in shooting yourself in the foot. Why speak from the heart during the pain and say things that later would be regretted? ‘So what could possibly be the use of pain in this situation?’, you might ask. Well, I can tell you that getting even is not the answer. Not if you want to get the best results for everyone. Patience, prayer, and protection are the keys to success in this instance. Hurting people generally do hurt others when carelessly mishandling their own pain.

Sometimes pain is handled best when we learn to manage it and let it takes its course. Jesus was the best example to all of humanity when he endured the suffering and pain of the cross. His flesh was not eager to endure the pain. In fact, he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane to have the cup of pain that he was about to partake of be removed. If there was a way to do things differently, he was asking the Father to do it now. Nevertheless, knowing what had to be done, and knowing that his body was created for such a purpose, Christ endured the beating and scourging, and then finally the crucifixion that took his life. The awesome thing about this is that he gave it freely. It was not forced upon him. He continued to pray in the garden, ‘Thy will be done.’ He succumbed to the task ahead because he knew the reward would be far greater, and necessary to get the best result concerning our sin. Without his sacrifice, we would surely be judged and sentenced to death for the sins we have committed. Unless however, we continuously paid for our sins with a lamb’s blood. However, Jesus accepted the role of being a lamb for all of humanity. His offering of himself was designed to take place as a ‘once and for all’ sacrifice. No more bloodshed would be required to pardon us. His blood would cover us repeatedly. In this case, the ultimate pain that anyone could endure was worth every moment so that we could inherit the best gift ever given. Life eternal. Rest. Real joy and peace. Forgiveness. Guilt-free living. New beginnings. The list goes on.

If I could leave you with one thing, it would be to change how you view your pain. Think of it as a motivator for change or an evidence that change is happening! If God can change the course of a world through the pain he suffered on the cross, what can you change to benefit yourself and others through the pain you are experiencing today? Will you let it destroy you or give you determination to become better? I pray you are able to absorb the pain and heal from it through time, and then return much stronger than before. Do not despise the pain in your life. It may be necessary to make you the person you have always wanted to be. It just might be the missing ingredient in your life that will motivate you and take you to the next level.

Be Blessed,

John

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Somewhere between the calling and the placement

A very close friend and I were talking the other day about being blessed and sometimes losing blessings. He contended that we can’t lose something that God has ordained for us to have. I partially agreed. Even though I felt the same, I had to ask “what about the things we temporarily lose and have to get back?” I brought up Ziklag This city and all of David’s family was taken from him while he was performing God’s work. He was robbed, not due to his lack of commitment or focus on God’s will, but he was a casualty of war. In God’s eyes, these casualties happen to everyone on the earth but for the Christian, God always gets the final word. God will allow us to suffer loss. We will not always get what we want, nor will we always get it “when” we want it. On the flip side, there are times of loss where God WANTS us to go after the enemy and recover what was taken.

BUT, sometimes things don’t always go the way we want them to. Not always is 2 plus 2 going to equal 4. The week before my bass speaker was stolen from our church, I stood in the hallway and was talking with a brother in the Lord. I laid my hands on my speaker (God’s speaker) and asked God to protect it from any theft and really believed he would. I had no doubt. Even though my guitar had already been stolen! The next week, the speaker was gone, along with many other things. And what was I to think? Where is the sense in this? What if I had been praying for the protection of my family and something terrible would have happened? Could I have said, “God, you failed!”? Not hardly. So if God didn’t fail, then it was me that failed? I am not so sure about that. Suffering for Christ is not a sign of failure. (My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4) So what could I have thought about losing my (God’s speaker)? I would have had to step back and said, “Maybe I am not understanding what God is doing here”. Maybe this loss is going to propel me in other areas of my life. Maybe this loss is helping me to separate from something so God can attach me to something else. Perhaps taking my focus off of bass playing has helped me to focus more on praying for people at the altar. (Something I couldn’t do while playing) So then the question comes, “Why couldn’t God just tell me to stop playing? Why didn’t he just let me keep the bass and speaker?” Maybe because he didn’t want me to go back to it? Maybe he knows that if I am not completely detached from something, I have a really hard time moving forward. I don’t know. But it’s a thought.

I brought up the time my car was repossessed and I went after it. It was a time when I was without work. I had desperately sought work and finally found something 3 months later. Because my finances were very tight BEFORE I lost my job, they were even tighter afterward. So you can imagine there wasn’t much leniency from the loan company. A bank may have been more sympathetic, but this was a national chain outfit that didn’t care for me or the car I drove, let alone my financial situation. There was absolutely no mercy given to me. They threatened to take my car, I begged them to allow me to get my first paycheck, they said no, and I lost the car. That simple. I had a impound bill and the balance of the loan to pay if I wanted the car back. What did I do? I cried, then I went to prayer. I gave it all to God. What did God do? He gave it all back to me. Literally. He provided the money for the loan, the money for the impound bill, and a car that was paid in full. I recovered it with no loss.

The bottom line is, we don’t lose with God. We never lose with God. It is imperative to remember that if we lose a little battle here or there, we have to keep in mind that it is the big battle that we must win. The battle for our soul. This is the ultimate victory in God’s eyes.  I’ve been thinking about David and Ziklag and have come to realize that everything leading up to David’s actual “sitting” on the throne as king was meant to prepare him for being the king that God needed him to be. Every event that was out of his control was meant to shape him, teach him, and prepare him. David was a target in Saul’s eyes, and Saul tried many times to hit the bullseye on David’s chest with a spear. David was a vagabond and a renegade in the eyes of the people. But why? If God already anointed David and God spoke as though it were already done, why couldn’t David just walk into the throne room and take what God had already given him? God was teaching David humility. And because David never rejected the hand of the Lord, and he never blamed God for anything that happened in his life, he developed a broken and contrite spirit before the Lord. God said that David was a man after his own heart. David, as great as he was, was certainly not born this way. It took years of development. Years of patience. Years of NOT obtaining the crown after he was already anointed by the prophet to be king. David had to learn to wait for something. He needed to learn that in between the calling and the placement was the “preparation” to accomplish God’s will.

Be blessed

~John

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Going above and beyond

Today has been an amazing day. It has actually been a pretty power packed weekend. I find myself feeling exhausted from all of the activity. Let’s see if I can paint an accurate picture for you.

Friday evening @ 8:30  Family prayer for 1 hour

Saturday morning @ 6:30 Met a friend for breakfast.

Saturday morning @ 8:00 Met with the men from church. Taught the lesson for the week in our monthly meeting we call “Morally Pure and Spiritually Strong”.

Saturday noonish hung out with my son and did some yard work, laundry, and whatever else I couldn’t get to during the week.

Saturday afternoon hung out with a good friend that helped me get this whole blog thing figured out.

Saturday evening taught a Bible study in a neighboring state. Outstanding move of God in the lesson. It brought me to tears while expressing God’s love for them.

10:00 PM Started to drive home and wife forgot her purse. Got as far as state line and had to drive back!

10:30 PM Started to drive home again and decided to place a call to Mexico to check on someone. It transpired into a power packed phone with prayer and rebuking and all kinds of crazy stuff! As it turned out, the man we were checking on was being manipulated by spiritual possession. DEMON possession. One minute we were talking to him and offering to pray for him, and the next minute, his voice changed and he started hurling insults at us. This was not the person we had called. In fact it was like the person was in and out of consciousness. This was not to be mistaken as a schizophrenia episode. (I have a friend that has been diagnosed and is under treatment for such) No, this was a demonic attack. Upon hearing this behavior on the phone, those riding in our van began to pray. It seemed like it only made the demon more mad. The voice on the phone started threatening and cussing and just out right lying about everything we know to be true about God. I told the demon to SHUT UP! I commanded it in Jesus name to be silent. It stopped immediately and the person came to his senses again. He asked me what happened and why was I shouting at him. I tried to explain, but he was unbelieving and totally unaware of what had transpired. When I explained what had happened, he could not believe it. He insisted that he did not say any of the things that had just come out of his mouth! The transition that happened between this man and the spirit was so quick that it made it impossible to even practice such a performance. Not even the best actor in Hollywood could pull this off. This was truly a man who was possessed and not in complete control of his faculties. The man said he felt sick and wanted to throw up. He kept saying he was in pain. I told him we would be praying for him. I said I needed to hang up and that I would pray again that night. Now here is the eery part. The unclean spirit started to speak again and said in the most hideous voice I have ever heard, “You don’t have to worry about him!” I hung up with the intent of not worrying but praying.

11:30 We arrived home and settled in. Immediately we called our family and friends from the Bible study and asked them to join us in prayer. We all agreed that the enemy, the Devil, was not happy and was trying to intimidate us and was hoping to stop us from doing God’s work. Well, that didn’t work, because it only made us more intense and more focused to pray for our family. Prayer was tough. It was like a 15 round boxing match. Waves of worship followed by intense tongues. Bout after bout, our family was duking it out wth the spirit world. Proclaiming God’s power and authority over the situation. This continued for an hour or so. And then……peace.

12:45 We sat and talked for a little bit and reflected on the day. Before we knew it, it was time to hit the hay. And sleep didn’t come easy. Though I was exhausted by now, my soul was definitely stirred and I just wanted to keep talking with the Lord. My heart was heavy on behalf of the people that we were teaching. My spirit was racing inside of me with spiritual adrenalin after the confrontation! My thoughts were in every direction and making my eyes heavy. The next thing I knew, the curtains came down and I was asleep. As if I had only just laid down, I was waking up. It was already 3:30AM. A quick trip to the restroom and back to bed for just a couple more hours.

6:30 AM Time to get up for church. Race through the house, ironing, juice, preparing, waking up the rest of the sleepy heads.

8:30 AM We left for church refreshed and ready for an amazing service.

9:00 AM Worship practice. (I was the worship leader selected for today)

9:30 AM More prayer with the church in preparation for today’s service.

10:00 AM Service began and it was power packed! Or was it just me that was feeling the heat of God’s spirit?!

11:00 Preaching began. Blessing of Asher was preached and we were truly blessed by the promising message of hope! Thank you Pastor Carlson!

12:30 PM Headed home. Lunch, rest, and reflect.

2:30 PM Nap

4:30 PM Wow! Was I THAT tired?! I slept 2 hours uninterrupted.

5:30 PM Everyone is hungry. Nothing to eat in the house. It’s Walmart time! Mad dash to the car. Drive, arrive, purchase and leave.

6:45 PM Back home and everyone is eating and not talking. We are like a pack of wolves chewing the leg off of a deer!

7:30 More reflecting. Thinking. I need to write!

Each Saturday we drive to a city about 75 miles away to teach a Bible study to a group of Spanish speaking family and friends. To explain further, this Bible study has been a labor of love for me. I have been teaching it for about 6 years. It isn’t really a typical 10 week or 12 week lesson like some would teach. The format is open and casual. Although I started teaching from a chart back in the beginning, it just seemed that after the final lesson the students wanted more. Their insatiable appetite for God’s word would not be satisfied. I found myself studying more and praying for direction each week. As they grew, I grew. It was kind of neat really. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be though? I mean, shouldn’t the teacher learn as the students do? Granted, there were a lot of times I taught things I already knew, but in order to keep it fresh, I also kept looking for deeper truths in God’s word. I wasn’t really looking for things to teach per se, but I was looking to know more about God and his ways and how they apply to our lives. Because to me, this is the most important thing when studying God. To know him, and to understand him.

Last night’s lesson was special. It was about faith that is bigger than our problems. I laid it out like this. You cannot know God, you cannot please God, and you cannot receive from God without faith. Faith is the number one ingredient in experiencing God. To know him, to communicate with him, and to feel him, you need faith. It was faith that caused Noah to build an ark that would save his family from a flood caused by rain. This was something that he had never experienced before. Rain that turned into a flood. I talked about faith in such a way that it was almost irritating. I kept hammering how important it was and all of the men and women in the Bible that demonstrated it in their lives. It was 98° outside, and everyone was starting to get fidgety and uncomfortable. And then God started to move in the lesson. An emotion of gratefulness came over me in such a way, that I wept as I taught. I started to express the depth of God’s love that is towards us. And even when we are at our worst, it was then that his sacrifice on the cross covered us. The nails in his hands? Those were supposed to be mine. The thorns on his head? That was my crown! The reason he fell when carrying the cross wasn’t because he was a 98 pound weekling. No. It was the weight of the sins of the whole world that was crushing him. My sins, and your sins. All of my complaining. All of my discomfort. All of my impatience while waiting on him. He took it all. Just for me and said “No charge”.

I guess that is the real reason I do what I do every weekend. There are a lot of entertaining things that we all love to do in our free time, and quite frankly not all entertainment is wrong. We should be able to relax and unwind and even take a vacation. But a lot of times I don’t have the means to do this. Although I would love to be at the lake, maybe fishing with my son, bowhunting for that great Whitetail deer in the woods, and even see a Brewer game once in a while, I find myself spending Saturday and Sunday in God’s service. Do I ever get away? Yes I do. But when it is time to be in the house of the Lord, I usually don’t barge through the door demanding to be fed by a preacher. Rather I ask, “Who can I feed Lord?” “Who can I help to understand your mercy and grace?” You see God has been so good to me that I cannot demand anything from him. He has given me so much throughout my life that I owe him everything. He spared me. He saved me. He went out of his way to show his love for me. And that is why I must do all that I can for him. I choose to be God’s hands and feet. I am forever indebted to him. And for that I will go above and beyond.

May the challenge of the Lord that calls each of us to do more rest upon you. May you realize it’s importance as you accept it and may God give you the courage and strength to accept his calling on your life.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

Blessings to you

~John

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Faith

 

Welcome

I would like to welcome you to my blog. Please feel free to browse, read, comment, laugh, or cry. Above all, be blessed. Thank you for stopping by.