Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I fell into a hole that the enemy designed. I had been warned about the dangers of the holes on the road I was traveling, but I thought I was smart enough, thought my eyesight was keen enough, to miss the holes.

We can’t miss the holes, they are a part of life.

I sat in that hole, and I waited. I waited to be rescued. Surely someone, some friend, some family member, would come by and lower a ladder. But it didn’t happen.

So, as I sat there, I began to look around me and despair began to build. The hole was dirty, and the sun was going down. The closer I  looked, the more things I saw that either frightened or repulsed me. But I couldn’t get out. There was no way out…unless someone came to rescue me. Where were my rescuers?

It did occur to me that I might climb my way out, but to attempt such a thing would be very unpleasant and not easy work. No, I would sit and wait for the rescue team.

As darkness fell, I became more and more afraid. I could not see my surroundings. The less I saw, the more dangers I imagined, and the dangers grew in size and in threat. My fear became my pain.

The skies above me began to rumble and although I could not see them, I knew a downpour was imminent. The rescuers hadn’t come so my survival instinct kicked in and I began to feel around – half in fear and half in hope – looking for protective covering.

My hands touched things that I knew would not be pleasant to look at, but would serve the purpose for protection from the elements, and possibly from the sting of pain by other things in the hole… or perhaps things that might fall from the sky. And so, I began to cover myself in debris…..

Much time passed and no one came to offer the easy way out of the hole. I was scared, but I had also become somewhat numb. The debris that I had gathered to protect myself – the trash – had become my only source of comfort. I did not like it’s smell, it’s texture, or it’s feel, but it was becoming morbidly familiar.

As the hours turned into days, and the days to weeks – to years, I lost the ability to remember much of what life had been like before the hole. I no longer waited to be rescued. I knew no one was coming. No one cared. I was alone.  And in my solitude, I kept piling on debris…and the debris began to weigh heavy on my shoulders. I did not like the discomfort, but it was my only protection….

Life is full of pitfalls. No one is immune. We all fall. This little story isn’t about the “holes”, it’s about the things we use as coverings of protection from the dangers associated with the holes in life. It’s about sitting still and waiting to be rescued instead of using our inherent resources to “climb out.” It’s about giving in to fear, either real or imagined.  It’s about allowing the darkness to envelop us instead of searching out The Light. It’s about fear, and it’s about complacency. It is about losing focus and giving in to circumstance. It is about life without God as your touchstone.

The debris in our life can consist of anything from alcohol and drugs (self-medicating to mask the pain) to unhealthy relationships, to material possessions. The list goes on and on. Substitutes. False Gods.

Regardless of the circumstance that led you to that hole, or the debris you use as a covering…the way out is always the same. Contrary to popular belief, God doesn’t help those who help themselves, God helps those who ask.
So, quite simply, ask.
And once you ask, let go of the debris and let God be God. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Forgiveness, Freedom and Peculiar People

I am privileged to work for a Christ-centered recovery center. Although some of us here may 2-Step and Do-Si-Do - we don't 12-Step. You might say we One-Step: we believe if you step up to the Cross and give your life to Christ, He will take care of the rest.

One of the great perks of being a part of this ministry is watching God move, and hearing "God Stories." Every day a new miracle....

Early this morning, a brother in Christ shared one such "moment" with me. As he told his story, I reflected on how a passerby might view such an event. It was a sobering realization that illustrates once again, how foolish and wrong it is for us to label and to judge.....Walk with me for a moment, and "view" his story:

My brother had been battling bitterness and forgiveness. He was wronged in an affair of the heart and his pain was very raw, and very real. He realized that in order to heal, he must forgive.

You know, it's very easy for us to tell someone "you have to forgive." It is quite another thing to actually DO some forgiving....so my brother struggled. He shared with me that he had often taken his bitterness and unforgiveness to the Altar, only to be unable to even speak the names of those he needed to forgive. So...many times he had walked back from the Altar carrying the same burden he had wanted to leave behind.

He shared how, in his heart he KNEW he had to be rid of this thing...he KNEW he had to forgive...and he WANTED to do this, but he could not. He simply could not.

But guess what, guys? God could see his heart. And here's what God did:

My brother purposed in his heart to find some quiet place and pray about this thing. On his way to doing just that, he felt compelled to sit down on a bench under a tree. So, he sat. He sat and he decided to pray. But he could not. God spoke to him and said, "Be Still." He obeyed.

What happened as a result of his obedience was that God began to minister to his spirit. He explained to me how he felt the "rain" (no it wasn't water from the sky)....and how he felt something deep within himself burst open and release a "flowing" throughout his body. (Now, those of you who do not believe in Spiritual Gifts such as speaking in tongues, please close your ears on this part.) He opened his mouth to try to pray again, but instead heard utterances (yes, in his own voice) that were in a language he did not understand. Momentarily, when the words ceased, he said he tried to repeat them, and could not, because he did not KNOW them. But this is what he DID know: When he got up to leave the bench, he was FREE. Free of the bitterness, free of the anger, free of every emotion associated with unforgiveness. In releasing this thing to God, he himself had been set free. He went on to say that he began to earnestly pray for the person he had forgiven....praying for his salvation...praying that God would bless his life.....and my friend was flooded with an indescribable JOY... (Joy....now what does the Bible say about where our strength comes from? Hmmm)

A beautiful story of release. A "God" Thing.

The Post Script is my reflection:
As the story unfolded before my "eyes" I began to wonder how I, we, anyone, might have viewed this scene had we been passing by. Think about it. In the early morning hours we see a man seated on a bench near a place that houses addicts in the "inner city" (somewhat). We see him looking for invisible rain that he feels on his shoulders, and we hear him "mumbling" incoherent words........

I wonder guys, just how many times in my life I may have passed by a "God" moment, and brushed it off as some "crazy" person talking to themselves......some addict having hallucinations...never stopping to consider that I just might be seeing one of God's "peculiar people."

As I said earlier, this is another prime example of why God did not appoint us to judge (nor did He call us  to inspect fruit...a Judge by any other name is still a Judge)....I'm just sayin'.....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Apples and Oranges Indeed!

Some of my earliest learning experiences include memories of apples and oranges.
Arithmetic. (A Rat In Tom's House Might Eat Tom's Ice Cream.  Remember this? This is how we learned to SPELL arithmetic back in the "old" days. These days it is simply "math," a much easier word to memorize.)
ANYWAY...back to the Apples and Oranges.....

Just as these fruits were used as a tool for teaching in the early classrooms - they were used last night in my Discipleship Counseling class to show a very basic, yet very enlightening concept.

Go with me to somewhere around AD 60, to the Apostle Peter as he writes to the various churches in Asia Minor. I Peter 1:23: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

For many years I viewed this passage and the context in which it was written, with  a somewhat legalistic approach. A sort of "instruction" if you will, as to HOW we are to live now that we are born-again. Today however, I am viewing it not so much as a "how", but as a "who." As in THIS IS WHO YOU ARE.

Back to our Apples and Oranges.... ( and this is the really neat part!)

Suppose an Orange represents "corruptible" seed. The OLD you, the Sin-Man.
And of course, the Apple is the "incorruptible" seed... (free your mind for a sec from the Eve ate an apple concept)....The NEW you, the Born-again Man.

Well guys, an apple is an apple, and an orange is an orange. You won't plant apple seeds and reap an orange grove, and vice versa. So what am I saying? It's all about the law of seed producing after it's own kind.

Through the blood of Christ, we are transformed from an Orange to an Apple. Now, (follow me here) I can take an Orange, apply some craft putty to smooth the surface, paint it red, glue on some leaves and make it look exactly like an Apple. But if you cut it open, and look on the INSIDE, you know what you are going to find. An Orange.

The religious sect of Jesus' and Peter's day, were like Oranges pretending to be Apples. The outward appearance was deceptive. The SAME THING applies today. But this is not the remarkable thing about this law of seed. Here's the "WOW" part:

Just as an Orange (corruptible) can't be made into an Apple without a "seed" change - the Apple (incorruptible) can't be made into an Orange! I don't care if it LOOKS like an Orange from what we are able to see....I don't care if it BEHAVES like an Orange....If it has been transformed into a Apple inwardly....Well, Apples are Apples and Oranges are Oranges. Corruptible seed CAN be transformed because it is weak in it's corruption. Incorruptible seed can't be touched. Incorruptible seed is perfect. Perfection can't be sullied - or else it would not be perfect. Once a thing is incorruptible, it is indestructible.

Please don't balk on this illustration and say things like - "Well, if it behaves THAT way, it was never an Apple to begin with!" We CAN'T know this. All we can see is the outward appearance. Only GOD can see the HEART (Seed). Another case against being a "fruit inspector." Sometimes guys, sometimes, it takes awhile for the metamorphosis to be complete....sometimes an Apple may continue to look like an Orange until the the One who planted the seed is finished with the product. And SOMETIMES, an Apple can look like an Orange by the company it keeps. And then SOMETIMES an Apple continues to live and look like an Orange because it doesn't realize the POWER of WHO IT HAS BECOME.

Apples and Oranges....An interesting study....There is assurance in the law of the seed. Assurance, not license (that is quite another topic for another time.)

May the Sower empower you today with the knowledge of WHO you are in HIM....and may you begin to grow into a Golden Delicious for the up-building of the Kingdom!

In His Service!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I just read an article in Solar Crash (e-zine/blog) entitled, "What if Christians Were Human.".....hmmmm...

The title caught my eye the author's first line was, "What if we identified ourselves as human beings before all other affiliations?"
Sounded good, and so I read on.....

The gist of the article was that we shouldn't label people - and this is true. However, as I read to the end, this last statement jumped out at me: "What would our world look like if Christians were more human?"  and then my spirit shouted:

 NO!!! This is what is wrong with Christians today!!!!

I know the author of the article meant well, but having the "all too human" mindset is something that can hold us back from being all that the Love of our Life,  (God) intended for us to be. Consider this:

Man is triune, 1/3 spirit, 1/3 soul and 1/3 body. Looking at this equation it's easy to conclude that we are 2/3 spiritual beings and only 1/3 physical beings. Yet, where is our focus? If we have a headache, do we even consider that it might stem from something other than the physical? Do we spend more time (ladies) putting make-up on this physical house than we do making sure our spirit's needs are met each morning? Which comes first to us?

Jesus viewed physical death as simply, sleep. Why? Because He was spiritually minded. His mind was more on where He had COME FROM, than where His physical body actually was at the moment. We, on the other hand, think the opposite. Our physical needs are the most prominent in our minds. 

We know that we are not simply physical beings with a spirit. We are spiritual beings with a physical body. We KNOW this in our minds but we have yet to produce (much) evidence in our lives (I speak to myself).

Many scriptures come to mind when I think of this concept, and this is only one passage: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."(Ephesians 1:17-18).

Paul was praying that the saints at Ephesus would grab hold of this knowledge....the knowledge of WHO they were in Christ, and the power that lay at their fingertips....and I pray this for myself, and for you also.

What if Christians were human? I challenge each of us to live as if Christians were spiritual.

Just a thought......

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spiritual Fruit. Really?

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”


We have the instructions (above), we know what to do.
What do our lives say? At the end of the day, consider this:

LOVE: Today, have I said, “I don’t like (NAME)?”, or “(NAME) gets on my nerves? Or any FORM of this? You get the gist.

JOY: Today, have I complained about my circumstances? Have I whined about my hangnail while my brother faces dialysis? Or chemo?  Can a joyful spirit dwell with a complaining spirit?

PEACE: Today, have I worried over an unmet want or need? Have I wished fire to rain down on an “enemy”?

LONGSUFFERING: Today, have I gotten aggravated over standing in line at the grocery store, waiting in the fast food drive-thru, sitting in a traffic jam? Did I snap at my child or my spouse because I was impatient?

KINDNESS: Today, did I REALLY show kindness at every given opportunity (even those mentioned above)?

FAITHFULNESS: Today, at what point did I first think of God and His will for my day? Did I take time to talk to Him in prayer? Did I open my Bible and actually read?

GENTLENESS: Today, when I was rudely interrupted, did I scowl or smile?

SELF-CONTROAL: Today, did I show self-control in all of the above areas? Did I resist temptation or did I compromise?

How was YOUR day? As for me, I stand accused.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What is Man??

And so, I sat in the shade of a great magnolia and pondered life. The pungent smell of earth and vegetation all around me.
Sunlight filtered through. Rays like knives thrusting themselves to part branches and leaves.
The majestic mountains making a show of strength on the horizon.
The handiwork of God.
And just as that long-ago sage, I silently asked: "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?"
I look down, small insects scurry, carrying out their daily duties.
Still life and Animated life.
Yet it wasn't enough. God said,
"I need companionship. Even if my sons and daughters rebel and revolt.
Even if they touch the hot coals just to test the law of fire. Even if they lean too far and fall and break an arm.
Even if they eat that cookie in the cookie jar that I told them not to touch.
Even so. I need them.
I need companionship.
I am Love, and Love yearns to be requited.
I will welcome them back from the far lands of rebellion.
I will put aloe on the burned fingers.
I will mend the broken bones.
I will bake more cookies.
I am God, I am love, I love them.
That is what man is to me."

God, I thank you for this inspiration. I pray that you will keep my motives pure.
Prosper me – sustain me for the sole purpose of building the Kingdom.

Soapboxes and Pet Chickens

My mother would have been quick to tell you that we come from a long line of "stubborn" people.
I used to be proud of that fact. I thought it was a compliment to be called "hard-headed."
I had an opinion on everything, and most of the time it was right (I would rarely conceed otherwise).
I had more than one soap box. One labeled "Religion," one labeled "Politics," one labled "Family," and on and on it goes...way too many to count.
And I also had a chicken named Garcia, but that is beside the point.
Ahhh...Soap Boxes.....A funny thing happened to mine.
God actually showed me that I didn't need serveral, or one, or any.
And then He helped me to dismantle them.
Thank you, Lord.
But I do wonder what happened to Garcia.

These Hallowed Halls

Reflecting…over the past year…over the past two years…looking around the workplace and trying to remember the first time I came through these hallways as a student…. How foreign it all seemed at the time, and how very familiar it seems today.
People have called me brave and that humbles me. It wasn’t bravery that led me to the decision to drop to my knees and give God nine months of my life, it was desperation. Despair and hopelessness were my motivating factors when I walked through these doors back then…Obedience to the God of restoration and a heart for the hurting are what keep me here today. These two things, and gratitude. And did I really give God nine months? Nah, it’s all His anyway.
Every day I make eye contact with the eyes of desolation and fear. Every day I see these unanswered questions in those eyes, “Do I dare hope? Could it really be possible that God cares for me?”. If somehow, some way, I can give an ounce of hope to someone else, I will have accomplished a great thing. If by chance I can shine a ray of light into a darkened heart, I will have become a lighthouse.
God is surely in this place.
He was here the first day I walked these halls, and He thrives between these walls.
He served me manna when I was without resource.
Today, I serve Him.