Category Archives: personal

What Never Was, But Should’ve Never Been

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thess 4:13-14, ESV)

Of all the things of the Christian faith that I have a hard time wrapping my finite understanding around, our hope in eternal life is the most difficult thing for me to understand. The Bible says that those of us that have been called by the Spirit of God and who have put their faith and trust in the righteousness of Christ for their salvation have eternal life.

This hope in eternal life isn’t something that starts only when we leave this life. Eternal life is here and now. Oh, sure, we are still in bodies that are wearing and one day we will leave these bodies, but those of that call on the name of Christ have eternal life now. Starting the minute Christ saves us, we have eternal life and we can trust one day we will be freed from this body of death.

I can say these things with confidence because God’s word, the Bible, tells us it’s true. Additionally, I know it’s true because of the call Christ has on me. I also know it’s true because of the Spirit of God working daily in my life.

The thing is, though, it’s so hard to keep this eternal life promise in front of me as hope. It’s so hard for me not to get wrapped up in the troubles of this life. I spend far too much energy looking at things that in light of eternity are only a vapor. We are born and are alive only a moment in light of eternity.

Today I heard a friend of the past had passed on. I wrote a post about him sometime back. I encourage everyone to read it here. Not that I’m especially proud of it, but because how he made an impact on my life such as I memorialized him in words and now he’s gone.

My friend’s name was Charlie. I have worked with him on and off over the years. We’re both contract engineers and we mostly do consulting and temporary engineering work. As I said in my previous post about him, Charlie was a biker and a hard-core anti-Christian. He was vehemently opposed to the things of God.

I liked Charlie a lot. He taught me so many of the engineering design techniques I use in my work to this day. Charlie was a hard man and a hard drinker, but deep inside there was nevertheless a human being that at times demonstrated a generous heart. I can’t say for sure what caused Charlie to be the way he was toward God. He spoke so little of his past. I can say with confidence that Charlie is a man who those of us in my line of work will tell stories about for the rest of our lives.

I ‘m saddened that Charlie never turned his life toward God. I’m saddened that Charlie would never even give a moment to hear anything a Christian would have to say to him. Most of all I’m saddened that all of Charlie’s life he was a tormented soul yet he was so gifted by God that people will memorialize him the rest of our lives. The thing is, most of what we will say about him we will have a few laughs over, yet in a way it’s all very sad.

You see, Charlie took his life this weekend along with the life of one of his former wives. Charlie went out the way he lived his life….hard.

I’ve often wondered if I said enough to Charlie; he was so bitter to anything remotely Christian.

I know I didn’t.

I didn’t say enough because after a while I gave up trying.

I can only pray that God will send another Charlie my way and next time, I won’t give up…..the thing is, it’s too late for Charlie.

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Where’s The Flashlight?

for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7, ESV)

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor  4:18, ESV)

I remember taking a trip to the Black Canyon outside Montrose, Colorado one summer about 12 years ago.

There was one point where you stand out over a ledge (with railing, of course) and look down and across the expanse of the canyon. I remember that the canyon was so deep and the walls of the canyon so tall and flat that my brain couldn’t register just how large it was. Over and over I tried to get an estimate of just how vast the canyon before me really was, but it just wouldn’t compute.

I looked down at the Gunnison River in the bottom. I tried to get a size comparison by looking at a pinyon pine growing out of a crack in the side of the rock walls, but I still couldn’t register how large it really was.  Oh, sure there was the sign telling me how deep it was. It even had a little graphic showing just how tall one of the famous skyscrapers were in comparison the canyon’s depth, but still nothing.

In other words, I had all of the information I needed for it to register in my brain just how magnificent the canyon was I was looking at. I had a vast amount of knowledge relating to the size of the canyon. I also believed and trusted the information wholeheartedly. Yet I still couldn’t make it work out in my head.

To this day it’s one of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever had….Staring across that canyon, at its enormity. Seeing it with my very own eyes, yet unable to understand.

There are some things that I know to be true about God. His love. His grace. His forgiveness. His patience. I know these things to be true. I experience them daily. Yet like my trip to the Black Canyon that summer, I can’t make them compute in my brain.

Just like that wall of the canyon that seemed so close I could almost reach out and touch it, yet was so vast in size and so far away that I couldn’t understand it, I guess that’s how I feel with God right now.

I’ve heard all of the cliché’s about how God works in us. How He breaks us so He can build us into the people He wants us to be. Frankly, I can’t hear another slogan right now. No matter how well-meaning it might be.

Our church search has hit a snag.

It’s been one year now that we’ve been searching. We’ve exhausted every possibility, yet still nothing. I know to pray without ceasing. I know not to give up. But one year is beginning to take its toll on my hope.

Looking back, there is little doubt that we were to leave our old church. It had simply gone too far off the deep end. There was no longer any teaching from the Bible at all. All of the messages were straight out of secular leadership books, melded with enough scripture to make them appear biblical.

I knew it would be difficult when we left. Yet somehow I was totally unprepared for what my family and I would experience. I know God never leaves us or forsakes us, even when we are dummies. I know that even when we’re “prodigal sons” He welcomes us back when we repent and run to Him. I know  sometimes in His unknown purposes, He’s honing us on the rocks of adversity.

These things I “know”, Yet here we are. Looking at the canyon unable to make sense of it all. Unable, at times, to even comprehend what it is we’re even looking at.

I guess that’s where the scriptures at the beginning of this post come in. Sometimes, I guess, believing isn’t seeing.

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The Devil Made Me Do It

There’s no single thing that makes me as sleepy as reading my Bible. There are times where I sit down and begin to read and I can’t even keep my head up, much less comprehend what I’m reading. Of course this doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough.

There’s kind of standing joke in our household that when I go upstairs to my office with my Bible that my wife and daughters ask if I’m going upstairs to “pray” and they make little quote signs with their fingers. They know that if they come into my office after a while, they might find me on the futon with my eyes closed “meditating on the word of God.”

You might be wondering if I have as much problems staying awake while reading other things. The answer would be no. But I’ve thought about this and there’s actually a couple of reasons that come to mind.

First reason: I get only about 5-1/2 hours of sleep per night. Second reason: I go pretty hard all day, not really slowing down until evening. Third: I get up at about 4:45am. And finally, I read my bible either at the very beginning or the very end of the day; the sleepiest times of my day. I read for pleasure as I can fit it in at various other times.

Nevertheless, as I was reading my bible the other day, I felt like my eyelids were beginning to weigh about 47 pounds each. I began to think about my days when I was part of a “deliverance ministry” in our previous church.

Without going into too much detail, this ministry believed that although true Christians couldn’t be possessed by demons, a Christian’s behaviors could be controlled by evil spirits until they were “cast out” of specific areas of the spiritually afflicted Christians life. God has since “delivered” me from this sort of hogwash.

As I was sitting there fighting off the Sandman, I remembered that we were taught that there was actually a “spirit of slumber” that caused Christians to get sleepy whenever the word of God was either being preached or read. We were taught that this particular demon’s job was to go around and prevent people from feeding on the word of God because they had fallen asleep.

In other words, the older man sitting in church Sunday morning, whose head was beginning to nod a little, had nothing to do with the fact that he had worked hard all of his life and when he sat down and things got a little quiet he begin doze off. It had everything to do with the fact this man was probably afflicted by a “spirit of slumber” trying to steal the word of God from him.

The thing is, if asked, they had a Biblical explanation for this and every belief similar to this. Scriptures could be quoted and examples from the Bible given. However, obviously, these were Biblical examples all taken out of context.

The answer to this “spirit of slumber” as well as a host of other afflicting spirits was to cast them out of the Christian’s life. This required a detailed “deliverance” session where several “deliverance team” members took part in casting this evil spirit out of the afflicted’s life. These sessions, looking back, more closely resembled a ritual than a ministry.

One day I hope to go into more detail about this ministry I was involved in and it’s bizarre list of spirits that were to blame for all of the problems in a Christian’s life.

Needless to say, I’m free from this nonsense. I still go through periods where I’m ashamed for falling for this (might be that “spirit of shame). I regret the lost time in my life (that ol’ “spirit of mourning”) and I have a difficult time wondering why I went so long without seeing the truth (“spirit of blindness” and possibly “spirit of confusion”). However, I’m free from it. Praise God for the truth.

I guess it’s time to end this entry, I’m beginning to feel the “spirit of slumber” beginning to overtake me again.

I better go find my crucifix and some garlic and onions.

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Dirty Little Secrets

I have a confession to make. I, like so many people who grew up in the South or with parents who had grown up in the South, have had issues in my life with racism.

Over the years I’ve said things, thought things, and made jokes that were racist. Before committing my life to Christ I had a real issue with this. However, over the years, I would like to think that I’ve given that up. My best friend in high school was from Chihuahua, Mexico. The best man at my wedding was a black man. Over the years one of my good friends is black and my wife’s best friend is Mexican. In other words I would like to think that I’ve progressed beyond racist ignorance.

But…….

I’m unaware of how things are in other parts of the country, but here in Texas where I live, on the morning of every trash day, we have people who drive around looking for “treasures” that they can use to either benefit their families or sell to make a little money. Most of these people who drive around looking for these “treasures” are Hispanic.

This morning was trash day. Along with our usual trash, I put out a small lighted fishbowl that belonged to my daughter. Afterwards I came upstairs and began working. Not long after I sat down I heard a loud crash and the breaking of glass and I ran to look out the window. Sure enough, standing there by our trash, was a large Hispanic woman who had broken the fishbowl and was kicking the glass with her foot. I saw her walking over to the truck and I became angry because I assumed she was going to leave.

I ran downstairs to confront her and as I headed out the front door I watched what was going on. A little old man was coming over with a dustpan and sweeping up the broken glass. Additionally, they went ahead and took the remainder of the broken lighted fishbowl with them even though it was useless and was actually now really trash.

I have to confess that the first thought of anger that flashed through my mind was something similar to “that so and so Mexican…” I became very ashamed of myself and I should’ve been. These are people who are not only providing a service, but are out in the morning working (though most of us in America don’t view collecting junk for resale as “real work”). These were also people, because of their age, who would’ve had hard time finding regular employment. Yet unlike so many people, they got up early and were driving around working. Yet my first thought when I saw them was one of contempt.

How shameful, arrogant, self-righteous, and full of pride on my part.

I have just completed the last two months reading the prophets in the Bible. That is, the books of Isaiah through Malachi. It, needless to say, was a real eye-opener. Over and over again God chastised the people of Israel for the way they were treating foreigners. It was one of the main reasons the prophets of God were giving for God’s destruction of the nation of Israel.  The way they were treating aliens, strangers, and foreigners in their land that was disgusting in God’s sight.

Israel was viewing the blessing of God as a gift to them because of their faithfulness to God. However, what God was really trying to tell Israel through the prophets was that he was blessing them so they could in turn be a blessing to those that were not the chosen nation of God. Israel was to use their blessings to bless their neighbors so their neighbors would in turn see the true and living God through Israel and come to worship him.

This is exactly what I feel like I’m seeing with the “political Christianity” that’s so prevalent in America today. We think that this nation was founded by God, blessed by God, and gets it’s strength from God because of our invoking his name during the founding of this nation. However, just like God chose Israel from among men to be His blessed nation, so could He not have done the same for America?

In other words, if we are a nation that is blessed by God, it has absolutely nothing to do with our righteousness. It’s nothing more than a sovereign choice of God. And just like Israel was to use their blessings to bless those around them, their neighbors, would it not stand to reason that if America is blessed by God that we’re to do the same?

What I see going on with so much of the politics of today is us looking for ways to blame many of the problems in this country on illegal immigrants. What disturbs me more is that I see so many of us Christians aligning ourselves with the politicians that are spouting this sort of rhetoric. It doesn’t surprise me that non-Christians would look towards foreigners with a certain amount of contempt. What shocks me, however, are the people who have spent their entire life searching the Scriptures of God, looking at the sovereignty of God and how he chooses us to be his special people when we don’t deserve it. How he gave his only son to us when we were enemies to Him and how every breath we take is a gift from God. We are nothing without Him. How these same people are the ones aligning themselves behind the politicians who are screaming against immigration the loudest.

How dare us, as Christians knowing the grace that God has given us in spite of our arrogance and pride, look upon another with such contempt?

When we see these illegal immigrants coming across the border and we begin to fear for our jobs, safety, and our way of life, who is it we’re really looking towards to protect us? Is it God? Or is it the President of the United States? I mean after all, do we trust God to feed us, protect us, and place us where we need to be to accomplish that which he has called us for? Or do we think that it’s every man for himself and we need to protect ourselves?

When we begin to look for things outside of God to be our provider and when we begin to put our trust in the rule of law rather than the sovereignty of God we have now created a big golden calf. And when we, as proud citizens, begin to rally around that “golden calf” waving our flag and telling the illegals to get back across the border, we’ve become totally oblivious as to the reasons God has blessed this nation and blessed each and every one of us as individuals.

Instead, as Christians, we ought to be looking toward this influx of foreigners as a God-given gift allowing us to share with these people the grace of God. When we truly die to ourselves and realize that our home, our money, the cleanliness of our neighborhoods, our jobs, and our culture don’t belong to us but belong to the One who paid the ultimate price for us, we won’t be so quick to rally around the anti-immigration rhetoric of today.

I call each and every one of us, as Christians, to look inwardly toward ourselves. To compare our thoughts that we have toward others such as immigrants, and see whether they really line up with the word of God. I call each and every one of us to lay aside our national pride and realize that as Christians, we’re citizens of heaven first and citizens of the United States second. In other words, God’s ways take priority over our national pride.

Remember when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were? It was to love God with all of our heart, mind, strength, and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we’re quick to jump on the bandwagon and drive around rounding up everyone with brown skin so we can run them back across the border are we really loving our neighbor as ourselves?

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I Think My Shrub Is On Fire

If I had a dollar for every time over the past few years that I’ve heard someone say “God told me”……..I’d be a rich man. In the Christian circles I used to run in, all a person had to do to put a stamp of legitimacy on any kooky idea they could come up with was say “God told me such and such” or “I feel the Lord leading me to do such and such”.

In almost every case where someone claimed divine guidance, it was fairly easy to discern that it wasn’t the voice of God they were hearing.

In many of the cases I would hear someone claim the Lord was leading them into this or that ministry or to do something for the Lord. In some cases it was mere months or even weeks that they were off in a different direction. In other cases it was obvious they weren’t equipped for the kind of service the Lord had “called” them to.

In far too many cases all you had to do was stand back and see the chaos and confusion surrounding these people’s ministries, the division, and the lack of joy. It was obvious God wasn’t in their situation.

Early on, when I heard all the great and wonderful things that so many people were claiming God had told them, I wanted God to tell me something too. I spent far too much time and effort seeking God’s guidance and direction that I wasted several years chasing after God’s voice instead of God. After two or three years, not “hearing” from God, I became angry at God and had my faith sucked right of me. It’s a hole I’m having a hard time digging out of even now.

To this day I’m convinced that almost all of the “God told me’s” were nothing more than ideas formed in the hearts of men at best, and divination of unclean spirits at the worst.

In all of this, however, I have a hard time siding wholeheartedly with my newfound Reformed Theology friends. In general, most of the people who follow Reformed Theology believe God quit speaking to people after the original twelve apostles died. Some, on the hard-core side, believe God doesn’t communicate at all with anyone except through the written Bible. Others on the lighter side of Reformed Theology believe that He does, on occasion, speak through the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians in the Bible.

But here is where I have difficulty with the much of my fellow Reformed Theology friends. Your position regarding the cessation of “God speaking” doesn’t make sense to me.

Reformed Theology people are men of prayer. They believe in praising God and asking Him for our daily needs. Most every one of them believes God answers their prayers according to His will. So, as an example, I was at my wit’s end a couple of days ago and I prayed to God for help.

As I’ve blogged here before, I work from home now. I’m having difficulty with it because it requires an above average knowledge of computer networking, which is something I don’t have. I could call my boss in Seattle every time I have a problem, but as many issues as I’m having I’d probably lose my job. So I pray a lot.

So, back to my example. I couldn’t get something on my computer to work. It was an issue I was facing that I had no prior experience……At all……. So I prayed. I prayed “God, I have no idea what to do. Please Lord give me the direction I need to go and what I need to try. I’m at a loss and I can’t keep calling Seattle for help. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”

In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting to figure out what to do and was going to have to call Seattle again.

Within about 10 seconds an idea came to me, without me even still thinking about it, as to what I needed to do. It was so complex and out of my league I knew it was an answer to my prayer.

So, I ask, where did the answer come from?

Did it come out of the “imaginations of men”? Did it come from the devil….did Satan answer my prayer?

I mean, how ridiculous is it for us “people of faith” to pray to God, ask for something, and then refuse to believe it when He answers our prayers?

I understand the “voice” of God has been blamed for huge amounts of chaos. Entire Christian denominations have been formed on a “voice”. I also understand the “voice” needs to align with every “jot and tittle” of God’s written word. In addition we need the council of other clear thinking men and women of God. But how stupid is it of us to ask God for help, then when the help comes we’re afraid it came from the devil?

I no longer “search” after the “voice” of God. It was a path I believe the devil was exploiting me with. However, when I pray for wisdom regarding my Godly role in life……being a father, worker,husband, I have to believe He’s going to give it to me, according to His will and written word.

Otherwise, what are we even praying for?

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Two Cents Is All I Have

This past weekend was my wife’s birthday and our 20th anniversary. As part of the “celebration” we went to the movies together. As pretty much everyone knows, especially the parents of teens, the Justin Beiber movie was showing this past weekend and therefore the theatre was full of large groups of squealing teen girls.

Justin Beiber is a hot commodity right now. My wife and I have several Christian friends whose daughters obsess so much over Justen Beiber that it’s all they want to talk about. Most of the conversations center on how “OMG hawt” ol’ Justin is. But it’s not just Justin. Most of their conversation is focused on not only various boys’ “hawntess” but on the appearances of other girls.

You can develop a sense of what is constantly passing through their minds. Basically you begin to come to understand what it is their heart desires.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8, ESV)

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34, ESV)

See, it really doesn’t matter what our age is when it comes to idolatry. If we’re 16 and our constant focus is on how hot other guys and girls are, or if we’re 42 and we’re constantly watching sports or obsessing on our appearance, our heart will still follow where our focus is.

That’s the one thing God leaves up to us. Whether to turn our attention on Him or our idols.

When it comes to our sexual needs and desires, God created men and women differently. Men and boys are more attracted to the physical aspects of sex. It’s one of the reasons that pornography is still mostly a male issue. (although it is growing among women). Women and girls are mostly attracted to the romance, the emotional, the drama of a relationship as opposed to the physical. And it’s these differences that make certain forms of “teen idolatry” seem okay when it comes to girls as opposed to boys.

Not one Christian that I personally know would consider it okay for their teen son to look at or carry around pornography. It’s the raw physical aspects of pornography that a boy or man tends to be more attracted to. Additionally, not one Christian that I know would purchase pornography for their teenage son. It would be unthinkable.

It would be unthinkable because of the kinds of feelings, emotions, and thoughts it invokes in a teenage boy or a married man. It fuels a lust in the heart of boys and men for things that God has not given to them. That’s why it’s sin.

Yet how many Christian parents of teenage girls that my wife and I personally know find it okay to take their teenage daughters to the Justin Beiber movie, buy his music, and spend countless hours talking and fantasizing over him? How many Christian parents found it okay to take their teenage daughters to see the Twilight movies and provide them the Twilight series books? How many Christian parents see no problem with allowing their daughters to spend countless hours talking about how “hawt” the latest male teen idols are or craving to look like the latest female teen sensation?

It’s a “socially acceptable”  form of pornography for teenage Christian girls. It, like pictorial pornography for boys and men, fuels the kind of lusts in teenage girls for things that God hasn’t given to them either.

Yes, teenage girls are naturally drawn to giggling about teenage boys. Yes, it’s natural for teenage girls to be concerned about their looks. The desire to find a husband and be beautiful are things that God has placed in the makeup of every female. However, it’s the responsibility of every Christian parent (mom) to direct those gifts of God to be used for the glory of God.

I got news for you……lusting after Justin Beiber, or any other “hawt guy” to the point that is’s all you can talk about is not using those gifts for the glory of God. It’s lust and it’s idolatry. Pure and simple.

Left unchecked, the devoting of a teen girl’s heart to the constant lust for the latest teen sensation will lead to nothing but heartache later in life. Just like pornography use in men places a standard on their wives that can’t be upheld, so does the “emotional pornography” that girls and women are attracted to place a standard on their husbands that can’t be upheld either.

It’s all up to you, Christian parents. Are you going to direct those God-given feelings for God’s glory? Or are you going to throw gasoline on the fire?

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My Wife, The Valentine Baby

Every year, during this time of year, my wife would see the Valentine’s candy hit the shelves and get all excited about her “birthday candy”. Once again, today is my wife, Kristine’s, birthday.

Additionally, 20 years ago, on February 9th I married the woman God gave me as my lifelong partner.

Over the last 20 years we’ve had our ups and downs, as most marriages do. I can say it’s taken me far too long to realize just how good I’ve had it and just how well God fit us together. She compliments me in every area where I lack.

She’s my voice in social situations where I’m uncomfortable. She  has a “sixth sense” and can sniff out the right way to go in any situation. She keeps me from flying off in too many directions.

Most of all she’s the best mother to my kids that any one could be. In fact, she has a way with kids that few have. I’ve yet to see anyone who’s able to organize and rivet kids’ attention the way she does.

For more reasons than I could ever write here, I’m so glad my wife chose me to give herself to.

Happy “29th” Valentine’s birthday Kristine. I love you.

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