True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: I Love Phillip Phillips

My son is much more…how do you say…vocal than our daughter ever was at this age.  Whether it’s a farty noise, a giggle, a whine, or a cry he is pretty much always trying to make his presence known.

Usually when he’s in the car is his moment of silence, but every now and again when he’s over tired or just sick of being in his straight jacket of a carseat he will really let us have it.  No amount of car gymnastics from the front seat to blindly put his pacifier in while you keep the car from going into on coming traffic will work either.  Not even big sister with her silly antics can calm the beast.

There is but one thing…Phillip Phillips.

That’s right the American Idol winner whose song “Home” you’ve heard ad nauseam at the 2012 Olympics, the song you hear on every commercial, and the song that will instantly turn my son into Silent Bob within the first note.

We’ve tried other songs to no avail, but literally by the first pluck of the acoustic guitar Easton is transfixed.  However, just like Cinderella’s magical night the second the song ends the party is over and he is back to whatever bad mood he was in.

So what does any sane, logical, well educated father do?  Put that bad boy on repeat and learn all the words to the stinking song.

Don’t judge, you’d do it too and you know it!

So what is your “Phillip Phillips” between you and God

How do you in the middle of life’s temper tantrums calm yourself and focus yourself back to God?

I can’t tell you how important this is to your spiritual health and growth.  Having time to reconnect with God in a way that has no distraction, no timetable, and no agenda is vital to realizing a full and meaningful relationship with Him.

Jesus was our model for this practice.

In Luke 5 we read about Jesus calling the first disciples and performing miracles in the town he visited.  Let’s face it, the stress we feel with expense reports and backed up lines at the drive-thru are not quite as stressful compared to healing leprosy and selecting the men to start the Church.  It’s no wonder that Jesus was exhausted.

“But isn’t He God?”, you may ask, “How can God get tired?”

The beautifully relatable aspect of Jesus was His humanity.  That while being fully God He was also fully man meaning he experience and felt all the same things we do including fatigue.  And what Jesus does when fatigued is something we should all learn from.

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”- Luke 5:15-16

Jesus withdrew from the chaos and the work to pray and connect with His Father.  Even with all the people still needing healing, disciples needing discipling, and ministry left to do, He stopped, dropped, and prayed.  It’s how He recharged His batteries for the next phase of the journey and He did it “often” Scriptures tell us.

My challenge to you and me is to be like Jesus today.

Now, before you go trying to walk across the pool at the local High School keep reading.

I want us to be like Jesus in the sense that we need to take time to connect with God just like He did and not feel guilty in doing it.  There is always things to do, places to go, and work to be done, but taking time to recharge with God is what will let you do those things with more clarity, confidence, and holiness.

God isn’t oblivious to your busy schedule, He just wants to be part of it. 

So make a point crank up some Phillip Phillips and let the world slip away so you can calm yourself and connect with your Dad.

I guarantee it will begin to feel just like Home.

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12/14/12 – The Day I Took My Kids For Granted

It even feels hypocritical reading that title.

Especially since my wife and I struggled for so long and had to go through so much just to have our beautiful kids.  We should wake up every day and thank God for every second we have with them.

But I don’t.

I get upset about my son not sleeping, frustrated with my daughter for not paying attention, grumpy when Aniston is whiny, and at my whits end when Easton won’t calm down unless you bounce him.  Heck, we even go so far as to complain with other parents about our respective kids and all the headaches they give us.  It’s as if we are doing these kids a favor by being their parents.

All that seemed normal and “what every parent does”…until Friday…until 9:00 am December 14, 2012…until innocence was lost…until the unthinkable happened…until “normal” didn’t make sense anymore.

Sadly, it took a young man draped in evil walking into an elementary school and shattering all the rules of morality for me to look at my kids differently.  To look at life differently.  To look at the world differently.

As I’m sure many of you did, I left work a little quicker that day and didn’t bother to stop by the local drive-thru for an iced tea on the way home.  I didn’t take the route that “might be faster” just to see what would happen.  No, I went home as fast as I could.

When I got through the doors I kissed my wife, hugged my daughter as we watched Doc McStuffins, and l looked at my son while he drooled on my face.  Through glassy eyes clouded with tears I smiled at what God had given me and begged for His forgiveness.

Gone were the thoughts of fatigue or frustration towards my kids because an overwhelming sense of blessing had filled those spaces.  I realized in that moment what was important, what I could no longer brush past, and what I needed to NEVER take for granted again.

However, in that moment of reflection and vulnerability something also became crystal clear.

My family is not running away.

We will not place our children in a figurative or literal bubble to shield them from the challenges of this world.  I am the proud son of two public school teachers and I will be the proud father of children in the public schools.  We will still go to movies, shop at malls, and go to amusement parks.  We will travel on planes, drive in cars, and visit foreign lands.  We will play in public, worship in public, and work for the public for the reason is simple.

As Christians, this is what God has called us to do and this is what God himself did.

God did not shy away from the evil of this world.  He pressed into it with His full weight and full force sending His very best in Jesus.  God’s plan was never a plan of retreat but one of attack.  An attack led by Love.

The natural tendency is to ask the question of “Why?” when tragedies like this happen.  It’s our attempt to understand and reconcile our brains to what just took place so we can neatly package it to explain later.  Howeve,r there are times in life where we may never know the Why because the answer can only be summed up by the fact Evil still roams this earth.

And our attempt to justify evil will always come up empty.

Ironically the pursuit of understanding happiness and evil have a similar end result.  Like nailing jello to the wall the second you think you have it nailed down your happiness will change or the evil we seek to understand will morph again leaving us chasing mirages.

I pray we do not waste so much energy chasing down fleeting answers to question of evil, but rather harness all we have into pursuing the Light and being light.

Jesus said in Matthew 15:14-16

““You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

In times where evil seems to bubble to the surface of life and overflow into our worlds we must fight the urge to retreat.  We cannot insulate ourselves in fear and place ourselves in a self-made cocoon of insecurity.

Instead, as Christians we must stand tall, find the highest point we can, and shine Light in the face of darkness.  We must point to the One that has come to overcome all evil and will never back down for a second.

I know there is pain, I know there are questions, I know there is anger at the evil that was done.  Jesus knows too and feels our pain, but only He can do something with it and He has.  He nailed it to a cross, broke the chains of death, and kicked Evil in the teeth for you and for me.  Evil may appear to win in this broken world, but it never will win in the World that counts.

I leave you my friends not with my words, but with Words from the Creator of the Universe Himself and the One that has and will always triumph over evil.

And the One who I will never take for granted.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.- John 16:33

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If We Can’t Win We Will Whine

The other day I was talking with my friend, and I asked how he was doing.   He jokingly said, “Good!  I mean, I guess there is always something to complain about though right?”

We both chuckled and went our separate ways, but I got thinking about what he said.

“There’s always something to complain about right?”

That seems to sum up the natural human condition doesn’t it?

No matter how much good is going on in our life, how many blessings we have stored up, or how much we have to be thankful for we will always find a rain cloud to bring over our head.

I believe the inner reason for that is that we are never satisfied and we desperately want for all parts of our life to have a big red bow on it like the Lexus commercials at Christmas.  We want everything to be perfect or at least as personally favorable as possible.

That’s why we will complain about pretty much everything.

We will complain about our food, foot, football team, foundations, fatigue, fears, and our functions sometimes before we even leave the house!  Why is that?

It’s because we think we know what’s right and since life isn’t listening to our master plan we grumble.  In other words, if we can’t win we’ll whine.

Jesus had to deal with this whining and grumbling nearly every day of his ministry.  A classic example of this in John 6 which must have made Jesus think “Can I ever win?”

Where we pick up, Jesus had literally just got done walking on water.  He probably was stretching out his calves and doing a cool down when a crowd approaches Him.  Interwoven in the masses was a group of Jews who, in questioning Jesus about his claims of being God, bring up that Moses was able to provide the people of the Exodus mana from heaven to keep them fed and could He do that?

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” – John 6:35-38

Well this must not have sat well with the Jews because they saw they couldn’t win so they began to whine.

“At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’? – John 6:41-42

In their dismissal of Jesus they attack His divinity through his pedigree.  Since what he said didn’t line up with what they believed they chose to dismiss Him because he came from “common” people so how can He be God?

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” - John 6:43-44

Jesus tries to redirect their mumbles and grumbles back to the Truth in His promise but they don’t listen and leave arguing sharply amongst themselves.  Turning to His peeps, his followers, his disciples, He gets an interesting and surprising response to what transpired.

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?” - John 6:60-61

Even his own disciples were whining about what He said!  It’s like the players after the game talking about the coach to the press.  Not everyone that says they want to be on the team has what it takes to be on the team and Jesus knew that and this grumbling was a sign of the inevitable.

“For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.  He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” – John 6:64b-66

Some of the followers of Jesus couldn’t handle the entire Christian package.  It got too tough, too much was asked of them, and too much would have to be given up so they left.

His Twelve stayed with Him, but many of the others left to go back to join the crowd of whiners instead of staying with the group of Winners.

In our life we will always have the choice whether we want to follow God’s plan or whine when we don’t.  However, our decision to choose whining is not God’s fault.  If we don’t want to obey we miss out not God.

Don’t turn you back on God and whine about why you did it.  Keep leaning into Him and although there may be a TON of stuff to complain about choose to focus on the goodness of God and all He’s done for you.

That always puts things in the right perspective for me and I guarantee it will change your outlook on your day.

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Stick It To Goliath!

The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well known and recited stories in all of history.  Christians and Non-Christians alike are familiar with the story of the undersized, under protected, under manned David defeating the 9’9” giant known as Goliath.

Goliath and the Philistines had intimidated and dominated the people of Israel for so long and with such force that the Israelites were terrified and paralyzed.  They had lost sight of the God that parts seas to protect them and wins impossible battles with ease.

It wasn’t until a small shepherd boy with mad sling shot skills and a resume that included lion and bear killing reminds them of the God that they serve.  As David stands in front of the mighty Goliath and absorbs the giant’s taunts, he quickly puts things into spiritual perspective.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” – 1 Samuel 17:45-46

The two rush at each other and David takes dead aim at Goliath’s massive head that was swollen both literally and figuratively.  Needing only 1 of the 5 smooth stones he brought with him, David strikes the giant down and the place comes unglued.

The Israelites charge the retreating Philistines and God’s plan begins to play out in David’s life on a battle field he was never meant to be at in the first place.  But before we tuck this story to bed and go on with our day there is a part of the story we skip over but is fascinating when you look at it.

It happens after the rock hits its mark and Goliath is either unconscious or stunned on the ground.  David rushes his enemy and stands over the top of him, but this time he doesn’t use a stones.  The time for stones was over.

“David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.” - 1 Samuel 17:51

Did you catch it?

Whose sword did David use?

Goliath’s!

The undersized, under manned, and under protected shepherd boy, David, takes the massive sword of Goliath and cuts the giant’s head off with it.  The weapon that Goliath had intended to kill David with turns out to be the very weapon that would end his life.

God has a tendency to do that.

In fact, He did it with His own Son.

We mistakenly assign the cross exclusively to Jesus.  In reality, this was a common device of torture and murder in the Roman world.  In fact, history tell us that the Romans perfected crucifixion before Christ’s death and at one point they crucified 1,000 Spartan warriors at the same time along a roadside to prove a point.  Rebels against Rome and this could be you.

Jesus was killed by that perfected crucifixion and although it was reserved for the worst of criminals it wasn’t used exclusively for Him.

But yet, Jesus used their weapon of death and torture to defeat them in the end.  Three days after the soldiers had taken His lifeless body off that cross and assured He was sealed in a tomb, Jesus arose and beat them at their own game.  But the goal was never to beat crucifixion it was always to beat sin.

Listen to the writer of Hebrews.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” - Hebrews 12:2-3

Jesus stood over the giant of sin that had torn the children of God away from Him and He killed it once and for all.  Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection are what made sin null and void to the believer and left Satan on a battle field bloody and decapitated.

God still is doing that today.

God is able to use everything in our life and in this world for His glory.  This means that he can somehow use our addiction, divorce, selfishness, pride, depression, and anything else this world throws at us to bring people back to Him.  However, it all starts with us submitting to Him and giving up that control.  Giving Him the permission through our repentance to use what was once destined to kill us to ultimately save us.

You and I can choose if that happens.

David chose to pick up the sword meant to kill him and cut the head off the evil in front of him.  Jesus chose to take on the cross that was meant to humiliate, torture, and murder Him and now it rests as symbol of freedom and love to all believers.

What will your challenges end up looking like in your life?

Will they be what defines your end or will you use them to beat them at their own game and redefine your future?

Don’t lose heart…Jesus is still fighting for you.

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Papa John’s Pizza and Jesus

My family and I don’t live in a gated community.

We don’t live in a remote village.

I’m pretty sure Google Earth will locate our townhouse with great ease.

All of these factors add into the puzzle that is pizza delivery to our townhouse.

It never fails that when we place a delivery order for a pizza the person gets lost.  I repeat it NEVER FAILS.  And this is not like back in the day when if the pizza didn’t get there in 30 minutes it was free.  Now a days people don’t care anymore and once they finally do get to our house we get the lukewarm, soggy crust, not even worth eating it but charge me full price anyway pizza.

The other night Papa John’s took the cake.

For context, Cherie and I love Papa John’s because we used to get it all the time in college.  It was  just one of our things.  I know there is waaaaayyyy better pizza in Chicago, but we still like to grab a little P-Johns from time to time to reminisce.

So anyway we called in a delivery order and what Cherie and I have tried to do in an attempt to help is to tell the people on the phone how to get to our house.  We give them the closest major intersection and even tell them that my black truck will be in front of the house.

The other night after Cherie ordered the pizza she went through our routine of helping to land the pizza plane on our runway.  All of sudden she looked at the phone like she got disconnected and said “They just hung up on me!”

Turns out that while Cherie was telling them how to get to our house, the person on the other line said “We got it!” and hung up on her.

(dramatic pause)

Now my wife is an even tempered woman but I thought her naturally curly brown hair was going to straighten itself she was so mad.  Her words were clear, correct, and coarse, “They better get that pizza here on time and not call us or we are done.

He got lost…we got a call…they lost a customer.

Sadly, we may never eat another Papa John’s pizza again because we’ve had it with poor customer service and people that just won’t listen.

Thank the sweet Lord for THE Palermo’s Pizza on Rt. 30 in Frankfort because they are the bomb.  Love you Paulie!

Anyway….

What struck me is that this is how we treat God ALL the time.

God will give us directions to redirect our life from pain, suffering, or to find true joy.  But in the middle of Him talking we will say “I got it!” and storm off.  We think that the Cliff Notes are good enough because after all the full version just takes too long to read.

This normally results in us going part of the way towards God’s plan, but then getting lost, confused, or burned out so we give up.  All the while God is on the other end of the phone saying, “I wasn’t through yet.  I have more to say!”

Here are just 2 examples:

Marriage

God says, “A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24

We hang up, and forget to remember that love, respect, submission, protection, cherishing, and a litany of other things are needed beyond just putting on fancy clothes, swapping rings, and listening to poorly written best man speeches.  Yet we think that’s all that we need and we wonder why 1 out of 2 Christian marriages fail.  They fail because we fail to listen and to obey.

 

Love Your Neighbor

God says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:39

We hang up and thrust ourself into social issues, feeding the poor, protecting the environment, and anything else that may look like our “neighbor” in need.  Yet we find ourselves still longing for something.  The problem is that we’ve neglected to remember that the first part of the command is to actually “Love the LORD your God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  We replace our neighbor for God as #1 in our life and we find ourselves spiritual spent and wondering why.

 

We have to be careful as Christians that we don’t take the parts of God’s word we like and do those and neglect the others.  We should be cautious to think that “I know how this ends” and walk away to start doing instead of continuing to listen longer.  If we don’t, we will have a half-baked Faith that may look done on the outside, but still needs some work on the inside.

Don’t let your faith be like the pizza guy that said he “got it” and ended up losing the whole point of his business as a result.  Heed the words of Solomon when he says

“To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.”

Proverbs 18:13  

Spend your time pursuing the fullness of Christ and not your own version of Christ.  If you do that you will discover the a texture of holiness you never knew was possible.  The good stuff is often found in the details tucked away in the areas we’ve skipped past.

Good Rule of Thumb:  Stay on the line until God hangs up.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: I Don’t Remember What Sleep Is

I am now the proud parent of two kids.  Our oldest is Aniston who is 3 years old right now and our youngest Easton who is 6 months.

When Easton was born my wife and I had been enjoying approximately 2.5 years of uninterrupted sleep.  That’s right, since my daughter was 3 months old she was sleeping twelve beautiful hours every night.  We could drive a dump truck filled with fireworks over whoopee cushions through the living room and she would sleep through it.  It was awesome….I repeat AWESOME!

Our son must have not gotten the memo about this feature on a child when the chromosomes were hooking up.  I say that because ever since he’s been born he has never slept through the night.  Not even close.  Approximately 3:00 AM every day he will start to cry.  This begins the dance between Easton’s pacifier and us every fifteen minutes until 7:00 AM.

Four hours of a zombie-like dance that would cause a grown man to cry.  Yes, the man writing this has cried in the wee hours of the morning as he looks at a baby he loves more than his own life but would give any sum of money for it just be quiet!

At this point I don’t know if either my wife or I remember what true REM sleep is.  On top of that it’s amazing what whacked out dreams you can have in 15 minutes, but that is another blog all together.

The idea of sleep or rest is one of the most basics of bodily functions.  You don’t have to be taught or trained how to sleep.  Granted quantity of sleep is an acquired taste, the act of sleeping is a standard feature on all models of human beings.  We all do it and we all need it.

Sleep allows our bodies to reset, recharge, heal, power down, and recover from the day that was and prepare for the day to come.  It is a gift from God that even allows us to meditate and connect with Him in our REM cycles.

Throughout Scripture we see our heroes resting.  From Elisha to Jesus time after time we see retreat to recharge the batteries.  So not only does this show that they were human and

We all need time to get away to recharge, retreat, and refocus our self back to God without distraction.

My friend Dr. Casey Tygrett has great insight into this in his book The Jesus Rhythm which you can get for free by clicking here.  In it Dr. Tygrett looks at the life of Jesus and the rhythm that He ascribed himself too.  Time and time again we see heavy seasons of ministry followed by retreat and rest with the Father.

I hate to pull on the theology of the wristband of the 80’s, but WWJD seems to be answered well throughout Scripture.  Jesus would take time to rest and we need to find ways to do that too.  He even went so far as to offer to be the source of spiritual rest for us!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”             – Matthew 11:28

Jesus offers us a rest that beyond understanding, but to grasp I think we need to be rested ourselves so we can think clearly about what that means.

Granted I know this looks different for every person.  As the father of a small uncooperative baby boy my time of rest may not be seen until March when my wife and I go on vacation, but I do know that I can find other ways to disconnect so I can reconnect with God.  I just need to make the choice to do it.

I pray you find retreat, recharging, and refocus this week so you can understand more how much God truly loves you.

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I Almost Preached Without God

It was Saturday afternoon and I was at church getting ready to preach the 5:00 pm service.  We are in the middle of a series called “The Story” as we travel through God’s Story to find our story within it.

This particular week I was asked to preach on the life of Hannah Samuel, and Saul which in and of itself is a daunting task.  Weeks of preparation had distilled down to a mad dash to the finish as I still needed some final tweaking and proofing before it was ready for people to hear.

As I sat at my desk I started to read through the message to make sure I was making sense when I first wrote it and all of a sudden I got a knock at the door.

“Pastor Brian, I just wanted you to know that the refrigerator in the kitchen is not working.”

How do you know?” I inquired of our volunteer.

“Well I’m no expert, but the smell is pretty much a dead giveaway.”

Enough said.

I hit save on my computer and then went to the kitchen to take a look and smell for myself.  Sure enough the fridge was on the fritz and there was nothing we could do until Monday.  A few quick texts to my electrician friends and some thanks to the volunteer that was now throwing away the “science food experiment “ in the fridge and I started walking back to my office to finish the message.

As I was walking something caught my eye.

The trash in the Kids Director’s office was full.

Funny,” I thought.  “They must have missed that one.

However, as I continued on my route I noticed that every trash can I came across had the same Facebook status line: Full.

Yet another quick text message sent out revealed that an employee that normally cleans the building abruptly quit and our building had been forgotten in the scrambling fray of events that had ensued.

So taking an about face, I grabbed the cleaning cart, put on some gloves, and began cleaning toilets, scrubbing counters, vacuuming floors, and emptying trash.  To say I was a bit distracted by having to do this was an understatement, but in the middle of cleaning the middle stall in the women’s bathroom I got a spiritual punch in the gut.

It was in this moment of clarity that I realized that I had put so much emphasis on me and my sermon and my preparation and my desire to do a good job that I had lost sight of who actually was doing the preaching this weekend.

God.

It was God that was to be lifted up and not me.  It was God that draws people to Himself.  It’s God’s Word that I am given the privilege of teaching not my feeble attempts at creative turn of phrase.  It is God that saves through His grace and mercy.

I have zero to do with any of that.

In addition it was God’s strength that I needed to get through the weekend, not my own.  It was God’s love that I needed to proclaim.  It was God’s patience I needed to have grow in my life.

With every swish of the toilet brush I realized I had almost gotten on stage and left God on the ground.  I had almost preached without God.

Needless to say, I put down the brush and got down on my knees in repentance of my pride, arrogance, and weakness.  I prayed that God would make me less so that He was more and that I might be in awe of what He would do this weekend.

I know I learned a very valuable lesson that day and one I’m sure I will have to relearn again before I die.  The lesson was “Don’t think of yourself greater than you are because God has a way of humbling those that do”.

Proverbs 3:34 “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

Matthew 23:12 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Maybe this was just a post for me or maybe you can relate to this somehow in your life.  It could be that in your life you have been relying far too much on you and not enough on Him.  There possibly could be a person that is thinking that things are so good right now that why even worry about God at all?

I believe only you can answer that for you, but as for me I know I am glad I had to grab a toilet brush this weekend so that God could be lifted high.

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Believe Me…You Don’t Want That

In preparation for my sermon this weekend on 1 Samuel I was drawn to a section of text that jumped out at me.

It’s found in 1 Samuel Chapter 8 and its here we find the people of Israel yet again disgruntled about their situation.  They once again find them selves discontented with what God has provided for them and want a change.  Except this time it is a drastic request.

Up until this point the people of Israel of have been led exclusively by God and His laws.  There were no kings or leaders that ruled over the people instead judges, priests, and prophets were used as God’s mouth piece to direct them.

This method of order keeping was incomparably successful.  God had freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, guided them to the Promise Land in Canaan, defeated any and all enemies that apposed them, and provided them unthinkable peace during their times of obedience.

Yet despite that track record of success the Israelites were not satisfied and wanted something more.  They were tired of having just God and they wanted a king.  They saw the nations around them rising up with powerful kings and they thought God was out of touch.  He must have missed the memo that kings were in and judges were “so yesterday” (insert Valley Girl voice here).

They approach their current leader a priest by the name of Samuel and demand that he tell God to give them a king.

“But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”1 Samuel 8:6-9

God reminds Samuel not to take this personal because they are really not rejecting him, but they are rejecting Him.  They were rejecting God and with that carried consequences.

But in God’s mercy, He told Samuel to explain what having a king would really mean for them as a people.  He didn’t sugar coat the fact that it won’t be puppies and ponies with a king at the wheel.  In fact life will be down right difficult, corrupt, and filled with pain.  In other words God says, “Believe me…you don’t want that.”

But this didn’t sway their decision.

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.”1 Samuel 8:19

Despite God’s warning the people said, “No. We want what we want.

Which brings us to one of the most haunting lines in Scripture.

“When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.1 Samuel 8:21-22

That’s right.  No lighting bolts blowing up people who disagree with Him.  No Heavenly tongue lashing.  No flood to get rid of all the unbelievers again.  None of that.

Instead, God gave them exactly what they wanted.  He let their free will be used just as He had designed it to be.  Freely.

They had the freedom to choose His way or their way and they made their choice.

I think we all know this is still true today.

We are not forced to follow God’s will in our life.  We can still choose drugs, sex, relationships, success, divorce, pride, anger, jealousy, and anything else we want over Him and He will let us.

But just as guaranteed as the free will from God is so are the consequences from our choices.  God does not shield us from the weight and effects of our decisions.

The Israelites were oppressed by their kings from that moment on and we’ve felt the full weight of our decisions too.

Those decisions are ours to bare when we decide to go with  our way and not Yahweh in our life.

However, there is a King that is greater than the decisions we make and those consequences.  Jesus Christ is the Ultimate King that rules and reigns over all and will do that for you and I if we choose Him to lead our life.

By giving Jesus his rightful place on the throne of our life we relinquish the illusion of control we have and give it to the One who wanted it all along.  Our past decisions to choose sin over the Son will be wiped away by the Grace of Jesus.

This free choice is one we will never second guess and will never look back on and wish we hadn’t made.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have many of those in my life right now, but I’m glad I have at least One.

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Google Me God

Google is one of the most popular search engines on the internet.

Anything you want to know about pretty much anything you can find by just typing it in the simple search engine box.

What to know the length of an aardvark’s tail?                                               Google it.

Need to know how many pennies can fit in a Porto Potty?                        Google it.

Wondering what happened to Kimmy Gibbler from Full House?           Google it.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Take a second and try it.  www.google.com

Find anything cool?  Didn’t think so, me either.

I’m currently number three in a “Brian Hunt” Google search after a guy that got his degree in Biology at Northern Colorado and some professor with more degrees than Fahrenheit.  This little blog is sitting at #3 so with a little help from my friends out there we can take over number 1 and conquer the World Wide Web.  Ok that’s a bit much, but I digress.

You know God has a Google search engine right?

At the end of our life when we stand before God He will type in our name and push enter.  When the results come up there will be only one result.

Our name.

He will click on it ad our entire life will pop up leaving no detail undocumented.  The good, the bad, and the stuff we didn’t think anyone knew about will be laid out in front of God.  He will scroll through it all one at a time chewing on every detail of our life.  After the last entry that reads “…and then their life ended” He will look up and we will have to answer for this life.

The writer of Hebrews talks about this God Googling that will take place.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” – Hebrews 9:27 

Now our tendency will be start pointing out all of the good things that we did and try to speak loud enough on those things that the bad stuff is muffled in the background.  However, God hears the muffles louder than anything else.  Those things we are trying to hide are what have caused us to never be worthy enough to even stand in front of a Holy God.

Our sin is what we try to hide from God, but sin is what hides us from God.

However, there is only one life entry that can change our fate.  If in amongst the good, bad, and ugly moments a time occurs where Jesus Christ shines through the darkness in our life and we accept him as our Lord and Savior our search result changes.  In fact the entire entry is deleted and made clean as though it never happened.

Now when God the Father looks up at us He doesn’t see our sin He see’s His Son.

Jesus now stands in our place to take the penalty we deserved for our sin and we inherit an eternity with God we don’t deserved.

Perhaps I should let the writer of Hebrews finish his thought.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:27-28

So what would God see if He Googled you right now?

Would it be filled with a bunch of good, bad, and ugly moments or would it be stamped with “This Life Is Under The Operation Of Jesus Christ”?

Jesus is waiting to wipe your entry clean so when your time to be Googled happens you won’t have to worry about what pops up.

Make sure Jesus is in your life history before you are history.

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My But Needs Some Work

I’ve noticed my but is getting big.

I mean it is getting almost out of control.

Now, for those of you that are a little bent out of shape right now, make sure you go back and count the number of T’s in the “but” that I used.   I’m not talking about my gluteus maximumI’m talking about that little word that gets tagged onto most ever sentence we speak now a days.

This little conjunction in the middle of conversations may seem innocent at first glance, when in reality it is a huge problem.

Our buts truly get in the way of a whole lot of things in our lives because they are usually a red flag that a justification, excuse, or counterpoint is coming next.

Let me give you some examples:

  • I know that I shouldn’t move in with her before we’re married, BUT it’s too expensive to live apart.
  • I know that I should forgive him, BUT he was the one that started it!
  • I know I should look for a job, BUT I don’t want to just take any job!
  • I know I should go to church, BUT I need a day where I can just do what I want to do.
  • I know I could do more with the money I make, BUT I work hard for it and I should be able spend it how I want to.

Have you been able to identify where all that but swelling is coming from?

It’s our pride.

Pride that feels that we deserve something God isn’t providing.  Pride that makes our position superior to everyone else.  Pride that naively places us in control of our universe.  Prides that screams for our happiness over our holiness.

Pride that sucks God out of our life and replaces it with us.

Proverbs talks about pride’s effects.

“Pride goes before destruction,
    

a haughty spirit before a fall.

Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed
    

than to share plunder with the proud.”

Proverbs 16:18-19

Pride always leads to destruction even if you look like you are successful.  The reason is that the carnage that is left in the wake of your success shows you are actually a failure.

Relationships are destroyed, time is wasted, money is squandered, and life is devalued on the road called pride.  The only way you can maintain your proud facade is to fill your life with enough “buts” that you fool yourself and don’t have to look in the mirror.

What we need is some humble Pilates to work those buts down to size.

The best cure for a proud spirit is to humble our self before God and repent of our selfishness.   Allow God’s spirit to fill us with the peace that surpasses all understanding and rest contently in Him not who we think we should be.

I know I need to work my but off a lot and I still screw it up, but I also know the pursuit of a but-less life is always drawing me closer to God and who He wants me to be.

So get out there and work your but off!!!!

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