Archive for February, 2014

Road Trip

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

I love to get together with a group of guys and go shoot each other in the woods. It’s not as bad as it sounds, so just stick with me.

I get up really early on a Saturday morning, the sun’s only been up for a couple hours or so. I open up my mini man cave, which is really just an old cedar chest at the bottom of our bed, and I smile as I take in the glorious view.

I pull each item out as though it were an ancient artifact. I lovingly wipe the dust from my paint spattered mask. I pull out my chest protector and a smile of pride breaks out across the landscape of my face. I touch each dried, faded paint stain, remembering where I received each one.

My memory wants to play out each scenario, but I resist the urge. There is not enough time. Jimmy will be here soon, followed by Matt and Ryan and whoever else they could rustle up.

I continue my treasure hunt. I find my camo pants and jacket, my boots and co2 tanks. I pull out my elbow and knee pads and there on the bottom, I see my babies. My heart races a bit as I reach for the chrome plated gun case. I lift it out carefully and lay it on my bed.

I unlatch the clasps and raise the lid. There before me, in all their glory, two sleek black automatic Tippman paintball guns. I upgraded the barrels and they look awesome. I turn each one over in my hands, admiring them as I inspect them. This never gets old. Every time I hold them, it feels like the first time. I vividly remember having the same feeling each time I held one of my newborn children for the first time. Okay maybe we don’t mention this part to my wife.

I absolutely live for these weekends where we dress up like Marine, SWAT, Green Beret, Navy Seal, Chuck Norris, Cobra Commando, Ninja dudes, and trek through the woods playing out our war games. We set up camps and cook over a fire like manly men.

After I had put on all my gear, I was ready to go. I was especially excited about this particular trip because we were going to a new spot Jimmy had told us about.

Jimmy and the guys showed up, 7 in all, looking just as cool as could be. Camo overkill was the fabric of the day.

We loaded the last of the supplies into my Jeep and were ready to hit the road. I informed Jimmy I just had to grab my GPS and I was good to go. He assured me I would not need it, I could just follow him.

Jimmy was a country boy and had lived in the backwoods of Walker Louisiana for most of his life. He could hunt, fish, rock climb, hike and mountain bike like nobody I’d ever met. He was a born leader. It seemed there was nothing he could not do. He was fearless to boot.

We were about two hours into a five hour trip when Jimmy slowed up at a tricky three way intersection on a back road. “Is he lost?” I wondered aloud. Ryan snorted, “Are you kidding? It’s Jimmy. He could find Jimmy Hoffa’s body if he wanted too.”

Jimmy paused only a moment, then took the road to the right. Good thing I’m not leading. Everything looked the same. Trees lined both sides of the road and were so densely packed together even the sun had trouble penetrating the canopy.

We drove on this curvy, sometimes dirt road, for about an hour and came upon a fork in the road. Once again Jimmy slowed for a brief second, then headed left.

It got darker the deeper we headed into the woods. About another hour passed and Jimmy slowed and pulled over. I pulled to a stop behind him. He got out and headed toward my Jeep. The look on his face said it all. He, we were lost.

How could we be lost? Jimmy is a country boy. He knows everything. We all put our faith in him and now we were all lost. I was upset with myself because I had a GPS, but I didn’t bring it.  I thought I could put my trust in Jimmy to get us to our destination. I could not put all the blame on Jimmy. I chose to put my trust in him. I chose to leave my GPS at home even though it never failed me. Now I wondered if we would even make it to our destination…

It does not matter what happens next in this story because it is fictional. But there is a very real situation where this is happening daily, in churches all over the United States.

We put our faith in a charismatic leader, a pastor, a man. Many mega churches put their pastors on pedestals. They “worship” his slick “rock star” personality and look to him and only him, to guide them in their spiritual walk.

They have a GPS but do not consult it. They don’t think it’s necessary. They have this man to lead the way. They take every word he speaks as sacred truth. Even when things seem off sometimes, they don’t question him, mainly because the atmosphere in the church does not allow his character to be questioned. 

The GPS that would have prevented the situation in my story was ignored. The GPS that churches are ignoring is God’s Personal Spirit. We blindly follow a man instead of the Holy Spirit, and while I mentioned mega churches, this behavior happens in churches of all sizes. It just makes the news more often when it is a mega church. When we follow a pastor who is out to promote himself instead of Jesus, you are following someone who is lost. You end up with the scenario from my story, because when we follow someone headed in the wrong direction, we end up lost ourselves.

Read how Paul handled a situation in which people tried to put him on a pedestal in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 or in Acts 14:1-19. Do not let yourself be fooled. If they do not point to Jesus do not follow them.  

2 R Better Than 1

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

Snowed In

One snowflake does not a blizzard make. One lone solitary snowflake will not send the masses scrabbling to the store to buy large quantities of milk, bread, and eggs. One snowflake is seemingly insignificant. One tiny little frozen H20 particle will not cause alarm or close schools. One snowflake will likely go unnoticed.

But what happens when that snowflake bans together with a few billion more? They become a force to be reckoned with. They can shut a city down, bring major transportation to a stand still, and put smiles on the faces of thousands of school students.

One snowflake can be ignored. Millions cannot be. One snowflake fluttering to the ground melts quickly without much fanfare. Alone he does not stand a chance of doing much. But when he is united with likeminded snowflakes bent on covering the landscape, they come in power and accomplish much. They can transform a barren wasteland into a beautiful winter wonderland in a relatively short period of time.

Working together towards a common goal achieves greater results for their cause than working alone. A single snowflake is weightless. Millions together carry the weight to collapse roofs and snap tree branches.

So What’s My Point?

You are a snowflake. Okay maybe not, but like a single snowflake, your effect in your community will be minimal. Your voice for truth can be drowned out in a chorus of lies. But wen you come together with a group united and determined to make a difference in their community, you are not easily dismissed.

People Take Notice

If you rode your bike through your town on a Saturday afternoon you would not even be noticed. You would blend into your everyday surroundings. But if several hundred of your friends formed a flash mob and rode hundreds of bicycles through your town, you would cause quite a stir. People would break out their cell phones and take video. The crowds would wonder what was going on. What are you up to? They simply could not ignore you.

What if each one of you had the same shirt on, featuring a specific website? How many people do you think would immediately look up that site? How many of those people would go on to tell their friends and family about what they witnessed that day? How many of those people would post their videos to Facebook and Youtube?

This is why it is important for you to come together as the Church. The Body of Christ. Many people, young and old have told me they do not see the importance of church in their lives today. 

Without the Church you stand alone. Like the single snowflake that quickly melts, the solitary Christ follower tends to melt under temptation and turn from God quickly.

2 R Better Than 1

That was King Solomon’s tweet on things. Let’s check out Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how will they keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

When your community encounters a group of sold out followers of Christ, determined to impact the people in their community for the cause of Christ, they will not be able to ignore you. Your actions will be noticed and the results undeniable.

Like the bike riders in my story, wearing the same shirts, your Church, clothed together in Christ’s message of love, come in power with enough weight to bring down Satan’s strongholds in people’s lives.

Don’t be a lone wolf. Travel with your pack

   

Once Upon A Time

Posted: February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

We all love a good story. Especially ones filled with drama and action. We love to be sucked in. We are emotional creatures and when we are connected to the story we feel for the characters. When danger pops up for our hero, our heartbeat races a little faster. When our characters face loss we cry for them. But what separates a really good story from the mediocre?

Conflict

Conflict has long been recognized as the engine of the story. Without conflict, we quickly lose interest and become bored. Bored movie goers do not equal box office millions and 3 sequels. So what is the secret formula for success in every blockbuster movie or New York Times bestselling novel?

Zero to Hero

Catalyst for growth of some kind propels our average Joe into the hero of the story. It works in all genres. We watch and cheer for our hero as he grows and develops when overcoming challenges that he faces head on.

When he comes out the other side, he has changed. He will never again be the same. He is stronger, wiser, more confident for having overcome the very thing that tried to break him. Through this epic journey he learns something about himself that he never dreamed of. He accomplishes things he never thought possible.

Epic Trilogies

It’s the thing of Legends. Hollywood is great at churning out mega hits time and again with this proven formula. Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Star Wars, the list goes on and on. What do each of these money makers have in common? What keeps us on the edge of our seats and makes us gladly part with upwards of $15.00 per ticket and 800.00 for a large popcorn?

Advancement Through Adversity

Webster defines adversity as the following:

Difficulties, misfortune, hardship, distress, disaster, suffering, affliction, sorrow, misery, tribulation, woe, pain, trauma…

Raymond Chandler, the best selling author once said, “Trouble is my business.” He put his characters in dire situations and we hung on to every word and cheered our hero on. We invested our emotions into the life of these fictional characters.

The goal of any writer is to keep readers turning pages. Hollywood wants you to keep packing out darkened movie theaters. Whether it’s novels or movies, conflict makes that happen.

Viewer Not Victim

We get it. We love to read novels or watch movies about people just like us who are challenged with insurmountable odds and yet somehow overcome and become greater than they ever dreamed possible. We sit united, in a dark movie theater, with hundreds of strangers, cheering for the underdog. We simply cannot get enough…

Until we are faced with trials. We forget about the growth we could accomplish. The triumphs, the transformation from mediocre to greatness.

We want to crawl under a rock and throw ourselves a pity party. We throw in the towel, blame God and walk away from Him. We convince ourselves life was better before we put our trust in Jesus.

We Question Everything

Why is this happening to me? I go to church. I pray. I read my Bible. Why is God doing this to me?

These are the wrong questions. We need to ask, what does God want me to learn from this? How is God developing my character through this trial? How is God strengthening my faith through this ordeal? How will God use this situation for His Glory?

God is in control, even when we think He is asleep at the wheel.

In The Storm

Let’s take a minute to look at a story from scripture as an example of how God used a potentially bad situation to strengthen his followers faith and glorify God.

Mark 4:35-41

That day when evening came, he (Jesus), said to the disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples, (I’m sure, frantic), woke him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the waves, “Quiet! Be still.” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have so little faith?”  They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!?

Don’t Lose Faith

The disciples had witnessed Jesus perform many miracles, but in a moment of trouble, they forgot the power of Jesus.

When we face storms in our lives, sometimes it might seem like Jesus is sleeping and we are drowning in our troubles. Like the disciples, we may have seen the power of Christ in our lives and witnessed his deliverance in the past but when faced with a terrible situation we forget those times. In fear we doubt Jesus ‘ ability to see us through.

If it was not for the storm, the disciples would not have witnessed the power of Jesus when he calmed the  storm. Their faith grew that day.

The next time you face your own storm, before you are filled with fear and doubt, go to the Lord and ask him to calm your storm and to show you what he wants you to learn from it.

Remember when you are in the storm

Jesus is in the boat with you.

 

 

A Word From Jesus

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hey Guys it’s been a while since I was walking the earth and lots of things have changed so I figured it was time to update some of the things I told you about. I’m going to briefly cover a variety of issues so try to bear with me.

First the issue of building my church. I did a lot of things differently back then but I was just winging it. We had never done church before. I had this crazy idea rattling around in my head about my people being the church. I also thought having small gatherings in multiple locations was the more effective approach. But I have read many great books on church growth and development and I see that I have to reconsider some of the things I instructed you on in this area.

Bigger is Better. It portrays the image of being successful. My church consisted of only 120 people and we met in a small room on the second floor of a bakery. Boy was I off base. When constructing your church buildings make sure your budget includes a generous amount for a sic sound and lighting system. I suggest you hire an architect and top notch designer. We want to appeal to the masses and pull them in by the thousands.

I want the children’s ministry rooms to look like Disney World, only better, cause that’s how I roll. Be sure to include all the latest gaming consoles such as PS4 and XBOX One. I recommend 60 inch flat screens as when playing 4 player games each screen will provide ample viewing. These children are coming to be entertained and we don’t want to disappoint.

As far as seating throughout the church, I want seats so comfy, people could fall asleep in them. Make sure your foyer has a kicking coffee bar filled with delicious pastries. Starbucks is kicking our butt in this department. Remember mood lighting and artwork create cozy atmosphere. Your designer will explain this.

As far as a preaching staff, I want the best speakers money can buy proclaiming my message. If you can’t find a top notch leader consider a video feed from another location. There are books available on this subject. Make sure they are trained professionals with appropriate degrees and credentials, I don’t want people trying this at home. They confuse people if they don’t have all the answers.

If you follow this plan jaws should hit the floor when people step into your buildings. Spare no expense. I know you are going to have critics complaining that there are starving children in some foreign country dying every day and that this money could be used to feed them and provide medication. Don’t let it get you down. No matter what you do in life, someone will criticize you. Remember they criticized me they will criticize you. It’s part of being a Christian.

Now I want to address the whole “Love your enemies” debacle. Wow was that a public relations nightmare. When I preached that sermon, I had no idea how stupid people would become. So if someone makes you mad you have my complete blessing to rip them apart in a Facebook status. I don’t blame you one bit. I mean seriously, right?

And while we are on the subject, you probably read about how I spent time with sinners, drunks, prostitutes, demon possessed…etc. let me just say this, BIG MISTAKE. These people have problems. They will consume your life and pull you away from the real business of the church. Not to mention I got persecuted every time I had a meal with one of them. Stay away from these people. They’re needy and they don’t give money. They will take up seats that tithing customers could sit in. And we know the electric bill won’t pay itself don’t we. As far as preaching my message let’s steer clear of talking too much about sin. This is a real Debbie downer and tends to send people packing. Focus on Jeremiah 29:11 You can never go wrong with this feel good message. Tell them to say a little prayer about being sorry and things will be great between us. They don’t even need to change the way they are living. If you put too much on people they won’t want to come to church and like I already said, that electric bill ain’t gonna pay itself.

I’m not too concerned with how they are living their lives Monday through Saturday. They can do whatever they want but come Sunday I want to hear some singing and praising my name, as long as it sounds great though. If they have a bad voice let them be ushers or diaper changers in the nursery.

I know I said do not have a hint of impurity in your life, but then I did not know Hollywood would be making movies in the future. Yes they glorify adultery, murder, rape and are filled with vulgar words and all kinds of things that appear evil, but it’s just entertainment right? It’s not like you think it’s real. You’re just relaxing. You deserve a little down time. Just ask me to forgive you every time you view it if it makes you feel better.

To all you business owners and employees. I wanted to clear something up. If you have a business or work to support your family I do not expect you to stand up for your faith in me or mention my name at work. People will boycott your business and cause you financial hardships. You certainly did not sign on to this Christian life for that. You signed on for the abundant life package. As for you employees, I do not want you to get fired so just go along with things. I know your heart. Here’s an example. If someone is telling an inappropriate joke, go ahead just laugh. I know you don’t really find it funny. I just don’t want them to think you are weird or something worse. If your co-workers are bad mouthing your boss or talking behind another co-workers back, please join in. It will be awkward if you don’t. We both know you don’t mean it but it will save face with your peers.

Praying over your meal is ok…if you are at home. Do not do this in public. People will think…well I don’t know what they will think so just don’t do it. If you feel you must thank me but don’t want those around you to know, try this. Drop your napkin on the floor and while you bend over to retrieve it just close your eyes and squeeze out a quick TY4 this food. I’ll consider it a prayer tweet. It will be our little secret. See “living” this “Christian life is not as hard as you thought. I don’t expect much.

Even giving is easy. I know you have bills to pay and a 500.00 a month car payment. I don’t wanna leave you with nothing, how you gonna pay your 200.00 per month cable bill? Here’s a trick. When the collection plate is coming take five one dollar bills and wrap a ten dollar bill around them. Fold it twice. Those around you will think you are dropping a hundred bucks. It’s really only $15.00 You spend that in 2 days at Starbucks so we cool. They don’t need to know what you are giving. That’s between you and me.

Well if there is anything I left out you can just touch base with me tonight in the few seconds before you fall asleep. I just love those 5 seconds we spend together daily. It’s the quality not the quantity. It’s the highlight of my day.

Jesus