Pierce our December 

Two thousand years ago
A star pierced the darkness
Our world today
Has become dark again

A volcano of violence
Spews darkness day and night
Ashes of hate rain down
Darkening our world

And the light is preoccupied
Distracted by temporal and the self
It refuses to pierce
Instead it tries to delight
It fights to be right
And becomes caked with the world
Clouded and dimmed the light grows dark

Pierce our world again
Pierce our nation
Pierce our fiefdoms
Pierce our comfort
Pierce our safety
Pierce our hearts

My Heart

I was thinking about a post my friend Marc put up on his blog about defining your dream, and then pursuing it. And it hit me that I really haven’t sat down and written about what God has put on my heart. Hopefully writing about it will help me work with a clear mind and not be as easily swayed by the things going on around me.

This mishmash desires and feelings are what currently compromise my heart:

  • Continue building my relationship with my Lord/Savior/Helper/Friend always seeking to go deeper, to more clearly hear his voice. While remaining humble and real (in the world but not of it, in other words losing the holier-than-thou act).
  • Continue building my relationship with my Wife/BFF/Lover/Sweetheart. Remembering to put Her and her needs before me and mine.
  • Living in a God centered Family and Community. Continually working to be a better husband and father, and knowing that I’ll never be perfect… Being the spiritual leader of my home. Honoring my Pastors and Spiritual Fathers/Mothers through word, deed, and sowing back into their life. Be an anchor in my community that God has called me to be.
  • Missions, bringing living water to the thirsty around us and making disciples as I myself am being discipled. Specifically I feel that God has called me to support missions financially. I need to write more on this later to flush out these thoughts and better explain why and how.
  • Strong desire to see Godly men built up desiring discipleship and be the King, Priest, and Prophet that God has called them to be. I really feel like it’s important to be involved in mentoring the next generation of guys especially those who’s fathers are not around.
  • Love for Israel and the Jewish people and to see them on fire for God in crazy and radical ways.
  • Change, begin to see my faith in action less of a in my head thing and more of outward flow (implementation of the above). Be a blessing to others in my own quiet way. Change from the old way that we used to do church, pew warming, to a way that pleases God and carries his light to every aspect of my life and the lives of those around me.

Anchored

Hebrews 6:19 – This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Two images beautifully combined:

(1)The soul is the ship: the world the sea: the bliss beyond the world, the distant coast; the hope resting on faith, the anchor which prevents the vessel being tossed to and fro; the encouraging consolation through the promise and oath of God, the cable connecting the ship and anchor.

(2) The world is the fore-court: heaven, the Holy of Holies; Christ, the High Priest going before us, so as to enable us, after Him, and through Him, to enter within the veil.

Estius explains, As the anchor does not stay in the waters, but enters the ground hidden beneath the waters, and fastens itself in it, so hope, our anchor of the soul, is not satisfied with merely coming to the vestibule, that is, is not content with merely earthly and visible goods, but penetrates even to those which are within the veil, namely, to the Holy of Holies, where it lays hold on God Himself, and heavenly goods, and fastens on them.

“Hope, entering within heaven, hath made us already to be in the things promised to us, even while we are still below, and have not yet received them; such strength hope has, as to make those that are earthly to become heavenly.”

“The soul clings, as one in fear of shipwreck to an anchor, and sees not whither the cable of the anchor runs-where it is fastened: but she knows that it is fastened behind the veil which hides the future glory.”

Via Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Redefining Radical

I grew up the son of a Pastor, a true shepherd. I grew up honoring my earthly father by learning all I could about God. I could quote scripture and had sound theology. And I really thought that’s all there was to being a Christian. I had lots of knowledge about God, but very little relationship with him. I could sit through my Dad’s best sermon, leave feeling great about myself, and then head out into the world and live a life that didn’t reflect the things that I learned. I was comfortable, comfortable with my life in the world. I enjoyed the things of the world and desired them above all else.

And I think that this defines the modern day church. We know what we should be doing, but desire the things of the world more than the things of God. We want the hottest car, the biggest houses, and the coolest clothes. Not that these things themselves are evil, but desiring them more than God is. We desire the shiny trinkets of this world rather than the beautiful jewels of the Kingdom of God.

We watch the same movies and tv shows as the rest of the world. Our eyes are filled with sex and violence. We listen to the same music as the rest of the world. Our ears are filled with language that curses our God or that would embarrass sailors of previous generations. We allow these types of media to shape our world view, and then wonder why our world seems to be so hopeless.

We fill spare time on Facebook telling the world about our last trip to the grocery store or our dog’s last bowel movement instead of sharing the miracles God has been doing in our lives, or encouraging one another.

We (I’m including myself here) are in LOVE with the WORLD.

We are in LOVE with ourselves, and can not get enough!

But there’s emptiness, there are holes in our hearts that entertainment, alcohol, or women (or men) cannot fill. Sure entertainment might distract us, alcohol may numb the pain, and women will comfort us, but these things will only work for so long. Their effects are not permanent or lasting longer than a blink of an eye. If these are the things you are using to self medicate, it won’t be long before their effect wears off. You’ll need more and more, but the holes are never filled, only made larger.

I’m not saying this to condemn you, but to beg and plead with you to WAKE UP!

My heart’s cry is to be radical, to shake off the scales that this comfortable life has put on my eyes to keep me from seeing my wonderful and loving God in all his glory and splendor. When I say that word, what comes to mind? Do you think of some guy in Time Square with a sign that says “The end is near”, how about a monk, or some fire and brimstone preacher who thinks that you and your dog are going to hell?

What I’m trying to say is that knowledge of God is good, but it will never save you or me. Jesus came so that never again would there have to be an intermediary between God and His people. But still so many of us want our pastors to become this intermediary so that we can go about our lives like Jesus never came. Let the pastor do the praying, let the pastor feed the poor, let the pastor do the evangelism. Let’s break down this barrier we’ve self imposed to save our comfortable lives.

So what is the new definition of radical? To me it is seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Laying down our comfortableness with this world and seeking to be uncomfortable in the Kingdom of God. Seeking to hear God’s voice! Seeking to see God’s face. Seeking to be a sign and a miracle to the people around, your co-workers and friends. Give till it hurts, rest secure in the provision of God. Give to the poor, feed the hungry, get discipled, and begin to disciple.

This isn’t easy; the world has brought us up believing the lie that we are to live for ourselves. Today we need to make the conscious decision to die to ourselves, to stop seeking the “deadly addiction of esteem”. Live the radical life that Jesus called us to. The world has permeated us in ways we are not even aware of, but the Lord can restore us. He can re-kindle the fire in us, to be brighter than ever before. He can do more than heal our hearts; he can (and does) give us brand spanking new ones. He will renew our minds cleansing out the junk we have put in.

Break out of the cultural norms, break out of the Christian norms, and let your heart’s cry be “Come Lord Jesus”. Develop the personal relationship with God that he so desires, love him with all our hearts. Let’s pick up our cross and follow after him.

The Challenge – Change the world!

We live in interesting times. That’s something we all wish for but never quite understand. Mostly because the word interesting is very vague, it can mean fun and exciting and it can also mean weird or strange. I say that because we live in a day and age where at the click of a button I can instantly communicate with millions if not billions. Go back a few years ago and we would have had to buy time on a local television station or a network in order to accomplish that, go back before that and it was radio. And pretty much any time before that reaching millions with any alacrity (quickness) was unheard of. The women and men who worked tirelessly for woman to gain the right to vote, had to travel all around the country speaking, debating, and hand out pamphlets just to get their voices heard. Before that abolishonists  had to do something similar to have their voices heard. They worked for years and years to change the minds of their neighbors and then their countrymen. In order to bring about some of the greatest changes the world has ever seen. Women won the right to vote and the opportunity to be seen as equals. Slavery was abolished. Wars were fought. And it began with a battle for the hearts and minds of the people.

Today we are still faced with bias and racism the battle for freedom still has to be fought for some. As the dream for racial and gender equality inches closer. Our society becomes more and more focused on technology. Lightening fast communitcation now allows us the ability to talk with anyone anywhere at just about any time instantly. We have email, IM, twitter, google, iPhones, and laptops that keep us up to speed with the world around us. News and information is everywhere we look. But the dreams of a utopian society are still a far off.

Why is that?

Why are more people depressed than ever? Why are there more divorces? Why are more people popping pills to keep themselves healthy, alert, and even happy?

Where is the church in all of this? Why has Christianity seemed to have taken a back seat in modern day society? We have hope and joy more abundantly, but yet we become like the chameleon. We try to blend into society. What we want more than anything is to be normal. Even when normal is not looking so hot. Rather than change the world we sit back tell everyone we saw it coming first. We hate the ones that have been rightfully placed in authority over us. Rather than praying for them we puke and buy guns.

Does our trust really lay with Christ? Or do we trust in our own strength, in our firepower, or in how we are right morally?

The time has come for the Church to quit playing church and become the Church (the bride and body) that she was meant to be a kingdom of heaven. I’m trying not to bash, but it’s something God has really placed on my heart and not just for our land but for all.

So how does this happen, how do we change the world? Do we give more money? Do we give more of our time and energy? Do we read our Bibles more? Or Do we just need to lengthen our prayer time from five mins to twenty? And while all those things are good, the challenge the God has placed on my heart can be done on facebook or twitter. And it is simply this: Encourage one another. 1st Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up”. Rather than using modern technology to inform the world of your latest trip to the mall or how good the movie you just saw was. Instead post something meaningful. Post what God has been speaking into your life, post the scriptures that you have been reading, post something you saw that really encouraged you, post the victories Jesus has led you through. Or post the things that you are struggling with and see the outpouring from friends and family as they come to support you in your time of need. But more than that read what your friends are posting look for areas that you can help them look for places that you speak an encouraging word into their life and lift them up out of the lies of the enemy.

Changing the world has never started from the top and trickled down. Instead it has always started on the small scale, (2-3 people) and be brought up to the top with fire and conviction the likes of which is rarely seen.

So change starts with you, change the outlets that you have been so marvelously given to be outlets of encouragement, love, and joy. Chase away the spirits of depression and suicide from our instant-craving society.

Vision: Reach Out and Touch Someone

We live in an increasingly virtual world. We talk to each other through email, IM, and Facebook. I work all day on computers and programs that someday someone might use and hopefully it will make their lives easier, but more than likely I will never meet them. I don’t know my neighbors, I barely know my co-workers, and I struggle to connect to close friends and family through everyday conversation.

At times I feel like I don’t live in the real world.

I live a very comfortable life. I’m blessed with a good job, a loving family, and a wonderful wife. Sure I have my fair share of problems and difficulties, but if I’m hungry it’s cause there’s 30 minutes till lunch, if I’m in pain it’s cause I did too much at the gym, and if I’m worried it’s cause I’m not sure if my favorite TV series will be back next season. Now I’m simplifying here for the sake of making a point.

I feel at times like a live in my ivory tower of more-holier-than-though-christianity or I’m hiding behind my computer monitor thinking I’m making a difference because I write down my thoughts on blog for the world to see, when just outside my door is world full of real need.

I really feel this tug on my heart to reach out and touch the real world.

I don’t know what God has planned for my life, but I do know the things he’s pu on my heart. To see the nation of Israel, my family, and my country on fire for God the likes of which this world has never seen before. To see men living more like real men and not the neutered versions we see now. To take a stand against abortion. I don’t know my role in these things, and I don’t know how to accomplish them. But I do know that these things are on God’s heart as well.

While I may not know the full path ahead of me, but I do know the starting point.

Prayer – This is one area I really need to grow in. I’m not sure why it’s a weak point for me, but it really is. Prayer will draw me closer to God and his will. And that’s where I want to be. In the comming moths and years prayer will be a very important part of my family life and raising my children. I’ve started with learning to pray for my wife using a book that she gave me :-).

Mentor/Disciplship – Another thing God has really put on my heart to find a mentor or someone who will disciple me. To keep me accountable, to encourage me, or just give some wise counsel. This is especially important since my Dad passed away, I’ve grown to recognize God as my true father and Pastor Joe as a spiritual father, but I need someone in my daily life to stand in the gap.

Start Here and Now – I don’t think God’s call on my life is one that starts years in the future, but rather something that I should start working on now. By being a better witness at work, at the gym, or anywhere else I might go. The wrong thing here is to present my self as some perfect being, and the extreme of sinning along with the other person is just as wrong. But rather minister as Jesus did loving the sinner and not the sin.

This is a lot. A lot to explain and a lot to take in. And as I’ve said I’m not sure where all this is taking me, but what I do know is that God is slowly (in God’s perfect timing of course) answering one of my oldest prayers. And that is “what is my place in life”.