Saturday, March 25, 2017

Oh Peace, Peace, Wherefore Art Though Peace?

Do you feel God has extended you peace like a river today?  Most likely that is NOT what you were feeling today as it seems real peace is harder to find these days.  I remember a particular time when a sense of peace came over me so profoundly, that I describe the moment as one that felt like buckets of cold water were dumped over my head as on a hot day and ran down my body.  What was I doing at the time such peace came over me?  I was praying over a very difficult decision I had to make.  What peace are we missing out on by not bringing everything to God in prayer?  God's peace is always greater than our circumstances!

Gorilla, Man, Gun

An article I wrote and never published because I thought there was already too much junk being written about the subject. Second, exactly what I thought would happen, did happen. NOTHING! It is all part of the machine that whips people into a frenzy over one issue and then later another like different dishes in a microwave heated until they boil over, then throw in another bowl and do it all over again. All the while people are manipulated to the point of being harassed like sheep. We ultimately need to keep our eyes on the author and perfector of our faith and allow cultural events to help us to see God and ourselves more clearly.

I remember playing Gorilla, Gun, Man instead of rock paper scissors in YoungLife. Here is my Gorilla, man, gun blog considering the recent events. Cultural flash points reveal things about us we may not see clearly all the time. When going through something difficult it is always a good question to ask, What is God revealing to me about Himself and myself in this? The scary reality revealed is that we are growing more and more justified in our hatred of one another whether it is politics, religion, or animal deaths. As a nation, we are being worked up against one another unaware of the slow change that leaves character qualities like compassion, empathy, and love lost in the process like roadkill on a Texas highway.

We all agree that actions speak louder than words, yet there is just so much hot air on this issue with no actions. So here is my air blowing in as well. Because I have done nothing in my life ever to impact the plight of gorillas I really can't get super worked up over one gorilla's death suddenly, as I have done NOTHING to preserve his life or any gorillas life EVER. Everyone upset over his death needs to check if you have ever shown any concern over ANY gorilla in your life. If you haven't given your time or $$ then you didn't really care before, so please remove yourself from the discussion because you didn't really care before it was cool to care about lions or gorillas.  

Another piece is that today, too many people act like experts about things they really are ignorant about. This is clearly the case when people with no kids want to tell parents how bad they are as a parent. People without kids or are not regularly responsible for kids should remove themselves from the discussion condemning the mother. (None of us really did have a clue until we actually had children). Lastly, and most importantly, all the parents that say I never let my children out of my sight and are thus ready to "shoot" the mother for losing her child for a brief moment, need to thank God for His grace and not condemn anyone who makes a mistake they never did. Just because we never made this mistake doesn't justify condemning someone else who does, especially when we didn't have to walk in their shoes with their child. The crazy thing about parenting is your own parents had the biggest influence on you as a parent. Change that little piece of your puzzle and you aren't the same wonderful parent either. Also, do you condemn every mother whose child has been taken from them by a predator or has ever been molested when the parent didn't see it happen? Do you condemn parents when their children fall down or get hurt, or do anything wrong while the parent didn't see it happen? The resounding answer is NO. Condemnation is really out of place here as well, but it is a great opportunity to say that good parenting is critical and should be more encouraged in our communities because it does impact others more than we realize most of the time.

This whole scene reminds me of the passage when an angry mob was ready to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery. She was actually guilty! Jesus didn't say, "whoever hasn't been caught in adultery before", he said, "Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone." Jesus wrote in the sand presumably some of their secret sins and they all dropped their stones and walked away. I don't like the way our country is being manipulated into an angry mob ready to stone anyone who does something they don't like or agree with. Can't it be enough that we have empathy for the family that was traumatized by this event and feel compassion for them without demanding they lose their children to CPS, pay financially, or even with jail. Can't we feel sorry for the individual at the zoo that had to make such a difficult decision about one of their favorite animals without all of the harassment and derision he has received? Can't we feel sorry for the person who had to pull the trigger as I am sure they loved working with animals not shooting them? Can't we all feel sorry for the wicked and hate-filled backlash towards all of these people by an angry mob sending hate and fear to torment those they didn't agree with, never stopping to answer Jesus question? He who is complete without sin cast the first stone. Oh yeah, that was Jesus who was actually without sin and he said, "Where are those that condemn you?....Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

Parents do need to be careful with their children in public places as there are many "gorillas" in our society who are growing colder and colder in their hearts towards others and are capable of doing more evil things to other humans, even children. As adults, we set the tone for our children whether or not human lives are precious and whether or not we are ever justified in not loving one another. I think this issue has revealed there is a diminishing love for others that does not reflect the heart of God with too many wanting to rush in and grab the mother by the arm and drag her around in the water......Wait that is what the gorilla did! Lord help us!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Are we being manipulated?

In reading a book recently on emotional manipulation it identified part of the strategy of manipulaters is to create a F.O.G. of fear, obligation, and guilt that makes it difficult to resist. It dawned on me this morning, that is exactly what is happening in our nation with the Orlanda shooting. The use of this F.O.G. to get more power requires the American people to be manipulated into giving up their rights and freedoms. Hate crime legislation is aimed at removing 1st ammendment rights to free speech. Gun control legislation is aimed at removing 2nd ammendment rights and we are being manipulated to feel obligated or guilty if we don't surrender those rights. ........ This act of violence was perpetrated by a member of the gay community, Afghanistan immigrant, and Democrat. He was a regular attender of the club and was known by many through the hookup app "Grinder" as interested in men. By several accounts he was an unstable and abusive individual. Add on top of that he didn't even use an AR-15. We need to be very thoughtful as a nation before we lay down 1st and 2nd ammendment rights given non of these details are even being mentioned. The sounds good language of limiting hate speech when what classifies as hate speech and who gets to be the judge is often never considered, it is just assumed honest government with pure motives. It is a massive power grab by the government of our ability to have civil disagreements over issues and renders anyone who does not agree with the acceptance of transgenders in the bathroom and locker rooms as motivated by hate and needing to be silenced by the state. The sounds good language of closing the "terror gap" in our gun laws really does sound good until you realize there is no disclosure for who gets on the government watch list or even how to get off it. It is very much ripe for abuse and there is no due process to this removing of US citizens rights to own or purchase guns. Former liberal senator Ted Kennedy somehow got on the no fly list years ago and it took him 1 year to get the mistake cleared up even as one of the most powerful Senators at the time. Can you imagine the nightmare similar to dealing with the IRS that an ordinary person would encounter. Can you ever imagine anyone wanting to manipulate that invisible process for controlling, intimidating, or punitive purposes? The manipulation is aimed at silencing anyone who would object to homosexuality on moral grounds. The manipulation is also aimed at opening the door on controlling the guns of the law abiding citizens. Don't be manipulated! Don't allow them to terrorize you by fear. Don't be intimidated by unreasonable obligations stemming from something you are not responsible for. You are not obligated to suddenly apologize as though you had a part in this attack. It is a good time to reflect on your own heart if it has grown hard towards any of your neighbors and deal with that. But don't feel guilty if you have biblical convictions that say that there are moral standards for our behavior that sets limits on what is appropriate behavior sexually as well as the sanctity of all human life. Lastly, listening to Hillary Clinton talk about people being on the FBI watch list should not be able to buy a gun "terrorist gap", when she is actively being investigated by the FBI and is running for the president. When Hillary Clinton has received more money from countries that kill gays than any other candidate in the history of the US. You can see if you are being manipulated or not! So don't let your voice of reason and conviction be silenced by manipulation. Don't let a corrupt government take away your freedoms through manipulation. But more importantly don't let the love in your hearts grow cold towards God or one another through the manipulation by our greatest foe!

Here is a Democrat saying Due process is killing us:

Here is libs giving the shooter a pass and blaming Trump:

Here is the ACLU blaming Christians:

Monday, June 13, 2016

When Entitlement Meets Grace

We live in a world that is revealing it is turning more and more inward to self.  One of the ways this appears is the Entitlement mentality we see evidenced by peoples demanding what should be given them and a lack of gratitude for what has already been received previously.  "The world owes me!" is the motto.  Free education...owed to me as my right.  Higher wage.....owed to me because I need it, not because I have done anything to make myself more valuable to my employer.  Healthcare....owed to me as a basic right.

But what happens when entitlement meets grace.  It is an interesting thing when people who live a self centered life demand grace from others.  Grace by it's very definition cannot be deserved or earned.  It cannot be demanded or it ceases to be grace.  Imagine a child demanding a certain gift or they would throw a tantrum.  It would be a foolish parent to encourage such behavior in the future by giving in to the child.  Imagine a teenager demanding a newer car than the one already given.  It would seem a good time to take the keys away or sell the older car and let some time on the yellow bus humble them.

Grace is a gift and gifts stop being gifts when they are demanded, expected, or extorted.  Grace is always out of the generosity of the gift giver, never the merit of the receiver.  It always originates in a heart that desires to bless in a way that shows love beyond what could ever be deserved.  The Grace Guilter always tries to link Grace back to what is obligated and yet by its very definition the two are incompatible.  God actually opposes the proud, but He gives Grace to the humble.  Don't demand grace from God with threats of a "tantrum" if you don't get your way and don't demand grace from others or it will dry up your spirit through the deceitfulness of your own heart.  When Grace meets entitlement resentment grows and so does the further hardening of the heart.  God's grace and His grace shown through others is meant to be the very instrument of humbling a pride filled heart, yet entitlement prevents this beautiful process from bearing anything but more entitlement instead of humility.

Live grace-filled lives today as you reflect on this reality, God does not need to do one more thing for you to deserve your complete and total devotion.  His grace was maxxed out on the cross for you and me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bread of Life Adventures 3/1/16

It is such an amazing thing to see God open doors before you when sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people.  Well, this Monday was very surprising even to me.  I am trying to fully understand all that happened, but I find I am still scratching my head as to what was the difference this week.  There is one rule in giving away bread, prayer, bibles, or other resources such as the Jesus Film DVD.  That is, don't presume to be able to judge from a distance who will and who won't be interested.  You will miss literally every time!  The day began with a couple of those humbling moments of being certain this person was not going to be interested only to encounter some of the most thankful people you could pray for.
Things really began to change when I approached a young wife and mother at the gas pump.  She was glad to receive the bread as well as the DVD and prayer.  I was about to tell her, "God bless!" and walk away when I remembered the marriage conference to invite her to.  I invited her and it opened up more discussion that ultimately led to her sharing she had recently been given her own bible and after starting to read it had alot of questions.  A conversation began about the difference between religion and relationship with God and she ultimately prayed to give her life to Christ and begin a personal relationship with Him.  Wow!  I was surprised how God had prepared her and how I almost missed it, thinking she wasn't going to be interested as she seemed more in a hurry than spiritually hungry.
I grabbed another bag of bread and DVD and headed to the young man that had pulled up on the other side of the pump.  I offered the bread that he was glad to receive and offered the DVD and prayer.  It seemed he was ready to get to pumping his gas and I was about to say, "Have a blessed day!" when he asked me a question.  I had the thought of fishing when sometimes you feel a fish has gotten off your line and then all of a sudden you feel a pull again.  I stepped back in and we talked some more.  Sensing a little uneasyness I was ready to back off again.  He still seemed interested and made a movement in my direction as I backed up, so I asked him a much more personal question, "Did he think he would go to heaven?"  He said he thought he would.  I then asked, "If God asked, you, "why should I let you in heaven?", what would you tell Him?"  He really wasn't sure.  This led to a discussion to what is our hope and how is one saved.  When asked, he wanted to give his life to Christ right there!  Wow, I almost walked away twice on this one, yet God was faithful!
I grabbed another bag of bread and went to the other end of the pumps where I spotted a young man that I was certain would not be open.  All tattooed up, and the look of a young rebel.  Come to find out he was into recording hip hop and rap.  He shared that he always prayed before he made a recording so he could do his very best.  Also shared how it seemed like maybe something was still missing though.  I began to share about the difference in knowing about someone and knowing them personally and that God desired for us to have a personal relationship with Him.  I asked him if he wanted to give his life to Christ and begin a personal relationship with Him as Lord of his life.  He said he did and we prayed right there by pump number 2 to make Jesus number 1 in his life.  Wow, I never saw that one coming AT ALL!
I had several other amazing conversations with folks that sensed God was just drawing them back to Himself and drawing them back to church.  Felt very used and thankful that I could just be used by the Lord to touch lives.  Lives that it would seem would be in too much of hurry to hear about Jesus.  Two young 20's and a 19 year old in a gas station giving their life to Christ all within a 45 minute span through a stranger.
I hope this encourages you that maybe God could use you to pray for the folks God puts in your path.  You may just need to trust the Lord to use you to pray for someone and then step out in asking if they have any spiritual beliefs.  You have a God who wants to and is able to use you if you let Him.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Learning To Fight On My Knees

I remember growing up watching the movie "Rocky" and all of the sequels.  My brothers and I would rap towels around our hands and go back to our rooms and spar with one another until my mom would bust up the games with "Big Whitey" the belt of a giant that was always within reach in our house, or a good busted lip kicked the fighting up too intense.  Many of us grew up with Rocky as a hero and would jokingly say, "Yo, Adrienne!"  We were inspired to dig down deep and fight our way through anything!

There was an event that happened several years ago that has inspired me to fight even more than Rocky Balboa.  There was a young man struggling with drugs and depression that broke into our church one Tuesday while I was away studying at the library.  He didn't steal anything or damage anything but the door he forced entry through and was found sitting in the sanctuary playing the piano by the police.  He surrendered without contest when confronted with the police dog "option".  The police officer asked me if we wanted to press charges for breaking and entering.  I wanted to help the young man and show him mercy, yet he was high and not in his right mind which would pose danger to those in the community around the church.  I couldn't stand the thought of a mother losing a child in an accident and have to answer why I chose to let the young man go back on the street.  So I said press charges to protect him and others.

That Thursday there was an angry group of friends and family that staged a protest at the church around 5pm and called many of the local news outlets.  When I drove to the church that evening there were protestors with signs and news crews recording the scene.  I sent out a few texts for friends to pray, said a quick prayer and then stepped out of the car.

It seemed to me that when the cameras were rolling the hatred and intensity of the situation would double instantly and it wasn't looking like any good would come of this situation.  A young man I was discipling was there already and getting good and worked up with the protestors.  I identified myself as the pastor and got the leaders focused attention and verbal attacks immedieately. I began hearing for the first time the lens of their hurt and anger, "That we had the man arrested for praying just because he was hispanic, and that we were all racist."

It was in this moment I really sensed the attack getting personal that I felt God impressing on me to "Just stay down, don't let defending your actions or your ego become the issue."  My heart broke for the young man and his family and yet the protest only spiraled more out of control...until we prayed.  We got the step father of the man to pray with us for his son, just before I spoke to the fox news .  They put the camera over our heads and recorded us praying for this all to work out for the young man's good and for God to somehow be glorified in this situation.  Just moments before I was on air they were shouting in my face racist accusations and I had this peace come over me that as long as I stayed down, not one bullet could hit me.  It wasn't about me.  Aaaaahhhh, the soldier who stays in his bunker can hear the bullets hiss over his head, without taking a single shot.

In a matter of less than 10 minutes after that first prayer somehow the entire group of protestors were willing to gather hands in prayer with us in a big circle of about 25 or 30 people and pray for the young man in jail.  The protestors began to weep and ask us and the Lord for forgiveness, in addition to praying for the young man to get the help he needed for his depression and drug problem.  There was a love for one another that flooded into the parking lot that day that I will never forget.  With the last amen came hugs, tears and petitions for forgiveness.  The news crews missed the real story that day, but we had front row seats to watch the one of the most amazing events I have ever witnessed.

As the young man I had been discipling and I were walking back to the church in awe of what we just witnessed, I asked him a question, "Do you know how to fight?"  He replied emphatically, "YES!"  I asked him again, "Do you know HOW to fight?"  His reply was less sure but still, "Yes."  I said a third time, "Do you know how to fight and win?"  He said, "No, will you tell me?"  I said something I was just being taught myself, "When the opposition comes at you high and lifted up, where are they most vulnerable?"  His answer came quickly, "Down low."  I then said, "Why did you did you try to fight them with your pride and anger meeting them high and puffed up?  You must take a low and humble position and sweep the knee if you ever want to fight and win!"  Karate kid movie line duely noted, but it seemed to fit!

The man who broke into the church was released from jail eventually, came to church and apologized to the church and even was a regular attender before moving away from the area.  I was able to meet with him regularly in discipleship and he continues to be friends today with several in the church.  God was glorified that day and we all learned much about the power of God to bring victory even when destruction seems certain.

Fast forward a couple of years to yesterday.  I was on the phone with another man in the church I am discipling.  He had made great plans for doing ministry Thursday evening in the midst of a heavier than normal workload that day.  That was when his boss called and gave him even more work to finish for the day, last minute.  My friend tried calling me immediately because he was angry and frustrated that it isn't fair they keep dumping on him when they know he has to be out of there by 6:30 at the latest already.  I was on the phone and couldn't take his call.  He wresteled a bit and realized he needed to call on the Lord first not man.

I called him back right after he let God put that piece in place in his heart.  As soon as he realized that truth, his phone rang as I called him back.  He began talking about how he wanted to roll up his sleeves and fight for what was right and be willing to even quit his job if he had to in order to serve the Lord.  I reminded him he had been asking God and myself to teach him how to fight.  I then said, "I am on my knees waiting for you to shut up so we can start praying, because that is how we fight.  We have to get on our knees and let God fight for us!"  We began praying it down for God to get all of the glory, for God to work all of this together for good, for God to make a way where there isn't one, and on and on.  Even though he couldn't do his work and ministry that day, we called on God to make a way!"  It was G-O-O-D and we could really sense God delighting in us delighting in Him.

The moment we said, "Amen," he received a message on his phone that said, "Never mind on that additional job, I got someone else to cover it."  My friend was praising God for his faithfulness.  He was even more excited to go to the ministry event that night.  He understood better the lesson to not try to fight with pride the battle that is meant to be fought on our knees.  He was reminded of how able God is to fight for us and His enduring love and patience with us.  He even felt God gave him a testimony for his boss to further witness to him and those he was going to minister to how God was making a way for them too.  Resting in God's faithfulness and goodness is so much better than stressing and pressing in our own strength.

James 4:6 "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" and yet we hold to our pride filled ways as though they have been the source of our strength instead of weakness.

Heb 4:10 "for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his."

Exodus 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.”

Yo, Adrienne.....How do you fight?

Lord forgive us of our root sins of pride, self reliance, and unbelief!  Oh, we pray that you would raise up an army of praying disciples this year that "know how to fight" on their knees and that we would be granted the joy of being named among them Lord!  Let us run to You.  Let us rest in You.  Let us allow you to go before us and make a way for us.  Let us give you room to fight the battle for us while we fall on our knees.  Give us a deeper knowledge of who you are, that we could love you with more of our hearts, and walk with greater power in making you known to the world.  Let us be quick to pray and let us not be so quick to forget the way of Christ on this earth as the example of unwavering humility and dependant connection to You, His Father.  Let us take the time to be filled with your spirit before we walk in the busyness of our day.  Let us look back and see people scratching their heads and looking to you Lord in greater belief that you really do love them, because you intersected our lives with theirs!  Let it all be done to the praise of Your glorius grace that you have blessed us with in The Beloved, that you lavish on us with all wisdom and understanding.  Amen!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bread of Life Adventures - 10-19-15

The Lord's prayer is one of the most familiar passages in the bible to most everyone.  I have recently come to understand that when Jesus prays for His daily bread, he wasn't suddenly concerned about what He was going to eat.  He tells us his food is to do the will of His Father.  Jesus is teaching us to ask for God to give us His will for today that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven in our lives this day.

Well every day becomes a wild adventure when you walk in seeking to do God's will.  While we were praying following a great day of passing out bread and praying with the people in our community something amazing happened.  We were praying that God's church would become a beacon of light that people stumbling in darkness would be drawn to.  We prayed that the cross on the front of the church would shine brighter than ever before, that the lights would be twice as bright when people look at it.  We prayed, "Lord, draw your prodigals home."

It was only a few moments later we heard a banging on the front doors of the church.  I went to see who was causing the commotion and found a pretty rough looking couple at the door.  I let them in and they said, "We met you a few weeks ago at the gas station and you prayed for us.  We were driving down the road and saw the cross on the church and knew immediately that was the church where the people prayed for us.  I stopped in the middle of the road, put the car in reverse and backed down the street.  We need help and felt the Lord leading us to you."

The man gave his life to Christ, forgiving those who had hurt him and asking forgiveness with tears for all he had done.  We were able to give some help and they went on their way.  They were visibly changed in our presence as we prayed over them.

Wow, God is growing all our faith and we continue to ask, "Lord, teach us to pray!"

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