Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A prayer for today

I feel a need for you, Jesus. I am thirsty for a water that I cannot seem to find. Hungry for a food that I cannot yet taste.
My soul feels dry, Lord.
Desolate without You.
Come, Jesus, and be the Water that quenches the thirst I have for your touch. Feed me with Your sustenance and I will be filled. Rain down Your peace and bring new life to this desolate place in my heart.
I love you, Jesus.
I need You.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pick Me

Lord, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you? Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you, as though we had never been known as your people.

-Isaiah 63: 17, 19 (NLT)

I used to wonder why we are allowed so much freedom. Take the story of Adam and Eve for example. Why in the world did God allow them to sin? Better yet, why would He even make the friggin’ tree of knowledge? Ok, so He made the tree, not much we can do about that. But why wouldn’t He stop the serpent from tempting Adam and Eve? Seriously, am I the only one who wants to ask God ‘What were You thinking?’ So, thanks a lot God. Good job Adam. Way to go, Eve. Screw it up for the rest of us.

I have a lot of questions for God. I used to say that I was going to ask Him every last one of them when I got to heaven. Now, I think not so much maybe. I don’t think it’s going to matter then, do you? Life will be perfect then so who cares about my questions then.

But since I’m not currently in heaven, I wonder some things. Apparently, according to this passage, so did Isaiah. I love how real he is in this. ‘Lord, why did You let this happen?’ And, my favorite part of this, “Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you”. Ouch.

So, why do we do these things that cause pain to us, create distance between us and God? More importantly, why does He let us get away with it? Well, we do it because we are flawed, broken people who cannot seem to accept His love. Seriously, think about that. We cannot accept His overwhelming love for us.

It seems too good to be true. It just feels wrong, right?

Well, that’s because we’ve lost sight of something. We cannot fathom His forgiveness, His love because we don’t understand the nature of God. It boggles our little brains to think that He loves us that much because, somehow, we have not learned about Him. We don’t know Him.

Why does God allow us to turn away? Because He loves us. That sounds weird, I know. Parents will tell you they stop their kids from doing things out of concern for their safety, out of love. I get that. So, why doesn’t God stop us if He loves us so much? Because love allows choice. He lays it out there for you.

You have to choose right.
You have to choose holiness.
You have to choose love.
You have to choose Him.

I love the heart of God for His people in this passage. As you read further, you see God’s response to Isaiah. His response tells you a lot about Him. Chapter 65, verses one and two speak of His love.
“The Lord says,
I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.”

Picture that. God calling out to His people, with love in His eyes, ‘Pick me, pick me!’ Hear the desperation in His voice! He is desperately in love with a people who do not return His love. With open arms to our rebellion, He just wants to hold us. To take away the pain of our actions, the stain of our sin. To show us a better way, how to walk in communion with Him, in holiness.

Why would we choose any other way? We already know how dark that path is because most of us spend a lot of time in voluntary emptiness. Do you hear it, the call of the Savior?

‘Here I am, here I am! Pick Me!’

Saturday, April 17, 2010


If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
- Jesus (John 15:18-19)

I have recently had a change at work, an assignment change. Although I requested this reassignment for a lot of reasons, I discovered something. I was ill prepared for the emotions I was going to experience. I mean, totally not ready for it. I think the last time I felt this awkward was my first day on the job (that was a long time ago). I told one of the other guys on my shift that I felt like I had just parachuted on to Mars naked with nothing but a compass and a bag of jellybeans.

Change is awkward. Change is hard. I used to say, with a bit of pride, that I had no problem with change, that change is good. I got part of that right anyway. Some forms of change are good.

About a year or so ago, my life changed dramatically. Its not like things had not begun to be different; a shift was taking place in my life. But, in April of last year, my life radically changed.

I met Jesus.

Now, nothing is the same. When I met Him, I asked Him to change some things about me that I didn’t like. Oh, I acted like I liked them. I kept trying to tell myself that I was all cool and didn’t need anyone to run my life thank you very much. The truth is I was miserable. I hated myself and most of my behavior.

I think there’s a reason for our misery with ourselves. See, I think that we are not really alive, not really ourselves until we meet Him. Until He gets into our hearts. Then, we discover who we really are. So, I asked Him to show me who I really was. He called me ‘Son’ and ‘Friend’. He told me He loved me. He told me there was nothing I could do to change His love for me. I wasn’t ready for that either.

So I said, “Ok Jesus. If I’m really your friend and God’s son, like You, then show me how to be your friend. Show me how to be my Father’s son because I’m not real sure what that looks like.” He smiled at me and said, “Are you sure? I’ve wanted to give you this gift for a long time. So, if you’re serious, I’m in. This is going to take awhile and it’s going to hurt sometimes. But, just hold on to Me. Stay with Me.”

And so the adventure began. I told Him I wanted a new heart. He said, “How ‘bout I just give you your real heart back?” And He has begun to do just that; not only to show me my real heart, but to change my heart to be more like Him. I find myself with no desire for who I was, what I did. I find that He is loving and patient, kind, fierce, bold and gentle all at once.

As He has begun this heart “surgery”, I find that I feel like I don’t belong anymore. Those “places” I used to go, I no longer desire. Wait, that’s not entirely accurate. Rather, He has changed me to feel even more alive, more human, to feel that I finally truly belong.

I was having a conversation with a dear brother recently and I described some of this feeling of not belonging, this new reality which has become mine. He said, “You’re like a Martian who’s been dropped off on Earth.” How perfect.

So, earthling, do you want to be really alive and fully human like the other ‘Martians’? If so, I have a guy I want you to meet.

His name is Jesus.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


What else can I do
but follow you?
What else can I do
but run after you?
At times, your Spirit is
as a leaf, fluttering,
floating on an unseen breeze.
Following, falling,
feeling your hand,
your Heart.
Pushing into me, you speak
words of Love.
Hard and steep the way of Love.
Soft and gentle,
fierce and passionate
the arms of your embrace.
How you love moves me,
shakes my soul,
crumbling in your arms.
What else can I do
but follow, run after You?
Maddening, it seems.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Getting out of the way

I have a group of my fellow officers that meet in my home on Sunday nights to discuss the Word, talk about our lives together, pray with one another and reflect on His goodness. It’s been a little hit and miss lately. There have been some scheduling snafus and other things and we haven’t been able to meet as much recently. Right now, we are doing a study on the book of Luke. The study is written by Max Lucado.

So, we were to meet tonight. I knew there weren’t going to be a lot of guys show up, as we’re not a big group anyway and some guys had already told me they weren’t coming due to family obligations. But, hey, who am I to begrudge them that, right? I’m flexible. It’s not like I have anyone to worry about spending time with.

I love these guys. We’re all police officers. This job is tough enough and it’s been really wonderful to see a few guys who love Jesus as much as I do and seek His face as much as I do. We have some really great conversations and love the challenge of living out His truth in the environment in which we work. For the record, that’s not easy. Not that it’s easy anywhere but it’s tough in law enforcement.

Lots of peer pressure to deal with.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that cops are bad people or any more immoral than anyone else. But there is a certain stigma that all of us who wear a badge have to deal with. That stigma is tough to live with for those of us who actually attempt to live a life of integrity, honor and faith. I’ve had to listen to all the “you know how cops are” for a long time now and, quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing it.

But, I digress.

So, tonight the guys were coming over. So, 6:30 rolls around and one dude shows up. My immediate reaction was to be disappointed. I’m not upset that people don’t show up to listen to me, cause I’m not sure I have a lot valuable to say anyway. I was disappointed because I need this time with other men. They need this time with other like-minded men. Without it, we are weak. Without the support of like-minded Jesus followers, we are cut off from the herd, we are easy pickings for Satan and his little punk minions that do his bidding.

In fact, let me just go off on a tangent here for a minute. You cannot stand alone. I cannot stand alone. Life was never meant to be lived alone. If we were meant to be the rough and tough, do it on our own types, why did God make Eve? It’s not like God needed Eve to create other people, for procreation. He could have made as many people as he wanted from more dirt or twigs or whatever. No, He made Eve because Adam needed someone. It was not good for Adam to live alone; He needed a helper, companionship. He needed to do life with someone else. So, just when you feel all cool and stuff, be careful. You cannot do life alone. Alone is exactly where Satan wants you.

Sorry, focus…

Back to this evening. So, my buddy that showed up and I were just kind of chillin’ and chattin’, waiting to see if anyone else was going to show up. Talking about CrossFit, because he’s part of that “good cult” too. As the conversation went on, I could feel that something was going on here. I could hear His voice in my heart saying, “Hey stupid, stop talking about your clean and jerk. This man needs to be ministered to.” So, I began to listen to what he and He had to say. As the conversation ensued, he began to talk about some recent difficulties in his relationship with his wife, past issues, things left unhealed.

And I heard myself talking, heard my voice but it wasn’t me talking. Not really anyway. We began to talk about healing, our fathers, how we have failed at past relationships, a lot of unresolved stuff. But we kept coming back to the idea of healing and then, Jesus showed up.


I began to talk to my friend about the night Jesus finally healed over the last of the hurt between my dad and me. As I described the beauty and power of that moment, I saw tears in my friend’s eyes. I saw Jesus touching his heart. And I was overwhelmed.

See, the point of tonight was my buddy. Jesus knew a long time ago that my buddy was going to show up at my house tonight and take his first step toward healing some past hurts, wounds that have held him down for too long. The point of tonight was for Him to show me that it doesn’t matter what my plans are, I just have to get out of the way and let Him do His thing.

Don’t ignore those moments. There are times when He speaks, when He shows up. Don’t ignore it. I promise you this; if you will listen, He will speak. When He speaks, act on what He has said to you. You will be amazed at what you learn and how much easier it becomes to hear the voice of God, calling you forward into His adventure.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hi, my name is Peter

About three years or so ago, I began my own Easter tradition. On every Easter day now, I watch Mel Gibson’s movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’. Now, I know that Mel Gibson seems to be a bit of a nut but that movie is, to me, an excellent telling of Jesus’ final hours as a human. Every time I watch it, I get something else out of it, something new and fresh. This time around was no different.

This time, I was Peter. I literally was sitting there, seeing my face on Peter’s body. Hearing my voice speaking Peter’s words. Peter reminds me so much of myself, which is probably why I love him so much and why his story rings true in my heart. So, I want to talk about Peter for a bit. I think you will see, as I did, some similarities.

Peter was, by far, the biggest loud mouth of all the disciples. At least according to biblical accounts, Peter seems to be discussed more than anyone else. John gets talked about a lot as well but Peter seems to have taken up the lion’s share of Jesus’ time. This is obvious for several reasons. Peter was clearly the leader of the band, so to speak. He was the mouthpiece for the disciples and the most dominant personality in the bunch.

What I love about Peter is his humanity. This is a dude that I get because he wore his heart on his sleeve and didn’t seem to be afraid to shoot his mouth off. He jumped before looking most of the time. I mean, look at what he did on the Sea of Galilee, jumping out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus. That, in most of our estimations, is reckless. Another time, after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus appeared on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter recognized him, stripped down basically naked and jumped into the water and swam ashore. He was so excited, he didn’t even wait for the boat to get there.

Peter was the one who swore that he would follow Jesus, no matter what. To prison, even to death if necessary. When Peter said that is when Jesus hit him with the big one. “Peter, I love you man but you run your mouth too much. Before the sun rises tomorrow, you’re going to swear you don’t know me at least three times.” (Scott’s version of Jesus’ words)

Later that night, Peter was swinging a sword, trying to cut Malchus’ head off, defending the Master. I’m like Peter there, give me something to do. Give me a sword, give me somebody to smack, give me a mission. Peter was so eager with a sword in his hand. Aren’t we all?

Then, came the scene that hit me right between the running lights. Jesus has been “tried” before Caiphas. Have you seen the movie? The guards and people in the crowd are putting a beating on Jesus. Peter is struggling through the crowd and people are grabbing him, saying ‘Hey, I know you. You’re one of them.’ Peter, afraid for himself, denies Jesus. Three times. And the moment that wrecked Peter…Jesus looks right into Peter’s eyes.

Peter is undone. Weeping, he staggers away, only to come face to face with Mary, Jesus’ mother. She reaches to console him and he says something that even now rings in my ears. I heard my own voice say it.

“I am unworthy.”

I wept watching this, feeling it, being it. I am Peter. I have told Him I would follow, no matter what. I have told Him that I love Him. I’ve been in there swinging the sword for Him. And I have run away when it came time to claim Him. I have denied Him, not by word but by action. I have failed to act in His name when I should have. I have denied Him by not speaking out against some things, by not speaking out for some things. I have denied Him by not living out His love at times in my life. Haven’t we all?

Here’s the good news, though. Peter’s story doesn’t end there. When Jesus was raised and saw Peter again, did He get angry, did He chastise Peter? No, He loved Peter and gave Peter a new mission; “Feed my sheep.” Peter went on to become, as we know, one of, if not the greatest, leaders of the early church. And Peter did follow the Master in death. Peter was crucified for his refusal to deny Jesus.

My story doesn’t end with denial and failure either. Neither does yours. You have the love, mercy and forgiveness of a Savior that, above all else, loves you. He has forgiven us for our denial, our lack of courage, our failures. He has restored us, He has given us a new heart, a new mission:

To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
And to love one another as He has loved us.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lest we forget

Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected –
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weakness he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.
But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

- Isaiah 53

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The point

Phillip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Phillip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.”

-John 14:8-10 (NLT)

I was having a conversation with someone recently and something was said that just completely floored me. We were discussing the difference between religion and faith, between “organized” religion and relationship. I made the statement that there was a vast difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus. This person said, “What’s Jesus got to do with it?”

I’m not sure I could have been more stunned. This person claims to be a Christian. Well, they claim it and they attend a “Christian” church. I probably had some weird look on my face cause they just kinda stopped and said, “What, what did I say?” My response was probably a bit sharp, cause I tend to have a bit of a sharp tongue. I just looked at them, aghast, and said, “What do you mean by ‘what does Jesus have to do with it? Jesus is IT! Are you stoned?”

Maybe it was the ‘are you stoned’ question that made them angry, I’m not sure.

That’s when all this thought process began, so bear with me here. Two thousand years or so ago, the Jews were slaves to an oppressive set of rules and regulations. They were slaves to religion. Then, this man Jesus shows up. He immediately started pissing people off. Seriously, His first sermon almost got Him killed. (Luke 4) The Pharisees, religious elite and other leaders of the people really hated Jesus. They hated Him so much they eventually had Him killed.

I fear that, two thousand years later, we are no better. We have allowed ourselves, in many ways, to become slaves again. We are slaves to our religion, our “churches”, and these edifices we’ve built that we call the church. We have cut Jesus out of the equation again. Seriously, think about it. I know I’m not going to be popular after saying some of this but it’s the truth. We’ve cut Jesus out. Without Him, we are the Pharisees stuck in an enslaving religion. We’ve been stuck in religion so long, we’ve forgotten the Man that this is all about.

Don’t get me wrong, I know why people don’t want to believe in Jesus. Believing in some mystical “God” out there somewhere is way easier. That “God” is not really a person, or so some say. But, Jesus is and was a real person. Believing in Him means you have to follow Him. Believing in Him means you have to change, or more appropriately, allow Him to change you. Belief demands action. Change is scary and action sometimes demands sacrifice.

I get that.

Where I think many people get off base is that they have a misconception of who Jesus is. Let me tell you who Jesus is not. Jesus is not the guy out blowing up abortion clinics. Jesus is not the guy spewing hatred for those different and trying to use scripture to back it up. Jesus is not walking around in a two thousand dollar suit while some of his people starve to death. Jesus is not getting on TV and telling people that you’re not a Christian if you voted for Obama. Jesus never hated anyone, even the people that killed Him.

So, if you don’t know Him, allow me to introduce you. Jesus is the Word of God, who existed before time began. Jesus is the guy who knew you before you were born and decided right then and there to love you, no matter what you do. Jesus is the single most controversial figure in the history of humanity because He dared to love everyone, just because He is love. Jesus is the Friend walking beside you on your darkest day, holding you in your darkest hour, celebrating with you at life’s joys. Jesus is the guy standing there smiling at you when you give a nickel to the homeless guy on the corner who’s begging for money. Jesus is the beginning and the end, the answer to all of life’s questions.

Jesus is the Son of God, the King of all. And He loves you. THAT is the point of it all.

Do you know that Man?