Friday, May 28, 2010


“The Lord says, ‘Am I not storing up these things, sealing them away in my treasury? I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time, their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’”

- Deuteronomy 32:34-35

Have you ever felt assaulted, beaten down, drained? Life seems to just be too hard at times. Pain seems to be everywhere you turn. You open your eyes to a new day and the pain comes rushing in, the feeling of chaos and numbness just blasts you before you can even get out of bed.

Doesn’t it feel sometimes like there is something out there that is just against you, derailing your life? There are days when it seems as though someone is out to get you, to steal your life and your joy, right?

Those feelings are all true. There is something out to get you. There is someone who hates you with a hatred you cannot imagine. There is someone who wants to steal your life and kill your joy. You are under attack. We have an enemy. His name is Satan and he’s not alone. He’s coming after you and he’s bringing his little demonic friends with him.

I think it is very important that we recognize a couple of things here. First, we need to redefine our source of Life. Our only source of Life is God. Period. Without Him, there is no Life. Secondly, we need to recognize spiritual warfare for what it is. We live in a world at war. We have an enemy and he hates us.

I watched a movie again recently. I have seen this movie several times but this last time, Jesus showed up and said, “Let’s turn the dial here and look at this through another lens.” It changed my perspective on some things in the movie. The movie is named ‘Man on Fire’. The main character is a man named John Creasey, played by Denzel Washington. Creasey, as he’s called in the movie, is a haunted, broken man. He cannot get away from the pain, violence and shame of his life. So, he has done what many do. He surrenders his heart; he drowns his pain in booze and self-loathing. Until…

He is hired as a bodyguard for a wealthy family. His job is to protect their daughter, Lupita Ramos. Pita, as she is called in the movie, is played by Dakota Fanning. Pita is a precocious, vibrant little girl. Her innocence and child-like joy in life awakens Creasey’s heart. He crawls out of the dark and learns to love again. Then, tragedy strikes. Pita is kidnapped and presumed dead. Creasey is badly wounded during the abduction.

When he receives the news of what is believed to be Pita’s death, Creasey is crushed. His rage is palpable. He vows to have his vengeance. Through the course of the rest of the movie, Creasey takes that vengeance on those responsible for the abduction. He completely dismantles a criminal organization. With cold-blooded, brutal efficiency, he finds those responsible. He tortures and kills all who had a hand in what he believes is the death of the person who taught him to love again.

How like Jesus this is.

We too were innocent and vibrant once.


Before we were assaulted and our innocence and joy stolen. Violated, attacked, ravaged by the enemy, by pain and fear.

Jesus vow vengeance. Don’t believe me? Read Revelation 19:11-21. Our Warrior-King is coming to rescue us, to avenge our losses. He will have His vengeance on the enemy. Read that passage, look at the images. The passage speaks of His robe dipped in blood. It speaks of Him waging war with our enemy. And when that war is over, He will have His revenge. He will throw the leaders in the enemy camp alive into a burning lake of fire and kill the rest with the sword of His word coming from His mouth.

That, my friends, is vengeance.

Do you know that God is angry about what has happened to you? Do you know that He is angry for the pain caused by the enemy? Throughout the movie, Creasey is haunted by the sound of Pita screaming his name. God is listening, my friends. He too, I believe, is haunted by our cries of pain, weeps at the echo of us screaming His name. He is coming to take that pain away. It might not happen immediately. Pita was in captivity for several days but was rescued in the end. He will rescue you. Perhaps not now but one day, He is coming again.

In the latter part of the movie, Creasey’s friend Ray says this about Creasey, “Creasey’s art is death and he’s about to paint his masterpiece.”

Jesus is coming for you, my friends, to rescue your hearts. Jesus’ art is redemption and He is about to paint His masterpiece!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Choices Of Maturity

I am reading in Hebrews right now. In my study Bible, there is this little blurb on the page where chapter 5 is. I found this to be do true, I wanted to share it. So, enjoy.

"Mature Choices Vs. Immature Choices

Teaching others rather than just being taught

Developing depth of understanding rather than struggling with the basics

Self evaluation rather than self criticism

Seeking unity rather than promoting disunity

Desiring spiritual challenges rather than desiring entertainment

Careful study & observation rather than opinions and half hearted efforts

Active faith rather than cautious apathy and doubt

Confidence rather than fear

Feelings and experiences
evaluated in the light of God's Word rather than experiences evaluated
according to feelings

One way to evaluate spiritual maturity is by looking at the choices we make."

So...what do your choices say about you and your maturity? What do my choices say about me and my spiritual maturity? Yeah, kinda uncomfortable, isn't it?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Alone in the dark…
Silence pierced
by shrieking pain,
hissing hate.
Shredded by loathing,
torn by lies,
bound by chains,
crawling, screaming my rage.
Then, You came.
Light pierced,
strains of Love’s music
brought comfort, company,
Quiet shoutings, whispers
of Joy, Truth!
Awash in the Light
of Your smile,
chains crumble, walls shatter.
Weeping at Your embrace,
fingers of grace brush over my heart,
bringing Freedom,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.””

- Jeremiah 6:16

Ever get lost? You’re driving around or worse yet, you’re out hiking in a forested wilderness and you get turned around. To be lost in the woods is a terribly lonely feeling. It can be kind of a panicky feeling, if you let it. I’ve been lost. I’ve also discovered that I am one of the few men on the planet who don’t seem to have a problem admitting I’m lost and ask for directions.

I can remember when I was younger – before I met Jesus. I used to say I was looking for “the answers”. Whatever that means. Funny thing is, I don’t really think I was asking any questions. I think I was mostly running around shooting my mouth off about stuff I had no idea about. I really want to give Jesus a round of applause when I see Him face-to-face. He has really put up with a lot of crap out of me. I’d have struck me dead years ago. Anyways, answers…

I used to say all the time, ‘I don’t understand’, or ‘Why is this happening’ and so on. Then, I met Jesus. He became my friend. He showed me a book He wrote for me. A book with answers.

God keeps bringing me back to this verse in Jeremiah. Recently, I’ve been getting a really consistent message from Him of holiness, purity. So, this verse keeps coming back to me so I thought I should probably pay attention. So, I thought I’d dissect it a bit.

“Stand at the crossroads…” This is pretty straightforward, right? Whatever proverbial crossroads you are at currently, stop there. Just chill for a sec, relax. Stop all the running around and fussin’ and get still. “Be still and know that I am God!” Ring a bell? (Ps. 46:10) How can we hear Him speak if we won’t just stop and be still?

“…and look around.” Again, pretty simple. Pay attention is what I think He’s saying. People say to me, “God doesn’t speak to me.” Yes, He does. It’s just that we don’t pay attention. We don’t look around, we don’t listen. He may just speak through someone else, a song, a sunset, a moment with your family. He is everywhere. Look for Him.

“Ask for the old, godly way…” God hasn’t been around since before time began because He’s bored, you know. There is a reason, a purpose in everything He has said and done since before time began. Perhaps we should heed His word. Oh, and if you’re wondering what the old godly way is? He had it written down for you. It’s called the Bible.

“…and walk in it. Travel its path…” Have you seen the movie The Matrix? There is a line in that movie that perfectly illustrates this. Neo has been given a message from the oracle, a message he interprets one way. During a conversation with Morpheus, Neo says that the oracle told him he wasn’t “the one”, the savior they had hoped for. Morpheus says to Neo, “Neo, sooner or later, you’re going to have to realize just as I did there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” Wow.

A lot of truth there. See, there are a lot of people who have “knowledge”. But they don’t follow. They “know” the path on an intellectual basis. But it has not changed their course. The path, the way of Christ, is not to be known. It is to be traveled. Jesus didn’t say ‘be smart and well educated Christians’. No, He said, “Follow Me.” In other words, walk in it. Travel His path.

“…and you will find rest for your souls.” Isn’t this what we’re all looking for? Peace? Jesus uses these same words in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Here’s what I’ve found. As I’ve stopped at my crossroads, I have gotten still before Him. I am learning to listen and pay attention. He is teaching me, guiding me in His word and by His Spirit in the godly way. I am learning, and it is a process, but I am learning to walk in His path.

Sometimes slowly.
Sometimes I stop.
Sometimes I step backwards.
Sometimes I step off the path.

But, He is there. Beside me.


I’ve found that my “answers” don’t matter anymore. What matters is His presence. Ah…rest for my soul. Peace!

Would you care to take a walk?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Death of Lazarus

“The world, knowing how all our real investments are beyond the grave, might expect us to be less concerned than other people who go in for what is called Higher Thought and tell us that ‘death doesn’t matter’; but we ‘are not high-minded’, and we follow One who stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus – not, surely, because He was grieved that Mary and Martha wept, and sorrowed for their lack of faith (though some thus interpret) but because death, the punishment of sin, is even more horrible in His eyes than in ours. The nature which He had created as God, the nature which He had assumed as Man, lay there before Him in its ignominy; a foul smell, food for worms. Though He was to revive it a moment later, He wept at the shame…Of all men, we hope most of death; yet nothing will reconcile us to – well, its unnaturalness. We know that we were not made for it; we know how it crept into our destiny as an intruder; and we know Who has defeated it. Because our Lord is risen we know that on one level it is an enemy already disarmed; but because we know that the natural level also is God’s creation we cannot cease to fight against the death which mars it, as against all other blemishes upon it, against pain and poverty, barbarism and ignorance. Because we love something more than this world we love even this world better than those who know no other.”

C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Friday, May 7, 2010

The D Word

There is a word out there that, when you use it, people cringe. I’ve literally had people make a ‘pain face’ at me when I say it. And I don’t get it. I don’t understand why this concept is so difficult for people. It seems especially difficult for those who claim to follow Christ.


There, I said it.

The funny part is that some of you reading this actually mentally flinched when you read that word. Let’s be honest, we suck at instilling and keeping discipline in our lives. Among the many irons I have in the fire, I am a CrossFit trainer. It never ceases to amaze me when I speak to people about their physical well-being. They will freely admit that they need to be in better shape, need to lose weight, need to control their diet. Yet, when I begin to try and coach them on it, they say things like, “Oh yeah, that sounds hard. Sounds like a lot of work.” Or my personal favorite, “I don’t have time for all that.” That one makes me want to slap people.

But let’s not stop there. If we are to follow Christ, we must have discipline as well. Why do we run from the idea of spiritual discipline? Why do we find it so hard to deny ourselves what we know is wrong, detrimental to our relationship with Him? We don’t really want to deny ourselves something, right? It’s not that bad after all, we say. But then, when we get sloppy and lazy in our relationship with Jesus, things in our lives get sloppy and lazy. And then, we have the audacity to question Him about why our lives are so jacked up.

I love Jeremiah chapter two. Read that and you’ll see God’s frustration with His people. He’s like, “Dude, how many times do I have to tell you? You abandoned me, you don’t want to listen to me, not the other way around. I never left. You did.”

When did we lose the fear of God? When did we lose that sense of awe in the presence of the Creator? But I digress…

I’m reading in I Timothy right now and the idea of discipline keeps popping up. Paul is counseling and mentoring this young pastor Timothy. Paul uses a lot of chapter 4 to counsel Timothy on how to live out his faith. Starting in verse 7, “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promises benefits in this life and the life to come.”

Training for godliness. What a concept.

I love how the Message phrases that passage, “Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.” I love it…spiritual flabbiness. Are you spiritually flabby?

Paul goes on to tell Timothy in the latter part of verse 12, “…Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity.” And he closes out chapter 4 with this final encouragement, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”

“Keep a close watch on how you live…”

Discipline. Now, lest we trivialize this, I’m not talking about not cussing or smoking cigarettes. This is much deeper than that. Our lives should look so different from non-believers, our attitude so other-worldly, our love so bright that people stop and wonder at the presence of Something different in our lives. Jesus did say we are to be salt and light to the world, after all.

I know this is hard. But is it harder than living in slavery to our sin? It’s hard for me as well, at least in my own power it is. So, let’s not try to do it on our own. Let’s hitch our wagon to His star and just see where He takes us. We might just find that this is a lot easier if we allow Him to do the heavy lifting of changing our hearts.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

- Isaiah 6:8

I learned something this last weekend. I am active in a men’s ministry here where I live in Indiana. The Father has used this ministry to touch my heart and speak healing into my life so I love what these men do, the war we wage for the heart of men, for the Kingdom. So, I went to this retreat this last weekend as a small group leader. Now, my job as the ‘platoon leader’ is merely to facilitate, ask questions and draw out conversation. As I arrived, I spent some time talking to the Father. I said, “Lord, I just want to be with You. I don’t want to take your place in these men’s hearts. I just want to be a vessel. Use me as You will.”

So, the men arrive and the weekend kicks off. This is a powerful message we bring to these men. We bring a message of freedom in Christ, real life in Him, healing for wounds and what it means to be a son of God. To say that powerful things happen is seriously minimizing it. We know that He will be there, we just have to show up and listen to what He has to say. We have to accept His healing, His love and His direction. This is not always easy for men.

I want to tell you the story of James. He was a man in my platoon this last weekend. James is a few years older than me. James’ wife paid for him to come this last weekend because she could see that he needed his heart back. So, James came. Like a lot of the men who show up, they know they’re fine, they don’t have any wounds. It’s all good in their world, ya know? James told me later that, when he first met me, he didn’t like what he saw. He thought I was a punk with way too many tattoos and that I had nothing to say to him. James was right in one sense. I had nothing to say to him.

But Jesus had a couple of things to say to James.

I watched on Thursday and Friday as Jesus came crashing into the wall James had built around his heart. I watched as the love of Jesus took down that wall, brick by brick. James had a lot of darkness in his past, some deep deep wounds. James was chained to his past, a slave to guilt and shame. I could see that as clearly as I see the screen of my computer. I watched as James wept his sorrow. I also watched as James refused to talk about the deepest darkness in his heart. He couldn’t go there, he wouldn’t go there.

See, the deepest darkest corners of our hearts are often ugly. It is dark and cold there. It is painful to pull that out, put some light on it and face it. Satan has told us that our hearts are dark, we are nothing but filthy sinners who deserve to be in pain. What a lie!

Saturday night, James and I sat on the porch of our cabin and talked into the night. I was able to share a part of my story with him so that he would understand me a bit, where I was coming from, how dark my own heart had been, how wounded I had been. I wanted him to know that there is Freedom from the pain, there is Life for the taking. James looked right into my eyes and was able to speak some deep truths into my own heart. It was a good conversation. As we realized it was getting late, I stood up to go to bed. I heard His whisper in my heart, “Speak to your brother James of his pain. Tell him to lay it down.” So, I did. I said, “James, I know you don’t want to talk about some things in your past and I get that. But, one day, you must lay this down if you are to experience real peace. God has already forgiven you but you have to forgive yourself and let it go.”

The response was not what I expected. James literally emotionally imploded right before my eyes. He began to weep uncontrollably, sobbing and shaking. He could barely speak out of the pain in his heart but I could hear him saying, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” God showed up in that moment. We sat and talked some more and James confessed his pain, spoke of the burden he had carried for many, many years. I asked him, “James, do you want to be free from this? Do you want to be healed? He is here and He wants to heal you, to take this for you. You can’t carry this, let Him.” He looked at me with tears streaming down his face and said, “Yes, with all my heart, I want this.” I was honored to lay hands on him and lead him in a prayer of healing. I watched as God made a new man that night.

I have chills even now recounting the story. Never doubt the power of the moment you are in, my friends. Listen to the voice of God and He will speak. I witnessed the new birth of a man and it was awesome.

Sunday rolled around and we were wrapping up the retreat so we could return to our own individual battlefields. There was another man at the retreat who wanted to be baptized into a new life of freedom so down to the water we went. After he was baptized, Mike (our leader) looked into the crowd of us standing beside the pond and said, “I’m already wet. Who else?” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw James start taking his shoes and shirt off. As he walked to the edge of the pond, he was crying and said to Mike, “I am free. I want to be raised into new life.” Mike smiled at him and said, “Well, come on then.” Then, something happened that even now moves me to tears. James pointed at me standing in the front row and said, “I want you to do it.” Before I could even think, I realized I was taking my shoes off. I walked to the edge of the pond and James wrapped me up in a big hug. I have to admit, I had some tears in my eyes as well. Into the water we went. I don’t remember exactly what I said to James before Mike and I baptized him. There were words about slavery, freedom and healing. I don’t remember thinking about what I was saying, it just came out of somewhere inside me, from Someone inside me.

To describe that moment is impossible to do in words. This story is about James but it’s about me as well. When James came up out of the water, I felt something that I cannot describe. I felt not only James’ embrace but I felt the embrace of the Father on my heart. In the smile of James, God smiled at me and said, “Thanks for being available.”

Know this. Wherever you are, He wants to use you. He will use you, if only you will be available. And, if you’re not there but if you are like James, drowning in your pain and darkness, lay it down. Come back to the Light and He will set you free. There is no pain He cannot heal, no darkness He cannot bring light to. Lay it down at His feet. He will carry it for you.