This Day Ain’t Big Enough for the Two of Us!

Mark 2:18-22 – Questions About Fasting

Do you notice that these guys keeping asking Jesus why?  They are obviously not getting the message that He is ushering in a whole knew way of thinking and living.  Apparently, the Jews still had periods of fasting over calamities in the past like the destruction of the Temple hundreds of years before.  They seemed to be living a life of mourning.  I have just uncovered a YouTube video of some Pharisees discussing their difficult lives.

In the Sermon on the mount, Jesus warned us to not be anxious for tomorrow. I think here he is sort of saying, forget all garbage in the past.  Not only that, He is saying let go of all the garbage from today because today is a day full of hope because He has brought us a whole new day.  The Kingdom is here and you cannot process this new day with old ways of thinking.

http://sardonicsalad.com/
http://sardonicsalad.com/

Last week, I noticed that the gallon of milk in the fridge was about empty so I picked up a new one.  When I was getting it out of the car, I dropped it.  I did not notice that the bottle had broken until I got inside and it was dripping all over my leg (The same leg I had just poured my coffee on, I was now officially a latte).  I did not want to lose that gallon of milk, so I poured out the old milk and poured in the new.  Who would figure that just the residual old milk would cause the new milk to go bad 10 days before the new expiration date?  So not only did I lose the new milk, I lost the rest of the old milk and a bowl of cereal.

Most days, I am pretty sure that I have some residual milk inside of me that has past expiration date. Regret hangs on to spoil any new joy that God pours into me and pretty much wrecks a day full of hope.  On other days, I rest on the laurels of yesterdays actions and leave no room for the blessings of today.

Jesus has a perfectly sized, newly resurrected day with new manna waiting for me each and every morning.  There is no room for yesterday’s expired blessings and problems nor tomorrows worries.

Father thank you for this new day with all of it’s hope and opportunity.  Fill me up with a batch of You and let me empty it all out on a world that needs you so that I am ready for a new batch tomorrow.

Chillin’ in His Crib

Mark 2:13-17  – Jesus Calls Levi

Capernaum Israel

I have to admit that it is still blowing me away that I never noticed this.  I have no idea how many times I have read the gospels and if you count the sermons and discussions about them, one would have thought I would have picked up on such an important fact.  Second time in two days …

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. (Mark 2:15)

He was in His house!  He invited these cats into His house!   I always thought of Him going into other peoples houses.  I actually kind of thought of Him as sort of homeless. It might actually be Peter’s house, but He was at least at home in this place.

So who cares?  Why is this a big deal? Maybe to some of you it is not.  Many of you may go out, make friends with questionable characters and then bring them home with you? It is one thing to go hang out at the rescue mission, it is entirely different to bring those fellows back to your crib. (I don’t really talk like this, I am just trying to expand my vocabulary).

Of course, Jesus probably did not have much in the way of material possessions, to worry about (which is kind of a point in itself), and no wife or children to protect so this might have been no big deal to Him.  We already know that He was not too worried about what people thought, so His reputation was not a concern. So maybe there is not much of a comparison between Jesus and me.  After all I have a family, electronics, and standing in my church to be concerned with. (Sarcasm is a virtue … I keep telling myself that)

Seriously, when I think of the heart of Jesus, I think of someone that goes out brings people in just as they are.  He does not go out, heal and restore them and then bring them in.   At this point, Jesus has called 5 people, 3 fisherman and a tax collector.  He took the fishermen from their boats and a tax collector from his toll booth, right where the were living.  No probationary period, no qualification … He just took them in, wrapped His arms around them and loved them.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Matt 23:37)

I am not really talking about opening my house up to anyone that I might run across in my life. As a man with a family, I do have to be discerning when exposing my family to outside influences.  I do however have to open my heart to those around me.  Jesus did not pre-qualify people before building relationships and neither should I.

GoldilocksI hate that my mind is continually sizing up (judging) those around me.  Some are too high and lofty and others are to low and disgusting for me.  I am looking for the ones that are “just right”.  Ones I can handle and are not going to drag me down.

Good News … Jesus set a table for me and anyone I want to bring.  He has already sent the invitations.  Until I overcome my own insecurities, I can just bring everyone to His house.

Seriously Man? You Gonna’ Cut My Roof?

Mark 2:1-12 Jesus Heals the Paralytic

Let’s set the stage here:

paparazzi imagesJesus has gone home for the first time since starting his public ministry.  As we saw yesterday, despite trying to keep it under wraps for a little while, the cleansed leper has leaked it to the press and now everybody has heard that Jesus is doing some really amazing things. Hordes of people want to see what all the fuss is out.  The house is full of people wanting a piece of the action. It is not just people wanting a touch from God.  The paparazzi as well as the main stream media (scribes) are hanging around as well trying to get the scoop or bring the hammer down. We can see a little more why Jesus wanted to put this off a little while … can’t a guy get a little privacy!  But that is not the point today.

Through the roofThe house is backed up out the door.  You know there is always going to be “that guy”!  The desperate dude that just can’t wait his turn. (I know the traffic is backed up and the left lane is ending … I will zoom up to the front and force my way in) So these guys take their buddy up to the roof, cut a hole and lower him down to Jesus.  Seriously?  How long has this guy been paralyzed?  He couldn’t wait until Jesus came out?  Catch him on the way to the outhouse or something.  And another thing … whose house is this?  I don’t know this for sure, but the text says Jesus was at home … this was His house.  Dudes, you just cut a hole in the Son of God’s house, really?  You are doing demolition over His head and He don’t even have a hard hat. Give me break!

Most of the time I have heard someone preach about this story, it has been centered around the faith of these guys and their persistence.  Actually, I think the guys were rude, impatient, and inconsiderate!  I think instead of healing the one guy, I might have considered sending out 5 paralytics.  Jesus did not just decide , “hmmm, I think I will push the limits here and say your sins are forgiven instead of be healed”.  These guys had just committed sin right there in front of everyone. Forgiveness of sin was definitely in order.

What a new concept!  We do not have to be bound by sin … our own sin or the sins of others.  If Jesus had allowed justice to be served, not only would this guy not have been healed, but he and his friends would have been carted off to jail.  By releasing them (forgiving them) He was free to bring healing and restoration.

How often do I find myself withholding love from others because of some offense that I have held onto?  Something as simple as a tone of voice or an eye roll can set me off.  Just this week, I withheld blessing from my son for a petty little attitude that he did not even know about.  I am not saying that we should ignore sin. Sin has consequences and that can not be ignored.  (It would not surprise me in the least to find that Jesus immediately sent those guys up to repair the roof.)  The Good News is that sin does not have to bind us from pouring love, compassion and blessing into the lives of others.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 8:5)

Father, show me how to see through sin like Jesus so that I can bring the amazing love and grace of Your Good News to everyone I can.

Ready or Not

Mark 1:35-45  Healing of the Leper  (Not really the point) Image from: http://souljournaler.blogspot.com/ I mostly read the English Standard Version. Why? Because I like it. I am beginning to appreciate different translations more and more.  Many will debate the accuracy of this one, the readability of that one, and the intent of another … blah, blah, blah. It all makes me realize  the  sovereignty God and how amazing His Word really is.  His amazing love and grace is not limited by our ability to read or hear, much less our ability to write or properly interpret dead languages. No offense to those who have dedicated their life to reading, interpreting, translating and teaching classical biblical languages.  My son-in-law and many others in my family have made this their life’s work and have touched many lives through their pursuit.   God uses them to provide us with new insights and perspectives from an unchanging God to an ever changing people.  My point?  If God wants to speak to me and my need out of a translation or paraphrase translated and written by an ass, well, it would not be the first time.

All of this to say that a word in verse 35 jumped out at me … ­’desolate’.

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

This word is not used in any other translation that I could find. It is usually translated with ‘lonely’ or ‘deserted’ or a close synonym.  ‘Desolate’ may very well be a “bad” translation, but it said something to me.

des•o•late [adj. des-uh-lit; v. des-uh-leyt] Show IPA adjective, verb, des•o•lat•ed,des•o•lat•ing. adjective

  1. barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape
  2. deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
  3. solitary; lonely: a desolate place.
  4. having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
  5. dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects.     (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desolate)

droughtJesus had just made the decision to take the show on the road, so to speak. Knowing that a small town ministry was about to explode may have added to the reality of the task at hand. He needed to be ready and these fisherman he had gathered were not going to be much help. so He had to go to the only One that could give Him comfort and assurance.  When I see the word ‘desolate’ I see Jesus’s humanity.  He knew what was coming and like in the garden later on, He was not relishing this next step.  If you were Him and could see into the future for the next 3 years, how would you picture the landscape?  #5 dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects. or perhaps #1 barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape.  How would you feel? #4 having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.

The place that he went to pray may not have been any of these things, but seeing the path laid before Him, I can imagine that when He fell on the ground before His Father, the landscape of prayer that He found himself in may have pretty desolate.  Did He really expect that leper He healed in verses 41 & 42 to keep quiet?  Maybe, He was hoping that He could buy a little more time before things kicked into high gear.  Maybe not, but I know that I would be scrambling for a little more time!

I am sort of a morning person. The peace and beauty of the morning, with the gentle sounds of birds or rain or wind, allow me to feel God’s presence in a special way.  Unless …

‘Then lead on!’ said Boromir. “But it is perilous.’ 
      ‘Perilous indeed,’ said Aragorn, ‘fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them.’ (JRR Tolkien: Fellowship of the Ring)

Although it may not be evil that I bring with me to the Lord, (obviously it was not evil that Jesus brought) but the landscape of prayer that I enter is often dark and dismal because of the fear, doubt, and burdens that I bring.  Sometimes those quiet mornings become pretty creepy and that place of peace seems pretty desolate.  When I feel unprepared or unqualified for a task before, I often catch myself doing a little prayer dance around the issue.

I think God understands that I bring these things with me to the prayer closet and He rejoices that I am there.  I don’t always get off my knees fired up to enter the fray, but I get up knowing that He is with me.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11,12)

Ready or Not – Facing the Future

Mark 1:35-45  Healing of the Leper  (Not really the point) Image from: http://souljournaler.blogspot.com/ I mostly read the English Standard Version. Why? Because I like it. I am beginning to appreciate different translations more and more.  Many will debate the accuracy of this one, the readability of that one, and the intent of another … blah, blah, blah. It all makes me realize  the  sovereignty of God and how amazing His Word really is.  His amazing love and grace is not limited by our ability to read or hear, much less our ability to write or properly interpret dead languages. No offense to those who have dedicated their lives to reading, interpreting, translating and teaching classical biblical languages.  My son-in-law and many others in my family have made this their live’s work and have touched many lives through their pursuit.   God uses them to provide us with new insights and perspectives from an unchanging God to an ever-changing people.  My point?  If God wants to speak to me and my need out through a translation or paraphrase translated and written by an ass, well, it would not be the first time. (maybe it is written in my language)

All of this to say that a word in verse 35 jumped out at me … ­’desolate’. (New American Standard)

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 New American Standard Version)

This word is not used in any other translation that I could find. It is usually translated with ‘lonely’ or ‘deserted’ or a close synonym.  ‘Desolate’ may very well be a “bad” translation, but it said something to me.

des•o•late [adj. des-uh-lit; v. des-uh-leyt] Show IPA adjective, verb, des•o•lat•ed,des•o•lat•ing. adjective

  1. barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape
  2. deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
  3. solitary; lonely: a desolate place.
  4. having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
  5. dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects.     (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desolate)

droughtJesus had just made the decision to take the show on the road, so to speak. Knowing that a small town ministry was about to explode may have added to the reality of the task at hand. He needed to be ready and these fisherman he had gathered were not going to be much help, so He had to go to the only One that could give Him comfort and assurance.  When I see the word ‘desolate’ I see Jesus’s humanity.  He knew what was coming and, like in the garden later on, He was not relishing this next step.  If you were Him and could see into the future for the next 3 years, how would you picture the landscape?  #5 dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects. or perhaps #1 barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape.  How would you feel? #4 having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.

The place that he went to pray may not have been any of these things, but seeing the path laid before Him, I can imagine that when He fell on the ground before His Father, the landscape of prayer that He found himself in may have been pretty desolate.  Did He really expect that leper He healed in verses 41 & 42 to keep quiet?  Maybe He hoped the He could buy a little more time before things kicked into high gear. Maybe not … but I know that I would be scrambling for a little more time if I were Him!

I am sort of a morning person. The peace and beauty of the morning, with the gentle sounds of birds or rain or wind, allow me to feel God’s presence in a special way.  Unless …

‘Then lead on!’ said Boromir. “But it is perilous.’ 
      ‘Perilous indeed,’ said Aragorn, ‘fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them.’ (JRR Tolkien: Fellowship of the Ring)

Although it may not be evil that I bring with me to the Lord, (obviously it was not evil that Jesus brought) but the landscape of prayer that I enter is often dark and dismal because of the fear, doubt, and burdens that I bring.  Sometimes those quiet mornings become pretty creepy and that place of peace seems pretty desolate.  When I feel unprepared or unqualified for a task before, I often catch myself doing a little prayer dance around the issue.

I think God understands that I bring these things with me to the prayer closet and He rejoices that I am there.  I don’t always get off my knees fired up to enter the fray, but I get up knowing that He is with me.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11,12)

Catching Up – Good News with Mark & Me

Mark for EveryoneI am going to start posting my daily reading and thoughts as a blog entry.  I have structured this like I would train for distance running, short hard sprints during the week with long runs on the weekend. I am taking it small bites so don’t be intimidated.  Anyone can handle 6 to 10 verses/day.  I have adapted the plan to match Tom Wright’s book “Mark for Everyone” which is a great companion for those of us who are a little rusty in our Greek. (By rusty I mean, “it is all Greek to me” kind of rusty).  I started 5 days ago so if you want to catch-up, here are the first 5 days of “my take”.  The weekends are open for catch-up, review, and/or additional study.   I welcome civil comments and reply’s.

Mark 1:1-8 – The Preaching of John the Baptist:

I  love the way Mark and John jump right into the Good News! They are not trying to give us blow-by-blow of the life and times of Jesus, but they want to immerse us in God’s desire to bring us into fellowship with Him through His son.

bed_head_cartoon_girl_ipad_covers-p176104248310747489bhar2_400Israel has been basically asleep for hundreds of years and they are only hanging on as a people through traditions and customs.  The idea of a living God that walks with His people is just distant memory and hope is has turned to despair in most of the nation. Along comes this crazy man with a super-soaker imploring them to shake off the sleep, get cleaned up,  and get ready to be set free!

Some days I get up and take a shower because my hair is sticking to my head and I feel just disgusting. There are also days when I took a shower the night before and yet I still jump in the shower just so I can wake up! (Don’t judge my waste of hot water, I am a work in progress). Likewise, many times I need to repent because I am dirty with sin, other times I need to wash off complacency and just wake-up to the promises and responsibilities that God has placed before me.

I am so glad that He comes new every day. I need to be prepared for the new work He is going to do today!

Mark 1:9-13 Jesus Baptism

Mark is continues the story of the Good News to us.

Jesus walks out His trust in His Father and His Father showers His love on Him. He shows Him the plan, affirms Him, empowers Him, and then deploys Him into the work. Even though Jesus is immediately challenged and opposed, the Father continues to provide help along the way.

Now … If this were just a historical account it would be great, but it is more. This is the Good News! This was not a one-time event meant for Jesus alone. God wants to do the same thing for me! When I place my faith in Him, it is His desire to open my eyes, affirm me, shower His love on me, empower me, and then deploy me into a world that needs to know Him. As opposition arises, He continues to provide the needed help.

Take Away:

1)    I need to live in the realization that Jesus set an example for me as a son and to walk with the assurance that God is pleased with who I am.

2)    My Father God has set the example for me as a Dad and that I need to affirm, love, empower and deploy my own children and then continue to lovingly support them.

I love Good News.

Mark 1:14-20 Getting Started and Getting Help

The Good News starts with a call to repentance and Jesus picked up where John left off.   His call to repentance was much more radical than John’s. More than a turning away from sin, Jesus was calling for turning to a new way of thinking and living. “Immediately” he goes and calls a bunch of fisherman away from the life and family they knew and set them on a completely new path. He did not grab a bunch of guys schooled in Jewish tradition and scripture and then try to redirect them; He grabbed people that would require a completely change in direction. The old life could not be in the peripheral vision to distract them from the kingdom life that He would present to them.

Some months back, I questioned a brother on a social ideology that is often held by Christians these days, that do not seem to line up with the character of Jesus. His response was that if he is wrong then everything he ever learned was wrong. That made me start wondering if many of my strong beliefs were founded in Christian culture and tradition, or are they actually kingdom principals.

So I am going through a process of “repenting” of my old life and the culture that formed the old me and continues to try and mold me in it’s image. I want to get out of the boat and follow Jesus without looking back. I pray that each day as I roll out of bed that I will fix my eyes on Him and leave yesterday’s Chuck behind.

Mark 1:21-34 – Authority

LY Spear imagesYes, another BOB story (Back-on-the-boat) … My second ship was a submarine tender, the USS L.Y. Spear. Our job was to support and repair submarines in port. After completing a long, complicated maintenance process on one submarine, we had turned the ship back over to ships force for testing. (as usual with submarine stories, I would give you more info, but then I would have to kill you). Years of training and experience prepare these sailors to be highly proficient in the operations of reactor and propulsion equipment and even to perform routine testing and maintenance. This testing evolution was far from routine. About 9:30 we received a cal that the ship had experienced a “significant problem” in their testing which required our assistance. As the department lead I reported to the Officer-in-Charge to get a report on the emergency. It was obvious that this problem was beyond their experience and training and they were in disarray. With his permission, my team took control of the situation and were able to quickly assess, stabilize and recover the situation.

It was not normal for us to assume authority aboard a vessel outside our command, but our training and experience prepared us for just these types of situation and the officer in charge immediately recognized this and surrendered his authority to us.

Jesus was fully prepared and empowered to deal with all of the problems of a sinful world. He healed and restored all who came to Him and surrendered their authority to Him. More than that, He has even offered to passed that authority on.

Take Away:

1)    There are many area of my life that are a mess only because I have not surrendered my own authority to Him. (Lordship)

2)       I lack authority in the lives of others because I have not been diligent in allowing Christ to lead, prepare, and train me for the task set before us. (Discipleship)

3)       I was able to easily take charge aboard the submarine because I was confident of my preparation and that of my team. I need to have that same confidence in my walk with Christ if I am ever going to be able to fully take on the authority that He has entrusted to me.

DQPO – Avoiding the Altar

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”


Excerpt From: A. W. Tozer. “The Pursuit of God With Devotional Guide.”

DumbQuestions Training was a big part of my time in the Navy. We always had “that guy” in class deemed the DQPO (Dumb Question Petty Officer). Many of his questions seemed to cover information that everyone should have known or that displayed his complete lack of understanding of clearly stated information. Class and instructor alike groaned when his hand went up, yet he was undaunted and continued his quest for knowledge.

Despite the groans, we all knew that he was a vital part of training and many secretly envied his tenacity, boldness, and thick skin. Our thirst for knowledge was not great enough to overcome our pride and fear.

Image from: http://www.markandlauraward.com
Image from: http://www.markandlauraward.com

So what about those people who seem to be at the altar every week agonizing over the most simple life issues? They cry at the drop of a hat and rejoice about simple everyday victories (over and over). We groan when they offer to pray, knowing that we will undoubtedly have to endure run-on and redundant prayers that are often offered in broken King James English or a completely disregard the English language. Of course … we all know that they are a vital part of the body of Christ and secretly wish that we too had that kind of persistence, courage, and desire.

And yet …there I sit.

Struggling with depression, buried in financial woes of my making, hating my job, physically in pain, worried about the direction of my children, wondering what could revitalize my marriage … and ignoring the obvious call from the only One who can set me free. Pride and fear has overcome my thirst for The Savior and has planted my butt firmly in my seat, avoiding the altar at all costs.

” I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. “

DQPO

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”


Excerpt From: A. W. Tozer. “The Pursuit of God With Devotional Guide.”

DumbQuestions Training was a big part of my time in the Navy. We always had “that guy” in class deemed the DQPO (Dumb Question Petty Officer). Many of his questions seemed to cover information that everyone should have known or that displayed his complete lack of understanding of clearly stated information. Class and instructor alike groaned when his hand went up, yet he was undaunted and continued his quest for knowledge.

Despite the groans, we all knew that he was a vital part of training and many secretly envied his tenacity, boldness, and thick skin. Our thirst for knowledge was not great enough to overcome our pride and fear.

Image from: http://www.markandlauraward.com
Image from: http://www.markandlauraward.com

So what about those people that seem to be at the altar every week agonizing over the most simple life issues? They cryat the drop of a hat and rejoice about simple everyday victories (over and over again). We groan when they offer to pray, knowing that we will undoubtedly have to endure run-on and redundant prayers that are often offered in broken King James English or a completely disregards the English language. Of course … we all know that they are a vital part of the body of Christ and secretly wish that we too had that kind of persistence, courage, and desire.


And yet …there I sit.
Struggling with depression, buried in financial woes of my own making, hating my job, physically in pain, worried about the direction of my children, wondering what could revitalize my marriage … and ignoring the obvious call from the only One who can set me free. Pride and fear has overcome my thirst for The Savior and has planted my butt firmly in my seat avoiding that altar at all costs.

” I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. “

DQPO

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”


Excerpt From: A. W. Tozer. “The Pursuit of God With Devotional Guide.”

DumbQuestions Training was a big part of my time in the Navy. We always had “that guy” in class deemed the DQPO (Dumb Question Petty Officer). Many of his questions seemed to cover information that everyone should have known or that displayed his complete lack of understanding of clearly stated information. Class and instructor alike groaned when his hand went up, yet he was undaunted and continued his quest for knowledge.

Despite the groans, we all knew that he was a vital part of training and many secretly envied his tenacity, boldness, and thick skin. Our thirst for knowledge was not great enough to overcome our pride and fear.

Image from: http://www.markandlauraward.com
Image from: http://www.markandlauraward.com

So what about those people that seem to be at the altar every week agonizing over the most simple life issues? They cryat the drop of a hat and rejoice about simple everyday victories (over and over again). We groan when they offer to pray, knowing that we will undoubtedly have to endure run-on and redundant prayers that are often offered in broken King James English or a completely disregards the English language. Of course … we all know that they are a vital part of the body of Christ and secretly wish that we too had that kind of persistence, courage, and desire.


And yet …there I sit.
Struggling with depression, buried in financial woes of my own making, hating my job, physically in pain, worried about the direction of my children, wondering what could revitalize my marriage … and ignoring the obvious call from the only One who can set me free. Pride and fear has overcome my thirst for The Savior and has planted my butt firmly in my seat avoiding that altar at all costs.

” I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. “

Selfish and Annoying

A couple of years ago I developed a mantra for my U14 boys soccer team that might be disturbing to many, but I believe that it resulted in two league championships.  Yes, I encouraged my normally courteous and respectful young men to be selfish and annoying.

Before you judge my rebellion against basic Christian morals and societal norms, let me explain.  First, you must take the time to understand the middle school boy. Through God’s plan and a healthy dose of HGH, boys naturally begin to claim their heritage as men.  They are no longer content with the nest.  Not confident enough to make the jump on their own, they find ways, through word and action, to make us want to push them out.  If we understand this, we can use this to help them make that journey.  If I can disguise  character building as adolescent rebellion, I can help them to take those steps toward manhood.

children_sharing_toySelfish –  The team was rapidly developing skill during training sessions.  Although I could see it, they could not.  During games, it was apparent that they had little confidence in their own ability and they deferred to other players and even the other team at times causing us to take few shots and loose most of the 50-50 balls. So I told them to be selfish… “really coach?” Yep … I want you to believe that the ball is yours and the only place that it should be is on your foot, your team mates foot, or in the back of the other team’s net.  I want you to be like a preschooler in the nursery who gets mad when another kid takes their toy.  They loved this! It sounds crazy, but we began fighting for every 50-50 ball and driving the ball into the back of the net.

Do I allow the enemy to take away the ball that God purchased for me on Calvary?  Do I lack the confidence to wrestle with the enemy in prayer?  Do I understand that God has placed me here for a purpose and that I cannot always defer to someone else to accomplish that task? Am I selfish for my God?

polar1Annoying –  Every team I have ever coached has that one kid.  You and everyone  else knows who it is on the first day of practice. “Coach, what are we going to do next?” , “Coach, can I play goalie?” , “Coach, are we going play around the world today?” “Coach …Coach…Coach?” AAAAHHHHHHH! Yes he is annoying, but you always know where he is, what he wants, and you know his voice (even in your sleep).  On the field, every other player know his voice as well and they always know where he is.  This is not a bad thing.  When you are trying to develop communication on your team and their lack of confidence keeps them from talking what better example than “that guy”. Can you be louder than “that guy”?  Can you be more annoying than “that guy”?  If we can be loud and annoying, we will all know each other’s voices and we can effectively work together.  Suddenly, I have a team of guys that communicate, know where their teammates are, and can effectively share the ball and play team defense.  Annoying is better than silence when you need to communicate.

Have I made sure that God knows my voice?  Does He know how much I want to be a part of the game? Do others know that I am open and available for ministry?   Do I know that good would rather here my annoying voice than anything else in the world. Am I annoying for God?

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”;and he will answer from within, “Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything”? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Like 11:5-13 ESV)