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.

30 Years with My Bride – Pearl of Great Price

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,  who, on finding  one pearl of great value,  went and sold all that he had and  bought it.”    

Wedding Bride & Lynnie30 years ago, when Lynn’s father placed her hand in mine and we began a journey together I had no idea the treasure that he handed me.  20 and 21 years we had no idea what it meant to be a husband and wife team.  As fortune would have it, we were also blessed with the title of Mom and Dad for which we were equally unprepared.  So off we went, barreling into life to take on those responsibilities and burdens the best that we knew how.  Problem … our know-how was minuscule.

It did not take us long to realize that we were in over our heads.  Additionally, we began to realize that our childhood dreams and desires were going to as a minimum have to be put on hold.  I was not going to be the star athlete or the Pulitzer prize-winning author and she was not going to become studious accountant or powerful tax lawyer.  We were going to need to be parents first.  Oh and with little or no resources.

Rough Start

We became adept at digging ourselves a deeper hole to live.  We realized that our only real common dream was those children that we were pretty good and making and raising.  If it were not for that crazy money thing!  I thought I had found a career path in food management, but my inability to be responsible, my lack of discipline, and my first real dealings with greed, selfishness, and pride sort of nixed that direction.  In the midst of this … enter Sarah. God proved faithful though, Lynn despite all odds did not give up on me, and we survived the first two years somehow.

Anchors Away

CCI02112013_00000

My First Command was the USS Albany in new construction.  Long hours but home almost everyday.  Lynn and I started to develop to actually get to know each other after 5 years of being married.  I learned of her tender heart for hurting and struggling people, her ability to listen and discern, and her ability to wisely intercede in difficult situation.  I began to notice that she was learning to be an advocate for young mother even though she was a young mother herself  (already more experienced than most).  She was a rock even when we things were not going well. Although we were more stable, we (I) continued to make poor financial decisions, avoided as much responsibility as possible … basically “I was tossed about by every wind”.  Despite this, Lynn and I began to become a pretty good team.  (Enter Sam)

My second command .. Detailer: “we are going to send you to the USS LY Spear.  They call it the L.Y. Pier because it never goes to sea.”  Orders: “Report to USS L.Y. Spear, deployed Bahrain (Persian Gulf).”  So our first real separation.  We survived those months apart and when I returned, hours were better, I was enjoying success at work, the kids were doing well and we were coasting. Then … we had to walk through sorrow together.  We lost our first child in a miscarriage and followed by the loss of our 3rd son Andrew Cory in a still birth.  This was more than my Lynnie could handle alone and for the first time we really had lean on each other and began to lean on the Lord.  God saw us through even that difficult time, but I felt that our time in Norfolk was coming to a close.  God showed His mercy and gave us Elizabeth and we began to feel like life might be able to move on.  Time for new orders.

In October of 1993, I climbed in my little blue Subaru, I left for Kingsbay, GA and left Lynn and the kids in GA while waiting for housing and hoping for the house VA to be sold.  Before I was even out of VA, I had cried out to God to give me new start. He met me heard me.  For the next few months, with the help of an awesome new church family and an open heart, God poured out His grace on me and I earnestly sought for God to bond Lynn and I in a new way.  For 10 years, although I was there, I had poured very little into my marriage.  I had never treated Lynn with the love and respect that I had pledged in 1983.

When she arrived in December, we began a new partnership.  We grew together and began to reach out to other families.  Don’t get me wrong, we still were and are a mess. We were just a mess together and we were actually enjoying each other for the first time.  We grew in the Lord, we grew as a couple, and we grew as a family. Lynn took on the herculean effort of homeschooling our brood. We saw God’s hand move in mighty ways through and too us. Life was as good as it had ever been.

Jumping Ship / A Parting Shot

After a couple of years, things started to change.  Another miscarriage, friends started to move away, our girls were becoming teens, and we were facing guaranteed extended sea time began to weigh us down. Lynn and I made the decision to start a new life apart from the Navy (unless they would send us to Hawaii … fat chance!), but we would have to make it through a couple of years of deployments.  They would not prove to be an easy couple of years.

My deployment in January of 1996 would prove to be an abbreviated and painful deployment.  I joyfully missed our shake down cruise with the arrival of Josiah and then we shoved off for patrol.  Mid patrol I was called to the CO’s stateroom.  A day later I was off the ship and on my way home to say good-bye to my Mom, loosing her battle with cancer.  Life was not going to be the same.

Two more times I had to leave my family before my end of active duty rolled around. So life was going to start over for us on the other side of the Navy.

Loss Upon Loss – The Cloud

DSC_0016Even though these are more recent memories, they are vague to me.  July 31st, 1997 I took off my uniform for the last time and headed to Kentucky with hopes of finding employment in the nuclear industry.  Bad timing and poor job hunting skills made this a difficult prospect.  Add to that severe depression that had begun to settle on me after the loss of my Mom, the loss of our house in VA and increasing debt.   I am only beginning to realized the effects that depression had on me for the next 12 years. We began to live life that I can only describe as a life of poverty.  I don’t mean that in a financial sense although we have struggled financially.  Poverty is a mindset of despair that allows us to reject the abundant life that is available to us despite our lack of worldly possessions.  Throw into this the final realization that I was getting older and that many of those dreams that I had hung onto were no longer within reach and you have a man that is on the precipice.   I am only beginning to realized the effects that depression had on me for the next 12 years. It is only through God’s grace and an amazing women that our marriage has survived.   As with any depression, there are highs and lows and we had many of both and we apparently hid it from most everyone outside our family (as far as I can tell).

She Abides

Recently, a group of guys have taken on a challenge of reading 1 John ever day for 30 days.  One of the questions that came out early is about abiding.   What does it love like when some one abides with someone else?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11,12 ESV)

Lynn has been an example of loving me for 30 years.  I did not earn that love and even rejected that love at times., but still she walked beside me through the worst, but with an expectation for the best. She has believed in me when I did not believe in myself.  My failures did not appear to dim her love light toward me.  I think that this what happens when He abides in us and His love is perfected.  For 3 decades she has abided with me even when I was blind to it.

How Beautiful is Your Love

“You have captivated my heart, my  sister, my bride;

you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,

with one  jewel of your necklace.

How beautiful is your love, my  sister, my bride!

How much  better is your love than wine,

and  the fragrance of your oils than any spice!”

(Song of Solomon 4:9,10)

I thank God everyday for the pearl that He placed in my hand 30 years ago.

Happy anniversary my love.

02_17_0

My Eyes are Dry

The Holy Spirit empowers us to be effective witnesses. A witness is one who not only tells the truth, but also lives the truth. (Acts 1:8)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Act 1:8)

This is where the rubber meets the road. It is great that I repent and my conscience is clean and “my eternity becomes sure”, but that is just the beginning. We are vessels that were created to serve. We do not wash dishes to put on the shelf to gather dust. We wash dishes to serve food.

How worthless I am if I get up and spend time in the morning developing a relationship with God and then head off for my day and never interact with a world that needs Him? Yes, serving may sometimes get us dirty from time to time, but that is what we created to do. Father, may I get off the shelf today so you can pile a heaping portion of You on me for a starving world that desperately needs You.

Cry out to God?

I want to cry out, but some how my emotions become constipated. Life or circumstances harden my heart.

So I offer my dry, tear-less eyes to a Father full of compassion.

“My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to you and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is you, your spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of your blood”

“My Eyes are Fry” Keith Green

Eyes

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. “

Drought Condition – Is Fire Imminent? (The Prequel)

As I reflect on my last article, I realize a few things:

  1.  My blog no longer has anything to do with it’s original intent (journaling my first marathon) and I really need to either start another blog or put some time into a revamping this one.
  2. That my running experience has brought out some of the initial signs of the drought condition in my own life.
  3. Before I can discuss my world perspective and the path I believe that God is opening before us, I need to reconcile the last few years of drought that have brought me to this place.
  4. Attempting to paint pretty nature metaphors is not my forte.

Another Disclaimer:  Today’s entry is not for you. After observing this past season of agenda driven manipulation, I feel that it is important that I establish in my own heart just where I stand, what agenda and motivation might be driving me, and whether I have any business moving forward with any thoughts that might be considered persuasive or argumentative. If I continue with this series, this journal may have no bearing whatsoever on discussions that are ahead.  Feel free to stop reading now and save yourself a boring read.

Good Bye Daddy:  In the fall 2007,  life revolved around our first experience of giving away a daughter in marriage   A wedding is obviously a very emotional time. For me it turned out to be an Alpha/Omega moment.  Obviously, it was the beginning of a new life for Sarah and Michael, but it signaled to me the beginning of the end for me (Daddy).   During Sarah’s wedding I removed a white linen scarf from my neck and placed it on Michael’s to signify the passing of my fatherly covering on to her new husband.  Though out my adult life, I was able to hide behind the noble pursuit of marriage and fatherhood; now I began to realize that I could no longer cower behind my role as Daddy.  God had an identity that He had established for me from the beginning; A purpose much bigger that I was willing to accept, but  I could no longer hide from it.  So what does one do when he is exposed? … obviously one runs!

Enter the Maraman:  After the wedding, Taylor, a friend at work handed me a book, “Ultra Marathon Man” by Dean Karnazes.  As the book was passed around the office, a group of us decided to sign up for the Louisville Derby Festival Marathon in April 2008.  I won’t go into the rest of that story since this site was created for that purpose. If you are still reading (God love you) and are interested in that journey you can start with, http://crazyoldmaraman.wordpress.com/about/ and http://crazyoldmaraman.wordpress.com/1st-marathon/.  It was a fantastic experience that I would not trade for anything.  I thought during that training that maybe this was a direction that I might want to explore.  I made some attempts at gathering some people together to form a runners fellowship, but after the race the race that fire quickly died.  Unfortunately, although I can run pretty well, I have no passion for it.  As a matter of fact, if you read many of my blog entries you will find that I actually despise running.  Since that time I have completed a sprint triathlon and some long over night relay races, but nothing has ignited any new interest.

Who the Heck You are I think?  Late 2008 brought another wedding (My oldest son). Having not reconciled the first wedding, this one was more than I could handle. The fall and winter brought maybe the lowest point in my adult life.  I believe that depression is often brought on by a complete lack of purpose and I had abandoned my search for purpose for a season.  Suddenly I was questioning everything I had ever believed.  Although I felt like my life was spinning out of control, somehow, through God’s grace, steadiness began to take control again, but not after I had made many bad decisions and hurt many people.  Still confused, without a passion for much of anything, I sunk into a stagnant pool of muck.  Although many major life events would occur over the next couple of years that should have brought great joy, my shoulders remained bent and I could not lift my gaze above the horizon.

New Titles / New Realizations:  The Spring of 2010 brought the birth of our first grandchild and another wedding (My oldest Daughter) that brought a halt to the slide.  I bore a new title, Poopaw, but it did not take me long to surmise that this new role as grandfather and associated awesome title did not give me purpose or the passion that would be required to pull me out of this self inflicted hell-hole.  Additionally, in the Spring of 2010 a glimmer of something began to grow deep down.  A talent and gift that had always been evident started to emerge again out of the shadows.

Pressing Toward the Goal:   Coaching had been a part of my life on and off as far back as 2005, but in 2006 I started as an assistant soccer coach.  My knowledge of kids and love of sport seemed to be a enough to help out despite my complete ignorance of soccer.  In 2007 I began head coaching and in the Fall of 2009 I obtained my first certification.  My youngest son had moved beyond my level of coaching, but the love of these young boys and girls compelled me to continue.  It became increasingly clear to me, that combining sport with character and relationship building was something that I could do that might make a difference.  The Fall of 2010 brought a group of young men into my life that altered my whole view of coaching and began to give me a glimpse of the purpose that God might have for me.  As I sought ways to instill character, leadership, and unity in these you men, God began to pull me out of the despair that had for so long enslaved me and set me on a path toward the goal.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

The Drought is Not Over:   “I do not consider that I have made it my own”  Roots are still anchored in hard and cracked ground, leaves are brown and brittle, and there is little or no fruit of any type hanging from the branches.  I do not know the anguish that God feels when He looks at His creation and I am not driven by a passion to share His love, compassion, mercy and grace with a world that so desperately needs Him.

Father, drop a spark into this weed of a man and burn up all that does not bare fruit. Make real to me your anguish for a world that knows despair far beyond anything that I have encountered over my short time on earth. Set me ablaze with a passion for your will and set a clear purpose before me.  If it is Your will use me to ignite a forest fire in those who are called by Your name.