WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Feeling All on Your Own - 06/27/2016


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1)

I remember being a young twenty-something when my mother told me that she worried for me.  I remember telling her that as long as I can do manual labor, I was going to be just fine.  I now know what she really meant about “worrying for me.”

In 2001 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Since that time my ability to do manual labor has dwindled away.   I was a Christian at that time but once my ability to work as a laborer was gone I had no idea how I was going to pay the bills – and I’m still largely trying to figure it out.

Each week I meet with people who are ill enough to need someone to care for them.  They live in adult foster care homes and my mission is to share with them the love and gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is often difficult to tell people who are in these situations that they can trust in Jesus “because He has not forgotten nor forsaken you.”  Sometimes I struggle with the concept myself because I feel left out in the cold now that blue-collar work is not an option for me.

Not many people know this, but Mother Teresa struggled for years feeling alone as she could not feel God’s presence in her soul.  God called her to the ministry of the desperately poor and dying in Calcutta and she reported that once she begun she felt abandoned by His presence.

Mother Teresa felt like I and the people at the AFC homes often do.  But no matter the darkness in her soul she was completely convinced of Him in her life and work.  “What mattered to her was that she loved God, whether or not He granted her the consolation and joy of His presence.”  (Mother Teresa:  Come Be My Light, Pg. 177)

I like this last statement.  Mother Teresa was determined that she love God no matter what she felt.  For me this is the penult of what faith in God should be.  No matter what we experience, what we see, or what we feel, in faith we love and honor God in Christ.  Like Mother Teresa, our faith is not usually a visible or knowable reality, but rather it is a blind spiritual hope in the Christ who has risen back to life from the dead.

“ Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
(Hebrews 13:5-6)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Who’s Your Daddy? - 06/19/2016


A few years ago I went away to a convention and left the family at home.  Before I left, I made a couple dozen notes that said “Who’s Your Daddy?” on them, then I hid them around the house where people would find them.
  • ·         I taped them to the underside of toilet seats
  • ·         I rolled them up into the toilet paper so that when someone pulled off pieces the note would fall out.
  • ·         I taped them inside of kitchen cupboards and medicine cabinets
  • ·         I put them in books that were being read
  • ·         I taped them to walls
  • ·         And I put them under things that might be moved.

My thought for doing this was that over the three days I was gone they would intermittently find the notes and be reminded of me.  What happened, however, was that the family considered it a fun challenge and spent the first evening searching and finding the majority of the notes and then likely forgot about me for three days.

I left the notes because I wanted my children to remember me.  I always want my kids to remember who their daddy is.  It’s just important.  That however is genealogy.  But what about spiritually?  Figuring out who our daddy is spiritually is an altogether different matter. 

Spiritually speaking, who is our daddy?  Or more respectfully, who is our God?

The answer to this question can vary greatly?
  • Many believe that God is a vengeful god who is just waiting for us to break one the commandments so he can throw a lightning bolt at us.
  • Many believe that God is a fun-loving god who laughs at us when we ignore his ways and live our lives for our own pleasures.
  • Many people believe that god is one who demands that his followers destroy the “ungodly” in order to secure our places in heaven
  • Some believe that god is one who forgives all people all infraction in this life basically turning a blind-eye to everything.
  • And others believe that god is a conglomerate of many different faith ideals.
The question of who God is is not an easy question to answer, because if we’re going to be honest, then we must admit that the God who actually exists is many levels of understanding beyond what our human brains can imagine or conceive.

But, thankfully we do have guidance.

 John 14:8-9
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

Jesus informs his disciples that if they have seen Him then they have seen the Father.

At this point, the disciples must have thought him mad.  He not only compared himself to God, but in essence told them that He and God were one in the same.  And it would not be the first time either.

John 5:15-18
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”  18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

And this is how John’s gospel goes.  It pounds the idea, over and over again, that Jesus and God are one in the same.

Then the Apostle Paul informs us that we too are children of the Father when he wrote in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 1
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

And because we are the children of God, we are privileged in that we may go boldly before Him.

Hebrews 4:16
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Do you ever feel intimidated about praying?  Like you don’t have the right to talk to God?  This idea of separation from our heavenly father is just wrong.  Each of us, who are of the faith, have the extreme privilege to go to God and enter into His Presence.

Have you ever seen that iconic picture of President John F Kennedy sitting at the desk in the oval office and his son, Johnny, playing under it?  I like this photo because it shows the privilege of a father’s child.  Here was the most powerful man in the world in the most powerful office in the world and his three year old son was playing peek-a-boo under his desk.  The child had no fear or reservations; he was boldly playing in the presence of his father without hesitation.

This is how it is with children, they know who their daddies are and instinctively do not fear being in their presence.

Spiritually speaking, who’s your daddy?

I cannot imagine that God doesn’t want us to know who He is.  In fact, the scriptures tell us that the very creation is like notes forcing the question “Who’s Your Daddy?”

1.       Look at a sunrise?  - There’s a hidden note in it asking, “Who’s your daddy?”
2.       Taste a fresh pineapple. – There it is again, “Who’s your daddy?”
3.       Witness the birth of your child. – Who’s your daddy?
4.       Have a cup of fresh roasted single origin coffee. – Who - Is – Your - Daddy?

Today is the day that we honor our human father’s, and this is fitting.  But in the process of honoring our human dads, we must not forget to honor our heavenly father as well.  And if ever we are unsure, let us remember the words of our Lord, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

“Lord Jesus, please open our eyes of faith, that we may see you today.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Defined - 06/12/2016


There is a feeling I occasionally get that I cannot explain.  It might be ‘majestic’, but I’m not royalty so I really could not know.  Maybe it’s ‘serenity’, that’s close I think, but this word is too inward focused and what my feeling does is recognize the reality of the external.  The feeling that I occasionally have comes from the grandeur of this world.

Last week I had the privilege of walking thought the Hartwick Pines state forest near Grayling, MI, and I felt this feeling.  I found myself walking among a forest of tall trees which canopied the land.  The earth’s sun shot through to the forest’s floor in small rays and the world’s noise was muffled to nothingness.  The only sounds were the rustling of the leaves above, various birds calls, the squeals of delight as my children explored this new (to them) world, and the constant question of my daughter, “Dad, are we going to see a bear?”

For a fleeting moment my mind compared what I would normally call the “real world” with the preserved paradise which I was presently walking though, and the Juxtaposion of the two worlds collided in my soul and informed me that I was wrong.  The world I was walking through was the ‘real’ world.  As the world was originally designed I was experiencing it, and it was glorious, it was serene, it was majestic, and it was a reminder that the reality of this life, which I commonly call the ‘real’, needs to be rethought.  I needed to examine the definitions that I have created, and redefine them with the definitions that have already been created for me.  Because in the tranquility of that forest I was reminded that sometimes I need not to define what I think is reality, but allow reality to define me.

Psalm 8
8 O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,

    and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!