post

Fitness

image

The last year has been quite a journey for me. I knew a little over a year ago, actually, that I had a problem with my blood pressure. It was completely out of whack! I went to doctors, I went to the ER a few times, I changed medications, added more medications, had tests, etc., etc. Nothing anybody did to try and help me worked.

I got pretty scared about it a few times. My highest reading was 174/118, with a pulse of 175. I thought I was really done for that time. Turns out it was a panic attack. From being scared about my blood pressure.

Like I said, it’s been a year long journey, that come to find out was a combination of physical, mental and spiritual maladies. Just one of the three can throw most people out of sorts, but I had all 3 going on at once! And, as you can see, I’m still alive – so, if I can overcome, I know you can as well. So – let me take a few minutes to encourage you.

I had to get a few things out of my life. You know how Jesus says he’s the vine and we are the branches? It turns out that true spiritual fitness comes through connection to the Savior. Of course, I knew this already. Oh, I was full of all kinds of knowing. I could teach a lesson on anything at the drop of a hat. That’s about how full of it (knowledge) I am. But who cares? I wasn’t operating from a secure position, from a position of power – I was operating on my own, from weakness.

Over time, this really took a toll on me. I technically can do all these things. I’ve planted a church, I’ve preached and taught the Word from a young age, I surrendered to ministry as a 15 year old, I was on church staff for about 17 years all together. Sounds like someone else I know – have you heard these words before?

“I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

Talk about credentials! The Apostle Paul could take that, slap it on a resume, and get a job just about anywhere these days. But…

But then he goes on to say, “but whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord! For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

Paul gets it! He gets what I’m starting to get. That for our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God!

In myself there’s no righteousness, no power, no victory. On my own I can actually do so much – but it is rubbish! My strength is great and I can keep going and going and going. And I did and did and did. Until my mind and body started to give me fits.

I know pastors who have had heart attacks in the pulpit. I know pastors who have one ailment after another. I know pastors who have burned out and faded away. One in particular that became a claims adjuster – he’s a real mess! But things are turning around for that guy.

I have recently come to learn that I am the righteousness of God in Christ! Me! But not all by myself – In Christ. It is through the Savior that I have found my place, my calling, my purpose, my strength, and my health. Mentally, physically and spiritually – I am becoming healthy. All because I started to see just a little bit of who I am because of what Christ did for me.

And not just for me – for you too! YOU are the righteousness of God in Christ too! Whatever you’re facing, you don’t face it alone.  Whatever you’re going through, it’s not just you – it’s you and Him! You don’t have to work your fingers to the bone just to get God to love you. You don’t have to sit around and worry about how God feels about you. You don’t have to focus on doing good things to get God’s attention. He’s big enough to give you his full attention all the time! And he totally, completely loves everything about you!

When that knowledge transferred from my head to my heart, everything changed.

A month ago I was sitting around wondering when an artery in my head was going to blow out. This last weekend, I ran 6 miles! Well, I walked a bit of it too…I remember praying in December as I drove to work – I saw people every day out running. I told God that I would love to be able to do that again. And now I can.

My latest blood pressure reading was 125/80, my pulse was 53. Yep, I’m on a variety of medications. But I have been for a long time. Nothing has changed except how I see myself in relation to the God who gave up everything he had to win me back to himself.

If he can love me through what I have become over the last few years – he can love you too! And he does! If you will learn to hear his voice, if you will allow his Word to transform your mind, if you will allow yourself to become the righteousness of God in Christ – everything in your life will change – I guarantee it!
Who is jesus, is jesus god, Christian forums, faith in god, jesus is lord, what is Christianity, who is jesus Christ, lord jesus, spiritual journey, who was jesus, teaching of jesus, finding god, belief in god, about god, lord jesus Christ, story of jesus Christ, how to know god, is there really a god, who is jesus to you, gospel of jesus Christ, the me I want to be, how to have faith in god, blessings from god, truth about jesus, Christian blog sites, searching for god, jesus pictures,

post

Don’t Go Away Mad – Just Go Away

…Nothin’ left to do
Too many things were said
To ever make it feel
Like yesterday did…

Dont-go-away-mad-Just-go-away

I was in the mood for some good old rock n roll tonight. One of my favorite bands is Motley Crue! Don’t tell my youth pastor! So I went to YouTube and searched for the Crue and just let it go from one song to the next. Every once in a while it would mix in a little Poison, some AC/DC, even Journey. I rarely have a night where I can just sit and do nothing – I must say it’s very refreshing when I am able to though!

As often happens when music is playing, I found my mind drifting from memory to memory. Every song I heard had a memory attached – some awesome (seeing Young Guns with friends after a rough breakup, and Love Bites came on the radio and I got into a fight right out in the middle of Air Depot! I punched a guy in the head and screamed YOUNG GUNS BABY! Then he made a mess of my face – and yes that’s a good memory!) some bittersweet (The Search is Over – Tina Price – obviously the search was not over, but as always, last to know), some just outright sad – and I have examples for that too but this post isn’t supposed to be a downer.

And as often happens after my mind has had a time to process all that youthful folly attached to the music I have always listened to, I began to listen for spiritual things. There is a lot of truth and wisdom in the lyrics- the guitars are loud and you can feel the drums beating in your chest like an extra heart, but the words are pure poetry. They reached me on a spiritual level when I was young, and they still do today.

I don’t know how you feel about the music of your youth – I think mine is beautiful. I’m an 80s kid and proud of it!

All that being said, my brain kicked into overdrive when I heard Don’t Go Away Mad. It’s crazy – like a little part of my brain exploded in activity and out popped a thought. And here it is –

So often we walk away mad from God. He is loving, kind, gentle. He calls us his children! We are co-heirs with Christ! We have been given every spiritual blessing! And most of the time it’s not enough. At least, that’s where I am – nothing is every enough.

I’m in a great church! They want me to do things – they don’t need me to do anything but they *want* me to do things! And I want to do things – but not the things they want me to do!

I remember once, and I was as humble as could be (which is not a lot to be honest), I asked a pastor what he wanted me to do. He was so excited that I was volunteering! The ministries of our church are overflowing with volunteers, and I wanted to help, and so, they basically said to me, “Rich, we need you to stand right over there!” And with little enthusiasm, I went and stood.

Then I volunteered some more. I asked someone else this time. He was so happy that I wanted to help out! After a few weeks he got back with me and said, “Rich, we need you to sit right over there – except for when we need you to sit over in that other place!” And then I felt like I needed to remind them of my background – 17 years of ministry! I have spoken in front of some pretty large crowds! I have had some awesome student ministries! I used to be somebody – don’t you know that? Don’t you know how many people follow me on social media? So I went and sat with a frown.

Then I just stopped. I stopped standing, I stopped sitting, I stopped moving. And when I stopped, the world just kept on moving, and they found other people who were happy to do the sitting and the standing.

I was reminded while listening to music tonight of another person of great promise, with great resources, with great talents, (I’m not saying I’m all that great – just trying to make a point) who also walked away mad. We don’t know what ever became of him, but his story goes a lot like mine –

Master! What should I do with all this stuff? All this awesome stuff! Look at it! Look at all my awesome stuff!

My child, you have to give it up. You have to leave it on the ground where you stand and walk in my footsteps!

Dang it. Look at it all! All this stuff is priceless!

Your stuff is worthless – following me is priceless.

Jesus had no condemnation for the rich young ruler. He didn’t chase after him saying, “didn’t you hear me? You need to do this! You really, really need to give all that up!” Jesus didn’t burn him to toast on the spot. He just let the dude walk away with all his stuff.

Just like he let me walk away with all mine. Because without love, all my talents are an airhorn in the ear while you’re sound asleep. He let me walk away mad just like the rich young ruler walked away mad – because I and he have both made idols out of our riches. God doesn’t need your money, your talents, your gifts. If you don’t lay them down they become millstones around your neck. But sometimes, sometimes when we lay those things down and just follow – just be his – just accept that being in his presence is enough, and more even than you’ll ever need and way more than you deserve – then, sometimes, he picks those things up that we laid down and hands them back to us.

The rich young ruler walked away with all his stuff and we never heard from him again. This is not a mistake I intend to make. I’m laying it all down. I’m going to sit at his feet. I’m going to follow him, and I’m going to be satisfied in my heart with that, and I’m going to learn what it means to be a son of God, I’m going to learn to receive good things from him, I’m going to learn what it means to be overflowing with rivers of living water – and I’m going to let that be enough –

Who is jesus, is jesus god, Christian forums, faith in god, jesus is lord, what is Christianity, who is jesus Christ, lord jesus, spiritual journey, who was jesus, teaching of jesus, finding god, belief in god, about god, lord jesus Christ, story of jesus Christ, how to know god, is there really a god, who is jesus to you, gospel of jesus Christ, the me I want to be, how to have faith in god, blessings from god, truth about jesus, Christian blog sites, searching for god, jesus pictures,

post

Houses In The Sand

Therefore, everyone who hears these words
of mine and does them will be like a
wise man who built his house on the rock.

houses in the sand

The story goes that Jesus was traveling with the disciples from Judea to Galilee, a trip of about 70  miles, or around three days of walking. Tired and thirsty, they stopped for a bit by Jacob’s well. Jesus sent the disciples into the nearby town to get some food, while he stayed at the well.

A woman came to draw some water, and Jesus asked her to draw some water for him. Stunned by the fact that he would even acknowledge her existence, she said, “huh? What? Who, me?” (This is, as far as I can tell, a direct translation from the best Greek manuscripts.)

Jesus said, “If you knew who I was, you’d ask me for living water.”

Jesus is making this same statement to me right now. This was what he said to people over and over again in a variety of ways – I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the good shepherd, I am the door, I am the true vine. He’s been saying this to me for years. 35 years actually. And I did not have ears to hear.

Another one that I have consistently missed is this – seek first His Kingdom. I have sought so many things, but missed the Kingdom, missed the joy, missed the rest, missed the contentment – I have missed the relationship altogether.

I know so much! You’d be surprised. I underplay it, but I’m pretty smart. I can do so much! When I open my mouth, my knowledge just naturally pours out, and I know a lot about a lot of things – history, science, theology, biblical languages, philosophy. Seriously. Name something. I  can talk about it all day. I’m not bragging. Too much. God has made me this way – my mind is a sponge that soaks up information and has the ability to distill it down into a form that others can understand. I’ve built my life on these gifts.

I’ve built my life on these gifts and it has resulted in nothing but heartache, hurt, shame, guilt, fear and a loneliness that is beyond description. I have spent my life surrounding myself with people – I am at home in a crowd and have little difficulty becoming the center of attention. I crave it, I demand it. I am the life of the party. I seek to become the most important, the center of everyone’s universe. If you know me well you know all of this to be true.

When I left my last church about 10 years ago now, my world came to an end. I no longer had a crowd to give myself to. I no longer had the attention. I no longer had the platform, all eyes on me, every ear attuned, dying to hear what I had to say.

So what does a guy like me in a situation like that do? Whine, complain, cry, gripe, become cynical and bitter, and start a blog. You are my platform now. Nothing has changed.

This has been my link to the world. My source of output. My attempt to be important, to be somebody. Because without an audience, I am nobody.

These attempts of mine have been likened to (by a very wise man who truly get it) a person trying to power their computer by plugging a data cable into a wall outlet. All you get by doing this is burned.

My source, for so long, has been me, and what I know and what I can do. But I have come to the end of me. I can’t do any more.

This last week – just days ago – I entertained a variety of notions. Suicide was among them. It was not a strong contender, but it was on the table. I was going to withdraw from church, I was going to sell all my books (!), I was going to move away – leave everything behind – and just start over somewhere where nobody knew me and I could be whoever I wanted to be. Running away seemed like the only viable option, but I couldn’t do that either – I have an awesome family, I have a great job! Why can’t I just be happy?

Why? Because for my whole life, I have been trying to lift my own self up out of a pit using nothing but my own belt loops. And when I failed, when I couldn’t, I slipped even further away. Deeper and deeper. And the guy who holds the shovel is me!

It’s time to hand the shovel off to someone who stands above it all, who can start putting the dirt back into the hole, who has the power to lift me out of it once and for all. My house is built on the sand. I need bedrock – I need a firm foundation. I am so thirsty! I just need a cool drink of water, and I need it to not ever stop. There’s only one source for that kind of water.

In the last few days, Jesus has told me all about who I am as far as I’m concerned, and who I can become if I’ll just take a sip. I am (according to no one but myself) an awesome teacher of the Word, a deep thinker, a seeker of knowledge, smart – darn near brilliant. And when I engage in these activities, I feel even more empty. I can’t fill my water bucket myself with anything that will plug this gaping hole inside me. What God wants is for me to seek him – to be his child and nothing else – to let him tell me who I am – to sacrifice my calling and giftedness to him – to let him heal that part of me that seeks acceptance anywhere else but in his presence – to become truly free.

So – I am going to seek him now. I’ve been seeking for so long, and finding the wrong things. Now is the time to find out what God has to say about me, now is the time for me to listen to and for his voice. Now that I have nothing left to lose. It’s all gone, everything has been reduced to rubble in my insides and I need God to build what he wants on the foundation he provides.

I will be gone for a while. Until I get this straight. If you want to check in with me, my facebook account will still be active but I am logging out of all social media. I’m deleting all the apps from my phone. Leave me a note for when I come back or text me – my contact  info is on the “about” page on facebook. And above all – please pray for me and my family! I’m not done, I’m not giving up – I’m giving in, finally, and tuning in to what God has for me – and I’m more excited about this than anything!

“Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of what He said. And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world!
Who is jesus, is jesus god, Christian forums, faith in god, jesus is lord, what is Christianity, who is jesus Christ, lord jesus, spiritual journey, who was jesus, teaching of jesus, finding god, belief in god, about god, lord jesus Christ, story of jesus Christ, how to know god, is there really a god, who is jesus to you, gospel of jesus Christ, the me I want to be, how to have faith in god, blessings from god, truth about jesus, Christian blog sites, searching for god, jesus pictures,

post

Anticipation

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Life_Without_Rain___Sepia_by_JosCos

Have you ever had to wait a really long time for something? When I was a kid, it took forever between the time we put up the Christmas tree, and when presents were actually opened. It was horrible! I was never a patient kid – not on Christmas or birthdays or any other event when I knew I might be getting something.

JUST GIVE ME MY STUFF NOW DANG IT!

Now, as an adult with kids, I see that same thing in them – an impatience when they know something good is coming.

I still see that same impatience in myself. I need to get over that. The last week has been pretty rough. I have worked on patience, prayed for months on end, sought wise counsel, and I guess I expected everything to change immediately, and when nothing changed, I got all twisted up about it.

I really felt like good things would happen, if I could just make a few changes. Maybe I deluded myself a bit about it. I can see now it’s not about all the things I do in order to manufacture a specific outcome. It’s not about focusing on change or being a better person – it’s about focusing on the Kingdom, which I do for about 12 minutes then something else captures my attention. Then 4 months later I remember.

Waiting is hard. It’s the hardest part. The bible addresses this by saying “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Hope can be a very pleasant thing – something great is coming! There’s a blessing just around the corner – just hang on! Be patient and God will show up and work a miracle in your life!

Hope can also be a beast. It can be torture. Something is coming – something good! But when? What do I do in the meantime? Do I just keep doing what I’m doing and keep hoping? When is this blessing supposed to arrive? Tomorrow at noon? Today would be better, but I can wait a day or two. But not three days.

I have been waiting years. Sometimes I feel like the little kid with presents he can see just sitting there. But my mom is keeping an eye on me so I can’t even get close – I know something is there but I can’t have it, can’t touch it, can’t experience it. But I also know the day is coming. That’s why this comparison falls apart, because December 25th comes on schedule once a year no matter what, but this thing I’m waiting for – I don’t even know what it is, much less when it will come.

Sometimes I turn my back on what I know is there and get all twisted up over it and forget that the giver of these gifts doesn’t actually owe me anything. Sometimes I act like a spoiled brat, demanding my inheritance. Sometimes anticipation is making me wait. As the song says.

A while back I met with a person I had never actually spoken with before. We’re facebook friends, and I consider him a mentor – He’s one of about 5 people that I read everything he writes. His words are full of wisdom and understanding. So I sent him a message on facebook, and we met for coffee early one morning.

He sized me up pretty quickly. I told him pretty much everything. He told me that my heart had grown sick because of anticipation. He told me that my confidence in God had been shaken – that I didn’t trust Him to be who He says He is, and in turn, I can’t be who He created me to be.

All because of a problem with patience.

We hear that good things come to them that wait. But I have become hesitant – I lost sight of how absolutely good God is, how much He really loves me, how He really wants to bless me!

If hope deferred makes the heart sick, how much more will those who wait upon the Lord renew their strength? How much more is a fulfilled desire like a tree of life? How much more will those who wait patiently for the promised blessings mount up with wings like eagles? How much more will I run and not be weary, and walk and not grow faint?

That’s what I’m talking about right there! That’s the life I want! I don’t want to care about specifics – did I get a pack of socks for my birthday or is it that new video game I’ve been dying for? That’s not what it’s all about! It’s about walking with God in the cool of the day, and just knowing that you are His, and He is yours.

My prayer for me and for you – that instead of being impatient children, we will become spiritually mature, seek first his Kingdom and learn to wait upon the Lord!

Who is jesus, is jesus god, Christian forums, faith in god, jesus is lord, what is Christianity, who is jesus Christ, lord jesus, spiritual journey, who was jesus, teaching of jesus, finding god, belief in god, about god, lord jesus Christ, story of jesus Christ, how to know god, is there really a god, who is jesus to you, gospel of jesus Christ, the me I want to be, how to have faith in god, blessings from god, truth about jesus, Christian blog sites, searching for god, jesus pictures,

post

She Started In A Garage

garageHistory tells us that a lot of really great things were started in garages – and I guess so does the Cadillac commercial that gave me this idea.

Without garages, would we have Apple Computers, Amazon, the aerospace industry? Would we have fast, beautiful cars, awesome music or even movies like Frozen?

Yeah, we would still have all that. But would it have been as cool? No, I don’t think so.

What is the deal with garages? Why have garages been so instrumental for so many years in ushering in so much change?

I know why it’s like that at my house – there’s just no more room in the house itself. We had to move all of Cheryl’s recording equipment out into a room I built in the garage.

So, for us, just like for so many others, the garage, and the work that has gone on in the garage for so many years now, is about to usher in a new era for our family. For so long, Cheryl has been out there – on her piano, playing her guitar, recording, writing, re-recording, tweaking and modifying. And praying – praying that because of her gifting, that other people would be led into the presence of God.

Her time is now! There is no other way to say this, no other person to give credit to – it is all from God. He has blessed our family so much over the last year – so much! And because of what He has done for us, the changes in our lives, we are able to share so much with all of you. That’s what my writing is all about, and that’s what Cheryl’s music is all about. She just wants to share with the world how wonderful God is, how much He loves us, how much He has done for us all – she wants to lead you into a place of worship.

And on March 4th, you will be able to be a part of that – her first song, I Am Yours, will be released into the world – on iTunes, on Amazon, on Spotify, on Google Play, and several other websites.  Specific links will be shared soon, but for now, you can check out a preview by clicking this link to her YouTube video.

I know God has so much more in store for us! This is just the first step of many – and we are trusting Him, and walking the path that He has opened up for us. I would love it if you all would decide to take this journey with us – for Cheryl, it may have started in a garage, but for her, not even the sky’s the limit!

aside

Don't quitI have quit so many things. Hundreds of things. Maybe even a thousand. Funny thing is, all the stuff I need to quit I keep doing, and all the stuff I need to keep doing I quit.

I always seem to quit when things get hard, then I regret that I quit and then it’s too late.

I quit because I get tired, or because the result I was going for is not happening. Or because I get hurt. Or scared. Scared of failure and scared of success. Like if I do really well, people will expect a lot from me and at some point I won’t be able to deliver. Fear that if I succeed I will fail, so why keep going?

No more! I am going to stand up and declare that my days of quitting are over! I am going to stop quitting!

My commitment was made on January 1st, 2014. To myself, to my family, to pursue just one thing – learning what it means to be a son of God. That’s it. This is my journey, but as I learn to know Him more, as I discover what being a child is all about, I will share it all here. I don’t want to do this on my own any more –

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Is 41:10