When faith isn’t fair…

Just finished a sermon on “A Theophany of Hope” – (Four Winds Anglican Mission)

Sounds scholarly, but it’s far more muddy than that. Life and faith can be such a huge struggle, and issues of personal injustice seem to hit me the hardest. When life just isn’t ‘fair’.

Source – David Ould

The text for the sermon centered on Mark 4 and Job 38. Both are passages about storms and stress, they focus on issues of drowning and sinking boats as well as the unresolved and unanswered questions of a faithful man (Job) in search of God’s presence. In short… they are the moments of our life when we can’t figure out what’s going on anymore.

Life moments can  coalesce into the all to familiar struggles we have with “Fear” and “Frustration”. Those moments of our faith life when we can’t find God or any answers to our unresolved circumstances. You know… when our lives don’t make sense, and God seems to have abandoned us. The moments when we’ve been working faithfully to serve and obey… and no one seems to even notice our sacrifice. That’s the moment when we cry out!

That’s the ‘storm’ moment, the time when life is lashing us with fear and frustrations, doubt, anger, resentment, and a hailstorm of regrets! 

But that is also the moment when we have to choose… we can draw closer to God to or walk away in disgust and despair. IF you make the leap to get closer… so will He.

The moment of the storm can become a THEOPHANY. (a visible manifestation of God to man)  We can experience God in a new way… if we  chose to stay. In our persistence, we will ‘see’ Him. We will gain a new revelation of His character… of His faithfulness, of His wisdom, and His compassion. 

I don’t know what God will show you in your storm, but He will show up… and He will bring peace and calm. For the disciples in Mark 4… He was the God of the Storm. For Job He was the God who Sees the details.

Whatever your pain. Whatever your frustration and fear… God has an antidote in Christ. It’s the perfect mixture of truth and hope and it’s been custom designed just for you. I know it doesn’t seem fair. I know it absolutely does not make sense… but it will. 

The scriptures are full of such moments as Theophany, full of the richness of God’s plan for our lives. He appears and reveals something precious that we would have missed if not for this storm. It’s a faith reminder, evidence that nothing with God is wasted or needless, He uses it all.

Press on dear one, God is waiting for you to draw closer.

Pastor B.

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Living in the “NOW”

After my breakthrough moment with God in Colorado… I carried a deep and lingering sense of calm. A peaceful and contented acceptance.  A better way to say it…  I had insight, an ‘understanding’ of what God was really like.

As my “papa” he was tangible to me. I could reach out and ‘touch’ that presence anytime I allowed myself to be quiet and still. 

This truth became a ‘doorway’ to a deeper chamber of my heart. IF God was my ‘papa’… then I could rest. I could let down my defenses and pretenses. I could let go of the constant need to review and project, my mind scanning constantly for danger in my past or the future, never allowing myself to enjoy the present.

The idea of relaxing was as foreign as ‘rest’ to my mind and heart. I couldn’t relax… not really. I had to be vigilant, had to assess and project the probabilities of success or failure. The inherent dangers along the way or the review of past mistakes to gain insight . I wasn’t able to relax because I had no one to rely on but myself. I didn’t really trust anyone. Not completely.

The Shack (summit entertainment)

If God was ‘papa’. He is trustworthy. Safe. Present.

No father betrays his kids. No heavenly father would be negligent in caring for my life. I could let that long – held – breath  out… and begin to slow it all down, steady heart. Mind resting enough to notice the details around me. I saw the beauty of Santa Fe, an old – old – old place. Full of adobe and tile, leather and stone. Beautiful and serene, it’s age a testament to longevity and purpose. Built by the Spanish monks over four hundred years ago, their places of worship still stand. Pointing not to their ingenuity – but to the one who inspired them to risk it all and go to a foreign place and dangerous time to spread their faith.

I noticed all of that in a nano-second. Like a Matrix moment in slow-motion… I could see and smell, hear, and perceive details all around me. Thousands of colors and shades had been missing in my life. I was black and white, sharp-edged and fast. Moving through the days like a school project, missing the ‘life’ around me. 

As I began to slow my existence in the wake of knowing ‘papa… I could live in the ‘NOW” for the first time in a long – long – time. I hadn’t felt this  in so long it was a bit foreign to me… not since I was a pre-adolescent kid in the summer – riding my bike with Scott McCumber or Mike Middleton – catching Crawdads – playing army – I remember each day was a decade of fun – but that had faded with adulthood. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I was ‘present’. Santa Fe was beautiful… each shop and restaurant a new treasure to discover, fear gone… I was able to relax.

Today, I was able to enjoy just being there. No distracting anxieties no restlessness.  I drove from Santa Fe to Taos, using the ‘high road’ it was gorgeous. The sun was clear and bright, blue skies and breezes all day. I drove and explored and relaxed in the sheer delight of it. No guilt, no regrets… I was living without the weight of all that pressure to keep moving. I could finally ‘stop’ inside.

Thank you GOD!

Next… my last two days on this Roadtrip Revival. Each was another beautiful surprise… rain in the desert and snow in the mountains. Special moments to share, truths to help me along.

Pastor B.

Living like you mean it!

2017 has been a tough one for our family.

I know for many of you…it’s also been a time of struggle and loss, a year of milestone moments… some of deep joy, others of bitterest grief. 

The massive and rare full solar eclipse this August (in Middle TN) followed immediately by two major hurricanes in as many weeks, and you start to think. Maybe things are a bit odd, even turbulent. From the recent astronomical event and intense weather pattern to the divisive trends of our culture, life is spinning faster and faster. It seems like the world is running parallel to my own life.

2017 isn’t going to be soon forgotten by our family, or the millions affected by the catastrophic hurricanes of Harvey and Irma.  These moments of tragedy and triumph help us ‘clarify’ what’s important. We can see what really matters in the breadth and depth of our lives.

It has helped me to drop the petty crap and leave behind the little offenses of humanity, and focus instead on the ‘good’ stuff. Things like….taking extra time to enjoy a sunset, lingering for a moment to snuggle in bed… the prompt decision to get a new bed instead of enduring another awful night of so-so sleeping on our 11 year old mattress. Don’t put off those things you’re ‘planning to get around to’.

It’s the proximity of loss that brings our senses to fullest alert. We start to really “live” when we see the danger of dying and loss so close by. 

As parents, it may be time to reconsider. Maybe it’s not as important to overachieve at work while letting your home life suffer.

Maybe… we shouldn’t continue to risk the relationships with our spouse… or deny our kids our fullest attention any longer. Maybe the goal of providing for a better ‘future’ needs to slide back on the priority scale…?

Instead, why not flip those things. Maybe it’s time to make some sacrifices with our career to stay connected and healthy at home. Maybe it’s more important to spend time with our family than anywhere else…?

Maybe…It’s not about how much money we save, or how deep our 401K grows.

Maybe…we need to stop running so hard for the ‘what if’ of tomorrow and start living the life in front of us…TODAY!

Colour of Life Photography

Our spouses.

Our kids.

Our nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles.

Our friends and those we love… these are the greatest treasures we can ever know. It’s not the stuff of life that matters. It’s how much life we can ‘stuff’ into our days that truly counts.

DON’T LIVE LIKE YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE TOMORROW. LIVE LIKE YOU ONLY HAVE TODAY.

#NoRegretsLiving

Pastor B.

Scripture Reference: Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV) 

Why life can be so hard.

Life is hard. No denying that… but why?

livewellmagazine.org

Deep question… lots of ways to respond to that statement…but here are couple of thoughts to consider.

  1. Our own ‘Free-Will”. 

  2. There is a “Villain” in our story

  3. Other People’s “free-will’ 

Could it be that simple? I believe it really is…

Item #1 – “Our Own Free Will”.  We make choices. Everyday -it’s free-will that allows us to decide who to live with or run from,  when we will go to bed and what we’re going to eat or wear. All of these choices have a consequence. Each consequence is ours alone to bear. That’s hard. I make bad choices every day. We can’t ‘duck’ our part in the play – so to speak.

Item #2“There is a Villain in our story. Don’t forget you’re in a larger ‘story’ called the Gospel. In that context there is a good King and an evil prince. One is looking to protect and provide for you… the other is stealthy and deceptive, seeking to steal and destroy. For the Christian, our life is a constant heaven and hell skirmish. We’re fighting a two front battle all the time; (1) we’re pushing past the resistance of our own selfish ‘old’ self as well as the (2) demonic push back of Lucifer (the villain) who has lost everything in his rebellion from God. He is ruthless and persistent in the attack. Bad things are thrown at us all the time… without knowing who it is that’s out there, we could be fooled into thinking it’s us, our friends,… or worse, God to blame.

Item #3 – “Other people’s Free-Will; Yep… you know what this means. Other people in and around our story can make totally lame choices that will definitely affect us. From walking out of a marriage to stealing money from our company… each individual can and will fail us from time to time. Understanding that as they fail us… we’re likely to fail them too… we may choose to come to ‘peace’ with that reality or we’ll isolate. We’ll try to run and run and run… until we can’t run any longer. Simply avoiding the risk of being injured by others.

As Christians we must walk out our lives in the same context as everyone else… however, we have an optional fourth item to consider. The Christian’s helper / comforter is the Holy Spirit in us. It radically affects our perspective, infuses us with supernatural power, and warns of danger with discernment and wisdom.

With the presence of the Holy Spirit, we’re well equipped to respond to the world of free-will and the randomness of our lives, and we’re protected from the viciousness of our soul sworn enemy. The Holy Spirit along with God’s truth (scripture) gives us more than an edge in living our lives with victory.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another,

If you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you’re soul tired… you need some newness of life.

I recommend the prayer of the Holy Spirit to jump-start your day.

Start with a spiritual song… sing along to it (out-loud).

Engage your heart and mind in this effort… allow several minutes to pass. Linger in the presence of God, soak up the words you’re listening to and then quietly Pray for God to grant you the grace and strength for your day,  ask the Holy Spirit to ‘fill’ you afresh.

Read in scripture or listen to it on a podcast. Hear the truth. Let it remind you again of God’s plans and purposes for your life… let it’s warmth push out the lies and agreements that may have crept into your psyche. God’s word freeing us from bondage and false accusation, opening us up to restoration. Ask for God’s protection and power to live your day in a posture of optimism and hope. .

Wait. . .

if necessary, ask for forgiveness as any recent sins may come immediately to mind. Don’t avoid this. Then Repeat…

Wait. . .

when God’s’ peace and purity flood your heart… resume your day.

Repeat again tomorrow.

Watch you ‘hard life’ suddenly change. It will steadily keep changing as your days start to morph into a series of satisfying and beautiful ones. A profound change in attitude and posture will start to show in you, as God through his redemptive supernatural power changes you.

A changed “you”… will begin to choose differently. A changed ‘you’ will respond to attacks without fear. A changed ‘you’ will grow in patience for those who  live selfishly. Not because you had a profound breakthrough or read the right book, but simply by seeing your life as it truly is. 

This is the Christian “LIFE”.

Pastor B.

Reference Verse for this blog; Romans 15:4-5a ” 

the Mozart Easter Story

Heard a great sermon on XM Radio’s family talk channel. The preacher shared on Mozart, who was quoted in his life to say…The secret to life, is accepting death“. (my paraphrase)

The story goes, that Mozart attributed his amazing life of musical genius and prolific creativity to the understanding that he would die, could die at anytime and that he was completely surrendered to that. He was excited to squeeze the life out of every second of every day that he had, without fear or doubt. He had settled the issue of his passing long before it came up.

Recent controversy with Pastor Rob Bell’s book… “Love Wins” has riled up the talking heads and the blogosphere with accusations of heresy, name calling and polarizing posturing from many Christian camps. His book explores the reality of what the Bible says specifically about Hell, Heaven and life after we die. I’m not here to comment on that other than to say.. I’m more concerned for this blog, in how I live this life, right now.

His understanding of death, released Mozart to live a most remarkable life.

As a believer in Christ, I have theoretically the same belief, that my death will only lead to life. But do I live that waySpecifically…not in the great beyond, or in the great eternity of the unknown…but here and now. Today. Am I living with a clear understanding of the truth behind those words ?

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life…and have it to the fullest. I don’t believe that he was just commenting for us on an inconceivable endless heaven after earth reality. I believe it means life for us here, now. When we surrender our need to be in control of our destiny, we find life. When we let go of our preferences, our endless fears for our kids, the mortgage or the test results just in from the doctor…. we renew our days with something extra-ordinary, a “Jesus” kind of perspective to our day that has the intensity of true and vibrant life in it.

Our kids are watching us as we live, we can teach and preach and do devotions until we’re blue in the face. We can drag them to church every Sunday, youth groups, missions trips or summer camps…but in the end they are watching US to determine what they are going to really believe.

When we live from the reality that we have already”died” to ourselves and to our preferences, we can embrace whatever God directs us towards… determined to live  fearlessly in the face of whatever comes. I believe that kind of life speaks louder than any other effort we can intellectually make to win their trust and hope and belief in Jesus. Our day-to-day understanding of the precious and priceless gift of life that has been given to us in Jesus, provide us with a remarkable weapon of Hope and Healing and Help. We become life-givers to those who are literally and metaphorically dying… Son Rise Cross

So this Easterlet go, allow your own stuff to die. The baggage of worry, fear and frustration that keeps us bound from really living…Please, know that until you surrender the stubborn parts of you that insist on being “right”, or “getting your way”…you’re not really dead yet. So go ahead and die to all of you…So that your and your family can really enthusiastically LIVE.

Fellow Parents,…It’s worth the struggle, and it’s worth the freedom to push through this Easter and not settle for anything less than real life. It’s time to consider a Mozart Easter tradition to begin in your home.

A life of really living… a life with hope and renewed vibrancy…in the beauty of TODAY. After all, we have something and someone truly remarkable to be living for.

Peace out my friends, “Keeping it on the road and in between the lines of Life”

brad.

The distant dusty planet called…”Emptybrainus”

Immediate “disclaimer” – the title doesn’t make sense unless you have a teenager at home and you read to the very end.

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As parents, our emotions are constantly shifting, changing from one extreme to the other, like a pendulum on Starbucks triple shot espresso. Our world can swirl and twirl and flip us upside down in a second and an hour later we’re laying on our face in the emotional gutter and wondering what happened. This is overwhelming true if your parenting a teen.

howsmydayinutarkampar.blogspot.com

howsmydayinutarkampar.blogspot.com

From the moment we lift our lead filled eyelids in the morning to the last gasp of breath before it’s a snore, we face so much uncertainty and challenge it tempts us to just “react” our way through the next 18 hours. We have reasons to move protectively and guarded throughout our day, watching and waiting for the next disappointment to show itself and prove how right we are about how bad things have become. We’re convinced that our world is fragile, like an egg about to be cracked on a hot stove…

But, that’s not really living… it’s surviving.

As parents and followers of Christ, we are given another option beyond bare human existence…we’re offered a chance to “thrive”, to actually “LIVE” our lives in a positive direction, focused and intentionally moving forward.

It comes down to our internal choice of what we’re going to believe to be true. Let me explain….  IF we only believe in our own ability to fix stuff, exclusively looking to come up with our solutions to our daily disappointments,we’re going to get “reactionary” in a heartbeat. We’re in danger of being trapped in an endless current of fear, frustration and bitterness at the repeated “losses” we feel.

IF we choose to “remember” the heritage of faith that we have in our hero Jesus, we can recall the hundreds of times he’s saved us from every kind of trial, painful disappointment or open betrayal. When we choose to look on the one whose faithfulness is timeless and true, we can shrug off the moments of emotional turmoil as the normal side effects of living life as a human and put them back into proper perspective rather than allowing them to overshadow our entire day.

Our source of hope and happiness cannot be the pulse of our emotional heartbeat…. instead

we can find stability and strength in our own personal epistle of God’s faithfulness, looking back to see where, when and how God showed up to fix things in our past. Remembering those impossible life situations that were miraculously flipped from bad to awesome. It gives us a personal test-a-ment, a tangible evidence we’re not in this all alone, that there is a good, kind and just God, who cares about our lives. 

God is constant, He is eternal and He is unchanging.

That’s welcome relief for those of us who are parenting in the turbulence of real life with real trials, and longing for something solid to put our full trust into… to be able to really rest in the middle of an insane world. The bible puts it like this…

Revelation 21:4-6 (ESV)

 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

SO hang in there dear ones… God will show up, He has, he will and he’s going to. We don’t have to wait until we’re dead in Heaven to find rest for our souls, we can have it right now… even when our lives seem to be trapped in orbit around those hormone fueled teenagers who live on a distant dusty planet called, Emptybrainus! 🙂

Love you ! Pastor B.

Emptybrainus !

Emptybrainus !                                               (source tracinguniverse.blogspot.com )

Choices are all we have.

I’m always amazed at how oddly time seems to move around me. It rushes by with no regard at all to the moment… regardless if that particular slice of life happens to be one of epic importance or mundane normalcy. It moves at the same pace regardless of my request. But what really catches me off guard, is how minor moments add up to entire years of time without any sense of rapid movement. Like a dream… soft and distant, with wisps of fog and only a little bit of light, surreal and unexplained, and then I have a moment when I “wake up” startled to find that I’m nowhere near where I thought I was.

lawstudentally.com

Time changes subtly… this morning it was suddenly cold outside, with frost on the windows of my car and it “seemed” like only last week that I was running around wearing shorts and a t-shirt. This morning my college freshman daughter is sleeping in her sister’s bedroom on an overnight trip back to college, but it “seems” like she was just sleeping in that same bunk bed as my precious little eight year old, bright-eyed and full of childlike excitement about her third grade field trip to go see the local apple orchard.

Choices are all we have.

We can’t stop the movement of time, we can’t stop the transitions of life. The change in seasons, the growth of our kids into adults and the relentless march of age as we grow and mature and start to slow as everything we know and seems familiar keeps on changing.

Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)

  15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

But we can make wise decisions.

The assumption that can destroy us all is the belief that things will always stay the way they are. The subconscious belief that we will be exempt from the movement of life and time to its unavoidable conclusion. Our passing. Morbid? Nah, this is good stuff. Thinking about the pressing nature of life, of change and the ultimate common denominator is healthy for us to consider in the hustle and bustle of our days.

Slow down a bit, spend a moment with God, read of the sacred word and breathe a bit of life into your soul as you rush off to do whatever is so important today. STAND STILL in the midst of your Chaotic World. Consider the end game, rouse yourself from the lethargy of it all. Make your choices accordingly. Life is a gift, not a guarantee and the flavor of our decisions will shape the present and our eternal futures.

Parenthood is an epic and honorable accomplishment, not something simply to survive. It’s an uncommonly rare thing for parents to finish strong, to remain married and to provide the stability and strength of a healthy home for children to become men and women of influence and direction.

Stand still and see the life you live as it really is, remember that Choices are ALL WE HAVE.

Changes to be made…? Sure, of course…things to improve, values and priorities to re-establish, undoubtedly. But make them now, or the distractions of today may become the regrets of tomorrow.

Psalm 90:12 (ESV)

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Amen and Amen. God help us to live each day and each moment to it’s fullest… conscious of the precious and fleeting gift it is. Help us to live with wisdom and intent as we raise our children and follow your will for our lives.

Peace out, Pastor Brad.