Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gods Timing...(belt)


I'm aware that many people have a problem with the notion of an omnipotent, omnipresent, God who loves each of us so much that He's concerned with the circumstances of our individual lives. Perhaps even more mind blowing to them is the further contention that He would put His Holy Spirit in the midst of our circumstances with the intent of working out the details of His great purpose through each one of us.

That's precisely the reason I've got to tell this story, and while I know that there are some who won't share my vision, I also believe that there are many more that have personally experienced similar and much, much greater "coincidental" circumstances than mine that will see it and who will recognize His work.

Where to start? I guess I'll just pick it up on that Monday morning twenty five days ago when my car refused to start. Internal combustion is really a simple thing, it's air and gas mixed together with a spark applied to it. This working knowledge is the basis for troubleshooting any automotive problem. All three things must be present for a car to start. I'm not very mechanically inclined, instead I rely on people who are and on the advice they so generously give me to fix my car. The first idea I heard was that my fuel pump was probably not working, and so after some research into how to replace a fuel pump and shopping around for one, I went about replacing it.

But that wasn't the problem...

So there I was, already into this thing for almost two hundred bucks and not much closer to even knowing what the problem was. It was through the further advice of well intentioned friends and the elimination of fuel as being the problem that my attention was focused on spark. Timing actually, which regulates the combustion process by using a belt driven cam shaft to open and close the valves of the cylinder in sync with the application of the spark and fuel in the cylinder. Whoever came up with the idea for a timing belt must of gotten the idea from God, no doubt inspired by His ability to be the power and the drive that keeps everything in sequence and brings order and harmony to so many different things that work separately and yet together. It was at this point that I fully knew that I was in over my head mechanically, and that I had done everything I personally could to fix my car, that's when it became "God's timing belt" problem!

What did God have in mind? Was He wanting me to look for a newer car? Was He making some other arrangement's that would require me to just be patient for a time? I was trusting in that being the case but I didn't really have any more of a clue!

My day to day life and transportation necessities were thankfully being covered by my brother in law who I live with, but here's where it gets a bit complicated. His car's transmission had been acting up, it constantly slipped at certain speeds and it had no overdrive, which is related to another previous circumstance that's very significant. A few weeks ago I was in a library computer lab, I noticed a man who was having trouble inserting his flash drive into the USB port of the computer so I went over and tried to help him. We had a brief encounter and I remember thinking to myself what a nice guy he seemed to be.

A week or so later as I was getting out of my car at Sunday night church, I saw this same man walking into the church with guess who? My brother in-law! He had been occasionally attending my bro-n-law's church and on that particular evening had decided to attend our church because he and his wife were riding in my Bro-n-law's car, that decision was mostly a dictate of the transmission problems and the closer proximity of our church. That night after service's I introduced my wife and myself to him and his wife, and he remembered me too! They invited us to come to their bible study group on Friday night's and we accepted. Since then we've been getting to know them better and have been attending regular bible studies with them that my bro-n-law had been going to so we just hitched a ride with him. WHEW! (takes a deep breath)

As I became acquainted with him he shared with me his vision of a ministry he was trying to get going, he wanted to train people to be evangelists and to provide the people of his community with christian based counseling in several area's, he was also looking for someone who could write blogs for his ministry website...Gee,what a coincidence! I believe that our meeting was by God's appointment, and that it might never of happened if my bro-n-laws car hadn't of been acting up! Oh, by the way...the problem with his car miraculously fixed itself a few day's later when he discovered that his OD switch on the shift lever had somehow been pushed in, which was telling the car to try to shift into a non-functioning OD gear at certain speeds. When he let it out, the car began to function normally (still no overdrive, but without the constant slipping) just as it always had since he'd owned it. He had driven it at least a thousand miles that way and seriously thought that it was going to completely quit on him!

I had talked about my car with several people, some gave me advice, others seemed indifferent, and still others offered me actual help! I've found that when someone really want's to help you they'll always find a way even if that means just somehow letting you know they care. To me, it's a very big deal to tell someone I love them, I may say it casually but it still means a lot to me. It means I know you at your best and at your worst and that I make no distinction between them in that I'm always going to care for you and about you in all your circumstances.


Anyway, back to MY car problem! It was my recently acquainted friend that offered to bring his friend to my house to look at my car. At first he thought it was the belt too, but when we got the cover off it was okay. I've got a few plug wires that aren't in too good of shape so we replaced those, still no good spark. When they opened up the distributor there was a lot of corrosion and the rotor bug was broken, we really thought this would fix it but no, it didn't. There's only one component of the electrical system left, the ignition coil, so I ran into town to pick one up.

This morning, I took that ignition coil and installed it inside of the distributor cap, it was difficult for me but I was able to figure it out! I twisted the key and VOILA! it started. What can I say? It's been a process during which I've had to give it to God, who then brought some Christian brothers alongside me to do some of the things I couldn't, but He saved the last piece of the puzzle for me to provide because it was important that it happen that way for my sake. Twenty six days without a car, but being set apart has also been a blessing because in the midst of my lacking God showed me a lot of things, some old, some new, but all of them on His time!

The Three Are's

We've all heard about the three R's of education, reading,righting,and rithmitic. As a boy I used to hear that expression used occasionally by folks as a retort to some confusing modern curriculum, it was based in a belief that kids were learning all kinds of new stuff in school but perhaps weren't covering the basics. What I'd like to do is draw a few comparisons between the three R's of education and what I see as being the three "are's" of living a Christian life.

Reading, it's number one for a reason. The ability to read and more importantly the level at which you can comprehend what you read is everything. You obviously can't write without being able to read and doing math in the traditional way would be quite difficult as well. When we read, we take the word's into our mind where they can be received into our intellect,our memory, and can serve to entertain us, inform us, and yes even change us! My first "are" is...


#1. Are YOU washed in the blood of Jesus?'

It's first because like reading it's the most important thing ! Without the blood of Christ we've really got nothing, all of our righteousness is as filthy rags, none of us could do for ourselves what Christ did for us! Like reading, which opens up our minds to receive the written word, our salvation, which is personally receiving what Christ did for us, opens our hearts up to His word and His great love for us.

It changes us, our understanding of His sacrifice for us and of what it saved us from is the "Pearl of great value" that is His gift to us,our possession, but not to keep because it's just too good not to share with others! That brings me to "are" number two,


# 2. Are YOU, eager to share the "good news" about our Lord and Savior? Eager because of the forgiveness you've received and your compassion for people who don't know Jesus as their savior who are just like you were at one time. Does your heart break for people who suffer under the lies and deceptions of the enemy that tear their lives apart? Just like writing, which is an expression of whats on our minds, telling others about our victory over sin through Christ is an "expression" we share with others out of the gladness of our heart! Knowing how to write doesn't do anybody any good if it's not used to meet a need, similarly, If our faith in God is without works then our faith is dead! I'm so thankful to have this blog to share my faith with others, because if I didn't have it I think I'd bust! I feel as though the Holy Spirit is constantly pouring into me and what I'm hearing is just such great stuff that I have to write it down here! Like I mentioned before, if you can't read, writing is out of the question...likewise, if you're not washed in the blood there's not going to be any God honoring motivation for you to share Christ with others. You might be the pastor of the biggest church in town, but if your ministry is got more to do with you and lifting you up than it does with really desiring to serve God you'll start to notice the odor of a "dead church".

I've already began the third "are", and like mathematics, it's the one that gives folks a lot of trouble!


#3. Are YOU living a God honoring life?

There will always be different opinions theological interpretations as to what that specifically means, and also of our ability while in this cloak of flesh to fulfill them. Some people believe in a very uncompromising definition while others not so much, but Rather than get into all of that I'd just like to share with you a few of my answers which are of course in the form of questions and illustrations.

Gods perfect plan of salvation is perfect because mans only role in it is to either accept it or reject it. Why would God have made our salvation contingent upon our own abilities to be obedient when He knows that even though we have the Holy Spirit as a guide and counselor as long as we're in this flesh we're going to fall short?

Last Sunday my family and I had church at home because of our car not running. My 8yr old daughter brought the message which had to do with how to have a relationship with Christ. She actually did a pretty good job, we also did a bible study during which I was compelled to expand on her understanding of what it means to know Christ. Because my daughter has SO much stuff and her room is SO small, cleaning and organizing it is practically impossible for her to do. I asked her, "If Jesus cleaned your room, completely,perfectly, and put everything in it's place for you, and you knew for sure that it was Him who did it would it affect how you play? If you believed that He was standing in your doorway watching you, would you make more of an effort to keep it clean? If not, then I have to wonder what type of relationship you see yourself as having with Him or weather you really know Him at all".

I know, that's heavy stuff for an 8yr old but she understood it and I don't think that a more complicated explanation is nessesary...

What about you? If you were accused of being a Christian and then put on trial for it would there be sufficient evidence to convict you?

Or would you be like the pharisee's and look good from the outside but be dead on the inside?

One thing that I'm really thankful for is that Living a life that honors God isn't as hard as mathematics, here's a little formula I found that I can understand...

One savior + three nails= forgiven!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Lucky Ones

lucky people

I don't believe in luck as most people would define it, that's it's just some random happenstance that occurs for no reason or that its a personally directed act that involves leprechauns or rabbits feet. Instead, I prefer to think of most "luck" as being what happens when preparedness and opportunity meet! "Lucky" is a word sometimes used out of jealousy toward others that seeks to diminish the hard work that's been invested in a successful project or to express stunned disbelief at some sudden windfall of good fortune that can't be readily explained otherwise. There's lots of other ways the term luck is used, beginners luck is when we try something without any preconceived ideas of what works and what doesn't and approach something without prejudice. I've heard people say... "Nobody told me I couldn't, so I just did it!". Personally, I believe we have angels that watch over all of us, others will say that it's just luck when people go through a bad car wreck or some other accident and aren't seriously injured.

The word luck sure does cover a lot of stuff!

I've heard it said that if God did not exist people would have to "invent" Him in some way in order to explain "what is life ". Because of mans ego, the concept of "luck" was necessary in order for men to be able to justify their atheism and avoid believing that God DOES exist, that he is alive, and does intervene in mans affairs.

My purpose in writing about luck is primarily to expose it for the superstitious lie that I believe it is. It can start off simply by putting faith in mere objects like clovers or rabbits feet, not only is doing that misplaced faith, it also takes away from us having a true saving faith in God! Ironically, being "lucky" can turn out to be a very real obstacle or stumbling block to people. One of the worst things that can happen to a young man is to get big time "lucky" at the horse track one time because then he's hooked for life! Have you ever had a car with an intermittent problem, one that would only malfunction part of the time? And of course, when you take it to a mechanic it'll never "do it" while you're there! It's really hard for a mechanic to diagnose a problem like that let alone fix it. Appearances are deceiving and a casual glance seldom if ever tells us whats going on inside.

I was born with so many advantages in life, and that made it hard for me to admit I had lots of problems as a young man. There were people in my life who's job it was to help me to sort them out, but because I was a "high functioning" drug addict I could keep up a fortunate facade and pass myself off as being no worse off than any other typical teenager so I never really got the help I needed. I don't know for sure, It may of been that the only person I was really fooling was myself. Regardless, being outwardly fortunate didn't turn out to be so lucky for me.

If our afflictions are obvious to everyone including ourselves and we're forced to confront them in such a way that we loose our illusion of somehow being the only ones who need help or that asking for help is something shameful or embarrassing we may not appear to be very lucky, but we almost always get the help we need. Could it be that one of Satan's most common deceptions is to convince us that we're different or separate from other people? That we're much better off to stay safe and hidden on our home base of "self" and not reach out a hand to others to help or be helped by. It's pretty basic strategy to use camouflage to hide what we don't want to be seen, to "divide and conquer", or to suggest the presence of a much larger and more powerful military in order to deceive.

I'm not one of the lucky ones, but I am fortunate that the circumstances of my life have brought me to a place where all of my problems are in plain sight. You see, my Heavenly Father knows all about my situation too, and I believe He wants to use it to show Himself faithful in His own time and way. I know that It may get worse before it gets better, but I can already see things falling into place for God to show His grace through me to lots and lots of people and not only will that make everything I've been through much more than worth it!

Who needs luck?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I can't believe it!


My father was married six or seven times, I'm not sure exactly I lost interest after number four or five. Obviously my father wasn't good at maintaining relationships but one thing that he learned well was how to end them. I recall having a conversation with him on the subject, he shared with me his too often tested criteria for deciding when to end a relationship. He told me, "Once you get to the point that you say to yourself, That "expletive", I can't believe she did that, it's over!" My father went on to say that he couldn't understand being friends with an "ex" either, his feeling was that if you could tolerate them at all then you probably should've just stayed together. My father had some serious boundary issues with women, by giving them everything they wanted he would eventually create this "monster" who then began to value only what he could provide for them. It was his way of being, to each woman he was with, the best thing that had ever happened to them. When you've been married several times you feel the need to distinguish yourself with your partner in some way, as if to say "Remember me, I took you on that vacation to Florida, or I bought you that furniture you always wanted that your ex didn't". Yes, it was all sweetness and light until one day, or more likely after many days, he came to an always painful realization that he had been used again, the first clue to this is when people quit asking you for stuff and just start helping themselves to whatever you've got without so much as a thank you.


In my life I too have had relationships of all types that I've suffered under or that have "used" me. And while I certainly am not condoning how my father handled his relationships or his not taking responsibility for fostering his own problems, I have been able to use his technique to rid myself of things in my life that required nothing short of change on a wholesale level. When we come to see how sin has "quit asking our permission" and has taken control of our lives, or how it's not only affecting us but also the people around us we all may need to have an "I can't believe it" moment. If I did believe it, I would be extremely upset with whoever or whatever is responsible for the stuff that's going on including myself. Dealing with my own complicity should be my first move, accepting my responsibility and understanding that when I find myself in a hole, in order to get out the first thing I must do is stop digging...and then, I can focus on my extraction! Like it or not, we all have a relationship with sin in our lives. For most of us, it's lost it's pretense of being our "friend" or the courtesy of asking our permission that it once had and has shown itself to be the cruel taskmaster it really is.

Okay, it's time to use the lessons my father taught me!

My heavenly Father is in control, and Satan can't do anything that God doesn't allow him to do so naturally I have to wonder why a loving Father would allow death,sickness,or tragedy to occur. This is my conclusion, how we react in our free will to these circumstances determines who is glorified through them. If we allow them to paralyze us with fear and steal our joy in life Satan has made a profit off of us, but if we decide that what God said in His word was absolutely true and that "I CAN believe it" and decide that we've simply had enough we can decide to rise up and turn on our enemy and command it to leave. I didn't say ask it nicely and patiently wait for a response...I'm talking about serving it with the divorce papers baby! You are outta here! and your little band of demons too! When we finally decide that we've had it with Satan's game plan to kill, steal, and destroy and get mad enough to MOVE we can start by saying, "Satan, you are done messing with me, my friends, my family, and I'm making a stand right here! Oh, and I also want everything you've stolen from me back right NOW!" guess what? We discover that through Christ we're infinity more powerful than him and when we use that power God is glorified by it!

I think God is up in heaven looking down saying,

"Somebody please pick up that baseball bat and knock that devil into the next millennium!"

When any of us do that I think He smiles, and says "THAT'S MY CHILD!"

From as far back as I can remember, to this very minute, I have loved my father. I loved him with a love that couldn't see his many short comings and failures. I just simply didn't know how NOT to love him. There were also times as a young man when I dis-respected and abused our relationship, but it was during those times when I found out how much he loved me!

Our Heavenly Father has no short comings or failures, His love for us is unconditional, it would be contrary to His nature to not love each and every one of us no matter what we may do! He's also seeking to have a relationship with us but unlike my father, He's not going to just give us everything we want and then get mad when we don't love Him back!

If by chance you're someone reading this who feels as though they've never personally experienced unconditional love then this is for you. If you're struggling today in your life with any health problems, physical or emotional, or experiencing financial hardship's, please listen...perhaps you are wondering, "why am I here" or just know in your heart that your current situation cannot be all that life's about? (you're right, it's not!) Then your day has come! In the very face of the spirits of doubt that may be surfacing in your mind right now as you read this, begin by thanking God for continuing to love you through all of your rebellion against Him and ask for His forgiveness. In the midst of your affliction, cry out to Him as Abba Father in your time of need. We might be tempted to ask for His help but It's going to be much easier to fix your problems if you will simply lay them at His feet. Ask Him for His strength and His courage to be continuously victorious in your life, and for His Holy Spirit to guide you in all things. We also need wisdom to see the snares that the enemy sets for us to step into everyday. It takes plenty of light to see them, and the experience of someone who knows what it's like to walk in our shoes, and that's who Jesus is! I sincerely ask that you to do what I've just suggested with an open heart and let His love be poured out on you! And then you too can say "I can't believe it!" except that this time it'll be because of the great blessing He has given you!

Ephesians 1:2-10

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.