Monday, February 11, 2013

Feet to the flames...

I find it no small coincidence that at the very moment, hour, and day that my wife and I declare our desire to grow in and closer to God, and in our relationship together, that in that same breath we would awaken to find ourselves, our relationship, and our family under attack from the principalities that would seek the death and destruction of all that God would see grow through his work and ministrations in our lives.

Last week Nicole and I committed to being being much more intentional and thoughtful regarding our Lenten disciplines, and in our study of God's word together. Saturday we sat down together and prayerfully created a family purpose statement, which we hoped God would aid us in using to foster his will and direction in our family.

And at this moment, looking back at the last two days since that time of reflection and prayer, I find myself being bombarded with a paradigm that disgusts and convicts me. This morning was awful, to put it frankly. I was short-tempered with our toddler; gorgeous, young, and innocent though she is. I was judgmental, impatient, and accusing of my wife. And as i sat in staff worship this morning after getting to work, I found it all but impossible to be prayerful or thankful, or even repentant, about anything.

As I sat and listened to God's word read aloud, heard the voices of corporate prayer and worship surrounding me, all I could think was how I wish it would end. And suddenly, like a wave of regret and guilt, I realized what I wish I have come to understand years ago.

I was angry at my wife, my child, my family, my circumstances, even my God. I felt in my heart what I know to be right...that I was being called, given every opportunity to be gracious, selfless, sacrificial, and forgiving. I knew, recognized more clearly than ever before in my life, that I was under a spiritual attack from principalities seeking to bring about the very division and bitterness I was experiencing in my life at that very moment. I knew that I was being sinful in my attitude and action. And I wanted it to end, I wanted to accept God's grace and chose a better, Christ-centered way and attitude. However, something deep inside me WANTED to hold on to that sin.

The darkness of sin that I had selfishly and foolishly allowed to creep into my heart and mind could be seen actively warring against the light of Christ that dwells inside me. I could watch it like an epic tale played out on the big screen. I could see Frodo warring with himself inside the mountain as the two natures inside him warred against one another. Like Elisha's eyes opening to perceive the heavenly hosts surround the hills, ready to defend the city under siege, my eyes were opened in a radical new paradigm to perceive the LITERAL reality of the ongoing battle between the Lord of Hosts and his angels, and the agents of the Enemy.

In that moment I felt literally sick in my stomach. I knew then more clearly than ever just what Paul was referring to in Romans 7. The very good I wanted, I could not bring myself to do. And the very evil that I desperately wanted no part of...that I kept on doing. I felt in my physical body a reaction to the filth of sin in my life, and I wanted to vomit. Full of regret. full of disgust with myself and full of guilt over my weakness in defense against the orchestrations of the Enemy, I sat down and began to write to you all.

So here I offer what we as Christians are too often fearful to release in trust and faith to a loving God and our fellow brothers and sisters. I am the master of my own destruction. To that end I say this:

First: Lord, I know that you are sovereign over all things, that you are gracious without end, merciful, and trustworthy. I know in my heart that in my own strength, pride, arrogance, and piety I make a mockery of you, and of the grace you have so freely shed on the cross in the spilling of your own Son's blood. I know you are holy, and wise, and forgiving. And for these things Lord I declare thanksgiving that you are as you have always been. You are love and justice and truth. I am full of sin and unworthy to be counted among your sons and daughters. And yet I am thankful that even now you show forth your glory in rescuing me once again from the mire in which I yet again find myself. Forgive me Lord for my sins against you. Though I am not worthy, make me clean. And strengthen me with the encouragement that comes from your Word and your Church.

Secondly: Nicole, today and this weekend were my fault. Through God gifting of you to me you are my joy. My source of encouragement. My peace. My hiding place and security. You indeed are my cherished love and companion. I am so sorry, my Love. You are to be cherished, encouraged, lifted up, honored, and led to closeness with our Lord. these are the things I long to give to you and provide for you, and I beg the Lord's help in fulfilling this call as your helpmate. I love you, and pray that God blesses your day and season of Lent with the heaviness of his presence and Spirit. I pray that God would help and give me strength in helping and encouraging you to be come a woman who defines grace, humility, service, compassion, and love to all who encounter her.

Third: To my children, who cannot yet even read of comprehend these words. You are my legacy of faith, entrusted to me by Almighty God. Forgive me for my short-sightedness and frustration with you. I have been called to steward your young life, teaching you all I know of the Father and shepherding you in growing to know and love and pursue him with all your hearts. This task weighs heavily on my heart, and I pray in desperate need that God would lead me in his wisdom as I seek to do so. For you I pray the bliss and beauty of childhood. That even before an ability to articulate God's place in your heart and life, that you would know him and have a deep love for Him. That one day you both would be such as Timothy. Young people whose lives so clearly reveal your place as a child of God and a fervent disciple in Christ that people in our communities, even those who have yet to meet you, would know of your heart for our Lord, and give thanks to the Lord for young ones such as you.

Today I am reminded, though my mother's constant encouragement, of Gideon. A coward threshing wheat in a wine press to whom the angel of the Lord declared, "The Lord is with you, o' mighty man of valor." I am reminded that though I may feel as though I am the least and weakest of all, through Christ's strength and by God's will and power, I have been called to die to put to death the sin of self that wars within me, desperately clinging to the smallest hint of selfishness, hate and pride. These things have no place in the heart of a might man whom God has called to good works. And like Gideon, though small and fearful, if I trust in the strength of our Lord, I will witness the power of God cast down the principalities that plague this world. I will see captives set free, and the light of the Gospel send the darkness skittering far from God's people. Indeed, when led by the hand of God, and in abiding in Him, the true vine, I will see even "greater works than these" wrought by the hand of the Father.

Lord, I love you. Nicole, I cherish you and am so thankful for you always. Kayla and Jos, I am inspired to lead you faithfully toward God's love. Please Lord, bless and keep us all this season of Lent. Prepare our hearts to receive the wonders you delight in bringing us as we look forward once again to celebrating your resurrection.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I was recently asked to do something I don't recall doing before at any point in my life. I friend asked me to sit down and write my autobiography. Specifically my spiritual autobiography. So to you unsuspecting passers-by who were as of yet unaware, yes. I am one of those people. A Christian to be more specific. Having been set to task I initially did what I most often do and have thus far procrastinated. And to be clear, this specific entry is not said biography. Rather, this entry is more or less an introduction to the purpose of this blog. I only mention the part about the biography for this reason: beginning to take stock of my spiritual life (which constitutes the last 25 of my almost 30 years) feels a bit like writing a biography about my life in general.

In doing so my mind wanders and begins to consider what it has all been about. What have I learned? What wisdom have i gleaned? What bridges have been burned, relationships forged, amends made, promises broken, and victories won?

My wife, Nicole, and I are licensed foster parents, however we have never been biological parents. All that will change in just a few short weeks as we welcome our first biological child, Jos, into this world. And, as I take stock of the scope of my life up to this point, it is becoming increasingly important for me to be able to effectively find the words and wisdom and encouragement within my story in order to pass some kind of legacy on to my son.

I wonder what I am leaving him. For some reason i feel compelled beyond control to put together some sort of notes or memoir, though it will be some years before he can read much less comprehend any of it, so that in the event that I am not here when he comes of significant age he has some token by which to know me. not merely to know my face, or the stories that would be handed down to him in such a case, know me. To know in the sense of deep affection and familiarity this man whose name he will carry his whole life, whose legacy he will inherit.

I don't yet have that answer. However, maybe this is a start...this collection of writings and posts that will one day hold the sum of years of thoughts, inclinations, notions, and yearnings. With any luck, and the accountability of a few who know me best, I'll manage to keep this page warm with fresh words, new insights, and hopefully, with the help and conviction of the Holy Spirit, truths to live by. And hidden somewhere within maybe, just maybe, the image of the man behind the words will be evident to the son who is yet to hear his father's voice.

And to that brief bit of encouragement that I would leave to Jos would be that two of the many overwhelming truths in life are as follows: 1) Following and trusting in Jesus, devoting your whole life to Him alone, is the most important, vital, and rewarding thing you could ever do with your life. And 2) The life to which He will call you is anything but ordinary. Therefore, do your best at all time to revel in whatever place in life God places you. You were created with a purpose. And in being fully alive in Christ, your life will be a testament to God's glory.

That being said, my greatest desire for this and future postings would be that in these words those who read them would find encouragement, conviction, and the Lord whose image and name is graven on my heart. That those who happen upon these pages would forgive the imperfection through which God intends to speak his love. May it be His image, that of the One who spoke all existence into being, that you find most evident here. And my these feeble words hold power to speak love into the lives of those who read them. For it is "in Him we live and move and have our being." - Acts 17:28