Letting Go of Old Identities

identity

Life’s too short for drama and negativity,
Pointing out the problem doesn’t take much ability.
Saturate the day with encouragement and optimism,
It’ll take focus and work, the opposite of passivism.

Only you can go to places that will stretch & grow you,
It will be scary, difficult, but it will reward you.
No one will cheer you, but go there anyway,
Few will understand, it’s the price you must pay.

The sign of maturity is to become less dramatic,
Being the victim has now become anti-climatic.
Energizing those around, you’re no longer a drain,
Hope is your new choice, like the smell of spring rain.

Jesus came to remove the sin of exclusion,
The Pharisees felt threatened like he was an intrusion.
Gandhi was puzzled by the churches prejudice,
He stayed Hindu because there was no difference.

We create our own boxes, it’s time to get rid of them,
We’re far more creative than we can fully comprehend.
So don’t get caught up in main stream philosophies,
The world needs your uniqueness with no apologies.

The only prayer you need is a simple “Thank you”,
Gratitude’s the answer, and miracles are the clue.
Thankfulness leads to joy, it’s the obvious fruit,
Waiting for perfect conditions is a destructive pursuit.

As we grow older we gravitate towards safety,
Talk is cheap, where have you gone lately?
To see justice we must run towards the unknown,
Uncertainty and discomfort, it’s where faith is grown.

His love is unconditional, no grading on a curve,
A stunning faithfulness, it’s not what I deserve.
It’s easy to forget, I strive for perfection,
I’m vulnerable to fail, but grace is my protection.

I have more pants than days in the week,
My 4g is slow, it’s new products I seek.
Lack of sanitation kills, statistics show it,
More people have mobile phones than a simple toilet.

Too many people choosing not to forgive,
It’s become their story, the way that they live.
I must let go of old identities, it’s a matter of will,
I’m canceling the debt, it’s paid in full.

 

Failure: The Beginning of Grace

F

When I was a freshman in college I was a very responsible student. There were moments in college when I was not a responsible student, but when I entered college I was very serious and I hated getting bad grades.

My freshman year I took a history class that was one of the most difficult classes I’ve ever taken.

It was on American History and there was no text book. The seemingly uninterested professor would walk in, ramble for an hour and a half and then we would take tests on his lecture. And that was it.

The only way you could do well was by taking really good notes. For an hour in a half you would write down what he was saying and he talked fast, without a lot of passion and he was not a very nice guy and my attention span was about 30 seconds.

When people would ask him questions he would say, “Well you weren’t paying attention and I don’t repeat my lecture.” He was just degrading.

The first couple of tests I took I got C’s. And I’m not a C kinda dude. It was very irritating.

There was one paper at the end where we had to write about a historical person and this was going to be 50% of our grade.

I knew I had C going into the 50% of the grade project. I wrote a whole paper on the life and leadership of Harry Truman. I worked through Thanksgiving break and I worked hard. I’d never worked so hard on a project.

When I got my paper back this was on the cover of my paper. “F”

I needed therapy for this one. This one hurt. It was just excruciating and he was such an intimidating professor. I didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t want to ask him why he gave me an “F”, but I did.

I set up an appointment to meet with him in his office. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done. As I walked in, I kept my head low and I swear I could hear Darth Vader breathing.

As I approached his desk I said, “You know I worked really hard on this paper and I don’t know why I got an F.”

He grabbed my paper from my hand, quickly glanced at it and said in a very degrading voice, “Well your references were wrong.”

I’d used one book primarily for those references and as I showed him the book and he shot back, “See I have the same book and your references were wrong. You made them up.” He was challenging my integrity.

As I looked at my book and I looked at his book, I realized that I had happened to have the paperback version of the book and he had a hard cover and so the pages were different.

I gently and humbly showed him the difference and Professor Darth Vader realized that all my references were right and he looks down at my paper and, I’ll never forget this, he drew a line down the right side of the “F” on my paper, and made the “F” an “A”.

I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say? I wanted to say, “May the force be with you!” But I didn’t! I walked out quickly before he could change his mind.

My point is this. In life sometimes we feel like life’s a big “F”, that we failed. And we’re afraid to go to God because our image of God is that he’s an angry, bitter professor. But when we go to God, just as we are, he offers us his grace and he turns our lives from an “F” into an “A”.

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” Titus 2:11

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:23-24

My Soul Thirsts For You

go-out-and-love

When the Psalmist sings, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land…Because Your loving kindness is better than life.”…
…I think of the woman at the well, the shame of five failed marriages, an outcast in her own village, soul parched and empty, going back to tell them about this amazing Savior she had met, transformed by his gentleness and grace, declaring that His kindness is better than life.

When God speaks through the weeping prophet Jeremiah, “Come home to me again, for I am merciful.”…
…I think of the Prodigal son, ashamed of his past, hopeless in his present and fearful of his future, sitting at the banquet table that was set for his return, overwhelmed by his father’s unreasonable mercy.

When Jesus says, “I knock on the door of your heart, and if you open it, I will come in and have a meal with you.”…
…I think about Zaccheaus, insecure, empty, shallow, crooked, betrayer of his own people, sliding down the lookout tree as fast as he could, generosity springing forth out of his bones, going home to have dinner with the God of undeserved gifts.

When Solomon writes, “Come now my love, my lovely one, come.”…
…I think of the woman, ashamed of her past, tears in her eyes, anointing the feet of the one who did not judge her.
And while the religious voyeurs are scoffing and condemning, hearts of stone, the son of man, looks deep in her eyes, and for the first time, there is a man who does not want to take something from her but wants to give her everlasting worth.

When the prophet Jeremiah declares, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast.”…
…I think of 10 men, full of sores, untouchable, being touched by Emanuel, God with us, no longer exiled, future renewed, dignity restored. Strangely, only one comes back to thank him.

When I read in St. Matthew that, “he healed every kind of disease and illness.”…
…I think of the woman, twelve years searching, bleeding from childbirth, finding no answers, fighting the crowd, ignoring the rebukes, stretching as far as she could to touch the remnant of her healer, and with one last chance, she feels his spirit flow through and her body is whole.

When we are taught to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”…
…I think of that same gentleness and grace, that same unreasonable mercy, those same undeserved gifts, that same everlasting worth and that same healing power that is available to every broken, rebellious, wayward, ailing, greedy, lust filled, wronged and mistreated person today.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

When I think about who we have given our life to, the only thing I can say is, “Go out and love someone.”

From Every Tribe and Every Nation…a few thoughts from Africa

Africa 2012 164

From every tribe, and every nation
My faith transcends denomination
Culture, colors none the same
Redemption comes in Yeshua’s name

Stuck in my view, its far too narrow
My earthly eyes see too much sorrow
Babies die and mothers weep
Big men lie while others sleep

Told tough times lead to deeper faith
I still avoid them like the plague
Addicted to teaching, binder full of notes
The harvest is plentiful, but my actions remote

White, yellow, brown, red and black
There is no shade that God lacks
Transformation, it’s a lifetime journey
Humility is key to eternal learning

I’m looking for joy so I can be grateful
But joy doesn’t come until I am thankful
With crippled feet I run the race
Mud knee deep, carried by Grace

Prejudice rampant, wars rage
Holy genocide litters history’s page
Religion rules, picking the chosen ones
Ignoring the words “whosever will may come.”

Overwhelmed by conditions
Missed opportunities, lost positions
Challenges daily, endurance a must
Searching for strength, faith and trust

Heroes all around, they’re just hard to see
Quietly walking with God humbly
Africa, Asia and unknown lands
Extending love as God’s own hands

Leading is vision, I must give it away
Strategies come and go, but deep values must stay
A new generation, called to invest
The Body too small, we need the rest

I want all the answers, a path that is clear
A path that is easy with nothing to fear
But my sights too short, and patience, I’m far from it
Faith means building the bridge while I’m walking upon it.

We bless the poor but the poor are already blessed
When I’m serving the least I am truly at my best
New beginnings start with a broken heart
Stupid poverty ends when I do my part

The church is asking “what’s the next fashion?”
Fighting injustice is God’s great passion
Theology debates, they lead to deep fraction
Loving one another is our call to action

I desperately need an eternal view
It gives me the courage to do the things I must do
Opportunities all around me, there is power in His name
He gives sight to the blind and strength for the lame

I desperately need an eternal view
Embracing the temporary is our cultures cue
My life is on loan, it is not my own
It’s not about great feats, but the seeds that are sown

Male, female, Jew, Samaritan and gentile
Grace is pervasive, it starts with a child
The greatest among us was born in a stable
The Good New is for all, the weak and the able

Will we be exclusive, just another sect
Or will we serve our neighbor, gaining their respect
Will we love the orphan, the widow and those who fall
Will we be known as restorer of cities and re-builder of walls

There Are Voices In My Head

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Everyday there are voices screaming in our heads and the question is, “Which ones will we listen to?”

One person said it like this, “I have voices in my head, but they’re all speaking Spanish, and I have NO idea what they’re saying.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

The psalmist wrote, “I will listen to you, Lord God, because you promise peace.”
Proverbs states that, “A smart person will listen to God and increase wisdom.”
It goes on to say that, “Whoever listens to God’s voice has security and has no reason to be afraid.”
It continues, “Listen to me and you will find happiness.”
Jeremiah wrote, “Call to God and listen to him and he will tell you things you don’t know anything about.”

It seems like a no-brainer to listen to God’s voice with those promises, but the problem is, there are other voices competing in our heads every day.

The truth is we will hear the voice of what we love and focus on the most.

At home, my T.V. can be on, with no one really paying attention until George Clooney’s voice comes on and my wife stops dead in her tracks and runs toward the screen.
There can be a lot of noise in the house, but if hunky George comes on the T.V. she will somehow hear his voice and stop everything else she is doing.

Why does my wife hear Georges voice above every one else?

Because we hear the voice of who and what we love and focus on the most.

I hate George Clooney.

What voices do you listen to?
What voices do you trust?
What voices are the loudest to you?

One of the loudest voices in our head is the VOICE OF OUR CULTURE.

The voices of our culture tell us to worry, hoard, don’t forgive and climb over people to get to the top

They tell us who is important, beautiful and successful.

Our culture shouts out very clearly who is valuable.

These voices lead to the death of dreams, joy, hope, relationships and many times the death of our spirit.

Proverbs tells us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Another voice that competes in our head is the VOICE FROM OUR PAST.

Phrases like, “You have blown it”, “You have burned too many bridges”, “You had your chance”, “Why would it be any different now”, and “You will always be this way”, scream at us all day long.

Another voice that is debilitating is the VOICE OF OTHERS.

It is amazing how hard it is to forget words like, “You are fat.” “You are stupid.” “You are ugly.” “I wish I would of never had you. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Besides the voices of our culture, past and others fighting for supremacy in our head, there is another voice at work full time and it is the VOICE OF THE ACCUSER.

Jesus said, “…he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The accuser will use whatever voice he can to lie to you.

He will use the voices of the culture to lower your self-esteem and cause discontentment.
He will use the voices of your past to make you lose hope for the future.
He will use the voice of others to keep you from dreaming big.
And he will use his voice to condemn, judge and tell you are unforgivable and it is too late.

I was just recently talking to a 19 year old young lady, who had been abandoned by her father, was involved in substance abuse and had compromised her values through many broken relationships.
She was listening to the voices in her head that were telling her that she was worthless, ugly and that God was done with her.
She felt it was too late and she had made too many mistakes.
She felt scared, alone and very fragile.
She was hurting so bad.

I talked to her about changing the voices she listened to in her head.

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF VALUE that says “You are not an accident and you are wonderfully and fearfully made.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF SATISFACTION that says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF WISDOM that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF HEALING that says, “I have come to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free.”

And then I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF INVITATION that says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

I asked her, “Will you hear God’s voice?”
And then I said, “What is really amazing is that God will hear your voice…”
I read her Psalm 116:1, “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”

She decided that day to begin to change the voices she listened to.
Today, God is changing, healing and bringing joy and purpose to this beautiful young ladies life.

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Will you take a few moments and listen to God’s voice speak to you through scripture:

For those who are tired, God says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

For those who have been abandoned, God says,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

For those living with shame, God says,
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

For those searching for significance, God says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

For those seeking salvation, God says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25 (NLT)

For those needing wisdom for the future, God says,
“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” Jeremiah 33:3 (GNT)

For those figuring out what success is, God says,
“If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” Matthew 10:39 (CEV)

For those tempted to take short-cuts in life, God says,
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

For those needing financial wisdom, God says,
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)

For those who are buying into the cultural phrase that if it feels good do it, God says,
“Save yourself for your wife and don’t have sex with other women.” Proverbs 5:17 (CEV)

For men looking for ways to be a better husband, God says,
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” Ephesians 5:25 (GNT)

For those sorting out their priorities in life, God says,
“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NCV)

For those who are looking for good investments, God says,
“Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17 (CEV)

For those who are looking to be blessed, God says,
“Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.” Proverbs 22:9 (GNT)

For those who are feeling weak, God says
“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NCV)

For those who are wanting to be productive, God says,
“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

For those who are discouraged, God says,
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

For those who need refreshing, God says,
“The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning;”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NCV)

For those who want to be great, God says,
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others.” Matthew 20:26 (CEV)

For those who love to worship, God says,
“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the
Lord. Remove the chains of injustice. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.” Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEV)

For those who want to meet Jesus, God says,
“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

For those who need God to narrow it down to what is most important, God says,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NCV)

And to all of those who have lost someone close to them and need the hope of heaven, God says,
“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.