Jesus, the Cat Herder

Cat’s can be expensive. Every single day they need food and water and litter. Every day. And they take time too. You have to clean out water bowls, scoop out the litter box, play, pamper and pet.

They need toys and vet visits, which can lead to medicines, vaccines, and special diets. It all became clear just how much they cost when the vet used the word, ‘hydrolyzed’ diet. To be blunt, hydrolyzed means that a 7 dollar bag of cat food now costs 50 dollars.

I didn’t have to think about it for long. Toby (the cat) is in pain and this could relieve that discomfort. It’s worth it to keep him happy. And that is what we do. We keep the cats happy. They get treats and playtime and they get my seat and my shoes. They have fancy cat stands and hammocks to sleep in, they have special places on the porch and in the other rooms.

We have a rule that if someone has a cat in their lap, someone else has to bring them things so as to not disturb the cat.

Sure, they are cats and they act like cats which means being jerks and all, but we still love them.

Now I’m going to ask you a question that a cat owner never asks… what does the cat do for me?

They don’t cook or clean or help in any way. They don’t contribute to chores, finances, or stability. They bring their needs and their affections and that is all. They are a burden, an extra responsibility, and every cat owner knows this.

But, we love them and not only want to take care of them, we genuinely want them to be happy. Not for what they bring us, but for we want with them. We want that family and relationship they provide. And this is how you know its a genuine and true and honest and fully loving relationship… because we don’t ever expect anything in return… in fact, it’s physically impossible for them to do anything for us.

While cat owners do deserve a special pat on the back, there is one thing we need to clear up.

You are the cat.

You bring absolutely nothing to Jesus except for yourself… just as you are. You can’t create. You have no power or authority. You are a mess that brings along a lengthy list of needs and frustrations.

But Jesus, picks us up, sets us in His lap, and desires to hear us purr. What He wants from us is that relationship… and nothing else, as it would be impossible for us to even bring anything else anyway.

If you have a hard time understanding how Jesus could love a mistake like you, consider the cat. They scratch the good furniture, leave hairballs in the most inconvenient places, wake us up all hours of the night, hiss, run away… and all we really want is have them purr in our laps as we comfort them and take care of all their problems.

Jesus wants a real, honest, true, genuine, loving relationship with you. No strings attached. Not only does He not want anything from you… you couldn’t bring it anyway. He just wants you. Not the results of you, but JUST you.

There is nothing more rewarding to a cat owner than a purring, cuddle session. To know they trust us, love us back, and want to be with us. Go ahead…. be a cat. Climb in God’s lap and let Him know His love is returned. Accept the safety. Accept the food. Accept the gifts… Accept the Savior.

Vote Soft but Carry a Big Prayer

So many of us freely proclaim our political beliefs and have no problems sharing over social media, the water cooler, or coffee. All the while keeping our faith in God top secret.

“I don’t want to offend”

“What if they think differently”

“it wouldn’t be politically correct”

These are the things that come into our minds over the anxiety of sharing about a selfless, loving healer that gave everything He had for you… I don’t want to offend. And it isn’t Jesus we are worried about offending… it’s the very people that need His name on their lips and in their heart that we fear upsetting with the actual medicine that they need.

But jumping into the violent, highly polarized, extremely biased political arena requires no thought at all.

I’ll talk about Covid and gun control and immigration and racism and elections and taxes and… many other things that are highly opinionated, extremely volatile, and by their very creation… divisive. I’ll buy stickers and change my online profile images and maybe even march! But on Sunday, my family will quietly slip out into the safety of the church building before I dare offer up any identity towards the eternal.

My prayer is for hard core, full scale reversal of this practice. May we slip in and out of the voter’s booth having cast our ballot based on our convictions and principles… and never utter a word of the choices we made or why. The power of your vote does not come from grandstanding or filibustering on the internet. It comes from that little check mark. Clicking that box is your duty as a citizen. Nothing else counts, matters, or will be remembered.

And when done, praise His name! Shout to the heavens. Live a life of thanksgiving. Live in humility. Share the Savior. Speak good. Do well. Have compassion. Exemplify love. Be Jesus! This doesn’t lead to a checkmark… it points towards the eternal. It’s not our temporary, it’s our foundation.

Your citizen duty is to vote. Your purpose in life is to praise. Can we shift this back to where it belongs? Can we see how a desperate enemy would use such confusion to his advantage?

Vote. Vote with all your heart. Vote in every election. But live for Jesus. Live outwardly, inwardly, and fully for Jesus. Jesus was asked a political question once and just like a common click-bait title we would see today, He made them regret having asked. He blew up their argument. He ‘destroyed’ them. 😉 They were ‘shredded’ because He didn’t fall for their trap and give them a political ground to stand against Him on.

What He basically said was to give to the government what belonged to the government and to give to Jesus what belonged to Jesus. When we give our time and energy to these ‘issues’ and fill the interwebs with our opinions… what we are doing is giving to the government… ourselves. That doesn’t belong to them. We are giving our efforts to the government and then trying to vote for Jesus quietly on a Sunday and it simply doesn’t work that way.

We are meant to quietly vote on election day and give our lives to the one who gave everything to us. With all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths. Live like you are saved and embrace the Christian lifestyle that Jesus so openly and freely lived for our benefit.

If we should have learned one thing by now, no matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, is that everyone in that arena has an agenda. There, quite frankly, is no truth in politics. I would define politics as the desire to make something that is wrong, appear to be right.

The Christian should know… there is only one truth. It has never wavered and has never changed. God’s word has not flip-flopped, it has not excluded, and it does not obscure. It does the opposite. His truth brings light, clarity, and hope. This is what we should be sharing. Hope! Jesus is our hope. Are you bringing hope to the world? Are you bringing Jesus? Or do you feel the need to quote someone who makes a fortune and career out of making sure you stay upset?

Prayers for a permanent 180 degree turn around. Vote with your ballot and live for your Savior.

Live IN the Future, Not for it

We spend our lives trying to get to the good moments. When bad things happen we strive to overcome and repair. It’s often about getting back to our happy places.

Pain is not just inevitable, it’s a guarantee. It’s a promise wrought on by a fallen world desperate to take it all. Where is the hope? There are glimpses here and there, but in its fullness we won’t see it until we have nothing left. Death, for instance, doesn’t cost different things for different people… it’s the same price for all and it simply costs everything. This can be difficult to understand whether we fear our own or lose others we care so much about.

We take nothing with us. Jesus knew this and yet stayed on mission. His task was not to find Joy only to lose it in the end when all is left behind. He didn’t amass wealth or accolades that would be stripped from Him as He passed on. His death was how He returned to the Father and it’s also how He saved us. And so He locked on to that moment and bee-lined straight to it.

No time to waste, no distractions, ‘I’ve got a death to get to’. Why me? Nope he never said those words, ‘why me?’. How silly would it have sounded for the only person equipped to live out his life and death for us to ponder if someone else not capable could take His place… and how ironic as His task was exactly that… to take our place.

You are expertly equipped and placed into your life circumstances unlike any other. Others know pain, but no one knows YOUR pain. Why you? You are the only one who can. You can wallow in regret and pity or you can embrace the inevitable and bee-line through destiny knowing the truth of Jesus.

Life isn’t the relationships we make in this world. It’s not about getting back to the good moments or experiencing the peace and calm… it’s about that mission that takes us from one rocky moment to the next… the ones we were trained for… the ones we have been made and prepared for. And when our mission is complete, it’s not about what we leave behind or are left without… it’s about what is ahead.

Whether we lose children or parents or struggle with illness and debt and loneliness and many other things… it’s never, why me? Why NOT me? Who else could do this? Getting through this moment with eyes on God, thinking eternally… that is exactly what Jesus came and showed us how to do.

COVID, school, jobs, sickness, death, despair, heartache… we have the tools to look up. It’s not about getting back, it’s about getting up. We can stand up and face any day that we give to God. Not through our strength, but with His.

The enemy offers consolation in grief and utter loss. His cure is stagnation. His goal is doubt and confusion. He will whisper that you deserve more, he will dangle sad memories and terrible challenges through your anxiety and frustration. He wins when we give in to ‘why me?’.

It means we have lost sight of the Savior who constantly chanted, ‘it HAS to be me’ while He sacrificed beyond all understanding. You have the power to do the same. His name is Jesus and He gave it to you. You can look the doubt and fears and turmoil square in the eyes and giggle with the faith of being created to be led directly through the storms and into the hope that awaits you.

You can do this. You were made for this. It’s not about the people around you or the weakness within you. It’s not for the stuff or the memories. It’s certainly not for posting and sharing… It’s about getting through while looking up. Eyes on the Father. That is how Jesus did it. That is what we have been prepared for.

We get to live in the future. IN the future. Normally that isn’t possible. You might think I meant to say, “FOR” the future. No. For the future is planning ahead. You exercise today to be buff tomorrow. You study today to be smart tomorrow. That is living “FOR” the future.

Living “IN” the future is being aware of when eternity begins. It’s knowing God who is omniscient (all knowing). It’s doing things today BECAUSE of tomorrow. Crazy things that don’t build you up at all. Sacrificing money and food, or even just being kind to someone that will still hate you after. That is living IN the future. It doesn’t better yours, it betters theirs.

Living IN the future knows the score. It knows how things have already turned out thanks to the death of Jesus Christ. It exclaims, “I’m there!”. I want in on that! I receive the gift of Jesus. And everything I do will be with that gift in mind. It’s not building a better tomorrow, you already have the best tomorrow! It’s accepting and knowing what your tomorrow will be no matter how terrible today seems.

You will be tempted to look out on life and try to get back to some point, some moment, or maybe even some feeling. This is where despair comes from. Trying to get to something that you were never meant for. Try living each moment as though God is leading you through to something fantastic… because if you let Him, He will. The confusion comes from temporary fantastic and eternal awe and amazement. Living IN the future will help discern between the two.

‘Civilized Dialog’ Record Broken

Guinness World Records has reported that after thousands of years, the world record for dialogue amongst humanity has been officially broken.

Friday, July 24th 2020 marks the end of the centuries old streak of being able to communicate, sometimes even oppositionally, with fellow mankind.

At precisely 6:02 p.m. a tweet was released seemingly innocent in its claims that skunks will not stink in heaven. After a few retweets and “lol‘s” a discussion began on Facebook. The core response being that God made skunks “and all of their skunkiness” and to remove the smell post-life would indicate a mistake.

This response was not received well and a flurry of escalating tweets, memes, gifs, and posts were made that clearly established a battle line over the conflicting views.

Pouring into Youtube, Parler, Instagram, and even mainstream news outlets, the protesting is believed to have begun when CNN launched a headline titled, “This Stinks!”.

Celebrities have taken sides in the debate with former voice actor of Pepe Le Pew, Eric Bauza, taking offense at the rhetoric being hurled by so many who don’t know or understand the soul’s of the potent creatures. Meanwhile animators have created newer renditions of some of the classic cartoons where he does not smell at all, claiming that they never meant to offend anyone or anything having scent glands.

Now that the lengthy record has been put in the books and all rational dialogue has come to an end, it is speculated whether anyone will have the nerve to attempt a new record at some point in the future.

An opinion piece in the Times later pondered, “We all knew it was coming, the end of civilized dialog certainly has its place in our history, but we never knew which issue would be our last. Now knowing what we know, should we have picked a different hill to die on?”

Answering an anonymous survey, below are some of the responses to the question, ‘do you think we will begin an attempt to break the newly acquired record?’:

“If there is another opinion out there, It’s wrong! So why bother?”

“Sure, I’m open to discussion… as soon as they change their views!”

“This was the final straw, if we can tell God what He can and can’t do with stinky critters, we have no hope”.

As that record fell, a new era has begun. We aren’t sure what the record is for refusal to logically debate, engage in ignorant hate, severe intolerance, and division by opinion… but we think we can beat it.


Image by Vicki Roberts from Pixabay

The Three Tombs

If you read your Bibles closely, you might be surprised to know there were 3 tombs that are extremely significant to us.

The first one was the tomb that Joseph owned. In Luke we read that no one was ever laid in this tomb. This tomb was the grave of anticipation. It’s job was to lie in wait completely empty. It’s very purpose is to house the dead, but until Jesus’ mission was complete, it’s aspiration was unfulfilled.

The second tomb is the one Jesus was laid in. This is the tomb of defeat. When Jesus slept here, the world wailed in disappointment. The only thing worse than having a messiah is to get one and then lose Him. Was Jesus simply crazy… or did they kill their only hope? Men’s hearts hurt deeply when this tomb was occupied. Everything was questioned and nothing made sense. How could the man that raised the dead succumb to death himself? This was one of history’s darkest days. Three of them, in fact. Men sobbed, demons cheered, and the great I Am was seemingly buried having not yet fulfilled all of His promises.

The third tomb still exists to this day. It’s the one that the women and the disciples and the soldiers all found open and empty. In it rests neatly folded burial garments. This tomb has many names. Hope! Victory! God lives! This is my favorite tomb, because it’s not just an empty one, but it’s one whose purpose has been fulfilled.

You might be thinking, these are all the same tomb! Please understand, they are each very different from the other. Each could not be without the other and each one gives birth to the next.

We too are three different people. Not at the same time of course, but each one is a possible us. Just like the first tomb, without Jesus, we are empty. We have no purpose other than to hope something somehow happens to us.

Just like the second tomb, if we reject Jesus, or ignore His pleas for too long, He will leave us to lead a life without Him, should we Choose. Of course, we still have Jesus… He doesn’t actually leave. But… rather than keep Him in our hearts, which were prepared for Him, we wrap Him up and seal the door. What makes this tomb the saddest is that, just like the guard at the cross, we don’t realize what we are doing. We think we are ‘living’, but all we are doing is wrapping our Savior in the clothes He is to be buried in… away from our active lives.

The last tomb is by far the most amazing. It sits empty. But not like the first tomb. The first never had anyone lay in it. The third tomb has. It’s purpose is fulfilled. How many bodies don’t need their resting places anymore? How many times can you resell a full burial plot? You can’t. There is no value in an occupied grave. And all the unoccupied graves are waiting on time to fulfill their destinies. But what about this strange anomaly? This one tomb in all of history that both served its purpose and sits open and empty? This is our tomb if we have Jesus. We serve a risen Savior that defeated death. Not just for Himself but for us too.

To reach our full potential we each die to self. Through Jesus we exit the tombs of our past and arise victorious with Him. We leave fear, uncertainty, condemnation and defeat behind and take on hope, peace and love. This third tomb is a crucial part of God’s plan. He planned for His Son to take the tomb so that we could follow and arise. It’s important to remember all three tombs. But of greatest importance is to make sure we fulfill our purpose. To fill that tomb, take on Christ, and exit a new creation.

Three tombs. One who has no Savior at all, one who has a Savior but hides, rejects, or ignores Him, and the last one… the one that lets you enter a sinner and walk out redeemed.

It’s not JUST about remembering Christ. It’s not a story to be told about a man that deserves our respect on Easter. It’s about opening our own tomb doors and leaving dead end lives behind. It’s about emerging with Christ out of the grave and in our hearts where He Has always wanted to be. And it’s about living each day for the one that did this for us.

This day, more than any other, is about where you put your Jesus. have you never met Him? Is he banging on your heart’s door never to be answered? Or have you followed Him to a new life?


Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

You Don’t Have to Tell Me Thrice!

I have a new favorite verse. So you don’t skip ahead out of shear frantic anticipation, it’s Jonah 3:3

So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

Jonah 3:3

I laugh out loud when I read it now, because it’s so typical of me… and us, as people. Jonah is a very short book of just 4 chapters. The first 2 are laying down the foundation for the scripture quoted above.

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and speak against the people there. But Jonah doesn’t obey. Instead he tries to run from God. The men on the boat he is fleeing in throw him overboard where he is swallowed by a great fish. For 3 days AND nights (72 hours) he is inside the belly of this fish.

I imagine he had some time to think, don’t you? Guess what Jonah did… he repented! You saw that coming didn’t you? What else was there to do? Well, I’m sure he was anticipating how the fish was digesting him, or how he might drown, or how other scary critters might be eaten alive by this fish… all around him is death. It’s not whether he will die or not, it’s in which horrific way will he die and how many seconds left until that happens?

God, our creator, seems to know this about us. We get easily distracted. So when He wants our attention, he removes EVERYTHING else from our view so we can focus on Him. And what I’m learning is that if we don’t do it for Him, He will do it for us. Jonah’s horrific life altering episode was simply God clearing His throat and saying, ‘pardon me, Jonah, might we speak?’ (essentially).

It’s hard to put ourselves into Jonah’s shoes, isn’t it? The reality of this happening to us is fairly non-existent… unless, that is, God wants our attention. But we can get back to that in a minute… so Jonah repents and the fish spits Jonah out on dry land. Chapter 3 starts off the exact same way chapter 1 starts off…

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”

Jonah 3: 1- 2

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.

Jonah 1: 1 – 2

I put them both above so you can compare. Notice how God doesn’t embellish? There is no disapproving tone, no ‘I told you so’, and no threat. He simply restates the mission and Jonah has the same options he had before. He could obey or disobey. He already tried disobedience and that did not work out well. Jonah must not have wanted to try the odds of God releasing him again, because the very next words on paper were, “so Jonah arose”… and he did exactly what God asked him to do.

My question is, what is God asking you to do? Do you feel like you are in the belly of a fish? Maybe not a literal one, but how is your job? How is your spouse? How are your relationships? Do you feel like you are about to drown in suffering? Can you not see the healing at the end of the pain?

Consider this. Maybe there is something that needs to be repented. Perhaps God is removing distractions for you? What is keeping both eyes and your heart off of God?

Whatever you are going through, lets be chapter 3 Jonahs and not chapter 1’s. But what about chapter 4? Even better! The people of Nineveh actually listened to the words from Jonah and they repented. God didn’t punish them because they repented. This confused Jonah. He went in as a prophet speaking the words of God and God didn’t destroy Nineveh like He said.

Jonah… the one who JUST repented and was saved… didn’t understand why Ninevah was saved when they repented. Easy… it’s that easy to take your eyes back off God and get distracted again. Whether you are Jonah or Nineveh, or the Israelite’s at almost any point in history… God wants your attention. Give it. Give it always.

Feeling distracted? Let God in, repent, and listen.

Roads Vs. Oceans

I feel like many of us have been living in a certain sort of turmoil. The picture that comes to my mind is trying to turn out of a parking lot onto a busy street. You pull up with your blinker on and wait your turn. But the cars keep coming. Not just one or two, or perfectly spaced apart… but as you look in each direction you see an endless line of headlights slowly dimming over the horizon. And the words exasperatedly enter both your mind and your soul… “I’m never getting out of here”

A terrible feeling for sure, but an easy problem structure to have… at least for most. The problems are many… seemingly infinite, but as you likely have experienced, they still only come one or two at a time. And, if we end up patient enough, they pass us by and we can eventually pull out of our ruts and struggles and make our way to the road of our journey.

Some now have a different kind of pain. The picture that comes to my mind is an ocean. Far out into the massive expanse of water, you are treading over unexplored depths. It’s dark, it’s cold, and you can’t see anything in any direction that you look, save the waves that keep bouncing past your face reminding you that your small world just became a tiny piece of hay hidden in a massive needle-stack.

Sharks don’t attack in single file lines, they swarm and circle. There are jelly fish too, and sting rays, eels, piranha’s, whales, and all sorts of other deadly creatures. There are currents, undertows, and storms. But even if nothing actually and physically attacks you… you are getting tired and as you gasp for breath, each time a little more salt water finds it way into your mouth.

Where before, our problems seemed huge and life altering… we can look back now and sense that those were the good ole days. Single file problems in the highway of life that would mildly detour us, but eventually gave way and let us back in our lane. Now we have been dropped in the ocean.

Whizzing though our minds are thoughts of loved ones, travel plans, jobs, bills, food, shelter, civil issues, panic, and the uncertainty of how everyone else’s behavior could change. The store shelves are empty, the news won’t stop with scare tactics and dramatics… and we might just think exasperatedly… “I’m never getting out of this”. We might even long for the days when our terrible problems seem so much simpler now.

What strikes me is how differently Paul prayed. “get me out of this!”… nope. Not him. He said “to live is Christ, to die is gain”. He explained that if he was allowed to keep on living that he would just use his life to continue sharing Jesus with others, and if He died, that He would be with Jesus and his mission would be accomplished.

While I think this would be a great, albeit morbid application here, that isn’t the point I want to make. For Paul, it wasn’t about living or dying because he always lived his life in such a way that it didn’t matter what happened next.

When the roads backed up and he couldn’t make progress… he would, effectively, minister in the parking lot he was stuck in. When the ocean swelled around him and the sharks closed in, He prepared his mind for the eternity he had been living for all along.

There was no, “why me?” or “how come”… it was always, “Lord, I serve you”… even in situations much worse than we see today. And at the crux of it all was what He kept His eyes on. He didn’t see the road, or the cars, or the water, or the fear, or the panic… He just saw Jesus. When eyes are locked on the Savior, you get saved. That doesn’t mean yanked out of problems, but it does mean eternal life with a Savior that defines love and peace.

I’ve always been perplexed by the phrase, “meet your maker”. To most that means death. Paul lived his life every day with his maker… and it was wonderful. David sang in caves while in hiding for his life… he sang about his wonderful, magnificent maker. Jesus, when sacrificing himself for us, was in constant communion with His maker.

What I have learned is that if we meet our maker now… we aren’t afraid to meet him in the end. A relationship with God now, means we understand and even appreciate the end. Forfeiting that relationship now, is what gives so much fear and panic to such a phrase and possibility.

That relationship is hope. It is light in the middle of the struggle. It is peace in the storms of life. It brings balance, courage, and sense into the chaos.

This isn’t about having morbid thoughts of despair today, tomorrow, or even the next few months or years… It’s about acknowledging that men and women who faced such situations didn’t know fear when they knew their maker. This is true for pandemics and it’s true for surgeries and marriages and relationships and jobs. When you know Jesus, you live for Him… and that may not pull you out of the water, but it makes you fearless, content, and able to live strong, proud, and for Him in every situation.

Paul knew, he would either look back one day and see how God lead Him through, or He with be with God soon… either way was a victory for him. And that is how he lived out every day. Every wonderful, God created, Spirit-filled day where he communed with His creator no matter what the Devil came up with for that day. Today we can dread the unknown, or we can meet our Maker. He answers to God, Father, Lord, and many other titles. He wants to know you, He wants to fellowship with you. He wants to restore those who used to know Him…

Speak those words… ‘God, I want to know you!’ Perhaps speak them again if you don’t know Him well. And find where the bravery of Paul came from. Learn what hope means and why fear is trivial in the most extreme circumstances.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Speaking Challenge: Gossip, Political, Religious, Slander, etc.

If you have not shared a meal with someone, don’t share an opinion about them.

Dear random stranger on the internet. We have not met. I know nothing about you. Therefore you can pass along without judgement.

Hello sports star or celebrity. You haven’t been in my house. I don’t have any inside or personal first hand information from you. To ponder any further beyond my lack of knowledge and experience concerning you would be very silly.

Greetings politician. I’m not on your staff. I wasn’t with you in college. I haven’t see you on dates with your loved one, how you treat your children, or how you drive in traffic. I don’t know what pain goes into your decisions or how much effort you exert to make things right. I may have seen you in a suite… but I’ve never touched your heart. I will not claim to know your motives or feelings.

Teenagers, classmates, and colleagues… You look different than I do. You act different. You eat different foods, listen to different music, dress differently… Instead of pointing out how different YOU look, I’ll agree that I don’t look like you either. We both look different. And isn’t it a good thing that in a world this big we all can work together to cover all the hobbies, careers, and necessities of so many people?

Sorry coach. I may have made a different decision than you… maybe. With that pressure, those circumstances, those players, your bosses, your home life, and all the unknown things that happened on the sideline and in the locker room and shared from other scouts and coaching staff that the world wasn’t privy to… I might have made a different choice then… but I would have blown it somewhere else. Because I’m not claiming to be perfect and I don’t expect you to be either.

Lets set the bar low. I’m not asking you to stop gossiping, complaining, or even armchair quarterbacking… I’m asking you to attempt one simple rule over your speech. If you haven’t shared a meal with someone… don’t share your opinion about them. Teach your brain to remember what it already knows… We make exceptions for ourselves everyday for one simple reason: We know all the details and surrounding circumstances and internal factors that made our reasoning acceptable.

If we are going to put the spotlight on others and demand perfection from them… they should at least get the chance to share with us, personally, what their exception was based in. This information does not come from biased media, slanted hearsay, or third party reports… it only comes from getting to know an individual as the human they are.

You can still vote with your wallet, check your conscience on the ballet, and boo from the stands… but do not “let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29.

The Blueprint Doesn’t Match Because it isn’t Built

Our son wished us to be gone. While the words felt devastating coming from a 6 year old, it was comforting to learn from other parents that it is much more common than we first thought.

I asked him what he would do with us out of the picture and he sniffled through the tears to tell me that he would take care of himself. Oh, it was because we turned off the TV and he wanted to watch more. No beatings, no yelling, no grounding, we just turned off the TV because it was time to do other things besides watch TV. I know, we are monsters.

I asked how he would take care of himself and he shrugged his shoulders. (fun fact, he can’t use the remotes yet… he doesn’t know how. So you can see how well he thought this out. With us gone, he will have zero TV).

I asked how he would get food and he told me he would just go downstairs and get it from the cupboard. This is where we keep his chips, fruit snacks and crackers. And that was the extent of his plan. Which makes perfect sense… because he is JUST NOW 6 years old.

His master plan of living the good life is watching TV all day and night by getting rid of the only people that know how to operate said TV and he will sustain himself for the rest of his life on gummies and potato chips… enough to last maybe a few days. And because he is 6, we can’t even explain why this is such a bad idea.

His emotions take over and he knows more than anyone else. At first our feelings were hurt. We’ve done nothing but show patience and kindness and love to this child. We went through frustration, concern, a little laughter over the absurdity, and then it hit us.

God has a sense of humor, I think. Because even though we may not use the words, we speak this out in our life actions. We brush God away and claim, “I’ll handle this myself”. Either through distrust or lack of wisdom or lack of patience, or ego… we start trying to call the shots.

When the miracle doesn’t happen fast enough, it can feel like someone just turned off the TV. When the pain persists. When the hunger remains. When the relationship collapses… I’ll fix it. I’ll make my own way. I’ll do my own thing. I’ll make a move now. And how quickly forget that the God we push back, is the one that filled the cupboard for us to begin with. We think we don’t need God because we have all the gifts He has given us at our disposal.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10 ESV

Another translation reads:

Cease striving and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10 NASB

Cease striving. Trust. Patience. Let God take control. Allow life to fall outside of the tiny box you crafted for it. Get bruises, accept scrapes, shed tears, and be mocked… In other words, line up behind Jesus and walk in his footsteps. But also, and this is key, allow the Father to lead through ANY valley, just as Jesus did. And accept and walk through those lows with eyes fixed on greater things.

Growth doesn’t fashion out of comfort. The things worth our moments aren’t conceived from our 6 year old minds. Our Master has put in us a blueprint full of pain, sorrow, and misunderstanding. But on the other end of that sketch is the love, protection, sustenance and all the saving we will ever need.

Until our fulfillment, we trust and we grow. Growth comes through effort, challenge, and acceptance of God’s gifts. There is a reason the blueprint doesn’t look like the finished product… we have to build it first. Until we finish building, all we have are parts and instructions. Once we finish, we have a God-inspired masterpiece.

When we don’t feel like building, when we think the effort is unfair or the destination looks off… we tend to turn towards ourselves. We grab the remote and pout against all the monsters that stand in our way. What if, instead of blaming the blueprint maker, we ask for His help instead? What if, instead of fleeing from Him, we wander to Him and spend more time with the architect and less time trying to figure it out through our own shallow and short-lived plans?

What if we could slow down and even come to a full stop… and know that TV and crackers aren’t the essence of life. Nor our jobs or accomplishments or hobbies. You know what is the most fun? When the desires of our hearts matches the blueprints within us. And don’t run after that frustration… the one that says the blueprint is wrong! That is what the 6 year old does.

The infant wants a new blueprint. The adult wants to complete the work. Lets grow in Christ. Be Still and know…


Image by Justin Martin from Pixabay

Is Church Taking the Scenic Route?

The church often fails to meet the needs of the people based on a simple misunderstanding. The goal of the church is not meant to be a destination. Instead, it’s intention is that of transportation.

The church is not an endgame. It’s a car pool. We are supposed to, as fellow travelers, help people to find the Christ. The true goal is God. And all of us, the church included, is on a path to Him.

Both parties can get this wrong. The people expect the church to fulfill the needs only God can accommodate and the church gets so caught up in filling the van, it forgets that there is a more eternal purpose for gathering.

The church can do a lot of amazing things, as long as those things are done on the journey to an eternal Savior. God’s people in the church are a crucial place along that journey. But often disappointment comes when people find just that in the church… more people. Other people. Sinners.

We find failure when we come to the church seeking God’s perfection. We won’t find it there. In other words, Jesus hasn’t returned to the church yet either. Those buildings still rest on fallen soil.

We find success when we come to the church seeking other seekers and unify in a journey that will end with the return of the Messiah.

Frustration comes when the eternal sight is lost. Have you ever set out for Disney Land and stopped at a rundown motel along the way? It’s a bed and some safety… but it’s not the purpose of the trip. If you have children with you who use the pool and watch some HBO, they might decide this is all they ever wanted. They might even argue to stay and forego the final destination.

Those children got distracted by something that looked good temporarily but was not the life-changing event they signed up for. Is the church a rundown motel? Not really. Perhaps compared to what we are aiming for… the case could be made. The church is a perfectly intended tool created by God. I’m not knocking it… but it’s just a tool. And that is what we often forget.

The message of the church has often been, “Come join us.”, when it should be, “Come with us”. While there may not be ill-intent in the verbiage, it’s a significantly different recruitment for a massively different purpose.

Likewise, the church seeker should consider, not what programs or styles, or in many cases, which issues are sided with… but instead, who is trying to get to Jesus? Whose path is the straightest with the fewest stops along the way? Whose goal, is simply and solely to get home?


Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay