Saturday, September 25, 2010

His Dreams can Become Your Dreams

Have you ever wondered what it would look like to just absolutely know that your walking in the plan and purpose of the Lord?  I went to a back-to-school night for my middle school son and heard an english teacher state that she Loves her job.  I started thinking, is it possible to love your job, really?  How many of us have really stopped mid-stream to re-evaluate our present life walks?  How can we?  Our lives are so wrapped up in stuff.  We're told what we need or think we need by observing the lives of others and evaluate whether we're succeeding in life based on comparing our lives to others.  They may have a really nice home, a new car, go on awesome family vacations every year, there kids are involved in every sport activity possible, and when that these activities run out there is still a multitude of other things that we can plug into such as clubs.  I find that we can populate and cram so much of our lives with "stuff" that we have no time of really enjoying life as the Lord intended it.

I was thinking about this recently when I began watching a series called Orange County Choppers which is about the custom manufacturing of motorcycles and the way that a family of sons interact with their father.  I found it interesting that each of them were looking ultimately for value and approval from a Father.  Those of you who know me know that I have a wild side that yearns for adventure and craves time with people.  I was thinking about all of this and discussing it with my Love when we started talking about my work.

My Love advised that maybe I should consider a career change and go back to school to be a mechanic, specifically a motorcycle mechanic.  She found a website that showed a school in Florida that required a year of intense training which included a period in which you could specialize your training in a particular area: Asian bikes, European Bikes, American Cruisers, or Custom bikes.  She saw this opportunity and advised that I should check it out.  She advised that: I know that you would love it and you were created for this.  She stated that I've sacrificed so much for the family and have worked a multitude of jobs, sometimes more than one to help get our family off the ground and to provide for the needs of the family.  She can not understand why I would desire to stay in a job that I don't particularly like.  So I found myself grasping with evaluating where I am at this juncture of my life.  So I went to read from a book that I'd been reading titled: "The Seven Longings of the Human Heart" by Mike Bickle with Deborah Hiebert.  Published by Forerunner Books 2006.  I immediately opened to the last page where I left off and began reading.  A synopsis of what I read is in the following:

  1. Individuals have a dream
  2. They pursue that dream
  3. Life happens - disappointments after entering the real world
  4. A choice must be made: take the easy or hard way
  5. Or does it?  Is there another way?
Attached is a segment from the book listed above: 

"In that place of disappointment , they will enter a testing period.  In lieu of the perfect opportunity, what will they do?  Will they ignore the lessor opportunities at hand and hope to land a bigger one?  Or will they roll up their sleeves and get down to business?"

How I choose to view this life will determine the outcome.  How does the Lord view my current role in my job?  After all isn't He the one that help me get this job.  Has He told me that it's time to leave/move on or is it my flesh that's screaming to get out of this place?  These questions are hard to answer unless we are willing to be honest with our selves.  The book continues to tell a story about a young ministry leader who was working his way through Bible college.  During the Summer he had to take a job working at a gas station, the only gas station in the town.  He determined in his mind that all of his peers where out starting up new mega churches while he just pumped gas.  What he began to realize over time was that he had an opportunity to make in impact right where he was and that his assignment to pump gas was really provided by the Lord as an opportunity to learn about people and human nature.  In the story the student realized later that everyone needed gas.  He determined that he would treat everyone as the jewels they were.  So he gave the best full-service treatment he could regardless of whether they were new cars or old cars; people with lots of money or those with little.  One thing he gave them was value and a loving caring heart.  The Lord put him there for such a time.  Has the Lord put me where I am?  How about you?  What life lessons can we learn right where we are at if we're willing to face the music?  What if being at the job we are at is not about us? What if it's about what the Lord wants to do through us to connect with His people.  He desperately wants a relationship with His people.  Are you willing to be an extension of His hand and see the miracles happen as in the day of the New Testament church.  This is a new day where exciting things can and will happen.  Pray and ask the Lord for a new perspective, that he would open your perspective to His perspective.  We all want to finish the race well, right?  For in finishing well there will be a great reward as it is promised in the scriptures.  For more on this topic you might want to check out the following scripture:

Luke 19:11-27

Monday, August 30, 2010

How Do You Really Love Like Christ?

I'm not sure that I know the answer to this one.  Have you ever considered that others may know how to love others better than you?  What gives them this innate sense of how to perfectly love all the time.  It's like a brand new mother just after the birth of her child.  You don't have to tell her how to love the child, she just does.  Why can it not be that way with a man?  It seems to me that my mind is always getting in the way.  I'm always trying to figure how how to love the best.  I spend so much time thinking about it as opposed to just loving from my heart that I often miss many an opportunitys because instead of engaging my wife or son's in the moment, I leave them hanging thinking I'll have another opportunity.  What if we really don't?  We as men often assume that we will, but is life really that perfect, do bad things never happen?  How can I seize every opportunity that comes my way.  How do you get to the bottom of who you are to really understand what's preventing you from being what you really want to be.  Is it fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, or is it really fear that you personally are not loved.  What if we could risk it all and not care what others think.  What if I could experience the Love of the Father in such a way that I would love differently from hence forth?  You would think that I of all people would understand what it means to love my family.  After all the Father gave me a choice, do you want to stay or go.  My heart broke as I thought about my family growing up with out me.  The boys with out a dad to show them their way to manhood, My wife alone with no one to share life's simple pleasures, glorious victories, and trials; and last but least my children to be and the daughters that I've not even met yet and missing out on the opportunity to give them away on their wedding day.  In my heart I do love them, but knowing it is not enough.  We must demonstrate love.

NO I have to much to live for and I know that I've not accomplished everything you want me to do, Lord.  I have much to do.  So I've told my family that I love them, but what if that is not enough either.  They need to see it in action.  They need a Dad to wrestle, joke, explore, and to study with.  My wife needs me to say less, listen more, do less, and love and hug more.  What if you are rejected, then what?  I hear the Father saying the same thing over and over: "Hush, quite now, just hold them and love them.  Run after them, do not grow weary, do not loose heart.  After all who can measure or fathom the depth of God's love, how wide, deep, and long is the love of the Lord?  Can we know this love?  The answer is "Yes."  Just ask him to reveal Himself to us as Love.  Teach us to be love, reflect love, and give love away even when there is nothing in it for us.  Lord let me never take it for granted again.

Love much.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Higher Call - Intimacy/Immediacy

I was praying with another man this morning and the Lord reminded me of something that I had heard from Pastor Thom Gardner and the Lord about two years ago. In sharing this with this good friend in our weekly prayer time I also felt that it was for the general populous of men and their families as well. It remains as one of those messages that continues to draw me into the Father. I apologize for the length, but it is really a good read.

Immediacy - is when the Lord’s heart beats and your beats. It's when what consumes Him, begins to consume you.

To experience the Passion, the Presence, & the Glory; something in me will need to go. Intimacy to us may represent a dog warming himself by the fire. The Lord however is more interested in me coming into the Fire. There is a song that says: "I want to see what you see, love what you love, and heal what you heal, Lord have mercy."

Exodus 24: 12-17 is a demonstration of the Lord's Mercy. Mercy is above all a consuming love. It burns away all priorities and the hidden purposes that exist in one's heart.

"Come up to the mountain" as described in the above verse means that we must depart from a place that I am to go to another place. The cloud covered Mt Sinai and the Glory of the Lord rested on Mt Sinai. It was from this place that the Lord called Moses by name..... to enter into the cloud of the Lord (a consuming Fire). I believe that the Lord is now calling you as he did Moses, by name and is inviting you to come to a new place that you have not known. It says in the Word that the "cloud looked like a consuming fire."

Pastor Thom asked the Lord what does this look like in both the spirit and the natural; the Lord's response was a picture of what the Lord showed him:

"Picture an old man, 80 yrs of age at least, climbing a mountain with a cloud in the distance. As he approaches the top near the cloud he continues to crawl up the mountain with all of his remaining strength in this arid place (remember, this mountain is in the desert); and he comes to the cloud. The cloud is a cloud of flame, fire & darkness, then more of the same. As Moses approaches the cloud he can begin to fell the heat. He hears a voice from within which says: "Come up here & live." This cloud represents a place of certain death, if he walks into the cloud it represents certain death, nothing will remain of who he formerly was. This is God's invitation to you (the call). The Lord is saying that: "I love you where you are, but if you come to me you'll learn to love me as I love you", not from perspective of what can I get from the Lord but from a place of Mercy. Moses recognized that if he entered that cloud that his flesh would be consumed and that he would come face to face with God.

As Moses enters into the cloud he in effect steps out of this present world and into God's glory, which is a place from which eternity exists (the heart of God). On top of Mt Sinai, Moses sees another mountain, the Mt of Transfiguration. From a place within the Lord Moses can see eternity (Past, Present, & Future). Jesus saw Moses, & Moses saw Jesus. Beyond both of those mountains was another Mt, the mountain of Calvary. When Jesus himself will also give up his flesh as an eternal offering for all, even as Moses gave up his flesh to step into the presence of the Lord.

The realm of true Life is made on a daily basis, sometimes-momentary decisions.

Your flesh will keep you from knowing God, that's why the invitation has been extended to you from God. "Come up here and Live," He's inviting you to a place where your flesh will be consumed.

Now Moses has been with the Lord 40 days and nights and the Lord has laid out the plans for the tabernacle and has given Moses the Ten Commandments. He's been in the presence of the Lord for 40 days, in the cloud of fire. Remember the Israelites have now built a golden calf and the Lord says of Moses in so many words: "Leave me alone, that I may destroy this wicked nation, & I will build my nation from you." Moses in turn sought the Lord.

Exodus 32: 9-11 & 13

Moses sought the Lord (Pena) - means literally Moses turned and touched the face of the Lord. Moses' flesh had become so consumed that there was nothing left except the heart of God. In essence Moses turned to the face of the Lord and gently touched/stroked His face. It was as if Moses was bringing remembrance to the Lord of his covenant with the people. "Remember your covenant with Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob... Interestingly enough the gate in front of the Mountain of Sinai that was between the people and the mountain was called and means Mercy.

When flesh is consumed, remember a cloud will come. Think of a barbecue. We are the flesh that has been called to be sacrificed and the Lord is asking us to willingly sacrifice all. This is why it says when the aroma from the sacrifices (the cloud) of the people reached the Lord that his anger was turned aside.

Exodus 33:18 & 34:5-7

The Lord, The Lord - represents compassion. The Glory of God is the Mercy of God.

2 Chronicles: 5-7 is 3 chapters long.
- 120 priests around the alter in the new temple of God: represents His presence
- Surely the Lord is good & His mercy endures forever. Singing about the Mercy of God.
- Fire fell from Heaven & consumed the flesh.
- Then God's glory (the cloud), filled the temple.

The cloud of God's glory is the effects, aroma, of burnt flesh. The choice is ours. If we want to move into a new place with the Lord, we will have to choose to accept the invitation of the Lord to climb the Mt of God and as the Lord says: "Come up here and Live." We enter life through the death of our flesh.

Lord, I pray that you would invite both men and their families into your cloud. Show us what is in our flesh and needs consumed in our lives today. Let the cloud of your Glory come to our lives that everything that cannot withstand the fire may be burned away and only the purest of all may remain. Something of permanence, even your heart, in the strong and powerful name of Jesus. Amen

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Perfect Day

Have you ever thought about what a perfect day would look like? I'm not speaking about a perfect day from our perspective, but a perfect day from the perspective of a son wanting to become a Man. I was thinking about what I could do with my son, Rocker this weekend through out the week. I couldn't come up with anything until I was on my way home from work. I was stressed and thought I just need to do something peaceful. My mind ran to a peaceful fishing stream where it was just the sound of water, and questions like: "How do I do this again?" So I decided I would take rocker out fly-fishing on Saturday morning.

I woke up early about 5:30 am and thought he'll never be ready to get up at this time of day. I went to get him out of bed and found to my surprise that he rocketed out of his bed in anticipation for this day to get started. He ran down stairs so fast I thought that he was going to wake up the whole house. After getting down stairs he realized that he left his clothes upstairs. Fortunately, dad was bringing them down to prevent any more rockateers from joining us this morning. He was ready in 5 minutes flat, throwing shoes on and running to the car. You'd think he had done this a million times it was so well rehearsed.

We started off that morning and it was barely daylight. He was so full of hope that he was going to catch the big one. He asked me where we were driving to. I said: "a stream." He said, "What stream?" I said the Yellow Breaches. He said: "Dad I'm glad it's you and me." I said: "Me too! I've looking forward to this all week." And that's how our morning got started. I had no idea how well it was going to turn out. Our conversation quickly turned to the location of where we would catch that big fish. I had to admit to him, I wasn't sure where on the stream I was driving too. So we prayed and I felt the Lord say turn here and here and we found ourselves on a little park off route 114, just under a train trestle near a bridge which overran the Yellow Breaches. It was a beautiful morning. Bright blue sky, the sun was just starting to come up but a chill was still in the air.

We stopped the car and I put on some waders (just in case rocker got his line caught in a bush or a tree) and my fishing vest. We proceeded to put his new fly fishing rod together that he go for his birthday. He was so excited, his eyes were a blaze with anticipation. He wanted to use his own flies which he had also got for his B-day. We were off to the creek and we waded in. It was time for the first cast. I got behind him and guided his small hands how to cast. For the first time I realized how big his hands were getting and my little boy was growing up. He just wanted to be like his daddy. After a few casts I figured it was time to let him try it. Immediately he hooked a tall tree. I waded out to the tree and said it's alright, but then the line broke and I lost the fly. I said it's OK, I'll tie on one of mine. I could see his disappointment about loosing one of his prized flies. But I could also see his relief knowing that if he lost one of daddy's that was OK! We continued fishing for about 45 minutes, but didn't catch the big one. By that time, he was getting cold and I had suggested that we could go get breakfast at McDonald's.

On our way back to the car, Rocker asked: "Do you think we could take a walk on the trails and listen to the birds?" I could tell his heart was set on it and I thought this would be a good time to talk to my little evangelist about the recent report from school that I had earlier this week at a parent teachers conference. We dumped all our gear and headed down a trail looking for animals and birds.

I told him that my heart leaped for joy when I heard his teacher say that he's been evangelizing to his whole class. I told him how much I loved him and how courageous he was. He has such boldness compared to what I had at his age. I gave him a hug which he gladly received and we walked on. He had so many questions about the world, my job, how he enjoyed spending time with me. My heart was just feeling so alive and I wondered how I could forget what this feels like in the midst of everything else in life. It was a gentle reminder for me to refocus my priorities on my boys. After a period of time we headed to McDonald's and ate breakfast and then headed home.

Later that night at Church my two sons (Rocker & Shaggy) were getting water baptized and they wanted me to baptize them. I was filled with joy at the privilege. The service started and the worship music was being sung, I entered the pool and in came Rocker. I told him the old man is going to die and the new man is going to come alive. I told him that I baptize you and the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, and then under the water he went. Shaggy followed Rocker and I said the same thing. I was so proud of them and it was a healing moment for me to. I realized at that very moment that I was getting to do something for my sons that I personally did not receive from my own father. There are only a few moments that I've truly heard the Father say: Well done good and faithful servant, but this was one of those special moments that I'll never forget. To top it off a prophet in the house came to me and told me that she saw my son's as those who would walk in the miraculous and that Signs and Wonders would follow them. How much more awesome of a day can you have than that.

As I laid them down for bed I shared this with each of them and reminded them that as of today, they would never be the same again and neither would I.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bikes and Bars

What men need is adventure. With out adventure we will not become all that the Lord has intended for us to become. To eliminate further confusion when I say men, I mean boys and men. When I say women, I mean girls and women.

Men learn typically through their surroundings and hands on application. The experience is what we are after and the ability to say: "I've done that." Unfortunately, this is where our culture in the USA is losing ground. This is why typically men do not do as well in school. Have you ever watched boys as they enthusiastically read every word from a book and sit in their chairs drooling, hanging on every word that their teachers say in school? I doubt it, more often than not, boys are bored with school. This is because they were not created to learn in this way. They often lose interest in school because they are not encouraged by their fathers, but also because they'd rather be doing something exciting that they can tell their friends about.

For example, I remember a time growing up on the 300+ acre dairy farm when my brother and I had the best idea. School had just been let out for the summer and my younger brother and I had just got BMX bikes as part of a reward for doing well in school. BMX bikes just started getting to be "in." My brother and I found every magazine we could about racing our bikes in the dirt, doing tricks, and most of all jumps. If you could do a "jump" and land it from a ramp, we both knew that we had arrived as men. Every good man recognizes another man for a smooth and graceful jump. So we brain stormed about how to accomplish and make a jump.

We scouted out all the materials that we had on the farm, made inventory, and then planned how we would accomplish this feat. First and foremost, we needed to make sure that we created a safe environment to test and try this out. This meant we had to wait until mom and dad were not home just in case we made fools of ourselves. We waited until we knew mom and dad had to go to town. Back in those days, we didn't need parents to babysit. My brother and I were old enough (8 & 7). We found this 55 gallon oil drum and propped it up at the bottom of a hill next to our garage, then proceeded to carry a long 15 foot ramp that was pre-made for just such a purpose (NOT). My brother and I knew that to make the jump work we needed a long ramp and therefore propped this ramp up on the oil drum. Now it was time for the test.

My brother said you go first. Now understand, that I was the older brother, so I had to go first or he would call me chicken. Besides, I needed to be able to show him how a professional BMX biker jumped his bike. I peddled as fast as I could down this hill. By the time I realized what I was doing and saw the obstacles on the other side of the jump it was to late. I launched off that ramp like a rocket. There was farm machinery all around, some of which were close to 20+ feet tall. I found myself flying above all of the machinery. My next and most terrifying reality was yet to come. I had to come back down and I did not have a ramp to ease the descent. I fell straight down. I landed so hard that I bent my bike wheels and my feet fell off the pedals. Mama-mia!!!

For those of you that don't know, BMX bikes back in those days: 80's had a metal bar with some small padding around it. Let's just say, their definatley was not enough padding. Now that was adventure!!! I learned something about gravity that day that I'll never forget. Not to mention I get to hear all of the great stories told over and over by my brother and have a fond memory that I'll carry forever. This is how men learn. The HARD way.

See what you have to look forward to with your boys! By the way, I was able to have children and have three of my own strapping young proteges following in my footsteps.

The Cost

Are you willing to pay the cost to go deeper in/with God? I find my self asking this question repeatedly through out my journey with the Lord. It is not an easy question to answer, if you are truly honest with yourself. I find that their are different seasons that we go through that affect the way we answer this question. Ultimately, though it is the Father that draws us onto Himself. He hides himself not from us but for us.

A few months ago I was comtemplating something that I heard spoken at a school that I'm a part of. The statement was made that: "There's a difference between those who come to the Lord and those who come after the Lord!" The inference is that we have one of two reasons for coming to the Lord:

1) We're coming to Him because we need something.
2) We're coming after Him not because of physical/self-serving need, but because we just need Him (His prescense).

This can be clearly displayed in the following examples. The first is the classic example of when a child comes to a father and asks for a new toy. In this example the child comes for the purpose of: "I come to get." The other example would be of a child who searches out the father for no other reason than to just be with him; to spend time with him doing something; and being in his prescence because the child enjoy's their daddy.

I want to be like example number two. I often however, find myself in example number one. Typically, after prayer and reflection I find that I move into the first example after having a lack of time with the Father. When I'm not spending time with Him, I begin to reflect more of the world and less of Him. My desire moves from God focused to me focused. It's been said that whoever you hang out with the most will determine who you look like. Please don't mis-understand me though, I'm not saying that we can not go to the Father for physical, emotional, or other needs. I'm just merely stating that more often than not our relationship with the Lord can be self-serving at times. I'm just suggesting that we look at our motives behind why & when we go to the Lord. The indication of the "when" may serve as a better indicator for the above two reasons than the "why".

At this point your probably wondering what's the next step? How do I move to the next level and breakthrough. I believe the answer is to spend more time with the Father even though our flesh may not always find it conveniant. Pray for His assistance. Pray dangerous prayers that only He can answer and that will require you to make choices that determine how you move forward in your relationship with Him both now in the present and future. The decisions you make today will affect where you end up tomorrow.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Journey of Life

Have you ever noticed that through out your life, your always looking for the next thing? When I'm old enough I want to be...; I'm going to do...; my dream to fulfill is...? Have you ever wondered what's happened to those declarations and when those things will come into fulfillment? I like many thought that all of these things would just naturally happen in the physical sense, but then I met the Father! Hallelujah!!

The dreams that I thought I had for my life no longer seemed important. I found myself without joy, endlessly seeking what it means to have Life and Life abundantly. Nothing of this world could fulfill the emptiness and sinkhole that seemed to resonate in my heart. I needed something new, something fresh. Something that would consume my life and yet give me True Life. Getting to know the Father through, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, has become the passion of my life. I'm reminded of part of a song: "The more I know Him, the more I need Him!" I'm finding that I can't live with out Him and have no purpose apart from Him. I feel more like a child in the things of the Lord today than ever in my life.

Isn't it funny that in our early years of life that we spend all of our energy trying to become something in the world that's of value, or purpose but ultimately will find nothing but a void. The only exception is when we invite the warm and touching embrace of a Father of Fathers who will never mock or shame, but instead Love unceasingly with compassion, and mercy. Who can love like the Lord? May I learn how! He's invited me on a journey to a pursue Him with my boys, other men, and people of all ages. That we may demonstrate what it means to be the church(His bride), to become to the world what He is for us and to know this love, become this love, and give away this love.

I'm amazed in wonder of the awesomeness of my Lord. Is it still possible to enter into the Fire'n Clouds of old? May I touch the face of God.., may I have influence with the Lord.., will He call my name and tell me to come up to the Mountain? The answer is: "Yes, when you seek me with all of your heart, soul, and mind, you will find me." The biggest decision of your life begins and continues to be with a question: "Will I continue to pursue the journey regardless of the cost it may have for your Life?"