Tuesday, December 31, 2013

tradition...TRADITION

holidays are meant to be spent having good times. celebration and fellowship with friends and most importantly family. my family has its traditions that have been going on for as long as i can remember.

the biggest traditions i can remember are christmas eve night we (my mom, dad, and sister) would venture to my mom's parents house and do our "christmas celebration" the night before. one gift i remember getting as a child was a siren radio. this thing was nothing extravagant. it could tune into the radio, blast a siren, and was a flashlight. i don't know why i particularly remember that present more than others.

the other traditions i remember involve my immediate family. we would wake up to stockings filled with candy and possibly toothbrushes. i always found it weird as a kid to get the poison and the antidote in the same package. my sister and i would usually be the first ones up but we always seemed to follow the unwritten rule to wait for our parents before opening the presents (i don't know of any family that allows their kids to begin opening presents the moment they wake). we would have a breakfast that consisted of all the breakfast meats, eggs, biscuits, and of course coffee. i didn't drink it as a kid though (actually i don't remember the season of my life when i began drinking coffee every morning). we would then move into the living room where we would read the christmas story out of luke and then begin singing christmas hymns...thats right i didn't say carols, i said hymns. this was my dad's grooming. i think it is safe to admit that my sister and i weren't to fond of this particular tradition.

the amount of songs we would sing changed every year. my dad actually had the old baptist hymnals that carried EVERY christmas song imaginable, so we couldn't escape with excuses of not knowing the words. the moment we were able to pressure him into only singing one more song, we usually gave that one all we had, you know, in order to honor him.

looking back, i grasp, not really the value of singing christmas songs, i don't think my dad was doing it so that we could improve our singing capabilities. rather, i see now something that a dad, a father, longs to build within his family unit...a tradition.

a tradition that can be identified by his marking; that can be labeled as "what we do." everyone has theirs, and i love mine as a little lowrie/brister boy growing up. i found myself in that moment this year.

we had our first real, lowrie, family christmas, just me, liz and the boys. i woke up, and thought to myself, "oh my gosh, what am i going to do?" i found myself cleaning up spills, taming zealousness, and helping liz clean up after breakfast and knew that we needed our tradition. dutch is 6! titus is 4! they need something to hold onto for the rest of their life that would cement inside that they were ours for the holidays. traditions do this very thing...the sense of belonging. it's all a working progress. all my have their unique individuality that they bring to the tree.

in a time of questioning and redefining; concern about what we have always done and whether or not should we change it up for the sake of change, i hope that the sense of tradition is never altered. those traditions are what we build on and will continue to build on whether or not we keep them or not. traditions are these sacred icons and for most of us they are our dna. removing that tradition would be like removing a pound of flesh. i think there is a good time for new traditions. i carry the value of tradition because my dad never relented on singing those christmas hymns even when we may have damaged his sense of self worth (for the record it was mostly stephanie who didn't want to sing). because of that i am so eager to continue on a tradition...but a new one, with my family.

Monday, December 23, 2013

forget helping yourself

really! there's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. 
the cost of rescue is beyond our means…
psalm 49:7-8 (msg)

according to a report from clinical professor of psychology at the university of denver dr. jim taylor, the self help industry is a $10 billion a year industry. this means that at this very moment, around the world, people are spending hard earned money on everything from self-esteem issues to becoming a better leader. this is an alarming message that is consistent with the testimony of the millennia of mankind's existence…our heart is not healthy.

a texas proverb from an unknown author once said, "if all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you ever got." that is wisdom. now for those who aren't able to understand "texas" wisdom it can be said another way, "you can't get different results by doing the same thing."

this is the ironic observation one can make of the whole entire self help industry. it is the same thing that has been said the same way, just packaged differently, hoping that it would produce different results. the message is simple, yet very VERY old…"you can heal your own heart."

this was the lie that the enemy told eve and adam in the garden. essentially, you are not in need of a savior; you can get along fine without someone guiding you.

if you'll notice how satan uses his approach, it is all centered around a sensual game within the mind. he loves battling us in the mind in order to gain control of the heart. the heart is a sacred place that was designed to be the habitation of the lord. and consequently, this is why jesus is still relevant to our day…because he always addresses the heart and is never about a simple, surface-level, behavior modification.

consider the command from the lord through the wisdom of solomon in proverbs 4:23-27 (nasb):
watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you. let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. do not turn to the right nor the left; turn your foot from evil.

the heart can be protected and guarded from the attack of the enemy. protection occurs when one intentionally observes the mouth, eyes, and the path of the feet.

consider what the bible says about the mouth/tongue
-proverbs 6:12
-proverbs 18:21
-james 1:26
-1 peter 3:10
you may be unable to control your thoughts, but your mouth is something you can vigilantly watch. may you use your tongue to proclaim, and declare the great things of the lord.

consider what the bible says about the eyes
-proverbs 28:22
-matthew 6:22-23
we are creatures of distraction, especially my american brethren. we are easily moved by gadgets and gizmos. our fancy turns quickly toward that which entertains our mind. keep the eye fixed and avoid "all sideshow distractions."

consider what the bible says about the foot/path
-psalm 121:3
-matthew 18:8
the literal meaning of the word "established" is the word for an incapability to contradict. keep moving your feet towards jesus and the path becomes established, or incapable of contradicting. you will be firmly sure of your path. we need that conviction more than anything these days…a confirmed course.





all of this is worked and perfected in christ, as you observe his life in the gospels you will notice that not once did he move from his mission. not for personal gain, not for the sake of anyone's feelings, and not for proving to anyone the reality of god did he shift focus. all the way to the cross, so that you might partake in his suffering with him AND the life and freedom he purchased for you to have.




Monday, December 16, 2013

nothing of coincidence

most of us have heard our whole lives that we carry purpose, we have a calling, we are destined for greatness. as i encounter the up and coming generation my concern isn't with them not receiving this message. if you have never been told you were created with a plan and there is a vision for your life, may i be the first to confirm that.

my desire is not the message, whether it is being communicated or not, but what the recipients of the message are doing with that message.

paul addresses the romans…
the god who made the world and all things in it, since he is lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with human hands; nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek god, if perhaps they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us; for in him we live and move and exist… (acts 17:24-28).

one danger we face, walking towards our calling, is the motivations that fall outside the providence of god. scripture says, "in him we live and move and exist." there is a constant temptation to move forward in our destiny with it being fed motivation to fulfill our purpose with selfish desires. i hear this message to follow your heart and do something about your life so frequently in the current selection of songs rotating around the music industry. these teachers of fame and fortune give us the impression that the chief goal in reaching our destination looks glamorous and appealing; it must be tangible. don't believe the lie, instead recognize that as partakers of the divine nature (2 pet. 1:4) the destiny god has planned can't be measured the way the world measures.

another danger is the complacent attitude of doing nothing at all. please consider a great threat to your purpose not only in you doing the wrong thing but just as much in you doing nothing at all. as god has called and gifted according to his purpose we move towards this purpose by preparing ourselves; showing ourselves approved 2 cor 10:18. mordecai, cousin to esther says, "who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this."god has determined our appointed time on the earth and our boundaries of habitation. this simply means, nothing is of coincidence but everything is of providence. to be complacent is to further a damaging conclusion on the question of god's involvement with his creation and dismiss it as coincidence.

Monday, December 9, 2013

tax the rich

i've become quite a good hand gesture-er. no, not "that" gesture, but flailing arms and pointing violently. some might say i am a very good power-point-presenter ; )

i notice it more when i am driving. living in belgium, you get used to really having to look for parking spots. so, during this, the holiday season, emotions run high, energy is maximized, and patience is very
VERY
thin.
i went shopping for the boys last wednesday. the boys have st. nicolas day on the 6th, their birthday on the 10th, and christmas right around the corner. so liz and i prefer to get all this done in one sweep of a day, if we can. we covered 5 stores in less than 2 hours, much of that is because i shop fast.

because i am so clever and could figure out how to make everyone happy, i think those making above a certain standard income should either
1. hire someone to do their shopping for them, or
2. shop online.
please, rich people, for the love of the holiday season, don't bring your i-deserve-to-be-in-front-of-every-line attitude to the stores where us poor people are use to having to wait for service. you in the midst of us commoners, displaying disgust and frustration, only makes it worse for us. we can contribute to impatience on our own we don't need anymore help.

i know that if we work together to enforce this reform the christmas season would be enjoyable for ALL of us. think about it, if the rich were taxed…
1. it would create jobs for people to work for them doing their shopping
2. could also reduce the amount of traffic in stores, parking lots, and roads
3. enable the poor people to get through the lines faster
4. increase revenue for online businesses

it's a win win for EVERYONE. it's what santa would want for us, and it will only improve the lives of our children's children. unless of course, you are not excited about your kids having children.

Monday, December 2, 2013

are they the one? (2/2)

alright ladies and gentlemen if you would return to your seats, fasten your seat belts, put your tray tables up and make sure that all seats are in their upright position…

lets land this thing. in genesis 24:13-14 we find the servant that was in charge of looking for a wife for isaac did not just walk up to any random woman in the land. he set some qualifications, AND even after these qualifications were set verse 21 tells us that the man waited patiently to see if this was god's choice.

i love that even after qualifications were met the bible goes on to tell us that he waited patiently to be sure, waiting on the lord. in the church we often just fall for any one that makes their way into the building because, if they are there, then they are of god. with this as a guideline for pursuits you will find yourself learning the hard way from experience. save yourself time and energy…don't learn the hard way.

these are the characteristics that the "plane" should land for further pursuit.

1. humility/willingness to serve
of course the bible gives us much when it comes to being humble and serving others but it goes into humility even more specifically as it describes the roles of a husband and a wife. these are very important qualities to find in a spouse. how do they get along with people less fortunate than them? how do they get along with people more fortunate than them? are they able to live in peace with people that they are not in agreement with? how do they treat you and your desires? don't just assume that people who are married prefer one another. if they are dealing with pride before marriage, it will not magically change after you say "i do."

2. sexual purity
the best thing you can give your spouse is your virginity. paul and the author of hebrews talk about the issues of being sexually involved with people outside the covenant of marriage (1 cor. 6, gal 5, heb. 13). it is not merely for the sake of withholding something that is very pleasurable. pursuing one another intimately in the wrong context will bear fruit in a later season that will not prove to be satisfying. there is a standard society sets and then there is the standard that the maker of the universe set which should ALWAYS supersede the former. pursuing each other intimately can still happen in the context of dating and engagement, it's called conversation, communication, dialogue, talking to each other. don't fall for the lie that you must find sexual compatibility before marriage to understand if the marriage will work sexually. i want to also add that i know there are many who have been sexually intimate with another person before marriage. this however, is not a license to continue on in sexual impurity. start today, living pure, saving yourself for someone else who is also saving themselves for you.

3. right priorities
don't think that just because someone is a christian, has a trust in god, and has character that they are for you. there are people who are pursuing god's purposes in their life, which means they are working to show themselves approved for his calling. for some this means a lot of education, time, or even an amount of dedication to a particular geographical region. this means if you are pursuing someone and wanting to know if they are the one, it would be wisdom to find those priorities that are agreeable. you may not want to commit to a particular waiting period, or long distance relationship. priorities are something that one is committed to, whatever they are committed to they place value. ask yourself if you value that commitment. don't live in a relationship with unbiblical pressure because you are trying to like the same things in life, or you are trying to be committed to the same things as your partner.

4. right beliefs
very similar to right priorities, there are relationships that have potential to work well cross denominationally, but then they also can prove to be a massive headache. issues of theology and doctrine are important. you want to agree. it is not necessary to agree on how long a worship service should be but that you should at least have worship within a service. there are sensitive and dangerous theologies that have crept into the church that you should not take for granted just because you met your individual at the church young adult service. remember you are not just connecting with the person but with their parents and their parents' beliefs as well.

5. committed to the church
it is sad that this even has to be mentioned. there is a legitimate amount of believers who feel they can have a relationship with the lord, believe in him, trust him, and yet still not be active members in a local church. it is like me cutting my arm off of my body and that arm claiming still to be mine. yes it is, but it suffers from disembodiment; it has no function, and cannot operate as it is intended to. join yourself with an individual who goes to church. there are numerous blessings that god has instituted the church to give. blessings of a covering, accountability, protection, and a witness to rejoice with you as you walk out your relationship biblically. you will suffer and your relationships will suffer if you are attempting to handle them on your own. no one was meant to be alone.

6. self control
the book of proverbs says that a person without self control is like a house with its windows and doors knocked out (25:28). this would not be a safe house to live in. no one, in their right mind would venture to move into this house. when you join yourself with this person you are consenting to those things they give themselves to. by joining with someone who lacks self control you yourself are consenting to this behavior; behavior that is extreme and could go one way one day and another way the next. be vigilant in addressing issues of control which may also reveal issues of addiction. alcoholism, sexual addiction, gambling, drugs, anger, depression, low self esteem, etc. all can be fought, but they must be acknowledged and battled. 

7. responsible
i don't remember where i read this first but it went something like this…"the bills can't be paid with promises of love." true, scripture talks about love being essential in our bond with our spouse; choose it, walk in it, cherish it, nourish it. understand that love, like a field, must be harvested, must be tilled, must be plowed, and must be fertilized. this means love will take work, lots of hard work. the bible speaks to a lazy person and there pursuits, the desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work; all day long he is craving… (prov. 21:25-26). for the lazy their desires never vanish, they remain, he/she just shuts them up with laziness. these desires eventually ruin the person. your promises of love are really nothing without a plan, and that plan is nothing without work. what is your plan in being single? what is your plan in dating? what is your plan in the engagement? what is you plan in marriage?

8. good relationship with parents
there are relationships we choose and relationships we have no way of choosing, like family. god has chosen for you, your parents. i am aware that not everyone has a beautiful and loving relationship with their mother and father. however, please allow communication to come and go from mom and dad. i am not saying they should choose for you, but involve them in the process of selection. they are meant to give an account for you as they are stewarding you through life. your selection of a spouse is best understood in the context of a cloud of witnesses. if parents are strongly opposed to being involved then include a strong friend that can encourage you and correct you in areas that you are blind. perhaps this would be a monumental opportunity to open the door of healing between you and your father or mother as you extend the invitation for a blessing on your marriage. remember ladies, the way he treats his mother is the way he will one day treat you. men, does she respect and honor her father? i hope so, for your sake in the future.

wrestle with these things
contemplate these things
deal with these things
do not move forward without addressing those convictions that are important to you. marriage can be a way of healing two selfish individuals who do not know how to give love unconditionally, if jesus' glory is your aim.

here is an exercise you can try on your own. taking 1 cor. 13:4-8, the love chapter, and substituting your name whenever you see the word "love." do the same for the individual you are interested in pursuing.

____ is patient
____ is kind
____ is not jealous
____ does not brag
____ is not arrogant
____ is not rude
____ does not seek his/her own
____ is not easily angered
____ does not keep a record of wrongs
____ does not delight in evil
____ rejoices in the truth
____ protects
____ trusts
____ hopes
____ perseveres
____ never fails

you will not meet a perfect person on this earth. standards are good for us as we move forward in relationships that will influence our walk with god. marriage is a significant decision. it is appropriate to note that some people battle issues their whole life. walk with someone knowing they are desiring to battle and wrestle with issues they know to be detrimental to the relationship. it is one thing to know your weaknesses and another to know them and wrestle with them in view of a heart of repentance.

Monday, November 25, 2013

are they the one? (1/2)

i gave a workshop at the cj on dating. the cj is a youth convention, very similar to a youth camp in the states. except at this location we are staying in dorm rooms from a boarding school. it always feels weird to me as an american to stay in this room that a little boy or girl stays in during the year. the convention is scheduled during a national holiday so those little kids aren't actually at the convention. but nevertheless this post is more about having purpose in dating.

it amazes me how many people flippantly date for a good time. even as i think about it, i got with girls for other reasons but my reasons were just as shallow and selfish…fulfill a desire for companionship and closeness. there was a problem though, none of the girls i pursued could satisfy this companionship. in the same way no one can satisfy the longing for "a good time" the rest of your life.

i spoke for about an hour then i gave an hour for discussion in private if they needed it. i really prefer the one on one more than the massive group setting, but, i am not going to lie, i enjoyed packing out the workshop 2 days in a row with 100+ young people. still, getting them one on one is ideal for me as a counselor.

i see the pursuit from 2 views, 30,000 ft in the air and then from ground level at 3 ft. i used the story in genesis 24 of how rebekah was found for isaac.

30,000 ft looks at three elements: a believer, trusting in god, and character.

1. believer
marrying someone who is not a believer is introducing confusion into your life; even if you get married and never get divorced, it will fail to produce the life that marriage is meant to be. think of how people see god's relationship to his people…marriage is that picture. you can distort this image (not distort god's holiness, but his image) by uniting your heart with one who has no desire for god to be lord of their life. 2 corinthians says that if you are in christ, you are a new creation. this means that your life functions under a continual pursuit of transformation; transforming thoughts, relationships, priorities, lifestyle, and goals. an unbeliever will not appraise these things as a believer will.

2. trust in god
our entire lives should provide testimony after testimony to our need for waiting and our need of dependence on others. the current generation is a generation that is taught from a young age to question authority rigorously. the problem with this is what a lifestyle of distrust produces, namely pride and an unwillingness to serve others (two of the most needed features in the character of those you want to marry). however, it is possible to gain trust. those who have difficulty trusting god (or anyone) will find that they can begin by:

  • walking in humility, serving others, and thinking of themselves less (not less of themselves)
  • submit themselves to a leader and place their agendas under accountability
  • walking in obedience to what the covering in their lives is instructing, sometimes even blindly (but with the desire to learn the value of that instruction)

if you are not married at this very moment, it is with a purpose. god has a plan for your health and not to torture you. i know that desire for companionship can be and is very strong...i have felt it many a time. trust that the lord will guide you to your spouse. remember the holy spirit will never lead you to marry:
-in violation of the Word of God
-for money
-an unbeliever
-an ugly person

3. character
think of character as you would think of a person carrying certain qualities. now in this context you would not want me to perform open heart surgery on you because i lack the qualities to do this. you should desire and appreciate that i have the qualifications to perform surgery, if you were ever to ask me to perform it on you. but don't worry i would never do it, even if you asked me to. the proper qualifications are those things you find desirable and those things that you don't find desirable.

if they have none of these 3 things then don't even "land the plane."

when we land the plane, then we look at character even closer. this generation seems to put so much focus on character before they even consider whether or not the individual is a believer or trusting in god. and then when things go incredibly wrong they are completely lost as to how this wonderful and generous individual could have turned into a very heinous monster. don't even land the plane if they are not a believer or trusting god (and yes it is possible to believe in god without trusting in him).

we land the plane next week

Monday, November 18, 2013

seasoned to perfection


matthew 5:13
you are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

there are flavors on this earth that are god flavors. these flavors, which are meant to be tasted, will not give the flavor it was intended to give, glory to god and blessing in this life, unless they are seasoned in the fashion that brings this revelation.

i love steak. maybe you do to. i am convinced there are a million "good" steakhouses out there that prepare their steaks with such an incredible flavor. they cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time. they then season it with the right type and amount of seasoning. most of them produce a product that can make a vegetarian salivate. now if you are prepared to pay for this process, then more power to you.

i find my method of preparing the perfect steak to be just as delightful (maybe more so) and i pay a dramatically reduced rate. i don't need the wine and dine feel and well dressed server to issue a cut of beef that will be gone faster than it was prepared. i season it to great perfection. without these seasonings, however, my meat is pointless. there is no enjoyment of the flavors if i am eating a steak without the right ingredients on top.

jesus goes on to say in this passage that people will be a witness to your relationship with god and out of this witness they will too respond in the same way and open up to him. i can't see how this plays out better than in my daily relationships. i am not even talking about the lost specifically (those i don't encounter daily), but those whom i find contact with on a day to day basis inside my groups of friends.

think about it…
there are flavors people will walk around missing unless they are seasoned with the ingredient that brings those flavors out. i am constantly desiring to make a difference and there some good days and bad days of actually living out jesus' direction here..."you are the salt of the earth!"

begin close…start with your family (spouses, children, parents, siblings, etc). encourage them, season them with love. you can't know god, proclaim to love him, and yet have nothing to do with your brother. i pray for my boys every day before i drop them off at school, asking god to give them favor, blessing, and revelation. i think of my immediate family every time i feel a conviction of needing to be a season to bring out god flavors. by god's grace and mercy i woke up today, so that means i am a seasoning, an ingredient, for the use of god and the flavors he has put on this earth.

i don't fear that we are becoming a generation of salting too much but rather a generation of not seasoning at all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

the impact

in acts chapter 16 we can read about the account of a "robust" worship service taking place in a prison. consequently, the circumstance changed for those two within that jail cell. it wasn't the fact that it was paul and silas, two giants of the early church, who were singing that made the difference. rather, it was the fact that god was receiving praise and honor. glory was attributed to god simply because of who he was...awesome.

worship has a profound impact on our lives. most of us who are church members, know it even though we may not be able to admit said impact. believe it or not, praise and worship impacts the worshipping individual, body, soul, and mind. filling your mind with god's awesome character in praise and worship guides our understanding of truth and gives us knowledge of these said benefits.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that a holy zeal for his name is found. singing about him reminds us of who he is. have you ever been in the presence of god and clinched your fist so tight and pumped it in the air like rocky balboa at the top of the philadelphia museum of art? maybe you are a dancer, maybe you are a shouter, or maybe you love to kneel quietly before him in adoration. a holy zeal will most definitely change your life; i am not talking about energy, but zeal, passion, sheer desire, for his glorification.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that a boldness for the proclamation of his standards rises up inside. some could refer to it as zeal, but what really takes place is what you would find in acts 5. the apostles are in the temple praising and worshipping god then began preaching in the name of jesus. the pharisees pull them out and again command them to not preach in jesus' name, their response, "it's necessary for us to obey god rather than men." the impact of worshipping and glorifying god is a boldness for his name and proclamation of his word.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that a contentment in him resides. it's an assurance of the relationship, the covenant, the faithfulness of him to his people; he cannot deny himself. shadrach, meshach, and abednego demonstrated this when they refused to worship the gods the king had commanded them to worship. they only worship god, and would rather be thrown in the fire than worship those gods. they go as far to say, in daniel 3, that even if god didn't save them, they still wouldn't worship nebuchadnezzars gods.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that perspective of god's design is understood. in the midst of worship our mind becomes transformed, we are beholding from one glory to the next his awesome majesty. the holy spirit moves amongst our hearts shaping our walk with him, gaining a discernment for seeing things the way god sees them and even appreciating why he does things the way he does them. it is easy for followers of jesus to be overwhelmed by the condition of sin in the world, and the toll it has taken on our fellow man. worship transforms our minds and hearts and leads us even if we are not completely sure what is taking place around us.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way of refreshment. we were, in the end, never meant to carry the angst and worry that we choose to carry so frequently. because of the fracture of sin we can find in many parts of the world the door to despair is wide open. we never really can escape the clutches of this fracture, this side of the grave. thankfully jesus paid the price so that we don't have to live under it. jesus is our joy and satisfaction. in 1 samuel 16 we see clearly the power of worship over a lost and despaired individual. david played as to ease the tormenting spirits that frustrated king saul. the anointing found in worship unto him is the most refreshing our souls can find while we live in these earthen vessels. like i always told my mom when i wanted to sleep in church, "there is no better place to sleep, than the presence of the lord."

if worship is not impacting our lives, it is not because god is doing something wrong, it is because our hearts are not engaged. we could easily sing songs in bars, at home in the shower, or let the musicians do it on the radio; worship has meaning, it has purpose and god's design is for it to impact our lives.

Monday, November 4, 2013

discipling your band

the greatest key for a lasting desire in a group of individuals who play together is the bond running deeper than the music or instrumentation.

i've played with several worship teams and with several different worship leaders. the greatest of groups to play with are those that have a preference for unity that overshadows their preference for music. music is such a powerful weapon/tool and has been such a hot topic when it comes to church membership. you don't have to go far before you hear a rant on style, technique, volume, era, etc.

the worship leader who reaches his team and desires a bond outside the music will find musicians running to play/perform right along side of him. i have had some great mentorship in my day. over the course of my musical career i have grown to love the back-up position (mainly because of the pedals). i can tell if a leader on the stage is reaching and discipling his teams. it shows when they play together and it directly influences the congregation.

the privilege that is amongst those on stage in the united states should never be taken for granted. many musicians playing just twice a month are receiving the equivalency of a pastors salary in some european nations. getting paid to play is a wonderful benefit, cherish it, lord knows i would love to get paid playing music. however, even in my experiences of paid musicianship i found myself longing to be along side my heroes of praise and worship, all of whom were not paid to play on the stage.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

to kosovo with love


you have captured my heart. you have shown me once again that there is a god who is real and is actively involved with his creation. your love for each other and your passion for the bride of jesus is overwhelming. please keep going, don't stop.

i had little idea of what to expect when i came to see you. i had never ventured this far southeast in europe so i was not sure what to find. i recall telling many of you, "i'm speechless because i am taking it in." i was impressed, and i cannot imagine living my life without returning to your wonderful hospitality.

every smile, every spoken "falemnderit" (thank you), and all of your passion to be worshippers unto jesus in a land that is overwhelmed by opposition, has left a mark in my heart.

stand strong, keep the faith, don't lose sight of the glorious inheritance after fighting this fight. you may be woken every morning to a voice of intimidation and oppression, but fear not for god will make a way where there seems to be no way. he calls you to be holy as he is holy; be assured that he will make a way for you to live this commandment. you may be persecuted for following jesus, you may be cut off from your family and friends but let me encourage you that god's love is great and can find a way even into the darkest places of anger.

continue seeking how you can grow in your pursuit of worship. continue challenging the church to follow the voice of the holy spirit for the sake of growth and maturity that will not prove to be hollow inside.

men, lead well. develop a passion, a desire, and a zealousness for a holy leadership. don't turn to the left or the right but stand strong on the word of god. teach the young men of your congregation to honor authority in their lives. teach young women that their value worth are found in their creator. show them this value by treating them as though they are fragile and precious jewels in your life.

women, find your beauty in the presence of your king jesus. demonstrate to the other women of your land that their is a higher value than what the world calls valuable. let your voices of praise be heard within your houses and churches.

i am praying for the bride of jesus in kosovo to be radiant and pure for that glorious day he calls her home.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

lessons learned

i had a little scare at the beginning of the month. every year the government requires what is called controle technique. it is the same thing as an inspection on the car.

the first time i went in to get it done it failed. the amount of pollution "dash" was putting into the air was well over the allowable limit. in addition to this there was a small fog light that was out. 
fail
FAIL!!!

i had a few weeks to complete the necessary repairs before trouble came blowin through my way. i ended up taking it to a garage (mechanic) that specializes in volkswagens and i told him what the problem was. he looked at it; changed the fuel filter and put some chemicals in it to clean the tank. he told me, but didn't guarantee me, that it should pass this next time.

i was dreading the return to the temple of doom in halle, belgium. as i travelled out to the location of inspection i noticed my prayer language becoming fiercer. there is a young woman named faith from pennsylvania who is helping us with ministry needs here in belgium. she happened to be in the car with me for this re-check and i asked her to pray as she has never prayed before. on our way to the location i slowly come to a complete stop at a stop light only to hear a severe grinding in my brakes!

perfect! i need my car to fail this time because of the braking system. i was so paranoid and felt like the whole universe was against me (a little george costanza paranoia). i knew they were going to pull it around only to hear the grind and fail the car. 

well, the car past. they only checked the problems that registered of the last visit. 

but nowa bigger problem prevails...brakes. i only knew of one thing to do, google it, youtube it, find out how big of a problem i have on my hands. turns out brake pads were all i needed. they are not too expensive, around 40 euros, and changing them is easier than changing clothes. not that i am an expert but my buddy here in belgium helped me (thanks jon alderman).

lessons learned
1. don't freak out about things
2. someone else knows something about the problem
3. google it
4. don't just pay a garage to do the work

Saturday, October 12, 2013

rules about rules

i grew up with particular perspective. i didn't have older brothers and sisters, like my friends did. i didn't share in the experiences that my friends received having those older brothers and sisters. because of this i intentionally purposed in my life at a young age to give young kids that experience that i didn't have by being an older brother figure. this purpose developed into a desire to do more for kids in their development as people, which then turned into a desire to help families, which in turn formed the passion i now have for counseling. god is so good!

here are some things i found to be very wise which i intend (as best as i can) to instill in the raising of my boys in their teenage years.

i had help from 5 love languages for teens by dr. gary chapman.

1. rules should be as few as possible
too many rules have potential to be very overwhelming. there is a great chance a family with too many rules will have young people who don't remember what they are and thus breaking them quite a bit. having many rules means parents, you will be responsible for keeping up with all these rules. think about life, and think about how life is with too many rules, very very rigid. this is not an argument for not having rules, but instead, considering if you have too many that may actually be hindering growth in your young person.

ask yourself, "what are the really important issues," when forming rules. say "no" to those things that destroy and "yes" to those things that build.

2. rules should be as clear as possible
if the rules are ambiguous or unclear you will be guaranteed to have a confused young person. when the rule is clear young people will sure to be aware when they break the rule. i have been involved enough with young people to know that they like to argue. unclear rules will give them a "dog in the fight."

3. rules should be as fair as possible
this is difficult because, "what is fair?" cultures are different and even generations are redefining things so fast. none of us are perfect in our understanding of what is perfect. parents, don't give in when you are convinced the rule is for the well being and favoring growth of the young person. every time a sense of fairness is violated someone will be upset. parents should consider bending only if it seems the well being of the child will not be compromised. parents should also think how they engage in the conversation of "fair," with their child. don't cut off a discussion and enforce a rule without dealing with an anger issue of the young person. doing this will result in rejection and resentment of the authority position. hear young peoples concerns about fairness while making and forming the rules together.

i love kids
i love families
i love working towards fixing problems
i love healthy demonstrations of god's principles in an earth that has been fractured by sin.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

glimpse at omnipotence

i like to drive. when the family gets in the car and we are headed out somewhere, long distance or short it doesn't matter, i will without hesitation jump into the drivers seat. ok, i will admit that i do have a hard time sitting shotgun when liz is driving, but in my defense, it is not just her it is anyone driving. i just love having control of the wheel. even more than this i have grown to love driving a standard car again. i don't know how to explain it, i just feel like i have such control of the machine as i maneuver, with precision and safety, throughout the city.

i know only a few people who share the love for the drivers seat. i can recall in high school having friends older than i was and they would reach the driving age first. most of our hangouts would consist of them talking about how they were sick of driving my butt around. they would inform me that when i received my license that i was going to be driving a lot, you know, to make up for all the times they had to drive me around.

as a king, david had to regularly make decisions. especially decisions of great importance and priority for israel. david must have had many struggles with certain decisions knowing that they carried consequences. the great thing about our glimpse into the psalms is that we not only see david's practical struggles but also his spiritual struggles. we get a view into davids world which we understand, really, to be a great picture of god's sovereignty and omnipotence and less about a king who had great struggles.

i love the clarity of the shift in psalm 6 as we witness the ego of david slowly turn to the praise and admiration of a good god. in verse 6 david breaks and declares he is done and can't go on trying to figure this out. he releases a control over the circumstance and removes himself from the driver's seat. this identifies with me so well, as a man who enjoys to be in control and drive the machine.

in the emptiness of my despair god pours in with his omnipotence. a glimpse of god's omnipotence will give me a perspective of my circumstance for what it really is...

1. satan is a coward, a re-treating, and defeated enemy of righteousness

2. god's size easily overtakes the size of my problems which leaves no room for worry or anxiety

3. looking for god's goodness, consequently, strengthens discernment which prepares me for future decisions of challenging events

Saturday, September 28, 2013

let the word perform


for this reason we also constantly thank god that when you received the word of god which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of god, which also performs its work in you who believe. 
1 thess. 2:13

believing in the word of god is an agent of supernatural power in my life. it grants me allegiance to the true god. i admit that i often hear these words of god and cut short the idea that belief in these words can be power and maybe even power i need, to correct faulty thinking.

god's word is faith giving
god's word is life changing
god's word is eye opening
god's word is mind altering
god's word is living and breathing
god's word is constant

god's word is speaking today, right now...lets be listening

Saturday, September 21, 2013

contemplation produces devotion


as i engage myself in god's presence and sing god's praises scripture becomes truth. there is transformation that takes place when god inhabits my praises; it is in him that we are able to move, live, have our being. an awakened and conscious heart deepens upon our engagement in praise, worship, and daily adoration. acknowledging god's place subsequently we find healing in areas of our life we didn't even realize we needed healing.

our praise invites an understanding of god's greater character, looking at it next to ours
our praise invites a righteous and holy fear of a god truly set apart from any other
our praise invites a profound trust, or you might refer to it as faith; an assurance

only true love can be a reality when trust has been established. skepticism of god cripples and melts like wax upon a genuine meeting of him, the only one that can truly be trusted. i can't find any other path to the knowledge of god outside of worship unto him through his son, jesus christ. if he is the only completely faithful person, wouldn't you want to know him?

romans 1 tells us that people begin to make outlandish and ridiculous claims about who god really is because their praise, honor, and worship of him ceases.

an empty love is one without trust. if i confess love for my wife but cannot trust her it is not love...it is infatuation.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

lover of revenge














it has always been a frustration for me when deceit and rebellion are able to get away without a charge. around the globe, rebellion, even as i type this, is celebrated. uprisings are forming in the remote parts of the world and it seems that at any time chaos can explode like a virus on an vulnerable host. this is not an argument for the happenings within the middle east, nor any current event. these events do, however, help shape a thought that is the context in psalm 5.

i went to a private school growing up, founded on biblical principles and intentional in shaping not just character but spiritual life as well. education was a priority, and the spiritual state of the heart was very important in how the leadership viewed students and ran the school.

i ran with the crowd that seemed to live life right on the edge of knowing the goodness of the lord and yet struggling with temptation of living life how we felt was good and right. what this meant was i witnessed and partook of things that went directly opposed to the life i knew was righteous and godly. i will never forget many of the nights that i said yes to activity that i knew grieved the spirit and god's plan for my life. i grew discontent however; praise the lord my heart never became complacent.

there were so many issues i had with the lifestyle i was leading. in school i was intentional in how i wanted to be viewed...a good kid, yet outside of school i lived a different story. this is very similar to how as grown-ups we live our lives in and out of sunday morning. i grew even more frustrated as i grieved the holy spirit.

my frustration was directed at the blatant deceit and corruption that was not receiving discipline. i knew too much that was going on, and i knew exactly how i was meant to live my life, and i hated that rebellion was escaping judgment. to make matters worse, i never felt as though there was an acknowledgement about how i ended up refusing, in may cases, the rebellious lifestyle. there was no elevation, promotion, or attention brought to me as an example of godliness and righteousness when i chose the good and righteous standards. this became a frustrating seed in my life that i still struggle with to this day. i will always hate the fact that sin has a season of flourishing.

god help me to stand strong on your word and your promises.

in psalm 5, we find that as a servant of the king (saul) there is many deceptions going on that frustrate david. lies, bloodshed, corruption, and evil are abound and david has no power to correct this trend. in this moment, likewise, we often find ourselves face to face with an opportunity, as i did, and still do many times to react to committed wrongdoings. we can be bitter, envious, take matters into our own hands, or we can do, as god by his spirit urges us to do...trust him. not easy, and not always fun. get on your knees, pray for the solution to unfold and even more importantly pray that you gain eyes to see and ears to hear and witness this unfolding.

what does david do here in psalm 5?

god hear me (vs 1-6) - daily begin with an urgent confession of your need for god's ears to hear you. c.s. lewis said it best, "i pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. it doesn't change god, it changes me."

ask for direction (vs 7-8) - prayer is a discussion; a dialogue with your maker. when you pray, listen for god's response. god will respond, give him a moment to do so, quiet your soul.

ask for protection (9-10) - our culture is fast to respond and react in vengeance. our opinions are shaped quicker than the evidence unfolds. i wanted to take revenge, you will too. even if it is a passive aggressive approach, it still is us taking matters into our own hands. pray for protection against using your hands to do your own will.

ask and look for the blessing (11-12) - there is favor for those who practice righteousness, there is a shield that protects, look for it. ask the lord for eyes to see and ears to ear the blessings he brings upon your life. the temptation is to only find acknowledgement as a blessing, "you are so righteous," or, "look how good and perfect that guy/girl is." this won't always be the case, let the praise come as it does, but i know god has intentions for better gifts than our earthly leaders and fathers could ever think to offer...look for his gifts and rewards, his blessings are going to last.

be blessed to know that vengeance is the lords and he does not neglect, nor forget.

Friday, September 6, 2013

alaska in august

i have the privilege of being married to an alaskan. well, technically she was born in montana, but she lived her life in the biggest state in the union. i'm from the biggest state "in the lower 48," as they say, so with this marriage we hold a heritage of BIG desires. i love going to alaska and visiting my family there. they are some of the most generous people i have ever known. liz's parents are truly like my very own. they know me and what i like and every time i visit they never disappoint to shower me with many blessings.

i try and go fishing every time i visit. they also have a hand full of thrift stores that i seem to find at least one or two t-shirts every time i go. this year we were able to take a camping trip into the remote town of  liz's upbringing. liz and i stayed in tents with finn while dutch and titus got to sleep with grammy and papa in the camper they own. we had such a blast hiking around and taking the 4-wheelers into the mountains. titus loves destruction so riding the polaris ranger plowing through fields and mowing down small trees brought a big grin to his face. i think finn is a little too young still to camp, judging by the inability to walk around and sleep soundly without mommy present.

in addition to the blessings this family gives, they have a large family with kids around titus and dutch's age. this proved to be such a treat for dutch who actually has never had a sleep over at someone's house but showed us it is possible as he slept twice at his cousins house. we ventured into the alaska state fair and enjoyed the fair-like atmosphere from a culture not to far removed from my own, being a texas boy and all.

liz has two brothers and one sister who are always ready to fill in the gap of time lost with us. every time we go they pick right back up where we left it as though we live there. liz's mom never ceases to ask me what i want to eat while i am there. i know i can get the best salmon, crab, and some other wonderful gamey meat for meals.

although alaska is wonderful year around my favorite season is the summer time because of the long days and the lush green scenery. much like belgium, it stays cool and has that fresh rain smell.

we had a wonderful moment of hiking in a famous mountain pass called hatchers pass. because bears aren't up in the mountains for the winter yet there was much discussion about precautionary measures. this meant...i get to where a gun! even though i am a texas boy guns were never my thing. not that i am gun-rights enthusiast i still just never got into them. so when i am wearing a holster up against my chest i feel fierce and manly. thankfully i never needed to use.

i still haven't been able to cross off the list the two most desirable things to see, the northern lights and a bear...obviously from a distance.

if you ever get a chance to go to akaska for whatever reason...take it.


titus got some swords at the fair



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

alerts to threats


this was something handed to me via email from my mother in law. i thought it was quite humorous. if you know anything about john cleese, this is his brand of humor which i find funny, especially as it pertains to belgians and their summer holiday schedules.

enjoy

ALERTS TO THREATS
IN 2013 EUROPE

From JOHN CLEESE

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the Barbie this weekend!" and "The Barbie is cancelled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

Regards,
John Cleese ,
British writer, actor and tall person

And as a final thought - Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.

Life is too short..

Friday, August 30, 2013

mom and dad in belgium

this summer was such a wonderful experience for our family. we had been planning this for well over 6 months to have my parents come to our house here in belgium and for us to go visit liz's family in alaska.

before i begin, in the spring my dad had suffered a severe bicycling accident that would require major surgeries and rehabilitation. it put strain on the planning of their visit to our house here. he would be required to miss a lot of work. thankfully, he had put in the vacation spots for the days they were here at the beginning of the year so the trip wasn't effected by the need for many days off of work. however, due to his weeks of needed rest and rehabilitation he was forced to use vacation days and sick leave while not working. this meant that he had to take a short, unpaid leave while on vacation here in belgium. not cool.

still, it was cheaper for them to fly here, even while taking unpaid leave, then for my whole family (2 adults, 2 kids, and infant) to dallas. weird, i know. i wish flying was cheaper, as do most people who fly i am sure.

this was a huge trip for my dad. he had never been out of the united states. this required him to get a passport for the first time in his life. over 50 years without needing a passport! maybe that is not as big of a deal as i think it is but it sure seems amazing considering how much people move around these days.

there was so much anticipation. if you follow me on twitter, then you could attest to the many tweets concerning numbers and countdowns, we were so excited for them to be here. we had it all planned out, going to give them the belgian experience of the trains and food. the morning of their arrival we left the house around 7:30 on the train to go get them. we got to the airport and then it started to rain as we were headed home on the train. as soon as we got to the rhode train station i ran to my house to get the car. need less to say, it was not a great welcome to belgium experience. mom and dad were very tired and dad was hurting a little from soreness in his body due to the bicycling accident.

over the next two weeks we had so much fun. we visited our key spots, went downtown, visited the seaside, rode numerous trains, played in the parks, experienced el grecco, and had wonderful chats about life and things that are changing in the dallas area. i was so grateful for their presence in our house. for my dad it was also his first time to be able to hold and play with finn, our youngest.

liz and i got to celebrate our anniversary (month later) in amsterdam...WITHOUT KIDS!!! i was so excited to travel with my bride to amsterdam and get a wonderful 2 days with her all to myself.

next to the last night i had such a major breakdown. going down to my parents room i told them everything i felt. at times in my life over here i feel like i am hurting them because they are denied the times to be had with grand children; especially if you know my mom who loves them so much. i hate that. i told them i was sorry and really do wish it was different. my mom and dad both are confident i am doing what the lord is calling me to do over here in belgium. that is so pleasing to know and comforting.

i look forward to our next adventure together. hopefully they can make traveling to belgium an annual experience.

love you mom and dad.






Friday, August 23, 2013

finn and the fan

i remember the details of my kids sleeping experiences very very well. things for me were drastically changed upon the entry of children into my world. i was, before dutch, a morning person. i loved the mornings and getting up early studying and reading the bible. praying up at my office, which consisted of the church's coffee shop, which i operated. it wasn't uncommon for me to be the first one on campus while it was still dark and i would sit there filling my belly with americano style coffee. it was also during this time i gained a deep and great appreciation for ambient and instrumental style music. songs without words from the likes of hammock, helios, eluvium, and loscil, which would later expand into quite a collection for me.

that was me, before kids, and i was quite taken with this lifestyle.

when dutch was born, to say that things changed, is quite the understatement. sleep would become a deep craving and last for the next 4-5 years of my life, dutch gave way to titus and titus has now given way to finn. parents with young children can attest to my musings.

i have always been somewhat unconventional, it seems anyway, with my newborn kids NOT sleeping in my bed with me or even in the same room. living in belgium, having the luxury to accommodate this need has not been easy. space has proven to be difficult and my conventional ways have been tested.

finn has basically lived his existence in our room with my wife and me. it wasn't as bad in the beginning because he lived to sleep. as he got older, however, things changed and it seemed that the faintest of noises was as if we injected red bull into his veins. he would awake and believe that it was time to get out of bed. "oh, people are in here awake, it must be time to get out of bed," is the opinion i am sure finn had. so life with a kid in our room changed the way we unwind.

when a room became available it took no logical debate to convince my wife that our sweetest finn needs his own space. rhetoric guised in the language of his comfort when i really was the little baby in the situation who needed his own way. we proceeded to move finn into his own room and the night was transformed for the both of us. i discovered conversation with my wife again, i found my passion to read before bed slowly make its way through the door, and it seemed i could roll over in our bed without fear that the covers would sound like a torrential downpour of water over a cliff and disturb prince finnik liam the first. my love affair with sleep was rekindled! my life was transformed and so became my mornings.

"what about this fan," you say? oh, well now that the summers are here the heat in our room is the equivalency of finn standing in his crib crying for hours on end. i despise sweating while i am in the sleeping mood. the presence of a fan blowing and circulating the sweet coolness of the nightly air in our room makes for what i can only describe as the perfect ingredients for one of the lords most sacred commands...REST!!!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

oh no, i got to keep on moving

i have a really hard time forcing myself to stop working, or at least, thinking about work. i am constantly wondering, "what could i be doing that would build?" this plague is both a curse and a blessing in my perspective.

it really becomes challenging at times to force myself into playing or reading books with my boys. those things are without a doubt some of the most important quality time activities i could be doing with my kids. and honestly, when i am outside the moment, i am thinking how much i should be doing more with my boys.

proverbs 12:24 says the diligent find freedom in their work; the lazy are oppressed by work (msg). i would love to find the balance in all of this. the ability to turn off just enough to know that i am actually getting more done than if i kept on and wore myself out. this requires someone else. someone who is better than i am and someone who has more experience in life than i do.

that person is...

jesus

paul says in colossians, "everything got started in him and finds his purpose in him." this means that leaning on him isn't something i have to try, in order to find wholeness, it means, it is something i must do if i want my life to have peace.

when i am playing trains with my boys...peace
when i am reading books to them...peace
when i am praying with pastors and leaders...peace
when i am leading a congregation in worship...peace

there is no substitute and no replacement. jesus occupies the only place as the sustainer of creation without peers. if you, like me, struggle to find the off switch, rest in the unfailing peace of jesus. he too, is able to understand what it means to have a mind that is desiring success at every venture and the importance of every minute detail of our lives. the spirit will lead you into freedom and liberation in your work as you lean on him.

what i have found to help with a sense of peace is...

recognize the activity in your life that needs to be on the shelf. the things you need to say no to, at this particular time. i have heard it over and over and over, "just because it is good, doesn't mean it is god." learn to say no to things.

surround yourself with encouragement...not yes men. find people who know how to find productivity and success and can properly evaluate patterns to righteously correct or reprove your thinking. if proverbs, the book of wisdom, is to be taken seriously, we must then long for correction and counsel. this will prove to reveal discipline which is the key to growth.

most importantly, develop a pattern of breaking away from the noise (friends, internet, phones, etc) and finding your spot of deep and thought provoking intimacy with god. he is the most intimately acquainted entity of your life in existence. scripture is clear, there is not a place you can go that he is not there. jesus broke away from the crowds to be alone, rose early for prayer, he knew, and teaches us the value of actively separating our minds from the noise. in this time you will gain the secrets of god for your life; finding those very things to be at peace with in you working life (relationships, decisions, activities, etc).

at the heart, if we can be honest, the stress that accompanies work or the inability to turn off reveals the nature of our hearts. we want to be in control, if we want control than that is definitely a bad thing. the lord loves to reveal the areas of our hearts that will be most detrimental in our relationship with him. pride leads to idolatry and this will ruin.

Friday, August 9, 2013

not the wallet

the bills, at times, come unexpectedly. i know i am not the only one who experiences this phenomenon. this last summer we had our everyday bills meet our end of the school year bills. they all had a fight and ultimately the budget lost.

on the week of july 19th 2005 i witnessed a pretty amazing moving by the lord. this was the week the lord pressed upon a few people to give extravagantly towards a ministry trip liz and i took to denmark. it was a trip that changed our life and gave us a greater perspective for missions upon the european landscape. so, now that we live in belgium, as missionaries, you can see why it was such a great moment in our lives. i logged this monumental moment in my journal that same week and read it in my quiet time (periodically i go back through my journal entries on the particular day that coincides). i was so full of joy reading that entry. i encourage EVERYONE to write down these profound moments of god's handiwork for this exact reason, remembering and rejoicing. we ended up receiving nearly $1500 in a week time span. the lord moving different people, some people we knew, some we didn't even know until that moment.

you can imagine how bummed i was after having a wonderful meditation and receiving a few bills in the mail, that were unexpected. "lord, why?" i thought to myself. what could i do? nothing, well, nothing that would involve my own strength. i needed a miracle. i did the only thing i knew to do...pray. i prayed throughout the day, without ceasing that god would make a way for this money to come in. i was in constant dialogue with my maker.

that evening i received a request to skype with a dear friend and a donor to our ministry. she didn't allow much chit chat to happen before she was out with her intentions, "how much do you need?" she said. i was hesitant because she already gives so much and i was not comfortable with confessing our needs, for bills, that is not the missionary code, you don't raise money for bills. she wouldn't let me beat around the bush. "zach," she said, "how much do you need?" i told her the few bills we had and she said, "i am wiring money to cover it all right now as we speak."

"what," i said, "are you kidding me!?!?!?"

because of god's faithfulness to his people we are able to make ends meet. i will leave you with the last line of the entry i had for his faithfulness 8 years ago...

the lord is strong and mighty, true to those who believe in his name, trust in him, and not their wallet!