The Second Commandment

•August 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Ok so I’ve said that this isn’t second commandment blog the one about my horizontal movement rather than my verticle. I have to admit I find it hard to love the second commandment. I love the first! I love loving God! He is so easy to love, but Jesus refused to let the two be seperate from one another. Jesus said that the Most important way to go about the first commandment is by following the second. “If you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me”. I have to be entirely honest I don’t like that! It is costly, it is messy, it is awkward, it makes me voulnerable and I don’t like it! Oh but I want it. I want to love like Jesus loves. Sacrificially emptying myself in love for my friends. I want to BE this. To carry around His death in my mortal body like Paul talks about. Teach me Jesus.

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Time well spent

•August 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Our culture is a culture of action. We are a people who never stop DOING all the time. For us action is the only response to conviction that means anything. We say things like “you can believe that all day but what are you going to DO about it?” and ” actions speak louder than words”. I am not about to say that is a wrong way to be. It is a Biblical mindset “faith without works is dead”, but we are so activity oriented we sometimes over look the power of small acts. In and of themselves these tiny things accomplish very little but when they become a way of life the benefit is far and above that of any singular event. That is why my wife and I have spent a lot of time this summer just doing interesting things with our kids. We haven’t taken any big trips and only a couple little ones but we are trying in tiny ways a fraction at a time an hour at a time really get to know the boys. It has been so much fun! I am so thankful for my wonderful kids. Here are a couple of pictures

Rabba dabba ding dong doo!

•August 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’ve heard it said that God gave men wives and children to keep us humble. Whoever said that was right! My wife and kids are God’s primary way of revealing my inner depravity. Last night I came home from a long day at work ready to relax and my house was full of cranky people! My wife was fed up with my children, my two older boys were fighting, and my little one was teething! That made me cranky too! So when my wife or one of the kids started complaining I would say nonsense words back to them and end the string of gibberish with the statement “that’s all I hear!!” Something like this- “but Daddy he…..” and then I would butt in with “shoop shap diddly do bop de dong! That’s all I can hear coming out of your mouth!” I know you’re thinking “what a jerk!” but I am just trying to be transparent. It was several moments later that I reallized how completely inappropriate my behavior had been. This is my family! They have had a rough day and I won’t even give them 30 seconds to tell me about it. I invalidated them and made them feel like their words were unimportant to me, which in turn means that THEY are unimportant to me. That could not be further from the truth. I deeply love and cherish my family. They are my highest earthly priority and they deserve my attention and affection. I publicly apologize to my wife and my boys right here and now for my rude and unacceptable behavior! If anybody deserves my time and my ear it is you please forgive me.

Farther up and Further in!

•July 31, 2008 • 1 Comment
Last night I announced that as of August 27th I will no longer be a part of the youth ministry of First Assembly of God.  I have been the worship leader and a youth leader at Ignite youth ministries for 7 years.  It has been the most fun, fulfilling, difficult, amazing, powerful, overwhelming, humbling experience of my life.  I have seen God do so many things, change so many lives, and give so many gifts in the time that I have been there.  We have had the most dramatic and powerful worship experiences of my life and some of the worst as well.  The Lord has been so faithful to meet us where we are and chase us down when we didn’t want to come.  His deep and unending desire to be with His people has been displayed to me in incredible, lavish, extravagant ways.  I have loved almost every minute of my time there.  I am so unworthy to have even been involved with what He has done.  He is so good, and He is leading me on.
 
The day before the Fort Wayne One Thing Conference the Lord Spoke to me in a significant way that He was changing my path.  He told me He was calling me into a season of preparation and consecration.  He gave me a whole list of reasons and goals He had for the next season of my life and He told me that none of them could be accomplished to fullness while I was still involved in the youth ministry.  He said to me:
 
Your priority list is as follows –
  1. Your heart in me – the first commandment in your life. Your heart has begun to cool from to much time in your comfort zone.  There is still life there but there is frost around the edges.  You must keep your heart aflame!
  2. Your family’s heart in me – your wife and children need you to be washing them with the Water of my word.  You have not done enough to stir their hearts with love for me.  That is all you’ve been about in the youth ministry but you have in some ways neglected that responsibility with your wife and kids.
  3. Your heart toward others – there are people I have placed in your life that I want you to invest in and you have not had the time.  Make use of the time and pour into their lives in a more intimate and costly way.
  4. Preparation for your future – I have a calling on your life.  I have a destiny but you are not ready for it yet, and staying where you are will not get you there.  Go back to school, finish your degree and get DEEP in the Word.  I am forming you.  I am equipping you.  The dreams and callings I have spoken over you are still alive and well.  Become a better writer, a better speaker, and gain more wisdom and confidence with people and money.  LEARN and GROW!!
I don’t claim these to be the exact words of God but that was the gist and in typical God fashion each of these is expanding to be much bigger than the small beginning I am able to record here.  I can’t wait to see the man I become in 5 years which is my guesstimation of how long this next season will last!  Pray for me and for Ignite as this transition moves forward.
 
Love you all
Josh
 
 

Proverbs 29:18

•July 28, 2008 • 1 Comment
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint ESV
 
I have witnessed this reality in so many ways and in so many lives but most significantly in my own.  I love weekends.  I am, by nature, a somewhat lazy person.  I am infected with the disease of my generation, procrastination!  I spend most of my weekends doing as little as possible.  Oh sure there is stuff that needs to be done.  My lawn requires maintenance.  There are things around the house that need to be done.  There are places to go and things to see, but still I find myself planted infront of the TV watching nothing or playing a video game and I resent any attempt to remove me from my sedentary settledness. 
I know I shouldn’t be lazy.  To be entirely honest I don’t even really enjoy it.  I know the truth of passages like, “A little slumber, a little sleep, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty comes upon you like a bandit” (my memory may be faulty no time to look it up this morning).  I have heard the exhortations of the scriptures.  I am haunted by the parable of the talents but none of these can stir me permanently from my lethargy on a Saturday morning.  There is one thing however that can.  A purpose.  A vision.  If I am working toward an end that burns in my heart then limitless energy and endless resource are mine.  If I have a finish line burning in my tunnel vision laziness no longer has a claim on me.  I am a man on a mission, but when I do not have that guiding star in sight I relapse into cycles of destruction and slumber, and so does everyone else.
You see it everywhere all the time.  People walking around with no goals visions or aspirations, the living dead.  This is the greatest struggle of my generation.  I spoke to a friend last week and she is really worried about her husband. His entire life consists of getting up, going to work, coming home, flopping in the lazy boy and watching TV until he falls asleep, waking up around midnight or later and going to bed, and then beginning the whole thing over again.  He has no friends and is doing nothing to gain them.  He has no hobbies and doesn’t want one.  He resents his wife and his family.  He hates his life and it is tearing their marriage apart.  He is completely unmotivated and at the same time completely dissatisfied with his life.  You would think that dissatisfaction would be a motivator for change but it almost never is.  People come to the place where they acknowledge their dissatisfaction and choose to live with it rather than risk the reach for something better.  They know that change is often painful, always costly,and NEVER safe, therefore they run from it, avoiding it at all costs and choosing numbness, sleep, and death. 
Let’s return to the above sited scripture then; “where there is NO prophetic vision the people cast off restraint”.  I have painted a picture of paralysis and stillness, not a people “casting off” anything how does this make sense?  It makes perfect sense.  “The human heart is a desire factory” says John Piper and he is absolutely correct.  The lethargy I am referring to is a lethargy of forward motion, but no on can go on forever desiring and not doing something to quench the inner fires.  People in this predicament look for ways to numb the pain.  They forget morality and cast off the restraint of wisdom and seek pleasure and release in every way that comes to hand.  I know men who have sought perverted extra-marital relationships, deeper and deeper pornography addictions,  drugs, alcohol and violence just because they were bored.   They have no purpose in life, therefore they have nothing to lose.  All they value is a lack of pain.  I have heard addicts say things like, “It isn’t about the high, it’s about feeling normal again, it’s about surviving.”  This is the cry of the cold dead heart.
A prophetic vision however enters this cold grave like a breath of life and awakens the heart to something BETTER!  Rev 19:10 says “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.  A prophetic vision is a vision of Christ.  Jesus always said of His own ministry that He never did anything He didn’t SEE the Father doing.  When we get a view to what Christ is up to in our world it will compel us to get off our backsides and get our hands dirty, and I don’t just mean what we would label “ministry”.  the longer I am around the more I HATE the segmentation of life into categories.  Our life is a continuous whole and we will be held accountable for every second used or wasted.  God have mercy!  What is Christ up to in our homes?  What is Christ up to in our inner man?  What is Christ up to in our back yards?  In our jobs? 
 
It is going to be my goal over the next few weeks to open my heart and ask my Father everyday to show me what is doing around me on that day and to involve myself in it whole heartedly.  He is never idle.  Therefore I will never be.
 
 

Old Blogs Old Journals

•July 24, 2008 • Leave a Comment
I love going back every once in a while and reading old things that I have written in the heat of passion for God.  I have many of my journals from when I was a teenager.  I found a devotional today that my Mom and Dad gave me on my wedding day.  I read in these statements of faith, prayers, desires, etc that were so strong in me and in reading I revive those emotions.  To look back and see the patience that God has had with my stubborn heart and the methodical yet loving way that He has led me down the path of seeking Him stirs me.  Am I really any closer than I was all those years ago?  Do I know you any better Daddy God?  I really hope I do.  I once heard it said that everything Jesus is involved in will grow and change and that if we are not growing or changing we need to see how involved Jesus is with us.  I definitely feel like I have changed!  I hope for the better.  Do yourself a favor friends.  Record your walk with God.  Write, Journal, Blog do what you have to do but do not let God’s activity in your life go unmarked and unremembered. 
I hope and pray that anyone who reads these little sentences I squirt into cyberspace is uplifted and encouraged but to be entirely honest, this is for me and God, and that is why I do it.
 
 

The redemptive story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

•July 17, 2008 • 3 Comments
I know you are all thinking, “Willy Wonka and redemption has Josh been snorting Hershey’s again or what?”, but trust me and hang in there and wait for it because, folks this is GOOD! 
 
Ok check this out. 
An eccentric Genius “creator” Wonka has made the most wonderful enjoyable things for a long time.  He is odd and mysterious and he does things in ways no one can understand, but it is his wisdom and eccentricity that make his creations so wonderful.  
Now we arrive on the scene.  The “creator” offers “eternal enjoyment” a life time supply of chocolate, but you get to tour the factory first “live life”.   On the tour “life” you are required to follow the creator’s rules for enjoyment of the pleasures that abound inside the factory.  There is however a “counterfeit creator” Slugworth who hates the creator and offers his own version of eternal enjoyment if those touring the factory will only steal from the creator and break his rules. Once the tour begins candies, sweets, and experimental goodies are everywhere you look but enjoyment of those things must be according to the rules of the creator.  These are rules he has set in place for their safety and to maximize the enjoyment of the factory.  Here is the most important part.  If at anytime you violate the creators rules of enjoyment you are no longer eligible for the eternal enjoyment he is going to award at the end of the tour.  As the lucky tourists walk through the beautiful, amazing, overwhelming creations of the creator each of them finds the temptation to step outside the rules to powerful to deny.  One by one all of the tourists, even the hero Charlie, break the rules of the creator and all to disastrous result.  Charlie however does not get caught in the act. 
    They proceed to the end of the tour and the awaiting eternal reward losing another person at every turn. Those that are lost all leave the factory vowing to choose the alternative enjoyment of the “counterfeit creator”.    When the end is reached Charlie alone remains, and he is confident of his reward, but the creator has not been fooled.  He tells Charlie he gets none of the expected reward due to his disobedience and foolishness.  Charlie’s Grandpa Joe is irate he screams at the creator about his false promises and unfair cruelty to an innocent child.  Grandpa Joe also vows to choose the alternative enjoyment of the counterfeit creator and goes to leave, but Charlie realizes his own error.  He repents, rejects the counterfeit creators temptations and readies himself to leave with nothing, and that is when the tables turn.  Charlie’s repentance moves the creator’s heart and he says joyfully.  “You’ve won!” but not just the eternal enjoyment of a life time supply of chocolate.  Charlie has won so much more than that.  Here the hidden desire of the creator is revealed.  The creator did not just want to give away a life time supply of chocolate, the creator wanted someone to be his partner in ruling and reigning over the factory, and even more importantly the creator wanted a friend that he could teach his ways too.  He had this plan from the beginning but he could only give this awesome reward to one who chose HIS ways and HIS reward over those offered by counterfeit creator.  The whole point of the story is that the real prize isn’t the factory or the chocolate it is the mysterious creator Himself.
 
What a picture of God the Father and His heart for the church!  Isn’t that cool!  The only element that is missing is the story of the creator’s son who died to save Charlie’s life and make the way for Charlie to get his reward.  That would make it perfect!  Even better would be if Charlie was a girl and Wonka had a son who gave up the factory and His Father’s wealth to die to save the girl’s life and then through some kind of magic candy he was restored to life and married the girl at the end!  maybe I’ll write that one sometime!
 
Oh Lord let me walk right past all the pleasures of this world and lay hold of the ONE who they point to.  You are my exceeding great reward. 
Amen.