Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Inadequate, Inept, Incapable Loser

An inadequate, inept, incapable loser! That was me. I know, I know, there are those who might read that and think to themselves that using a present tense verb would be just as accurate of a statement. However, that is an incorrect assessment of who I am today. The person I used to be is no longer the person I am. I actually don't even resemble that loser anymore. Some who knew me then and know me today, might struggle with that last statement, but it is the absolute truth.

Many years ago, I died. No really, I died. The person I was had a real encounter with death. Yet, here I am alive today. However, the life I live today is not me anymore. What??? I must admit it can seem a bit confusing. Paul said it like this in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The cross of Jesus is a powerful thing. While dealing with my sin was an important thing, His crucifixion and the blood He shed did more than erase my sin. It erased me. That cross dealt with me, the sinner. Yes, my sin was nailed to that cross, but so was I. As a believer, many times we understand the concept that our sin was washed away by His shed blood but we fail to wrap our brain around the truth that the sin manufacturing plant that we were was crucified with Christ. When Jesus cried out "It is finished," He meant it. His death has once and for all dealt with our sin and us as sinners. He dealt with what we've done and who we are. Our identity was changed on that cross.

We often make statements like, "I'm just a sinner, saved by grace." While it sounds humble, that statement is not consistent with the new birth experience. If we were crucified with Christ, and according to Scripture we were, then the sinner we used to be is dead. We are new creatures according to II Corinthians 5:17. The new man we are is completely different than the old man we were. It is true that we still sin, but what we do does not define who we are. What God says about us is what determines our identity. Our Christian life is more about trusting what God says about us rather than striving to be something He already declares we are. We need to learn to trust God when He says the sinner we used to be no longer exists and the new person we now are is a son/daughter and a saint. It is not prideful or arrogant to declare what God says about us, but it is actually humility when we understand that who we are is completely the result of what He has done and has absolutely nothing to do with what we have done. When we insist on holding on to our old identity it is not an act of humility but it actually belittles the sacrifice He made for us.

When we look in the mirror it may be difficult to recognize the person that God declares we are. Our perception however doesn't change the truth. We may see an inadequate, inept, incapable loser. We may see a person bound by habits or sin they can't get victory over. We may see someone who is defeated and depressed. It's in those moments when we must determine to trust what God says about us. Striving to prove to ourselves or to others that what He says about us is true, is actually the result of not believing what He declares about us. When you know who you are, it is not necessary to prove anything to anyone. We see a great example of that truth in the life of Jesus. At His baptism, speaking of Jesus, God declares "You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). I find it interesting that when Jesus is in the wilderness and is tempted by satan, the very first thing satan tempts Him with is to doubt what God had said about Him. "If you are the Son of God, then turn this stone into bread" (Luke 4:3). If Jesus struggled to believe what God says about Him then He would have been tempted to prove who He was. Notice how Jesus, who is confident that what God says about Him is true, responds. "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God'" (Luke 4:4). It is abundantly clear that Jesus finds God's declaration at His baptism the only necessary proof the He is indeed the Son of God. It is therefore unnecessary to perform any miracle to prove to Himself, satan, or anyone else who He is. He is the Son of God because God declares it, and no other proof is needed to establish that truth.

In the same way, we too should learn to trust God's Word concerning us above all else. Above the opinions of others, above our own self-assessment, and above every other voice out there. As a believer, our identity is not rooted in what we do, or in what we or anyone else thinks about us, but in what God says about us. While the cross serves as a reminder of Christ's sacrificial death for us, we desperately need to understand that it also serves as a reminder of our death. It is only then that we can view the resurrection as a new birth and the creation of a new man/woman. Only when we understand that there was a death, can we comprehend that what now exists is someone entirely different.

Like Paul, I've come to the realization that I have indeed been crucified with Christ and that the life I now live is no longer I but Christ in me. So, if you happen to see someone that looks like me that appears to be an inadequate, inept, incapable loser, just know that he is nothing but an impostor. For that man died many years ago and the man I now am is no longer even related to that loser.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apart From Him We Can Do NOTHING!

We all have natural abilities. While we may not be able to play like Michael Jordan on the basketball court, there are certain natural skills that we all possess. Some may be good with numbers, while others may be great at fixing things with their hands. Some may have excellent problem solving skills, while others have a 4 octave vocal range. Some may be great speakers, while others can throw a football 60+ yards. While I would love to throw a football 60 yards, or glide through the air like Jordan, I was not endowed with the ability to do either. Regardless of how hard I tried or practiced, I would never be able to measure up to Jordan or even a bench warmer on the worst team in the NBA.

I'm a musician. While there may be some who would debate that statement having heard my skills, I do play guitar a little. I'm not sure how much "natural" ability I have when it comes to playing guitar, but I have to think there is at least a little bit. Afterall, I have tried to teach some people to play that after a few lessons I'm convinced can never be taught to play. So, my theory is that if you can even play a little bit, there has to be just a hint of natural talent at the least. Perhaps I could become a better player if I practiced more, but the truth is if I haven't reached my peak, I'm pretty close. Over the years I have logged in many, many practice hours on the guitar and although I seemed to improve in the early days, that improvement has either stopped or become little more than stagnant. Kind of like my basketball skills. When I was young, I played and played and played and played and at some point hit my peak. I came to the end of my ability to improve.

I know there is always room for improvement, but let's face it sometimes we just have to come to terms with the fact that there is a pinnacle and once that is reached, all that we do from then on is an effort to stay at that level. So, it could just very well be that as far as my guitar playing goes, everything I'm doing now is simply an effort to maintain rather than increase my skill level. What I need now is for God to breath on it. Actually, from day one, that's what we all need.

We are very good at doing life apart from God. While that is certainly true about unbelivers the tragedy is that it is often equally true about believers. We have these natural skills and abilities and navigating through life without God is not all that difficult. Sure, we claim to know God, but we invite Him in only when we truly need Him. Only when we come to the end of our ability. We walk through life leaning on our own abilities and often trust ourselves more so than we trust God. Ouch! Some would argue that it was God who gave us our gifts and abilities so are we really doing life apart from God? Picture Adam and Eve in the garden. Was is not God who breathed life into them? Was it not God who gave them a free will? And what did they do with it? They chose to do life apart from God with the very breath He gave them and the ability to choose granted to them by their Creator.

We do the very same thing as the two of them. We take our natural abilities and we choose to do life apart from God. If and when we come to the end of our ability then we ask God to get involved. Somehow, I think we are missing the point of how we are to do life.

Picture if you will a famous rock star. Maybe a great guitarist. While it might be true that he has a great deal of natural talent, apart from God, it is nothing but the flesh. He may receive the glory and praise of thousands of followers, but in the end his natural ability, that is void of the life of God, does little more than entertain.

In Scripture we are told of David who was a musician. Now, you can't find any of his concerts on youtube, so we aren't sure how great he was at playing his instrument, but the Bible does tell us that he was a skilled musician. We are told that when he played before Saul, the atmosphere in the room shifted and the tormenting spirits that plagued Saul left. If we aren't careful, we'll make the mistake of thinking that David must have been some awesome musician. The fact is that the atmospheric shift in the room was less about David's skill and more about God's presence in the room. Apart from God's breath on His playing, David would have been unable to do little more than entertain Saul.

Leaning on our natural abilities will always leave us inept at living the kind of life God designed us to live. Scripture tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing. Jesus speaking of Himself makes this statement, "The Son can do nothing on His own." Perhaps one day we'll discover that what is true about Jesus is true about all of us. Whenever we lean on our own abilities and try to attempt life apart from God, then all that we do amounts to zero, nada, zip, the big goose egg, NOTHING! Flesh is flesh. Whether its extremely talented flesh or mildly talented flesh, the result is always the same. On the other hand whenever we determine to do life in such a way that we lean on God and trust in His ability more so than ours, we'll tap into the kind of life He designed us to live.

The Lord never intended for us to simply connect with Him when we have reached the end of our ability. He wants to be a part of the ride from the beginning. He longs for us to understand that He is the vine and we are the branches and only when we are connected to Him can we experience true life. Doing life apart from Him is pretty much the equivalence of a branch disconnected from a tree trying to attach itself to something other than the trunk in order to find life. All I know is that all the branches in my back yard disconnected from the trunk are dying or are already dead. So it is with everything we attempt apart from our Creator. It all ends up to be death in the end.

While I could spend endless hours trying to get my fingers to play Bbmaj9, I'm thinking it would be more advantageous for me to figure out how to get God to breath on my playing. Afterall, the former would do nothing but stroke my ego a bit, while the latter just might bring glory to God.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


"For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do." Huh? If you're like me, as you read this verse in Romans 7 that was penned by the apostle Paul, you're left scratching your head. Its one of those that you have to read a couple times in order to take it all in. As you do, you kind of get the idea that it is much like a mirror of our lives today as Believers. Here is Paul, sharing his frustration of trying to live life the way its suppose to be lived and always coming up short. To be honest it kind of sounds like a biography of my life.

If we aren't careful, as we read this struggle that Paul describes, we'll adopt this as the normal life that we are going to live as believers. After all, we figure that if the apostle Paul faced this, who are we to think that we are immune to this kind of lifestyle. The problem with that line of thinking is that it assumes that Paul's description in Chapter 7 is a description of something he struggled with for the entirety of his new life in Christ. That is a monumental mistake. For as Paul continues to write in Chapter 8, we find that Paul discovered the way to live a victorious life and to once and for all put this struggle to rest.

This struggle he describes is the result of attempting to live life in the "flesh." It comes about only when we determine to do life on our own apart from God. Yes, even as believers we fall into that trap. This fleshly living, or "carnal" life, is no different than that moment in the beginning when Adam and Eve chose to act independent of God and eat the fruit that was forbidden. It's no different than when Abraham chose to act on his own to produce the son that God had promised to him. Acting independent of God and choosing to rely on our ability and our strength, has always and will always produce death. Scripture tells us that God has condemned sin in the flesh. While there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ and choose to live life in the Spirit, condemnation is always present for those who choose to live life in the flesh.

Paul's struggle, mentioned in chapter 7 of Romans, is the struggle he and all of us have when we choose to continue living life in a way where we trust in our own ability and our own strength. However, when we choose to trust in God and lean on Him, then that struggle is over. When we quit attempting to be good and seeking to please God in our own strength, then we are tapping into the kind of life that God designed us to live. In the same way that we trust God for our salvation, it is equally as important for us to trust Him to live our new life. While asking "what would Jesus do," may sound good, the Christian life is so much more than attempting to become like Jesus. The kind of life God has designed for us to live is more about understanding the fact that the Spirit of Christ is in us and that we are already like Him. It's about understanding that we are like Him, not because of anything we've done, but because He, Himself has chosen to fix what's wrong with us. The Christian life then becomes more about simply allowing Christ to live His life through us rather than trying so hard to get my flesh to become perfect.

Our flesh has appetites that oppose God and allowing those appetites to drive our life will only lead us to death and destruction. Living in the Spirit is allowing the appetites or desires of the Spirit of God to drive our life. Only when we learn to lean on Him to live His life through us, can we truly tap into the victorious life that God longs for us to live. And, only then can we truly lay aside the struggle of wanting to do good, but not doing it and not wanting to do evil, but doing it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What's All This Fuss About This Little Piece Of Land

Around 8,000 square miles. That's the size of the nation of Israel. All this fuss is about 8,000 square miles. To put that into perspective, when compared to the state of Texas, the land mass that is Israel would fit inside of Texas 32 times. So, what's so special about this small piece of land?
While this little piece of land has experienced much turmoil since 1948, the truth is the struggle to possess this land goes back much further than that. Over 4000 years ago God approached a man named Abraham and gave him the land. While the land God promised to Abraham includes the 8,000 square miles that today is referred to as Israel, the "Promised Land" is actually a much larger parcel of land. This land grant from God was part of a promise or covenant that included much more than just the land. This covenant that God cut with Abraham is an everlasting covenant, which means that it is forever. Therefore the land that God gave to Abraham over 4,000 years ago, still belongs to his descendants today.
Herein, lies one of the biggest issues. Both the Jews and the Muslims trace their ancestry back to Abraham. Abraham had a total of 8 sons. Most of us have heard of Isaac and Ishmael and we often make the mistake of assuming that all the Arab nations are descendants of Ishmael, and the Jews are the descendants of Isaac. While the latter is true, the Arab nations are not simply the descendants of Ishmael. Remember that Abraham had 6 other sons in the mix and the Arab nations are made up of the descendants of Ishmail and these other 6 sons.
Ok, so here we have a plot of land given to Abraham. The question is which son inherited this piece of land? In Genesis 17 there is a conversation between Abraham and God that is recorded. After Abraham asks God if Ishmael is the descendant to whom God intends to fulfill His covenant with, we see God's response in verse 19. Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him." So, Isaac becomes the heir of this everlasting covenant that God made to Abraham. Therefore, the land belongs to his descendants who we know to be the Jewish people.
I think it's easy to see how Abraham's remaining 7 sons might be a little ticked off with Isaac and the blessing he received from God. Fast forward 4,000 years and there you have the struggle we see still be played out in that very same place. What you see are the descendants of Abraham still fighting for the piece of land that God gave to Abraham's son Isaac. Although, Ishmael was not the heir to this covenant of God, God did promise to bless him and has fulfilled that promise to him. As for the other 6 sons of Abraham, God made provision for them to be blessed by promising to bless all those who bless Israel, or Isaac's descendants.
Looking at today, I think its important to understand God's promise to the nation of Israel. As I've mentioned earlier, it is a promise that lasts forever. Therefore it is as valid today as the day God made that promise to Abraham over 4,000 years ago. In the same way, God's promise to bless those who bless Israel holds true still today. Also, God's promise to curse those who curse Israel is valid today.
This week the United Nations is voting on whether or not to grant statehood for the Palestinians. While some may think that is only fair, it is a dangerous proposition. Scripture tells us that it is God who determines the borders of the nations. Dividing the land, that God has given Israel is not simply opposing the Jewish nation, it is opposing God. I would think that would not turn out to be a good thing. In Joel 3, we are given a glimpse of what God thinks and does to those who divide the land He has given to Israel. Trust me it's not a passage that you'll ever want to see fulfilled.
In 1948, Great Britain pulled out of the territory that is now called Israel and left it up for grabs. From that time until today, Israel has fought to maintain that land. And though surrounded by those who would like to wipe them off the face of the map, they have remained. They have remained because it is their land, given to them not by the nations of the world but by God. The nations of the world have no authority, nor do they have the power to require Israel to give up one square foot of land. Should they attempt to the results would be devastating for them. Let's just pray that in spite of what the rest of the world does that the U.S. continues to remain a friend of Israel.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do We Have Eyes But Can Not See?

1 billion....That's the estimated number worldwide who have never heard the Gospel. A bit more sobering is the 4.5 billion people worldwide who don't know Jesus as Savior. A recent mission trip to Germany was an eye opening experience for me. We encountered people there who have no concept of God. Not just people who have heard the Gospel and rejected it, but people who have no idea of who Jesus truly is. People who wake up every morning and go through the motions of life without any thought about spiritual things whatsoever. While I did meet some believers there, I would say at least 85 percent of the people I talked to claimed to be atheist or agnostic.

Now, I might expect those kinds of numbers if I was to go to some remote jungle somewhere, but I have to admit that it was a bit shocking to experience that in Berlin, Germany. I'm not sure what exactly I expected, but I do know that I didn't expect to encounter 12 and 13 year old young people who consider themselves to be atheists having never really been challenged to think otherwise. I didn't expect to meet so many older people who had never heard the story of Jesus. I didn't expect to meet so many people who never even consider spiritual things.

Perhaps, I didn't expect those things because living in the comforts of my home back in America, I've grown a bit blind. Not intentionally, but slowly over the course of life, it just happens if we aren't careful. We get locked into doing life and its extremely easy to get tunnel vision. Our eyes slowly become dim to the world around us and life slowly becomes all about us. We often get sucked into falling in love with this world and the things in it and as a result we lose sight of the big picture. A big picture that places God's dreams far above our own. A big picture that is much bigger than our own little world.

While my next statement may be hard to swallow, as a follower of Christ, I have to believe its true. Without knowing Christ, 4.5 billion people on this planet would split hell wide open if they slipped into eternity today. I know that's not politically correct to say that, but according to Scripture its an accurate statement. I know, I know, hell is not a very popular topic. And we believers who make statements like that are often labeled arrogant, narrow minded, and a lot of other things too inappropriate to list here. But the harsh reality is that as a true follower of Christ, we have to hold to the truth that apart from Christ there is salvation for no one. We have to believe that in Him is the only way anyone can find eternal salvation. There are those who want to believe that everyone's journey is different and because of that God's grace allows for many different ways to find salvation. That sounds great and while it may be politically correct, it simply doesn't line up with Scripture. I think so often the church buys into that philosophy because it relieves them of the responsibility to share the Gospel. It excuses them from stepping out of their comfort zone and engaging people in spiritual conversations.

Here's the cold hard facts. All around us, people are hungry for the truth. Yes, I know there are those who want nothing to do with Jesus, God, or the church, but there are also those who are desperately seeking God. While I was in Germany, I saw this scenario play out before us every day. There were those who scoffed at spiritual things and rejected everything we had to say, while at the same time there were those who hung on every word. There were those who were brought to tears when engaged in spiritual conversations. There were those who had no hope who were longing for someone to give them a lifeline. There were those who had never believed in God, who were open to be challenged in what they believed. There were those who were hurting who wanted a healer. It is no different here. We go to work, go to the store, go to the restaurant, go to our kids sporting events, etc. and all the while there are those around us who are longing for someone to throw them a lifeline. They are longing for someone to engage them in a conversation other than how hot it is or if you think the Texans will finally make it to the playoffs. Yet, we've grown blind to it all. We've been lulled to sleep by a spirit of comfort that prevents us from risking rejection to save a life. I'm afraid we have eyes but can not truly see.

Trust me when I say if there are 4.5 billion unbelievers worldwide, there are those in your circle of influence. And if not, your circle needs to grow. While we can kick back and relax and trust that God's going to reach them, could it be that He's put you in their life because you're His tool for reaching them?

These words to a Casting Crown song have been the testimony of most of my life.
"So maybe this time I'll speak the words of life
With Your fire in my eyes
But that old familiar fear is tearing at my words
What am I so afraid of?
'Cause here I go again
Talking 'bout the rain
And mulling over things
That won't live past today
And as I dance around the truth
Time is not his friend
This might be my last chance to tell him
That You love him."

I pray its not the testimony of my life from here on out!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Ancient Secret That Gave Eagles Flight

A long, long time ago, on a far away and distant shore

Lived a group of eagles, who had forgotten how to soar.

These eagles were easy to find, for they never soared in the sky,

But, hung around chickens and turkeys, and other birds that didn’t fly.

As a matter of fact if you didn’t look close you would easily have thought

Since these eagles couldn’t soar, then eagles they were not.

For its true you never see eagles, hopping like chickens on the ground

No, they were meant to soar, yes in the sky is where they’re found

But these eagles had been grounded far too many days and nights

That none of them knew the old and ancient secret that gave eagles flight

These eagles were ruled by a lion, one that was cruel to the core.

Some thought him to be evil, yes one to be abhorred.

Though its true many liked him not, nobody would ever say,

For fear of his wrath it was better just the think, yet never ever to say.

But the lion wasn’t alone, for he had a very dear old pal

A chameleon who was slick, and who was always on the prowl.

Together they worked hard to keep every eagle on the ground

For they knew what could happen if that ancient secret was ever found

Yes, these two knew the truth, that when eagles learn to soar

It means that those eagles can never be controlled anymore.

Since, the lion and chameleon, loved power and control

Making sure those eagles never flew was their biggest goal.

So they tried with all their might and their plan worked great

Till, one day something changed, yep, some call it fate

It was as if the very One who created those eagles to fly

Reminded them who they were, and that they belonged in the sky

Still the lion and chameleon demanded it was not true

But the eagles could no longer be tricked, for now they knew

Then the lion and chameleon came together and agreed

No eagle shall ever fly, or there will be trouble yes indeed.

The eagles couldn’t take it anymore, so the decided they would leave

They would find a place where they’d fly, at least that’s what they believed

The journey it was long and many eagles died along the way

But just for a chance to fly it was worth it all, every one of them would say

Could these eagles ever learn to fly? Its a question only time would tell

Each of them believed they could, but there was still the chance they’d fail

They felt freed from the chameleon, but the lion still held on tight

He sent those whom he trusted to make certain not one eagle took flight

This was not what they expected, not at all what they had planned

The eagles thought by now they would be soaring high above the land

All the eagles grew more impatient with every passing day

For an eagle was born to soar, so they just had to find a way

All the eagles got together and they drew up a mighty plan

They would fight the mean old lion, draw their line in the sand

The lion didn’t like it at all, and he let out an awesome roar

But the truth is a lion is no match for eagles who are learning how to soar.

The lion lost his grip, and with his reign no more intact

The eagles drew one step closer, and were never going back

No more lion, no chameleon, no more of their deceitful lies.

Now with nothing holding them back, surely they could fly

Though they sensed a kind of freedom, they had never sensed before

Still the secret they did not have, the one that made eagles soar.

To discover this ancient secret, there went out an important call

To gather eagles from near and far, the wisest ones of all.

Together they reasoned, thought, and talked ‘bout this thing called flight

Some thought one thing, some disagreed, each thought himself right

No one budging, made things hard, and caused a long delay

Then, like a bolt of lightning, one wise old eagle stood to say

“Is it true that it was our Creator that created us to fly?

Then, why would we exclude Him now, can anyone tell me why?”

Having listened to this wise old eagle, all the eagles said a prayer

Together with their Creator, they worked with the greatest of care.

And when they were done, they were sure the secret had been found

That old and ancient secret, that would get eagles off the ground.

The secret was quite simple, but sometimes it’s just hard to see

With all the powers that want control, and all those lies and deceit

The secret that gives eagles flight is they just need to know they can

Then they need the room to soar, no boundaries from a ruler’s hands

Together with these truths, is one last and important thing

In order to fly and soar real high, eagles need wind beneath their wings.

Those wisest of all eagles gave every eagle this secret to flight

And immediately some of those eagles soared to the highest of heights

Still there were some eagles who never, ever wanted to soar

I know it makes no sense, that they would stay grounded as before

Years went by and some eagles flew high, yes higher and higher still

While others chose the ground and went only as high as the highest hill

There were problems along the way, but no matter what they faced

These eagles just kept soaring, and no others kept up their pace

As a matter of fact, I speak the truth, when others needed a helping hand

It was the eagles who had learned to soar, who helped those distant lands.

It’s true, ask any eagle, and I’m sure each of them would agree

There’s no better place for eagles, than where they can soar and be free

But along the way some things did change, not much but a little tiny bit

Not enough for eagles to worry much, or to make them throw a fit.

Along there came a donkey who had the grandest of ideas

And with him came an elephant whose ideas where different than his.

Now, neither caused big problems for each loved to watch eagles fly

They just wanted to insure nothing brought down eagles from the sky

The eagles trusted the two new comers, and everything it seemed was fine

Until, the donkeys and the elephants began to get a little out of line

Not all of them, but some it seems, wanted to cage the soaring bird

But the cage was very large, so hardly any eagles said a word

The cage grew small as time passed by, and no one knew just why

Was it because of those who didn’t soar, who wanted no other eagle to fly?

Or, was it something else, was it about power and control

Every eagle hoped it was not true, and to this hope they would hold.

But with every passing year, the cage grew smaller still

And the eagles started thinking, and asking, “What’s the deal?”

By this time is was too late for the cage had grown so small

It had grown so small that no eagle could fly, now they could only crawl.

Puzzled, amazed, and stunned, all the eagles hopped around.

“How did we get to this place, where eagles can’t get off the ground?”

But as the eagles took a good look around, they began to see so clear

For an eagle’s eye can see so much that for other’s just doesn’t appear

It was not your normal donkey or even elephant to blame

For among these two were a few who were not at all what they claimed.

Snakes, and lions, and chameleons and a couple scorpions too

I know it’s hard to fathom, but every eagle now knew this was true.

Their plan was masterful, and slowly they took control

Until every eagle was grounded, and well within their hold.

The eagles screamed and wailed but very few would lend an ear

The mighty eagle was doomed, at least that’s what they feared

True it is a tragedy, it is one of grandest size

But never count an eagle out, for eagles know how to rise.

The truth is any eagle can fly, as long as they understand

The old and ancient secret, that makes eagles soar high above the land.

The one about knowing that you can, with no boundaries high or low

And with wind beneath your wings, yes, this is what every eagle needs to know.

And just like that old lion and that chameleon from years and years before

No creature large or even small, is a match for eagles who know how to soar

copyright 2010 Tim Stone

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stop And Look Around, Someone's In Need

I don't know about you but my life is speeding by at warp speed. I have what seems to be million things on my to do list and only 24 hours in each day to get them done. Somehow, I think if I had 72 hours in my day I would somehow manage to need a few hours more. Lets face it, most of us live very busy lives. We've got work to do, a mortgage to pay, housework to do, yard work to do, children to take care of, shopping to get done, baseball or ballet practice to get our kids to, phone calls to make, people to text, emails to send, and on and on the list goes. And just when we think we've got a handle on it all, little Johnny decides he wants to play football this year, or little Jennie wants to join the swim team.

Life at warp speed! That's what it often feels like. And, sitting down and taking a breath only happens when we manage to put it on the calendar. I'm not sure if its good or bad, but its definitely become the way so many of us do life. Last week, I had a lot going on. My schedule was crazy and I was busy trying to get everything done that I needed to get done. Somewhere in the middle of all that was going on, my wife asks me if I had seen what had happened in Alabama and some other states in the south. I told her that all I knew was that some tornadoes had hit the area. Several times that week she mentioned to me that she wanted us to do something to help. "Maybe we can load up our car full of supplies and drive there," she said. "If all we do is load up our car with bottled water, that's the least we can do."

As I listened to her, I thought to myself there's a lot on my plate right now and I can't just stop and take a trip to Alabama. Of course, I still had no idea as to the severity of the destruction having not watched the news coverage. Then, finally on Saturday I sat down for a few minutes and began watching some news coverage of areas hit by the tornadoes. I remember being brought to tears as I watched one story after another. As I sat there, I couldn't help but think how unimportant my to-do list was compared to the devastation that had hammered that region of our country. I couldn't help but think how sad it was that I had been so caught up in my world that I hadn't even given these people a thought.

How many times do we do that? We have this mind set that tornadoes hit places all the time. And if its not tornadoes then its hurricanes or floods or earthquakes. We hear all the disasters that hit around the world and I think we often get to a place where we are just thankful its not us. Of course, we feel sorry for those having to deal with it, but how often are we moved to action? Perhaps we say a little prayer and talk about it with our friends and family but how often are we so moved by the hurt and hopelessness of others that we jump up to the plate to do something?

Certainly there is something each one of us can do. Several years ago there was a house near us that was being built. The foundation was poured and the frame was up. Apparently there was an issue with the foundation and the framing had to be taken down. The lumber sat there for months. My then 4 year old son who had on his own sent money to help to a ministry to build water wells and homes in third world countries had a great idea. "Dad, why don't we give that wood to the mailman to take to Mr. James on TV. That way he can build more homes for those kids who don't have a home."

Ok, so maybe we can't give lumber to the mailman, but certainly there is something that each of us can do. Maybe all we can do is spare $10. That'll buy a couple cases of water. Maybe all we can do is go through our closet and fill up a box or two of clothes to give to those whose closets were blown into the next county. Maybe all we can do is fill up a couple of ziploc bags with toothpaste, tooth brushes, soap, etc. Perhaps, you can afford to buy some towels or bedding and send to those who need them. Maybe you can give a weeks vacation to go and spend time there helping that community clean up the wreckage and rebuild.

My 8-year-old and 5 year-old went through their closet a couple of days ago and picked out clothes and toys that they want to give to children who have lost everything. Needless to say, we are way passed loading up our car as we now have moved to filling up a trailer. I'm just thinking each one of us, regardless of where we find ourselves in life can do something.

Saturday as I sat there watching that news coverage, I repented of being so self-consumed as to not hear the cries of those in need. I grabbed my computer and determined to connect with a local church there who is already engaged in ministering to that community. Through my communication with them I've discovered a snapshot of the need there. That snapshot alone is overwhelming. Both individually and as a church we have determined to do whatever we can to bring help and hope to people who desperately need it.

Yes, part of that means interrupting our calendars momentarily. It means giving of ourselves and giving of our stuff. I've just come to the realization that if my calendar and my to-do list is so important as to render me deaf to the cries of those in need, perhaps my calendar needs an overhaul. And if my bank account can't cough up a few bucks to help then my spending habits need an overhaul.

As I'm writing this today, the words to a song I've recently heard keep playing in my head. "Cause I don't want to live like I don't care, I don't want to say another empty prayer. Oh, I refuse, to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself. Oh, I could choose not to move, but I refuse" The truth is we often see tragedies like this and figure someone else will help, and they do. I'm just not ok with living life like that. Trust me, if all of us engaged in helping somehow and someway, there is plenty of need to go around. If you want to know how you can help, give me shout.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Easter is just around the corner. While the world will be distracted by bunnies and colored eggs, for a Believer this time of year is so much more than that. Its about hope. Its about a few days 2000 years ago when those who followed Christ were shrouded in uncertainty, and captivated by a heaviness which would eventually be drowned out by an event that would serve to once again fill their lives with hope.

The disciples are often looked down upon when it comes to how they reacted when Jesus was arrested. They all jumped ship. It was every man for himself. Each one of them ran for their lives and abandoned this friend who they believed to be the "One" sent from God. Yet, I'm not sure if the sandals were on my feet, if I would have acted any different. I would like to think that I would have gone down with Him. I would love to imagine that while He was being beaten that He would glance over at me and smile as I too were there with Him undergoing the same inhumane torture. However, the truth remains that I feel a bit more like Peter than I do a sacrificial martyr.

I can't fathom the emotions of His followers watching all this play out. Sure, He had told them time and time again about this very moment, but as they took it all in it appears none of it made any sense. This "One" sent from God had been arrested and was to be beaten and brutally killed. Their Hero, their Messiah, the One who had come to save them appeared unable to save Himself. And then, when it was all over and He had breathed His last breath I can only imagine the sinking feeling in their hearts as all hope seemed lost.

Have you ever wondered what their conversations were like in the hours and days immediately following this horrific event? Was there any of them full of hope trying to encourage the others? Or, were they all puzzled and confused by it all? Perhaps, if you would have been there, you would have tried to remind everyone about everything He as said about this event. I'm thinking had it been me, that disillusionment might cloud everything. I'm just being real as I look back at my life and those moments when I've been hammered with circumstances that flooded my mind with questions. Most of the time the uncertainty and disillusionment of the moment blind me to the promises that I know He's spoken. I'm thinking like Peter, I might just pick my net back up and head out fishing.

For three days those followers of Christ were left in that state. Not knowing, not understanding, not certain of anything anymore. Then all of a sudden in runs the women who had just visited the tomb only to find it abandoned. Now, picture yourself in that moment. What emotions are you faced with? If you're still sitting around feeling defeated and playing that part of a victim perhaps you're filled with thoughts that someone has stolen the body. Or, maybe just maybe, your heart starts to pump a little faster and the adrenaline begins to pump through your veins as you think maybe just maybe He has risen just like He said. Running to the tomb your mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and imaginations and when you get there its just as the women proclaimed. Now, imagine seeing Him. Not, dead but alive.

Do you cry? Do you laugh? Do you shout? Do you run to Him? Are you numb? Are you overwhelmed and your emotions take over? Perhaps its all of these and more, at least I'm pretty sure that's my reaction. My Friend, my Hero, my Savior is alive! Hopelessness has given way to an unbelievable, unimaginable hope.

As I sit here thinking, that's just it. I mean, coming back to 2011 that truth hasn't changed. It's as real today as that very moment 2000 years ago. My Friend, my Hero, my Savior is alive! He's alive! That empty tomb speaks hope to me today just like it did to those who followed Him back then. Hope that makes me take on life today. Hope that makes me confident that whatever hammers me today can't overshadow the truth that my Redeemer lives. Hope that whatever is going on in the world around me pales in comparison to knowing that my Savior is on the throne and forever will be. Hope that the sin in my life past, present, and future was carried to the cross and the punishment for it all was laid on Him. Hope that forgiveness has been granted to me, mercy has protected me, and grace has saved me. Hope that who I was, is no longer who I am, and who I am is now completely the result of Him in me. Hope that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Hope that in all things He causes me to triumph. Hope that even in death I win. Hope that freedom reigns in my life. Hope that one day I will see the One who has showered my life with this very hope.

And the world is distracted by bunnies and colored eggs. What a shame when there is so much more. Hope, that's what this season is about. It's about an empty tomb that screams hope to whatever you're up against and wherever you are in life. It's not just a religious holiday, its a celebration about the One who Was, and Is, and IS to come. Nope, this weekend isn't about a bunny, it's about a Lamb and a Lion. It's about the Lamb who was slain and lives again. It's about the Lion who's return is moving closer with each passing day. As far as I'm concerned the world can have their Easter and I'll take the empty tomb and the hope it speaks to me!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tim The Tool Man And A Blown Fuse

Growing up I loved to take things apart. Electronic equipment was my favorite. I took radios apart, computers apart, televisions apart, and anything else that peeked my interest. I have to admit, I was great at taking things apart. However, I wasn't quite as good at putting things back together. Now, that wouldn't be a bad thing if we were talking about items that were broken, but most of the time the things I took apart had nothing wrong with them. I was just curious as to what made them work and with screw driver in hand my adventures of discovery would begin.

Through the years, my curiosity hasn't changed much. Although, I don't often take things apart that are in working order, when something breaks, I always think I can fix it. This week our washing machine went out. Now, I don't know the first thing about washing machines except that they wash clothes. Yet, when my wife told me how much it was going to cost to have a repair man out, I quickly grabbed my tools and went to work.

Something on the inside of me said it was a fuse. So, the first think I checked was the wall outlet thinking perhaps a breaker had been thrown for some reason. The outlet turned out to be fine and there again was this voice saying its a fuse. I proceeded to open up the washing machine's control panel and the very first thing I saw was a fuse. I popped it out and sure enough it had been blown. After replacing the fuse, I plugged in the washer and once again the fuse is blown. Using my "google" tool, which by the way should be a part of every tool box, I googled "Maytag" and "blown fuse" and quickly found how to fix the problem.

I told my wife I knew how to fix it and only needed to find a new part. When I got on the phone with the repair man to see if I could buy a part from him, he was convinced I didn't know what I was doing. He first told me that washing machines don't have fuses. I thought to myself, I've opened enough electronic devices in my day to know what a fuse is. I explained to him that I had purchased some new fuses at Home Depot and each time I replaced them they blew out. After a bit of an awkward pause, he asked me what kind of washing machine I had, because Maytag's have fuses. Still convinced I would not be able to fix the machine, he told me to give him a call when I needed him.

I was able to pick up the part, and actually put the machine back together without any problem. Total cost? Under $20.00! After hearing what a repair man was going to cost, my wife opted to check out Craigslist to see if she could find any good deals on a working washing machine. And after it was all said and done we fixed it for less than it would cost for us to go out to eat. Now, if I was a regular fix-it man I would think nothing of this whole process. But, I'm not. And the fact that my initial thought was that it was a fuse is really a bit bazaar to be completely honest. I had no idea that most washing machines do not have fuses but Maytag's do. Yet, over and over this thought kept coming to me that it was a fuse.

I can't help but think that voice wasn't self-initiated. Afterall, when told the washing machine was out, my own voice said, "Call a repair man, I don't know anything about washing machines." Scripture tells us that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will teach us all things and guide us into all truth. Perhaps you think I'm stretching it a bit, but I think He can speak to us about anything including household appliances. The truth was, my washing machine had thrown a fuse and simply finding out why it was throwing the fuse led to an easy fix. I'm thinking the Holy Spirit, who knows all things, knew that and passing that info along to me was one of the things He was sent to do.

I really believe we can get way too "religious" in our approach to God and how we walk out our Christian journey. It's not meant to be some kooky, weird, spiritual encounter that has no practical application here in our real world. God longs to walk in relationship with us. This time of year is all about the price He was willing to pay in order to have that relationship with us. He longs to walk the journey with us, involved in every aspect of our lives. He's not on some distant planet waiting for us to get there some day. He wants so desperately to have an ongoing dialog with us in which we can hear His voice whenever we choose to listen.

Maybe, you're reading this and think I'm making way too much out of a blown fuse. Perhaps, your mindset is, "why in the world would the Creator of the Universe care about some lousy blown fuse?" If that's your perspective of Him, then I would love to invite you to get to know Him more. The truth is, He doesn't care about the blown fuse, He cares about me. He cares about walking through life with me and He is mindful about every single thing that concerns me. So, while He is still the Creator of the Universe, He has plenty of time to walk this journey with me.

Don't put God in a religious box. While He will reveal Spiritual truths to you and show you the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, He will also help you navigate through your daily life. Maybe its not a broken washing machine, but a broken heart or a broken relationship. Trust me, He's the kind of friend that is closer than a brother and He'll speak to you if you're truly listening.

What I hear right now is the washing machine finishing up a cycle. Time to change the laundry!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I Learned About God From My Dad

Five years ago this week, my father passed away. Its hard to believe its already been five years. It seems like just yesterday I remember him cracking some joke at which he laughed harder than anyone else. I can also still hear his take on what's going on in the world and how he had the answer to fix it all. Trust me, with what's going on right now, if he was here, we would never be able to keep him quiet. Somehow, I picture him strolling through the the corridors of heaven trying to give "Troy Stone" insight and suggestions to anyone who will lend him an ear. Indeed, God broke the mold when He made my Dad as I've yet to find anyone like him.

Growing up I learned a lot from him. How to bait a hook, how to throw a ball, and how to hold politicians accountable. Maybe its a bit of a reach, but somehow I think the decline in the world around us in the last five years might have something to do with the fact Troy Stone doesn't have politicians shaking in their boots anymore. I'm just saying.

Of all the things I learned from my Dad, I think the things I learned about God are the most valuable. No, my Dad didn't sit me down and teach me Bible stories and make me memorize Scripture. He taught me by how he lived his life. He was far from perfect and believe me, I wasn't blind to the imperfections. Yet, somehow along his journey, this imperfect man taught me volumes about a perfect God.

Mrs. Baird's Bread. Its the best you know. At least according to my Dad. No, other brand would do for the Stone household. Even if it was the highest priced bread on the market, you could count on it making it's way to our house. My Dad would do anything to provide his family with the best. Whether it was Sony, or Zenith, or Craftsman, or Chevy or some other brand he thought was the best. You could rest assured no brand he considered "junk" or inferior would be purchased with his hard earned money. Nope, only the best. It makes my perspective about a God who wants the best for me an easy thing to grasp. After all, if my earthly father wanted that for me, how much more does my heavenly Father desire that for me?

Scripture tells us that God can not lie. He never breaks promises. And while I'm sure my Dad told some whoppers in his day, I don't know of another person I've ever met who was better at keeping promises than my Dad. If he told you he'd do it, you could pretty much take it to the bank. Trusting someone like that becomes easy once they've established a behavioral pattern of integrity. It's the same with our heavenly Father. His unwavering faithfulness to all His promises makes trusting Him easy. Fortunately for me, I have to admit my trust and confidence in God definitely had a jump start from seeing that characteristic in my earthly Dad.

Another characteristic of God I saw in my Dad was that of refuge and protector. One time I remember we were going to a parade in our hometown. We were stuck in traffic and this man behind us gets out of his car and starts screaming profanities at the top of his lungs. My dad reacted by jumping out of his car and declaring that he had his wife and kids in the car and would appreciate it if he would cease with the profanity and get back in his car. I remember my initial response was that of embarrassment and fear of the man retaliating. But when all was said and done and the man apologized and got back in his car, I remember feeling safe. You know when you're young and you think your Dad can beat up anybody's dad? I kind of felt like that my entire life. Maybe not so much that my Dad would engage in a fist fight with everyone, but just the fact that I always knew he had my back. I just always knew that if anyone messed with me, they would have to tangle with him. It's that quality in my Dad that makes it easy for me to view a God who is indeed my Refuge and Protector. It's so easy to read a Scripture like, "If God is for me, who can be against me," and walk through life as if it were absolutely true.

I could go on and on with stories about my Dad and how they painted a picture of God for me. He was my biggest fan, he genuinely enjoyed spending time with me, and I really think he constantly saw in me, who I was even when I didn't resemble that from time to time.

I really miss him. Some days more than others. Fortunately, I'm not like some who grieve without hope. For I know that one day I will be see him again. Looking at all that's going on in the world I'm thinking that day may be fast approaching. And I'll get to hear the corny jokes. And I'll hear why old school country is the only music worth listening to. And I'll hear how he can now say without a doubt that West Virginia is indeed almost heaven. What a character! If you knew him, you can certainly relate. If you didn't, trust me, when you get to heaven he'll be easy to find. He'll be the one eating a sandwich composed of a couple slices of tomatoes between two pieces of Mrs. Baird's Bread. Be prepared though, he'll try to convince you that you haven't eaten until you've tried one.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Smell Of A Campfire

We took a family camping trip this week. Other than a line of thunderstorms that made for one wet morning, we had a great time. We fished, roasted hot dogs, made smores, told stories by the campfire at night, and did lots more camping activities. If you've ever been camping, you know the routine. You also know how after cranking up that first campfire how everything takes on that campfire smell. Your clothes, your tent, your bedding, your hair, everything. Nothing is immune. If you were to meet anyone anywhere, there is no way of hiding that you've been camping because the smell is all over you.

As I sit here, I'm wondering if those of us who are Believers, can say the same about us when it comes to our encounters with God. I mean, is it evident that we've been with Him? Can we meet anyone anywhere, and it be completely apparent that we've been in His presence? Moses, spent time with God and when he came down the mountain, his face shined so bright the people made him put a veil over it. There was no hiding the fact that he and God had met up on that mountain. His physical appearance was altered. Abraham encountered God and this son-less man became the father of many nations. Jacob wrestled with God and from then on walked with a limp. Mary encountered God and became pregnant with the Son of God. Saul, who later became Paul, encountered the Lord and was knocked off his horse and his life was changed forever.

On and on I could tell of men and women who could not hide the fact that they had been with God. It was obvious to everyone that there was a noticeable change in them. Every encounter with God has the ability to transform us. Those encounters have the ability to transform our worry and stress into peace. They have the ability to change our fear into faith, our sadness into joy, and our mourning into dancing. Those God encounters can change the way we think, the way we act, and the way we treat others.

Just like that smoke from the campfire effects everything it comes into contact with, so it is with the Holy Spirit. Whenever we determine to allow Him to have access to our lives, our lives will show evidence of His presence. That transformation however only takes place when we determine to all Him access to our lives. Going back to Moses, his countenance was changed but nobody else's was. He was the only one who pressed in and made the decision to encounter God. Everyone else was content to simply allow Moses to spend time with God and pass along whatever God said to him.

Since, we've been home, we've been washing everything we took on our trip. And we've just about eliminated the lingering campfire smell. I just pray that I never get to a place where the evidence of God's presence in my life is eliminated. I can live without the smoke, but I don't ever want to live without His fire in my life that is ever transforming me into the man He longs for me to be.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

15 Years Old

I met a man a few days ago who had to be in his 80s or 90s. He was wearing a hat that had a logo on it that read, "Veterans of Underage." I rarely miss an opportunity to thank military veterans when I see one. This day was no different. Assuming his hat meant he was one of those men who lied about his age when he signed up for military service, I asked him how old he was when he enlisted. He response floored me. "I was 15," he said.

Immediately my mind raced back to the days when I was 15. Days when you could find me hanging out with my friends. Days you would see me playing baseball, or football, or some game on Atari 2600. Yet, here was a man who suited up in military attire, took up arms and set out to free the world from madmen like Hitler and Mussolini. What a contrast!

I can't help but wonder what his mom thought the day he came home and told her he had enlisted. To be honest, its hard to imagine. For those of us born after that generation, I truly believe we have no clue. It was a different world then. A world in which boys didn't lose themselves in a virtual gaming world. No, this was the real deal. A world in which you didn't get unlimited lives. This was a world where the blood was real and the risk was high. This was a time when heroes weren't rock stars or athletes. It was a time when our heros where boys who were willing to preserve our freedom even if it meant losing their very lives.

I didn't have time to hear this man's whole story, but I'm sure he had one that would have kept me on the edge of my seat and brought me to tears. I struggle a bit when I see men like this because I know they won't be with us much longer. What a tragedy it will be, and how much poorer we will be when that generation is no longer with us.

I look around and I see a world consumed with this idea of entitlement. A world that's screaming for their rights and what they deserve. A world for the most part unwilling to make any sacrifice to preserve the freedoms and liberties we have. Of course, I'm not referring to our military men and women of today. They are a small remnant though in a world that's forgotten what it took to get where we are. Today if a 15 year-old boy or girl were to lie about their age and enlist, the military would have a lawsuit on their hands. Yep, times have changed.

I'm not advocating 15 year-olds in the military. I'm pretty sure you'll agree that the idea of today's 15 year olds in the military is quite a scary scenario. I'm thinking I wouldn't feel all that safe. At the same time, somehow, the idea of this gentleman I met being a defender of my freedom set me at ease. Perhaps, it was the gaze in his eye and the weathered skin that told the story of a man who had been to hell and back. I'm not sure. And perhaps, my view of this man at the age of 15 is way off. Still, somehow I know that even at 15 years old, I would sleep well knowing this man was defending my freedom.

At 15, I was shooting spit wads across the room, my mom had to wake me to get ready for school and I complained when I had to mow the yard. At 15, this man was dodging incoming shells and firing at the enemy. Indeed, times have changed. I'm just so thankful for all those "Veterans of Underage," and the parents who made those incredible sacrifices. Without those heroes, it is no doubt that my life at 15 years-old would have been much different.

Friday, February 4, 2011

God's Not A Weatherman

I had an interesting conversation with my 8-year-old son a couple days ago. Here's the gist of it.

"Dad, is it going to snow?"
"Well, son, one thing I've learned is that when it comes to snow, you can't always trust what the weatherman says."
"I guess your right. I think I really only trust the radar."

It looks like my 8-year-old has learned a valuable life lesson. Here, in Southeast Texas, snow is a rare find. I can probably count on one hand how many times I've seen it actually snow here. Naturally, when the weatherman says there's a chance, there's a bit of excitement in the air. And, when he says there's an 80% chance like he did this week, even the biggest skeptics can start to believe.

Even with a huge chance like that in the forecast, we awakened this morning to find no snow on the ground. I thought it a bit humorous today when one local weatherman fielded some questions from some elementary children who were a bit upset at discovering the ground absent of white fluffy snow this morning. He tried so hard to explain what happened and why there was no snow. Needless to say, I think most kids didn't really care about why it didn't snow, they just are bummed it didn't.

With all our modern technology, forecasting the weather is still done with a great margin of error. The computer models, the weatherman's expertise, and the hopes of all the children still can't make this process an exact science. While they are much more accurate than they were a few decades ago, they still miss it. The truth is, the job of forecasting the weather requires a great deal of speculation and educated guessing. Sometimes they nail it and sometimes they don't.

Back to my son's comment about the radar. He's figured out that the radar represents what's happening now. It's not forecasting. It's not guessing. It's what is. If he sees rain on the radar, he knows its raining right then and there. Its not hard to trust something like that. It's real. Although the radar may show its raining hundreds of miles away you can rest assured that its raining there even though you are not there to personally witness it.

Our faith in God is a great deal like that. We don't see Him, yet we know He exists. Like that radar screen, God's Word reveals truths about Him. Those truths, coupled with our faith launches us past the point of believing into the place of knowing. A place of assurance. A place that doesn't require any of our five physical senses to experience anything in order to know with confidence. My son never has to see the storm with his own eyes to know that it exists. All he needs to see is the image on a radar and he knows it is. Our Creator is revealed throughout Scripture. Page after page, there He is. Yes, He's in heaven, He's here on earth and He's everywhere else. But, in Scripture we can see Him. Not with our physical eyes, but with the eyes of our understanding, our eyes of faith. He's more real than anything we can see with our natural eyes.

Our biggest problem is we trust our five physical senses more than we do God's Word. Our five physical senses though are a lot like the weatherman. They can't always be trusted. No, I'm not dissin' the weatherman. I'm just making a point, that if we want to trust in something that is absolute, unchanging, and completely stable, then we'll have to learn to tap into this thing called faith. We'll have to learn how to gravitate toward believing God's Word more than we do our five senses.

God is real. His kingdom is more real than this world we live in. His kingdom is forever. Its eternal. The economy in His kingdom doesn't rise and fall. He's not on His throne wringing His hands and working up a sweat at all the calamity that's going on in the world. He's not worried about how things are going to play out. He's not sitting around throwing around odds with the angels as to whether things are going to go as planned. He wrote the script and it'll play out the way He said it would. He's at peace because, His kingdom is superior to the one in which we live in here on this earth. When our faith is rooted in His kingdom, then all is well with us. When our faith is truly in Him then we can walk through life with an assurance and confidence that is puzzling to those who trust in things that are filled with uncertainty.

The kind of life God designed each of us to live is one in which our trust and confidence is in Him and nothing else. God's not a weatherman. His Word is not full of speculation and educated guesses. His Word is full of truth and absolutes. When He speaks, its a done deal. Faith anchored in Him will prove to be more certain than confidence in anyone or anything else.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Flying V

On a recent trip home from Tennessee, while I was traveling through Arkansas, I discovered what apparently must be the winter home for literally hundreds of thousands of geese. They were everywhere. Everywhere I looked there was one flock after another flying in their "flying v" formation and ponds that appeared to contain more geese than water. All my life I've seen geese flying overhead but this is the first time I've seen where they are heading.

Of course, I had to hop online and find out about as much as I could about my newly discovered winter home for geese. Apparently in recent years, the number of geese that gathers here every winter has grown astronomically. They fly for thousands of miles all the way from Alaska, Northern Canada, and even Greenland.

Now, if you've ever read about geese you know that their "flying v" formation is not an accident. It is a highly sophisticated formation that utilizes drafting and uplift to make the long haul easier on each individual goose. Using this formation, the geese can add over 70% to their individual flying range. Because the front of the formation requires more work, they work together as a team, taking turns carrying the load. And if one becomes weak or ill and can no longer fly, two other geese escorts it to the ground and stays with it until it can fly again, leaving no goose to fly on its own.

Because their migration requires thousands of miles, individually this migration would be near impossible. But working together in teams, these geese make it happen. South for the winter and then again North for the summer. Year after year they make this trip and arrive at their destination because they understand the strength in numbers and the value of community.

Like geese, we were not meant to walk through life alone. We were created for community. While we can accomplish much on our own, it only scratches the surface of what we can accomplish together as a team. In one of Paul's letters to the Corinthians, he touches on this topic describing the church as the "body of Christ." Here, he reminds us that we are part of a bigger picture than just ourselves. We are all members with different gifts, abilities, and callings and God puts us all together to work as a team. It is when we function as one, headed in the same direction, and all understanding where we are headed, that we become the most efficient for the Kingdom of God.

We must all understand the the value and efficiency of the whole is always greater than any individual alone. At the same time we must always remember the importance and value of each individual and their necessity to the entire body. Paul instructs us that each part is important and without each part, the whole body suffers.

If you're not part of a local body of Believers, find a place where you can plug in. Not a place where you can sit comfortably for an hour a week, but a place where you can plug into a community and lock arms with others as you set out to do the work of the Kingdom. That's what you were created for. In that setting you'll discover that you'll accomplish more for the Kingdom of God than you could ever do on your own.