All posts by Roy Jackson

Faith of the Canaanite Woman

The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

If we opened our Bible in search of a, “Diamond in the rough,” we would only have to turn to Matthew 15:21-28 and the story of the unnamed and unashamed Canaanite woman.

The rough starts with: John the Baptist doubting. John the Baptist, the one that Jesus said, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater…” (Matthew 11:11

Moves to the disciples doubting if there is a way to feed the crowd with five loaves and two fish

Continues with Peter doubting if he can walk all the way to Jesus.

Next the Religious leader express their doubt by continuing to challenge who Jesus is.

Followed by the refusal of the Apostles to see and understand who Jesus is. Jesus says to his most faithful followers and students, “Are you still so dull?”

And now the diamond. An unnamed, unashamed, non-follower, non-Jew, non-theologian, non-Apostle asks Jesus for help. She has a pressing need to save her daughter. She says, all she needs to say when she says, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

At first Jesus does not answer her. I think it is because he is in awe. Her words have sat him back on his heels. His silence is there to give an opportunity for everyone around him to soak up her words. Up until this moment he has been inundated with doubt and questioning of who he is, where he is from and why he is here and now, like a lightning strike on a clear sunny day, Faith shows up.

He questions her, just once. He reminds her why the crowd and the Apostles think he has come. He is speaking to get their attention. It is if he is saying, hey listen up, it is one more chance for you to gain real understanding.

She is so beautiful in her boldness. She stands up face to face with the creator of the universe and says, Look! I know who you are. I know why you have come. I know where you came from and I know what you can do. Yes, she is saying, I am the less of the less but I only need the less from you, and your less on my daughter is more than all of everything else put together. She says, Lord just the smallest crumb of your love on the smallest of your creatures is enough to bring healing and new life.

The Canaanite woman, the dog, the less of the less has no doubt, no dullness, no shame and no fear. She has everything she needs. She has FAITH.

 

The Woman At The Well

The Woman At The Well

The story of The Woman At The Well is a story of Jesus at his very best. He has arrived at a divine appointment set at the beginning of time, in a place that was created by the voice of God. He is in a place that the world says he can’t be, preparing to talk with a person that the world says he cannot talk to. He has arranged the meeting, cleared the distractions and set the stage.

Once the stage is set, he sits down and waits. I picture him with a slight smile on his face, excited about the conversation he is about to have. And on time, to the very second, a nameless woman arrives and the quiet is broken as Jesus asks her for a drink. A simple opening to a conversation that is destined to change her life forever. In a few words, Jesus builds rapport, gains trust, and speaks truth to a nameless woman that is going about her daily life doing her work. A nameless woman that knows her scripture. A woman that is self-confident and articulate. A woman who knows who God is, who knows the story of a messiah, and yet she has not met Jesus.

The woman at the well, could easily be the woman at Starbucks, the woman at Kroger, the woman at Walmart, the woman at the homeless shelter, the woman at the bar or the woman at the church. She has no name, because though she is real, she represents all of us.

The story of the woman at the well is the story of the Gospel. It is the story of creation, the story of God coming to us, the story of us coming to God and the story of God revealed as to who he truly is. It is the story of her life and our life. It is the story of a life exposed in all of its naked truth, then graciously covered with Grace. It is the story of God’s love changing our life forever.

A Heart Problem

In love #1

I heard this statistic on the radio today, “One out of three divorces are caused by Facebook.” The talk show host went on to explain the phenomenon. He talked about Facebook connecting people to their past. Maybe their past loves or past relationships. He even went on to suggest they were connecting to what their thoughts or fantasy of what a relationship should be.

It is true that we currently live in a world where vision is not connecting to reality. We set out to marry based on what we think it should be instead of investing time into understanding what it will be and can be.

What I do not think is true is the part about Facebook causing the divorce. Divorce comes from a heart problem.

Jesus is confronted with this question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus wisely, first ask a question. He asks, “What did Moses command you?” After they answer, Jesus makes a declarative statement that we would all be served to listen to and understand. He says, “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.”

Divorce is a heart problem, not a Facebook problem. People with hardened hearts will search under every stone looking for a way to help them avoid the issue, the real issue. Facebook may be the most current opportunity  to get the destructive help we need to feed the madness in a damaged heart.

The truth is the world is and has been full of people and things that will help us fall.

The trouble has the potential for growing when a hardened heart can point at something like Facebook and say, “Facebook did it. It wasn’t me.” Anytime you give someone the opportunity to look at an outside source to blame or provide healing you are providing them with an excuse to avoid looking inward. And inward is where they need to look.

We generally don’t need much help rolling down hill. We need help getting up and over the hill.

I urge anyone that has taken the wrong turn on Facebook to delete their Facebook account. I know there is a lot of good on Facebook, but if it is a matter of life or death to your family and the future of your children’s lives, please run from it. Get rid of it. Shut it off.

If Facebook is not the crutch that is facilitating your crippling, what ever it is, run from it while you have the strength. Find a place where breath is bringing  life to your life. Find someone that is interested in your heart, your hardened heart. Interested in guiding you to healing not destroying.

There are some really good Biblically based churches with community groups made up of people working hard to preserve the holiness of marriage and family waiting for you.  A church that is reflecting Christ’s love. Being connected to the right church is a great safe, constructive, essential part of a life battered with the world and heart issues.

Divorce is not the answer. Healing is the answer.

In His love

 

Letting Go

Photo - Cropped broken fingerThe 8:20am text reads, “Lots of anger and emotions occurring this weekend in our home. Looking forward to meeting on Tuesday. Having a hard time.”

The 11:15am text reads, “Sorry to bring you bad news but this is how we are starting our holiday week off. A fractured finger from an altercation snatching a pillow from me after arguing. Please pray, we are not in a good place.”

My response. “All one of you had to do was, let go.”

A simple task lost in the emotion of anger mixed with self desire leads to a broken bone, tears, fear and a trip to the immediate care center. Two people refusing to let go. One person could have disarmed the entire battle with the simple act of opening their hand.

My response continues. “Our Lord opened his hands when he spread his arms on the cross and allowed the soldiers to nail him to the cross. An open hand, a hand that releases control and lets desire go is an inviting hand. A hand that releases out of love, is a hand providing the opportunity for healing and peace.”

A hand closed on an object, fighting for position with another hand is a fist clenched in frustration, fear, anger and aggression. A fist clenched in anger invites only another fist. A fist is an invitation to war. A war that continues on and on.

An open hand is a invitation to peace. Open hands can join together to bring comfort, assurance and love.

Our Lord calls us to let go of our desires that drive us to pain or drive us to bring pain into someone else’s life. Jesus says, “Come, follow me.” (Matthew 4:189) He says again, “If anyone would after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

As a Christian, we are called to follow Jesus Christ and obey his teachings first and first always. I know it is a fight, but the fight must be fought within ourselves. It is in our own corrupted hearts where we need to win the battle long before we take the battle to the rest of the world.

All one of them had to do was, let go. Let go of a pillow. Let go of a selfish desire. Let go of anger. Let go of frustration. Let go of pride. Letting go by consciously opening a hand because the Lord had opened his hand to us and all of the complex emotions bound together in that one moment would have been washed away.

Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24)

Please, when given the opportunity to hold onto the fight or open up and let go, let go. Resist the desire to save whatever piece of a foolish life (in this case it was anger disguised as a pillow) you are trying to save. Give up, lose the fight, let go of your pillow and save the life that matters. Your life, your children’s life, your spouse’s life, your family’s life.

A Parable:

A parable can be described as story designed to open the windows in our mind, allowing an expansion of an idea beyond the seeming narrowness of the truth. Mary Poppins, describes the process of a parable this way, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Our Lord, masterfully uses the “Parable” as the sweetener; an appeal. When we get to the narrow truth [the medicine] at the end of the parable, the Lord wants us open and ready to receive the simple truth he has for us. The simple truth that comes to us at the end, is the jewel he has so graciously shaped for us.

Life Is Full Of Turns

Photo - American PharoahWednesday morning, 7:20 am and I am out the door for my first meeting of the day. The sun was bright and the Sprit that lives within me felt strong. It is a short drive to my first Starbucks meeting.  I am there this morning to meet Mike, to listen to, and guide him through his difficulties, misdirection’s, brokenness and pain. Lining up his life with the words of our Lord, Jesus.

The coffee shop  seems to be a place of rest and refreshment yet on some days for some people it is a place of refuge, disarmament, de-escalation, de-stressing and relief.  Words, laughter, and tears pouring out thoughts, feelings, lies and truth, kept focused by a jolt of caffeine. Gospel coffee at its best.

On this particular morning, before I arrived I received a text from Mike that read, “Took a wrong turn, running about 15 minutes late.” When Mike arrived, I said, “Yep, you took a wrong turn alright. Where was it? Back in 1985?” Laughing, he said, “That sounds about right.”

Mike explained, “When I leave my house I have to tell myself, Corydon or Louisville.” The interstate splits off. Head west to Corydon and work, or head east to Louisville to just about everything else. Mike, goes on, “I guess out of habit I headed to work, instead of heading to our meeting.”

Sometimes, that is the way it is. We head out the door or open our mouth without any intentional thought to where we are going or what we are saying. We find our selves headed down the wrong path and wonder, how did we get here.  We do it out of habit, mixed with a lack of focus. It can be hard to break a habit, and it can be hard to focus, but one of the keys is to be intentional with our actions and thoughts. James tells us to, “capture every thought.”

Thursday morning was a little different. I headed out at 6:30 to a different Starbucks for a different kind of meeting. I was headed to meet a friend, get in his car and head to Churchill Downs. I had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with American Pharaoh, America’s Triple Crown Winner. I was very intentional with my actions and thoughts, as I gazed on a world class athlete. I took some pictures and posted them on Facebook. About an hour later, I heard from Mike.

Mike texted, “Good thing American Pharaoh didn’t make a wrong turn.” I answered, Yes. Although, Mike, you need to remember every step he has taken and every breath he takes has been, and is, guided by man. For a man’s profit. Although, I would suggest, the underlying truth is every time a horse runs it always runs for God’s glory.

Mike answers, “One would hope.” I answer, Oh, you can believe it. Men believe that a horse runs for his good pleasure. But the only way a man can withstand and harness the power and passion of a horse is because God says so. We like to think we break a horse, but a horse submits. The arrogance of man comes face to face with the power and beauty of the horse.

How do we get from a wrong turn, to intentionality, to a horse. This is how: God is intentional in his thoughts and actions. We, “are made in his image.”  He calls us to resist the wrong turns, “to make the path straight.” We are called to change the bad habits, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” We are directed to, “run the race marked out for us.” And like a world class horse we have the Holy Spirit within us providing the power and passion of God. We tap into that power by submitting. We submit when we, “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

It is a good morning to visit the backside of Churchill Downs to get a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes. It is a great morning when we visit the backside of our life to get a glimpse on what is going on behind our scene. It is an awesome morning when we find our gaze finding the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It may take a lot of wrong turns to bring us around. But, it is the right turns that keeps us where we need to live.

 

Don’t Forget Where You Came From

Father's Day

The following is a talk given at Springdale Community Church June 2014:

I like a room full of men. A gathering of Christian men brings an opportunity for fellowship, tears and growth. We have a common bond as men with victories and losses. And we have our glorious bond as brothers in Christ. Depending on which minute of which day it is, one or the other or both will hold us together.

I have had a few weeks to think and pray about what the Lord would have me share with you today. My words will be a combination of the Lord’s prompting, my current state of mind and emotion, and the current state of mind and emotions of all the people the Lord has had me working with these last few weeks.

And I just remembered this week that tomorrow is:

Father’s Day.

In one bucket you will get what I know about you, myself, my friends, my son, my father, my grandfathers, my clients, my God and My Lord Jesus.

Plus a dose of Father’s day. Father’s day can be a day of celebration or a day of sorrow or if you are like me a combination of both. It is a time for reflecting on the past, assessing the present and looking to the future. What all that looks like depends on a combination of your age, life experience and Faith.

Wow! It has been an interesting time bringing this one together. My head and my heart have been spinning. Do I speak about men, myself or Father’s day? And at the end of the day I realized the Lord in His gracious and special way brought it all together in one package. Have you ever thought that no one knows more about the relationship between father’s and children than our God?

The story came to me like this:

Jane Smith had just been announced as a new vice president. She received a personal phone call from the CEO. He congratulated her, told her what an honor it was to move up the ladder and reminded her that it was a privilege that few obtained.

Within the week she received two gifts in the mail. The first was from the CEO himself, it was a bottle of expensive wine and a note. The note in the CEO’s unique broad stroke written with a black magic marker boldly said:

“Congratulations”

The other gift was from the executive that she replaced. The gift was a six pack of beer and a note. The note written in an ordinary script simply said this:

Don’t forget where you came from.

And the words of a Garth Brooks song have been echoing in my head for the last few weeks:

“Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots and ruined your black tie affair.”

The CEO’s gift and note of, “congratulations,” implies, “You have arrived.” It states position and stature.

The other gift and note of, “Don’t forget where you came from,” indicates, “Your original position,” and promotes humility. Is a gift to keep us grounded in who we are deep inside, what our foundational make up is. It is a reason to think and reflect. And it could become a reason to hold you back into a past that is certainly part of you but no longer has to own you.

“Blame it all on my roots” is definitely a reminder of where we come from but it feels more like an excuse to explain away our present day actions.

Either way they are all reminders that we came from somewhere else, somewhere different than where we find ourselves today.

Where do we come from?

Think about it!

My present and my future looks like this: My name is Roy Edward Jackson Jr. I was born in 1958 in Louisville, KY. I have a wife named JoAnna, I have a son named Roy Edward Jackson III, a daughter named Ashley Michelle, a daughter named Taylor Leigh, a granddaughter named Ruby, a granddaughter named Lila and a son-in-law named Brian.

Where I come from looks like this:

My father’s name is Roy Edward Jackson. He was born in 1930 in Louisville, KY.

My grandfather’s name is Roy Jackson. He was born in 1899 in Breckinridge County Kentucky. He was baptized in a creek when he was 13 years old. He was a good man, he was an adulterer, a businessman, and a bootlegger. And he is the one whose love the Lord used to keep me alive. He gave me both freedom and attention. He is the one who taught me to love.

My great grandfather’s name is Julius B Jackson (JB, I like the sound of that). He was born in 1857.

My great, great grandfather’s name is William H Jackson. He was born in 1830.

That, gentlemen is as far back as I can go. I can count back 184 years and name my great, great grandfather. I know is name, I know he was a farmer. I am not sure if he was born in Breckenridge County but I know he eventually moved there because he was married in Breckinridge County in 1852 and out of the marriage came one more piece of my past and my present.

Where do we come from?

And

Does that past keep us grounded?

Or

Give us an Excuse?

I have lived enough life to know a couple of things about my past and my present. I know enough about me to know a little bit about my ancestors. I am pretty sure some of the ways I think and act are a combination of me and some of them.I am positive I have invented some of my own sins and I am sure I am guilty of repeating some of theirs. I am sure in some ways I have exceeded some of their expectations and in some ways I have re-ceded from their expectations.

I know my fathers before me were men that worked hard and that they probably worked too hard for too long. I know they are men that probably sought love in all the wrong places and yet they all married and stayed married to the woman of their youth and they in their own way learned to love that woman. I know they had children. I know that they loved children, but they did not always have a way to express that love in a way that was or could be understood. I know they thought things and saw things that no man needed to think or see. I know they have had nights when they slept like a baby with the security of the just and righteous or just pure exhaustion and other times they had a restless sleep worrying about the future and their own past. I know that they knew how to hunt, and fish and fight and cuss. I don’t know if they participated, but they surely knew how. I know that they were men that faced temptation and sometimes they resisted and others times they succumbed. I know they were born, they lived and they died. I don’t know if they ever thought or looked far enough ahead to think of the possibility of me coming from them. I don’t know if they knew our Lord Jesus. I don’t know when it is men decide to think of the future or the past or even their present. I know that none of my fathers reached fame or fortune. I know that living was more important than collecting or saving.

I know without a doubt that part of them lives in me today and that I have thoughts and make decisions and act because of some of their thoughts, decisions and actions. It seems that we can never completely remove ourselves from our past, whether it was yesterday or 184 years ago, or 1000 years ago, or tomorrow.

I have to admit there was a time in my life when I would excuse my sins and my actions on my past. But our Lords light as shown deep enough into my soul that I understand and accept, and own my sins. In fact, I pray that all my fathers before me were better men than me. I know too much to want to place it on someone else. I hope for a good blood-line and pray that my life has not polluted it so much that it can’t be cleaned up. If it needs to end. Let it end with me.

Where do we come from?

Dust

We first read about dust when we open our Bible to Genesis 2:7 “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.”

Try to imagine that scene. Our God, the God of the beginning and the end, creating the heavens and the earth, coming to the earth he created, getting down on His knees forming a man from the dust and slowly bending down to breathe a breath of life into the dust.

Do you think He hesitated before giving that breath, do you think He looked at the form, the figure, checked it out to make sure He had made it the way He wanted it before he breathed that breath. Do you think the angels were there watching, waiting, and hoping to see what their God was bringing forth from the dirt. We may never know what that scene looked like, but it had to have been a glorious sight to see that dust rise up on two legs, open eyes and mouth. Do you thing the living being spoke in those first minutes? I do. It is the first thing we do when we come into the world. We open our mouths and we cry out loud. We can never understand that cry that comes from a baby’s mouth, but if we could decipher it I think it would be some primeval version of, “I am alive.” Do you think our Lord had to slap him on his rump? Or did that first man with no sin in his life open his eyes and form a smile on his face, look into his creators eyes and say, “Thank You,” and wrap his arms around his creator, his father. And he heard his father say to him, “I love you.” Imagine the very first time the word love was spoken in the entire universe was when the Father of all fathers said I love you to His child. Wow! Was it a sound of thunder or was it a whisper.

The creator of all creation, the king of kings, the Lord of lords the great I am, Love himself, created a creator and He called him man. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27)

Gentlemen that is where we come from!

Dust

And we read about dust again in Genesis 3:19 “ By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

And that is what we are to never forget!

Dust

Out of the dust came great men. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. Smart men, Plato, Socrates, Einstein. Terrible men. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini.

Out of the dust came your Pastors, Jason and Joel. Out of that dust came me and came you. It is our past and it is our future.

Dust

I, like you have read those words of scripture. We know about the dust that runs through our veins. We know there are great men and bad men. In fact, as men we know a little bit about a lot of things and I suspect that for most of us the idea of coming from dust is an abstract thought. Knowing it is true and knowing that one glorious act happened so long ago doesn’t really make it relevant to our thinking today. For most of us in this room that may be true.

Dust

For me it is a little different. I really came to a face to face with understanding dust when I walked out of the funeral home with my friend Scott in my hand. Yes, you heard me right. I guess he weighed about 5 pounds. That is right, 200 pounds of man reduced to 5 pounds of dust. Up until that moment when I walked out of the funeral home I had a certain peace about what he had had done to himself. I had no understanding of why him, but I had a peace knowing that it could happen to anyone, including him.

Except the moment I walked out into the sun light of that parking lot and I thought about all the people that he had hurt and how much pain they were enduring and I looked down at that 5 pounds of man and realized “dust,” we are just dust? But that dust can be selfish, and destructive, and painful. The peace I had was replaced with anger. Dust did this? Who are we as men to do anything to hurt another person? Who do we think we are? We are dust and we need to remember our place and our creator. Better to lie down in the dust and bury our heads instead of standing tall and proud and inflicting pain on everyone around us.

Men, I realized that we have forgotten where we came from.

It was at that moment in time with my friend in my hands that I received my note and my gift. And it said, “Don’t forget where you came from.” And it was driven on the point of a stake and buried in my heart forever. And now I have just passed it on to you. I have just re-gifted it you.

Can I tell you about one more group of men that I have come into contact with in the last few weeks? Either friends or men that the Lord has sent to me for guidance.

One is remarried after getting a divorce from the woman he was married to for 20 years and trying to figure what his future looks like and is counting how many days that future has.

One is remarried after getting a divorce from the woman that he has been married to for 25 years, retired and starting a new love life and a new business life.

One is a successful business man, loves the Lord and pours into the people around him

One’s wife just told him that when they come back from vacation she is taking the children and moving out

One’s best friend just took his own life.

One is facing another father’s day alone because he is estranged from his children

One goes to a bar every night instead of staying home with his wife

One has a beautiful family and a vacation home in an exotic location

One, in his heart is wanting a divorce

One, is jobless and a step away from being homeless

One is a lifelong Christian and has lived a life seeking the Lord’s wisdom and applying that wisdom to his life and the life of his family.

Two fight with the addiction to pornography

One has a beautiful family, a good job, money in the bank but is unsettled in his heart looking for something more.

One fights with the addiction to alcohol

One is 18 years old and knows it all and has no fear of the future until his future becomes his present.

One lost a prestigious and lucrative job and is still overwhelmed with the suddenness of it. Trying to figure out how it happened and questioning God about the whole situation.

One is 18 years old and knows enough about the past to be fearful of the future.

One sits lives his life behind razor wire and bars. Wondering about his past and his future.

Men, it is what we are. Dust that breathes, walks, talks, fights, hides, cries, laughs and loves.

We are all part of someone’s past. We are all part of where they have come from. And we are all part of someone’s future.

Like it or leave it, we are who we are. We accept it and sit in it or we accept it for what it is and decide to work hard to remove the weeds and cultivate to crops. We get to say with our brother Paul, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ the Lord!

If you would ask my wife what I was like before I came to know the Lord. She would say, “Since coming to know Jesus you care more about others than yourself, before that you were just an ass.” It was my way or the highway.

I have not always been the man that you see before you today. I am not living the life that I expected to live before I was born again and honestly I am not living the life that I thought I would be living after I was born again.

I have lied, cheated, stole, committed adultery in my heart and mind, dishonored my mother and father, made false idols, murdered in my heart and mind, I have coveted my neighbors belongings and I have used the Lord’s name in vain and I have ignored and abused the Sabbath. I think that is all ten and I am not just spouting them off. I was intentional and I did them all. There was even a day in August 2000 that I gave God the finger. I am guilty.

Since coming to the Lord in 2004 I have walked, slept, eaten and lived with the word of God. Absorbing what it has to say about who God is, who I really am in all my nakedness, and who I am in Christ. I am now a slave to my Lord Jesus.

And since that moment in time I have still sinned. All the men that I mentioned above accept two are men that professes to know and love Jesus and yet they still fight with sin in their life and sin in others life.

I thought that after finding Jesus that the Lord was calling me to serve him from my assets, my finances and my business. In 2008 I lost all of that through a combination of stupidity, ignorance, recession and sin. What the Lord allowed me to keep was my ever growing Love and commitment to him, my wife and my children and by the way the man that I mentioned above, that is sitting behind razor wire and bars, is my son. I am waiting for the Lord to return to me what I have lost, including my son. And He will when and where He is ready to return it. He is in charge.

I wait some days patiently and some days impatiently. And I go forth daily with the Lord’s work regardless of my life situation.

For the past four years the Lord has used my life experience and education to work in the lives of his people. He has me guiding, counseling, and disciplining men and woman, children, and families through this life and the difficulties that it comes with. Keeping them alive, sane and with the Lord. In my teaching them I am reminding them that they came from dust and at the same time they were made in the image of God himself. They have been loved, they are loved and they will be loved.

I thought I would be serving the Lord from my wealth, instead I serve him through my poverty. It is now always about him first, you second.

Gentlemen, we all have a past and a future. God calls us to live intentionally. Intentionally for Him and for the people that he has put in our lives. We are to look to him for our guidance and wisdom, and get out of our own head, and our own selfish hearts.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. It is a day of celebration. It is a day of remembering the past and looking to the future.

I know it is a day of celebrating. I know it is a day for remembering your fathers and your fathers, fathers. But for each of you. I would like you to consider yourself not as one to be honored.

Think of yourself as dust. Dust that God, the great I am breathed life into and that He has blessed you with some time on His earth and surrounded you with His precious gifts.

Don’t forget where you came from!

Don’t forget where our Lord brought you from!

Don’t forget where you were found!

Don’t forget what condition you were in!

Stand up from the dust, open your eyes to the reality of the world and the reality of your situation and position. Open your mouth, spit out the dust and say to your God, your Lord and to the people around you wherever they may be, these words.

Thank You. I love you. How can I serve you?

Let’s pray!

 

Weakness

man helping a child      Paul in his letter to the Corinthians writes, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-10)
      “Our Lord has respect to our weakness,” explains Richard Sibbes in his publication, The Bruised Reed, speaking into our lives from the 17th century.
      From the 1st century to the 17th to the 21st our Lord wants, no, needs us to know that he knows of our inherent weaknesses. Our Lord not only understands our weakness, he has respect for our weakness.
      God respected our weakness when he came walking into our world as a child. His position was the weakest, and the most vulnerable. We like the illustration of a king arriving on a donkey, but we must love a king that came with no protection from our world.  A baby has no natural defenses, no protection from the elements, and no way to feed itself or clothe itself. A newborn baby’s survival is totally dependent on the love and care of another. Christ lowered himself to the smallest denominator to show respect for the frailness and weakness of the human condition.
      In our world the loneliest, sickest, weakest woman will long for and strive for pregnancy and the birth of a child. Regardless of the state she finds herself in, she instinctively knows  a child will be weaker then herself. She seems to know down in her soul that to have a child grow inside of her and nurse from her life giving breast will give her strength and life. A child can be  the weakest of the weakest, yet, an everlasting affirmation of new life, and new hope. For the weakest, this innate desire is a paradox. It is a consuming desire for life, that in many times brings death.
      In God’s world the paradox is reversed. What seems like weakness and death is in reality strength and life. For the God of all creation to reach out and touch even the  tip of the finger of the less, he had to become less than.
      The God of the Old Testament was a consuming fire that could not be looked upon, or touched lest we were consumed while we attempted to stand unshod upon his holy ground. The all-consuming fire lowered itself to a glowing ember whose first act on earth was to warm the tender heart of a young mother who lay bleeding with life in her lap, on ground that had been trampled by both man and beast. Jesus humbly defined his power through weakness.
      On the night Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane he displayed both his power and his respect for our weakness. Jesus healed the ear of the servant, and then allowed himself to be bound by men. Men who came displaying themselves as the powerful, yet unwittingly declaring their weakness by coming as a mob,  brandishing  weapons. Men who came with no respect for themselves, their teacher, or their God. Jesus humbly defined his power through  weakness.
      Jesus came into the world as the least, born into a family of the least, and he went out as the least among the least. He went from a stable to the cross. When he was removed from the cross he lay bleeding with death in his lap,  on ground trampled by both man and beast. Yet, nowhere along the way, did he bring harm to anyone. In his humility he  elevated each and every one of us. It did not matter how small we thought we were, or are, we can look down and see him, and at the same time look up and see him. He has displayed his power in being both the least and the greatest at the same time and the same place.
      Jesus Christ came in respecting our weakness. He left taking our weakness with him. He came in as a child, he left as the King. He came to town on a donkey. He went home on the wings of angels.
      God himself has loved us in our weakness. He is asking us to love each other in our weaknesses. If our neighbor cannot bring themselves to open their mail and deal with the overwhelming debt, then we are to open their mail with them. If our neighbor cannot fill their pantry, then we are to fill it for them. If our neighbor is consumed with anger or pain, we are to bring them a cooling relief. If our neighbor has an empty heart, Jesus invites us to bring the nourishment.
      The weaknesses are endless, therefore the response is endless. Christ’s example compels us to not say, “I have had enough,” or “I have done enough.” Only Christ can declare, “It is finished.” We are called to go forth with perseverance.
      That is why, for Christ’s sake, we delight in our neighbor’s weaknesses, in our neighbor’s insults, in our neighbor’s hardships, in our neighbor’s persecutions, in our neighbor’s difficulties. For when they are weak, then we are strong.
      We display the power of Christ by approaching our neighbors life with humility and respect, walking with them through their weakness.

Space

Space

Pastor Daniel preaches, “We must create space.” Experience testifies, when people create space, the space will only be as wide and as high and as deep as the creator will allow. The person will define the space based on the size of the space that has been designed for them. Space quickly becomes limited, because, we are limited.

“Forgo the thought that one alters the space by occupying it,” writes poet Eric Pankey. Life acknowledges the arrogance of the human condition. Patiently waiting while we struggle to grasp the paltriness of our position.

Poets and preachers stock in trade, is the use of words to convey a truth that is simultaneously applied and experienced in our life. Their manipulations of words are kin to the forming of objects from clay. The artist, the poet and the preacher are exposing to the eye, the ear and the heart, a new illustration made of existing components. We call it creating, but in reality, it is a manipulation of the already created. It is a new way of seeing, feeling and using what has already been seen, felt and used.

We, like fools apply the same work of our eyes, mind, hands and heart to space. We mold it, yet we cannot hold it. We visualize it, yet we cannot see it. We schedule it, yet we cannot fathom its beginning or its end. We feel it, yet it is not a physical force that moves us or is moved by us.

God says, “I am.” He is the unmoved mover. God defines space. Space is as limited as He is. A limit that cannot and will not ever be measured by any hand of a god or a human. Space was here before us, it is us that was created.

God created us to live within His space. We live a futile life as we labor to alter the space around us. We must learn to let the space alter us. God said, “Work and care for the garden.” He did not command us to alter the garden. We must release our hold, and allow ourselves to be adapted. God is the mover, we are the moved.

Damn our arrogance and our madness. We have believed that the beauty of space was created for us. God created the garden first, he put us in it second. We would serve better, by knowing that we were created for the beauty. It is us, the human race that has brought shame into the world. We have brought shame at such a level that beauty has blushed and groaned as its luster slowly fades to black.

Move through the world existing in the size of the space that God has carved out in another’s life, not your life. Jesus says, “It is better to give than receive.” As we give time and place as the other needs, we receive the time, and place we need. We must adapt to the other person’s calendar, not them to our calendar. We must allow ourselves to be moved into their life, their space. It is the model laid down by God, “And they will call him Emmanuel – which means, ‘God with us.’” The owner of all space moved into our space, to live.

The unmoved moved. Space has been altered. Please release, and allow it to alter you.

 

I Look Outside

Snow Outside“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)

I look outside and see snow everywhere. Deep and cold. It appeared overnight, coming down heavy while we slept. We had warnings, predictions, and forecasts. But did we really believe it was coming until we saw it with our own eyes?

Before the snow arrived, I was thinking, “What was it like” before we had weather reporters. How would we have known on the heels of a warm rainy day we would get cold and snow? Would we have woken and been surprised at the suddenness of the change, the suddenness of the cold and the suddenness of a city shut down? Back then, just like right now, the change brought good to some and misery to others. Change brings opportunity for both profit and loss.

I look, and wonder at the snow, I think of our Christian walk, our Christian salvation. We look at our position, our darkness, our sin, our brokenness and our pain with an eye and heart that wonders. Wondering, where did it come from, and how did it get here. We may be able to look back at the warnings and the predictions. We may be able to call friends and ask them if they had seen it coming. Did they, “forecast” our demise. Be sure, one hundred percent sure, we will be able to find someone that will say the inevitable, “I told you so.”

Hindsight as a weapon, is both dangerous and destructive. Hindsight from within or without, used in the wrong way is no better than the present situation. It comes without compassion, and offers no solace. Hindsight as a tool, makes corrections on the road map of our life. Hindsight as a tool offers comfort and support. It gives life.

I look outside and see the sun shining bright on the covering of the cold snow. If you just looked up at the sky and forgot the time of the year, the thermometer and the snow, you could be fooled or tempted into thinking it was a warm summer day. Not hot, not cold, just perfection. Looking up only, would be a denial of the reality that surrounds us. Looking up only, is a sure way to fall into a trap, just as sure as looking down all the time is the way to miss the reality of the beauty.

I look and wonder at the sun, I again think of our Christian walk and our Christian salvation. The sun is shining, bright and hot, yet, the snow seems to be unchanged. We sometimes look at our life in Christ the same way. We have been, “born again,” but our pain is still very real and our back pack of life still weighs us down, causing us to wonder and doubt, of the power of Christ.

I look and ponder. I smile as tears roll down my face, knowing without a doubt that the Son is working his power in our lives just as sure as the sun is working its power on the cold snow. The suns power shines on the top of the snow, but the melting is taken place at the bottom, hidden from our eyes. The power of the Son is working down deep in our souls, doing its work on the inside, in the dark places melting away our hardened hearts. Washing us clean from the inside out. The snow is disappearing before our very eyes, yet we cannot see it. Our pain, our brokenness and our sin is washing away right before our very eyes, yet we may not see it.

We wake up one day and look out. The snow is gone, just as “suddenly” as it came. We know time has passed, yet, we cannot put a finger on when the snow disappeared. It may still be cold, but we know, a change has taken place. Something new is coming.

I look, knowing full well the snow did not just show up. I know without a doubt that Christ did not just show up in my life. I know full well that Christ is not just going to show up in your life. He has been coming for each one of us since before time began. He was here and he is here.

I ponder and wonder. I know it is a new day. I no longer have to look to know. With every beat of my new heart, I am starting to see the unseen. Christian, it is the same for you as it is with me. A change has taken place. A change is taking place. A change will take place. A change that is all profit, as the loss is washing away.

In His name, for His glory.