Coffee

Who ordered the sun to come up so early today?   Take it back!  I am not ready, darn it!

Oh yeah…  it was God.

Ummm… sorry Lord, you caught me before my coffee.  I guess I should thank you for the beautiful morning but you already know it would not be heartfelt.

I used to be a guy who could hear the alarm in the morning and jump out of bed ready for the day.  Now I often wake up dead-dog tired.  Not always physically tired but psychologically tired, emotionally tired, stressed.  My bed is becoming my best friend and my alarm–my worst enemy.

On the surface, most would see little for me to stress about.  I am blessed in many ways; incredible wife, great kids, decent health, good job, nice home… The list goes on.  The blessings are many and pretty obvious.  I shouldn’t complain, but I do.

What weighs on me is that I am having a hard time finishing what I believe God has called me to do.  Hebrews 12 calls it “the race marked out before me” and I am supposed to “run that race with perseverance”.

The racing part is not too hard for me.  I am really fast and I feel like I was born to run.  It is those darn hurdles spaced ten yards apart that I find so difficult.  So I have taken to running past the hurdles instead of taking them as they come.  The thing is: the finish line never comes for those who skip the hurdles.

I am not much of a hurdler and I am starting to feel like I can’t finish my race.  I forget that there was a time when I couldn’t do the running part either; I wasn’t fast… at all.

But, God…  That is the greatest beginning to any sentence.

…”With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 20:26

Why do I forget so easily… that I couldn’t run at all if it weren’t for God?  After everything he has shown me, how can I not understand that He can make me fly over every hurdle at once?  If a camel can go through the eye of a needle…  Why do I insist on counting on me to run my race rather than The One who has proven again and again and again that He can be counted upon?

A.J.

 

 

The Problem With Logic

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People have a problem with logic…

When I grew up, the ability to think logically was considered an asset.  The better you were at it, the better off you would be.  Today, however, many consider logical thinkers to be simpletons.

You see, the problem with logic is this: It always points to God.

If we don’t want to contemplate the existence of a creator God we will begin to think illogically.  We will believe any long, involved, complicated theories as long as they don’t leave us at the feet of a creator God whom we have to answer to.

When Christians believe the obvious and simple answer, we are chided or even ostracized for our inability to think deeply enough to follow the illogical and everchanging mental path that explains our existence apart from God.

Believing the simple and obvious answer does not make one simple, though, if the simple answer is correct.  And it is pointless to try to follow the illogical mental gymnastics of someone trying to disprove what you already know to be true.  You wouldn’t argue long with someone who insists that the earth is flat, would you?  Or with someone who insists that two plus two equals five?  It is pointless, and a futile waste of time.

According to Romans 1, it is not disbelief in God.  It is refusal to acknowledge the existence of God, The One who allowed us to exist in the first place. That chapter states pretty clearly that all men know there is a God. It also explains almost everything about the secular world we live in today; it is shocking how well.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…”

There is much more and it sounds like Paul is describing twentieth century America.

Some of these people clinging to illogical hopes of a Godless universe are my friends, and your friends.  They are my family, and your family, people I love, and people you love.  They are people God loves.  Regardless of whether they acknowledge Him or not, He is waiting on the porch, scanning the horizon, hoping they turn towards home.

I don’t think it does any good to have creation versus evolution debates with them.  Our job is to live out our beliefs… and love them.  We are to be living examples of the God we believe in, and make no mistake about it; those people we care about with the futile thinking and foolish hearts–they are watching.  They notice when we judge them and they see when we give them grace.

A.J.

I have told you that you are a good man but somehow that slipped your mind.

I have told you I am proud of you for working your way through college but that too escapes you.andreia-alexandre-pVHIT6wVRUk-unsplash

I have told you that you are a good father, and you argued with me.

You hear judgment even when I am telling you how good I think you are, so of course you are going to hear it when I am not.

Between the two of us–you are the only one you are not good enough for.

You are believing lies from the father of lies.

You are TREASURED by Our Infinite God.

Give yourself a break.

Long Live the King!

After the snowplows cleared the school parking lot following a big snowstorm, they would leave behind a gigantic wall of snow probably 30-40 feet long and ten to 12 feet high feet high.  It was perfect…

for King of the Hill.

As a boy, I remember fighting my way to the top many times only to be thrown headlong from my pedestal within seconds by wicked usurpers to my throne. I would have their heads–if it weren’t for the fact that as soon as they threw me from the peak I was no longer king.  So, I would turn and fight my way back up dodging the plummeting bodies of newly deposed kings as I went.  Kids would get hurt every time–and we loved it.

This mayhem is what I imagine going on within us when we allow money, or our homes, careers, sports teams, vacations, or our grown-up toys to become king in our hearts.  Even the people we love do not belong on the throne.

“In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.”  A.W. Tozer

There may be nothing wrong with these things or loved ones that we value so much but when we try to crown them king, it is high-treason of the heart.  There is a place within us where only God belongs, and when we allow anything else to enter that place, it is nothing short of idol worship.  Something is deeply wrong when we value our gifts more than the Giver.

As the creator of all hearts, only God is worthy to be King in any heart.

A.J.

Since I was a little kid I have thought about killing people…

I was probably six when I started playing “Cowboys and Indians”.  Not very racially sensitive, I know.  What can I say?  We didn’t call the game “Cowboys and Native Americans”.

Anyway, I faced the dangers, dodged Injun arrows and bullets, then blasted holes in them frisky scalp takers.  They would pretend to dodge and say I missed or that I just nicked them but I would yell back, “No, you’re dead!  I shot you in the heart.”  I always knew exactly where my bullets went, cause I was a great shot.

As I learned and grew, so did my adversaries.  I don’t know how it always ended up this way but I always had to fight and kill the biggest, toughest, and meanest bad guy.  Or, more often than not, two or three of them, while my friends would only have to deal with one little pipsqueak of a villain each.  Just the life of a hero, I guess.  I never got a break.

It amazed me back then that it was always the girls I liked the most that would get kidnapped.  As per usual, I would have to put my life on the line to vanquish the bad guy and save the damsel in distress.  When I did, after I carried them out of a burning building or something just as dangerous, they would fall in love with me, of course.  Another of the burdens I had to bear.

Even as an adult, having had a family of my own, I have imagined what I would do to keep them safe.  What wouldn’t I do?  There is no question I would take a life to save my loved ones.  I am not going to sit on my couch and say God will save them.  His plan for saving them might be by making me as tough and as strong and as deadly a shot as I imagined I was in my childhood games.  Who knows?

Don’t get me wrong.  If something like that happened I would be praying and I hope I would be praying with faith, but I would be doing so as I move between my  loved ones and the danger they face.  Yes, we rely on God, but it is our responsibility to physically protect our family from those who wish to harm them.

Listen, I have never killed anyone and I don’t wish to have to make that choice someday.  The life we live actually belongs to God and it is not our right to take it from anyone.  But if someone, without cause, comes at you or your loved ones with intent to harm, taking that person out of commission is not a good or bad choice, it is the only choice, if we are able.  And that would be on them, not you.

This is not a “right to bear arms” post.  I don’t even know what it is exactly.  I just thought the beginning was funny and decided to see where it led.  Well, it led me here, unsure of how to wrap it up.

The world has been through some horribly dangerous times so I can’t say with any certainty where our era ranks in terms of violence.  I will say that I think there has never been an era where RANDOM violence has been so rampant.  There have been murderous plunderers roaming the earth for thousands of years, but I don’t believe there has ever been a time when so many wanted to kill so many just for the sake of killing.

Maybe every generation feels the same way but we do live in a tough time.  We are supposed to live in faith, not fear of being murdered at the grocery store.  For me, on my own, that is not too hard.  But, throw in my family and it makes me want to be prepared to use deadly force anywhere and anytime.  If I am in a crowd of defenseless people and someone starts shooting, I want to be able to do more than throw myself on top of my family and pray.

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What does God want of us?

A.J.

 

 

 

Infinite Greatness

Sometimes, to me,  it seems pretty silly to write about God.

I mean, think about it.  He is completely indescribable and totally unfathomable.  If I could adequately describe The Indescribable God, no one could understand it.  It doesn’t matter how awesome, stupendous, amazing, and wonderful I say He is; my words are inadequate.  The only thing I can do is sell Him short.

That is why I use the word “infinite” so often in these posts.  But what human can truly understand infinity?  Our God is infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, infinitely good, infinitely faithful.  He gives us infinite love and infinite grace.  I wrote it.  I absolutely know it’s true.  But I have no idea what it means, not really.

I understand we have a giant leg up on those who don’t believe.  We have God’s Own Spirit within us and if He chooses to, He could show us infinite greatness, but first He’d have to give us new brains cause the ones we have would blow up.

I think, through God’s Spirit we don’t necessarily understand God’s infinite greatness, but we understand THAT HE IS infinitely great.

As far as my writing, I guess I just need to rely on The Holy Spirit not only to guide my heart and hand as I write, but to guide your heart and mind as you read.  Because, on my own–these are just words.  But, through His Spirit… they hold the Power of God.

A.J.

I get how non-Christians can live their lives with heavy hearts.  There is a lifetime of sin dragging their hearts down, sadly.  What I don’t get is why Christians can live such heavy-hearted lives, why I, myself, can be so heavy-hearted much of the time.

Okay, that may not be true.  I probably know.  It’s not that people I love are pointing their lives away from God and all that He wants for them, sad as that is.  And it’s not that this world wants to ignore or even deny the God who created us, foolish and tragic as that clearly is.  It is sin that chains an anchor to my heart and pulls me under, keeping me from experiencing the glorious day I can see above the surface.

It’s not supposed to, I know.  I am forgiven; it’s all paid for.  That glorious day has been given to me by Jesus; it’s mine.  I did nothing to deserve it, but nonetheless, it IS mine.  So, why am I hanging out under the waves with the jellyfish, covered in seaweed?

A.J.