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Call Me Louder

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“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Two things stick out for me in this verse today:

1. We have the power and strength living within us (through the Holy Spirit) to bear any temptation we’re faced with. ANY. We can bank on that because He’s promised us here in this verse that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” So, it doesn’t matter what temptation we’re fighting right now, we have the power to resist it.

2. This promise does not allow us to continue sinning. While we can rest on the promise that “he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it“, this verse is certainly not a blank check payable to “a way out” for us to use at our pleasure. First, God will provide the “way out“; but we have to be in close fellowship with Him to recognize the “way out” as a “way out“, not simply an annoyance that delays us from the gratification and pleasure we find in our sin. Second, if we continue to ignore His attempts to help us “out” of our temptation, He will eventually stop helping…or harden our hearts so that we don’t see the “way out“…or both.

Take the story of the man trapped on a deserted island. He prayed and believed that God would save him. Hours later, a passing boat came to the rescue, but the man told them not to worry about him because God would save him. Some time later, a helicopter flew over but again the man told them he was fine…that God would save him. Several days later, a plane flew overhead but again the man refused help, saying God would save him. When he died of dehydration, he went before God and was upset because he felt God had failed to save him. To which God replied, ‘I tried. Three times I sent you help, but you refused to be helped. All you had to do was grab my outstretched arm, and you would have been saved.’

In my addiction, I can look back at each time I was ever tempted to slide into that sinful behavior and see that God provided an “out“. Many times, I recognized it and succeeded in resisting the temptation. Unfortunately, more times than I care to admit, I willfully ignored it and went right down that sinful path. And every time I ignored it to continue in my sinful pleasure, it got easier and easier to ignore His voice the next time…to the point that I was so far out of fellowship with God that I stopped seeing the signs He was giving me.

For me…right now in this moment…I’ve been fighting my temptation all day, and simply writing this note is my “way out“. Temptation sucks, and it knows no bounds. Except one…that that Satan and his ability to tempt us has no authority in the life of the believer who calls on the name of God. The temptation will always be there, but we can have success in it…through the power of the Spirit in our lives.

What sinful temptation are you facing today? Does it feel like more than you can bear? Rest on the promise that God will provide you a way out. And then open your heart to see it and stick your hand out to grab it.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

Love,

Dad

Gracious Abba Father, I come to you with a burdened heart. Burdened with the temptation to walk down a path I don’t want to follow…a path I know leads to my destruction, yet calls me with so loud a voice that I cannot help but turn my head its direction. As I stand here tonight on the edge, I pray. Holy Lord, I pray. Call me with a louder voice and draw my attention away from this temptation, and instead to You. For I know that when I am looking at You, I am walking toward You…and with You. Call me louder God. Please, I beseech you. Call me louder.

The Tomato Soup Changes Everything

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I tried something different today. I’m not a soup guy, but my throat has been sore…so I ordered the creamy tomato soup, hoping its warmth would provide some relief as it went down. And as I sat down to enjoy my lunch at Panera Bread, I jumped right into my normal routine of checking emails and browsing the web as I ate…ya’ know, the monotonous, time-consuming activities to keep my self-diagnosed ADHD mind constantly moving. Because simply enjoying a meal while doing three other things simultaneously just isn’t normal for me…it ain’t right. And then a fleeting thought popped into that over-tasked head of mine. Am I alone in my constant need to be multi-tasking? Are there others like me…people who just find it difficult to sit and do nothing but eat? What do those “simple-minded” folk do when they eat? Just eat?

So I tried something else different today. I put my phone down. Now if you know me…or are anything like me…you know that me doing that is like asking a bird to not fly south in the winter. It just ain’t normal. But I did it anyway. After the initial shock to my system, I began to notice something. Something I rarely see most days. I saw people. I saw the people all around me. I saw:

  • coworkers on a lunch break,
  • a businessman eating by himself,
  • a mom on a lunch date with her two young daughters,
  • a college student studying while he ate,
  • an older gentleman leisurely reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee,
  • friends meeting up for their weekly get-together,
  • a pregnant woman picking up lunch to take back to her coworkers at the office,
  • a business meeting between two coworkers and a prospective client,
  • a husband and wife enjoying their lunch break together…what may well be their only hour together as husband and wife between work today and their kids tonight.

And as I watched, I began to have a heart for complete strangers that I’ve never had before now. You see, I go through my day, completely immersed in what I need (or want) to do at any given moment. Me. Me. Egocentric me. At any one time, a perpetual to-do list is running through my head as I’m running through my day. I go from task to task, focused on what I need to do to accomplish my goals for the day, and I rarely take time to just stop and notice what (and who) is around me. Yes, I’m that guy that’s got his head buried in his phone as he’s walking down the street…or through the store…or pretty much everywhere I go.

I’m connected in so many ways, that I’m actually very disconnected. We’re living in a fast-paced, non-stop society where the pressures and demands for our time are constantly vying for our attention. The tools we have at our disposal now to keep us more connected than ever before are actually creating a disconnect that, I believe, is contributing to the moral decline of our country and the disconnected state of our communities. We’re emailing, texting, IM-ing, Facebooking, tweeting, and pinning like never before. And although it allows us to connect in ways we’ve never been able to connect before, all that virtual contact with others is breeding up a generation that doesn’t know how to connect with people. And even my generation is losing its ability to really connect with others on a personal level. I am losing that ability. I’m losing it because, like any skill that’s not used, you lose what you don’t use.

Connecting relationally is crucial to our survival, and I fear that I’ve unknowingly been sucked into a world where it’s become all too easy to be connected without connecting. Every single person in that restaurant with me at lunch today has similar goals to mine. I have to admit, though with some hesitation, that it was kinda fun to just sit and watch, wondering what their story is. I found myself really studying each person, asking what brought him here today? Where is she going? What’s going on behind the scenes in their lives? Do they have school-aged children like me? What health concerns is he facing? Will they make that sale to the prospective customer? What’s he hope to do once he’s out of college? What’s his passion and how is he going to change his part of the world?

And as I began pondering those questions, allowing the warm tomato soup to soothe my sore throat with each bite, I was able to better see the hurt. The pain. The despair. The joy. The loss. With each bite, God revealed to me that it’s not enough to sit behind a phone or computer and expect that our communities and country will miraculously turn toward God and be restored. If we want change, we need to go out and be that change…and that might just call for something as drastic as ordering the tomato soup and disconnecting so that we can connect.

So…what will you do to connect with the people you encounter today?

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39

Love,

Dad

A Burning Bush Moment

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#1. “But Moses protested to God…” – Exodus 3:11(a)

#2. “But Moses protested…” – Exodus 3:13(a)

#3. “But Moses protested again…” – Exodus 4:1(a)

#4. “But Moses pleaded with the Lord…” – Exodus 4:10(a)

#5. “But Moses again pleaded, ‘Lord, please! Send anyone else.'”- Exodus 4:13

Here’s Moses, standing before a bush that’s on fire…but not being consumed by the fire…and it’s talking to him, no less!! Once he knows it’s God, he still doesn’t fully trust. Five times, Moses protested, finally pleading to God that He send someone else. Anyone.

We wouldn’t be that mistrusting would we? I mean really if a burning bush is talking to us claiming to be the one true God and calling us to do something, we’d jump right on it, right? Well, my question to you is this…what is God asking you to do? Have you pleaded that

1. what He’s asking of you is too big for you?
2. you’re not qualified?
3. you’re not worthy?
4. you’re too busy?
5. He send someone else?

Guess what? You’re right. To a point.

1. Out of our comfort zone is precisely where God wants us…because when we realize it’s bigger than our ability to do it alone, we have no choice but to call on Him for help…and to give Him the glory afterward.

2. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

3. You’re not worthy. None of us is. God doesn’t NEED us to do anything. He WANTS us to serve Him…because we want to, not because we have to.

4. & 5. If not now, then when? If not you, then who?

Not everyone gets a “burning bush” call from God. And even if you did, would you really believe it was God anyway? Or would you stand there talking back to and arguing with a fiery bush? So stop waiting for it, because while God can certainly talk to us through a flaming bush if He wanted to, He sent us His Spirit after Christ’s death on the cross for us. And it’s the Holy Spirit – dwelling within us – that He uses to call to us. All we need do is turn off the distractions of this world and slow down so we can hear Him. And then trust Him to do His part in it all.

Love,

Dad

So…what is God calling you to do? Are you pleading your case or jumping on board? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Will you pray this prayer with me today?

Gracious and holy Lord, I pray that I can put the worries and distractions of this world aside every day so that I can come into closer fellowship with You. That I can hear the whisper of Your voice on my heart and know with certainty it’s You. I pray, oh God, that when I hear Your call, I would have the courage and passion to follow where You lead me without question. I long to know and follow hard after You. Dwell within my heart, soul and mind that I might always feel Your presence. I pray this in the blessed name of your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Mile High on a Rusted Coffee Can

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It looked fun…at first. From the bottom looking up, it looked like a nice, leisurely ride to the top. I bet the view from up there is amazing. And the only thing standing between me and the top of this mountain peak is a mile of cable line and one tram ride. And the voice in my head yelling “are you out of your mind!!??”

If you’ve ever had a fear of heights, then you’ll understand when I say that standing at the base of a ski lift that traverses over a mile straight up the mountain to an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet can be a daunting view. Looking around and seeing more rusted bolts and dry-rotted boards than I could find in an abandoned lumber yard as we make our way to the loading area does little to reassure the growing-louder-by-the-second voice in my head that is trying to remind me that if God wanted me to do something that required my feet leave the ground for more than two seconds, He’d have given me wings.

As I stand in the loading zone and the chair approaches from behind, I wait for the inevitable…and as it literally sweeps me off my feet as it knocks my legs out from under me, I plop down and feel the chair bounce and sway as the cable above us gives a little. Now we’re swaying back and forth as my feet leave the ground and we pull the bar over our heads…a bar that would no more hold me in this contraption than a paper bag would hold in a wild boar looking for its next meal. As the ground beneath us disappears and grows farther and farther away, I notice that this “seat” is no more than hollow metal pipes the thickness of a metal coffee can, held together by rusted bolts. Yeah…how’d I get here again?

Not Even Halfway Up

A Quarter Mile Up

Halfway up the mountain, it occurs to me that just about every muscle in my body is tense. I’m literally hanging on so tightly with one hand that my fingers are tingling because there is no blood left in them. My other hand is so firmly attached to my son that I’m sure I’ll be reported to DFS for child abuse when someone sees the hand-shaped indention I’ve surely left in his side. And my butt is clinched so tight, I’m pretty sure my two cheeks have become one. It does little to calm my mind when I’m looking down and realize that if I do fall from here, I most likely won’t die…just shatter a femur or two, blow out a knee, disintegrate my ankles, and maybe puncture a lung. I wonder how much my AFLAC policy pays per bone?

Farther Than It Looks (75')

Don’t Be Deceived – That’s a 75′ Drop

We like being in control, don’t we? We like the feeling that comes with knowing that we have a say in things…that we have the reigns and even if we’re flying by the seat of our pants, the decisions are ours to make, and we’re piloting this ship we call our life. Our feet are planted firmly on the ground, and we have the power…we’re in control. But are we? Are we really? Let’s be completely honest here. The feeling of “control” I had when holding on for dear life to that coffee can dangling seventy five feet above the ground on its way to the top of a mile-high mountain did nothing more than give me a false sense of security. Had something failed on that rusted piece of metal built back when moonshiners ran these hills, I would have no more been able to keep from falling to the rocks below and shattering every bone in my lower body than I could stand on a street corner and catch a bowling ball falling from the Empire State Building. It ain’t gonna happen.

Yet we walk through life unwilling to let go, don’t we? We hold on to the things (and the people) we love so tight, that letting go becomes too much to believe possible. And when you boil it down to the core of why we struggle with letting go, it’s one thing. All too often, we let our fear of letting go overwhelm us. It’s not that we don’t want to let go. No, deep down inside…I believe at the heart of us all…we don’t want to be wound so tight that we can’t breath. We long to let go and feel the exhilaration of adrenaline pumping through our veins as we live life to the fullest. But despite that yearning, if’s the fear that drives us to hold on so tight…fear of what might happen if we do let go. Make no mistake, friend…if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen whether we’re holding on or not. And when it does, us holding on is not going to stop it from hurting when we hit bottom.

God is calling us to let go. Our lives are not ours, and we certainly don’t have the control and power we think we have. All we have is an illusion…a false sense of security provided by what we see, hear, smell and feel. We have to look beyond that illusion and realize that life happens on the other side of the fear. Will it be easy to let go? Not always. Will it hurt to let go? Sometimes. Will it be worth it to let go? Absolutely!!! It’s time to truly give our lives to Christ. To give Him the reigns and let Him take His rightful place in the pilot seat of our life. It’s time to let go and let God. If you can, you’ll see for yourself that the view from the top IS worth it.

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It IS an Awesome View

And yes…you’ll even find you can have a lot of fun along the way.

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Thumbs Up

“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. – Proverbs 19:23

Love,

Dad

A Journey Through The Dark

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Driving through the very southeast tip of Missouri last night, just north of the boot heel, we were traveling unfamiliar roads well after dark. Winding and curving our way through the hills on roads we’ve never driven, I made note of how isolated we seemed to be. The rare spotting of fellow drivers along this route seemed refreshing. Looking to either side of the road, I remarked to my wife that one could easily drive right off the road and down a steep, tree and brush-filled embankment that would easily mask our existence from passing motorists…that it’d be days before we were found, unless we were somehow able to crawl ourselves to safety.

One can’t help but feel slightly uneasy about being in such a situation. Anxiety can quickly set in…and completely take over if you let it. Even for the most laid-back, easy-going person out there, driving such unfamiliar roads after dark can be unsettling and bring out the more cautious driver inside.

Marriage problems. Loss of a loved one. Health issues. Loss of a job. Experiencing trials and hardships in our lives can be a lot like driving a winding mountain road in the dark. We can’t see around the next corner or over the next hill. There are gut-wrenching, fist-clinching, knuckle-biting ups and downs and twists and turns that just seem to go on forever. We can quickly become so confused and scared that we just want to pull over and stop to rest our weary bodies until morning.

And then it happens. Just as we thought we could go no further, we see it on the horizon. The sun peeks over the hills and offers a ray of hope, piercing through the darkness and showing us the way. The path straightens, and we can look back and see some good in the journey we’ve been on. We’ve come out on the other side and can rest…and enjoy the fruits on the other side all the more for having travelled through the hardship that is now behind us.

You see, even if it seems you’ve been “in the valley” for longer than you can bear, don’t lose hope. God has better things in store for you on the other side of your current situation. He can…and will…use what you’re facing today for your good tomorrow. Even if you can’t see it through the present darkness you see now. He’s there. Walking with you. Follow the Light and He will guide you through to the fruits that await you on the other side.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light…'” – John 12:35-36a

Love,

Dad

The Spirit’s Walking Staff

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“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.  Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.  Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.  Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.  Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.” – Proverbs 4:23-28

There is so much wisdom in this short passage, it’s nearly impossible to digest it all at once.  Initially, my focus is drawn to the opening verse about the heart being the source of life, for out of the overflow of our heart come our thoughts, actions and words.  In other words, where our heart is, so are we…who we are and all that we do are a direct reflection of what we invest our heart in.

Upon a second reading, though, the Spirit reveals another wisdom that is just as important.  Have you ever been driving down the interstate, and while passing a tractor-trailer you glance over at it as you pass…and as you do, your vehicle starts drifting toward it?  Been driving on a two lane highway at night and as an oncoming car approaches, you find yourself looking at its headlights…as your car drifts closer and closer toward center line…which causes you to jerk the wheel back to keep you in your lane?  Hey, even walking in a straight line can be a challenge when we’re looking to our left or right…or down at our phone, something I’ve been guilty of on more than one occasion. 🙂  All evidence that we instinctively move in the direction our eyes are looking.

As Christ-followers, our goal is to be like Christ in all we do…and in keeping our eyes looking forward – more specifically, upward- we keep our focus on God.  Oh, how easy it is, though, to take our eyes off of Christ and drift from the path He has for us.  I mean really…can you walk through the mall without glancing into the stores?  Or drive through a scenic area without looking at the scenery as you pass by?  The world has so many attractive and alluring things to offer us…things that we don’t have to wait for.  And the instant gratification, no wait, no delay, that the world offers can be seductive can’t it?  We can easily wander from the path and be immersed in pleasure and instant satisfaction…without realizing how misleading that path really is on its way to our destruction.

And the devil has perfected his craft, hasn’t he?  He knows just how to lure and deceive us…makes it so easy to let our glance slip to the left or right at the things of the world.  Because he knows that once we start to drift, it’s easy to end up way off course.  It starts with a glance…a little dip in a seemingly “small” sin here…another glance there…a dibble here and another dabble there.  And before we know it, we’ve taken the next step, and the next, and the next…until we’re so far away from who we were back at that first glance that we don’t recognize ourselves anymore…or know how to get back on track.

What’s even more worthy of note is that when verse 26 is telling us that when we “carefully consider where we place our feet, our way is established”, I realize that the path I’m on is not a firm, concrete path with an even slope like a sidewalk.  No, the path we’re on is a narrow path like what we’d find when trying to scale a mountainous, cliff-side slope.

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It’s unsteady and treacherous.  It has potholes waiting to ensare us…tree roots waiting to trip us…shifting dirt that causes us to slip and fall…rocks that cause us to be unsteady in our footing…treacherous slopes that throw us off balance…snakes and spiders that can reach out and bite us…low hanging tree branches smacking us in the face.  To traverse that path, we have to constantly be alert to the dangers around us…be vigilant in where we step…be purposeful in how we proceed.

The path we’re on in our walk of faith is much the same.  There are so many hazards waiting to derail our progress that if we don’t carefully consider every move we take – every decision we make – we can be caught in the dangers of a seductive and misleading culture and be diverted from the path that Christ has laid out for us.  The devil is out there waiting to trip us up…to draw our attention away from the path before us…the path that leads to all the blessings God has in store for us.  The key to keeping our footing firm and our eyes fixed forward is to walk daily with God…to pray constantly in all things and to be in His Word.  Because when we’re walking in His will – not our own – with prayer and guidance through the Word, we have a firm hold on the solid walking staff that the power of the Spirit provides for us to use on that path.

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and narrow the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

Love,

Dad

Praying in Boldness

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As I first saw this picture, it resonated with me. On the surface, it inspires and encourages us to be bold in our prayers…to claim the promise in Romans 8:31…“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

On further inspection of the picture, though, I see it differently than I first did. Take a closer look…do you see it? Do you see the thousand yard stare…the battle weary face…the depth of the scar on his eye? I believe the quote to be very true, that a praying man has no need to fear any demon in hell…because James 5:16 confirms it… “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Yet that battle-scarred face is evidence that just because we believe, pray and have our faith in God we will still face adversity and battles and be scarred. Paul warned Timothy of this…

“But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days….You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” – 2 Tim 3:1,10-13

Don’t be lulled into the false belief that as believers we are immune to the things of this world…things like attack, oppression, heartache, struggle, difficult times, hardship, persecution, affliction, loss, pain. But find your strength in knowing that He hears our prayers and is working all things in our life for our good. Even when we don’t see the endgame, God does.

You will be hurt in this life, and it’s in that hurt that God is refining you. As you experience that pain and are scarred as a result, wear your battle scars with boldness and confidence. Be bold in your faith…and be bold in your prayers…humble in all that we seek and in how we speak to Him, but bold and confident in the promise found in Phillippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Love,

Dad

Hope Comes in Many Forms…Where I Am Today

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My head is full. It needs to do what it does when it’s full…vent. There is no order to what comes next, so be forewarned that I’m simply letting loose of the mess currently in my head. My apologies if what you read next is not what you’ve come to expect from me. I’m human, and this is where I am today. Writing is my outlet, so here goes.

Since Saturday, I’ve been in a sort of fog. Haven’t felt close to God. Haven’t felt like much of anything. Worship with dad and my brothers here at church on Sunday was okay, but I just didn’t feel connected to God, ya’ know? Last night, I was searching for the lyrics to a song that express how I’ve been feeling…and all I could remember was “oh God my God, your beloved needs you now.” I don’t remember the song, so it’s probably good that that’s all I can remember.

This morning, a text from my wife asked how I’m doing. I am…

Numb. Alone. Trapped. Spent. Drained. Overwhelmed. Lacking hope. Disconnected from reality…From life…From God. I’ve been better. I’ve been worse. I’ll push through though because that’s what we do. I just want to put closure to this period of life and move forward. I’m an action guy. Waiting is not something I do well. Too much waiting…not enough moving. I’m ready to crawl into the arms of my best friend and our kiddos and not have to make a decision or problem-solve for awhile. I’m ready to come home.

Dad, as you first read this, please know it’s not you or anything you’ve done or not done. It’s just my process. Being with you this week has been a blessing for me more than I’ve shared here yet…sharing that part of all this will come after we have some closure this week…and I hope I’ve blessed you in some small way by being here. I wouldn’t take any of it back or change my choice to stay…it’s just part of being out of routine…away from my wife and children…feelings I’m sure you either already have had, or will, soon after we all leave this weekend.

Yesterday’s hope came through an email from a dear friend on staff at church. The day before that, it came in an email from our Men’s Ministry leader, another good friend. Before that, it came daily in various emails, texts, phone calls and conversations with friends and family back home. Today’s hope comes from a thirteen year old angel…God has been employing her as my angel since the first day I met her in the hospital. Her momma sent me a text this morning that simply read:

Your daughter just prayed for you all by herself. It was so sweet. I looked over at the table and she had eyes closed, head bowed, hands clasped in front of her. And said, “Dear God, please keep my Daddy safe. Amen.”

So yes Lord, your beloved needs you now. Do not forsake me Lord. Your hope comes in many forms…and I have not lost sight of the truth that my hope comes from you. You have met my daily need for hope this past week and a half. SD’s prayer this morning has provided me the hope I need to sustain me today. I’ll take it. Thank you Lord for providing me hope though I deserve nothing.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Love,

Dad

Awoken by a Whisper

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Have you ever been sleeping so soundly that it seems a loud noise like the slamming of a door wouldn’t have awoken you, yet been awakened from that deep sleep anyway…with only a whisper? A whisper so soft you might not hear it while you’re awake? A whisper so gentle and quiet that the noise of your daily, fast-paced, non-stop, hectic life would drown it out? Yet in the deepest, most restful slumber you’ve had in months…maybe even years…this soft, peaceful whisper courses through your innermost being and startles you into complete consciousness…so alert to your surroundings, you feel like you were never asleep? I have.

I’m a naturally deep sleeper…such a deep sleeper in fact that as a teenager, the house next door to ours literally exploded from a gas leak inside, and while sleeping only 50 feet away, I slept through it…only awakened by my dad as he ran through the room yelling for mom to call 911 because the neighbor’s house had exploded and was now on fire. Even as I stumbled from bed, I was groggy and not alert for quite awhile…which is how I usually am in the mornings. I’m not fully awake and alert for an hour or more most mornings…certainly not before the coffee hits my lips.

Yet, it was just that…a whisper…that jolted me awake this morning. I remember my dream beforehand very vividly, which for me is not normal either. It was an evil, perverted, twisted and not-God-honoring dream at all. I’m not going to be sharing any more than that, except to say this…addiction sucks. My addiction invades even my dreams, leaving me little hope for a reprieve, except for when I am drawing near to God through prayer and the Word…and even then it’s often still there in the back of my thoughts. Yet in the midst of my dream, in a place where God’s holiness would never reside, it was just that…a soft whisper that coursed through my veins…literally gave me chill bumps from head to toe…and jolted me out of slumber into complete and total alertness. It literally felt like someone was standing right next to me, watching me sleep, as they leaned into my ear and whispered one word. My name. I get chill bumps even reliving it now to share it here.

Over my morning coffee, before reading His Word, my prayer was this…Lord, please take these desires from me. I cannot fight this addiction alone. I no longer desire for this to so greatly invade my thoughts. I do not long for this anymore, Lord. To win this battle for my mind, heart and soul, I acknowledge that You must take this from me. Please. Please Lord. Please take this from me.

In my readings after that prayer, I find this:

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding: furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up success for the upright; he is a shield to those who live with integrity so that He may guard the paths of justice and protect the ways of His loyal followers. Then you will understand righteousness, justice and integrity – every good path. For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you, rescuing you from the way of evil – from the one who says perverse things, from those who abandon the right paths to walk in ways of darkness, from those who enjoy doing evil and celebrate perversion, whose paths are crooked, and whose ways are devious.” – Proverbs 2:1-15

“She [wisdom and understanding] is more precious than jewels; nothing you desire compares with her.” – Proverbs 3:15

“Maintain your competence and discretion. My son, don’t lose sight of them. They will be life for you and adornment for your neck. Then you will go safely on your way; your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant. Don’t fear sudden danger or the ruin of the wicked when it comes, for The Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare.” – Proverbs 3:21-26

A whisper. God is in the whisper. Nothing more than a soft, gentle whisper is all He needs to jolt reality into us. To bring us up from the depths of evil and despair. To heal us. To turn us toward Him. He awoke me from my slumber this morning with nothing more than His whispering my name…as if He was standing right beside me. Indeed He was…and is.

When the noise of daily life drowns out the whisper that calls us to draw near to Him, He grabs our attention by any means necessary to turn us toward Him. It can be as much as a slap in the face with a 2×4, or as little as a soft, gentle whisper in our ears while we sleep. Either way, it’s done so that we will “Be still, and know that [He is] God.” – Psalm 46:10

Love,

Dad

Lord, I believe this morning Your whisper is what coursed through every fiber of my being and startled me awake. I do not claim to know with certainty what the true purpose of that whisper is, and I am choosing right now to believe You are calling me to a life of integrity. If you have another purpose for it, please reveal it to me in Your will. I implore you, gracious Father, I cannot live that life of discretion and integrity without You. Without You removing these wicked desires from me. Without You residing within me. I will do my part and draw near to You through the reading of Your Word and through prayer. And I cling to the promise that you will fill me with Your wisdom, knowledge, discernment and understanding. Thank you for continually offering grace and forgiveness to me, though I do not deserve either. Though I fail you miserably over and over again, you have never failed me…and for that I know nothing else to say, except thank you.

Amen

When Your Father Comes Back

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As a child did you ever hear from your mom, “when your dad gets home…”? 5 little words, when composed just right can mean so much…and mean different things to different people.

As a child, I would dread those words when I knew I had done something wrong…knowing that when dad came home, the punishment for my poor choices was coming with him. In all my memories of youth, I can’t recall those words being a foreshadowing of anything good to come. They were used as a threat to forewarn of a punishment for my actions. What I’m wondering now is why those words have to instill fear? Why can’t they be used to provide hope and promise?

Like my dad was in my youth, I’m gone a lot. My job leaves your mom home with y’all much more than I prefer…and it forces her to be the disciplinarian more than I prefer. I’m wondering if your memories of “when your dad gets home…” will be like mine…or different. I pray those words are filled with the promise and hope of my return, and not used as a threat to instill fear.
More importantly, I pray that you will one day find the hope I have in a different phrasing of those words…instead of “when your dad gets home”, rather “when your Father comes back.”

For those who have not accepted Christ, I imagine death brings uncertainty, fear and anxiety. As a child of God, though, I long for the day my Savior returns. I am actually looking forward to the rapture…praying I’m still alive to experience it. What a ride that’s gonna be!! When Christ comes back to call His people home, He will be standing beside us as we face the Father at the judgement seat…with a front row seat to hear Him say, “your Father has returned, and the time has come that ‘every knee shall bow and every tongue profess I am God.'” – Romans 14:11

On that day, we will be judged according to what we have or have not believed. Like my poor choices resulted in my earthly father disciplining me when he got home, we will be disciplined for our choices by our Father in heaven before we pass into eternity. Those who have professed Christ as Lord will hear the Son say something like, “This child is with me. I took his place. His debt is paid.” Our discipline will have already been taken, paid forward by Christ Jesus on the cross, and we will reside with Him in eternity. If you’ve not professed Jesus as Lord, you alone will face the punishment for your sin, eternity apart from Him in hell.

We all will face the same judgement. The difference really comes down to perspective…how you look at the situation. Which do you feel when you hear “when your Father comes back…”? Anxiety, fear, uncertainty, question, doubt and concern? Or do you feel peace, joy, hope, promise, comfort and happiness?

Love,

Dad

P.S. Your mother would like to remind you that she has never said those 5 words to you in a negative light. I failed to make that clear when saying that she is forced into the disciplinarian role more than I prefer since my work keeps me away from home for extended periods. So, please know I have no real concern that when she says “when your dad gets home” it means anything other than when your sad gets home, you’re gonna have SO much fun! 🙂

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