Monday, December 22, 2014

Don't Expect Anything Back

The hardest thing about being a caregiver is having no one to take care of you back.  That may seem like a selfish, almost anti-caregiver thing to say, but I think everyone needs others to take care of them.  Everyone needs encouragement. Everyone needs to be thanked.

Ever since I've been in ministry I've been in thankless positions.  Sure, ever so often there are encouragers and sweet old ladies that love on you, but it seems like the people you really invest in are the quickest ones to not show appreciation.

And you know what?  That's perfectly okay.  Jesus doesn't call us to follow Him for the accolades and pats on the back.  He calls us to deny ourselves.  Denying ourselves can be very taxing on our human nature.  

During a long deployment, it's especially hard.  It's even harder when you're the Chaplain.  I'm the one who is supposed to listen, encourage, take care of, and thank others.  It's great!  I love doing that.

At the same time, when you get little to nothing in return, it's difficult.  It will wear on you.  The enemy will use it to frustrate.  

Again, I'm not saying that you must receive something in return for your spiritual investments.  However, it is nice to know if they're paying off every once in a while.  This is where prayer and complete reliance upon God come in.  God is sufficient and we have to be reminded of that!  

I encourage all of God's people to take extra measures to encourage people.  Take extra measures to take care of one another.  Show your pastors appreciation, and let them know when they've made an impact on you!


Monday, November 17, 2014

This is Who I Love

Why are we so quick to hate sin?  Because God hates it, right?  We often utter the phrase, "hate the sin, love the sinner".  However at the same time, the sins of others bother us.  They bother us so badly that we move to anger and a desire to unleash our own punishment or judgment.  If you are being truthful, how often do you catch yourself allowing the sin of others leading you to hate them?

The more I study scripture and work daily with individuals who are at war with sin, the more I have grown to love them.  No, I do not support sin or endorse it, but rather I am burdened for those who seek its toxic pleasures rather than God's sweet goodness.  That burden doesn't lead me to anger, it leads me to feel sorry for them.  If only they could see true joy and find real fulfillment!

However, I too am at war with sin.  Thankfully Christ covers my sin, but I still am in need of the Spirit daily to combat sinful desires and temptation that arises in me.  But with myself, I hate the sin so much that it leads me to hate the things I do because of it and get angry with myself for allowing it to take over!

I had this backwards for many years growing up in the church. I got angry at others and felt sorry for myself.  I felt sorry for myself by justifying my sin.  Young adults are fed up.  The current generation of 20 somethings are tired of being treated like dirt by Christians.  They want no part of church because they don't feel loved at church, they feel hatred and glaring judgmental eyes looking at their mistakes.

Sure, sinners need to recognize their sin, but let God point it out to them.  He's the judge.

Romans 15:1-2 says, "We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up".

Our job is to build people up, not tear them down.  Christ's love will tear down walls of sin, not our judgmental ways.  We are to partner with Christ in overwhelming people with His love.  We are to give them something they've never had before, unconditional love and hope.

I'm convinced that through Christ we can love the sinner so much that they feel satisfaction greater than sex, a high much sweeter than drunkeness, a contentment way more secure than money, and a warmth much more comforting than any person or possession can give.

What are we waiting for?  What's holding us back?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Worthless Shower Shoes

I own a pair of shower shoes, better known as flip flops.  In the Army, we're encouraged to wear them in the showers because they're supposed to protect our feet.  Our feet need protection from infection and athlete's foot.  After all, you never know what you'll find at the bottom of an Afghan shower shared with many other dudes.

However, I wonder sometimes how much protection my shower shoes actually give.  When showering, the water fills the bottom of the shower. All the dirt, grime, and filthy water seeps in between the flip flops and my feet.

The truth is, my feet are so entrenched in the water, it makes no difference if I slip these flip flops on or not.  I'm fooling myself if I think they are making a difference.  It's like eating an entire pizza and drinking a diet coke. It's like holding an umbrella and walking through a monsoon.  It almost doesn't make sense.  It doesn't matter.

Should I dare say that it doesn't matter when you try to live a good Christian life? The world we navigate is filled with muck.  Attempting to do things to keep ourselves pure is futile.  Truthfully, to do this, we have to most certainly have God's help.  We forget that we have to admit our need to God.  God has to help was walk in purity.  God has to give us the strength to live holy lives.  God has to purify our hearts and minds.  That's why David asks God to "create in him a clean heart".  David knew that in order to live pure, God had to create it and sustain it.

Our weakness to live pure is no excuse to do whatever we want.  It should be a reminder that our fleshly actions aren't going to help.  It has to be God!  He can help us overcome the grime.  He can pull us out of the filth.  We just need to ask Him in faith.

Why talk about this?

Because as you already know....the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting to get different results.  We won't get different results when we try to fight through the fog ourselves.  God has to provide that light.  And we have to know that He alone is the only one.

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Happy Son

I truly believe God created my sense of humor even before I was born. I believe my humor and happiness is amplified by God's grace and hope instilled in me through Jesus Christ.

Today is my son's birthday. I love my little buddy.  He makes me happy.  God has created that same humor in him as He did me.  There's no doubt about it.  3 years ago, when he was born, my family was going through some dark days. The church had knocked us down and continued to kick us while down.  I almost lost a biblical view of the church, but God continually reigned me in.  I still love the church and strive to forgive as Christ does. 

During the dark days, God gave us a gift.  That gift was my son. He provided a bright light to navigate the darkness.  He was a source of joy when we endured days where it was scarce.  

There's no doubt that our little man was meant to bring sunshine on a cloudy day.  Even now, when I think of him as I am halfway across the world in a war zone, I can't help but smile.  He is still that bright light to me during dark days.  I praise God for that.  I praise God for the reminder that humor, laughter, and joy are meant to be a part of the believer's life.  It's how we distinguish ourselves from other in the murkiness of life.  It's how we highlight Christ's love.

My son, his humor, and his energy are a reminder of that fact for me.  Happy Birthday, little buddy.  I love you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

No Birthdays Alone

No one should have to be alone on their birthday. It just doesn't feel right. However, as the days ticked by this month, I sorta felt like this was sure to be my experience.

Whether we are excited about getting another year older or not, I still believe most of us could admit that our birthdays are nice because they make us feel special. People will go out of their way to tell you they appreciate you when on the other 364 days of the year, they may not.

Fortunately, God has blessed me tremendously. Even away in Afghanistan, I have felt the birthday love. My family showered me with packages, my co-workers gave me cards and treats, and of course I've received the typical barrage of Happy Birthday FB posts.

Add it up and it's a reminder that God doesn't intend for us to walk a lonely road. He desires that we love and serve each other! That's my focus as I grow another year be the biggest fans of others and build them up so that they will be reminded that life is not supposed to be cold and lonely, but that a loving God desires we have joy in Him and His people.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My 7 Year Old Beauty

There's nothing that can prepare you for missing the moments that matter the most.  Today is the first birthday I have ever missed in my precious little girl's 7 years.  I'm truthfully distraught to miss it.  However, I am thankful for God's gift of Karis.  God has blessed us with a beautiful young girl who I fell in love with even before she was born.  She is extremely passionate, creative, funny, and displays her emotions so beautifully.  I love everything about her!
Even though I can't be physically present with her today, I am celebrating her life!  I love you, Karis.  Happy 7th Birthday!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9-11 Mission Trip

It took me almost 13 years, but I'm finally on a 9/11 mission trip.  One thing about the Army is we never sleep.  Operations are going 24/7, 365 days a year, all in an effort to protect America and her freedoms.

I'm thankful the Army never sleeps.  I'm thankful the pursuit of those who smashed into our structures 13 years ago is a constant hunt.  We haven't stopped.

However, because we haven't stopped, families have been broken, war has worn down lives and souls, people have died, people have lost friends and family, and depression has ruined lives.

The need for Christ is enormous for our men and women in uniform and their families.  Many times, when a disaster strikes, the need to do mission work near that disaster is urgent and pursued.  However, what about years after the earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or flood. Who is ministering to the lives still wrecked and hurt?  Sadly, just months after a disaster, the help ceases.

I'm thankful God called me out of the bullpen late in the game to provide relief in this war on terror.  13 years ago, I would have never imagined being in Afghanistan closing the doors on this pursuit of those who brought tragedy to our nation on that fateful day.

However, I'm thankful He did.  It has taught me a valuable lesson.  That lesson is that people don't stop hurting just because we stop hurting.  A disaster will immediately call us to hurt with others for a brief time, because it's fresh.  But when time fades that disaster away in our minds, it still lingers for those who encountered it intimately.  We must always rejoice with those who rejoice and hurt with those who hurt.  In doing this, we elevate people's needs.  When we elevate their needs, that's when Christ gets displayed!

Happy Patriot Day!  Never forgot the fallen from 9/11 and all the war efforts that have followed.  Never forget their family, friends, and battle buddies.

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