Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Last week I was sick, NyQuil sick. In this condition I veg and watch "TV" (i.e. Netlix instant viewing on the computer). Last week, while in this state, I got suckered into the show "Lost." Addicting, so addicting. I hate to confess that I watched, or slept through, about a season of this show. This show is terribly addicting. Can I get a witness?

By Sunday night I was so sick of TV that I felt I needed to do something drastic like a cleansing of the mind. By the end of my little media binge I felt that I needed to connect back with God and recoup some of my brain cells that were damaged during this 48 hour window. My remedy was to put the old Netflix subscription on hold and to enact and sort of media fast. My guideline are loose--limit time on computer, no TV, with exception to the Chargers game on Sunday which is far from addicting and to simply read more Bible, theological works, and Christian biographies and to pray more.

Well so far on this "fast" God has begun to bless me with the time in His Word and my various readings. Let me share one example. Genesis 5:21-24 mentions a man, Enoch, who walked with God so closely that at the end of his life he did not die but simply disappeared into the Lord's presence. Crazy thought to imagine simply going into the presence of the Lord in the middle of your day (and not by way of death)...

How cool would it be if we could each go like Enoch? I think very cool. Then it dawned on me that it is conceivable that Christians today could in fact have this Enoch-like experience! Let me explain...

As I thought about Enoch, a passage of Scripture came to mind: 1 John 2:28-3:3. The exact verse is in 2:28 which says, "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." I totally believe that the Lord is coming back and we Christians meet Him in the air as described in 1 Thess. 4:13-18. I also believe the we, like the apostles, should eagerly await His return and expect that it could happen in our lifetime--whether or not He comes in our lifetime. He may not come in our lifetime because of His patience and zeal for saving the lost as described in 2 Pet. 3:9.

Christian, day dream with me for a moment. 1 John 2:28 alludes to the reality that some believers who will be caught up together with the Lord will actually shrink back in shame because they were not abiding in Christ at the time of His return. Oh how I long that I would abide in Him with such faithfulness that at His return, or my going to Him through death, that I would be leaping into His arms with joy in contrast to shrinking away from Him in shame.

It's funny, or scary, how the little things draw us away from abiding in Christ. TV, the computer, hobbies, etc, etc seem to cause great devastation slowly and incrementally. I am feeling renewed and my walk with Him feels more lively right now. It is amazing how quickly a fast from our most addictive entanglements can reignite our passion for the Lord. No surprise Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to ditch these things.

Lord I pray that you would help me to live my life abiding with You. Lord help us to free ourselves from things that trip us up as we "Walk with You." Lord help us to "Walk with You" as Enoch walked with you!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why God, Why?

Valley Baptist Church will be studying the book of Habakkuk over the next two weeks. I can already hear you say, "Habakkuk what?" Let me say first that this is obviously a little known book, but it is in the Bible. You can find it in the latter half of the Old Testament in the "Minor Prophets." If you don't believe me, check out the Table of Contents in your Bible!

I love this little book. It is different from the other prophetical books. The others are a message from God to the people of Israel through the mouth of the given prophet. Their messages are usually something along the lines of "Repent and get back on track!" The book of Habakkuk is different in that is a prophet questioning God's plan...and he doesn't hold back.

Check out the first few verses:

"How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and the justice is perverted." Habakkuk 1:2-4, NIV

This brother was frustrated of watching the righteous take a beating while the wicked advanced. He was at his whit’s end and felt as though God wasn't hearing his prayers. How much longer would he have to sit by and watch evil while God did nothing?

Habakkuk's problem is twofold: 1) He doesn't think God is listening to him...boy does he get a whammy from God in response, and 2) he is sick and tire of watching evil win.

It's easy to get discouraged--especially when you feel like you are the "victim." I have noticed over the years that I hear two basic questions about my life:

1. How did you go from being a SEAL to being a pastor? You can read the answer here: My Story

2. The second is harder to phrase into a question concisely, but is related to my experiences as an abused kid. Something along the lines of, "How do you maintain a positive outlook on life going through that?"

This second question is a bit tougher to answer. Life is a journey. We constantly learn about ourselves along our journey. Our life today is truly the culmination of all our "yesterdays." How do we handle the good and bad that comes our way? I believe our perspective on our experiences shapes our lives dramatically.

There are not words to express the fear I felt as a kid preparing to face my mother in a rage. I didn't understand why this was happening to me. We were a religious family, or at least we were forced to attend Catholic Mass on a regular basis. She claimed to hold a deep faith in the Lord--which turned me off to religion for many years. It's hard to say what I truly felt about God during those times. I remember eclectic thoughts from crying out for safety, salvation, and questioning His role in all this, to questioning His existence at all. I seriously wondered, "How could this be happening to me if there is a good God out there?"

Looking back, my perspective is all the more clearer at this point in my life. To this day, I am thankful for my past. I would not change them for the world. I feel like God has used each hard event in my life to shape me into the man I am today. I often point people to Acts 17:26-27 which says this:

"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."

This passage tells us that God sets people in a specific time in history and location on the earth so that they might "reach out for him." The word "reach" could actually be translated "grope for him." In light of this passage, I take the perspective that God placed me into this life, with my family, during this time of history, and in this location because this is the sweetest, most ripe place in history for me to fall in love with Jesus! I did and I am thankful.

Life will throw many difficulties and hard things our way. I have learned from my lovely wife that during these times we shouldn't focus on what we don't know about God's plan, but to focus on what we do know about God. She taught me this through the painful process of losing our first child through miscarriage. What are things that we can dwell on concerning God? Good question, I am glad you asked! God is loving, forgiving, just, holy, patient, merciful, all knowing, and sovereign are a few thoughts that come to mind!

I am encouraged in reading the last few verses of Habakkuk. I pray that our attitudes will match his in the midst of our trials and tribulations!

Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV -

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.