Life verse?

The source of courage for a “reed shaking in the wind.”

Acts 4:13 in the Bible (KJV):

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

I have always been fascinated with life verses: how did people choose them, how could one verse capture their whole life, why didn’t I have one?

Today the above verse struck me.  I present as timid, my hand shakes when I am nervous, my voice shakes as well.  Yet, out of obedience to Jesus, I have risked my job, my family’s income, saying I would not work with ads that promoted pornography, abortion or the occult.  I have been filled with the Holy Spirit explaining to upper management why these things are wrong, how they hurt all the people involved with them.

At another job I pointed out to the Executive Director that the self-care we were teaching our clients, we ourselves were being forced to ignore for ourselves because we were being forced to work 60 hours a week (for 40 hours pay).  Their initial stated reaction to my email was appreciation for what I had “uncovered.”  After a few months they turned on me and  I quit before they could fire me.

In another situation, a group I was a part of were deciding if they should use their influence to encourage a family to stop life-support, and let someone die because if they lived it would dramatically change everyone’s life for the “worse.” (this last part was unstated by our group).  I firmly dissented to stopping life-support because I believed in the long run they would recover.  I was the only one that dissented.  The person died.  The family now regrets their decision and wishes they could choose over again.  The group has never acknowledged their wrong.

I have no courage to do these things; but Jesus does.  He fills me with his courage, courage to do the right thing and let God the Father handle what comes next.  I may appear to others to be a “reed shaking in the wind.”

But some see that I have “been with Jesus.”

“Quote”-able: Wintley Phipps

It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given.

During my “personal, private sufferings” I may not have wanted to read this.  All the courage that I imagine I have when not suffering abandons me in the face of real suffering.  All that I thought stood by me I realize can’t help me.  Sometimes even Jesus seems as though he has left me.

I am alone.  And I am afraid.

As I obey my best guess as to God’s will my soul aches and I search for God in my circumstance.

It is here that I decide that no one should have to go through what I am going through alone.  If I only had someone to talk to I could bear it.  I decide if I encounter anyone struggling as I am, I will help them.

And a dream is born.

My dream, forged in the late seventies and early eighties, when I had not yet decided to take meds regularly and  I had yet to welcome Christ into my heart, is being lived out now 35 years later (with Jesus and with meds).  As a Certified Peer Support Specialist I have the privilege to serve people dealing with mental illness every day.  I am doing, as Whitley Phipps says, HPLP: Helping People Live their Potential.  Or, as Jesus says, Loving others.

Am I a hero?  Not even close.  But I am privileged to serve the real Heroes;  people who fight horrific battles in their mind and in their life every day and keep on fighting.  Battling thoughts that no one should have to experience, making even the simplest daily tasks excruciatingly difficult.

Mental illness takes the most hospital beds in our country and receives the lowest per patient funding in our country of any disease.  It is projected that half of our population will experience mental illness in their lifetime.  If that is not you then it is most likely someone you love.  And it is much cheaper to pay for treatment for all who need it than to pay the costs that untreated mental illness cause: personal, family and friend suffering; lost productivity; prison cells and hospital beds.

What can we do?  Get treatment for yourself or your loved one, treat the mentally ill with the respect being a Hero deserves, and vote for funding of Mental Health in your area.

Nobody’s perfect (part II)

I am part of a team of people starting “HOPE” for Mental Health at Kentwood Community Church.  We are part of Celebrate Recovery founded by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.  This group of courageous people, who admit their imperfections and trust Jesus to deliver them, have been a catalyst to me being able to confess my sins to another trusted person (or small group).  I read my Nobody’s Perfect post from August of 2013 tonight and realized I had promised to get back to you when I had put this into practice.

Much better late than never.

I had told Jesus my sins but telling another person with skin on freed me from most of the grip of satan in my life.  No amount of prayer has freed me as much as telling my sin to another person.  Sin loses power when exposed.

I have known for years that I was “supposed to” confess my sins to another.  But I made excuses and told myself it really didn’t matter.  I lost years of my life to satan’s influence simply because “I know more than God.”

God is not mocked.  I reaped what I sowed.

But I have learned.

Hopefully.

Defeating the sin which so easily ensnares us

Satan is appealing to my pride again.  He is telling me (not in words, but in thoughts and feelings) that I KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT GOD that I don’t need to learn from other people (which God says in Proverbs clearly that I do need to learn from others).  I identified this feeling when in a Christian bookstore reading the covers of some books.  I decided to buy the book I was looking at (and my feelings were telling me that I didn’t need to read it).  Then I told my wife what I was going through. 

I have started reading the book (All In: You are one decision away from a totally different life by Mark Batterson) and it is very good and I am learning alot and being motivated alot (which satan didn’t want). By telling my wife about my struggle, the sin of pride is not in the dark anymore, where it can grow and destroy me.  Instead, it is in the light which exposes its true malicious intent.

1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.                                                                             – Paul the Apostle, Hebrews 12:1 NKJV


 I experience world-class feelings of insecurity and inferiority sometimes.  Satan used my God-given need to feel the value God has given us, against me.   However, detecting satan can be so difficult sometimes.  He can be so subtle and appeals to our God-given needs (but he wants us to meet those needs outside of God’s will).  But by following Jesus I (and you) can defeat satan.

It has been said that to learn how to recognize counterfeit money you have get to know the real thing better.  It has also been said that to learn how to recognize satan, get to know Jesus better.

He’s not what you may think

There are many definitions of the “Glory of God”.  To me the greatest attribute of God’s glory is his humility. God chose to humble Himself and love me when I was arrogant, boastful, insulting and rude; to others and especially to Him.  If God had not endured my disrespect, I would probably be in hell by now.  And rightfully so.  

My greatest weakness may be “Pride.”  I wrote evangelistic advertisements for a newspaper.  The ads ran every Saturday.  I did this for two years until my pride was such that I couldn’t hear from God any more.  I didn’t write again for 8 years.  I knew I was getting proud.  I didn’t want to get proud.  I thought I confessed my pride to God.  But I was proud.

Pride is the opposite of love.  Love gets its joy from helping others.  Pride thinks only about itself.  I still need to die to myself.  Every day.

On the other hand, God’s humility is amazing.  His depths of self-denial are so great that if I loved like He does I would feel embarrassed.  Like the father of the prodigal son, God undignifies Himself and runs after us to love us.  Where I would feel humiliated to love someone who treated me like I treated God, His strength-of-self knows no such weakness.  He voluntarily throws aside the respect due Him, in order to meet my need.  And He has.  And He truly has my Respect.

How about you?  Did you think God was stuffy, formal and pretentious?  Did you think you were too low for Him to come down to meet you where you are?  He’s already there.  And He is waiting for you to ask Him into your life.  And He wants to give you His love.

Why Give?

The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is servant
to the lender.
Proverbs 22:07 NIV84


Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:5-9 NKJV

Darwin suggested that the “strong” were to win out over the “weak”; the survival of the “fittest,” and the extinction of the rest.  But what if the rich are allowed their riches by God in order to give the rich the opportunity to bless the poor?  Not forced redistribution of wealth that the socialist advocates, but a freewill chance to love like Jesus loves.  The rich could provide resources and knowledge to those who lack them.

What if the poor has something to offer the rich?  “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith…?”  The poor could help the rich see past this material world, which operates on the principle of selfish gain; to see another world: A world which operates on the principle of loving service, powered by God’s love flowing through each of us to the other.  This world’s system operates on the basis of “what’s in it for me?”  Jesus’ system operates on the basis of: “God, what can you give others through me?”  It is a battle of the “get” (or “greed”) versus the “give” (or “love”) systems of thinking.

Complementariness, or each providing what the other lacks, is a theme that runs through God’s creation.  Unequal distribution of wealth (and faith) is no accident.  God made us each of equal value to Him, but unequal in our various abilities.  This is so we come to realize that we need each other.  This is so we can truly bless each other by giving some of what we have more than enough of (resources or faith), and giving it to the other, to meet each other’s needs.

And when God gives to you and me, and we each give to each other, the joy you and I and God share with each other, will tell a dying world where to find God.

Satan’s lie about God

Under traffic sources in the statistics part of this blog’s background functions are what I believe are sources of entry for those who read this blog.  I clicked on one of them and it went to a porn site.  (I quickly closed it and told my wife who was sitting in the living room with me).  Before I became a Christian I viewed pornography.  I eventually recognized its destructive influence on me and got rid of it (even before I knew Jesus).  But like an alcoholic who becomes sober and then stays away from alcohol I stay away from pornography.  And that’s why I quickly closed it and told my wife.  She knows the password on my computer and I don’t hide anything from her, in order to protect myself from falling back into slavery to pornography.

If you view pornography I do not condemn you and God does not condemn you.  God and I do, however, condemn what is destroying you and that is the pornography.  God loves people but He hates sin – because sin hurts the people he loves.

Sin is an attempt to get our God-given needs met outside of God’s will.  Sin provides pleasure for a season but it will never satisfy the human heart’s longing to be satisfied by God.  God is waiting for you to give up satan’s worthless pleasure and seek Him to truly meet your needs.  God said, you will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart.  Satan comes only to kill, steal and destroy.  Jesus comes so that me and you can have real life!  Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life, the wholesome nutrition for our souls that we might have true pleasure, true satisfaction, true life.

Satan will tell you that God is no fun.  God invented fun.  Satan will tell you that God is trying to steal the little pleasure you have left in life.  God is trying to introduce you to real pleasure that builds you up, not satan’s counterfeit that tears you down.  Satan is trying to destroy us with pleasure-coated poison.  God is trying to give us food for our souls, what we truly need to be happy.

In the end, it’s your choice.  But remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

If you want help please consider going to XXXchurch.com.  I have never gone to the site myself (for fear I would get targeted with spam from the porn industry) but I have heard good things about it from others.