Jun
16

A Fathers Accolade

The following is the man I had the privileged to call “dad”.

In his later years my father wrestled with whether he had wasted his life pastoring small, out of the way congregations. It is understandable for he did his work in simple, but profound ways. He fed his family and his church with the substance of Jesus in his own life.  Early each Monday morning my father reported to his job as a bookkeeper for an oil tool rental company. For the next five and a half days he would put in fifty plus hours earning a paycheck to care for his family. In the late evening dad sat in his favorite chair and read, a Bible open on his lap and other books open face down on the floor beside him as he studied, prepared and prayed for the coming week.

Saturday brought no leisurely breakfast or nice round of golf. Rather, suitcases were packed, food boxes loaded, and kids rounded up from the prairie.Mom would count heads and when dad arrived home from work – off we would go. It was sixty miles between out home and the little flock of believers my dad shephered. At the end of the ride we pulled around to the back of a small, wood framed building that housed the congregation.  We unloaded our goods into a small trailer house that served as our week-end home. As mom unpacked and the kids scattered like tumbleweeds before a March wind, dad would quietly move off into the sparsely populated community to to visit and care for his flock.

Sunday, the common oil patch people came – all thirty or forty of them. Dad taught, preached, counseled, prayed, shared and loved the flock. They were well nourished under his careful tending. When evening service ended it was time to pack up and head home. When we arrived home late in the night, kids and suitcases were carted into the house. after labor the kids knew nothing of, Mom and Dad would fall into bed exhausted.

Monday morning came a few hours later and the whole process began again.

Several times throughout the years the location changed, sometime more miles, sometimes less. The feel of it never changed. His life had the texture of selflessness; the aroma of a holy sacrifice being offered up to the Lord. No one notices, no great applause and these many years later some of those chrch no longer exist. Most all of the adults have passed away and their children have only a faint, if any, memory of Dad.

Thus, it is understandable that when Dad grew too feeble to continue, he would reflect, and questions would come concerning how he had spent his life.

But at the moment when Dad stepped out of his worn tent of a body and entered heaven – at that moment all those fears of living an unremarkable, unimportant life vanished as He heard his Heavenly father say, “well done,…. well done my faithful servant,… well done my son”.

I have lifted this from my oldest brothers writing “The Blessed Pastor”, (you can get it on Amazon), a powerful, simple, truthful work about ministry. As the years progressed and I was born – the last of 6 – the story was the same. Sunday morning came and we climbed in the car, drove 60 miles to a small community simply called “Crossroads” (a church, a bar, and a gas station at the intersection of two simple prairie blacktops), we spent the day as Dad would teach, and shepherd the sparsely populated community of nearly 75 square miles. I never had a tremendous youth program or a worship leader that could carry a tune, but I knew God and I learned what a Godly man looks like. I am blessed!

This Fathers day we will hear from scripture some simple phrases from The Father that we all deeply long to hear, “Well Done’, I am proud of you”, “That’s My son!”

 

Jun
10

Tinker Toy Reality

Tinker Toy Reality

Recently I finished an extended time studying and teaching from the book of Job. When I opened the study I confessed that there were two places in this book that left me with more questions than answers. The first place is in the opening two chapters where I can find no reasonable answer for the question of “why?” Why did God set this up, implement and orchestrate it? The second place is in the last few chapters. God finally responds but He gives no answers – only relentless bombarding of questions.

After teaching the 3rd lesson from the study I came home to re-read those last chapters again and found that they did a deep unraveling in me. Yes – the truth will set you free, but what it may set us free from is the confinement that we ourselves have designed, that we have laboriously built for our own securities and peace of mind. Yet – in truth – it is a loss of freedom just the same.

When Jesus, “The Truth”, spoke of the deep truths most of the people who were present had, “ears but could not hear” and “eyes that could not see”.

Beware, deeper truths are dangerous. They caused dear friends to walk away from Jesus because they were “too hard”. These truths challenged peoples’ very worlds, He was opposed and attacked, and those clinging hardest to their own self-conceived truths had to eliminate Him or lose their world.

This is a “Dangerous Truth”.

Perhaps you will ignore it. That is fine, it is not for everyone. Your world will make more sense, will be “grasp-able”.

I hope you will not be offended by it, though offensive or not, the nature of truth is not flexible. It cannot bend to personal desire for then it is no longer truth but another illusion.

The book of Job, the opening chapters of Romans, and underlying most of scripture (that would be the “over-all underlying” truth, lol), presents a truth that will wreak havoc on the illusions of our life conceptions, peel back the façade that decorates our world, and lay bare our true status.

Like two great hands reaching into the heart of the Tinker-Toy Truths that we have assembled, Deep Truths pull our world apart, sometimes with terrible violence, sometimes methodically, but never pleasant or pretty.

Our “Lego-Land” lives want to make everything fit together.

But it’s not real.

No real life,

No real people,

No real truth.

No reality.

…. and deep inside

- We know it.

 

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm”, (Job 38:1)

…and it begins.

For 5 chapters … 127 verses … 71 individual questions … and multiple descriptions of things far beyond Jobs understanding, God relentlessly bombards Job.

Does God expect Job to have answers?

Not at all, that is not the purpose of His questions.

Does God describe the mysteries of His creations so that Job would understand those creations?

He is not seeking to impart knowledge about His creatures.

The questions and statements serve to shatter Jobs perception of his world.

In Jobs world,

He thinks,

He knows,

He does,

Job is of consequence!

 

But that is in Jobs world,

and Jobs world,

..…well it doesn’t really exist.

 

The questions shatter the illusion.

The questions are the answer!

 

Job is, “but a mist, a vapor”, here for a few years and then returning to the dust from which he was made.

In Jobs world he has a sense of innate significance,

But Jobs world is Fake.

It has wonderful creative Fake answers, Fakes successes, Fake accomplishments … Fake life.

and Job… he’s Faking it too,

…and trying to believe it’s true.

 

The questions exist to make us question our existence.

                        The questions exist to make us question our existence!

 

Not, “If” we exist,

but the significance of our existence!

The storm of questions assault us and like rain striking a mud caked window, bit by bit, as the mud begins to give way to the pounding, we catch glimpses of a  horizon that we never knew existed.

The questions clear our vision!

Job began to see, “I am nothing…” (Job 40:4).

 

Truth…….. we are nothing,

at best, a vapor, a mist, a breath,

…of no consequence.

 

AND GOD …….

at this the universe shifts,

mountains push up from the depths of the earth to stand at attention,

sea’s vaporize to His glory,

 

AND GOD …….

Reality itself waits at the ready to conform to His thoughts,

 

AND GOD …….

calls us “sacred”,

so sacred we become.

Jan
18

The Led Life vs. a Driven Life.

For a number of months I have been learning about the difference between a life that is driven and a life that is led. I come form the normal background that applauds the Driveness of people, yet as we study scripture the is a great distinction between being driven by personal goals, desires and dreams and the life of a servant. Being led has proven in my life to be the most exciting, refreshing and encouraging path I have ever walked. Presently I am teaching this. Follow the link beliw to a video page where I am updating the studies each week.

http://vimeo.com/35272554

 

 

Dec
16

Link to a number of my recent Christmas videos.

Follow this link and enjoy a few moments from this Christmas at the place I have the honor of serving.

http://vimeo.com/user2559885/videos/sort:date

Nov
04

The Trust Factor

OK, finish this sentence (no Sunday school answers please), “Trust is ____________”.

What came to mind first? “…earned, …easily lost, …scary, …essential, … an illusion … ?”

Are we born as trusting people or do we learn to trust? Does a child naturally trust his parent when the parent urges him,  “jump and I will catch you”, or does the child have to learn this trust. Honestly I think it varies from child to child. Sure sometimes trust is affected by previous performance or experiences. “Dad last time you said jump you stepped away and I smacked my head”, or “dad has never let me get hurt so I know he won’t this time”. We tend to trust in the “trust is earned statement”.  But I see discrepancies in this all the time. Repeatedly we have know loved ones that have chosen to place their trust in a person who has proven untrustworthy, in the same way we have known people who would trust no one, even those who have shown trustworthy characteristics time and again.

Do we trust God? We would like to say that we trust God, but I believe trust is more like a water valve than a light switch. We tend to think we either trust or we don’t – like a light switch it’s either on or it’s off. It’s more like a valve, a water faucet, it sometimes flows strong and gives great refreashment and life and then it sometimes seem to barely be dripping and life gets stale, worn, dry.

In scripture there are so many references that encourage us to trust God, references that tell us of the wholeness and strength we gain as we trust God. We discover that the storms of life lose their terror factor when our trust is strong. We find that we sleep deeper, laugh easier and love stronger when our trust is flowing at a healthy rate. 

So how do we increase our trust?

I wish it were as easy as simply recognizing the trustworthiness of God. Really shouldn’t you be able to trust a God who would set in motion an effort to love you that involved great sacrifice, pain and sorrow, and that He would follow through with it? But every day I bump into people that know the goodness of God yet live without placing their trust in him. Sometimes I bump into that person in the bathroom mirror.

There are so many passages on trust of God. These days I find great joy in rediscovering them again, and again,…

Here is a great truth that I have finally come to realize (sometime I’m kinda slow), ready?

“Trust is a Decision”

You choose, in your mind, who, when, and what to trust. It is not a matter of the heart, and it is not determined by circumstances. it is a decision.

Choose to trust God! Decide each morning that you will trust Gods word, Gods faithfulness and Gods love for you to provide your needs, open or close doors, give you the strength for the day, and take care of you while you rest.

Trusting God leads to renewed strength, confidence, and the return of life.

What is it that is consuming you, causing sleepless night, bad health, ruining relationships and sucking the life out of you?

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:2-4

Decide to trust God. Right now say it, “I am choosing to trust God with _____________”.

Even if you don’t feel like it, it is not a matter of the heart. Let the engine of decision constantly be running, choosing the road of trust and the kaboose of the heart will eventually follow. So right now, say it!  ….. and now again, …. and now,…….. and again, … and before you go to bed,… and when you get up, …. Choose, make the decision, you will find an anchor for your soul! Trust me on this!

 ”though He slay me, yet will I trust him”. (Job)

 

Oct
29

The Trouble with Tribbles!

Any Trekkies out there?

One of the most memorable episodes of the original Star Trek show was entitled, “The Trouble with Tribbles”.  The Enterprize was infested with these wonderful furry little blobs that would purr when you stroked them, they were soft, affectionate, and everyone had to have one… or two. The problem is that they didn’t remain just one or two, they multiplied faster than your pets rabbits did, and in only a few days they were in every area of the ship. On every counter, every chair, bed, in every sink and they covered the floors. Now they became a problem. They effected the daily life aboard the ship and limited everyones efficiency – soon they began to threaten even the safety of the ship.

 

That’s the Trouble with Tribbles! They consume everything around them and grow until the day today life of the ship is lost.

Anybody got some Tribbles?…. How about Troubles?

In our passage this Sunday Jesus deals with those troubles that grow in your life.

Those things that seem to be consuming you with worry, sleepless nights, ulcers, high blood pressure.

Those troubles – those worries that can consume you and limit your life on a daily, if not hourly basis!

Tomorrow, “Learning to Trust Jesus”.

Oct
28

Recently saw this and it captured me.

Lighthouse, Sea Surge and Survival in a Strong Tower

lighthouse.jpgI don’t know about you, but this photo is one of my all time favorites. The photographer Jean Guichard has many spectacular pictures of lighthouses and surf, (google him and check out his other work!) but this one resonates with me because of the man standing on the platform looking out over, and under, waves that would annihilate him if he makes one bad move or a rogue wave decides to get him! Obviously he has done this before, but look at the potential disaster all around him!

There are a couple reasons this picture resonates with me…

I often feel like the world is raging around me so much that at any moment I will be capsized by it. I am sure you have felt the same way; a relentless crashing of wave after wave of commotion that keeps your attention so focused that you are completely drained and yet there is no hope of relief! The noise is so overwhelming that you can’t even hear yourself think, and one misstep on your part and you will be swept away. Sound familiar?

But the other reason I love this picture has nothing to do with the crashing surf. It has everything to do with the lighthouse. If you look at the lighthouse you can see that it is massive and can stand up to everything the sea throws at it. It has a deep foundation and is firmly set in place. It is a protective tower that keeps people safe. The man on the platform looks so confident in the protection this tower is providing, it almost looks as if he could spit at the see and offer a challenge to it, “You can do nothing while I am in here!” The man has a history with this tower; he knows how secure he is in it. He can stand up to anything the world throws at him, as long as he is in his tower.

What an incredible picture of hope and courage. Where do you find yourself in it? Are you caught up in the sea and the surf? Have you been dashed against the rocks by life? Are you secure in the tower, facing the waves with courage? Do you have a lighthouse to run to? Do you live your life with the protection of this kind of tower? It is available to you; you need only to decide you want to find that protection, the peace in the midst of this kind of storm. When the waves of life come crashing in around me, I know that there is One that protects me, and I find peace in Him…

An ancient proverb says…

The Lord is a mighty tower,
Where his people can run to for safety.

(the above article was copied – is not my own personal work, but worth reposting!)

Oct
12

Your Future

“Don’t be so discouraged about the future. The future belongs to God. He is in charge of all things and will take care of you completely. If you try to guess what is going to happen you will only worry yourself and anticipate trouble. Live each day as it comes. Each day brings its own good and evil, but what becomes evil becomes good if you leave it in Gods hands. Do not hold up His purpose by being impatient.

God has a time for everything. Never second guess Him. One of the most impoprtant things you must do is live in the present moment. It is not how fast you go, but how well you go. God knows just how long it will take you to get from one place to another. You needn’t always be rushing about. Simply follow Gods leading.

All you need to do is prepare your heart by giving it completely over to God, without reservation. He will do with you what He pleases. Close your eyes and follow Him. Walk, as Abraham did, not knowing where you are going. God Himself will be your guide. He will lead you through the desert to the promised land. You will be so happy if you will let God take full control of your life.”

The previous is  a page out of my favorite devotional, “The Seeking Heart” by Fenelon, a 16th century monk, page 115.

I could spend weeks on all the simple great life changing truths he lays before us. Each is scriptural – which is the only measure by which you can trust words to be truth or something else.

God Bless you,

Mike 

Find this resource at www.SeedSowers.com

Aug
19

Defeating Dis-Couragement (Living in Who’ville)

In one of my favorite Dr. Suess books we discover a very, very, very small land where people think their world is all that exists. As Christians we sometimes suffer from the same delusion!

The last entry talked about how we can deal with discouragement by coming to the realization that we are not alone! That this life God has given us is only one leg of a very multi-legged relay race. You received the baton from those who ran before and will hand it off to those who will run after your lap is done. Your lap is a part of the “Great Race”, an important part, with many teammates – so run as if to win.

As I was doing some reading this week I “ran” across this wonderful illustration by Francis Chan, “(  )”‘s by me.

Suppose you are an extra in an upcoming movie. You are in that scene where 100′s of people are milling around and you are waiting for the 2/5ths of a second when people can see the back of your head. Your mom and dad, and maybe a sister anxiously watch for that 2/5th of a second with you. Most people won’t realize it’s you, even if you tell them. Let’s go a step further. Say you rent out the theater and invite all your friends and family – the whole town maybe - to come see this movie about your life. People will say. “You idiot! How could you think this movie is about you?”

Many Christiansare even more delusional! So many of us think that this movie of life is all about us. This movie opens when God creates the world, (sorry you weren’t in that scene), the people rebel against God and there is this great world-wide disastrous flood. Generations later God chooses a leading man called Abram who become the father of an entire nation (can’t you see the tabliod headlines?) Then there’s Joseph, and Moses (with firey bush and clandestine mountaintop meetings). Then judges and prophets and then the climax: The Son of God being born among the people whom God still, somehow loves. He reaches, teaches and is framed and cruxified, but the story takes an incredible twist when He returns from death to lead the birth of a whole new movement in the story…… even though we haven’t seen the last scene, we have read the script and know that it culminates with God sitting on His throne forever – He alone worthy to be praised!

God is the main character! How could we live as though it could possibly be about us?

I don’t know about you but I want my 2/5ths of a second to be about the main character, not my bit part.

1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

Amen and roll the credits!

Aug
17

Defeating Dis-Couragement, Run Forrest Run!

 One of the common feelings that leads to discouragement is when you feel that you are all alone on this mission. That you are by yourself on this “Mission from God”! I call this the Elijah Syndrome. It can happen even when you have seen God move in some great ways but you get worn and tired and the feeling that you are the only one rowing this boat. Then discouragement begins to grip your soul. You begin to think that you are running the race all alone, no one else is trying to win with you, and you consider just chucking it all and stopping.

Hebrews 11: 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

A key to putting discouragement in it’s place it to come back to the realization that the race you are running in – well it’s not your race! The story you are living  is not “your story” rather it is Gods Story! 

The story opens in Genesis 1 with creation, it moves on through various chapters of struggle, reunions, dramas, rescues, …. to the great pinnacle of the event on Calvary, and then on through the founding of the church. It continues in so many lives. Discouragement is defeated when you come to realize that you are running one leg of a multi-legged relay race, and that the faith of Abraham was simply an earlier part of this marathon relay, and that the Apostle Peter handed the baton off to those who would run the next lap.  Each life picks it up and continues in the race, and we each are to run our leg as if to win, run because it will matter generations down the road.

Hebrews 12:12-13 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

 What could be more Encouraging than to realize the importance of the lap you have to run! You are part of this tremendous race and there are hundreds of thousands of runners that have run before you that are now cheering you on, and there will be countless others in the future that will continue to carry the baton you have now.

You are not alone! You have no concept of the teammates you have!

RUN FORREST RUN!

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