Pure As The Driven Snow

The past few days have been a chilly reminder of winter’s very firm grip on my home state of North Carolina.  An “arctic blast” of cold air has swept across much of the country sending temperatures down well below freezing.  I honestly can’t remember a colder winter and yesterday it snowed. I watched the developing storm on the local news channel for days, hoping its trajectory would amble just a little further east so that we would get snow where I lived.  I mean if it's going to be cold it might as well snow right?  It seems that my prayers for frozen precipitation were answered and by lunchtime there was a thin dusting of snow covering the ground. Tiny bitter cold snowflakes fell for the next 12 hours or so as the temperature plunged lower and lower.  We ended up only getting around 1-2 inches of snow but it was enough to blanket my backyard in a sheet of white.

When I looked out my kitchen window this morning as the sun was rising over the trees in my backyard I had the thought that Jesus covers our sins like this snow covered my yard.  It’s not an original thought, I’ve heard that analogy for years and it's even in the scriptures, but today it struck me more than normal.  Just like a winter storm, conditions have to be perfect for us to accept and receive our salvation from Jesus.  We have to admit we are sinners, realize the need for salvation, and confess that Jesus is our Lord.  Without these elements all working together as a well timed storm we can’t receive our free gift of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Isaiah 1:18 says “Come now, let us settle the matter”, says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  When we accept Jesus, our sins are covered, just like my backyard with the pure white snow.  Everything that was a blight, the holes, the dead grass and dog poop are all covered by a white covering.  To the eyes of the Father our sins look like Jesus' blood and in his righteousness and perfection we are now viewed by a loving father thanks to Jesus’ covering.  No matter what is underneath the snow, the new focal point is the purity and not the filth that lies beneath.  I’m thankful that God sees me through the lens of what Jesus did for me and not what my life looks like without Jesus.  How about you?  Are you pure as the driven snow?


Slowing Down Isn't Giving Up

Slowing Down Isn’t Giving Up I noticed while hiking recently that during to course of my briskly paced walk I startled more wildlife than I was able to adequately observe because I was in a hurry.  I wasn’t on a schedule and there wasn’t really a deadline for how long I was to be in the woods that day, so where was I going so fast?  How many times do we just move around at such a break neck speed that we fail to see the beauty that surrounds us?  Where are we going and does it really matter if we get there a few minutes earlier?  We often try so hard to get to the next thing that we miss the now.  Why are you in such a hurry?  What is it that you're trying to accomplish?

I love the way Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible translates Jeremiah 2:25 where it says Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, 'I can't help it. I'm addicted to alien gods. I can't quit.”  We know that if we are running in the direction of the Lord then we can “run and not grow weary” as it says in Isaiah 40:31 but can you honestly say you’re running is for the Lord?  Sometimes our best motives and self-righteousness can appear Godly to outsiders looking in but at the end of the day we may just be trying to earn a salvation we already have.

Sometimes it seems easier to just go go go and not sit in the abiding presence of the Father.  We know that Jesus gives us rest and if we are chasing after His heart then we will be sustained no matter the pace of our walk.  When was the last time you just sat at the feet of Jesus?

Take the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, Mary was commended for taking the time to worship Jesus despite all the things that needed to be done and Martha was rebuked for not taking advantage of the present moment.  It says that Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made…” and Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.”  Which are you doing?  Are you living in the present moment and recognizing not only the beauty that surrounds you but the author of all beauty, or are you wearing yourself out with tasks and distractions and completely missing the moment?


Adventure Is Calling! Will You Answer?

From the inception of my Catching Creation blog I’ve had the tagline of “Adventures In All Things Created.”  I guess I’ve never really needed to clarify what exactly that meant before now but the more I think about what it means to be on adventure the more I feel this little phrase of mine will need clarity.  It has always seemed to me that to be completely alive one must always be in the middle of, or in search of, an adventure.  I’ve been thinking about that philosophy for quite some time now.  Lately the adventure seems to be one pitted in the very center of my faith.  Adventures aren’t always easy and certainly in the moment they can often be uncomfortable, but an adventure is only as good as the bruises and scrapes you get along the way.  The hardship and bad weather seem to frame up the best adventures and overcoming some obstacle or adversity makes the stories worth telling. I think when we start looking at our faith journey as an adventure it helps to make those bumps in the road seem all the more worthwhile.  When things don’t work out and we’re left scratching our heads and asking God, sometimes even yelling, “which way do I go” or “what have I done wrong?”  We fail to realize the importance of the adventure at hand.  These are the moments that build faith, or so they tell me.  These are the times that we can look back and say that we were truly refined by hardship and we persevered.  We survived!  We lived to tell the story and wow, what a story it will be someday.  James, the half brother of Jesus, assures us that our trials will sharpen and polish us in his first epistle and if you’re feeling lost in the woods on this great adventure just let the words of James comfort you.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Our adventures can lead us to mountain highs and valley lows but beauty is always in the faithful and sometimes fearful walking with God in the dark nights of our souls.  In the stories of how God came through or how we learned that our compass may have been upside down and we got off course a bit.  Through His grace, God is there, listening to our complaints, laughing at our child like tantrums and all the while loving us through the process.  Where is your adventure leading you?  Have you gotten off course?  Trust Jesus, dust yourself off, and lean into the wind.  You’ve got an amazing journey ahead and one heck of a story to tell!


Veterans Day

I remember crossing over the Iraq/ Kuwait border for the last time on my final combat mission in support of Operation Iraqi freedom and feeling sad.  Truly sad.  I recall holding back the tears as I took off my Kevlar helmet and IBA vest and thinking to myself "now what?" I was a week away from turning 23 and the whole previous year was spent as a soldier in a combat zone. I can't say that my particular deployment was overly hard as far as deployments go but it was my first time away from home for any length of time.  It was the first time I'd seen a dead body, the first time I had been shot at and the first time I had to detach myself from myself to get the job done.

DSC00943I was a .50 cal machine gunner on a poorly armored Humvee for my first 4-5 months in country and a truck driver the remaining 7-8 months.  I never fired my weapon at an enemy and my vehicle never got hit with an IED yet on the day of my last mission I feared for the battle to come.  During the course of my deployment, and all the experiences a combat zone had to offer, I somehow gracefully made it through unscathed.  I can’t explain it honestly, it seems like everyone I talked to in my unit had the same eerie realization that despite the chaos around us we seemed to be always right before or right after the bad stuff on our convoys.  It was like we were shielded.  That’s not to say that traumatic things didn’t happen but it suggests that those moments always seemed less than they should have been.  Like I said, hard to explain.

The realization of a war raging within my heart hit me like a bomb when the physical threats ended.  What's my mission now?  Who am I in the real world?  I just spent an entire year answering the call for my country and even though I was reluctant to fight this war, by the end of it, it felt more like home than my own bedroom in the states.  The men to my left and right showed me what it meant to be a real family, bonded not by blood but by virtue and shared experience.  This was something that made the end of the deployment that much harder. guntruckplatoon

One moment I was useful, a soldier with a purpose; and the next moment I’m all alone sleeping for days and drinking to black it all out.  To say my life spiraled downward after Iraq was an understatement.  As many people that have shared this experience can attest, it’s incredibly hard to relate to “normal” people once you return home.  Your world was on pause for the length of your deployment but the world around you seems to have been on fast forward and you’re just left with stories you can’t tell to a people that have moved on.

Veterans day always makes me reflect on what that day actually means to me.  I can’t tell my story without telling the story of Iraq.  That experience rocked me to the core and changed my life forever.  Although I regret many of the choices I made upon returning home from my tour of duty, I can honestly say I would do it all over again if given the chance to serve again.

Go Panthers!The lessons I learned, both the right and wrong ways, from that deployment have shaped the man I have become.  I thank God for his providence in placing someone in the right place and right time to tell me about Jesus.  I’m thankful that even after our shared experience in Iraq that he continued to minister and walk with me and ultimately lead me to salvation in Christ.  I think the brokenness that came from that experience allowed me to finally swallow my pride and see things clearer.

Even though I feel like a good part of who I was died in Iraq I’m glad for it.  Maybe in order to become a man I had to loose that innocence or ignorance to a certain degree.  Although I still wrestle with the questions that flooded my brain on my last mission I know that I was spared for a reason.  So what is my mission now and who am I in the real world?  I’m still figuring it out honestly but at least at the moment it seems like the sky is literally the limit.  I want to honor all of the men and women that didn’t have the luxury of making it home by truly being all that I can be.  How are you making the most of this mission called life?  Happy Veterans Day. Drivers perspective of me in the turret with the 50 cal.

The Hypocrisy Of Throwing The First Stone

The Hypocrisy Of Throwing The First Stone.  

I find it amusingly ironic that the biggest complaint against the Christian Church is that we are hypocrites yet our accusers cannot see their own hypocrisy.  It seems in our society that if you proclaim a saving faith in Jesus Christ you are automatically supposed to be ushered into perfection.  To deny the resurrection and deity of Christ atheists sure seem to judge us by His word.  I don’t find fault in their accusations nor do I dismiss their claims.  What I take issue with is the fact that they are seemingly above the same judgment that they so willingly cast on us.


The term hypocrisy is defined by Merriam Webster as “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially: the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.”  So aptly defined the word basically means to say one thing and do another.  Who among us can deny our own hypocrisy?  I will be the first to admit that my life may not always be perfect and I may sin, stumble and even be hypocritical but I am at least honest in my shortcomings.  In fact let me go a step further and admit my frailty as a human being, my disgusting sin nature that I was born into and my reluctance to really let Christ change my heart sometimes.  It’s easier for us to stay as we are instead of letting Christ define us as he sees us, as we really are.  2 Corinthians 5:17 is one of my favorite scriptures and it says, “therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation.  The old is gone the new has come!”  When we are truly IN Christ and are defined by Him our lives will look more like Jesus and less like our old sinful selves.  The issue is staying IN Christ, walking in constant relationship with him and allowing him to continually transform us, allowing us to die daily to our sins and former self.


Sometimes we just fake it because we think others around us somehow have achieved a higher level of spirituality than we have, but let me be the first to tell you if no one ever has, Christ overcame the world.  That means he overcame your insecurity, your hypocrisy, you doubt and even your unbelief!  Christ isn’t calling you to perfection, if that were the case we wouldn’t need him and the Law of Moses would have been all we ever needed for our atonement.  Christ is calling you to a place of completeness, a place of real revival in him where you can know him relationally.  So even when you drop the ball you know that his grace is there to pick you back up.  We are all hypocrites, the real issue is admitting our brokenness and showing a glorified Christ in the midst of it all.