Burrrr It's Cold In Here!

Have you ever noticed that when everything in your home is working correctly you really don’t think about the little things like say, the heat pump, but when they’re broken you REALLY think about them.  Recently our heat pump decided it no longer wanted to do its job for my house and just quit, can you believe that?  The audacity of that instrument of my comfort, to just quit like that, and it didn’t even give us a 2-week notice!  Times got tough, temps got low and it just quit at the worst possible time. Have you ever felt like quitting on God, or the ministry He has called you to?  If you’re like me you probably have had seasons of doubt, distress and had the overwhelming urge to throw your hands up and just quit, but let me ask you something, who else would be affected if you gave up?

Our heat pump’s decision to stop working and providing the heat that it was designed to provide has not only effect it but everyone that enters this house.  There is a void now that its service has been taken away and the same is true for you.  YOU are the only one God created to be who you are and do what you do.  If you quit it will be felt by many.

Paul says in Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  This verse is a good reminder. If you feel like giving up and want to just stop doing what you were designed to do take a moment to pray, remember the hope Christ has given you, recalibrate and stay patient in the affliction because this too shall pass.

Romans 12:4-5 says For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  We are all one body and each of us has a specific thing to do for the kingdom of God.  My ministry may be drastically different than yours but neither of our specific callings is more important than the other.  We are called to function as a living organism and if you give up your absence will be felt.  Just like the looming cold in my house that is felt stronger now that our heat pump has quit working, your absence will be felt.  So take heart, have hope and let the warmth of your faith heat up a cold world!

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Do You Grumble In The Wilderness?

Do You Grumble In The Wilderness?

Have you ever been lost in the woods before?  I mean really lost.  I have to say that I have been lost in the wilderness more times than I would like to admit, especially since I spend most of my waking hours in or near the woods.  One time that is specifically seared into my brain happened on a family outing when I was in elementary school.  My family and I somehow got off the well-marked trail at a well known hiking place near my home and as the sun started to set we stumbled further and further away from the orange blazes that marked our trail.  I distinctly remember vocalizing my complaints, my fears, and my dread that we may die in the woods on this autumn night.  I had a good deal of fear and frustration running through my brain and lips.  What if we never made it home?  We became grumpier and grumpier the longer we were lost, until my brother leaned up against a sign signaling the direction to the parking lot.

Moses seemed to have a similar situation with the people of Israel when the Lord liberated them from the nation of Egypt.  Exodus 16:1-3 says. The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”  The Lord showed the people of Israel patience time and time again by sparing them despite their grumbling and complaining, but not without punishment.  Had the people been obedient to the man of God placed before them and had faith, their 40 year journey could have been completed in less than a year and they could have enjoyed the promise land much sooner.

 How many times do we grumble against God when we should really be praising Him for the provision we do have?  With our limited vision our situation always seems much worse than it is and we could literally be leaning against the sign that signals our deliverance, if only we would stop grumbling long enough to look.  Do you grumble in the wilderness?

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Dude, Where's Your Faith?

For the last few months, maybe even as long as a year or so, I’ve been scrambling.  Just going through the motions trying to put on a good face and keep the faith but to be honest I’m just at a loss for where to go next.  I am trying to find the balance between doing the “will of God” and admitting that maybe I miscalculated a few faith leaps. I’m in a really interesting place right now where insecurity and uncertainty are the kings of the day and anxiety and anger seems to be the emotions of choice.  Before you tell me you’re going to pray for me and sheepishly conclude that I’m in error or somehow am no longer as spiritual as I ought to be, consider Abraham.

I imagine some of the same emotions and “feelings” plagued Abraham on the daily.  Think about it.  God calls Abraham to leave his homeland, family, religion and complete way of life to follow after an invisible God to whom Abraham had no prior knowledge or relationship.  Wow, sounds scarily familiar to my life.  When I try to get upset, impatient or discouraged I have to look at things in the context of reality.  I’ve only been walking in faith as a Christian for around 5 years or so.  I went headlong from a life of atheism into Christian ministry.  I went from disbelief to leading bible studies, from cursing Christians to evangelizing the name of Christ.

I’ve never been a status quo guy.  I’ve been a person after the truth my whole life and if somehow that disagreed with the elite in power then so be it.  The same seems to be true in my walk with Jesus.  I feel like the turmoil I often feel isn’t generated from God but more of an American commercialism version of Christianity.  My main qualms typically seem to surround the fact that despite my best efforts financially I can’t seem to consistently “provide” for my wife and I.  But the fact of the matter is, we aren’t in poverty, we have a house that we are able to pay for and our bills are paid and most of the time they’re on time.  So if I’m living by faith, like I am, and the Lord is my provider, like He is; then what’s the big deal?

My real quandary lately is why, despite my best efforts to faithfully do what I feel called to do, is everything seeming to “dry up.”  My ministry did fairly well and I stayed booked most of the year but it seems that I decided to jump into full time evangelistic ministry at the exact wrong time in our countries history.  Post economic bust America when churches aren’t as focused anymore, sadly, on evangelistic programs as much as they are about tickling the ears of the faithful few that are currently keeping the lights on and doors open to their cathedrals built to American opulence.  So in this environment how can I survive?

I understand that without faith it’s impossible to please God and before you lecture me on prayer, fasting and Bible reading let me interject that I understand the Christian “formula for success” and it just seems like I may be missing a piece of the equation.  My heart is to love God and his people but the bigger picture is that if something doesn’t change soon my ministry will just be another statistic of Christian ventures closing their doors.

I know what you’re thinking, “why is this guy complaining, he should just go out and get a ‘real’ job.”  I couldn’t agree more!  But here is the problem, you see despite the fact that I’m college educated, Army trained and look decent on paper I can’t seem to find a job that’s hiring.  I’ve spent the last couple months sending out resumes and applications and every time I doubt my calling, ministry and faith I resort to this.  I’m not above working.  I would love to find a job that would allow me to provide a stable income for my family and give us a sense of security that we have yet to have in our short marriage.  The problem is deeper maybe.  Perhaps I’m supposed to get over some residual pride I have from working for everything I’ve ever had, perhaps God is teaching me to truly trust him in this season of uncertainty.  Maybe He is calling me to a place where dependency on him is my only option, and honestly that’s where I am.  I just have a bad attitude about it right now.

How can we live in this land of in between and maintain our faith, sanity and composure even when all systems aren’t go.  How can we have faith when the reality of the situation seems to dictate more distress than faithfulness?  Here I stand at a crossroads of faith, do I stand firm and dig in deeper for one last hurrah in hopes that finally I can be successful?  Do I throw in the towel and relegate myself back to the “normal” workforce and pray to have a positive Christian impact where I go, do I do both?  Lord the simple prayer of “I need direction” is a wild understatement but that’s where I’m at.  So what would YOU do?

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