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The story of a loser

I have spent a lot of time pondering my own self worth over the majority of 2018. How I looked at myself was tied directly into the titles I held. Husband, dad, son, and friend were and are very important. Deep down I held other ones closer. The title that came with a profession or job. That held a pretty high place. My length of service was a badge of honor. I held onto those things like my life depended on it. They were my identity. It was in April of 2018 that I lost my sense of self. I lost my identity. All that I had worked to create over 19 years was gone and the story of the loser was confirmed.

I suppose at this point I could talk about depression. I certainly went through some deep depression. I had never really been fired from a job before. I didn’t know how to handle it. I spent so much time being the employee that I didn’t know me. So, when the darkness descended I could not function. I have always been an emotional guy. Never one to shy away from a tearful movie. I cried when Jack died holding Rose’s hands. I cried when Dobie died in Harry’s arms. I am a cryer, that is what I do. This time was different. It was some movie that was written in a way to elicit some emotional reaction. This was my life and cried bitterly. My wife, Marji, would head off to work and the kids would leave for school and I would cry.

My emotional reaction to my circumstances was tied directly into this image of what I thought I should be. When the jobs didn’t materialize I assumed that it was a direct corelation to this image that I couldn’t live up to. Opportunity did eventually show up. The problem was that it was the kind of opportunity that required a lot time and money to be in a position to earn. I can say without a shadow of doubt that I am not a salesman. Again, I learned that I didn’t measure up. It was quite literally the same lesson repeating itself. I was a loser and this was going to be my story. It was going to end with me pulling all of my family down with me.

I love Marji Orr! She loved me through it all. She prayed for me when she knew I couldn’t pray for myself. She was my encouragement. She was my strength. She got me through some dark days. She is my partner, my confidant, my best friend. Most importantly, she is also a daughter of the King. She let Christ guide her so that she could guide me.


 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

  1 Corinthians 13:4-5

She was all of these things. Patient: check! Kind, are you kidding me? Of course she was kind. Not envious, boastful, or proud! It not about her. She focused on my needs and didn’t make feel bad for those days when I may have been difficult to deal with. She taught me where my identity should come from.

There was a time when the Lord and I were not on speaking terms over the last year. Ok, that is not entirely true. I was not talking but he was saying plenty. Maybe not the things I wanted to hear. He was certainly speaking through my wife. That was the only place I could hear him. Money was tight and there always seem to be a timely blessing. A forgotten stipend here, anonimous gift there. Family stepping up to love us even when we did not ask for help. A kind word, a short note of support. Probably one of my favorites was a list of Bible verses from a dear friend. The Lord was talking to me, a loser.

It has taken months to come to the realization that he wasn’t talking to Jeremy the loser but Jeremy the lost. I had forgotton my true identity. I had bought into the lie that my profession somehow defined me and without it I was nothing.


“ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

  Galatians 2:20

It is in Christ that my identity lies. I know there will be more dark days. We live in a fallen world. It is a certainty that bad things will happen. However, I move forward knowing that I am surrounded by love both here and in Heaven.

No longer a loser, no longer lost!

Jeremy

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The Death Of Spirit Lead Ministry

“The greatest hindrance to the church today very well could be, operating the church apart from God. As a Christian culture, we’ve created methods of worship that allow very little of the Holy Spirit to actually participate. We’ve created a Christianity that looks for Gods promises and blessings without seeking Gods presence.” – David Platt

“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.” – Revelation 3:14-21

The people of Laodicea remind my so much of our Christian culture today. Most might not verbally say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing,” but do we really need to say it when our sins are laid bare before the Lord? When God knows our words even before they leave our tongues? We need not say anything, our actions say enough.

Scripture goes on to say ‘But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’ Wretched is describing a person with severe side effects from a great, ongoing strain. When we look at this from a ministry stand point, are we becoming so self sufficient that we are not actually needing the Holy Spirit? A great way to see if this is currently you is to ask yourself, “Am I experiencing severe side effects from my ministry?” “Am I burnt out?” The truth is that God gives rest to the weary, and if you’re truly resting in Jehovah – Shalom, then you’ll soar on wings like eagles. You’ll run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.

The website Biblehub describes the word pitiful as a person with, ‘arousing pity and in great need of mercy.’ If we are looking for the promises and blessings of God without seeking the presence of God, we are truly pitiful and in great need of mercy. If we can set the mood by lighting a few candles, playing the right song, saying the right words, looking the part, sticking to our schedule and our plans; we are then artificially creating a spiritual atmosphere. We are making it about us. When we do this, we are no longer doing any of it to please God, but men. We are then as people trying to lift ourselves above God. That is a truly pitiful sight.

Poor is the extreme opposite of rich. Biblehub goes on to describe poor as, ‘deeply destitute, or completely lacking resources.’ It is similar to being overly consumed with the riches and comforts that this world has to offer. Now remember, these are riches and comforts that never satisfy and always leave you wanting more. These riches and comforts can be all consuming and easily take the place of everything else in our lives.

Being spiritually blind can affect us both physically and mentally. Riches blind us to our own self reliance. We are commanded to rely solely on God. When we take our eyes off Christ, we first become short sighted. Shortly after we become short sighted, we then become blind to how dependent we are on possessions and wealth. Once this has started, we can easily become defensive or angry if conviction sets in.

Lastly, naked is referring to being ‘laid bare, open or stark naked.’ This suggests that we’re so self-reliant that we have a shameful nakedness about us. Nothing is ever hidden from Gods sight. Shortly after sinning we allow shame to settle in. This shame then causes us to try and hide from God, just as Adam and Eve did. We can do this in many subtle ways that then become a normal part of our everyday lives. Some examples are: stopping or slowing down our prayer lives and Bible reading, and refraining from giving our all during worship. This is all an attempt to hide from the Lord because we have invited shame into our lives.

We pray about the dying church, yet when it is growing and thriving, we stop. We stop praying and permit ministries that allow very little of the Holy Spirit to actually participate and grow the church without the presence of God.

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” – Mark 4:31-41

The church in America is in decline. Perhaps God is using the decline as the crashing waves and rushing winds. The very decline that is a result of us not fully trusting in God to calm the storm. Instead, we cling to what we’ve made Christianity to be; A Christianity that yearns for the approval and pleasure of everyone besides God. A church so willing to be comfortable, rather than trusting on the uncomfortable call of God to step out of the boat. WE are the cause for the decline of the church. WE stand in the way of the Holy Spirit, quenching Him in the process. WE water Him down so much that He turns us over to our sin. God uses all things for His glory. I truly believe He will use the decline of the church to bring us to our knees. To renew this wrenched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked church. To bring the revival that tarries from lack of prayer.

“A true believer can see more on his knees than others can see on their tiptoes.” – William MacDonald

In Christ,

Alex

Sold Out

Christians are tempted to conform to the world day after day. More times than not, the conforming tends to be subtle. Similarly, when the serpent tempted Eve, she didn’t even realize in the moment that she was being disobedient. After allowing the serpent to speak to her, she slowly conformed to the path of disobedience.

I’d like to talk about an issue that is not being spoken about enough. We as Christians are allowing more and more of the world to penetrate our sacred walk with God. We’re called to be one hundred percent sold out for Christ our Lord. I’m not talking about a “Christian” that just simply goes to church on Sunday and has a cross tattoo. What I’m talking about is being so sold out for Christ that the love we have for our families or even our own lives look like hate in comparison.

“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” – Rom 14:8

The Word says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. Nothing is ours. This includes our jobs, our families, our friends, and especially not our own lives. It all belongs to the Lord. It always has and always will. When we allow the Lord to take over, we are only giving Him back something that already belonged to Him in the first place. We are releasing the control we have come to believe we have over our “own” lives.

He is truly our only hope. There is only one way to enter eternity with God, and that’s through Jesus Christ His son. Why? Because we have been tainted with sin, and the only price for sin is death. The price that Jesus purchased us for.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

Life and everything in it is all about Jesus. If you’re making it about anything else, you’re drinking out of a broken cistern and forsaking the living water. He calls for ALL our heart, ALL our soul, ALL our mind, and ALL our strength. Are you sold out for Jesus? For Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.

 

 

The Anguish of the Childless

Two people become one. They embark on a journey together committed to each other and the life they hope to make. They are madly in love. They are certain that together through their love they will be able to conquer anything that comes their way. The time comes that a choice is made to expand their family. The attempt to expand is at first casual, fun, and exciting. With each passing month the level of anxiety is heightened. Doctors are consulted, plans are formed, and hope is partially restored.

You begin testing. It is embarrassing for your husband and potentially invasive for your wife. She has to take injections daily. She tracks days, her temperature, and her shots. The calendar that all this is written on becomes almost sacred. What was once casual, fun, and exciting has become like a job. The small victories are quickly snuffed out with hope crushing experiences like pregnancies that end in miscarriages.  Weeks become months and months become years. The separation from the child you desperately want is an anguish you cannot describe. You hurt so deeply. The cost is prohibitive. The time is approaching where decisions about the future must be made.  Is it possible that the one you have literally given blood for may never come into your life?

There was a time when this story perfectly defined my life. The desire of my heart was to be a dad. I wanted someone that I could love. I wanted someone that I could take fishing. I wanted to teach them to be Godly. I wanted to be able wipe away their tears when they hurt and give them a high five when they succeeded. I ached for a relationship with a person that I did not know. Not only did I not know them they didn’t even exist. We were willing to put our bodies through any testing. We were willing to mortgage our futures for nothing more than the idea of a dream.

There is only one who can relate to anguish you feel.  The scriptures are consistent.  God wants to be present with his people.  He walked amongst them in the garden.  The temple represented the presence of God in the community during the days of Moses.  

John 1:14  14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

He sent his only son to quite literally dwell among us.  He gave us the Holy Spirit.  He wants to be with us.  

Acts 2:1-4  2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

I have written about this before and I know it to be true.  I have walked through darkness.  It was only by the grace of God that I was able to come out on the other side.  The journey of those experiencing heartache.  It makes no difference if it is outright sin or if we allow our vision to be clouded by troubles of this life, they create a wall between us and God.  The Lord wants us in His presence.  He gave his only son so that we could reside there.  Put your faith and trust in Him.  

In Christ,

Jeremy

God Is Your Little Boy

I’m about to tell you a story that has made more of a difference in my life than almost any other story I know. It has taught me a whole lot about being Eden’s daddy, and it has taught me a whole lot about being God’s son.

“I once heard a story of a father who took his son camping. They had spent time planning the trip for many weeks. The son had carefully filled his small pack and waited on the front steps for his dad to arrive home from work so their journey could begin. The plan called for the father and son to hike a few miles up the mountain to make camp before sunset. But things ran late at work and traffic was heavy on the way out of town. During the drive the father rubbed his temple, cursed the traffic and turned that baseball game on the radio. The son never took his eyes off his father. When they started their hike, the father was impatient. His son had to stop to use the bathroom, then to ties his shoe. At one point the son stopped to watch a snake poke its head in and out of its hole. The father grew impatient and urged his son to hurry. They had to make it to the campsite. The father walked faster. The son had to almost run to keep up. At times the father had to verbally push and drag him along so they could move even faster. When they did get to camp, the father hurried to pitch the tent and warm a can of soup.  Through the glow of the hastily made fire, he caught a glimpse of his weary son asleep on the ground, with tear stains on his cheeks. At that moment, he knew he had missed it. He may have reached the destination, but he had missed the journey.”

—Tim Bohlke, Harbor Seven

Initially, this story hit me hard because I’m a father. And as a father I realize that I have committed this same mistake a time or two or seven. I have sadly preoccupied the destination over the journey.

At the same time, what is also emerging into focus the more time I spend contemplating this story is that I also do the same thing with God. I have all of these hopes and dreams and desires. All of them are “good.” They almost all involve being devoted to God, learning more about who God made me to be, and generously serving others; you know, the greatest commandments. Yet, all of my “good” plans are sometimes more of a destination than a journey. There are even times they provoke anxiety! (Which should be a dead giveaway that they are projection of my own agenda, but alas, it keeps happening, ugh.)

How would you feel if I told you that you were God’s father and God was your young son? That God is so eager just to spend time with you? That there’s nothing you have to bring to the table, or the trail, except yourself? That’s all God desires. Just you. Time with you. Because you are what God loves. That God is just so happy when you take God’s hand and simply meander along the trail.

Sometimes the destination gets in the way, doesn’t it? Sometimes we get so fixated on a what ours and our family’s future should look like, that we completely miss the sacred moments of the present. But as Jacques Philippe said, “the best way to prepare for the future is to put our heart into the present.”

So, my brothers and sisters, may you trust that you are God’s special treasure. That God desires you as a beloved child desires their mommy or daddy. That there are truckloads of joy, and peace, and hope just waiting to engulf you.  Not sometime later. Right now.

Right. Now.

There’s nothing you could ever do to make God love you any less. And there’s nothing you could ever do to make God love you any more because you already have it. All of it. And you’re never getting rid of it.