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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.

Pursuit of Happiness

Am I fundamentally and consistently a happy person? If not, how come? Is it even possible to be fundamentally and consistently happy always? Is happiness attainable amid struggles?

During our youth, most of use view turning eighteen as moving out of our parents’ house and getting a car. These to us are the moments that happiness sets in. Happiness is this natural state of mind that we acquire when we reach a desired goal in life. As we get older we realize that obtaining happiness is not as easy as we thought. We can sit down and think about the most “prosperous people,” the famous and the rich. Sadly, a large majority of the rich and famous have some cynical thoughts toward happiness.

Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf doth not wither; and in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper. Not so the wicked; but they are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD regardeth the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked shall perish.” – Psalm 1

Psalm chapter one speaks directly to this. It says that a happy man delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it night and day. The Psalm then paints a beautiful illustration, about a tree that’s planted by the water and no matter what comes, drought or storm the tree will not wither but rather bear fruit. The tree will simply root deeper for the water in the stream.  We are the tree, and we must plant ourselves near JESUS (the stream) so that we remain in His love and the wicked would be blown away like trash in the wind. The simple fact is, He came to destroy the works of the devil.

     “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” – 1 John 3:8
“Only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death” – Hebrews 2:14
“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” – John 12:31
“For the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” – John 14:30

 

In the movie The Pursuit of Happiness, Chris Gardner played by Will Smith says, “It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?” Chris has a point, never has happiness been acquired through our personal, selfish pursuit of it.

True happiness is only found when we pursue Jesus, when we seek and knock on the door. True happiness is only a byproduct of our relationship with Him. Money, fame, and prestige are the worlds way to keep us as the chaff blowing in the wind. True happiness is called joy, for happiness is fleeting, superficial and is only based on what’s happening in the moment.  Joy on the other hand is fundamental. Joy is true happiness. For when we pursue Jesus, joy is a result of that relationship. Joy remains despite what is happening around us, as long as we are drawing deep into Him, the living water.

 

Pardon my french!

Have you ever met someone that you instantly become friends with?  This happened to me a couple months ago.  A couple came into our lives and we instantly became friends.  They quickly became Uncle Brandon and Aunt Kourtney.  We get together often to share a meal or play games.  

During one particular visit the girls were chatting in the dining room while the boys were playing video games.  My son was taking his turn when we heard him utter a word that is R-rated.  Truth be told I didn’t hear it.  Sadly, his mother did.  My first thought was they didn’t just hear what they thought they heard.  My next thought was where on earth did he hear that?  I looked at my boy and the look on his face told me that he knew he had just done something wrong but he wasn’t quite sure what.  A lengthy conversation ensued about the inappropriateness of the word he spoke and why we don’t talk like that.

Kids repeat what they hear.  This is not new behavior.  My child was not breaking new ground.  In spite of that I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something important.  Then it occurred to me that it might be possible that the kids had heard it at home.  The Lord really started to work on me.  I began to really consider the types of things that I was letting into my home.  It started with television.  We have become desensitized from the never ending onslaught of profane language.  It is everywhere.  You hear it in restaurants, at stores, on the radio, and from people on the street.  We have become so use to it that we allow it to walk right in the front door.

If that was it I could correct it and sleep easy.  Unfortunately that was not it.  Several years ago I took a hard look but what I discovered did not make me happy.  I had fallen into the same trap that many of us have been caught up in.  I had allowed the world to alter my perspective.  I told myself that using profanity was ok because I hardly ever did it.  The occasional slip of the tongue was fine because it was only around other guys or because the children were never around.  While I had corrected my own use of inappropriate language years ago I know that there could be other places that my kids could be picking it up.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.


The truth is many of us have forgotten the lesson taught in Romans 12:2. There are ministries and so called Christian music groups who are actively using curse words in their material.  They too have fallen into a trap.  The world has convinced them that they need to be relevant in order to reach others for Christ.  

In this verse Paul is telling them to not be devoted to the vain fashions and pleasures of this world but to nurture a spirit that is drawn from the Lord.  We are to be transformed.  When we are transformed through Christ our minds are renewed.  It is that renewal that allows us to discern the will of God.  That is the legacy I want to pass on to my kids.  I do not want to pass on apathy and conformity to a society that has lost its way.  I want my children to imitate my love for Christ.  I want them to stand up and be counted.  That doesn’t happen if I don’t first represent those ideals at home.

Take courage my friends.  The same God who whispered Romans 12:2 into Paul’s ears can also help you.  If you are struggling with the things that come out of your mouth then I want to partner with you in prayer.  You can send me a message on our Facebook page or leave a note on the Prayer Wall.  Together with the Lord’s help you can be victorious.

Listening to the voice,

Jeremy

Fasting Busyness

Busyness is becoming a plague on our society, and I fully believe that Satan would like to keep us all as busy as possible.

I recently had the opportunity to hear a message from Pastor Jay Jellison.  Jay and his wife Judy are evangelists who travel with Dan Bohi, speaking at churches all over the country.  His message was about collaborating with the Holy Spirit, and one of his points really resonated with me.  He said that our busy, fast-paced lifestyle can make it very difficult to be in tune with the Voice of the Holy Spirit.

His point is spot on.  How many of you fall into bed at the end of the day feeling like you just spent the last 12 hours in the eye of a hurricane?  How often do you say to someone, “I’d love to do that, but I’m too busy”? Busyness is becoming a plague on our society, and I fully believe that Satan would like to keep us all as busy as possible.  There are some who even see their busyness with pride!  Like it’s a badge of honor to be completely overwhelmed and busy.  So many soccer moms are proud of the fact that little Johnny is in every sport and activity.  So many career-minded folks are proud of how full their schedules are.

But how many of us can boast about the time we spend with the Lord?

After thinking about this for a few days, this message began to form.  I posted a question on Facebook that got quite a few responses.  “What can you subtract from your day to make room for God?”  I believe that it’s time that God’s people come together in a corporate fast of busyness. We need to give up busyness for Lent and keep going!  Jay and his team spend hours each day praying and praising God.  Now you may be thinking “they’re pastors so they have the time for that”, but I challenge you to think a bit differently.

I challenge you to make time with the Father a priority.  I’ve said before that “I’m too busy” is really just a synonym for “that’s not important to me”.  We make time for what is important.  Think back to that soccer mom.  If Johnny wants to add another club, mom figures out how to fit it in.  If that career person gets invited to another meeting, he will make it work.  We make time for what we have at the top of our priority list.  Starting today, put God at the top of that list.

I’m subtracting daily now.  I am making time for God in place of things that aren’t that important.  I want God to be number one on my to do list each day.  Who will join me in fasting busyness?