Sunday, November 30, 2008

Core Values

For the next three days, we are going to keep looking into the book of Proverbs, but I wanted to diverge a little and talk about something that was integral to my tenure as an officer in the Air Force. I know that I talk a great deal about this time in my life, but it was big part for the better part of 12 years and many of my life lessons were learned as a leader in this country's military. While in the Air Force, we followed three core values that were the bedrock of our service commitment: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do. As you can see, these three core values can be applied to our lives outside of the structure and mission of a military force.

Let's look at the core value of Integrity First. I always defined integrity as what we do when no one is watching. I try to live out this mantra in my daily life. It's easy to do the right thing when others are observing what we do. Politicians are a great example. So what does this have to do with Proverbs and living our lives for Christ? "The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out" (Prov. 10:9 NIV).

The heart of this passage is in "walking securely." As Christ followers, we must walk with Christ securely through our day to day activities and actions. We must ensure that our integrity remains intact through the example that we set. God must be a part of everything that we do. When He is foremost in our decisions, in our responsibility, in all aspects of our lives, the Spirit then guides our every decision. When the Spirit guides our every decision, we become integrity personified and the light of Christ will shine through us. Also, our guilt does not consume us and we walk securely knowing that we have done as God commanded. Second thoughts are God talking.

What do we do when we are alone, flipping through the channels at night? What do we do when we are upset about our boss' decision? What do we do when there is a whole bunch of money on the line but the deal is shady? Our conscience is our integrity. When we ignore our conscience, we ignore Christ because the Spirit of God IS our conscience when we are "walking securely" with Him.

Just got Godfreeze and it hurts,
Jesus Freak Out!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Absolut Green

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." (Prov. 14:30 NIV)

Black Friday. Uuuuuurrrrrrhhhhhhhhh! This day absolutely terrifies me because of all the crazy things that happen, all in the spirit of "Christmas" or "the holidays." We hear about fights over the newest video game system, or some special talking Elmo doll that is out of stock, or over the closest parking space at the mall or department store. It's absolute insanity! It's absolute envy!

This holiday brings out the best in some people, and the absolute worst in others. We see the evils of jealousy, envy, covetessness (don't know if that is a word), and despise. Sometimes it's all because we don't have what the next person has. It's a destroyer of men and frankly, it's a destroyer of the soul.

Peace in a relationship with Jesus Christ is our only refuge and hope of overcoming that feeling of,"How come they get to have all that and I don't. IT'S NOT FAIR!" When we focus our efforts on what God had in mind for this season, i.e. celebrating His Son's birth, we can come to a peace with the world where having everything is not what it's all about. Christmas is about giving, and God gave us the greatest gift of all during this season: His son Jesus Christ. Let's celebrate that the most this season.

Turning the channel on my soul,
Jesus Freak Out!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beast of Burden

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest." (Prov. 14:4 NIV)

Oxen are some of the strongest animals in the world. They were the semi trucks of the ancient world and during Jesus' time here on earth, they were the economic life blood of an agrarian society. Oxen were used for tending a farmer's field, getting the harvest to market, and pretty much any other heavy labor task. Their strength was unrivaled by any other animal of the time, save the elephant.

If we think about it, Christ is our ox. Our community is the field that is ripe for the harvest and we are the farmers and field hands doing God's work on a daily basis. Maybe the verse should read,"Where there is no [Christ], [the church/our life/their life] is empty, but from the strength of [Christ] comes an abundant [number of people coming into relationship with Him/working for Him/doing His work]." Or, we can just take this verse at face value and believe that when God is in our lives, we will be blessed abundantly. Both are true statements and both will happen when we put our strength in Christ. But focus on the first, and all the blessings will come in due time.

We have a great many things to be thankful for this holiday season. We have breath in our lungs, we have a shirt on our backs, we have food in our stomachs, and we have a roof over our heads. We may not have a great deal of money in our wallets, but that is only relativity. I was awakened this Monday as our home team assisted a ministry in downtown Tampa for the homeless. It was their Thanksgiving meal and I can tell you that I was humbled to say the least. I am thankful for all that I have in this world, but most of all, I am thankful for a loving, gracious, and merciful God. Without Him, lost would be an understatement.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Thanking my Godly stars,
Jesus Freak Out!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Due Diligence

"The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor." (Prov. 12:24 NKJV)

Lately I have been in a rut with some aspects of my life. My career path is in jeopardy with the economy and the blossoming of a new family. A family has an impact on my career path? Yes, I have to ask myself what's more important, a wife and 2 beautiful children, a or cool career flying cool airplanes. I am stepping out of that "comfort zone" introducing the Truth of Jesus Christ to people, but when I pray, my mind tends to wander. I am having trouble focusing on the goals and being diligent about taking action on them.

Forever I have been a procrastinator extraordinaire. I don't get diligent until it's 2 minutes to midnight or the work really peaks my interest. I work best under stress, but this life with Christ is not a sprint, it's a marathon. It requires patience, not sloth. It requires action, not reaction. It especially requires hard work, time, and a selacious appetite to do what it takes for Jesus Christ. It's time we (I), change our habits and attitudes and push for Christ in all that we do, whether it's talking with people about God's greatest gift to mankind in His son Jesus Christ, or turning off the TV and getting done the honey do list that has been growing since eternity.

Hooking up the 12 volt for a jump start,
Jesus Freak Out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Contempt of Character

For the next few weeks, we are going to delve into the book of Proverbs and look at the endless treasure trove of "one liners" that can serve us all as we go about our walks for and with Christ. Solomon has been heralded as one of the wisest men ever to walk this earth, save Jesus Himself, and we can learn so much about how to live out our daily lives by just reading the superficial meaning of his words. We are going to look beyond just the words and see what God was really using this man for.

"A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue." (Prov 11:12 NIV)

Often times we live out our lives holding a certain contempt or resentment towards those who may have hurt us or caused us pain. We see the world through a narrow looking glass where we are the victim and the world is our oppressor. With this attitude, we tend to demean or "deride" those we only think we know. We become prejudiced. We become jaded. Life takes on a demeanor of deep seeded anger towards our circumstances, 99 out of 100 which we created ourselves. Let's flip the pancake and look at the other side.

Through Solomon, God was talking about how we treat those we don't know, those whose circumstances we may not fully understand or care to understand. Each person that we meet is a unique individual fully created by God and in His magnificent image. We must treat each and every one of them as such. There is no sin greater than another; there is no wrong against someone that is so heinous that we must become the judge, jury and executioner. It's not our place. Again, we try to take the place of God when we act as such. It's our job to introduce and help nurture a relationship with Jesus Christ through firm principles and loving strength. The example we set through our words and actions, may be the example that someone looks at as the character of Jesus Christ. Think about that next time we want to speak before thinking.

Pulling the 10.5 out of my mouth,
Jesus Freak Out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A New Lease on Living in Christ

I had a revelation the other day while I was driving down the road. I started thinking about all the people that Jesus spent His time with. I also thought about all the people that we see today who are just like those He loved most. Jesus' heart was after those who were broken, not the ones that were already "fixed." But, He saw them from a different perspective. Of course he saw them as sinners. What's funny though, He did not see them as we see most people that we call "sinners."

Too many times these days, we so-called Christians see non-believers for their sins before ever seeing them for the people they are. We see the druggie, the alcoholic, the homosexual, the player, or the greedy businessman. We don't see the person. Jesus always saw right past the sin to the heart of the person. He saw the hurt, the pain, the longing for love, and the yearning for belonging to something special. It's time to change our perspective.

When Jesus met the sinful woman at the Pharisee's house in Luke chapter 7, this was his exact perspective. Granted, her heart may already have been seeking Christ and forgiveness, but if Jesus saw her exactly as the Pharisee saw her, then her perception of Christ would have been totally changed. But her heart sought after what she knew to be true. If we can change our perspective towards that of Christ's heart, then those we encounter will see that we do not conform to the "Christians" of this world.

For too long I have watched as supposed Christians disgrace the very nature of Christ's heart. As a disclaimer, I do not presume to know the heart of Christ. If I did, I would have Him figured out and that is simply impossible. We must see others through the eyes of Christ and not those of a Pharisee. There are many people out there whose hearts are aching for us to love them for where they are, not where we expect them to be. We must look past their sins, look deep into their hearts, show them Christ's love, and leave the heart changing to God. When we supplant ourselves into Christ's role, we take away His power and make it our own. It is not ours to own.

Using my wide angle lens on life,
Jesus Freak Out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not Enough Indians

The last part of Paul's charge to the church was to "discharge all the duties of your ministry." Well, let's define our ministry first. You don't have to be a youth pastor, or a lead pastor, or the head of some great foundation, or run your local churche's ladies group to have a ministry. We have ministries of our own in our homes and in our workplaces. Just because it isn't titled Church at the Bay or Metropolitian Ministries, doesn't mean that we don't have ministerial duties to perform. Everyone we meet or come in contact with is a ministry opportunity, whether they are Christ followers, and especially if they are not.

We have to look beyond just our churches to see that we can minister to anyone, anywhere, anytime. We don't need fancy names and associations to be a minister. We can start at home, at school, or at work. Ministers are like assistants or administrators to the boss (that would be Christ). When we "discharge all the duties," we are working directly for God, doing as His Spirit prompts us to do, and there is no such thing as a title when it comes to ministry.

Tomorrow, I will introduce an interesting perspective on non-believers. Until then......

Stepping up to the plate,
Jesus Freak Out!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Your Momma's Televangelist

A couple of posts ago, I was going to finish discussing the last 2 portions of the post concerning keeping our heads in the game. In the next portion of verse 5, chapter 4 of Paul's second letter to Timothy, he writes about "endur[ing] harship" which I have blogged about before. The next 2 short statements are important as well.

First, "do the work of an evangelist." By the title of this post, you can see what first comes to my mind when I think of evangelism. Televangelists can be far from what God had in mind. Evangelism, or an evangelist, neither has the authority of an apostle nor the gift of prophecy, or even the responsibility of pastoral care of a congregation. An evangelist is simply someone who carries the gospel message to places it has never been known, with origins in Acts with Philip. Hmmmmm, places it has never been known. How about our own community?

By definition, we can all, and should be, evangelists. Personally, I don't like titles, especially when they have the negative connotation in our society like this. But, we must call a spade a spade. Now, we don't have to stand on the street corner and spout off about the end of the world, or protest at an abortion clinic and demean those who go in. That is stupidity, not evangelism. We must "gently," yet firmly and truthfully speak of Jesus Christ, why He came to this earth for us, and about the life change that will come in a relationship with Him. That is evangelism.............and we have to start NOW.

Take it away Johnny,
Jesus Freak Out!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Acting Childish

Why do we teach our children not to talk to strangers, get in a car with them, or scream bloody murder if they should do something to them? Because we know that children can be all too trusting and put too much faith in someone they don't know. So why would God say that we should be like little children?

In Luke chapter 18, Jesus shows us why we should be like children. "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it" (v. 17). So what was he saying? While children can be trusting and open, adults are the complete opposite. As adults, we tend to be guarded, skeptical, and downright stand-offish towards what we can't see or touch. We always need proof. That is why we as adults are far too trusting in ourselves and not in the ultimate power of Christ.

To set the example for those who do not truly believe, we must show our child-like faith. We must show that our trust in the power of God is 100%, and that no matter what, we know in our hearts that Christ will ultimately be our saving grace.

Tapping my inner child,
Jesus Freak Out!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Personal Journal

I have started posting my personal Journal as a blog now. I am not all that consistent with doing it because I need a habit pattern to form to really get something done regularly. But, I will update this at least once a week. This is therapy for me and you will see all sorts of interesting stuff. I'm not looking for support, sympathy, or pity. I'm doing this to help others and to seek advice from those with much more "experience" than I. Please take a look and let me know what you think. There are only a couple of posts right now, but more will be coming. Have a blessed day and be safe.

God Bless,
Jesus Freak Out!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eureka! I Found It.........

Well, well, well. We have finally found where our heads end up as Christ followers sometimes. I know I have found my head here a time or two and it wasn't fun when God said,"Let's here that pop my son." Whether it's here, or in the sand, or in the clouds, or wherever, sometimes we need to swiftly remove it from that location and start using it for God. In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he talks about this very thing: "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure harship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2Tim 4:5 NIV).
In a previous post, I talked about enduring the hardship of being a Christ follower. In the next two, I am going to talk about the last two charges that Paul gives us. Until then, enjoy your weekend.
Pulling hard,
Jesus Freak Out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Generosity Cured the Cat

Many times, as followers of Christ, we give monetarily to a charity or donate loads of our outdated stuff to Goodwill to make ourselves feel good about the work we do for Him. But, all too often, God overlooks these small acts to see where our hearts truly lie. Don't get me wrong, these are all noble enterprises that will be seen by God, but what he truly asks for is us, not our "stuff."

"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (Prov 11:25 NIV). Solomon may be talking about being generous with what God has blessed us with tangibly, but more important, this can and should be applied to our generosity of time. Time is one of the most precious resources we have. It is the one thing that we own, can never have or get enough of, and that vanishes in an instant if we don't use it..........wisely. It is irreplaceable. Instead of the time value of money, like in investments, we need to look at this like the God value of time. Investing 5 minutes just listening or talking with someone in emotional need is worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox.

When we are generous with the time God has bestowed us with, we are being "good stewards" of more than just the tangibles. Generosity of money is only superficial to the giving of time in helping someone come into relationship with Christ, helping them through a tough struggle in life, or just lending an ear to bend. When we give of our time, we show someone and possibly the world what Jesus Christ also gave us: unlimited time in marriage with Him if we believe, live, and accept Him.

Money, Shmoney,
Jesus Freak Out!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, after taking a few days to relax from blogging, take in the election, take in the fact that I'm gonna be a dad again, and learning to fly a new airplane, I am back at it again 6 of 7 days a week.

Lately I have been having a spirited conversation with a close family member over e-mail about the new scene of our political landscape. Yah, I know, I must let it go and be the better man. I must concentrate on showing the truth over showing my political views. But through this conversation, I believe that God has been shining through. I have been called names, persecuted for being a believer, and cursed for some of the things that I have said. But, I have been working hard not to boil over and fight back in the same fashion. I think it is working.

As Paul was working to set straight the ways of the believers in Corinth, his first letter highlights a mighty truth in how we should conduct ourselves when we are attacked for our belief in Jesus Christ. "When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly" (1 Cor 4:12-13 NIV). So, how do we react when we are attacked and persecuted for Christ? Do we complain and whine that God is not treating us fairly? Do we lash out at the person sending the grenade our way? Or do we show humility and strength by taking our lick on the chin and smiling in spite of the heart ache?

It's a difficult road as a Christian. It is a road often mired by defeat, isolation, humiliation, and embarassment. But when we seek the face of God in all that we do, we can endure through any persecution by shining His light on the situation and not stooping to the level of the attack.

Disclaimer: This family member is a great person with a huge heart. They are passionate and they did not cross a great line that they did not apologize for. I can only hope that I reacted in a Christ like fashion when I responded each time.

Hit me again,
Jesus Freak Out!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Awesome Day

Just a quick post for today on some news that my wife and I received. We went to see the doctor and we are going to have our second child!!!!!! I am so excited, stressed, scared, anxious, excited, motivated, moved, excited. Oh, did I say excited. God has blessed us with the most wonderful gift in the world and I plan on doing all that I can to be the best father and mentor to Ethan and our new addition.

Too excited to write more,
Jesus Freak Out!

A New Day Has Dawned......

Whether we like it or not, this country has spoken and we have elected a new president. The greatest thing about this whole distasteful election season is the fact the we have come so very far in over 200 years of history. What once divided a nation and nearly tore it apart, may now be the uniting factor. The first black President in the history of the United States will take office in a little over two and a half months. Dr. Martin Luther King would be proud of us. I'm not talking about being proud of the issues that may get solved or of gloating that "the right" man won the election. I am talking about how great this country is at overcoming adversity. Not matter what, though, we must continue with our one and only job: exposing the Truth of Jesus Christ to the whole world.

Our country faces a time of unprecedented and unknown challenges. The best thing we can do is "Pray continuously." And that I will do with more vigor and a renewed trust in the grace and mercy of our Savior.

With hope for the future,
Jesus Freak Out!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


A little more explanation to my post from yesterday.

God has a soft spot in His heart for those who come to Him, seek forgiveness, and begin a relationship that is like no other. We must do the same. It is hard sometimes to forgive someone who does the same thing over and over, comes back and asks forgiveness, and then does it again. God does not ask us to hound people for the sins they commit. He asks us to admonish them, and then pray. Then pray some more, oh and then pray some more. Wait for it, and then pray again. When we hound someone, whether they are a believer or not, it pushes them away from us and from God. Jesus never pushed anyone away that was not on a high horse and needed to be knocked off. We must still love them no matter what. That does not mean that we approve of their actions or act as though they are acceptable.

Let God do the work of correcting and let us do the work of praying. It's our only solice, escape, and answer to anything. Results are not immediate. It could take days, months, years or decades. For that matter, it may never happen, but it will be in God's plan for everything. Leave it to Him and do the work that we must: pray and be strong for our brothers and sisters. Say it once and then get down on our knees. I guarantee the other person will not forget what you have said and that God will do what He feels is necessary. It's not our call.

Saying it once and loving them always,
Jesus Freak Out!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

My momma told me this for most of my childhood and adulthood. It still rings true in my mind as I go about doing God's work to the best of my meager abilities. All too often we see this not ringing true with us as we view the lives of those around us, be it they are fellow Christ followers or those we are pursuing for Christ.

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he addresses this issue in a round about sort of way when it comes to our fellow Christ followers. But it can also apply as we approach non-believers. "If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has all of you, to some extent............Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him" (2 Cor 2:5-8 NIV).

When someone is truly sorry for a sin they have committed, this means that we forgive and emotionally forget. It is impossible to mentally forget. If we don't, we risk doing damage to that person on a level that can be irreparable. And we put ourselves in God's place by leveling judgment, instead of love. It's a fine line that we all have trouble defining. But we must find the inner strength to get over ourselves and find the common ground.

This was hard for me to explain without being lengthy in one post so I am going to clarify my remarks further tomorrow. Please chime in with your thoughts.

Saying it once and leaving it there,
Jesus Freak Out!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Baptism by Fire

I have heard this saying more than once in my life and it had nothing to do with Jesus Christ. When I was a brand spankin' new 2nd Lt in the Air Force, I was put in leadership positions that some could only say were baptism by fire. At 23, right out of college, I was in charge of groups of aircraft maintainers as large as 180. It was daunting, and I was entrusted with a great deal of responsibility from the get go, with no prior experience; sounds a lot like someone else we know.

When John the Baptist was preaching and paving the way for the coming of Jesus' ministry here on earth, he told all those who came to listen to him that, "I baptize you with water, but [H]e will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8 NIV). Other translations say that He was coming to baptize us with fire. Until now, I did not really know what this meant. It is now clear.

Our "baptism by fire" and the "Holy Spirit" means that God has put us in charge of spreading the Truth. If we have truly changed our hearts towards the things of Christ, then upon our baptism, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and entrusted with the responsibility of spreading the Truth. As brand new Christ followers, we do not have a great deal of experience. But that is exactly who God is looking for to spread His message and help Him bring people into that relationship. If God were advertising for the job of a Christ follower, it might read something like this: "No experience required just a heart willing to follow. Will provide all things needed. Faith a must."

Applying for my position,
Jesus Freak Out!