God is my Re:fuge

so this week at K2 the Church we were in Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[a] A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields[b] with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

It occurred to to me that many of us assume that God’s Refuge/Fortress protection is supposed to “run to us” wherever we are at … but in real life [at least as real as I can imagine real war conflict from my experience in movies and paintball] we all know that we need to run to the Refuge.  yet all too often we are angry at the Refuge [God] for not protecting us … and all the while we have not really run to Him.

David equates living in God’s perfect words and commands to taking refuge behind His shield  in @ Sam 22.31

31 “As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.

So today, who/what are you taking refuge in?  When you get in trouble/ stress/ conflict/ depressed … where do you turn?  Food, TV, shopping, drinking, work, new relationships, exercise, porn, prescription meds?  Why don’t you try turning the the Refuge – One who can shield you and really protect you?

If you want to you can go to www.k2thechurch.com and download the sermon – I taught 10.30.11 in the Red Box.

failing fore:ward frequently

so back in the day my blog was called ‘failing forward frequently.’  i’m not sure where i originally used the term – i think it was in a sermon series in Oregon in 2002, but i can’t be totally sure.  however, when i went to wordpress.com from blogspot a few years ago i changed it, and coined it ‘5guys and 1amazing girl’ because it was about us as a family and our movements in life and ministry to and from Africa…and that is clearly who we are!

that specific season has [obviously] come to an end, and most of my posts and thoughts have returned to my pastoral and transformational musings, instead of largely being family updates, etc…

so – failing forward frequently?  yep.  that’s as simply as i can picture my walk with jesus.  in my mind, the picture i see is me with my boys when they were little – their hand in mine – walking across the reef at the beach or up a trail toward the top of Exectuion Point in Ezulwini Swaziland … them stumbling all the way and never falling – because of my love and protection for them.  they were, you see, falling and failing forward toward the goal of the day, be that an afternoon summit or finding that perfect reef discovery…  they were safe in my hand and grace, growing within the context of every fall as they clung to me and got their footing back.  these are obviously not new thoughts or my observations – david taught me this in Ps37.23-24 as he wrote:

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

thanks God, my Father and Friend, that you continue to patiently hold my hand down the path of life – seeking for me to trust in you to make the path straight and clear [Prov 3.5-6], and catching me as i stumble on and off of it frequently.

re:funny the way it is

So today I was with one of my buddies who is fighting for his life and health – I was praying for him and his wife, thanking God for his recovery from surgery.  Grateful.  Optimistic.  Hope and joy for years ahead.

Shortly after that I heard of another buddy’s death – healthy guy for the most part, physically that is.  He took his life today.  Confused.  Devastating.  Final.  Questions and hurt unresolved.

One day.  2 different buddies.  The same fight, really.  2 different directions.  Very different days.

I can’t get DMB outta my head – and I can’t really say it any better…

“Funny the way it is
If you think about it
Somebody’s going hungry
And someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is
Not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken
And it becomes your favorite song

The way your mouth feels in a lovers kiss
Like a pretty bird on a breeze or water to a fish
A bomb blast brings a building crashing to the floor
Hear the laughter while the children play war

Funny the way it is
If you think about it
One kid walks 10 miles to school
Another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is
Not right or wrong
On a soldier’s last breath
His baby is being born….”

Tonight my kids were complaining about doing there schoolwork.  2 years ago in Africa we were paying [as a family] for 4 kids to attend school – 2 of them walked 8 miles over a mountain peak to and from school every day to attend elementary classes.  Those Swazi kids would feel like the most blessed kids in the world to live in this house and go to this school – for a while, anyway.

Then the more they grow accustomed to the blessings they might/would fall into the same rut my kids are in.

Just like anyone of us, might lose sight of the hope of life in the Love and Truth, and fall into the same rut my buddy fell into.

Today I both mourn and rejoice in brotherly love kinda like Paul teaches in Romans 12.10-15 “10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

Today I am grateful, and I’m mourning.  Funny the way it is, when you think about it…

re:rainbows and streams, and gettin’ easily out of sorts

I finally had a good day of fishing here in UT.  To be honest, I was beginning to doubt that I would ever catch a fish again.  We were up in the Uintas camping as a staff team for a few days and I fished for 3 hours one afternoon, and 4 the next.  The first day was not very impressive, but by the 2nd day I FINALLY figured out what was on the menu.  The truth is, even though I have had great days of fly fishing in the past, when you have a number of days in a row of gettin’ skunked in the stream[s], you feel like all of the fish in all of the streams, and possibly even the Creator Himself, are probably against you!

In similar fashion I was talking to a friend at church a while ago, and she shared with me how she is in a season of uncertainty about her life and ministry.  I stood there listening to her doubt and confusion, and it reminded me of my own … not unlike my experiences in the river.  It amazes me how easily we get out of sorts … even in the midst of pursuing Jesus!  My friend so truly is an amazing woman of God – with clear giftings and ministry into so many people’s lives.  In the short year we have been here, I have seen and heard dozens of accounts of her influence in [my life and] the lives of those around us.  To hear her say, ‘I’m not really sure of what I’m supposed to be doing…have I missed it?” … it reminds me that we are all so easily knocked off our way.

So Jesus, how is it that I, as one of your kids, get so easily off track?  How is it that so often I am either in the uncertainty of brokenness, needing healing and re:assurance, or in the bold callousness of ‘feeling great’ and all the while operating in my own flesh?  I swing back and forth on this pendulum of life with you Jesus, with so few moments of purely balanced ‘walking in the Spirit.’  I know God that in those pure moments of dependence on You, I find in my life Your humility and Power working simultaneously … and I want to stay in that stream forever.

The other day on the stream I was an hour and a half into the 2nd day’s hike upstream when a beautiful hole emerged just around the bend…and I had one of those perfectly balanced moments.  The smooth surface of the hole lay still and shaded under the protection of the trees above as it seamlessly fell over the rock fall into the rapid that foamed right under my feet.   The knee-deep pool about 30 ft long sat motionless, except for the occasional ‘gulps’ of water that evidenced that at least 2 fish were feeding off the surface and calling this hole home.  I had been thru a number of patterns already, and even thought I had caught about 10 fish, I wasn’t quite in the groove yet.  So I tied on a size12 black mosquito pattern with a grey hare’s ear #18 trailing off the back and crept up toward the hole.

I was standing below the hole, so the surface of the water was just about at the height of my chest.  As I was working the line out, getting it to the right distance, I found my self a bit nervous.  I set the fly[flies] down a bit to roughly and worried that I might’ve blown the opportunity with my first cast.  And sure enough: Nothing.

Have you ever been there?  excited at one more opportunity to hear clearly from the Lord … and nothing.  You thought for sure you read the signs correctly – that you felt the leading of the Spirit – that God was going to use this situation … and nothing.  Is it me God?  Did I screw up the approach again?  What’s the right formula – what’s the right approach?  How long God?

Oh I’ve been there – with Jesus and with the stream.  But on this day, on my second cast into that hole, with a bit more line out and a couple shadow casts over the surface, by the time my mosquito graced the water, the glass erupted without notice and a dance was on!  The truth is that I caught a dozen more beautiful rainbows and brookies on that fly combination in the next hour up the stream!

in Uintas 08.11

Now catching big fish, or a lot of fish, is fun, don’t get me wrong!  But for me the deep joy of fly fishing is working my way up the stream to the place that only a few have ventured, waiting on the right moment, tying on the right fly, presenting it all just perfectly, and enjoying the dance of the fish on the end of my 8X tippet.  And until that moment, I was doubting that I would ever get the right combination back again.  So the best part is feeling like I heard and saw clearly, approached the hole with stealth and precision, and caught that fish!

What’s amazing to me is that it will only take a few days of not catching any fish for me to forget this instance completely.  My memory seems to have almost no tolerance for the absence of catching fish, or for the long dark of the night, when it seems that morning will never arrive.  When it seems that I have not heard from God freshly about the direction of my life and ministry for a few months, and the night seems particularly cold or uncomfortable, I find my heart questioning that I ever heard clearly from Him.

David cried out to the Lord similarly in #27

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.”

The truth is that it is all grace from God that we hear Him at all.  That He gives us His Spirit to comfort and lead us is too good to be true.  So God I wait on You.  For now, in the dark of the night, I will gratefully write of the promises You have given, of the words You have graced me with, and I will be strong and take heart, eagerly longing for the morning, when I feel your warmth and see clearly again.

re: gettin’ ID’d

Next month we are doing baptisms here @K2 in SLC – I can’t wait!  so i dug up this 2007 post for those of you who are considering it…

Being id’d, or ‘identified,’ with Christ is a great spiritual privilege for those who have believed in Him and been transformed by faith through the grace of His resurrection.

Christ called us to tell the good news of the forgiveness that is available in the Cross to everyone around us ‘as we go’ in life, making them followers of Him by teaching them the Word in a way that leads to the radical transformation of lives. to cap it off though, He told us all to get id’d with him – identified with Him in Baptism. identified with Christ in His death and resurrection to new life – the old is gone, and the new has come!

So Sunday was and ‘id’d day’ at our church. people id’d with Christ because they just got saved. kids id’d with Christ who have been trusting in Jesus for few years, but just decided to get baptized. adults who finally faced their fears and committed themselves to living for Christ. people who got saved during the baptism service and got id’d in the water on the spot!

so 67 in all were baptized – id’d with Christ for all to see – what a day! and the first one i had the honor of baptizing was my oldest son squire. what an honor as a dad, to get to baptize, along with my dad, the first of the next generation of my family, as he continues to choose to id himself with Jesus! one of the best moments of life!! thank you Lord – may You lead him and keep him as he continues to grow and learn to walk with you. amen.


what to do re:criticism

I was reading today and came across this post from CJ Mahaney on criticism, humility, and repentance.  He quotes Carl Trueman, the Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, in his most recent online article, “Thank God for Bandit Country” In it Trueman explains how Luther’s words have served him in handling personal criticism.

I have learned much (as elsewhere) from the master theologian, churchman, public figure, and normal Christian believer, Martin Luther. It is well-known that in his writings [and] in table conversation Luther would often refer to visits from the Devil, how the Devil would come to him and whisper in his ear, accusing him of all manner of filthy sin: “Martin, you are a liar, greedy, lecherous, a blasphemer, a hypocrite. You cannot stand before God.” To which Luther would respond: “Well, yes, I am. And, indeed, Satan, you do not know the half of it. I have done much worse than that and if you care to give me your full list, I can no doubt add to it and help make it more complete. But you know what? My Saviour has died for all my sins—those you mention, those I could add and, indeed, those I have committed but am so wicked that I am unaware of having done so. It does not change the fact that Christ has died for all of them; his blood is sufficient; and on the Day of Judgment I shall be exonerated because he has taken all my sins on himself and clothed me in his own perfect righteousness.”  Luther knew what temptation looked like; he knew his own wickedness; but he also knew the all-surpassing perfection and grace of Christ.

A couple things to think about, if you’re a follower of Jesus:

  1. Don’t be a critical jerk who loves to find fault in everyone – let love cover over a multitude of stupid stuff in others – Eph.4.1-3, 1Pt.4.8
  2. Be humble and welcome the love a friend who wants to give you feedback on the way you are living – don’t get hung up on their stuff – be willing to grow – James 5.19-20
  3. When you get feedback about your faults and sin, celebrate the grace of Jesus and His love for you and the work He is doing in you!!  We all have sin, don’t pretend you’re perfect.  Take the feedback.  Repent. Grow!  Romans 7.21-25
  4. Talk openly about your din and honor Jesus with the progressive work that he is doing in you.  Honesty encourages honesty and humility, and gives you an opportunity to talk about your experience of the gospel with others.

re:nd of the world – May 21

So according to Harold Camping, God’s gonna pull up the tent pegs and break camp tomorrow, May 21.  Or was it in 1994?  I thought I’d throw out my two cents, for you to ponder … There are books written entirely on this, but we’re gonna nail it in 3 simple verses of Scripture.

1.  Jesus is really God, and He is coming back someday.

Acts 1.9 After he [Jesus] said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

2.  Christians look forward to [and are not surprised by] the return of Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 51 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.   4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. [written by Apostle Paul, 51AD]

3.  Nobody knows the time Jesus will return.

Matthew 24: 36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 39  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  [spoken by Jesus, 33AD]

So here it is – Jesus IS coming again – maybe even today!  While that sounds crazy to someone who doesn’t know and believe in Christ, it is true!  BUT here’s the thing – we’re not supposed to spend our time trying to figure out the hour Jesus will return, but tell as many people about His love for them until He does [or until our time here on earth is over and we die and go to meet Him!]  Focus you life now on living and loving people in order to tell them about Jesus – don’t waste it worrying about when the end of time will be!