Whining, Teflon Shields, and Extreme Justice (new blog post)

David is having a tough time in Psalm 109.  People are attacking him and his character, and are lying about him.  Here is a part of what he says in that song:

"3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer."

I've had to read that one a few times this morning.  Does ol' King David have A.D..D. or what?  He's going on about how he is under attack, he's acting rightly and they are being jerks, and then, out of nowhere, he throws in "...but I am a man of prayer."

So?  What does that have to do with anything?  It's so out of left field I've had to let it soak for a bit today.  What he's saying is that he hates being under attack.  These people are destroying him with their words, and it hurts.  In the middle of all of this, he is a man of prayer.  It's not a "giving up" kind of statement.  He's not saying "They are attacking me, but I can't fight back.  I would, but I'm a man of prayer." (say it in a whiny voice for better effect.)  No, it's not that.

He's not saying that because he's a man of prayer, that their words are powerless on him.  As you read the Psalm, it's breaking him and making him angry.  Prayer isn't some magical Teflon shield that protects you from other people.  He feels the hurt, the pain, the fear, the insecurity.  It's not super protection.

He is a fighter, a warrior.  He is one of the greatest soldiers in the nation's history.  He's a mighty king, a veteran of battles.  That is why He prays.  He knows the only way to win this battle, to come back in this defeat, to recover from this severe pain, is to turn to the one strong enough to save him.  He is a man of prayer.  He's saying, they are attacking, and are very good at what they are doing.  BUT, I am a man of prayer, and I will do what I am good at.  I will run to God.  That is my victory.  

If you look at the rest of the Psalm, that is exactly what He does.  He prays about the whole situation, and begs God to get involved.  He prays for evil people to come into his accusers lives and destroy them.  He prays for God's justice.  He prays for God to move.  He prays.

In the end, He wins.  History shows David overcomes the people trying to tear him down.  He wins.

Because he prays.

Isn't it too bad that whole "I am a man of prayer" thing doesn't work today?  Yeah......too bad.....

Help for Joplin, MO

If you want to help with the incredible devestation in Joplin, there is an AMAZING church called Mystery Church that is located in downtown Joplin.  They are incredible, and LOVE their community.  Pray for them, for their pastor Steev Inge, his family, and the community today.  You can go to their website and help out financially if you are able. 


Why Won't God Show Up on Cue? (new blog post)

Psalm 30 says:

1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”
7 Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

8 To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?  Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. 

I'll be honest, I'm only 50% with this Psalm today.  The part in verse 7 where David says "when you hid your face, I was dismayed."  Yeah.  I'm a bit "dismayed" today.  Some close friends are going through an incredibly tough time, and a ton of prayers are going up in their name.  But the bad news seems to multiply on itself in this situation.  

I'm frustrated.  

I want things to be better for them.  Happier.  More peaceful

I want God to ride in on the white horse and save the day.  Save the day, today.  Right now.

But it's not happening.

And I'm impatient.  Even as I write this, I hear Him lovingly telling me He has it.  I want the government to come to the rescue.  They aren't.  I want to be able to save my friends.  I can't.  My friends want to fix it all.  They can't.

Just Him.

So I can only pray "Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help."  Be our help today.


8th Grade Graduation 2011

Here is the video from our 8th Grade Graduation night.

8th Grade Graduation 2011

FOR SALE: 1 Slightly Used Chariot, and 50 Running Men (new blog post)

All of my life I've been a "planner".  I'm one of those people who have a plan, a back up plan, a contingency plan behind that, and a level four emergency plan.  I have tended to think in terms of five and ten years out at a time, and honestly, it's usually helped me out a ton.  I like having plans, because it has brought me a sense of comfort, security, and direction.

People around me have applauded my plans.  They have told me since I was little that I was wise, that I was a leader, that the plans I had were gifts God had given me.  And for whatever reason, God chose to be really kind to me and bless me in those plans.

But as I've gotten older, He has changed in how He is dealing with those ideas.  At first, He simply asked me to pray before I made any plans.  Then, a while later in life, He told me that I needed to hear his plans for me.  You know the verse out of Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you....etc."  But recently, he has asked me to let go of plans all together, and trust Him.  I'm not sure how to explain it.  I still have teaching plans for the youth group.  I'm still making schedules a year in advance for the ministries.  I am working on ideas for where, and when, we will go this summer as a family.  That isn't what God is after.

He's after the plans that "move" me somewhere else.  The plans that further my own position, renown, fame, authority, etc.  The plans that make me better known, more liked, more famous.  I realize fully that many people don't even deal with this idea.  But planners like me do.  It's the dark side of the whole planning thing.  It borders on scheming.  I found it in the Bible today too.

2 Samuel 15 is talking about David's son, Absalom.  Here is what it says:

"1 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him."  

What's the big deal, right?  Well, this chapter shows how Absalom has decided that he wants to be king.  So, he begins making plans on how to win people over.  He's really, really good at it.  The whole chariot and fifty men running thing is a play to show his authority and power.  Now, let's be clear about something;

he has no power.

He is a prince.  His dad is king.  But he is engineering things to set himself up for a power grab. 

And it works.  

He takes over the kingdom in the next chapter.  His plans work.

But they were bad plans.  This is what God is working on me for.  Am I willing to let go of the "climb the ladder" plans in life?  Am I willing to be whoever God wants me to be, in whatever area of the world, doing whatever He wants me to, today?  Can I be happy in that?  Can I find real joy in my position as His son, and that be enough?

Well, yeah, I can.  But it hurts.  And it's hard to do.  And I don't always like it.

But that is where I am at.  

That's God's plan.

What about you?  What plans are you working out, what "dreams" are you chasing, that are about you and not about God?  Are they in the way?  Are you having a hard time hearing God's voice over the buzz you're creating about yourself?

80's Piano Music Changed My Life (new blog post)

Growing up, there was this folk singer named Keith Green.  He played piano, and sang worship music.  What is amazing is, even though he recorded in the 1980's, if he was alive and recording that same music today, it'd be a hit.  It wasn't rock, it wasn't super difficult musically, but it was beautiful and you knew that he loved Jesus in a way that you didn't yet.  His music made me want to know and love Jesus more in a way that few other people have affected me.

One of his songs was "Create in Me a Clean Heart".  It comes from the Psalms, and today, in my reading, I hit it.  It goes like this in Psalm 51:

"10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

I automatically start singing it as soon as I read it.  I have sung those verses/lyrics hundreds of times in my life, because they really are my prayer.   I want to encourage you to think them over today.  What do these verses mean to you?  How would it change your day if God answered this prayer for you?

1 By Youth Pics from Indy (new post and pics)

1 By Youth 2011

Here are the photo's from 1 by Youth in Indy.  Check them out and see what all went down.  It was a great day!

How to Play Favorites with God and Win (new blog post)

Have you ever wondered what type of people make God smile?  Ok, I know, He doesn't actually have a mouth, He is spirit, blah, blah, blah.  You know what I mean.  What type of person brings joy to God?  Who makes Him proud? 

Is it the person who memorizes the most Bible verses?  What about the person who can pray the longest without stopping?  Is it the person who can sing the best, with tears flowing down their cheeks, at a moment's notice?  It must be that preacher who can make people laugh, cry, and then rededicate their lives to Jesus.  It's gotta be someone off this list, right?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Check out Psalms 15

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 Those whose walk is blameless,
who do what is righteous,
who speak the truth from their hearts;

3 who have no slander on their tongues,
who do their neighbors no wrong,
who cast no slur on others;

4 who despise those whose ways are vile
but honor whoever fears the Lord;
who keep their oaths even when it hurts;

5 who lend money to the poor without interest
and do not accept bribes against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken. 


So, let's look at this.  Who gets to hang out with God? Who is allowed to be with Him?  David is asking who does God enjoy being with?  Those whose walk is blameless and do what is righteous.  What does that actually mean?  He lists it out in the following verses.

1. Speak the truth.  Tell the truth to other people, and to yourself.
2. Have no slander.  Don't put other people down by lying about them, or making them look bad.
3. Who do their neighbors no wrong.  Treat others well.
4. Cast no slur.  See #3.  It must be important if he hits it twice.
5. Despise those who are evil.  Be careful who you let influence you. 
6. Honor those who fear God.  Choose people who love Jesus to be your closest friends.
7. Lend money freely to the poor.  Be generous to anyone in need.
8. Don't accept bribes.  Treat everyone the same.

So, what's the pattern?  It all has to do with how we treat other people.  Who brings joy to God?  The people who love Him, and then show that love to others.  Not the talented, the most devoted, the most serious people.  Not the upfront performers, or the leaders of the group.  God is most excited about the people who treat others well, with fairness, generosity, kindness, and truth.

So, think about this week.  If you were to decide just based on this week, would you be in that crowd?  If not, why?  What needs to change?  Who do you need to treat better?

I thought it was pretty interesting to see that today when I read it.  What are your thoughts?

Whatever You Do, Do NOT Dance Like David! (new blog post)

Sometimes we think God is very, very interested in what we are doing for Him.  It can easily become a subconscious idea that we need to make God happy.  We find that idea going on in 1 Chronicles 13.  David becomes king, and realizes they need to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem so that they can use it for worship and prayer.  The Ark isn't the one that Noah built, that was a huge boat.  This Ark is a box a few feet long that held the tablets the 10 Commandments were written on and the staff that Aaron used in Egypt to perform miracles.  It was a sacred box that represented God's truth, God's reign, and God's power to the people.  It was very sacred and important.  God had told Moses and the people that if anyone touched it with their bare hands, then they would die.  They were supposed to carry it on poles, and only the priests could carry it.  They whole idea was for the people to understand that it wasn't an idol, or something to worship.  It was a symbol of God's love and power.  Respect God by respecting what He gave them.

So, David decides to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.  To use in prayer.  It was never used that way.  The priests prayed to God directly, not through a box.  But David wanted to use it that way.  So, they put it on a cart, and began hauling it to Jerusalem.  In the story, it talks about how hard David and his crew danced, sang, and celebrated.  It says "8 David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets."  Why?  I've heard it was because David loved God so much, that he was captured in worship, taken by his passion for Jehovah. 

I don't think so.

When you read the whole story, the story is about how misguided David is.  He does everything wrong.  No priests are moving the ark, just people.  It's on a cart, not on poles.  It's being treated like an idol with power, not a symbol of the power of God.  So, when one of the ox stumbles, the cart tips, and the Ark begins to fall off (maybe that is part of God's reason for having the priests carry it?).  One of the guys there puts his hand on it to catch it, and he dies.  No, God isn't being petty or mean.  The whole crew is being disobedient and trying to manipulate God by what they are doing instead of listening to what He said to do.  It cost one guy his life, and David got scared and moved the Ark to someone else's house.

We do the same thing.  We can easily believe that God is someone who we need to impress with how dedicated we are, or how passionate we are, or how smart we are, or how much we serve and give, or with how judgemental we can be, or with how forgiving we can be, or with how nice we can be.  If we are simply ______________ enough, then He will be happy with us.


He loves us because of who He is.  Our worship services are symbols of Him, not idols to hold to tightly.  Our music, art, giving, laughter, love, and kindness all point back to how amazing He is, not how good we are.  

When we take anything of God's, and try to control it our way, it will kill us.  Every time.

So, often we do what David did.  We get freaked out and run from God.  But catch the last part of this story:

"12 David was afraid of God that day and asked, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?”13 He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had."

David dumped this dangerous thing on Obed-Edom.  When David was convinced it was too much for him to handle, he ditched his guilt and responsibility on someone else. 

And God blessed them.

The Ark wasn't the problem.  David's heart was.

Your ministry isn't the problem.
Your family isn't the problem.
Your job isn't the problem.
Your boyfriend / girlfriend / spouse isn't the problem.
Your church isn't the problem.

It's in your, and my, heart.

The rest are just symbols.

Sitting and Waiting for the Start of the Show. (new blog post)

I've had a lot of conversations this morning with several people.  There is simply a ton of hurt going on right now.  I realize that is always true, but I am more aware of it just from hearing people's situations and challenges.  Sin is such a very ugly, ugly thing.

Then I sit down and read in Psalm 106 that David speaks of his great grandparents and says this:

"13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold."

David tells about how God had saved the Israelites.  They had great days as they came out of Egypt as slaves.  They were rescued time and time again in the desert.  God proved Himself faithful over, and over, and over, and over.  But they forgot, and they didn't wait.

So, in this case, what should they have done?  


And waited.

Remembered all of the times that God had answered their prayers and saved them.  Remember the feelings of a victory that wasn't theirs to own, of a time where God fed them, or cared for them, or spoke to them, or showed them a cloud of fire to lead them.  Remember that the God they follow isn't into what is fair, or even, but is into grace, mercy, hope, and generosity.  Remember how their heart felt when they realized that God was really, honestly for them.  Remember how their lives changed for the better when they chose to obey Him, and He turned everything on it's head in the most beautiful of ways.  Remember.

And wait.  When we know that God is a God who works, He is a God who is active, He is a God who hears and answers our prayers regardless of how worthy we are, then we can wait.  It isn't like waiting with no hope.  It's like waiting on the 4th of July, just as dusk settles.  The anticipation is huge, the excitement is palpable, you can barely sit still, just knowing that the fireworks are ready to light up the sky.  You know from years past how amazing the rockets will be.  You trust that there is a crew out there, somewhere, in the dark, setting everything up, just right.  They know exactly how to make it all work, and they are ready to go.  It all comes down to the guy in charge giving the signal, and then..... oooohhh.......ahhhhh!  It's magical.  That is the kind of waiting we need to step into.  We know God is out there, working, preparing.  We know He is trustworthy and true.  We just need to wait for Him to give the signal, and then......

Beauty.  Magical, darkness destroying, light up the night, take your breath away, wasn't it worth the wait, how unbelievable is this, beauty.

Remember.  And wait.

Waiting for God. (new blog post)

God and I are having a lot of discussions the last couple of weeks where I sit and am pretty quiet.  I'll ask a question, and then sit.  You see, He's not behaving.  At least not the way I want Him to.  I have some friends who need Him big time right now, people I love and care about.  Stuff is going on in their lives that I simply don't understand.  I'm praying, and praying, and praying.  But the movement I so desperately want to see for them isn't coming.

So, I keep talking to God.  And sitting.  Waiting.

Don't get me wrong, He's talking to me and loving me.  He's not absent.  But the things I am asking for; good things, Biblical things, things that honor Him, just aren't coming. 

I've been mad.  I've been hurt.  I've been afraid.  And I've been quiet.

I really don't like it when He is like this.  I want Him to do what is right, what is just, what is kind, and I want Him to do it right now.

But it isn't coming.  I have to choose now what to believe.  Will I believe in a God who seems to be sitting back and letting things passively move along, or will I dump it and take matters into my own hands.

I'm so broken hearted over all of this.  But I know better than to do anything but wait on Him and love as best I can.  I know He will work.  He always does.  But this waiting, this sitting, this quiet .... it hurts so much.

David in the Psalms talks about his bones growing weak and his soul being dry as he waits on God.  Jesus tells stories of perseverance and not giving up.  I never thought they actually meant it.  At least, not like this.  I want Jesus to be Superman, flying in and saving the day, right on cue.

But He's God.  His ways aren't my ways, His plans aren't my plans.  Again, who would have thought He meant all that stuff when He said it?

So, we wait.  He will move.  I choose to believe He is moving where I can't see.

Until then, I will keep asking Him for help.

And sitting.
Copyright © Running for Home