Category Archives: faith

A call to Man Up! and “expose” the darkness!

When two countries are at war with each other, unnoticed and dark conspiracies are made.  Special ops, secret services, undercover agents, and spys are dispatched to different parts of the land in enmity.  Sometimes these forces are noticed by the commoners of the land who dwell there, and when they find a spy an alarm is made.  A telegraph sent, a letter mailed, a general notified, and a decision is made to effectively make a blow to the spy, to hunt him out and find him.  In order for that to happen, the commoner, farmer, doctor, house-wife, or paper-boy, has to spot him first.  When the spy is realized for his threat, he sounds an alarm.  In effect he is yelling, “Here he is, one who is not supposed to be among us.  A threat!  A mole!  Kill him! Get him!”

So it must be with spiritual warfare also.  Colossians calls upon us to kill our sins daily!  Every day we lead spiritual lives, and there are evil forces at work among us to undo us, to upset us, to confuse and frustrate us to the point of uselessness.  The worst weapon the evil one has amongst us subtlety.  He is so subtle in his ways!  So we ought to be vigilant always.

My call to attention today is for men.  Men who have fallen asleep perhaps, or those of us who may need a reminder of whats really happening (as I do also).  Ephesians calls us to be “sober” and to be “awake.”

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” v. 13

But the verse I have for men everywhere is this!!

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

Men, you want to see your homes transformed, you want to be that bright and shining light in the workplace, you want to be a man of God, you want to be the leader God wants you to be?  Call out sin in your own life, and others lives for what it is.  Poison!  You don’t flirt with spies, you don’t get to know spies over the course of a year or two, you don’t cover him up so that no one finds out who he is or where you’re hiding him, lest you become a traitor of your own country.  You don’t deal lightly with sin; you deal harshly!  Because you are treating it for what it really is.  A threat to you and your family around you!

Scripture says not to take part in any darkness.  What is darkness?  In broad strokes, anything that takes the place of the affection God deserves.  If God has to compete for something in your heart, its probably darkness; an idol.  How does Ephesians name darkness?  Sexual immorality, impurity, jealousy, foolishness, drunkeness and theres more.  In fact, the scripture says something very sobering about one who is consumed by these things:

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:5

Now if you are one who is struggling against these tendencies, I would say this does not pertain to you.  But if you still surrender yourselves, so as to give your whole affection, to these things, this verse is for you.

My call?  Man up!  Realize with me, with an ever growing depth and heartiness, what it means to be a man of God in killing sin among us, and not indulging in it, in ANY measure.  Stop playing those mental games while you dance on the edge of the fence.  Stop putting yourselves in situations where you know God is not honored.  Stop…and seek Him, seek His strength, seek His will for you in the Word.  Press in to Him!  Realize who you are.  We are protectors!  Lets protect our family!

Also, as fellow soldiers lets encourage each other and “all the more as we see the day of Christ approaching.”  A lone soldier is sometimes a dead soldier.

Press on brothers and sisters!


"Death is a cruel, brutal, and fearsome trespasser…"

This moving article was published October 5th, on Christianity Today, by Gordon Conwells provost, Frank James III. He lost his brother on a climbing venture to summit Mount Hood and return…he never did. Frank recalls that day in an emotionally stirring article. You can read the whole thing here.

Midnight, it is said, is the portal between this world and the next and is somehow in league with chaos, death, and mystery. It is the moment of dark visitations. So it was for me in December 2006. My sleep was interrupted by a phone call, and I was instantly shocked into full consciousness: My younger brother was trapped in a snow cave on Mount Hood, and an unyielding blizzard prevented rescue.
The mountain proved to be Kelly’s final adventure. Losing my brother on Mount Hood has been a painful reminder of my own spiritual fragility. None of us is immune to the heartaches and sorrows that inhabit this misbegotten world. Though I am a preacher, a professor of historical theology, and the provost of a theological seminary, I have found it agonizingly difficult to come to terms with my brother’s death. It is one thing to talk about death in the abstract. It is entirely another to cope with the death of someone you love very, very much. The truth of the matter is that losing a loved one hurts down to the deepest parts of your soul.
I was the first to learn the news days later. Hearing those words announcing his death was like a blow to the solar plexus knocking the breath out of me, but telling the rest of my family was more dreadful. I had known heartache before, but this transcended every previous emotion I had ever experienced. My vision blurred. My feet were heavy and seemed to resist carrying me to the next room, where my family anxiously awaited the latest news of the rescue mission on Mount Hood. Kelly’s wife, Karen, the children, our mother, three brothers and a sister—they took the news hard. I have never heard weeping like I heard that night in the village at the foot of the mountain. The Bible sometimes refers to “wailing” as an especially forlorn kind of weeping. That is what I heard that night—wailing. I hope I never hear that sound again.
Death is ugly, and we cannot—indeed, should not—try to make it palatable or explain it away with pious platitudes. Death is a cruel, brutal, and fearsome trespasser into this world. It is an intruder and a thief. It has severed an irreplaceable relationship with my brother. We shared the same story, and he knew me in a way no other person did. Kelly would no longer return my calls. Never again would I hear him cheerfully mock me as “Frankie Baby.” Sometimes I see him in a dream, and I reach out to grasp him—but he is not there.
We are created for life, not death. Kelly had a shameless zest for living life to the fullest. When death strikes suddenly from the shadows or claws at us until the last breath, those left behind experience numbness and disorientation. Somehow we know in our hearts that it is not supposed to be this way.

Later in the article he asks the question Why would God let his brother freeze to death on that mountain? In his struggle he says this:

One of the profoundly difficult lessons is that amid all the spiritual consternation in the shadow of Mount Hood, God has manifested himself in my grief. Somehow he is found in the disappointment, the confusion, and the raw emotions. This does not exactly make sense to me, and I’m quite sure I don’t like it. But I have felt the divine gravity pull me back toward God, even while I am dumbstruck by his hiddenness. My conception of faith has become Abrahamic—which is to say, I must trust God even though I do not understand him.

Dying on vacation

This is a re-post I thought very compelling. I find myself guilty of this…”at least” I’m not doing XYZ or ABC, like so’n’so…when if I have the eyes of God, I’ll realize that whatever I do to offend an almighty, is an offense, period. Enjoy!

If it were up to me, you’d be allowed to board an airplane based on how fast you took your shoes off in the security line. Clock a good time? You’re on the plane first! Slowly unlace waist high boots? You’ll board last.

It would be like the Olympics of airport security. And it would be awesome.

These are the kind of things I think about when I fly. If you follow me on twitter, and you really should, you know all of this. You know that last Saturday I tweeted about the four year old next to me who shook his sippy cup like he had just won the NBA Championship. Milk flew on my book and my face. It was a scene man, a real scene.

Eventually the flight attendant stepped in when the kid made a play for the fire extinguisher and the bullhorn. Party time!

But that kid wasn’t even the most interesting thing that happened on that flight. There was an officer in the army sitting on the other side of me. He was flying back to Afghanistan and said something that really surprised me. I asked him what was one of the biggest misconceptions about Afghanistan and here’s what he told me:

“We statistically lose more 18-25 year old soldiers when they go home for R&R than we do in combat in the field.”

That surprised me. If you asked me which was more dangerous, being in the middle of an armed conflict in Afghanistan or going home for a few weeks of rest and relaxation, I’d pick the first option. But the more the army officer explained it, the more it made sense.

“What sometimes happens is that you have folks that go back home after being out of the country for months at a time. They’re flush with cash, haven’t been in a lot of social situations lately and think they’re out of danger.”

They buy motorcycles and crash them. They make crazy financial situations that wreck them. They get in DUIs. In a million different ways they make the kind of mistakes that can ruin you. All at home. All on vacation.

The more I listened to him, the more the story started to sound familiar. In fact, I think we do a similar thing with our faith sometimes.

We all know the “neon sins” we’re not supposed to do. We all know the big things we should avoid like the plague. Adultery, murder, money laundering, robbing banks, chances are if I suggested we shouldn’t do those things you’d agree. There’s nothing groundbreaking about that. But sometimes we play the “at least game.”

My friend reminded me of this a few years ago. I told him I felt like I was struggling with some lust issues. I told him I was feeling pretty wrecked by some decisions I was making. In the middle of our conversation he said,

“Yeah, but at least you’re not sleeping with hookers.”

That’s true, I wasn’t sleeping with hookers. I was avoiding some neon sins in my life. I wasn’t involved in prostitution. I was staying away from the combat zone types of sins, the at war in Afghanistan type of dangers. I was escaping the trenches in my life on the battlefield of my heart.

But I was dying on vacation.

I might not have been sleeping with hookers, but I was slowly wearing myself away with lust and pornography. My death might not have been dramatic or extreme, like a rocket-propelled grenade from an enemy, but it was happening nonetheless. My faith had grown weak and comfortable. I wasn’t growing, I wasn’t being renewed, I was a adrift. And I don’t want that.

I don’t want “at least” faith.

I don’t want to find somebody who is worse off than me in order to feel better about me.

I don’t want to prepare and train and fight hard against the big enemies of my life, only to die in the middle of an ordinary weekday, during an ordinary vacation.

The battlefield is a scary place. We’re constantly reminded of that as pastors and friends alike give in to big terrifying foes. But in our desire to prepare for the battlefield bruises, in our focus on the big, loud, neon sins in our lives, let’s not lose sight of the little things.

Let’s let go of “at least” faith.

Let’s not die on vacation.

Read the whole post here.