Saturday, March 30, 2013

Not just another Cliff Hanger


Three nights ago I introduced my kids to an experience that my dad introduced to me when I was a kid. I introduced them to the republic serials of 1938.

Dick Tracy to be exact!

The reaction that I got was very similar to the reaction that I had given when I was their age. Absolute thrill combined with absolute frustration. We have watched one chapter each night and as each chapter closes my kids look over to me with a stunned wide eyed look and ask, "Dad??? Does he really die?".


If these are before your time it is ok. They were before my time as well. They are what entertainment used to be before everything went crazy. The serials were movies broken down into 15 suspense filled chapters. They last 15 to 20 minutes each and every chapter ended with what was referred to as a cliffhanger ending. It was the ending of each chapter that filled a person with absolute thrill and absolute frustration. It was the chapter's end that left the situation in an absolute hopeless state.

The hero would be found in a crashing plane or a runaway train, and when the scene closed there was positively no conceivable way that anyone could have survived the burning wreckage displayed on the screen.

Cliffhanger ending.




When the next episode came on you were shown one vital 2 second scene that showed where escape was found and then on to the next awaiting peril. Pretty cool stuff to be honest and my kids love them.

As I watched these last night with my kids, I could not help of a real life cliffhanger that took place on a Friday night 2,000 years ago.


If this was before your time it is ok. This was before my time as well. This was what life was like before things got really crazy!

The chapter opened in a garden.

"And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.  And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;  And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.  And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."
~ Mark 14:32-36 

This is a powerful scene in the life of Christ. In fact, John 17 records a conversation between the Father and the Son where Jesus asks for us. Think about that! He asked the Father for us. That thought alone completely renews the story of Easter in an amazing new line.

But the chapter of this episode opens in a garden and the episode ends with a cross. An ugly instrument, not of service, but of death! As the episode closes, and the screen begins to go dark there is Jesus our savior hanging dead on that cross, there are mocking soldiers, hissing crowds, cheering demons, mourning loved ones, fleeing disciples, and smirking Pharisees.

Darkness...

Cliffhanger ending.



But this was not just another cheap cliffhanger. This next episode brought a finality that can never be undone!

See, the tomb changed everything! It meant that the cliffhangers would be no more. There would only be chapters with a secured ending from now on!

Christ came not just to love us and die for us, but He came so that we in turn could love like Him! He came so that we could have the exchanged life. His life through us.

He ushered in the new covenant and we received the promise that others in Hebrews 11 did not. We have the opportunity to have Christ indwell us!

It was more than just a sad cliffhanger that Friday night that had no conceivable way of escape to be found. It was part of a necessary chapter that ushered in victory!




I love this picture. As the fingers of dawn crept into that tomb and slid across that rough hewn stone floor, they discovered an empty pile of grave linens that were no doubt still heavy with burial perfume.

This event means something absolutely wonderful to me and to you.

Think for a minute about the "Serial" of your life. 
The "Serial" of your life could be broken down into a number of suspense filled chapters (Years).

If each chapter could be viewed as a year. The chapters of your serial would last exactly 525 960 minutes and every chapter ends with what is referred to as a cliffhanger ending.
Your "Serial" is no different than mine, because many times the events in your "serial" have filled a you with absolute thrill and absolute frustration.

It may very well be that this current chapter of your "Serial" seems to find your situation in an absolute hopeless state.
No conceivable way out of this figurative plane crash or train wreck, and you have been quietly observing a dream or a hope become transformed into a burning wreckage as the screen seems to dim into complete and total blackness.

Darkness...

Cliffhanger ending.

Your story is not over yet! It is just a chapter. What the ending of the chapter does not tell you and never will is that there is a final outcome to the "Serial". The outcome is an final ending to the "cliffhanger" effect.

The tomb ushered in the end of the cliffhangers of life, because it revealed a final outcome.

Dick Tracy, Sky King, Sgt. Preston, Crash Corrigan, Commando Cody and every other serial star could never fast forward to the final outcome.

They had to plod along through cliffhanger after cliffhanger being filled with frustration and terror. We get to see the final outcome because of the tomb. We still go through the chapters, but no longer is it a cliffhanger.









"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." ~ John 17:1-3

AWESOME chapter!

We are going to go through each chapter that composes our "Serial" and some chapters may stand out as great while others stand out as rough, but the outcome for the Child of the King is already secured!

What has your chapter brought your way so far?

I invite you to read John 17 and remember the final outcome. God came so that we could be kept in Him.

No longer a cliffhanger ending!



"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28


Happy Easter! Now go out and enjoy your "Serial"!


Climbing with you,
~Dan





Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Just a Scratch



If you have read any of the previous posts than you have probably gathered that I love to draw! One of my favorite mediums to create art with is a material called "scratch board". It is made of a card stock material covered in a thin layer of china clay and then completely overlaid in Indian ink.
You take a fine tipped knife and begin to slowly "Scratch" the ink off the surface of the clay allowing the brilliant white clay to be seen in sharp contrast to the black. The white portion becomes your picture while the dark become the shadows allowing your mind to fill in the blanks to grasp the complete picture.

I love this medium. It is challenging not to cut too deep where you destroy the clay, but just gently enough to remove the layers of darkness. The result is absolutely stunning!

The beauty of the art is that it requires the artist to see what cannot be seen. You have to be able to look into the darkness and pull out what only you know is hiding there.



















The thing about the darkness is that is complete in it's covering of what it hides.



There is really no end to the images that can be brought to life out of that dark layer. It takes precision, patience, time and love.



I was reading something the other day which really grabbed my heart. It was written by King David.

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" ~Psalms 27:1 

   
What an awesome statement!

David was far from perfect and the Bible lays his failures right out alongside his successes, but David did know who he was in Christ.

Here he makes a statement very similar to the artwork that I have posted.

David is saying the Lord is the light you see emerging from a dark canvas.

In fact, any light you see is a direct result of Him. The word light used here means: Illumination, or morning source.

Illumination I get, but morning source?

I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but the phrase morning source is... you guessed it! The Sun.

The people of Israel respected David with a devout respect. They had a name for him in which this psalm is written as a response to.

"But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel." ~2 Samuel 21:1

David was referred to as "The light of Israel". David wanted everyone to know right then that any light they see was not from him. He was merely reflecting light from The Source. God the Father!
 
It is an interesting thought! Jesus refers to those who belong to God as His children as being "The light of the World".
 
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." ~~Matthew 5:14-16

 I love this analogy!  

We have been illuminated by God through Christ. We now have the ability to shine in darkness where before we could not. The light came from God. We were not self starters. The Bible explains that we loved the darkness, but God draws us through the Holy Spirit and gives us the opportunity to receive the Light. If we receive Him, we become light.

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:" ~Ephesians 5:8 

"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:5 

In other words, you shine because of a source. That source has enabled you to now shine, so shine!

The light is there, and God pulls it out of the darkness to allow us to complete the picture He has for us to be. The image of His son.

 How does God pull that picture of His light out?

He scratches the canvas

This is where we sometimes resist. We fail to grasp what David was able to. The Lord is our light! He desires to shine to a dark world! He allows us to be His light!

The scratch knife can seem very intimidating, and in the hand of a beginner it can be down right dangerous to the clay. But God is no beginner. He is the most skilled artist who ever was. So He skillfully appllies the knife to the dark flesh patterns of our canvas and begins to slowly scrape and slide the darkness away.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." ~ 1 Peter 4:12-13

There have been times when I have resisted the knife and times when have faltered in my faith in His skill, but every time I have yielded I have been amazed that He saw the area of light that He chose to expose. I never knew that if He scratched that area of my life that His light would explode against the dark contrast of the world around it.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." ~Ephesians 2:10

There comes moments in our lives where we have to cling to Romans 8:28 and believe it or just resist it.

The image that He wants to create with us in amazing!




 David says, "Who shall I be afraid of ?"

The Knife is in the same hand He holds you with, and the same hand whose palm bears your name.

God is not mad at you. He is working, He is scratching away what He needs to in order to bring forth a picture that is His masterpiece!

Climbing with you,

~Dan



Monday, March 25, 2013

Dancing with The Star

 
I think one of my favorite books that we have on our bookshelves at home is the book about the "Sneetches". I love to read this one to our kids and not just read it but explain something so very important about this book. Not only is it a very entertaining story, but God can be found in this story.

What?

No, I am not starting some radical "Sneetch" cult sect, but I am a firm believer in the Bible as our final authority. If the Bible tells me something, I DO believe it!

I believe that God desires for us to look for Him in everything we do, everywhere we go, and in everyone that we meet.

This concept of Proverbs 3:5-6 CHANGED my life!

I truly feel bad for a child when they are not able to see their Dad. I believe that God can be found in a child's story about Sneetches just as easily as He can be found in a rainbow. I believe that the heart of God can be expressed in EVERYTHING!

Not sure if you believe this?

"Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually" ~1 Chronicles 16:10-11 

"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God..." ~ 1 Chronicles 22:19 

"And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever." ~ 1 Chronicles 28:9

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

"And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD..." ~ 2 Chronicles 20:3

"The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." ~ Psalms 10:4 

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek." ~Psalms 27:8

I especially love these passages about seeking to find God in everything we do, every place we go, and in everyone we meet.

 "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me." ~Proverbs 8:17 

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."  ~Jeremiah 29:13

"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. " ~Luke 11:9

So I guess you could say that I truly want to look for God in everything, and true to His word, He is waiting to be found!

There are two main things that I as a father want to teach my children. If they never learn to shoot a basket, change the oil, or hang a sheet of drywall that is ok with me, but there are two things I want to teach them.

1.How to see God. I want them to be able to identify His voice in their lives and see His direction.

2.Who they are IN Christ. What their identity is IN Him. I want them to realize that Christ was not just sent to die for their sins, but that He rose to be their very LIFE! He did not go to the cross just to love them, but rather so that they could love like Him! The Christian life is not  just about a book and a building. The Christian life is about Jesus expressing His life through them!

This takes us back to the bookshelf where we find ourselves looking at the Dr. Seuss's classic tale of the SNEETCHES!


The Sneetches were these tall yellow creatures who loved walk the beaches and have frankfurter roasts, picnics, parties, and Marshmallow roasts. There were two different groups of sneetches that walked the beaches and this created a problem.

 

There was a group that had green stars on their bellies and a group that did not. As you can see by the picture above, if you did not have a green star, then of course you were shunned by the sneetches who had the green stars. After all, you were not as good as them, and you were not invited to attend the starred sneetch's parties or assemblies. This made the un-starred sneetches quite discouraged as you can imagine


So the idea that un-starred sneetches were somehow not as good or "perfect" was passed down from generation to generation. Isn't it funny how having something someone else doesn't affects the way we treat them or determines their value to us and to how we think the creator of the beaches sees those sneetches?


The star bellies made up songs praising the fact that they had stars and that there were others that did not. They had their closed frankfurter roasts around the light of the fire and the un-starred group had to stand off in the darkness.

Then one day, a slick salesman by the name of  Sylvester McMonkey McBean showed up with a solution for the un-starred sneetches. For a price he could make them appear to look just like the star bellied sneetches! That's right! For a very small fee, this salesman could make them able to be what these plain sneetches could not seem to ever be, accepted by those with stars on their bellies. So with some outward conformity, the sneetches all looked alike.


There was mad race that ensued to remove and add stars that left the poor sneetches broke, and ultimately frustrated and confused on their identity. They tried so hard to gain acceptance from one another because of outward status symbols and they missed the only important factor. They were all sneetches. The stars they displayed on the outside were not what made them sneetches.



I see a message from God in this story.

The outward star is not the thing God is looking for. He is looking for The Star (Christ)on the inside. We do have it mixed up a bit. We determine our value on how we compare with the others around us and we worry about the size and positioning of our displayed stars. For most of my life I determined another persons spiritual state on the star that they displayed.
The stars were the amount of events that they attended at my church. It was whether or not they joined a cause I had an interest in. In fact, it really did not matter how they behaved behind closed doors just as long as they had that star.

I saw salesmen who tried to "sell" acceptance to others and have observed  frankfurter roast conferences where sneetches gathered together to compare stars and feel elevated because they had a star to display.
I saw sneetches who were mean, critical, hateful, and manipulative who showed up to present the "Star" that gained them access to the club and challenge others to just "Get a star and be accepted by me and our particular club". The outward star or lack of it was really not the important issue. The issue was, who made them, and did they know Him?

I understand that this message can be totally misread, and in fact I am sure that it will. I am ok with that, because the star on the outside only admits acceptance to those with stars upon thars. I know the one who made the beach and the sneetch so to speak. I have His Star on the inside! Our identity should not be based upon the stars that others wear nor should they be based upon the lack of a displayed star. Our identity needs to be based on The Star that indwells the Child of God. The Star named the Lord Jesus Christ!

I want to just throw this out there for a minute.

Do you know the one who made the beach?

I did not ask if you knew about Him. Do you know Him?

Stars come and go with the salesmen who peddle them. The Father is constant!

If you can at best say, "Sure I know His name, and yes I believe in Jesus". That is a star on the outside. Believing in and believing on are two different things.

God wants to be found by you! He made you Sneetch, and He made the beach you walk on. He wants you to know Him and the invitation is out there. It is us who need only to call on Him!

If you want Him to reveal Himself to you, just ask!


Climbing with you,
~Dan












Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Best Moments!

 

 

On this past Sunday night Daddy got to watch Brynn and Blake while mommy went out to spend some special time with Clark. This is a pretty laid back arrangement. Blake happily eats cheerios while Daddy and Brynn do what Brynn loves to do.

DRAW!

We start out by piling all of the markers on to the dining room table, selecting our paper, and drawing a picture to color.



 
 

The Coloring is the most fascinating part.

Watching your child fill in the blank spots with their own choice of color. Sometimes it is not the color that you know would work the best in that blank spot, but it was their choice to make. You watch their eyes as they apply the color and they smile when you compliment their ability to stay within the lines, and droop when you tell them to be careful as their marker strays beyond the boundary.



Then as they bring the picture to completion they usually sing and have an over abundance of "I love you daddy" and "Your the best daddy ever", and my favorite, "Didn't we draw a beautiful picture Daddy?"

Just as soon as the moment started, it is over. The colors have all been added and all the blank areas have been filled in.



The picture is complete.

What mattered the most is that the child had the opportunity to choose the colors and decide how best to fill in the blank spots. That they could sing made up songs about you and how they love you. That they listened to their Father's guidance on where to place the colors they had picked out and took every opportunity they had to look up and say, "I love you Daddy", "Daddy you are the best Daddy ever".

The best moments would be those that took place just as the picture coloring time came to a close when they looked up and said, "Didn't we draw a beautiful picture Daddy?"

I guess that there is not a really deep spiritual post here today, but I do want to use this moment to encourage you to find a way today to give your heavenly Daddy some glory as you fill in the blanks that He has provided in your picture. Choose your colors well, and do not recoil at correction if you stray out of the boundaries. Take advantage of the time to sing about your Daddy. Above all, take some time today to look up and say, "I love you Daddy!" and "You are the best Daddy ever!"

This is the best way to live the color time that our Daddy has given us. More than anything, I desire to be able to look up as the best moment (life)  comes to a close and be able to say, "Didn't we draw a beautiful picture Daddy?".

Climbing with you,

~ Dan

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mr. Perfect



Some time ago I was out shopping at the local thrift shop when I discovered a true gem. It was a "Mr. Perfect" doll. Now I do not usually look for dolls, nor am I usually really excited about finding one, but this one "spoke" to me. Mainly because I was wearing the same outfit at the time, and it's plastic hair resembled mine!

I looked at it, and I was stunned beyond speech. This was a must have purchase because I was going to present my daughter with her very own "daddy" doll! Now I guess I had never really noticed these dolls before because when I grabbed it, it began to literally speak. When pressure was applied to this doll, he spoke.

It said things that were absolutely, though very unrealistically, PERFECT!

It said things like:
"Honey, why don't you sit back and just let me take care of the house for awhile."
"Hey I have an idea, why don't we go clothes shopping for you dear, I love spending time in the store with you."
"Of course I would love to drive you and your mother around to all the malls today!"

Yeah, like I said before...perfect stuff.

I was really not comfortable carrying around a doll that resembled me in the thrift store, but I could not resist the object lesson. When I got home and presented my daughter with her very own "Daddy doll", it was worth any embarrassment I had endured earlier.



Q:Now being the curious person I am had to ask myself what made this Mr. Perfect so perfect?

A:It was because when pressure was applied to Mr. Perfect, he would only say something that was perfect.

Q:Why did pressure that was applied to Mr. Perfect cause him to say only perfect things?

A:It was because Mr. Perfect had only perfect responses imprinted on his little electrical heart. His recordable memory was pre-programmed with a series of responses that were perfect.

In other words, when direct pressure was applied the contents of his heart would be revealed.

There is a very real example of this that we find over a very special dinner some time ago.

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me."
~Luke 22:31-34

At this particular supper a very interesting conversation is being shared. If you are not bothered by eavesdropping on someone else's conversation here then we can see something powerful.

Jesus is talking about his betrayal and He looks directly at Peter and tells him something about himself.

He (Jesus) tells Peter that he (Peter) will be put to the test. There is a house wide denial party that is coming in just a few hours and Peter would be hosting it. Peter is astonished by this and says so. Jesus goes on to say, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

Pressure was about to be applied to Peter. the pressure was necessary to reveal to Peter something about himself that could only be revealed through pressure.

"Many times we find our world being shaken apart and run to God only to find that it is God who is doing the shaking"

Peter did host the denial party, and when he heard the responses that came from his heart when pressure was applied, it was far from the Mr. Perfect that he thought he was.

"Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.  And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.  But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.  And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.   And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.  And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.  And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." ~Luke 22:54-62

This necessary pressure was allowed by God to reveal Peter's flesh walk to himself. Peter needed to surrender this territory to God, but how do you surrender something you cannot seem to see?

God had plans for Peter!

After the crucifixion and Peter's " confessional clean up on aisle five" we find the risen Jesus again with his disciples over another dinner's fire. This one is powerful! Jesus looks over at Peter and makes one of the most beautiful inserts into Peter's recordable memory box.

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me." ~John 21:18-1

Jesus tells Peter that when he (Peter) was young he went wherever he wanted, but when he was old he was going to also be crucified for his Mr. Perfect responses to pressure. He would not run to his death, but he would not run away from it either. He would be recorded as demanding that his captors to crucify him upside down because he was unworthy to be crucified like his savior!

Here is the message today. Pressure is allowed and it is all around us. We do a lot to escape from the pressures of life, our job, our marriage, our families, and every other external pressure that we find. I would like to challenge you to stop trying to escape the pressure and find God in the pressure.

Like a tube of toothpaste, pressure causes what is inside to erupt. Our common excuse for ducking the pressure is that we don't like what kind of person that pressure makes us. This is a very wrong diagnosis. Pressure only reveals to us what we already are on the inside.

Check out what Peter had to say about pressure later in his life.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:   But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." ~1 Peter 4:12-13

Pressure had revealed to the younger Peter an area that needed to be surrendered to God. He saw just how far his own strength was taking him.

What pressure is being applied to your life today?

What is that pressure revealing to you about you?

What responses are coming out of the recordable memory box?

God is not trying to hurt you. He is allowing pressure to help you. Most Christian people try anything to escape pressure and they miss the powerful opportunity to grow in grace. God has given you every ability to surrender and correct anything that the Holy Spirit reveals to you through pressure.



Your Father loves you, and welcomes you to bring the all the recordings that years of hurt and frustrated failure have recorded on your memory and exchange them within you with His PERFECT responses. He wants you no matter what the pressure reveals about you because He has perfect plans for you.

You can never let God down, because you were never holding Him up. In the relationship it is always Him that holds you up!

Climbing with you,

~Dan

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Had It All The Time!

















 




(The pic on the left is a scratch board drawing of Captain America and the picture on the right is me sitting in one of my favorite places on this planet. My art studio)


I LOVE to draw!

For as long as I can remember I have loved to use art and creativity to express my heart. I truly believe that this is why I love the book of Genesis.

God expressed His heart for us by personally doing more than speaking us into existence. He personally created you and me!

Formed is the word the Bible uses to explain this act of love to us.
Formed.


A personal expression of how much God loves us.

A few years back my family was going through a very difficult time. We had just sold everything familiar to us and followed the pillar of smoke and fire to Mobile, AL. to work in a church. I was initially asked to come and direct a drug addiction recovery program (Reformers Unanimous) that was sponsored by that church, and to teach an adult Sunday school class.
I had served as a youth director for 6 and a half years in Illinois so the prospect of working and ministering to primarily adults was an exciting and new experience. Now combine this experience with working with adults and families who were struggling with addictions and stubborn habits!

It did not take long before my workload increased and a few more hats were added to the coatrack.
Hats like: Vacation Bible School administrator, Couples retreat planner, ushers and greeters ministry, building maintenance, Children's ministry director, adult Sunday school director, counseling, and a few more hats that were buried under the rest. These were all used by God to bring me to a point of limitation.

A wall.

During all of these changes my mother-in-law who had also moved with us was diagnosed with cancer. We were not sure what the Lord was doing. My son (Four years old at the time) would pray each night that God would heal his "Guh-Guh". I would leave his bedside prayer meetings at night and have a few of my own. "Father, how do I explain to a child that you love him and his "Guh-Guh" so much that you allowed this wall on the path ahead?" How do you explain to a child or an adult for that matter a clear answer to the question, "Why God, Why?"

He gave me the idea to make this video: "The Man and The Wall"


 
video
 
Extremely simple, yet very profound. Unless you become as a little child you cannot understand the kingdom right?

Recently I was going through some of the artwork that I had saved from when I was just a boy. 8 or ten years of age. I found something that rocked my socks!

We could not afford comic books as much as we would have liked when we were kids, so my brother Josh and I would literally draw our own. We, as kids, would design, create, plot and artwork our own comic book. We made up all kinds of characters for heroes and villains and plots that would have made Sherlock Holmes quit and go home.

Here was one I created that really points a powerful picture of God's voice in our life all along.


Brickman was the story of a scientist (They were all scientists right?) named Nathan (Named after my cousin who in those years of his life seemed to resemble a young and promising young scientist).

The name of this scientist was Nathan Brick. How is that for a name? Nathan Brick.



Nathan is zapped by a "Vita-Ray Helio-stat Construtialaotor"  that morphed his molecular cell structure with that of the brick wall which he was standing by!



The wall proved to be the very thing that gave Nathan his super ability. The wall allowed Nathan Brick to experience something that was truly unique to him, and because of this unique to him experience, it gave him a strength and ability no one else had. When we stop cursing the walls on our path and start accepting them as steps provided by God to bring us closer to Him, we begin to allow the walls that once hindered us to give us strength.

God is in the walls He allows and when we adopt His plan, those walls become the very things that make us the person that God intended to be.



The wall was necessary for him to become the mighty, feared by crime, BRICKMAN!!! Through the painful process of molecular cell binding (They tell me it is painful, I have never actually had my molecular cell structure melded with an inanimate object such as brick, or even animate objects for that matter) Brickman was now equipped to help others with hurts in their lives.


He became a mighty crime fighter, and used his "Wall" as his strength! In the end of the comic book story, there is a panel that sums up his experience. When I saw this a few days ago after finding it in storage it brought tears to my eyes.


It brought tears to my eyes not because it was a spectacular plot and demonstration of innocent artwork (Thought it is all those things).
It brought tears to my eyes to see how God had placed this seed of thought into my heart as a child. The story, though told with a child's innocence, is the very same message which now resonates from my heart as an adult that has seen levels of hurt and injustice I never could have imagined as a child.

The purpose behind this blog is to convey the message to people everywhere that God does not hate them, and He is not mad at them, but rather He loves them with a dynamic and furious love and works personally in our lives to reach us with the love.

The walls DO give us strength when we stop complaining and crying about how unfair and messed up life is and start looking for God in that wall!

I had it all the time! You just take some time and meditate on the things you have been through, fair and unfair alike and trace His hand. Find His fingerprint in every conversation that has directed you to be the person you are today. Life is choices, and if we make bad choices, there will be bad circumstances to follow.  What has God given you?  God has prepared you for what you are going through today and He will use the past to strengthen your present as a testimony of victory for your future!

Our response determines our future, and it is OUR response and not someone else who makes me respond poorly. When we come to the "walls" in our life we can get frustrated, and walk off the path, throwing away an incredible opportunity to literally see God's fingerprint or we can look for Him and ask Him to help us climb the "Step".

The message of "The Man and The Wall" is no different than the message that the Apostle Paul sent to a very young Timothy.

"Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
~2 Timothy 1:11-12

Did you catch it? No?

Let me post it again with underscoring. If you did catch it then pretend that you didn't just for me!


"...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
~2 Timothy 1:11-12

The message that Paul the "Brickman" was telling Timothy is this. "Based upon the walls that God has taken me over in the past, I am fully convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt that He is more than able to take care of any future walls on my path ahead!"

In essence, despite the setbacks that seem to have altered my life, through Christ I can with confidence say...



When I saw this old homemade comic book tucked away in a well taped box it made me glad to be able to show my son some of "Daddy's drawings" from when he was a kid. When I open the pages and read him the story of "Brickman", my heart begin to melt. When I saw this last panel I cried.

It was as if the Holy Spirit whispered into my very soul, "Dan, you had it all the time."



Climbing with you,
~Dan (aka. Brickman)



* Because this particular post seems to sum up the essence of this blog and the posts that have been added, I would like to ask something of you that I have never asked before. If you have found this post to be encouraging to you I would like to ask you to do more than like it on Facebook, I would like to ask you to share this link on your Facebook timeline.

The message about overcoming hurts is a needed message and I feel that this one needs to get out there. Since Jan 28th there have been over 3,000 reads in well over 25 different countries! Some of those countries have been "closed" to the message of seeking God and I feel within my spirit that this particular one needs to be shared with as many people as we can. I need your help and am very thankful for your help in sharing it! 

*This post was made on 3/18/2013. As of 11/16/2015 this blog has been read in over 76 countries and by over 52,000 people. I compare the stat from above with today and am literally blown away and how one message can go so far because of one BIG God! Daddy throws the ball so much farther than we ever could!!!

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