Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Prosthetic Christianity






I was on my way out of the building just as he was on his way in. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs and seemed very unsteady on his feet. I walked down to where he was and turned to look back up the stairs before I spoke. “Awww man, I cannot believe I forgot to get that” Looking over at him I asked, “I want to get back up those stairs but I have just ran out of steam, can you help me?”
He looked at me through aged gray eyes and said, “Son, I think you forgot whatever you forgot on purpose, but I would be more than happy to help you up there if you help me.”
He explained as we went up the flight of stairs that he had lost his leg a few years back to diabetes and that he was having a very hard time adjusting to life with a prosthetic limb. “They look good these days, and they function alright and are easy enough to control, but they cannot replace the real deal son. My feet gave me problems and they did not do what I wanted them to do at times but at least they were still my feet, and as much as they hurt every now and again, they were valuable to me because they were my feet.”

My mind immediately went to the passage of the Bible where Paul compares the Body of Christ (The church) to a human body.

I had a Believer contact me some time back with a question of whether or not they should leave the church body that they were trying to function within. They were really wanting to utilize the gifts that they had been given and it was obvious that they had a particular gift given by God.They were told by the pastor of that church that because they failed to meet all of the requirements that the pastor had set in order to serve within the church they would only be able to do tasks within the church that he decided they were qualified to do.

As luck would have it, that pastor had decided to utilize them only in the areas that he was having a hard time keeping people. IF they stopped serving in these areas then it was “proof” that they were only wanting to serve in order to be “seen of men and not because they truly loved the Lord”. (At least that was the reasoning that he presented to this person.)
 
It was twisted theology at best and it simply boiled down to this pastor’s desire for control. He had a certain look that he had seen somewhere and he had decided that what he had seen was the kind of look that he wanted his church to appear to have. I am sure that he loved the Lord but it was very clear that he was operating out of his own ability and strength rather than letting the Holy Spirit control and direct.

I simply told this person what Paul said about gifts and their use within the body and asked them if God had led them to that church or was it for any other reason that they chose to be part of that body. I then said, “If it was any other reason that prompted you to join that body then you need to seriously ask the Holy Spirit to lead you where He can utilize your gifts and callings that were given without repentance.”

"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;" ~Romans 12:4-6

The answer that they gave me was very revealing about why and how the decision to attend that particular was made.

What would you call it when you are only able to operate and serve the Lord within man made preset confinements and regardless of your God designed purpose for that body you were only able to operate as a member of the body that a man and not the God of the universe was allowed to determine?
"but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
                                                                                         ~ 1 Corinthians 12:11-13

I call it Prosthetic Christianity.
Isn't that what the body is for? Utilize the parts?
If you think about it, Trying to force control over a BODY PART IS ONLY SOMETHING YOU CAN DO WITH A PROSTHETIC LIMB.

The "Body" then begins to take on the resemblance of a robot with awkward and robotic movements. The members become empty, hollow, not real or even genuine, but controllable in the confines of its set mechanics. Most churches operate with Prosthetic limbs each week. People who are being made to operate in the way deemed acceptable by one person.
(Usually the pastor, his college affiliation’s preferences, or in some cases even the pastor's wife)
The point is this; it is not God doing the placement of the member or even God utilizing the member but rather man deciding how a member should be used. Fine business practice for a corporate business but poor ideology for a living organism such as the church at least Christ seemed to think so.
In the corporate world, my performance decides my acceptance and my acceptance determines my value. Is this God’s mindset? What have we ever been able to do to merit God’s acceptance and even more so a value to Him?
God’s way and corporate America’s way are at opposite ends of the pole. Using corporate philosophies and programs our churches become filled with empty people that continue to experience empty life.
But we had a full parking lot right? God must be blessing!!! How much money came in between services or between Sunday school and Church? Good day or bad day, the golden offering orb will decide. We had a great offering!!! God must be blessing right?”
So did every major theme park and water park in the United States, I guess God is blessing them as well. That mentality just has no place in God’s kingdom.


"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

You see we were hardwired with a message that is unique to each of us and we were given gifts and personalities especially designed to allow us to convey that message. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and He alone directs us in that growth process. There is no “Worker’s Agreement or Worker’s Contract” that can duplicate the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." ~Romans 12:1-3

The signed paper that acknowledges to the leader that we will play by his rules in his organization teaches us to CONFORM. When conforming becomes the standard by which we find value and acceptance than we have lost sight of who we are and the reason why we have been called.
The Holy Spirit on the opposite end of the spectrum teaches us how to TRANSFORM and this is done through His teaching and through His timing. There is a difference between the two contrary to popular opinion. Conforming is preferred because conforming is faster than the time needed, discipleship and prayer that is involved with transforming.
The bottom line is that God has created you to be in His presence. Once you become a child of God, the Holy Spirit of God indwells you and desires to teach you about Him! He shows you the message that you were given to speak with your life and He teaches you how to use the gifts that God personally gave you in order to do that task.
I never want to be contented and settled to ignore my calling and gifts that were given by God to equip me to express Him to the world around me, and neither should you.

There is a phrase I have heard my entire life that comes to mind; “Only one life and it will soon be past, only what is done THROUGH Christ will last.”
You may be the foot, the hand, the eye, or any other equally valuable part and even if you cause pain to the body while you grow into your role, you are still His member. It is only through His members will He be free to work and move.
Anything outside of Him is manufactured stage magic that the world can not only duplicate but perform better.

Ask the Holy Spirit today to speak to you about your role in His body. If a man tells you different and you accept that, than please understand that it is you that have chosen something else over the Holy Spirit's leading.

Climbing with you,
~Dan


Monday, September 16, 2013

A Tale of Two Covenants

 

We all have surface answers that we give when it comes time to produce an answer for our view on prayer.

However, deep down inside of our very heart it does not sound or look as spiritual as we pretend it to be with surface smiles and answers that we throw out on the outside.

Most of us, if we were ever comfortable enough to be brutally honest, would say something very different than the answers we normally give.

What would your answer be if asked to say something about prayer?

(No one is reading your mind and your heart can be exposed for a minute)

Would it sound something like this?

“Prayer time is really difficult for me to schedule, or even pay attention to because I am constantly distracted by other thoughts, and for the most part it doesn’t seem to work.”

“Pray if you want, and you should, but I think that there was something that I must have done to somehow ‘Jinx’ it because it feels as if it is a waste of time.”

“Pray like it all depends on God and work like it depends all on us.” 
 (Like this is really in the Bible somewhere. It sounds very spiritual, but if it is answered, Did God really answer that request or was it just a result of our increased effort?)

“You can pray I guess, but you better figure out what you are going to do to help this thing along.”

“At best, my prayers have a 50/50 chance of coming true.”

“My prayer life is pretty good, but I think I can do better right?”

All of these are statements that I have had Christians tell me in counseling appointments when it was OK to just detox some things inside or in some cases even statements that used to come to mind in my own journey.
 
These are in no means statements that would come from a broken Christian but they are a strong indicator as to how a lot of Christians feel during the times when walls raise up on the path of life.

 
 

There are times when it hurts too much to even speak and you find yourself just sobbing to God and literally groaning in pain over a trial or an allowed hurt that you don’t understand. Does God hear our prayers when there is nothing that we can even say when we come to Him?
 
Does He hear our hearts when we go empty to the throne without a request to make because we are too overwhelmed to even process a request?
 
This is where the Children of Israel found themselves in Exodus chapter two and within this account I see something powerful!

“And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came  unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.” ~ Exodus 2:23-25

What covenant?

In Genesis chapters 17, 26, and 35 God makes a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and tells them that they will need to uphold their end of the Covenant and the God promises to uphold His end of the agreement.

I will bless you and multiply you and give you lands and flocks and make you great. Worship me and I will bless you. Follow after false idols and I will curse you was the covenant in a nutshell.
The Old Testament covenant was strong and powerful, but  it also depended upon our actions. The children of Israel went through cycles of blessing, judgment, repentance and restoration.

When the burdens increased and the days got tough for the children of Israel they would repent and cry out to God and because of His covenant with them He would respond.

So when they were crying out to God from Egypt we see that “God remembered His covenant” and delivers them through Moses.
 
Difficult circumstances in the Old Testament and Old Covenant times produced groaning that in turn reminded God of His covenant.

Thankfully we do not live in the Old Testament nor do we live under the Old Covenant. Because man could not ever keep up his end of the agreement, God formed a New Covenant and He swore it upon His own name.
Jeremiah prophesied that one day God would make a New Covenant and that it would no longer be based upon us but that it would be based entirely upon God.
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:” ~ Jeremiah 31:31

One of the least taught books of the Bible is the powerful book of Hebrews, and judging by the way that the “religion train” is furiously whipping down the tracks I can see why. Hebrews hits Religion smack between the eyes!

In the eighth chapter, God’s new covenant (The one we live under) is explained in more detail, and like any other contract… If you are mentioned in it, wouldn’t you at least like to know what it says?

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: (Jeremiah’s prophecy remember?) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.  In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” ~ Hebrews 8:7-13

Well if it is not dependent upon my works and God remembers my sins no more, how is this covenant sealed? The same way as any other covenant that is made between two parties. In blood. Whose blood? Jesus blood!

“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” ~Hebrews 12:24

What does all this mean?

Under the Old Covenant, difficult circumstances and trials caused groaning which caused God to remember His covenant.

Under the New Covenant on this side of the cross, difficult circumstances and trials cause groaning which prompt us to remember God’s role in His covenant with us.


“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”             ~Romans 8:26-27


I love this passage that Paul throws out here. He is telling us what our times of “Grownings” do for the Christian living on this side of the cross under the new covenant.

He then goes on to tell us what we are prompted to remember in our trials.

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

Go on and read the rest of the chapter that follows this of all the things that we remember about God and His covenant to us. It ends with a question to challenge us to examine God’s love for us and try to find a way that it can be severed. The new covenant based upon Him and His name is unbreakable!

The whole purpose of “The Man and The Wall” is to take as many opportunities as the Lord will allow and as many ways as possible to remind you during your times of allowed hurt and pain the things that Paul wished the Christians in Ephesus would remember.

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” ~Ephesians 3:16-19


 

God’s love for you is unmatched. He is for you, and in your darkest day when your Spirit can only groan to Him, please understand what your prayer truly is:
"The object of prayer is NOT the answer. The object of prayer is God Himself."

Prayer is simply put, the awareness of God’s constant presence in our lives.
 
This is a huge step of faith because “First Response” prayer is choosing Him over every other option that seems to make sense.

 
Climbing with you,

~Dan

 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Do You Speak Wookie?


A few nights ago my son and I loaded up some blankets and went out to the Man-Cave AKA. (Fortress of Solitude) so that we could watch the movie Star Wars together. This was a very big deal for him because up until this point he had never seen Star Wars and I really wanted this to be a special memory that he and I made together.

I resisted the urge to watch these movies in order, so we watched the true first Star Wars move. Episode four.

From the opening score to the grand finale explosion of the Empire’s Death Star, he was on the edge of his seat. It was pretty awesome to see him react over every little thing and watch him as he mourned the loss of each X-Wing pilot on the Death Star trench scene assault with a “Oh man…” or “No! Not Red 2!…wait was that echo leader? Oh yeah, NO! Not echo leader!”

It was a great moment for me as a dad and  as the movie credits were playing and we were gathering up cups and snack ware he asked me, “Dad. Did you just ever want to be a Jedi or an X-wing pilot?”

I thought for a minute and I said, “No son. My goals were more complex and lofty than achieving a Jedi status. I really just always wanted to be the one who was able to understand what the robot R2D2 and the wookie Chewbacca were actually saying.”

Have you ever felt like you could not get through to someone in your life?

You tried everything short of drawing them a picture and nothing seemed to work because to them you might as well have been howling like Chewbacca or twittering and beeping like R2D2?

Let me show you something that Father showed me about becoming Bi-lingual.

In Acts two there is an incredible supernatural event that takes place.

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." ~ Acts 2:1-11

Here we find at a minimum of 14 different languages represented here that I can see, and the most incredible thing is that each of the languages mentioned actually hear what the disciples said and they heard them in their own language.

It was the original "Google Translator" the Holy Spirit of God working as only He can!

The Holy Spirit is a Big Boy!

I was reading this passage some time back and just asked the Holy Spirit if He could do that for the apostles, could He do that for me? The question really is, "Are you big enough to take the truth that you place on my heart and mind to speak to another person and translate it into a way that they understand? Can you help me speak the language of those that i have difficulty communicating with?"

He can take His truth that He places in your heart and mind and translate it into the language that others understand.


He prompted my heart with this statement. "Dan,  not only can I do this, but I will do this when a person is surrendered to me and they are seeking to build my kingdom."

I decided to put it to the test.

I was in a meeting where I worked and the air was very thick with the tension from several departments and the one that was running the meeting was "steam rolling" through department heads like it was going out of style. If you could picture darkness, confusion, and destruction in a buisness suit and tie, this was it. I was sitting there when Big Boy impressed on my heart to just stand up.

What?

Yep. He nudged me to just stand up in the middle of the room.

Wasn't that awkward?

Absolutely! As soon as I stood up, the person running the meeting just stopped speaking and everyone just stared at me. The director who had moments before been thrashing and trashing was trying to determine why I had just stood up and you could see in their eyes that they were hesitant to continue speaking.

I don't quite know how else to describe it other than the fact that you could feel the entire atmosphere in that room change. Powers at work had just shifted control.

"Dan, what data were you able to find about this project?", snapped the director.

I was going to just hand them my research when I felt another nudge from Big Boy. "Dan, walk around their desk and stand close to them and give them the paperwork with the data that they want."

I walked around the chairs in the room and made my way, to the directors shock, around their desk and stood close to their chair and softly laid the requested information in front of them. The director stared up at me with a awkward look and then they softened. Suddenly turning to everyone else in the room , who by at this time were looking like they were waiting to see a crucifixion happen, and then announced, "You guys, I am sorry for the way that I have been tearing everyone up. I know that everyone has been working very hard on this project and I am just stressed to the max over here. We really do need to take a different approach on this...I need to take a different approach. Let's call it a day."

As I walked out of the room, my supervisor approached me in a hushed tone and asked, "Daniel, why in the world did you stand up? When you went around that desk and stood right there I thought you were high! No one does that. No one!"

I looked at my supervisor and said, "The Lord told me to do that. He knew what language that needed to be spoken."

Most of us run from uncomfortable situations and people only to continue to be faced by the same "Wookies" and "Droids".

Who do you have the most difficulty time speaking?

Do you struggle to speak "Friend"? How about "Spouse"? "Parent" , "Sibling", "Neigbor" , or even "Employee"?

Do the ones you struggle to understand and speak come off like a beeping robot or an oversized "Wookie"?


"Dad, did you just ever want to be a Jedi or an X-wing pilot?" my son asked as we were picking up cups, and snack bowls after the movie.

I thought for a minute and I said, “No son. My goals were always more complex and lofty than achieving a Jedi status. I really just always wanted to be the one who was able to understand what the robot R2D2 and the wookie Chewbacca were actually saying.”


video


He is fluent in every form of dialect and He is a Big Boy!

Ask Him to help you speak the language of the one you struggle so hard to speak. He allowed them in your life so that you could depend on Him enough to ask for the help in that traslating.

Climbing with you,
~Dan


Monday, September 9, 2013

What in the World Happened to You?


This picture has earned the coveted place on the "Bottom" door of our refrigerator.

Let me explain the principle of the "Two Doors" of refrigerator artwork that exists in our household.

The top door is for random creations and color sheets and to be honest this one is filled constantly because this is where Dad's eye level is and this is where most of the artwork lands.

There is another door though and this one takes effort on the part of Daddy to be seen. The bottom door is for artwork that has a specific meaning to it. If you create a picture and can tell me what this picture means to you and what you want others to learn from it, this is where it hangs! I will make the effort to see what you see because I love to see how art speaks back to the one who created it.

My four year old daughter drew this lovely piece of art and she came to show me and explain what it meant to her and when she did I knew that there was only one place for this to go.

In the simplest of terms, my four year old daughter explained her creation this way:



"Well, it started with a cross Daddy", she pointed out as she brushed the hair away from her gentle face. "Jesus was God's son and they made Him die on the cross with nails in his hands and sharp sticks in his hair."

"Then they put Him in a rock house with a heavy door and all of His mommies and friends were sad." She continued and pointed to the "Rock House" that had three splotches of red crayon on the side to represent Jesus blood.

" Then after three days, Jesus got up and went to heaven!" She exclaimed. Oddly enough, this seems to be the most reported part of the story in most churches. She kept explaining though, "Then His Spirit came down to live in us so we can live like Jesus."

Simple, yet to the point!

I saw something similar in the book of Matthew the next morning that drove home the simplicity of sharing life with others. You just tell them what happened to you and let the Holy Spirit do the work!

There is a lot of stuff that takes place in the book of Matthew, and from his perspective, this Jesus changes the landscape of everything in the land of status quoi.

Matthew presents Jesus to us through the lens of a "King" bringing His "Kingdom" to us and as you read this gospel you cannot help but see how Jesus carried Himself among us, who up until this time, had no idea what His kingdom really was.

In the first nine chapters of Matthew we find:
The Genealogy and the Birth of Christ. Ch.1
The baptism of Jesus. Ch.2:13
The temptation of Christ. Ch. 4:1-17
The calling of the disciples. Ch. 4:18-25
The Beatitudes. Ch.5-7
A leper healed. Ch. 8:1-4
A centurion's servant healed. Ch. 8:5-13
Peter's mother-in-law healed. Ch.8:14-17
The truth about following Christ revealed. Ch. 8:18-22
The sea is calmed. Ch. 8:23-27
The demon possessed man is delivered. Ch. 8:28-34
The paralyzed man is healed. Ch. 9:1-8
A man's past wounds and emotional scars are healed. Ch. 9:1-8
Life is extended. Ch. 9:10-17
Life is restored. Ch. 9:18-25
Sight is restored. Ch. 9:27-34

WAIT A MINUTE... A MAN"S PAST WOUNDS AND EMOTIONAL SCARS ARE HEALED???

Yep!

I have often wondered why this account of Matthew's calling was listed in this way.

And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him." ~Matthew 9:9Did you read that???

Let me underscore it because I missed it the first time too!

And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him." ~Matthew 9:9

Jesus saw Matthew. So? He saw everyone right?

Matthew was the son of Levi. Historians and biblical scholars tell us that Matthew was of Levite ancestry. The Levites were the tribe of Israel that were not to own property because they were to be God's ministers in the sacrifices of the tabernacles and the temple. It was the custom and duty of a male child born into the tribe of Levi to become a rabbi and fulfill those requirements. The only way to not do this was to fail the tests of the priests or just decide to walk away from your lineage. Why would someone do that?

If it was the first of these two theories than I can understand. The tests that these young boys were given before they could be approached by a Rabbi to be mentored were unbelievably difficult and the work was tedious to say the least. It makes it so powerful because you could not approach a Rabbi to request mentoring, they looked at your scores and chose you. Here he sat in a despised position and The Rabbi approaches him and says, "Follow me!"

If it was the second of the two theories than it would be equally as powerful.We may find a clue in the book of the Bible he would later write. The word "hypocrites" appears more times in Matthew (twelve) than it does anywhere else in the Bible. Perhaps he saw so many people who were hypocrites -- people that said they loved God but proved otherwise by their actions -- that he decided he was finished with God.

Jesus came to show us the Father. The Father sees you and He sees me right now today!

Did you know that He knows exactly what it is that has caused you hurt last week?


He approaches us in the very place of pain and wounding to allow us to see with our own heart that He wants us just as we are. He wants us to be in His presence.

Be it a wound, pain, wrongdoing, injustice, quiet word, or even this blog post today. He is reaching out to you in a voice that is beyond audible to say, "I love you, and I am well aware of you and I want to be part of your life!" He is waiting to introduce Himself to you or reveal a better view of Himself to you, even through an allowed circumstance that causes you to look up out of desperation.



Matthew's need of restoration was just as large as the paralyzed man just before and the sick and blind that are mentioned just after. Maybe that explains why his calling was sandwiched in between these events.

Matthew wanted it on the record that his life was just as changed.

Sometimes people get a little bit nervous at the idea of "Sharing their faith" with the people that God brings across their path but it really is not that difficult.

Truly "Sharing your faith" is NOT going out for an hour each week and distributing printed advertisements for your church with a "How to get to heaven" slipped in on the back.
Inviting people to church is not bad so please don't stone me here. You grow a business by advertising. I get that.

Sharing your faith is not something that you "schedule" as part of your Saturday. It is something that you are. It is something that you look at in the impact of importance that it had on you and it cannot help but come out.

It is seeing what happened to you just as powerful as a paralyzed man forgiven and healed!

Matthew's calling was intensely personal to him.

What has Christ done for and to you and how did He touch you?

What does the empty "House in a rock" now signified in the workings of your life?

On what door of the refrigerator would you hang your conversion story?

When you can look at what He did in your life and see how He came to you, it changes everything about the way that you see Him, and present Him to everyone that you come in personal contact with!

Can it really be that simple?

Climbing with you,
~Dan


Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Wall, My Canvas

 


"Daddy", my four year old son looked up into my eyes as he asked me one night as we were finishing story time, "Why did God let Guh Guh (Four year old for Grandma) have cancer in her body if He loves her?"

He then slipped into his nightly routine of saying his prayers and in those prayers began to ask God to take the cancer away from his Guh Guh.

I shut his bedroom door door behind me as i slipped into a quiet hallway and asked my Father a question nearly as difficult as the question that my son had asked of me.

"Father, how do I explain to my son, why you allow the things that you allow into our life?"

More specifically, "Father, how do i explain to Clark that you do love his grandma and that you loved her so much you allowed this into her life?"

How do you explain to a child or an adult for that matter a clear answer to the question, "Why God, Why?"

There are some who read this that are more mature in their Faith than I was and would say, "Dan, you have NO right to question God!!!"

Maybe not, but I did question.

This was a big blow to our close knit family, and the road through all of this for everyone was just in it's beggining stage.

Walls
 
No one asks for them and most certainly no one wants the ones that they are given.

They intrude into our normal routines and they have a tendency to bring the status quo activities of life to a screeching halt.

The Father did what the Father does anytime we go to Him for instruction. He instructed.

The Father gave me the idea of putting together a short story in the simplicity of a child like "Stick man" drawing that would bring a complex truth to a child level.

The idea was turned into a children's book called, The Man and The Wall.

That book was used in countless counseling sessions a speople were introduced to a different way of looking at the walls that God allowed into their life.  The book developed into a weekly blog that was started this past January and has been read in over 60 countries and had over 13,000 views. The e-mails have started rolling in and facebook messages from people that God is teaching through it and the ways that Father is choosing to use it blows me away!

This book was put into a short video that has been viewed now everywhere that the blog has been viewed and where this simple message is headed is absolutely beyond my capability of understanding.

The wall became something that magnifies The Creator and He is seen, not as some distant God who inflicts punishment and pain, but rather as a close friend who uses these walls to inrtoduce us to a better view of Him!

My life verse is:

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Father used this wall to open my eyes to the power of this passage. "In all thy ways (The things I do, the places I go, and the people that I meet) Acknowledge (Search for or discover) Him (God) and He (God) will direct (Lead or control) my path (Way of life or journey).

This is a wall near where I work. Someone came by and looked at this wall and left marks that detracted and discouraged people driving by. It had become a sign that the neighborhood was in decline and quite honestly it was depressing to see every day.


Then someone else came to the same wall and saw something more than just a wall. They saw an opportunity to express a creator. They took the same wall and decided to reflect something greater than themselves or even the wall itself. They took a brush and some paint and transformed the wall into a message of beauty to everyone that passed by it.
 
I have no idea who the person is that did it, and really isn't that the point of it all? It isn't about us but rather it's about Him!
 

The purpose of this blog is to help people see the walls in their lives as a choice and an opportunity.

The wall either becomes a depressing reality of a circumstance that we did not ask for or want, or it becomes a powerful opportunity to express The Creator and we see it for what it always was...an invitation to know more of Him in us!
 
What is the wall that you have on your path?
 
It is your choice what you do with it!
Climbing with you,
~Dan
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Who Is Sitting In Your Chair?




I walked in to the salon with an extremely uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Hair salons and I have never mixed very well, and partly because of the way that I was raised.

I gave my name at the counter, took a seat by the door and amid the chatter coming from the workstations I could hear the words of my dad echoing in my head, "Son, men don't go to hair salons, they go to barbers! If it does not have a striped pole out front, a man behind the chair who smells like Brute, and a plethora of stuffed and mounted animals on the wall then you need to stay clear!"

I was sitting there in this salon, overruling these words in my mind, because my wife made me an appointment to be here, but what I did not know was that God made the appointment long before my wife had even picked up the phone.

What?

Yep, The Holy Spirit made a divine appointment at the Regis hair salon in the BelAire Mall!

Ever since i was old enough to comb my own hair, i have combed it like Elvis. I thought that he had the coolest hair, and it did not matter if it had been out of style since before I was born, I combed it and wore it proud! I do not care for his voice as a singer very much, but the man had the hair going on!

I know that this sounds crazy, but I had spent a ridiculous amount of time combing and making sure that every hair was perfectly in place.

I recently found this old picture in a box of my things where I was working an over the top Elvis pose... "Thank you, thank you very much".

This was fine if the look was Elvis in his twenties, but now I was in my mid thirties and starting to resemble the Vegas years Elvis, and "ain't nobody got time for that". I needed a change.

So here I am sitting in a hair salon waiting area, looking through all of those hair books at people that looked NOTHING like me, and wracking my brain trying to figure out a hair style to choose.

Then Joyce came around the corner and said, "Hey, you ready Mr. Daniel?"

Joyce stood out immediately because of the smile on her face and it emanated from a deeper source than just a pleasant personality or a cup of coffee that she started the day with.

I sat down in her chair and she asked me, " How old are you Mr.Daniel"?

"I'm thirty four", I replied to which she began to shake her head disapprovingly.

"Mr. Daniel, that hair has got to go! You look at least ten to fifteen years older than that and I am going to give you a beautiful haircut, because that is what I do!" she replied as she began to clip and spray.

As she cut she told me about her children and grandchildren, the things in the world that got her riled up and about the things that life had brought her way, and I just listened and felt what seemed like pounds of my hair fall to the floor.


It was the books that she had on her workstation, the window overlooking the mall where her workstation was located, the way that she phrased things and the responses that she gave to the things that she was asked by her family members that caught my attention.

We began to talk about Faith, and God, and the church and where society was headed when she just asked, "Mr.Daniel, the things we are talking about here about the Father, I don't see how people cannot see their need for Him. They walk past my window all day long and it breaks my heart sometimes to see how empty they seem."

That is when I became aware that this was no ordinary hair cut and that this was a divine appointment!

"Joyce", I asked, "What does your name mean?" (See Hello my name is)

"I don't know," She replied. " I guess i never really thought about it before."

"Your name means Beautiful", I replied.
"Joyce, look where God has placed you and what He has placed you doing. Each day you stand here and help people who come in with outdated hairstyles see themselves as beautiful when they look in the mirror. You help them see themselves the way that God has always seen them. Beautiful."


I could see the wheels turning as Joyce processed this. "Joyce, you are a beautiful person inside and out and God gave you your name and your way of thinking so that when you are surrendered to Him, you are able to express that attribute of Him to everyone that He brings to this chair and past your window. It has come out in every story you have told me about your family. They bring a hurt to you and God gives you the words to help them see beauty for ashes. What are the odds of that happening?"

Joyce lit up!

"Joyce, God made you to express to others that He is beautiful, and He gave you the skill to help people see that God made them beautiful! Not only do I look ten to fifteen years younger, but God allowed you to see that was only possible if Elvis left the building!".

The more we talked, the more obvious that it became that God had instilled within her the desire to make things beautiful since she was a little girl, and that this beautiful lady was expressing Him in ways that no building, program, sermon, or song could ever hope to.  She was just cutting hair every day and expressing Him to the people whose hair she cut.

 God has given each of us a chair, and He decides who is going to sit in that chair at any given time. For some the chair is "Parenthood", for others it is a job and the people that He brings across your path. (See "The Light that Came from Within")

He is not looking for you to "sell Him" or work whatever angle you can in order to "put someone into a relationship with Jesus today."

He does not need you to sell anything about Him or try to convince others that they need Him or that He will solve all of their problems.

He just asks you to tell others what He has done for you.

What does Jesus mean to you?

How is your life different today because you have Him than it was before you had Him?

Did you just live a life on a different moral plain or has He completely and internally re-wired the very fabric of you?

What Joyce discovered that day was the same thing that God opened my eyes to and it has changed everything about me. (See "What Is It?")

He placed her where He wanted her to shine and gave her the tools, skills, and personality to accomplish that process of "Shining". 

God did not save me to "put me to work", but rather to enable me to now be able to follow Him. He gave me the ability to surrender all of me to Him and have Him shine through me.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." ~Matthew 5:16

I want to challenge you to take another look at the chair that God has given you and then look at every way that He has equipped you to shine for Him and allow Him to shine through you today!

Everything that He has allowed into your life up until this point have simply been needed tools to perfectly equip you to be and do what He has asked you to be and do. It is not just a chair, it is an opportunity!



Climbing with you,
~Dan