Monday, June 29, 2015

The Issue that Changed Everything

I love comic books.

I always have and I guess the appeal for me began when I was a kid, because as a kid it is very easy to feel like an outsider and the comic books were all about outsiders who were truly special once you got to know them.

Haven't we all felt that way at one point in our lives?

I do not hide the fact that I am a purist Superman fan but my introduction to superhero comic books was ushered in through "The Amazing Spider man".

I was able to identify a lot with Peter Parker and so it was no surprise that these were the stories that I gravitated to as a kid. I think the image of Mary Jane standing in the doorway of Aunt May's house saying, "Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot." was permanently embedded in my  ten year old mind and the bar was officially raised.

I mean, who wouldn't want to be able to swing through the canyons of sky scrapers in New York City or swoop in and save the fabulous Mary Jane or the stunning Gwen Stacey from certain doom only to be rewarded with a kiss? It was magic and I think that reading these stories as a boy is what helped me develop an ability to write and convey thoughts the way that I do. Mental pictures created by written captions.

I recently introduced my nine year old son to the collected works of Spider man and began to pass along the comic books (In correct issue order) that I had, and have enjoyed watching him experience what I did at his age.

Dinner time conversations have become full of theory, speculation, and friendly debates on the plots and story lines that I remember (And forgot) and it is really fun for me to see him enjoy it.

I found the separate issues had been reprinted in combined book form so reading entire story lines is now possible. Each book contains twenty issues in chronological order and my son is just starting book five so you can do the math on how many issues he has read thus far.

I say that to say this.

I know what is coming in the next few "issues", and I also know what it felt like and how devastated that I felt when I experienced what he will be experiencing soon for the very first time.

 You see there are a few comic book issues that have a significant impact on the character and this upcoming issue is one of those impacting moments. In Issue # 121 Peter Parker's girlfriend Gwen Stacey is killed in the middle of a battle between Spider man and the Green Goblin.

I remember how I felt when I read this story as a boy, and went back and re-read each panel to be sure that I was reading the story correctly.

Gwen was dead? Like, she was really gone and she was not coming back. Ever.

Peter's true soul mate was gone forever? Just like that?

It was true, and I was extremely saddened by this. It's just a comic book story after all but this story came back to me as my son excitedly told me all about the characters that he was reading about. I remembered the battles and conflicts that he was recalling in his reading, and he went on completely clueless as to what the next few "issues" would hold. In fact, I was not anticipating how he was going to feel because of the upcoming issues, but I know that it is part of the story of Spider man, and Peter Parker would not be Spider man without these events that the writer would give him to shape his story.

Have you ever found yourself reading the storyline that THE WRITER has put on your page and thought to yourself, "This is good just like it is". You excitedly devour where you are in life and enjoy every moment to it's fullest and the last thing you would ever expect would be for THE WRITER to put in a character changing plot curve?

The last thing you would ask as the main character in your story would be for a plot change that would alter your way of living out your story.

Let me share a few thoughts with you about THE WRITER (God) and the story line that He has cast us in.

In the New testament, We find that Jesus walked with the disciples and they had become very comfortable with Him. Just when things were going great and "issue" after "Issue" revealed some new and exciting revelation about the heart of God for them  and us, the storyline took a drastic turn. Jesus was killed by crucifixion. Jesus knew this "issue" was coming up in the story and when the disciples came to this story they fell apart. Jesus returned and then told them of another upcoming story change. He was ascending to heaven but this storyline change in their lives would be the BEST thing that could have ever happened. It would be a change in the story of the creation / creator relationship that would make it AMAZING! God the Son was ascending and God the Holy Spirit was descending. He was entering the life of every believer! Can I show you the "Issue 121" of the New Testament?
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."   ~ John 16:7

What made this panel to the left so Iconic was the first part of this scene where the webbing wraps Gwen's leg with a resounding "SWIK!". What most people missed was that just to the right of her neck the artist also included a "SNAP!". As the page continued the reader would jump back to this panel and their heart fell. This little sound changed everything.

John 16:7 was the sound that changes everything for the believer. We need to go back and read this again and again and every time we do, our hearts LIFT!

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."   ~ John 16:7

In the Bible times, only the high priest could enter into the Holy place for the people. Their sins were atoned for through sacrifices representing what was to come in Christ, but they were still not in a position to access God's presence. Christ's death on the cross eradicated man's sin nature. Paul says it has been crucified with Christ!!! The Old Covenant was finished and the New Covenant was introduced through the cross. This covenant with man was based entirely upon Christ and His finished work.

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. " ~ Hebrews 10:16-18
The Holy Spirit came when Jesus ascended and He reminds the believers of this truth!!!

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." ~ Hebrews 10:19-25


This story we live out is going to have plot twists and turns. Some we may enjoy and others we may never want to revisit ever again, but what we need to remember are two amazing truths.


It is not about us.

Every event allowed into our story has been perfectly designed to help us demonstrate and reveal God's Spirit to others. We were created to express the creator and it is not about the pieces being chipped away from the sculpture that matter, it is about what the sculpture reveals when the pieces are chipped away.

Loss, hurt, and pain are a part of the process and truly no condition is permanent. If life has you feeling like you just saved the city and you are swinging high then soak in the sun as you swing above the sky scrapers. If life has you feeling as though you will never be a hero again than please stop and take notice of what we forget happened back in the panel of our story in JOHN 16:7. We have Him in us and the story with all its twists and turns has always been about Him. We are just along for the ride!

He is going to work and His work is not always about what is fair. His work has always been about purpose. He shapes us and molds us in every panel of life and regardless if you agree about the way He has drawn your situation, please know that He is working through you and the story you live out. We can fight it, shut down, stop reading if we want. many people do or they find ways to try to work around what He has drawn into their lives. They try to cover up the panels with drugs, sex, stimulants, or even depressants. Anything than to have to accept the scenes that forever change them as a character. It has never been about you. If we are not the main character in our story than who is?

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

The main character in our story is... (Drum roll)... GOD!


You are not alone in your story. On the days that you win and on the days that you learn, you are not alone.

He is working in you and through you and conforming you to the image of Christ! He has written your story to show Him and to reveal His love.

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"
                                             ~ Philippians 1:6

We can hold these truths tightly because there will be panels that bring change and in a lot of cases it will be changes that we feel diminish our characters costume or shows of strength and guess what. They were. It is not about us, it is about THE WRITER and His ability. If there were no writer, there would be no character so we walk by Faith. We place our faith in the fact that God is who He says He is, and the God has done and will do what He says HE has done and will do.

Climbing with you,

Friday, June 26, 2015

What to do when your boss is a MAD MAN

I find so much beauty and comfort in the events recorded in the Bible. During my meditation time this morning I came across an amazing event in the Bible I had passed over and it was in this event I discovered a beautiful truth I knew needed to be shared.
History is full of mad men and if you know your history, then you are aware that many of the mad men who fill our history books have been people in high power positions. They say that power changes people but I believe power, money, and fame simply make someone more of what they already were.
Adolph Hitler was always a mad man even when he was an unemployed house painter. It was not the power of the Third Reich that made him insane enough to inspire the killings of over six million Jews in the holocaust but rather the fact that this man was truly demented.
In the book of Daniel we start out with one of the main players who is most certainly unstable in his thinking and reasoning. His name is King Nebuchadnezzar. Chapter two tells us that the king is sleeping only to be awakened by a dream. He could not even remember the dream he had but he was terrified by it and called his wise men into his royal chambers to interpret a dream he himself could not remember. He explained to these men that he had a dream but could not remember it. He demanded that they recall the dream he had and then interpret it. If they could not, he would dismember them and kill their families.
This my friends is "The Shining" type of crazy!!! 
I can just see him busting his head out from the royal bed curtains shouting out, "Heeeeerrrrreeees Nebby!!!!"

I digress. Nebuchadnezzar makes this insane command and of course his wise men fail to satisfy his commands and the king follows through on his threat and this is where I want to focus our attention.

This is a portion of the story that I have missed up until this very morning.

"For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain." ~ Daniel 2:12-13

Daniel was gathered up in the middle of the night along with every wise man in the kingdom. It did not matter if they knew what was going on (Daniel did not because he was sleeping during the kings "Shining" moment.) Details never matter to the mentally unbalanced individual  because detail provide reason and a mad man does not deal in reason. He deals in his or her own madness.

I have worked for a true mad man before. They carried a title that implied Christianity but behind closed doors, they operated and made personal theology based upon demonic and personal sheer madness and it reflected onto the lives of those who worked for him. When you deal with a mad man, levels of promotion matter little because the mad man only sees life through his own fractured lens. Those who work for a mad man can be quickly moved around from responsibility to responsibility with little to no consideration for what the trickle down affect of instability will be. To a mad man, wise men can be easily replaced when you advertise with a bright LED sign how much you have to offer on the surface.

I find Daniel's reaction amazing!!!

"Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:  He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:  hat they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven." ~ Daniel 2:14-19
Daniel did not react as the others did. When the knock came and he was grabbed from his home, Daniel did not flood his Face book and twitter feeds with postings of articles from the local conservative paper on how atrocious the kings insane actions were. He simply asked, "What is going on?"
Now here is where the story gets truly AMAZING! Look at the response from the chief executioner Arioch.  "Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel...."
Wait a minute! Why is Arioch even wasting the time explaining to Daniel. He is the chief executioner. He is paid to kill not to think. He is paid to NOT reason or answer questions. He has one job. Kill whoever the mad man says must be killed. To delay in your task meant you could be killed for insubordination.
"Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation." ~ Daniel 2:24
Arioch relayed the matter because, I believe, Arioch knew the king was a mad man. Wise men could be replaced and so could chief executioners. He took a chance on Daniel. I truly believe that Arioch knew the killing of a house full of wise men would not fix the kings problem. More wise men would come, as they had before, and more wise men would die at the whim of a mad man.
"Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation. The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? " ~ Daniel 2:25-26
 "Life is a series of responses and our response determines our future."
Life is a series of responses and our response determines our future. Daniel had a choice in all of this. Respond in anger over the frustrations caused by a mad man, or walk in his purpose in the palace he was placed in. He chose his purpose.
The story was never about Daniel. It was about a much bigger scope and Daniel was placed where he was, not for himself, but for a mad man.
"Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart." ~ Daniel 2:27-30

 Please notice the last sentence of this passage.

"...For God showed it to me for your benefit."

God was interested in a mad man because God is even interested in those who have NO interest in Him. Let me repeat this.

God is even interested in those who have NO interest in Him.

He is not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance.

History is full of mad men and if you know your history, then you are aware that many of the mad men who fill our history books have been people in high power positions. Let me just throw this out there and say be very careful before you decide to pray for revival.

We pray for it, put up signs in our yards and slogans on our church bulletins begging God to send revival. We have special prayer meetings and post drastic pictures on or Face book feeds invoking others to join us in our pleas for "God to send revival to His church and to America!!!"

I am all for revival, but let me ask you a question. Historically speaking, how does God bring revival?

He allows circumstances to press His people and others into a place where they truly recognize that they need Him. Why do we have the problems in our political and legal landscape today? How can the stuff that happens be allowed to happen?  Could it be that God is answering our prayers to bring revival?

I see posts about how we need revival but then cries to remove people from office because of the junk that they seem to get by with. Did God allow that person into a position of power? Out of all the people that could be in power, does the God of the universe have a say in who is allowed to be in power?

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Could it be that God is not so much interested in our indignation against the "Brazen behavior of the wicked" as much as our response to His allowed methods of bringing about a dependence upon Him?

Daniel had no need to speak evil of Nebuchadnezzar. Everyone in the palace secretly acknowledged the guy was insane behind his back. Daniel recognized that this was a man who needed to encounter how big and mighty his God was. Daniel calmly went to God on behalf of a mad man and requested God to bring Nebuchadnezzar into a  state God awareness. He was not interested in the approval of a mad man, but rather in the mad man seeing the power of God.

Complaining about a lost person's actions is insane. They are doing what they know. You cannot exhibit or give away what you do not possess. So post away about how terrible so and so is or what political party continues to let you down. Your focus , while well intended, is off. 

Paul kicks our barn doors in with this nugget.

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." ~ Romans 13:1-7
The story was never about Daniel. It was about a much bigger scope and Daniel was placed where he was, not for himself, but for a mad man. Yes, go vote, send letters to your senators and congress. Yes be informed and aware, but above all pray. Pray for a God awareness in the hearts and minds of our leaders. Pray for opportunities in which you can display God's power. The only one that can change a persons heart and mind is the one who made that person's heart and mind.

"Life is a series of responses and our response determines our future."

Climbing with you,