50 Shades of “What the heck is going on?”

grey wall

Let me join the fracas

Let me join the fracas as if there isn’t enough noise out there already. I am astounded at the number of Christian people that are defending the writings, as well as the movie, “50 Shades of Grey.” “If you haven’t read it then you don’t get to talk about it”, I believe was how one FB post read. Well, I haven’t read it and I will share my opinions on it. There have been enough movie trailers and excerpts from the book posted on line as proof of it’s theme and purposes, that one does not have to read it to see what it is, and what it is about.

 What’s really going on?

The bigger picture as I see it is our comfortableness with immorality. Having been raised in an home where pornography was accessible and almost celebrated, I will be aware of it and have to stand against it the rest of my life. I cannot tell you how disturbed I was, when a trusted friend of mine forwarded an article that had a half naked picture of a movie actress, under the pretense of ranting about the horrible way Hollywood objectifies and demeans women through body types. Un-followed!!! Why did they think that was ok to post this so it would come across my feed? What about any children of their vast number of friends who may have been subject to it? Not cool!

 The struggle is real!

I’m no prude, anyone that was raised in my house will tell you that, but sexual sin, including nakedness, is the only sin that I can think of readily where God says to “flee.” Don’t stand and fight, don’t take up arms, don’t linger in the battle, FLEE! Run away, get far from it. As you skim through the Law of the Jews you will find verses that say, don’t get people drunk so that you can look upon their nakedness. (Habakkuk 2:15) I share that just to show how serious God is about it. Jesus said to look upon a woman to lust after her is to have already committed adultery with her. So we see again how serious God is. To be fair Jesus rendered everyone guilty when he was speaking on the judgmental spirit that comes from religious people pointing fingers. Same thing he did when he was dealing with the woman caught in the very act of adultery, first he made everyone guilty, then he invited the woman to leave her life of sin.

I guess I am a bit surprised at the whole group of men or women that will defend a movie, any movie, that has nudity in it and then turn right around and sit in my office telling me about the struggle they are having with porn. How many of you are watching Game of Thrones? What about Vikings? Nakedness, Biblically speaking, is porn. How do you weigh out your entertainment choices? If it’s a “fun” movie, or, “good book” (I guess we should include music in that as well) then it’s ok. Women scream about the objectification of their gender and where this particular book and movie are concerned turn right around and defend it. This particular book, at the least the excerpts that I read that were posted, were pure, scintillating, porn in prose. Every detail, every thought, painting as detailed a picture as possible. I have to say I was glad they were short posts. They are posted to give the reader an understanding of what the theme and story was going to be like. it’s interesting how many women will come crying about their man’s porn issues and yet …

 Mennonite reformationWhat about dying for the cause?

What about guarding our eyes? Psalm 101:3 What about cutting off our right hand if it is offending us? Matthew 5:30. I’m not suggesting that we go through life maimed, but Jesus was saying get radical!! Wasn’t it the radicals of the 1500’s that brought about a reformation? They stood against religious tyranny and shouted that they wanted to live out the words of Jesus even if it meant death. They wouldn’t be quiet even when they were being burned at the stake, quartered, hung, drowned, pieces of their flesh including their tongue and eyes were pulled from them with hot tongs, or they were tarred and burned alive. Today we’d be lucky to just get some of the church goers uncomfortable so we can get them to grow. We are more interested in splitting over women in leadership, worship wars and who’s allowed in to the church, then actually reaching the lost. When was the last time you invited someone to your church? Why aren’t you in a small group, or life group, or what ever your church calls them? Where do you serve on sunday morning? Here’s a biggie, Why don’t you tithe to your local church? (don’t tell me Jesus didn’t address it, he did. If not it would be the only thing he addressed where he “lowered the bar instead of raising it, and that just isn’t Jesus)

 BbileWhere is the church: are you in there, hello?

I think the church has become a little lax in it’s interactions with our culture. We may be a little more OF the world and not just IN it. Maybe it’s just apathy. I’m talking about actual Biblical issues, not preferences. I’ve seen what people do with preferences. I have actually had a religious man tell me that he didn’t care what the Bible said about alcohol, we have to preach that it is a sin. When he said he didn’t care what the Bible said he lost me. I do care. Same guy teaches people to kill their enemies even though Jesus said to love them. I sin, please don’t get me wrong. Don’t ever listen to a preacher that tells you he doesn’t, that man is liar. As God is my witness! The issue is when we set our lives up to live in sin. When we rationalize it to the public so that we can indulge our natural man. What ever happened to being ashamed of our sin? I am ashamed of my sin. It bothers me this sin that put Jesus on the cross. What ever happened to, “it was for my sins that he died?” Maybe what’s really happening is that Jesus isn’t as important to us as we want everyone to believe he is. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 wanted everyone to believe they were really holy and “ALLIN.” They wanted it so much that they lied to the church about the price of a piece of property they sold. They died of the Spirit that day. I have often wondered why God is so patient with me and yet they dropped on the spot! I have no answer, but God I am thankful.

but there is a fire growing

In the midst of all this crazy negativity about sin and culture I am meeting young people that show me God is up to something. They are concerned about their purity, their witness to those around them. I even hear them speak of pride issues. Wow. These are some class people. They are graduating college and then not entering the fields of study they have  degrees in. No, these young people are heading into ministry. As I relate to them they can’t stand the idea of not telling people about Jesus. They can’t stand not getting involved. They believe the message of the Cross and of Jesus at his ascension. They NEED to lead small groups, and disciple people on a regular basis. They can’t give or serve enough. These are people that will be changing the world. It is so exciting to interact with them. Our church is filling up with older people that have the same heart. These more mature believers are pouring into these young people and it is changing our town.

This FIRE is contagious. This Fire comes from people who are willing to come away from sin, sinful lifestyles, and are hungrier for the love of Jesus and his teachings then they are religious. It comes from being hungry enough to let go of preferences and wrong ideas of spirituality. It comes from letting go of preconceived notions about Jesus and choosing instead to determine what does the Bible say about what the Bible says. These are radicals. The world will be changed by radicals. You can be a radical and you can change the world!!

It is going to start with you and I confessing our sin and stepping away from what this world says is ok. Christians have to be the ones to lead the charge on purity, sexuality, honesty, justice and integrity. Listen, it is our job to introduce the world to Jesus and if we do not have any integrity in our walk, if there is no purity in our lifestyle, if no justice for the oppressed in our hearts, what do we have to offer a dying world? A drowning man cannot save a drowning man.

I want to SOAR this year and SOARING means leaving the common ground, going where the average doesn’t go and doing what the normal doesn’t do.

Controllers and Batteries

We have these controllers in our house all over the place. You might refer to them as “The Remote”, to us they are lovingly referred to as, “The Flippy Dippy”, as in, “Hey honey, where’s the flippy dippy, I need to watch the news?” We have a flippy Remote_Controlsdippy, for the tv’s, the DVD player, the Blue Ray player, I have one for my laptop, the garage door and even for the auto start for my truck. Who’d a thunk it? Our lives are run and controlled by these flippy dippies. And heaven help you if you lose the flippy dippy, as Sheldon Cooper might say, “You are now up the proverbial slow-moving aquifer in a buoyant craft and no shaped wooden means of propulsion.” You will also notice in turn, the flippy dippy is controlled by these batteries that come in all shapes and sizes. I am totally bewildered, that the makers who make things that make our lives easier can’t all get together and make things more streamlined, more standardized. You know, like only one kind of battery. (I actually know it isn’t possible but this is my blog and my dream. These are my monkeys get your own circus.) As a result of all the flippy dippies and all the different requirements, I have to keep a stash of all kinds of batteries. 9 volt square keep the smoke detectors working, AA little skinny ones keep most of the flippy dippies working, AAA if I want to play games with my imaginary friends, as my wife calls them. And then, I even own a thing or two that takes two flat discs of a battery, and I don’t even know what to call them.

As I stare at the battery that controls the flippy dippy, I see there is a positive end and a negative end. I know, electrically speaking, it takes both ends to make it work, but it got me to thinking TWO thoughts.

     FIRST, we all have controllers in our lives and we have to pick and choose which one we will “use”. The more controllers we have the crazier life is, the fewer controllers we have the better life is. Did you know that you can go to the store and get a universal remote and it can control a lot of stuff in your house? It really would be great if we had only ONE controller. (are you listening to me you People Who Make Things?) Stop for a second and think it through; if you only had one controller in your life would it not be much simpler? Thinking beyond your material possessions, how many potential controllers do you have in your life? I would list things like church, marriage, jobs, culture, circumstances, other people … You get it right?

Growing up I was so afraid of people that my desire to hide from them was a controller. Then as I began to grow out of my shell, my desire to be liked began to control me.

Sin became a controller

Religion become a controller

Then shame became a controller

Success became a controller

The need for Attention can be a controller

All of these things can direct your path. They can keep you from being able to do anything, or accomplishing anything. Sooner or later you need to strip it down to one universal controller. Just one. (just go with the metaphor) You need to decide what you will let be the real controller in your life. While I struggle against my own flesh, I have decided that the ONE controller in my life controllerwill be God and my desire to hear him one day say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I really don’t care much what other people think. Not arrogantly, just matter of fact. God is my Father and my biggest fan.

So, how many controllers do you have? Think about that for a while, let it simmer and process it out in your own life. With all due respect, who or what is your controller? (if you need a hint, look at your checkbook or spending register, that’s a good clue)

Decide today that it doesn’t matter what others think, that God and his word can be your only controller. You were uniquely created by a Father that loves you desperately even when you feel alone, and in the dark, and scared. He is still calling your name softly. Whispering loving encouraging words. Listen to him.

Galatians 6:4-5 (NIV)

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.

The SECOND thought, as if this wasn’t already long enough for a blog is, are you being controlled by the negative end of your battery or the positive end?

In the controller of your life is it the positive end you live from or the negative end?

This world is tough enough without the Naysayers and the negativity sellers trying to provide the power to your controller. Even in the church. As a pastor you kind of get to know who they are. When you are having a meeting they are the first people to say, “We can’t do that!” Nothing has been checked, nothing has been researched and yet they start the conversation with, “That can’t be done!” I was at a conference at Fellowship Church in Arlington, Texas one year, Ed Young was speaking and he
was talking about wanting to do a series on loneliness. His sanctuary seats 3-4,000 I think and he wanted to bring a 747 Jetliner into the sanctuary. So he posed a question to his Creative Team: “How can we get a 747 in the Sanctuary?” Immediately someone said, “You can’t do that, it isn’t big enough.” I believe he told us that this person no longer works for Fellowship Church. Negative people are always telling you what cannot be done and why you won’t succeed, and how it isn’t going to work. They don’t often make a positive suggestion as a result of being creative. Positive people are looking for a way to make it work even if it isn’t in the original form. (Ed Young and Fellowship Church succeeded with Video and atmosphere where they couldn’t with an actual jet.)
What do you do with the negative people in your life? Sooner or later you have to decide if they are going to control you. Are they your controller? If So, you have to walk away, even if they are family. Negative can quickly become TOXIC and that is an altogether different blog.

Growing up there were two incidences in my life that “controlled me” and the path of my life. (Apart from Jesus making good out of the bad in my life I mean) They were small, very negative, and inconsequential from the outside. They were bigger than Goliath on the inside, and I ran from them instead of challenging them. The first was my desire to be a Veterinarian. I love animals, science, biology specifically and I think I would have been a great Vet. Really. But I was told I wasn’t from the right family. I was told that the governor or something would have to sign off on me and we weren’t from that “class” of people. To this day I can remember where I was and how that hit me. It was straight up negative, negativity with NO positive challenge to take on the world or overcome. Right there and then I grieved that loss and moved on. Fast-forward three or four years and I was sitting in the living room trying to teach myself the guitar. Someone who should have been my biggest supporter walked through the room and all they said was, “You want to know what your problem is, you don’t have any rhythm.” I sold the guitar the next day to a guy at work. That was the negative end of the battery right there. I was 17 and had no dreams of being a rock and roll star, just wanted to learn something creative. 20 some years later I was inspired by an up and coming guitar player to recapture that dream and I did. I’m no Carlos Santana, but Jesus and I have a good time.

neon-yes1Paul told the church in 2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (NIV)

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.

And again Jesus said in Luke 17:20

“But while [the prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

God is your biggest fan, listen to him encourage you as he says, “Yes.”

I HAVE TWO DOGS BUT ONLY ONE GOD

I HAVE TWO DOGS BUT ONLY ONE GOD

Anyone that knows me has to know I have two dogs. I love my dogs, they are amazing creatures and loyal friends. They are funny and fun, crazy and at times they can be very frustrating, but they are always there for me.

Birthday love 3

AVA and BOOMER

My female Rottweiler’s name is Ava and my male is named Boomer. They both came from a wonderful kennel out in California. Not litter mates but kennel mates two years apart. Bred for disposition, beautifully encompassing the AKC standard of a “Rottie,” they are an incredibly misunderstood breed. They are great family members and very friendly dogs. Ava has attained her Canine God Citizen Certificate and Therapy Dog would be next, she also pulls a cart for exercise and fun. My grandchildren love to ride in the cart up and down the street. Boomer, the big goober, is one good left turn from completing all the requirements for the “CGC” certificate. He is young and that’s another topic we can learn about, but later.

Ava Carting

I can learn a lot about God from my dogs.

Through the years I have learned a lot about God through my relationship to dogs. Like the time I was trying to process hearing the voice of God. Like a puppy, we run to our master and we are excited to be near him in worship, prayer time, but we don’t really have a clue what he is saying or what he means. Then over the years of being in his presence, we come to an understanding: his voice, his unction, and his gesture. You can talk to a grown dog of yours and based upon your gestures he will respond. Based upon your voice inflections the dog will or won’t respond. Based upon volume your dog will or won’t respond. Our relationship to God is like that. The more we get to know him, the more the little nuances of his person communicate his intention to us. The easier it is to understand the voice we have been seeking. As a puppy, not so much.

When I am trying to understand obedience.

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Ava likes to chase a red rubber ring, Boomer on the other hand only chases Ava. Boomer will chase a green tennis ball, but Ava will only chase Boomer after he gets to it. Eventually they both will bring me their individual toy with the other in tow. The nonsense starts when they go racing to the bottom of the hill full tilt and then smell a rabbit, or have to pee or what ever and then they forget where the toy went. They are dogs, I throw the ball, and they fetch it, that’s how it works. It all falls apart when they don’t listen. When they won’t bring me the ball or the ring. I do that to God sometimes too. He sends me to do something and I get distracted by the world, fame, importance, and material possessions, really I am as susceptible as anyone else to the things of this world. I get distracted and forget what he sent me to do or fail to remember where I put God’s ball. Then one time Boomer went after the ball, got half way back and remembered he had to pee again. So he dropped the ball, which rolled down hill and he promptly peed on the ball. Well I can assure you he wasn’t going to do his job with a soiled ball in his mouth. How many times have I peed on God’s ball and then complained to God?

If they aren’t going to be obedient then the party is over

Dogs are pack animals and they need to be family members. They understand the concept of hierarchy but they will fight for position. They can learn quickly where they fit and what their role is, but if they aren’t going to engage, then the party is over. They will thrive when they are encouraged and praised and feel a deep sense of accomplishment. The very first time I put Ava in a harness and hooked her up to the cart it terrified her. That thing behind her was rattling and bouncing and following real close. But once she realized that I put it there and it was a good thing she pulled it famously. When we were all done ( 20 minutes worth) I praised her lavishly and she was beaming. She did it. She was so proud! That obedience, even when I don’t understand the new thing God is doing, that’s the party! Disobedience means the party is over. We need to understand that with God obedience is not an option. He expects us to bring back the ball. He expects us to pull the cart. He expects us to do our part and when we do, life is in rhythm.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

God is the master; he isn’t yielding his throne to anyone else. God and God alone. So, what is it that God is asking of you? Did you drop the rubber ring? Did the world distract you? Did you pee on God’s ball? You are not too old, too young, too short, too tall, too male, too female, to be in the game with God. I want to encourage you to reengage.