Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to Make Confession a Little Less Stressful

It's been three weeks since I've been to confession. Believe you me that's like ages in my spiritual walk—just enough time to get filled with pride.

Apparently my human nature was getting tired of the spiritual side always succeeding in the never ending battle of sinning or not sinning. Therefore, in moments of weakness my flesh chose this week to deploy the sin operation....hence my journey to the reconciliation room on Saturday. I really do like going to confession, but I like living a righteous life more. Unfortunately, I haven't reached righteousness so off I went.

There is an app that helps me on that journey to bring me closer to Christ. "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" is fantastic when I'm doing the pre-confession work of examining my conscience. At times it can be sobering, but it helps me get closer to God.

Keep in mind the app does not replace going to confession. I still have to go and share with my priest my failings in order to receive absolution. With the app though, it makes the process a little less stressful.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Doing a Bad Thing for a Good Cause Doesn't Mean the Heart is Focused on God

David Kills the Messenger
Courtesy of www.thebricktestament.com
Throughout the Old Testament there is plenty of violence. As God's chosen people work their way back to the promised land, many tribes that stood in the way were wiped out. At times it can be quite unnerving to read about all this death and destruction in God's word.

Yet in the midst of all the carnage in the Old Testament, God uses David to show that violence does not necessarily guarantee blessings. In 2 Samuel 1, an Amalekite man came to David to share the news that he had struck down King Saul--clearly a lie since Saul took his own life (1 Sam 31). Expecting David to praise him for his "courage", the Amalekite was in for a surprise when David called for HIS death. King Saul was God's anointed and David took that title very serious...even if Saul wanted him dead.

Being a devout man, David took his relationship with the Lord very serious and was in constant communication with God concerning his plans and movements as he marched towards his inevitable reign as King of Israel  David had a few opportunities to kill King Saul, but always spared his life to show God's mercy. The "murder" of King Saul by the Amalekite was a violation of the Lord's anointing of the king.

The great thing about the stories in the Bible is just when the reader thinks they've seen it all, God brings the point home even harder with an even crazier story!

Ish-Bosheth was the son of King Saul and had since taken over the throne with the king's passing. Ish-Bosheth had two men who were leaders of raiding bands, Baanah and Rekab. One night the two leaders turned their loyalties towards David by sneaking into the kings bedroom and killed him. As their proof to David, they cut off the head of the king and brought it to him. Again, these men thought they were doing a good thing with their violence, but you guessed it.....David had them both killed for an unrighteous act.

David proclaimed that their actions of killing an innocent man, in his own house, in his own bed was wicked.

What we can take from these lessons is though we may believe that our moments of "un-Christian" actions may bring further glory to God's kingdom, our hearts couldn't be further from the Truth. The Lord requires from us holiness and righteousness. We must remember that God can bring glory to all things and that taking matters into our own hands--like God couldn't just snap his proverbial holy fingers to fix a situation and serve justice
--may not bring us the praise and reward we are selfishly looking for. Do good things in God's name and let the Lord sort out the rest.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shut up and take my money!

I'm not a fan of pledge drives. As a matter of fact I despise fundraisers. I get they're a necessary evil, but I feel like I'm already giving as much as I can between bills and raising a family in today's economy.

But they're is a pledge drive going on right now that I can absolutely get behind: Air1.

If you have never heard of Air1 then it's time to open your ears. Air1 is a commercial free nationwide Christian music station that can be listened to online or if you're lucky a local radio station (check the website for a local station). Artists like TobyMac, Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, Jeremy Camp, Mercy Me and the Newsboys are constantly rocking the airwaves for Christ!

Air1 is more than music; for me it's a chance to come closer to God and worship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The "positive alternative" has inspired me in uncertain times or convicted my heart when I've been straying from God's will. However, it's those times when a song has brought me to tears in humility that justify my monthly pledge to the Air1 ministry.

I challenge you to head over to Air1.com and give them a listen. I believe if a ministry can help change hearts for Christ, then I must do everything I can to spread the word and encourage others to support this ministry too!

God bless Air1.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

God's Mercy Helps Me Understand How To Be "So Far Gone"

There have been those rare moments in my life where I have been blown over by God's grace. When I first accepted Christ as my lord and savior almost 20 years ago, after the loss of my mom to cancer, the healing of my marriage and now at the threshold of my late 30s. All of those previous events led me for a brief moment to the Lord's altar of love, forgiveness and healing. However, this time it feels much deeper.

There is a song by Thousand Foot Krutch called "So Far Gone" off their album The End is Where We Begin. It moves me....not like I have ever experienced before.

To begin with I am a total sucker for praise and worship music and the guitar and drums in this song gives the message that feeling. In the first verse the author shares: 
"Because I've never felt stronger than when you're with me
Sometimes I wonder why you even care
Because when I leave you're always there with me"
I am a sinful man. I have been to confession on average every other week this year. Whenever I get comfortable and over-confident in myself, I have allowed Satan and his demons back into my life. Almost like clockwork I fall into sin again and feel like garbage. That is the enemy's trick, but there is reconciliation in Christ. When I go to confession and share with the priest my sins I can feel Christ holding me. Just like when one of my children fail and I show them discipline and love, so does Christ. With Christ I never feel stronger.

The chorus of this song has brought me to tears quite a few times:
"I want to be so far gone in youSo far nothing else will ever doI want to be so far gone in youIn you"
 As my relationship with Christ has grown and strengthened through reconciliation and prayer so has my desire to get lost in Him. I thought I understood what it was like to be lost in Christ. It wasn't until I fell on my knees and made a conscience decision to take my faith seriously, did I truly understand what joy it is to be "so far gone" in Christ. The decision meant I had to give Christ my all.....not just Sunday mornings. It has not been easy. This world won't let it be easy. To be "so far gone" in Christ is ridiculous, but if that is what the world says then count me as a fool for Christ.

One final blessing I would like to share comes out of the second verse:

"Sometimes I cry because I can't believe
Your love is big enough to cover me
Sometimes I've wondered if you even cared
But when I'm far away you meet me there"
God's love for me is beyond measure. Think about that--because I have--He loves us SO much that we can't begin to measure it! I can measure the love I have for my wife and my children. To think God loves me even more than that blows me away.

It makes me cry.


Even in those moments when I sin, the same sin that nailed Jesus to the cross, it's not God who has left me. I am the one who has embraced sin and veered far off the path of righteousness. However, the thing about grace is that Christ is right there to surround me with His love and get me back on the path. I never have to go looking for God, He's patiently waiting to embrace me back into His arms.

It is my heart's cry to be "so far gone" in Christ that the things of this world hold no power over me. I now know this will encompass the rest of my life on this planet. I have often wondered how people truly give up their lives to Christ....between the teachings of the holy Catholic church and faithful musicians like Thousand Foot Krutch I understand the cost. To be "so far gone" in Christ is to be fully committed to a greater good and a higher love.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

With Great Procrastination Comes Great Clarity

It's been almost two years since I took my Lenten journey to blog about a Bible verse of the day.

Boy has life changed since then.

Today I find myself more humble. Things have happened in my life that have allowed me to accept the fact the God is God....and I am not. Reading the old blog entries I saw a man trying to find himself in God. Sure, he was saying all the right things but deep down inside did he believe it? I'm not sure.

It takes a real man to fall on his knees and admit he's a failure. As of late I've decided to invest in a pair of holy knee pads--for all of these not so winning moments in my spiritual life. But this is good and I accept it now. I love going to confession...wait, let me clarify that statement...I love the feeling AFTER going to confession. Going to confession because I am a tool is not fun. The joy of forgiveness after venting my spleen to a priest is unbelievable.

Lately, I've been getting a little high and mighty in my walk. I kid you not, every time I pat myself on the back for "having control over my sin", the Devil always sneaks in and reminds me I'm human. It's amazing how pride can truly bring down a man. Thank God for forgiveness and grace. It's God's mercy that enables me to go back to confession for the 50-millionth time to ask for forgiveness.

I hope to add more blog posts in the weeks to come. I want to share my successes, my struggles, my praises and my hope with others. I may be just a man in the Pacific Northwest, but I am God's man and I now strive to do all things for His glory. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!