My Grace is Sufficient for you......God

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Lazarus is dead, Jesus is off on a ministry trip, or so He says. Mary and Martha, the beloved sisters are inconsolable. Messengers sent to fetch Jesus to heal Lazarus before he dies return empty handed. Time passes. An inappropriate amount of time. Jesus is late. Rudely so. 

Lazarus, the bread winner, the fixer, the life of the party, the adult male from whom the families sustenance is supposed to flow.....dead. 

The one man who could've prevented the untimely death inexplicably delays his arrival. Even after he knows Lazarus is dead, he delays. Confusion abounds. Murmuring ensues. Dark shadows of doubt creep closer. Distrust and anger. Hurt feelings. All part of the families' emotions now. Death is final. 

Finally Jesus arrives. Four days late. Mary, to hurt to respond stays in the house. Martha runs to meet Him in the way. Her words, not mine. "Jesus, if you would have been here, Lazarus would not have died. Nevertheless, I know God will give you whatever you ask". 

Nevertheless? Really? Is this something you say when death is final? When the healer is late. When the dreams are dead and buried? 

The first part I get. "If you would have been here, our beloved Lazarus, our brother, our provider, our fixer, our life of the party would not have died". I get this. In fact, I've often said the same exact thing. "Jesus, if you would have shown up a few days earlier, or if you would have done this or that, these dreams of mine would still be alive". Never have I followed it with "nevertheless". This has never occurred to me to say. The dreams died. I've had a five year funeral, grieved and now looking to replace the dreams with something more "realistic", less lofty, less "God given". Something I can achieve on my own without help. 

Nevertheless. A powerful word. Jesus told Martha, "He shall rise again" Martha of course knew this would happen in the resurrection of the dead. But Jesus was the resurrection, only she didn't recognize Him as such. Moved by compassion and her faith, Jesus did the only thing He could, He transcended time and space and asked God to bring the resurrection she was expecting in the future into the present. Lazarus lived again! The same man, the same provider, the same life of the party, the same fixer, the same brother lived again! Only this time with a tale to tell of His goodness. 

"Nevertheless, whatever you ask of God He will give it to you". Whatever God gives is much better than what we expect. Dreams dead? Nevertheless, ask God. Receive whatever He gives. 

I've been Mary, to hurt to respond. I am becoming Martha who is willing to say, nevertheless.....and then accept it as better than whatever it was that died. And I will live to tell the tale.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tyranny of Love III

A long time since I have written. Since my last post, I've given a lot of thought to John 3:16. "For God so loved that He gave His only Son".

I'm not entirely sure how He had what it took to sacrifice His only son. I know I would rather sacrifice myself for my child than for her to suffer. The Christian tradition says that Jesus was the son of God and yet it also says that Jesus was God in the flesh. Is it possible that God sacrificed himself for us? It does appear that way. In many places scripture says that God became flesh. That He took on the facade of flesh to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Scripture also says that through one man death came into the world to all men(Adam) and that through one man (Jesus) life came to all men. Does this mean all men have access into the life He promised. It sure looks like it!

The big deal here is this; God loved His creation with such overwhelming love, He did the unthinkable. He gave Himself as the payment for our sin. How He did this is above my pay grade. I'm just glad He did.

A love this strong can only be described as obsessive, wild, furious, crazy, head over heels. It is what drives a man to abandon all semblance of normalcy and act completely outside themselves to win the object of their affection. It drives a man to jump in front of a speeding car to save their kid in the street, it will drive a solider to jump on a grenade to save the lives of his brothers in arms, it drove Him to the cross.....it is abnormal.

And yet, most of us pass off the story of His love on the cross as a nice Bible story when in fact its the tipping point of eternity. Its the one thing, the one act, the one Person we should most pay attention to and more importantly, live as though we actually believed its message.

What is the message? Simple....Love, His love, conquers all. There is no need for anything else, man made or otherwise. In fact, anything that distracts from that message is opposed to that message. This message is the narrow gate Jesus referred to. The broad gate mentioned is everything else that distracts us from His love. We are so preoccupied with what we perceive as our life, we forget His. And in forgetting, we die. We were designed to live in the fullness of His love which energizes us and gives us purpose and direction. As the ancient saint said, "The glory of God is man fully alive".

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tyranny of Love part 2...In The Beginning

Its been a couple of weeks since I started this study about love.....I confess I started and then thought to myself, "who are you to write about this? The world's greatest writers and thinkers have written for centuries about love and the answer is still not settled". So I didn't write.....but that is the wrong answer...who cares what they thought? Its my journey. They may provide guidance along the way but its still my path to walk....so here goes...

A person's world view must frame how they approach subjects like this....my world view is Christian in the sense that I grew up in a Christian home and spent all my formative years learning about God and the Bible. I did not however, learn about love. I learned the do's and don'ts as well as punishment and rewards....these are all valid things but NOT the essence of what Christ taught.....do's and don'ts can be legislated and enforced with punishment and incentivized with rewards but they are best when love flows and they become natural instead of forced.So this is the basic frame work through which I see the world.....lets dig a little deeper now. 

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People said that one should begin with the end in mind. In other words, do today what will bring desired results tomorrow. I intend to change that up a bit and begin with the beginning in mind. 

One must make some assumptions about the beginning. Leaps of faith if you will. There are only two: 1. There is no God and the world we live in is a freak accident. This is a belief system that requires the same level of faith atheists accuse the simpleton believers of having in a God and the hereafter. Basically a religion with man as the object of worship. And to some degree, I can see why man in his finite wisdom chooses to worship and love man or perhaps more accurately, mankind. After all, man is an incredibly complex and creative wonderful being. Almost god like in our creativity. Whats not to worship? 

These humanity worshipers dream of utopia where all humans live in harmony, peace and love united by our common respect and honor for each other and our differences. Tolerance I think they call it. But man keeps defying these Utopian dreams with their ugly actions...war and violence erupt much more frequently than peace and harmony and so the dreamers use creative and often times coercive means to achieve their dreams. Rules and regulations, submission to the Utopian dreamers because they know best. Physical force and physical laws to achieve what really is a spiritual goal. I hate to say it but its a futile dream. This train of thought is a rabbit hole from which there is no escape. Its hard to have a discussion of love with this context as a foundation.  

Number 2 and where I believe the only rational discussion of love can originate from.  Lets begin with the assumption that God exists. Lets not argue about the why or how He exists, only that He does. Lets further make assumptions the Bible is correct when it says that God created the universe. Lets not argue about how long that took or if 6 days mean 6 actual days or if they represented a longer period of time. I really don't care. I'm good with both viewpoints. They are irrelevant to the larger reason of WHY God created the universe. 

So with the beginning in mind.... lets proceed with a basic framework within which to work. To save some time, I am going to bullet point them without to much explanation.
  1. God created the universe and everything in it. 
  2. God created man in His own image. Essentially the nature and DNA of God flows in man's veins. Therefore we have characteristics and attributes of God just like children have characteristics and attributes of their parents without being their parents. This is something atheists forget. They are not their "parent". 
  3. God created man different than the animals. Man was created with free will. This free will was to be exercised in his relationship with God. Free to choose to love or not to love. That's what we all want isn't it? Some that loves us because they choose to, not because they have to. 
  4. God created man in order to have relationship with him. This seems odd because it implies that God was lonely and wants to be around creatures that has his same attributes and characteristics.....a peer group if you will. Someone or many someones to hang out with and do cool things with. This is why the Bible says that man was created a little lower than God. He couldn't create more gods but he could create a creature with most of his characteristics and attributes. This implies that we humans were at least originally created with many godlike powers. I believe we retain many of these yet are blinded to them due to sin and our focus on lessor things. 
  5. He had the host of heaven to hang out with but they were not His peers. They were created beings whose job it was to serve the King of Heaven. 
  6. A portion of those created beings whose job it was to serve the King of Heaven rebelled and were cast away from heaven. Their leader, Lucifer hates God's crowning creation, man. Why you ask, because man represents everything Lucifer is not. The center of God's attention and love. This means the agenda of Lucifer is driven by jealousy. Therefore his ultimate goal is to destroy the crown jewel of creation, mankind. 
  7. The physical world we live in is the battle ground for the cosmic battle between the rage and hatred of Lucifer that seeks to take as many of God's beloved with him to the pit of hell where he was banished by any means necessary including diverse and false religions and the all powerful, overwhelming love God has for His beloved creation, man. 
  8. Man choose to sin. To listen to the seduction of Lucifer instead of the wisdom of God. Because life is in the blood and genetics is passed from parent to child, the sin that infused man in the Garden now lives in the blood of all mankind. 
  9. Man's choice requires death. This seems harsh but since God is perfect and no imperfection can be in His presence, death is the only option. Yet God in his desperate love for mankind, decided to make a way for mankind to be free from sin. He began with law. Keep the law and you will be perfect. Again, allowing man free choice to keep or not keep the law. 
  10. Mankind could not keep the law because sin drives man to sin more. Its sin's nature. To be worse and worse. It's a disease of the blood. And that requires sacrifice. 
This is the basic frame work from which the remainder of the discussions regarding my random thoughts will flow. Next will be how sacrifice came into being and why. Its an incredible story. And leads directly to love. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tyranny Of Love Part 1

I am starting a new study about love. Many have traveled this road before me and written more eloquently than I will. Thats ok. Each must journey and each must learn for themselves. The journey is what is important.

Today I will be jotting down random thoughts....these are just place holders for a later attempt to coalesce these thoughts into something that makes sense and captures the essence of the random thoughts I've been having regarding the issue of love.

So here goes:

The Beatles may have had it right but wrong at the same time. They sang that all you need is love...and they are correct. But what kind of love? How does love live? How does love talk? Does love have rights? Responsibilities? Where does love draw the line? Is there a line? If yes, why, if no, why not.

Is love a group thing or is it only individual. If a group, how big? Who do we invite? Exclude? Why or why not?

Is the idea of "all we need is love" Utopian? Can it be realized? If yes, how? If not, what to do instead.

Whose in charge if all we need or have is love? Do we need a leader? If yes, what are the limits of authority? If no, how in the world will it all make sense.

Is there an example we can look at for the Utopian love ideal? Is the example credible? Why or why not.

Does religion play a role? If so, which one? (Side note: I have yet to find a religion that on a macro scale actually practices most of what they preach).

Is love convenient? Does it have guilt? What about trust and fear? Where do these fit in? Is fear the opposite of love?

See...random thoughts.

Some more:


How does love treat these?

What about these?


Hang on or turn loose?

1 Corinthians Ch 13 and verse 1 of chapter 14.....Let love be your highest goal....compounded  by the declarations that without love, all my skills and abilities are just noise. The promise of seeing clearly in the future instead of through a dirty window now speaks to me of a love that transcends my limited knowledge. No strike that...it does not transcend my knowledge....it will transcend my EXPERIENCE of love.....

Light Bulb.....its not my knowledge that is lacking, its my experience that is lacking. Love is an experience that lasts longer than the moment....its......I just ran out of words.....have to get back to this one.

Some said that Love makes no demands....I think this is rubbish....love demands total abandonment....else its just "like" and not love. Love wants to dominate....obliterate anything in its path to world domination.

injustice, division, hate, fear, manipulation, war, poverty....some big picture things opposing love. Odd thought about love wanting total world domination. Is it losing? Sure seems that way.

Wow, this is bigger than I originally thought....

Love is a tyrant.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reflections on my friend Peter

Before I begin, I want it known that I wish I had better writing skills to more adequately express my thoughts and feelings about Peter. This is but a very poor representation of my thoughts and emotions.

My story with Peter begins before I met him and his wife Shanie. In the spring of 2002, I was having a hard time sleeping one evening. This was unusual for me. Normally I sleep like the dead. Not that night. So I got up, went in the office and flipped on the TV. At one or two AM, there’s normally not much on worth watching and that night was no different. So I spent the night scanning channel after channel, hoping to find something worth my time.

After a while, I happened upon a documentary about the Bosnian war. Well more specifically about the aftermath of the war. The film crew was following a group of orphans as they tried to survive in the still brutal city that was Sarajevo. The kids ranged from around 8 years old to late teens and was a mix of boys and girls. Something grabbed my attention and while I NEVER watched this sort of thing before, I felt compelled to watch it.

That night, I wept like a baby. Many of these kids had either been victims of horrible violence or had seen it first hand as intruding armies raped and pillaged their families and friends. A couple of the girls had been raped repeatedly and all had lived with the constant threat of death as bombs and bullets took the lives of people around them.

The room they lived in was the best room they could find in a bombed out building. The walls were pocked marked with bullet holes. There was no heat. They burned material taken from other buildings for heat. Most slept on the floor and they all huddled together for warmth on the coldest of nights.

Food was a constant worry. The older ones sacrificed for the younger ones and they all did without.

That night as I watched this horrific result of evil men’s actions, I knew that someday, I would be involved with kids like this on some level. My life changed that night although the next morning, I tried hard to forget about it. To be honest, I did nothing for a while. I just ignored it.

Then a few weeks later or perhaps it was just a few days, I can’t remember, suffice to say, within just a short period of time, Peter and Shanie Hinge showed up at our church for the first time. They were there to raise funds for the mission field they served on. Care to take a guess where they were serving? That’s right, the pictures they shared were from all over eastern Europe, countries that had once been part of the former Soviet Union, which Bosnia had been part of. They showed pictures of kids in orphanages, pictures of them teaching, as well as pics of other things I don’t remember. But that day, my wife and I decided to start giving to missions even if it was on just a small scale. God used the documentary along with Peter and Shanie to move us toward His calling on our lives.

I can’t remember if we spent any time with Peter and Shanie at that point but over the years, we were drawn to them and Peter became a close friend. Funny thing is, Peter and I didn’t really spend that much time together due to their travel schedule and the fact they lived in Europe and we lived in sunny Yuma AZ! But I feel like God knit our hearts together and after a while, we were close. Our interaction was limited to skype and email but mostly email. We visited them when they came to Yuma and in 2009, we got to visit them in his native Denmark.

Lo and I had often spoken about how we admired the Hinge kids. They were smart, mature and well spoken. They behaved like young Christian ladies and were respectful to their parents. They managed to teach these traits to their kids while traveling all over the world and we decided that was something we wanted for our kid. Peter and Shanie demonstrated Godly parenting in a way no one else ever has in our view.

In life, if a person has two or three really close friends in their lifetime, they should consider themselves lucky. I mean the kind of friend that sticks with you no matter what. The kind of friend you can be separated from for very long periods of time and when you are together again, its as if no time had passed whatsoever and you just pick up where you left off. The kind of friendship where nothing is demanded of the other except trust. Where each is free to be real with the other with no fear of relationship ending judgment. That is what I had with Peter. Oddly enough, it grew with very little effort and in the over all scheme of things, with very little time together. We were apart more than we were together.

When Peter was diagnosed with cancer, my business was beginning to fall apart although I didn’t know it at the time. He suffered with pain and itching and I suffered all the emotional devastation that comes with failure and the constant worry about money. We suffered for 5 years together, he with cancer and I with money problems. We questioned God together, we learned to trust God more together and in the end, Peter went to his well earned reward. Sometimes I wonder if he didn’t get the better result.

When Peter died, my first reaction was total disbelief. I fully expected him to be healed and then he and I would do life together. Lo and I providing the resources that God has called us to provide to His servants on the front lines of bringing the Gospel to the world and they letting us tag along on the adventure of a lifetime once in a while. My next reaction was anger at God for taking my friend from me. Never mind about Peter’s suffering being over or His joy at calling home His special child. I wanted my friend back. It was only after some time had passed that I was able to rejoice for my friend. Yes sadness is still comes when I think about him every day, but I know joy will come.

Its been a month or so since he passed. I had no desire to communicate with Shanie or the kids. I’ve not known what to say. My grief while deep, can in no way compare with theirs. I’m rarely at a loss of what to say. But this time, I had no words. I didn’t want to think about it, talk about it nor write about it. It was to much. So at the risk of seeming like I was callous or disinterested, I just didn’t. I feel bad about not sending some sort of brief empty message to Shanie and the girls, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I hope they understand.

I owe much to Peter, about how to live but more importantly, what to live for. His dedication to Jesus was never in question, his passion for ministry always evident. When pain wracked his body, he still said God was good. In many many conversations, he and I talked about trust. Trust that says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”. We talked about his kids and how much they needed their daddy around. About how much he loved his wife and how unfair his sickness was to her. But mostly we talked about trust and how much God loved us. Through his suffering, I to learned to trust Him more. That He is always good.

I know there were many very dark days. There were monumental personal failures that had extreme consequences. I know Peter struggled with sin the same way all of us struggle with sin. That battle that will never be completely won until we step into the heavenly realm. And yet, through all that, God still saw fit to use Peter, to bring fruit from his life. Both in ministry and in his family. Peter’s life is a testament to His goodness and grace toward us.

Peter was one of those guys that you just feel comfortable with. He was easy to know even though most of the time he would rather just be by himself or with just his family. And yet, he managed to live outside that comfort zone and allow God to use him.

A few days ago, it dawned on me that Peter was actually younger than me. At that exact same moment, I realized that my life expectancy is about 80 years, plus or minus a few. That means its about half over. Then I started thinking about all the things Peter had done with his 43 years on earth and I felt small and insignificant. My contribution to the Kingdom was nothing compared to his. My accomplishments while decent, meant nothing in light of how and why he lived his life. So at that moment, I resolved to live a life Peter would be proud of. A life that if at all possible, in some way, enables his ministry and legacy to continue. Not to live out his calling but to live out mine in a way that honors his.

That meant to love more, to laugh more, to spend and be spent in the pursuit of His Kingdom. To trust to the end. What this will bring is anyone’s guess but I am totally open to whatever He has for us. I want the next 43 years to be a wild roller coaster of adventure in His service.

Peter, I have to say, I wish we had more time together. I wish the future included us walking out our visions together. I even had a dream once of you and I riding in a train across some desolate landscape together on our way to some ministry opportunity. I was looking forward to that train ride. But that is not going to happen. Instead, I need to fulfill what God has called me to on my own. I know He will provide and I know it will be beyond my wildest imagination, but I sure wish you were here to share it with.

Life is short. To short but in light of eternity, the troubles of this present world are but a trifle. Peter, you are done with your trifles. I’m am looking forward to seeing you again soon……can’t wait to tell you all about the adventure……

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Revelations.....

I don't believe in New Years resolutions. If you can't lose weight during the year, a resolution to do so at the beginning of a new year, won't fix it. But I have had a bit of a revelation this last year....things that need to be changed.

For instance:

1. My health: My dad had a triple bypass in 2011. It made a believer out of me. I've tried to fix this aspect of my life before with varying degrees of success. All involved wholesale changes which I couldn't maintain. No more. I am doing three things with regards to my health this:

       A. No soda
       B. No French Fries
       C. No Chips

These three are the big ones in the American diet. I can focus on these. And I roped my daughter into doing with me by promising her a trip to Disneyland at the end of the year is we can pull it off. To be sure, we have allowed ourselves 12 "cheat" days. Once a month, we'll cheat and have all three in as much quantity as we like. Probably at a picnic or some other such event. Stay tuned....

2. Patience: Last year, if I learned one thing, its how to be patient. In work, in life and with things related to my walk with God. I intend to act and respond to life with patience.

3. God: To make a statement that says I've had a revelation about God is problematic. How can a mere human have real revelations about God? Not sure but I think I have. It involves some of the things I have written in the past on this blog. Namely about His love for me. Going forward, I will NOT doubt His love. In fact, I will revel in the knowledge that the love of God for me is beyond my ability to understand or fully appreciate.

I've spent the last few years trying to justify to God why He should give me the blessings I wanted. This has been an exercise in failure and disappointment. No more, just rejoice in His pleasure with me. And let that produce whatever it will. No more goals, no more deadlines, no more expectations of God. I will just walk in expectancy that He is good and that He is always and continually blessing me. I just need to recognize it.

No more walking as a sinner saved by grace, instead, the Word calls me a saint. The favored of God, His adopted son. Those are some cool things. Reasons enough for joy and celebration.

I am tired of walking with a cloud of sadness or the feeling of hopelessness over me. Today the sun is out and shining. Going forward, I will conduct myself as though all things are good. Because they are. The Word says that if He is for me, who can be against me. And I know He is for me!

4. Ministry: I have been very frustrated in this area the last few years. With the collapse of The River where I was very involved, I lost my main outlet for this area of my life. While the church we have made our home is great, opportunity for ministry like what I was accustomed to is not there and probably wont be. Those areas are taken be people that have been there much longer. SO, I've resolved to simply pray for those God has put on my heart, I will give amounts I can to those same people and I will look forward to the day when I can with my own money, once again fulfill the things He has called my wife and I to.......patience....I think I mentioned that once or twice.