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Maybe it is fitting that such a big word would have a big task.

Intercession. To stand in the gap. To fight for somebody when they can’t fight.

We can interceed or intervene on behalf of a person with our words and our actions. Some of us have been in an “intervention” and it saved our lives.

In this instance I am speaking about the action of intercession or intervention through prayer. This is not to bend the will of God, but instead to join in with the army of heaven in a spiritual battle over the minds, hearts, and lives of others.

For two days God put on my heart a list of people to pray for.

Some He called me to pray for them so that they might find healing in their life. Intercession is powerful.

A few He called me to pray for them so that I might find healing in my life.
Forgiveness is powerful.

I found the peace of the Lord by going to battle.

I would encourage anyone who has been reading this reflection series to take a step back, get out of your own head and intervene in another persons life THROUGH pray. Pray blessings over your enemies. Pray for peace over your loved ones.

My prayers were ones out of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:18-20

18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.[a]

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 3:16-19

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

There is power in the one we PRAY TO. There is healing in the name of Jesus. There is freedom in our God and there is peace in His spirit. Take some time to delve into that.

The ancient and wise philospher, Chumbawamba, once said

“I get knocked down, But I get up again, You’re never going to keep me down”

I have been amazed at my journey so far this Lent. I don’t know what it is this year that is making things so different for me. Maybe it’s the trials and wounds of the last few years. Maybe it is because in a few months I turn 40 and it’s forcing me to take a real look at my life. Not in a “I need to buy a corvette” kind of way, but instead with an understanding that truly each moment counts. Where am I headed?

The apostle Paul said this in Phillipians 3:12-14

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[d] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I wonder how many moments of my life can be defined by not pressing on to posses the perfection for which Christ first possessed me. Now, I am not talking about ditching netflix or refraining from mindless things. I am talking about the recognition that this “race” set before me matters. My growth in the Lord matters.

I came across a youtube video yesterday that I had seen before, but this time the Lord spoke to me through it.

It was the story of Great Britain’s 400m runner Derek Redmond, whose hamstring snapped during his event but was determined to finish the race at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

He never won a medal. Never made it into the finals. The footage shows him wincing in pain crippled on the ground as the runners next to him get a far distance ahead. Miraculously he stood up with an agonizing pain on his face and hobbled with one leg towards the finish line. When you watch the video it is much more heart wrenching than the written word because you can see every ounce that it took for derek to do what he did. He had made a promise to himself and his father that no matter what we would finish the race. Nothing would stop him.

He got half way and balled his eyes out… Suddenly he felt relief in his battle worn stride as his father ran on to the track, put his arm around derek and helped him finish the race.

I find it interesting that nobody remembers who won this race, but this man who lost it is etched into history.

I love that this same phenomenon happens in the backwards economy of the kingdom of God. The last shall be first.

Jesus set the race before us. This journey towards being more like him, growth, and life-change. However it is OUR choice to run.

Derek fell down… And then pressed on.
Paul fell down… And then pressed on.

Nowhere in the verses paul Writes does he say “sit still… wait”. Even waiting on the Lord requires movement. We still press on to grab hold of who Jesus designed me to be… reaching towards eternity.

Do you recognize what things make your spiritual hamstring snap? What takes you down?

I know my triggers. In my anxiety and insecurity words others say matter. I forget to trust I am who GOD says I am and instead hear the echo of others words rattling in my mind and heart. So I get stuck. I lapse into my comfort zone. I begin to believe lies and somehow convince myself that I need to jump into another persons “lane” in order to defend myself.

This has been wrecking me lately, because I am tired of having my hamstring snap and slamming to the floor. After years of getting wounded a person becomes desensitized to the stabbings instead of pressing on in order to heal or fight.

Then God showed me some things in that video of Derek I never saw before.

  1. This is NOT a footprints in the sand cute poem. It’s real life and in this race set before us God doesn’t pick us up and carry us. He doesn’t swing in an force anything on us.
    Matthew 11:28 ~ “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
    He brings rest and relief from the difficult journey. He puts his arm around us and helps us as we hobble wounded. Then He takes that natural moment of a friend helping another friend and He makes it supernatural as the “great physician” heals our wounds, stops the bleeding, and repairs our “muscles”. He does this as we press on. It is not easy, but every morning we have a choice. Am I willing to trust God and press on?
  2. In order to walk forward with Him in FREEDOM I need to leave the past behind. Typically our options for the past are ignore it or hug it. Jesus says to cast all your cares on Him. Let go what won’t let you grow. 
  3. I never saw it before but At the end of the video footage from derek’s “triumph”, official after official come up and try talking to the dad. One of them is clearly saying that he can’t be there and needs to let go of derek. The father yells at each of them, waves his hand at them and tells them to go away. I have no clue how I never saw that, but isn’t that like our God. There is NOTHING that can separate us from His presence. No weapon that is formed against us can win. The Lord is with us and in Jesus name the enemy and whose who try and convince us we can do life without Him need to leave!

Sometimes life is so hard.. But don’t quit!
There are times when nothing seems to go right and you wonder where God is in it all… He is Emanuel God with us.. He is right there with you.

Your feelings, beliefs and awareness do not determine his faithfulness.
HE JUST IS 
FAITHFUL..

So we can have an attitudee of expectation and assurance that God is who he says he is. We need an attitude that presses on and wants more, but is patient with God’s timing. This is a journey and not a sprint. We have so many things along the way to learn.
Paul wrote this section about 25 years after that day he was knocked off his horse. Notice he is still in process. Still working on his growth in Christ.
This is a lifelong goal. When we make a choice to follow Christ our life is no longer our own.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20

PRESS ON!

 

Yesterday was day 6… I took the word from God on day 5 for silence and tried to be mindful of my schedule, not cram any more into and just breathe the breath of God in. I was stressed with work and time and tried hard to keep the meditation of My heart of the Goodness of Jesus… I succeeded at times and other times failed, but regardless I was still… and I know He is in control.

Psalm 18:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

On day 5 I reflected on the second part of that verse. Today I want to address the first part.

May the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.

words matter…

Because what comes out of my mouth is directly related to what is in my heart.

I have found that in my most stressed overdone moments, The times where I am just tapped.. All that is left in my is the sludge of my own self. In turn it ends up being that same sludge that I spew out when interacting with people I love. This past week my deadlines have piled up like crazy because my macbook pro died a horrible death. This week was slightly different though because I have really been trying to dig in each day into the heart of God. Somehow, by God’s strength, I was able to.

Nothing mattered more to me than when my wife told me that she noticed that I was trying. I pray I can make a habit of that so that when my heart is turned towards Jesus my mouth glorifies His goodness.

Prov 18:21 “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. I have been amazed in the years I have been doing ministry that the majority of damage that most of the people that come in the doors of the church with is from listening to and owning something somebody other than God has spoken over them. Broken people do have sharp edges and we not only get cut easily, but we have become word ninjas ready to chop any one down with our mouth katana so we can protect ourselves.

In the beginning was the word…
With a word the our world was created….

Everything begins with a word. 

This is the situation we find ourselves within our workplace, with our children, in our church family and with our spouses… That we can bring life with a word or we can bring death with a word. The question is do we want to begin with a word of life or death. The consequences are drastically different by our choice.

James 3:4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

The tongue might be small but it has the power to control us. Not only does it have the power to control you but it gives you the power to control and steer others.

Freedom and deliverance begins with a word.
Recovery begins with a word.
Repentance and forgiveness begin with a word.

I want to continue this Lent being mindful that what I say matters and affects more than just me. As I look towards holy week I can rest on the words of Jesus as an example as he hung on the cross, which I can never compare my plight to.

He said with a word: Peace; Forgive; Love…

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!


I think the only thing in life more difficult to handle than unrequited love is unfulfilled dreams. With a pinnacle birthday coming up I have spent a lot of time in the last 6 months thinking over the things in life I wanted to accomplish. I remember graduating High school, back when flannel meant something for more than just lumberjacks. I was wide eyed and full of excitement for not only the future, but very well laid out plans. I was prepared to “make it” and nothing was going to stand in my way. All the pieces were lined up to make a real go at chasing my dream of becoming a comic book artist and brooding poet. God said no. Well I wouldn’t say that the sky opened and I heard a loud voice booming like the woman in the viral fire news video. “NOT TODAY!”, but it was a no none the less. I know this because I tried everything I could to make it and nothing ever broke loose.

25 years have passed since that dream was birthed in me and it came as close as working on X-men art for a magazine, but the fullness of that dream never happened. It wasn’t just work related dreams. There were relational, physical, spiritual, emotional etc etc.  Dream after dream which once made my heart excited to tackle increasingly got added to the discard pile in the file cabinet of unfulfilled longings.

What became difficult to swallow was over the years I watched friends not only fulfilling their dreams, but some of them were even able to fulfill mine. I have had to wrestle with this so much lately. I want to rejoice with those I love but sometimes their success is a reminder of the things I never had.

In the last year I have seen 3-5 “dream jobs” come across my screen. Even this last week I saw two that just had my name all over it. I call them dream jobs because they are ones I would love to have, but require a move and dropping everything else I have going on. My wife and I have dropped everything and sold what we had and moved before, but it was always because the Lord said “go”. For the last 10 years He has said “no”. So I watch from the sidelines as my dreams are erased and replaced with just questions. The main one being – Why?

In my prayer this lent I am learning much more about my own need to recover certain things I have lost or just willingly given away. I often trade my contentment for disappointment.

Philippians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Context means everything when we read a verse in the bible. The majority of the time we use this verse we leave out the context and apply it to our driving goals. “I want to have… I want to be… I want to see…” And we say we can and will because we can do all things through christ who gives us strength. However, lets look again at that verse for a second. You can’t separate the thought in verse 12 from verse 13. It is not speaking about life goals. The verse says that the secret to contentment, regardless of our unfulfilled dreams and broken hearts, is Jesus because it’s only by His strength that we can walk forward when we don’t get the results in life we want.

The bible is full of unfulfilled dreams. I think many of the apostles and heroes of our faith all asked the same questions as us. They asked the Why questions of God too.

There is so much of this in our lives isn’t there? We pray to no longer be single; to have children, to get a job, to write a book, to go to school, to travel the world, for healing of our bodies or minds… Prayer after prayer after prayer. For some of us these dreams will happen. For others they never will.

In some circles we are told it’s because of the lack of our faith or even the lack of our determination. I can promise you that besides my dream of being fit (I lack in that one), I was never lacking in faith or determination. Some times the Lord has a different plan.

Over and over I have heard the verse in Psalm 37:4 as people quote it “god will give you the desires of your heart” and miss the first part where it says “delight yourself in the lord”.

I have found that my desires over the years have changed to match the Lords desires when I have delighted myself in the Lord… When I have walked in honest relationship with God my heart has become in tune with His and I find myself wanting different things. Do I still wrestle with everything I have ever wanted to do and be? Of course!, but at the same time I can walk forward because Christ gives me strength.

Paul while in prison wrote this:

 Ephesians 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

I find myself, much like when I started this reflection, comparing myself to others who get what I wanted. The friends who achieve things I never had the chance to and even my enemies who seem to somehow walk out of the destruction they cause, unscathed and even more prosperous. I like to say that comparison is a dream killer and it is in the instances of dreams that God would have you fulfill. In the instances where He says “no”, comparison is a bitterness breeder.

At least that is how it normally is, but I am prayerfully aware today it doesn’t have to be. Maybe I have just been comparing myself to the wrong people. If I compare myself to Paul then I would walk in the truth that even if I was chained up in prison, beaten, and left to die I can still sing and shout with thanksgiving and praise.

Paul says the Lord will accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think which is a reminder that He is powerful and loves us beyond our thought capacity.

As I look over what my life looks like I realize it might not look the same way a year from now, but I can be thankful for what it has. I’m not sure what the answers are to my unfulfilled dreams, but I can say I have a grateful heart TODAY for the dreams God has fulfilled in my life, my family, and my church that I never even knew I had.

Today I just want to know God more and more. I will press onward with my dreams with determination, but I will also trust that the God who breathed stars into existence might have a better plan than I ever could.

So today for lent I will surrender or fast my dreams so that I can give God glory for the great things He has done and will do in my life without the bitterness and worry that I won’t get what I want.

Take my dreams and let them be consecrated Lord to thee.

I release my kingdom To HIS Kingdom and swear fealty to the Lord because I can trust his provision, power, and promises.

While a grateful heart doesn’t get formed in an instant, it does begin with a choice followed by daily ones.

Sweet dreams are made from surrender and gratitude. 


For the 22 years I have been in ministry I have seen the ebb and flow of church attendance and membership. Often times the Church as a whole doesn’t grow with new people who have found freedom in Jesus. It is just churches swapping people. We never really talk about it or worry about it, but I think at it’s root we have a problem in our culture.

In the 70’s Burger King created the slogan “Have it your way” in order to compete with other brands that would only serve what was on the menu. It was a great concept and one my waist size knows I exploit often. Ironically I never get it my way. It never fails. I will pull up to the plaque showing me a ton of options… A voice comes out of the speaker “how can I help you… are you ready to order?”. I speak back to the speaker; “Yes! thanks… I will take a Whopper with cheese, but with no onions and I will add extra extra pickles…”. Then I will proceed with all the customized requests from the 5 other people in my family. By the time I get home with the order and start handing it out it’s too late. My order for extra pickles and a kids meal without cheese must have been confusing and emotionally taxing because I did not get it my way.

It NEVER works the way I would like in fast food, but for some reason it’s expected to be the norm in the church that we should approach the counter of God, and give our order, with demands to have everything our way.

If you have been in a church longer than a day you have seen this to be true:

The music is too loud.
Why can’t they play more Chris Tomlin Songs?!
The Lights are too bright!
I just cant worship unless they have a laser show and fog machines.
There is no way Jesus likes the way these chairs are set up or this awful carpet color.
It’s time to leave honey… We just are not being fed.

I could go on and on because I have heard it all. It absolutely drives me nuts hearing these kinds of things, but maybe it is more disturbing to me because I’m guilty of wanting it my way as well.

Amos 5:21-24
“I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.

If this was placed into our time period it would likely read something like this:
If you are not willing to be people who overflow with Justice, Love, Joy, Peace, patience, kindness, goodness and mercy then you might as well stop everything else you are doing in all your christian duties. They are worthless. JUST STOP IT! Just stop with all the “stuff” that you are convinced you need to do in order to worship me because you have made it all about you and you do it for you.

That verse just wrecks me and convicts me every time I read it.

I remind myself and my congregation as often as I can that our “Service” is for God and the Bible wasn’t written about us, because we need to be transformed into people who chase after the heart of God and not people that shout with our actions that Jesus isn’t enough.

I was joking the other day with a friend that I thought it would be funny if there was a drive-thru for Ash Wednesday. You could pull your car up, get your ashes and drive off to go about your day. We had a great laugh at the absurdity of it… Well that was until I got a text to a few articles telling me this existed at not only many locations, but even at a church close by.

I read the articles that said the churches wanted to give people the opportunity to get the ashes, but they knew their schedules were just too busy so they set up street stations. Like a 1 min car wash. I understand time constraints. I work two jobs and have 4 kids. I truly do sympathize, but something about this just seems to feed the beast of consumerism and everything that verse in AMOS was talking about. I won’t presume to judge one heart in this, but the fact that the church offers CONVENIENCE in the Lenten period dedicated to FASTING and self-denial, which is not convenient, is teaching the church the wrong things.

We do have to ask ourselves though… Are we looking at our faith walk in the same way? Are we hoping that we can have the fullness of what God offers our life and we can consider ourselves fully devoted to his kingdom by looking for every opportunity to “drive-up” to a window and just grab the overspray of his goodness without having to die to self and trade my will for God’s?

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” ……No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

That is the crux behind the heart of Lent. Being no longer satisfied with the unfulfilling overspray of his presence, settling for the sugar high we get from cool events, and finding ourselves needing to add things to Jesus to make Him more “rich”.

Oh the joy I’ve found
Surrendering my crowns
At the feet of the King
Who surrendered everything

Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say

You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Bethel Church “Have it all”

This should be our prayer as we dive heart first into Lent.
No longer saying I will “HAVE IT MY WAY”.
Instead my daily prayer to God who I know is Lord, but who I now will allow TO BE my Lord, will be
“HAVE IT ALL LORD… HAVE IT YOUR WAY”