Twisted Crowns

Who is in control of my life? Who wears the crown? Me, or Jesus. All of us have twisted crowns because we are always wrestling with the Lord to try and take it back.

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Anxiety-

Freedom from anxiety; a lesson I have been struggling with the last few weeks, fear of being a bad superintendent and not getting my multi-million dollar construction project done right, fear of not being a good pastor, a good father, fear of what others may think of me if I fail at any of these. Anxiety is a relentless and merciless task master. —‘Lord—take away my fears and forgive me for doubting you when you tell me to cast all my cares on you, that you will never leave me nor forsake me, that you are my fortress and my strength, an ever present help in times of trouble—restore to me the joy of my salvation and help me to walk in victory!’ Amen?!

The Lord set me free 38 years ago with the words of a psalm—“Out of my distress I called on the Lord, the Lord answered me and set me free. With the Lord on my side I shall not fear, what can man do to me?” – from Psalm 118. And I was suddenly set free—not from addictions to drugs though that would be the end of my partying days, not to my need to drink mass quantities, though that would be the end of my drinking days, the Lord set me free in the moment I read those words from my fear of being alone, from the shame that kept me from him and the pain that drove me to the other things.

In that moment I decided to abide in is word, to live in his word, and be free—and I did. His words were more than just inspiring ink on paper, his words became alive in my heart and I felt his overwhelming presence like I never had before in an undeniable and unexplainable way and I vowed to never turn again to the things that had ensnared me by their false promises of appeasing the flesh and soothing the mind—I no longer need those things—but I still need Jesus, day in and day out because the flesh still tries to drag me down. Lord take my Crown.

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We are a stubborn lot. We want to be free but we don’t know what to do with our freedom and we use it to get right back into bondage—just bondage of a different sort. You can’t tell me what to do! Well. Maybe not, but then we make the wrong choice and we become a slave to ourselves, a slave to the flesh—or as Jesus would put it, “a slave to sin.”

Our own minds are our worst enemy. Our flesh—our own desire, our own thought patterns and motivations. Things that must be tempered by the Lord, by his word.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

The enemy cannot steal your freedom—unless you allow him.

How do we lose our freedom? -one word—sin

It’s really not that hard people, read the word, know the word. At the very least, know and abide by the Ten Commandments, they are very straightforward and succinct and will keep you out of a whole lot of trouble.

Example

—big uncomfortable, I don’t care if you are offended or not, this is gospel truth and I’m tired of having to clean up the messes of people who think it’s not important—example.

Donna and I did not sleep together until we got married.

I was living in my new found freedom from my addictions and in God’s love and grace when Donna and I started dating. We were not kids anymore, we both had a lot of life under our belts when we decided to get married. We were engaged, and we drove ourselves and each other crazy because we were committed to waiting for the Honey Moon to consummate –impatiently waiting

In the weeks leading up to the wedding Donna would sometimes spend the night at my house—on the couch in a different room—I lived out of town a ways and we often just wanted to be together long into the evening and Donna would be too tired to drive home.

A few times, sorry kids but we were passionately in love—and still are—we would get a little carried away with the kissy kissy and, like I said, drive ourselves crazy. ‘Why wait, we’re both adults, we know we’re getting married, everyone else does it,’ and then I would look at the big window in my living room and see my Christian fish sticker placed there for all the world—and myself— to see and remember why not—because the word of God says so.

After coming dangerously close to breaking our commitment to wait a time or two we both did some serious repenting and praying—I’ll tell you what, that prayer, asking the Lord to forgive us for pushing the boundaries and to help us stay strong in his word and his Spirit did more to solidify and bless our relationship than anything else we did to that point and perhaps since.

I am convinced that one of the reasons our marriage has stood the test of time, that we have been blessed by the Lord in our marriage, is because we abided by his word. We did not live together to practice, we did not succumb to the temptations of the flesh and become one outside of our sacred vows and we begged forgiveness and strength to overcome the lies of the enemy—”did God really say?” Yes, he did.

Where do you live in your mind? Confusion or Kingdom, circumstantial slavery or truth.

Because where you live is what you will become.

Stop wrestling the Lord for control and let him be King, he promises freedom, Let go of your twisted crown and lay it at his feet.

Claim your freedom, read- Barbarian’s in the Kingdom

 

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The Mad Prophet

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“. . . clumsy, uncouth, crude, unsophisticated, redneck— that’s the words, those don’t bother me so much as the condescending looks and attitudes do. ‘

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’”

Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Mat 3:3—4

I think we can learn a thing or two from John the Baptist that is relevant to where we are as a church family today. Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, prepared hearts for the message of Jesus and the subsequent outpouring in his day, the last days will need harbingers as well—they could very well be alive today, they could even be you.

Chew on that for a minute. —If you are mentoring or teaching, encouraging or equipping someone, you may very well be preparing the next John the Baptist, or you are the next John the Baptist. Don’t discount that idea or think it could never be someone like you.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Mat 3:11

“I am not worthy”  Biblical prophets never considered themselves worthy, they were seldom well known until they went mad in the eyes of the world, and most often those who thought themselves superior to them didn’t take them seriously and told them to back off.

We cannot make either of those mistakes, we cannot discount others and we cannot discount ourselves—in fact, we are all called to prophesy.

I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. 1 Cor 14:5

It’s what your prophetic role is that becomes the question and whether or not you are bold enough to fulfill it.

The Lord likes to call those who, to the rest of the world, seem the least likely to fulfill the role he has in mind for them. It’s like God looks through High School yearbooks to find those voted least likely to succeed and chooses them. It might not be officially written in our year books but we all get labeled, classified, nonetheless. No matter our station in life at any given time we always seem to be either running from or trying to live up to a label.

I only recently embraced and became proud of what I call my barbarian side but it is something that has followed me all my life. Since I was a kid I have been labeled at various times as clumsy, uncouth, crude, unsophisticated, redneck— that’s the words, those don’t bother me so much as the condescending looks and attitudes do. We are all very adept at pegging people and being pegged, often times without a word and it is always very evident.

welder

Construction worker

I have worked with my hands all my life and never saw a lot of benefit to just putting in time in a classroom if they are not teaching something relevant or new.

Because of that I quit school at the start of my junior year to go into Job Corp to learn a trade that would make me a living. I had always done well in school but by the start of the 11th year it seemed like we just kept relearning the same stuff so I decided to stop wasting my time trying to stay awake in a classroom and do something more constructive. So before my classmates got that piece of paper and a tassel to hang on their car mirror for sticking it out I had gotten a GED, completed a heavy equipment operating course with over a thousand hours of operating time and was certified in three different types of welding.

While my former High school classmates were either going to work for minimum wage or going into debt to fund a college education they would spend much of their lives trying to repay, I was running back hoes, bulldozers and cranes and welding on pipeline jobs making decent money. But in most of the world’s eyes I was, and am, an uneducated construction worker.

Those of you who get dirty for a living know what I am talking about. There is often a little bit of an air of superiority in the way those who wear suits and ties to work relate to you—if they even bother to try. People assume you work with your hands because you are too stupid to do anything else.

This stigma carries into the church also. It’s not overt, but it is there. This is relevant because it is often a factor in who we choose to invest in as leaders. Surely the educated sharp dressed handsome man or the tastefully dressed young woman from the upstanding church family with no tats or piercings is the best candidate for the salaried position of her dreams in the big church.

I’m just saying, we need to stop looking at people like we are choosing the next cover model for GQ or Vanity Fair, we need to stop judging people by whether or not they have grease under their fingernails or letters after their names. And that goes both ways. Not all suits are snobs, many wish they had my job and my skills, they ae going insane sitting behind a desk all day.

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We cannot judge a person by outward appearances and the church establishment is probably the biggest offender. It goes all the way back to King David, and King Saul. Saul won the people’s choice award and David wasn’t even invited to the party, yet David became the king whose throne would endure forever.

And for you, don’t ever think you have to somehow look or act a part to win that part in the Kingdom of God. If you are called to be the preacher, the teacher, the evangelist, the prophet, the harbinger of the coming of the glory of the Lord—then don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Forge on my barbarian friends.

BAR COVER

Barbarians in the Kingdom

 

Invest in Yourself

 

 reading bible

“Maybe I could have my own show on the History Channel;The curse of Matchbox County.’”

Seeing Space X launch a Tesla driven by a spacesuit clad mannequin into orbit around the sun a few weeks ago got me to thinking about the– too long ago– 1969 moonshot. I remember very well watching it on our big console color TV, I have no doubt that every American with a television, which was everyone by then, was watching this unfold with, “I’m Walter Cronkite and that’s the way it is.” I remember staying up late with my mom and stepdad watching and waiting for Neil Armstrong to emerge from the Eagle and take that first step on the dusty grey surface of the moon.

I remember my stepdad commenting as we were watching the Eagle land that it might just sink out of sight in the dust, because, how do we know what the moon is made of? It didn’t, but it got my 8 year old mind to worrying that the astronauts might just jump out of the landing capsule and sink out of sight in dry lunar quick sand. I had watched Tarzan movies—it could happen! Quick sand is everywhere! “Don’t struggle, I’ll throw you a vine!”

But, all we got is “one small step for man” and life went on, no quick sand, no aliens, no moon bases from which to explore the galaxy like we all read about in Isaac Asimov’s books.

Thinking back on this got me replaying my childhood in my mind as I tried to remember other things about my life in this time period, life was so much different back then in so many ways. But it was a good time to be a kid, a very good time, us kids were free and we were many— in the baby boom. Hard to believe it’s been a half a century ago now, and now I understand how some of those folks who went from horse and buggy days to seeing a man land on a moon on TV must have felt.

invest meme

Most of us have more technology, computing capability and access to information in our back pockets then the entire control room at NASA combined during those moon landings and certainly more than the spacecraft themselves did and satellites track our every move via those same devices we willingly carry. To me the memories of my childhood when social networking meant gathering on the corner to decide teams for the next impromptu game of baseball, football or hockey, are treasures. But they are fading and I was having a hard time reconciling some of the dates with my memories. But, then my memory hasn’t always been infallible either, like remembering where I buried my treasure in our back yard.

Buried Treasure

As a young child my treasure was Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, especially the Hot Wheels—now they were awesome. Little diecast cars in futuristic sleek shiny styles, an inch and a half of pure fantasy as you imagined owning a car just like that someday.

I would save up my dimes and nickels and when I got a dollars’ worth, me and my buddy, would ride our bikes down to Main Street in the small town we lived in and go into the basement of Gambles all by ourselves, the basement was where all the toys were—it was heaven. But all I was really interested in was the rack off to one side with all the Hot Wheels cars hanging on display in all their glory.

99¢ apiece, ironic that that is pretty close to what they still cost today, but these were American made, hand painted, state of the art cutting edge toys in the late 60’s. If you picked just the right one you would be the envy of the neighborhood and the bartering power it gave you was unmatched.

But then one day I started to get worried. What if I play with my cars so much that I get tired of them?—shutter the thought. So I had a solution. I put them all in a metal Batman lunch box, well most of them, and buried them in the back yard under the big pine tree. No one will ever find them there and next summer I can dig them up and it’ll be like having brand new cars all over again. Brilliant! Then winter came and froze the ground and covered it with a few feet of Northern Minnesota snow.

Then we moved across town—before the snow melted. Whoops. Of course I couldn’t tell my folks what I did, not that it would have mattered, it would have just made me look foolish. Well, I certainly didn’t get tired of them, in fact I had to start a new collection, oh well, maybe someday like Black beard the Pirate I will return for my lost buried treasure. Maybe I could have my own show on the History Channel;The curse of Matchbox County.’

I kind of doubt that after a half century in the wet Minnesota soil there is much left of my tin lunch box or my cars. And, actually I did return a couple of years later. Turns out my parents didn’t sell that house, they just rented it out and we moved back into it for a while after selling our new house in preparation to move to New Mexico. My excitement of moving back to treasure Island was short lived though, because the huge Pine tree I had buried my treasure under was gone and try as I might I could not find that box of cars.

Besides, you can only get away with digging so many holes in your backyard before your parents take issue. The lost treasure remains lost. Those cars are probably worth a fortune on eBay today if I did still have them. Oh well, in the end all turns to dust and rust right?

Dust and rust, now there’s a picture of futility, but that is the way of it. It’s a good thing that we do have something that we can hold on to, something that is worth more than we can ever repay or imagine and can never be lost or stolen—the word of God planted in our hearts, in our heads, in our souls—life giving, hope inducing, healing and strengthening, and always right where we left it untarnished and safe.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Mat 6:19—21

Word meme

It is amazing and a testament to its inspired nature that the word of God remains relevant, powerful and meaningful even today for those who take the time to look into it and explore their own hearts in light of it. That’s because no matter our surroundings we are still humans with feeling, fears and passions with a capacity to love, hurt and dream just as Adam and Eve and every person who has ever lived since has. And that is what the word addresses, the heart.

It is the word of a God whose image we are created in so it will always be relevant. Knowing it is an investment in ourselves—in eternity.

 

I Want a Redo!

 

 What is Good

“What, did God get tired of making souls and have to start recycling?”

So teach us to number our days,  that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps 90:12

Living a blessed life of purpose and meaning takes an intentionality. But just living a life for the Lord— let alone one that is fulfilling—a life that is not wasted, is a challenge. We need to be intentional about living a life where you don’t just wake up one day when you are old and say; “How the heck did I get here?– I want a redo!” There are no redo’s.

We are given a precious gift of life, of being a uniquely made being with an awareness of self, an insatiable curiosity about the world around us and an inkling of, and a hunger for, things of the Spiritual realm that we somehow know is there but just can’t quite grasp. We must not waste our days or just coast through life because our days are numbered, whether we acknowledge it or not. You don’t get to come back and try again as someone else, God isn’t practicing on you hoping he gets a version that works out.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  Heb 9:27-28

One shot

The futility of reincarnation is a lie from the enemy, you live once, you die once, then the judgement. Jesus died once to redeem you from the sins of that one life, that is all that is needed and all that is available. For those whose names are written in the book of life that one death is but a passage to eternity—continued life. For those who have refused the gift of salvation, they will be judged for their deeds—a fair trial by a just God who knows every misdeed, every rebellious and malicious thought— word and deed— we ever entertained or purveyed. I’ll take the free gift of grace, -thank you. A grace that came as a result of the unjust bogus trial we gave Jesus.

Besides, getting through one life is hard enough, who would want to go through all this again, especially with no memory of past experiences from which to learn? Reincarnation? —What, did God get tired of making souls and have to start recycling? Like I said, it’s one of many lies the enemy promotes to convince us to discredit God and his word. If we just keep getting recycled until we get it right then Jesus death was a complete waste of time and had no relevancy whatsoever.

But my point is, this life is all you get as far as who you are and who you will always be. God created you just the way he wanted you to be, your inner self will never cease to be you, whether you are in this fragile flesh, whether you are in spirit with the Lord or after the resurrection of that same flawed flesh into perfection, you will always be who you are today.

Think back on your earliest memories, playing in your yard, fighting with your sister, wondering how those little singing people got inside of the radio or what the midget who lives inside the base of the street light pole making it change eats for dinner.

Remember that inner dialogue as you started to understand the world around you and marvel at how things are?

Think about that inner voice, the sound of it—has that voice changed, are you someone else now? —No, your soul is the same, it has to be, otherwise you wouldn’t remember any of it—that is the you that will still be you in 50 years, in 100 years, a 1000 years—into forever. Yes it will grow and mature and understand more about the world and itself, but at your core you will still be the little girl or boy God created you to be before the messed up world came in and messed with your mind—God can and will cleanse and heal the mind, heal the heart, starting today and lasting forever. That’s why he used his one life in the fragile flesh of a man to heal you.

Jer 29

Life doesn’t just happen

So what are you doing with you? Are you just letting life happen to you? Or are you using your limited days in this world to the full. You do have a choice, you can steer the course of your life to some extent. At the very least, if it doesn’t go where you hoped it would, it certainly doesn’t have to be wasted. One of the keys to a fulfilling life is just making the decision to not live just for yourself, but to serve God and serve others.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

That, I believe, is the difference between a wasted life and a life that means something. God honors the intent and helps steer you into places where you can make a difference. If you are serving him through serving the people he loves—which is everyone—in his name, you stand a pretty good chance of discovering his plan for your life along the way.

You want to know what to do, while you are waiting for his grand plan to be revealed to you and he hands you the keys to your brand new destiny—act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. In other words, get over your bad self. treat people right and keep looking up.

 

Free Bird?

 

“The plant, the all-natural, ‘God made marijuana” wonderful plant was screaming at me; ‘Smoke Me!'”…Holy Spirit Dove

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8

There was a time when I thought I was free, “No one can tell me what to do!’ but in truth I was far from free. I was bound up by the flesh, by my appetites for more– trying to fill a hole that could only be filled by Jesus.

I spent a good part of my seventeenth and eighteenth years in Job Corp. The Job Corp center I was in was in the mountains 10 miles from Anaconda. I lived there with 200 other guys and a bunch of staff who dictated and monitored nearly our every move. It was like a cross between a military base and a youth detention facility and a vocational-tech school.

You couldn’t leave the center without being considered AWOL and getting kicked out with the threat of a dishonorable discharge hanging over you. There was no drinking allowed, one time I was accused of covering for someone who had snuck in a bottle and had to clean the grout in the shower rooms with a toothbrush. We went to bed when they told us, dressed the way they told us, cleaned the entire dorm every morning before going to our training programs… you get the idea. Not much freedom.

To counter that I started hanging out with the guys who would sneak off into the mountains in the evenings to get stoned on weed that had been snuck in through various clever means–there is always a way. By the end of my time there I was getting stoned every day. Finding new and innovative ways to get away with it, hiding in the furnace room, going sledding in the hills, taking half the tobacco out of a cigarette and filling it with weed… but there was always the fear of getting caught—if only I could get stoned whenever I wanted…

Then I graduated and was free to go home. Me and a few other graduates got on the Greyhound bus heading east, to Billings for me, the others, farther still. We couldn’t wait to start celebrating our completion of the program and the start of our new lives, so we had snuck on bottles of whiskey bought at the bar conveniently located next to the bus station in Anaconda, and started partying.

One of the guys had a boom box and we were jamming to Leonard Skynyrd. Their big hit song, Free Bird came on and suddenly I was overwhelmed with the exaltation of realizing that I was now free. I stood up and with the bus driver glaring at me in the mirror, started exclaiming to the whole bus, that I was free. I was pointing out the window and saying, “you see those cows, they are free, you see those horses they are free, all those people on the highway, they are free, and so am I!” I don’t remember much more, the whiskey was talking by then.

That was just the start, my freedom to destroy my brain cells went on for several years until I realized that my supposed freedom had become a prison from which I could not escape. I knew Jesus through all this but now he seemed a far-away figure whom I was ashamed to come to because I was ashamed of all I was doing with my freedom.

But he never gave up on me, he kept pestering me, whispering to my soul, “come back.” I knew what that meant but I didn’t want to listen, I didn’t want to turn to him and admit that I was destroying my life, I didn’t want the party to end, I didn’t want to devote myself to a God who probably wanted to put me to work embarrassing myself in front of people, I mean, right now people think I’m cool, that I have it all
together and I am having a blast.

In truth I was miserable and was only cool to the people who were themselves miserable and enslaved to the party.

So I finally quit running and gave in to the call of the Lord in my heart, but I discovered I was too ensnared to stop with the beer and weed. My flesh was screaming at me, “satisfy me! The plant, the all-natural, “God made marijuana” wonderful plant was screaming at me; “Smoke Me!” and after one day of my resolve to stay straight so I could discover the plan God had for my life, I was a mess. I had become a slave, literally, to a lower life form–a plant. It had become my master and my god. If I wasn’t smoking it I was looking for more and every morning I bowed down to it as I leaned over my bong to make my burnt offering and let it alter my consciousness.

I don’t care what anyone says about it, what weed did to me was truly evil. It offers wisdom and freedom, but that is just whispers of the serpent using the same old lies he used in the garden—because they work every time–and he stole five years of my life. Five years I could have been fulfilling the God ordained plan–postponing my family and my ministry, making me apathetic, lazy and stupid—stupid enough to try every other drug under the sun as well.

Anyway, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the wonderful things the recreational smoking of marijuana did for me. My point is, I was far from free. The thing that promised freedom had become my prison so at the end of that first day of DT’s and anxiousness, I opened up my Bible, and found my freedom in the word of God. The living word became the miracle that set me free and by the end of that evening with my empty and cold bong sitting at one end of my coffee table, and my long neglected, but now on fire, open Bible sitting at the other, I cried out to my Father and he filled me with such an incredible feeling of love and acceptance that I threw away that bong, emptied my refrigerator of beer and the next morning I started a new walk with the Lord, this time truly free.

 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Cor 6:12

I am not a recovering alcoholic or druggie, I am not an addict to anything—I am a son of the living God. I am redeemed, I am free, I am a Jesus freak and if that makes me weird or even gets me imprisoned one day, I will still be free because nothing and no one can take away the freedom I have now, the freedom of the soul. I choose to continue in the teachings of Jesus, to abide in his word, and he keeps me free.

neither…the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 A
nd such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Cor 6:10-11

I am free to be even the barbarian he created me to be, unfettered by anything, even religion. To me, that’s what it means to be free. This bird is indeed free.

For the rest of this message go to Hopechapelredlodge.com and click “Audio Sermons” 5-7-17