This is the live (now recorded) Facebook feed from the Easter service of my church. Please forgive the imperfections, we are forced to suddenly have to livestream our humble services. But the message is the important part. Be blessed!
“… I started paying attention to the hooting of the owls I was also hearing. This is nothing new, we have had owls around the house for several years–but we never had chickens before…yikes!”
“For we were also once foolish…” It’s easy to get arrogant when you are suddenly unlike so much of the rest of the world who seems to revel in foolishness and debauchery.
When we are transformed so completely by the power of the Holy Spirit it’s easy to forget that we were once totally deceived by the flesh and the enemy as well and if we do remember we think, “Wow, I really cleaned up my act, I really pulled it together!” No. actually, you barely did squat, Jesus did it—you just finally allowed him to do it in you, and for you.
We can’t be like the pharisees acting holier than thou and we can’t act like the pagans indulging in whatever the flesh decides it wants at the moment. We need to behave like those who hold ourselves to a higher standard while still treating others like we truly care about them, to treat others the way we want to be treated.
This is what gets people to stop running from a God whom they think they could never please, and gets them coming to him and asking “Please; I want to stop running.” It can be hard to be a friend to sinners because they are so deceived they don’t recognize the danger and when they do, they don’t know where to turn. And even when they ask for help and desire rescue from their misery and addictions, they still run from the one who could truly save them.
Chickens inspired that, people are often no smarter than chickens.
As I was working on my sermon Tuesday evening the two chickens we are watching for our daughter Jessie interrupted my study. A couple weeks ago she brought over two of her chickens, one of which had an injured leg that made her a target for the other chickens of her flock who sense any weakness and pounce on it. And she brought over a friend to keep her company.
She put them in the dog kennel with the big dog house in it. We don’t have a dog right now so that works fine, except the chickens soon figured out that by getting on top of the dog house they could fly over the fence and get out.
So Donna and I started just letting them roam around in the day time and then we put them in the dog house at night and put a hog panel in front of the door to keep them in and the predators out. The problem is, they insist on roosting on the patio furniture on the back deck as soon as the sun goes down so we have to catch them and carry them to the dog house. No big deal, once they roost they become pretty lethargic—more like half comatose.
I’ve never had chickens before so I find this all very interesting. Anyway, Tuesday night I was in my office sermonating when I hear the chickens, which were just settling in to their roost mode on the back of a patio chair next to the sliding glass door, pecking on the glass and making fuss. At first I ignored it, it wasn’t the first time they thought they should be able to come in the house, but they were getting more and more rambunctious.
Then I started paying attention to the hooting of the owls I was also hearing. This is nothing new, we have had owls around the house for several years, but we never had chickens before…yikes!
So I made a beeline to the patio door, saw the chickens, apparently safe on their chair but still doing the chicken “buck buck buck-oc!” thing so I step out on the deck and see a big ‘ol great horned owl, sitting on top of my truck about 15 feet away. I’ve seen these massive owls at various times ever since I was a kid and for some reason they always send a shiver down my spine. Maybe because they are huge and fearless and have a way of appearing out of nowhere.
This one was no exception, suddenly sitting there like some grey stone gargoyle on top of my truck. He doesn’t seem a bit concerned that I’m out there. I look for something I can throw and don’t see anything I really want to hit my truck with so I just run at him yelling and waving my arms and he takes off on those great silent wings.
At the same time I see another owl take off from off a fence post on the opposite side of the yard, they had our chickens surrounded. My wife Donna wasn’t home yet, she’s usually the one who puts the chickens to bed, but these girls need to get tucked in now!
All right ladies, bed time. So I plucked one of the now quiet birds off the chair back and carried her to the dog house/coop, placed her inside and went back for the other one who now decided I was the one she need to be scared of. So she made me chase her around the deck, off the deck, back on to the deck, under the chairs, all while trying not to get her too riled up, until she finally paused long enough for me to grab her without pouncing like a hungry cat.
It must be hard to be a chicken, pretty much everything wants to eat you, because, well, after all—chicken really does taste like chicken. I know many of you here have learned the hard way how many critters want to eat your chickens.
So I get the second chicken into the dog house with the other hen and put the panel across the door, safe and sound. I went back to work on my sermon and, after hearing the owls commence their hooting again, I remember that I didn’t shut the kennel door. Better do that to keep the coyotes out. So I go back out and here’s one of those very large owls sitting on top of the kennel and her partner just a few feet away on the fence. Right up until then I thought it was pretty cool to hear these owls at night, not any more.
The chickens were smart enough to call for help. But then they were too dumb to accept it. Anyone relate?
That’s the way the world is, and honestly, too often we are also; “Help me help me” What? No wait, I want to stay here where I’m comfortable, where are you taking me? And we run around in circles while the Lord is patiently trying to move us away from the great horned death looming in the darkness just waiting for a chance to finish us off.
“Don’t mind me, I’m just a little ‘ol hoot owl, here to sing you a lullaby.”
Funny how we have to keep being reminded of God’s mercy and kindness.
You know what? You can walk through the valley of the shadow of death all day long, all night long, and you shall have nothing to fear. In fact, while you’re there why don’t you stomp out some darkness and free those who have fallen along the wayside or got deceived into reveling in the darkness and are now afraid to step out into the light.
If they are afraid of the light it is only because they have not seen the true light. You have that light, you be that light. The only thing that dispels darkness is light. It’s as simple as that. Jesus didn’t suffer and die just so we could cower in fear and hope that the devil doesn’t notice us.
If the devil is not noticing you than you are not fulfilling your ministry and you are not a threat to him. You do not have to fear the darkness because the darkness fears you.
And until the church wakes up and fully realizes and grabs a hold of that fact, the enemy will continue to enslave way too many of God’s beloved children. They have been lured away from the truth, left powerless and hapless, confused and vulnerable—easy pickings.
Too much of the church has turned away from the truth. If you still don’t know what the truth is, read your bible. Plain and simple.
I was told by a pastor once in my early days of preaching not to use so much scripture in my sermon. His thought I suppose was that it would bore or confuse people.
Well, I didn’t listen so if you’re bored or confused I’m sorry, there are plenty of other Christian blogs where you can get more pop psychology, feel good fluff and entertaining stories. But make sure you are wearing your poop pants. Because you are going to be in it, because in my humble opinion, it’s all BS.
What, you don’t know what poop pants are?
On the ranch when our girls were young they had poop pants. I’m not sure how that phrase got started, it was just a lot easier then saying, “Take off your good clothes and put on your old jeans before you go out to play in the pasture or the barn because you don’t want to get manure on your good clothes”—Hence, “put on your poop pants before you go out.”
That has become kind of a joke at our house since those days because of the little friend of my daughter Jessie who came over to play one day— we’ll call her Sylvia. She live in the fancy suburb down the road from us, and she came over in some nice clothes to spend the day with the girls and play.
The girls decided that they wanted to play outside so Donna told the girls, “Find Sylvia some poop pants she can wear before you go out so she doesn’t ruin her clothes.”
As the girls were heading off to their rooms to find an extra pair of play pants they noticed that Sylvia was crying. What’s the matter Sylvia? She then blurted out through quivering lips; “I don’t want to wear poop pants!”
It was then everyone realized that she thought poop pants were pants that came already pooped on. I can only imagine what she imagined she was going to be forced to wear.
There is a time and a place to wear poop pants. When you are out in the world where it gets pretty deep and you need knee high boots just to keep wading through it. But you have too because that is where the people are who need what you have to offer, the truth. No BS, no stinking cow pies or prairie muffins, just pure Jesus is Lord and he loves you too much to leave you wallowing in this filth truth. The world has enough empty feel good words. They need truth.
And church is the last place you should have to worry about if you are getting feel good noise and if you should be wearing your poop pants. Sure they may dress it up and make it look fun and appealing—Well we have to teach this or people will stop coming, we have to give them what their itching ears want to hear—well maybe their ears are itching because they have gotten parasites from the cow pies you are flinging at them.
A lot of people just honestly don’t recognize a cow pie when they see it. It has to be pointed out.
Back when I was in Job Crops we were doing a construction project in the mountains north of Butte. One day we were all standing around on a grassy hillside and a couple of guys started playing Frisbee with some dried and hardened cow pies. They were just having a good ole time flinging these at each other and watching them crumble on themselves on impact. Finally I realized that they probably had no idea what they were playing with—they were from New York City.
“Hey, do you guys know what that is?” “No. it’s just something that grows here isn’t it?” No, those are cow pies—look of bewilderment— Cow pies are dried up cow poop.
Their reaction?-— priceless.
You want people you love to get out of the manure? Show them a better way, tell them the truth, and they may see just what it is that they have been playing with.
That has to start with you, check and see what you are standing in.
“. . .she told me that the only reason she came that first Sunday was because I was the first man who had ever talked to her like she was a real person.”
Last week we talked about Jesus crossing the sea of Galilee in search of a lost lamb, leaving the proverbial 99 to find the one.
Sometimes the Lord would have us go to great lengths, travel great distances, to share Jesus with the lost and hurting. And that’s good, we are commanded to go into all the world to share the good news, that is the great commission. But we are also commanded to love our neighbors as well. Often times we miss what is right in front of us. We can fail to see the person right next to us that desperately needs Jesus, needs rescued, just as much as the fellow from Gadarene that we named Xander.
My wife Donna is good at seeing those people, the lost lambs, and because of that they are drawn to her. She was working with one such young lady at McDonald’s in Billings. Donna had befriended this young lady, a single mother struggling to make ends meet, and this young lady began to pour out her heart to Donna. She had found a safe place to be real.
Donna felt compelled to invite her to come camping with us on our big annual family camp out (Family being used pretty loosely and extending to pretty much everyone we knew.) Since the campsite was not too far from Red Lodge where my church is, and everyone knew me either as family or from church past and present, everyone who was camping planned on coming to our church Sunday morning.
You know you’re in a mountain town church when you walk in and everyone smells like campfire smoke.
So anyway, this single mother and her one year old daughter, did indeed come camping with us. They had never camped before and Donna invited them to stay with us in the camper we had borrowed. I found this a little awkward but I thought she was pretty brave to go camping with the preacher’s family, especially since she had never even met me.
Donna told me on Saturday afternoon while we were camping that her young friend said that she probably wasn’t going to go to church the next morning with us. I was suddenly very disappointed. I had only met her the day before but I knew Donna had been loving on her for a while and was very concerned about, and had filled me in on, all heartache and betrayal she had already been through in her young life by her parents and her ex-husband.
Later I saw her and her baby girl sitting at the picnic table in our campsite and I did something I hardly ever do, I sat down across the table from her, and tried to coerce her to come to church with us. I’m just not the kind of person who likes to put someone on the spot.
She didn’t know me, and she actually looked kind of terrified when I sat down across from her. But I looked her in the eye and said: “I hear you aren’t sure about coming to church with us tomorrow. I would really like you to. I know this might sound weird but I really think the Lord gave me the sermon just for you. And if you come I’ll give you one of my books; To My Girls” (Yippee— Hey I was desperate.)
I was desperate because I really did believe that the message I was preaching that Sunday was written just for her. I knew in my heart that she was why God had given me the message titled: You are Loved. To my relief and joy, she came. And she came back the next week, with her sister, both of them giving there hearts to the Lord in that first week or two and both attending quite frequently for a few years driving 60 miles all the way from Billings to Red Lodge to do so.
That young lady is still a big part of our life, her little girl calls me “Granpa” and 8 years later she still loves the Lord with all her heart and soul and is healing from a horrific past as she walks with him and seeks to learn how to live in this messed up world as she tries desperately to see the world through the eyes of Jesus rather than the eyes of a distrusting wounded soul who has every right to be angry and rebellious.
But she has allowed the Lord to still the voices that taunt and haunt.
I had been somewhat amazed for quite some time that she even came that first time, let alone again the next week and that she just kept coming. Especially with what seemed like such an awkward invitation from me, the strange preacher she didn’t know. Maybe it was the book, I don’t know, it had deeply touched many. I was sure love was involved, the love of the Lord, the love of our church family.
Then, one day we were visiting about that day, and she told me that the only reason she came that first Sunday was because I was the first man who had ever talked to her like she was a real person.
I knew she had been hurt and betrayed, seriously betrayed, by the men in her life, but his really startled me; no other man had ever treated you with respect!? —That doesn’t say much for the world we live in, does it?
How sad that people can go through life never feeling like people even see them, at least not as a person. I was kind of startled when she told me that, because of all the reasons I might have come up with for her coming to our little church—and returning— the fact that I had talked to her with the respect that I would give to any other person, would never have been one of them.
Donna saw her, then I saw her, that’s what it boils down to. I saw her through what was no doubt the eyes of the Father, a scared little girl struggling in a big scary world to be a mother and provider despite the worst the world could throw at her, a young woman who needed to know she was loved and that she was not alone. A lost lamb who had been betrayed in the worst way by her own father, her mother and then a husband.
But Jesus saw her and sent someone to let her know.
We all need that; we all want to be seen; “Somebody, anybody—see me for who I really am.” We all share this basic desire, and to some extent I think we all are a little fearful of being truly honest with one another for fear that we will be seen differently, so we either pretend for as long as we can, or we just go full blown; “I no longer care, the hell with y’all!”
At least that’s what we tell ourselves– But inside we are still dying.
The voices are still taunting us; “You are worthless, you deserve nothing but what you got— trust no one and strike first before you get hurt again.” Jesus would tell us otherwise.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?”. . . Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:44. 50
A young lady who is part of our church family in Red Lodge wrote and posted this on Facebook, I felt compelled to share it here, especially in light of my last post on the need for “Barbarian women” to stand up and be heard in the church. This is what I’m talking about!
“Ive been catching a little lip lately due to my recent using of facebook for uplifting, and many, posts about Christianity. Its such a huge platform to be using as you wish and what better way to try and touch somone than using it for good. Somone recently told me “I just love how you preach the gospel but look like you just got out of a rock concert. Maybe you should see what the Bible says about hypocrisy”
Good news!! No, I’m not jumping off a cliff. and My faith in what I know to be he true has not waivered a smidgen. If anything some clarity was given, and I genuinely pray for that person since they are obviously stuck in the muck of religion and what we think it should look like. This is not about religion, it’s about Jesus. All these tattoos have given me some pretty thick skin, but being a strong outspoken Christian has made it awesomely resilient and stronger then its ever had to be.
Yes, a good part of my body is covered in ink, Yes, my head is shaved, Yes, I have piercings that reside in more then just my ears, I have dabbled in my fair share of extra curricular substances, and most days, especially when working cows, my mouth is anything but innocent and my sense of humor can be as rotten as last weeks trash. I aslo try to be honest, I try my best to love without prejudice, I try to be genuine to myself and who I was handcrafted to be, I try to see the beauty in who others are and all they have to offer. I try to be the best form of me that I can be, and live with the mindset and willingness to lay it all down openhearted to the One who gave it to me. So….Ive realized they were part right.
I AM a rebel… a rebel for Jesus.
No I don’t look the “part” and most of the time I come in hot and in a totally different way then the way (they) say is the “right way”, but I am doing it the way I am being told to. I make sure to! by asking Him daily… in almost everything I do and that feels more right then anything friends. I rest easy because I TRY beey hard to stay faithful and let Him guide my day and major decisions. And that is all He asks of me…. and you. TRY and try and try and try again. My main man David in the good Book lives true to this . (Its a good read that I’m sure you can also relate to im sure😉)
Maybe I’m supposed to be the one who brings needed Hope to a stranger in the Rock concert or foul mouthed cattle pen. Afterall it may look a little more familiar and comfortable coming from somone who looks like me, then sweet little rosey cheeked grannie smelling of cookies and myrrh in her button up doily shawl and beaded Rosery.
I am exactly where and who Im supposed to be. And make no mistake, I’m am humble, confident, and true in it.I am beautifully and perfectly made. Perfectly, Imperfect.” – Danielle Hall, Montana
This was my response to her:
“Just last week I was standing with a group of ironworkers on my job with my hard hat, dirty Carhartt coat and the overall look of someone who has been in construction for 35 years going on.when the foreman of their crew said; I heard you are a preacher or something?” I said, yes I am. He then said, “I just can’t picture that.” “I replied, I’ve been a construction worker a lot longer then I’ve been a preacher.” And, I must confess, sometimes I talk more like an ironworker than a preacher. Yet this same man, just a few days earlier was confiding in me troubles he was having in his family and asking me what he should do. I have only known him for a few weeks, yet he saw the Jesus in me through the concrete dust and black iron smudges- so just what does a preacher or a Christian look like? Likesomeone people can talk to, that’s what. You go Danielle, you are God’s chosen vessel right where you are!”
So, last week a project manager/estimator from our Construction firm and I are standing with an architect and a structural engineer looking at the steel roof structure of the church addition I am in charge of building in Miles City. The architect and engineer are debating the need for additional bracing on the steel tresses to restore the integrity of the structure for both lateral movement and snow deflection because some of the X-braces had to be removed in order to accommodate the duct work which had to be installed above the level of the suspended ceiling grid.
I needed to be involved in this conversation because I, as the project superintendent, am responsible for making happen whatever they decide was needed, and I wanted to make sure I understood the intent of the bracing, the method of application, and placement while using my years of experience to have intelligent input on what was obviously
a let’s make this up as we go along scenario on their part, which is what much of construction and post planning stage field engineering is.
Did any of you find that hard to follow? If you did it may be because you don’t speak the language. As is often the case─ and I know all of you can relate to this─ I found myself in a position where I had to put on my specialized hat and speak a language I wouldn’t use everywhere, or anywhere, else. I was using a jargon particular to this circumstance─ technical terms that communicate things only people with similar knowledge and experience understand yet require in order to A: understand you, and B: take you seriously in your position as the one to get it done.
It can be intimidating, and used to be— but I have been doing it long enough now that I am confident and at ease when having these conversations with people who have letters after their names, I speak the language.
So, Monday I am going to use a 110 wire feed with .30 wire to place ¼ fillet weld on the butts and intersections of the 1x1x1/16 angle I am adding as x-bracing in the first bay to create a box from which to stabilize all the other tresses that are connected by horizontal bracing already welded to the bottom cords.
You got that right? Many of you— not so much. I wonder if that’s the way a lot of the world feels when we talk to them about our faith or when they hear us talking to one another. Most of the world doesn’t speak Christian E’s, they don’t understand our language. What is sin anyway, sancti-what? Rapture, tithe, redemption, holiness, Old testament, New testament, epistle, gospel— sounds like a bunch of gobbly-gook to most of the world, the world we all live in.
In the world
There is an often used saying in the church, that we are “In the world but not of it” This comes largely from the words of Jesus in John 17 as he is praying for his disciples just before his arrest: 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
Indeed, in the world—citizens and occupants of a world that was created for us by a loving God that has become corrupt and evil beyond description—but not of the world, for we have been redeemed, the ransom paid to save us from the ravishes of this world and the penalty to come for those who submitted to the powers of darkness that now dominate this world while refusing the truth and redemption freely offered to them by the creator.
I believe we go a long way towards fulfilling the great commission, towards honestly representing the Kingdom of Heaven so that others may choose to be saved from the despair of this world and judgement to come —on the perpetrators of that despair— by being open, honest and sincere. Being yourself while remembering who you are; a loved child of God who was created in his image and by him in a way that makes you unlike any other human being that has ever lived.
You are uniquely made —from the complexity of the DNA that makes you unique physiologically— to the spirit which gives your life and makes you cognizant of where and who you are in the universe while at the same time causing you to ask the questions as you try to understand more and more of the nature of that place.
No other creature in all of creation does that, we are unique, you are unique—truly created in the image of God. So you are inherently good. If we embrace the person who God created us to be while recognizing and shunning the corruption that creeps in from the evil influences of this fallen world, we can truly make a difference in this world─ In the world but not of it; the world needs us, people also created in his image, woefully deceived and misled need us, we need to learn to speak their language. -Right?
Actually that was a trick question. All of us already speak several languages of this world, we just don’t realize it or recognize the importance and advantage of it, at least not for the Kingdom.
Go where God leads you, preach the gospel he gives you to those in your world. We all have access to a world that few other believers may occupy, where even fewer believers are willing to occupy, let alone preach in. We all speak different languages and by that I don’t mean foreign languages, I mean that we can relate to people in certain circles, where we are comfortable, where we have had experience’s, where people don’t look at us and say, “Where are you from?”
Worry less about where you should or could go and look at those before you who are asking the questions; “What is it all for? Am I loved? Do I have a purpose? Can you tell me, can anyone tell me, I don’t understand!” Those questions are coming from your neighbors, your coworkers, your family… your children. You speak their language like no one else can, give them hope.
15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. John 17
That’s why you were sent into this world. You have a purpose.
Be there, don’t give up.
Back when I was a kids pastor I was always coming up with new and entertaining ways to illustrate biblical truths. One particular Sunday I had the great idea of turning stones into marshmallows to illustrate how Jesus took the sting out of death-“Where o grave is your victory, where o death is your sting?” So after leading kids worship I got up in front of the kids to explain how Jesus has conquered death but even though we all will someday die, death is no longer scary because Jesus has taken the sting out of death by making sure we get to heaven.
I then held up a small stone and talked about how it would really hurt if I threw this at someone and just knowing that it was going to hit you would be scary. Kinda of like death if we don’t know Jesus. I then turned around and without the kids knowing what I was doing, I traded the rock that was in my hand for a large marshmallow and winged it at the group of kids in a dramatic attempt to make them believe I was throwing a rock at them when in reality it was a light fluffy marshmallow- at least that was the plan.
I discovered that a large, somewhat stale, marshmallow is not all that light and fluffy, in fact it can make quite an impact if thrown like a fast ball. Just ask the kid who got it right between the eyes. whap! I’ll never forget the look on this kids’ face- a wide eyed look of horror- as he was trying to figure out if he was hurt or not after having what he thought was a rock smack him in the forehead. I quickly assured him it was only a marshmallow and that he was not injured in any way. Of course he had to be a new kid, one who had never been there before, that ended up on the receiving end of that fast pitch marshmallow- that was the last time we ever saw him.
The next service I used some fresh mini marshmallows and gently tossed them under hand to the kids, this time instead of looking at me in horror because I just scared some poor kid to death they were diving under the chairs trying to snatch up the marshmallows I threw out.
Just like I discovered that it’s not a good idea to wing stale marshmallows at unsuspecting kids I also learned, in my early days of following the Lord, that a sure way to scare people away is to throw the word at them uninvited or unexpectedly. People don’t want to be hit between the eyes with scripture, they want to see that it’s making a difference in you, they want to see that it’s real and then I you have some fresh to toss at them they’ll be scrambling to receive it.
We need to keep our marshmallows fresh, stale marshmallows are hard; we need to keep the word fresh, fresh in our minds and fresh in our hearts. If we do that it will just flow from us, we won’t have to try and muster it up and we won’t be making any ill-timed pitches. If the word in our hearts is fresh because we are constantly going to the source and getting more, we will just naturally live the word, it will become a part of us and flow from us like a river watering the seeds that are being planted by us as a result of just living out our faith before people.
Fresh water can only flow from a body of water that has a constant source of good water. Marshmallows that have been just sitting on the shelf for months are going to get stale.
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
People will want to know why you have a hope, why the lights are always on even when things around you aren’t all sunshine and roses, why you don’t get angry and lose it like you used to, why you don’t turn to the bottle to deal with the stress of life, why you don’t put your own needs before others- “Why are you such a freak, and -how can I be one?”
The world is dying of thirst and we have the water. Are you keeping it fresh? Have you chosen the discipline of reading the word? If not, you will not only not have any to share, your own souls will wither and blow away like the grass in our hay field this year. You’ll be left with a bag of stale marshmallows and no one will want to come near you lest you start throwing them.