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A Postal Burrito

A drawing of an envelope

A drawing of an envelope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess there is a lot to be said for what can happen as a person’s life evolves through time. In a lot of cases, as priorities shift and life takes place, sometimes things can become lost or hidden. They never truly go away, but can become some mired in the muck of not being used, that they almost become alien. Then, when a sudden loss occurs, it sends one scrambling for some semblage of what was known, or into a cycle of chasing what it was that reminds you of what you lost. It seems that’s what must have happened for me. I don’t have a good reason why otherwise. It’s been a fairly complex span of time really. Not all that long, but so very complicated.

Family is one of those things that, as you scion off into making your own, you decide that youre going to mold it certain ways, and of course, its never quite what you claim it will be. For me, though, music was something I always stressed as important. I may not have been playing like I was, but appreciating it was paramount, pretty close to establishing the importance of Faith even. You taught me that.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen stupid fall like snow flakes, and was even dumb enough to stick my toungue out more than a time or two. What I have found though, is that roots are established for a reason. I established roots in music, just like I have established roots in my Faith. I’d even go as far as saying that music is more than just a large tenet of my faith. I’ve gone through all the stages of naïve country to hippie to hipster and all around the spectrum of metal. I always had friends or peers that “only listened to Christian Music”, and I always thought that was outright dumb…still do really, but its for reasons of semantics I guess. Christian defining the genre, dumb, but the feeling you get when making or listening to the music, if that’s not one of if not THE most purest forms of worship you ever experience, you’re doing it wrong. You taught me that.

I guess really the “stages of grief” could be valid for some people, but after stepping back and watching what I did, and what I’m seeing other people do now too in their losses, it has to be so much more complicated than that. Being a 28 year old father and trying to lead a family is an interesting place to be, but when you’ve spent so much time establishing yourself one way, and ignoring the rest of who you are, sin can catch up REALLY fast. It wasn’t that it was something I was trying to do purposely by any means, really just a matter of misplaced priorities of course, but that’s all it takes, right?

I feel good that I found my faith in the way that I have. My ministry brings me a lot of joy. Seeing people light up because something I said meant something to them, just like when I would be up on that stage and see people singing the words to a song I wrote. Indescribable really. Joy? Maybe, but so much deeper and stronger than that. Feeling bigger and more connected to the whole is something that I’ve come to find out is really so much of being a part of the church as it is called to be. Making music has to be that way too. You taught me that.
I know that there was a lot of questions about where you fell on that whole side of things, but finding those lyrics was all that I needed. I pray a lot. A lot of people think I pray more than is needed, but I don’t know that it will ever be enough. Regardless, those prayers include wanting to establish a legacy like yours. My own, of course, but like you did.

In all of it, I messed some things up, watched people hurt, and probably didn’t cope the way or to the level I should have. In the last few days though, I’ve watched other people go through it and again experienced a senario where I saw a parent burying their child. I can’t fathom this, and I’ve watched it happen closely to me three times now. It just makes it all the more clear that staying on top of these things and ensuring that my kids, and my grandkids, and generations past that, can look back and say of me – you taught me that.
Thanks for all you taught me. You’ll probably never know the breadth of the influence it all had in who I am, but one thing being for certain – I will keep it as a part of me. You taught me that.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Ramblings

 

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The Sinner’s Burrito Part 1

The Sinner’s Burrito Part 1

 

It’s a sin cursed world!” If you’ve spent any time around any amount of evangelicals you have probably heard this statement. Maybe they were referring to diseases, or simply talking to someone who may have been wronged in some way. Regardless, it is a true statement, but what has happened in it’s use is that it has become excusatory. It shouldn’t be, but it has. It should be an awareness for sure. You know, kinda like “peeing on an electric fence hurts”. You say it to raise an awareness and provide the education that, should the opportunity arise, you probably shouldn’t pee on that electric fence, but inevitably, somebody is still gonna do it. That’s probably a horrible comparison, but it’s what I got right now.

Now, with that awareness for those of us that will sin (read: everyone), we would hope that it would at least reduce the times we fall victim to these things. For those affected by the sins of others (also read: everyone), however, perhaps it should be a precursor to allow us to exercise that whole “justice, mercy, grace” thing that I’ve talked about a couple times. I reckon its just good practice. Of course, it shouldn’t be without rebuke.

I speak through all of this, of course, from experience. There is a song by dc Talk, that is probably my favorite that they’ve ever done, called “In The Light”, and, without failing, every time I am covered in sin, I hear this song. I’ve had it come on the local radio station, and even randomly pop up while listening to my Pandora station. Every time, I weep through it. The opening lyrics go like this:

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from you
I am the king of excuses
I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do

Each time I hear that, I see more and more that I have done away from my savior. Maybe I’ve gotten better at reading my Bible, or spend more time in prayer, but there is always something that has fallen away. Quite often, I have been downright despicable. Of course, in the Bible Isaiah compares everything we do apart from the Lord to what has often been translated to “filthy rags” or “soiled rags”, but more graphically, he is referring to used menstrual rags. Yeah, that’s gross, but it really is that serious. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul compares everything apart from Christ to what has been translated as “rubbish” or “filth” or even as boldly as “dung” in the KJV, but nonetheless, still more graphically, the original word translates much closer to a word we use today that rhymes with spit. So yeah, I think the point is driven home there. Furthermore, the whole “King Of Excuses” thing, yeah, I’m good at that, like real good. Rationalizing and pointing blame are pretty easy, but it doesn’t matter, I’m still the one that failed.

What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a savior

I ask myself that question each time. “What’s going on inside of me?” It couldn’t be more of an appropriate question. Further, the despising my own behavior thing, yeah that pretty much hits the nail on the head. I’ve gotten to a point of sickness hurting about what I was doing and how to really get out of it. Afraid of embarrassment, or what the other consequences may be, webs will weave and things get so buried and so tangled, all in hopes that the stench won’t get out, but you can only perfume a rotten soul sandwich so much. The only fix, is my Savior.

I sit and I hurt and I wallow in my grief of what I have done and who I have hurt. The more I do this, the more I let the sin lay, which only feeds it and lets it grow. I have a Savior that took that guilt from me. I’m not guilty of these things after accepting Him, He was as He was nailed to a cross. So why do I continue to fail? Well, it’s a sin cursed world, and I am a part of it. Nope, not an excuse, it’s just something I need to remind myself. I need to be in this world, so I can continue to tell others what He has done, but I have to continue to try and push myself not to be OF this world.

The grace that we have been given is not a blip on the radar of our lives. No, it’s a part of sanctification that we have to go through to reach our true home with God. It’s a process, an ongoing journey in and of itself. So I have to continue to repent, continue to grow, and continue to seek my part of His grace. I have to work out my salvation with fear and trembling as Paul puts it in that same letter to the Philippians. That’s not because I need to be afraid of what my fate is, I know that I have a place in His Kingdom, but I have to be afraid of what I will do next, because these consequences hurt now. I have to want to follow what Jesus said and did.

I wanna be in the light
As you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, lord be my light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the light
All I want is to be in the light

So, I’ve sinned, again and again, and of course, there’s more than a chance that I will fail again, but what can I do to make sure that it’s not the same failure over and over? Perhaps it will be something with much smaller consequences to people I love, or even something that can be used as an example to keep others from what I’ve done. I’ve got more to say on these things, but that entry is still being written. Meanwhile, the second verse is a reminder:

The disease of self runs through my blood
It’s a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control

I’m not going to fix this on my own. I don’t have an answer to my failings. Maybe that’s why I like to ask questions so often, but I also know, that no person on this earth has THE answer either. They may have helpful ideas and advice, but without my Savior, I am nothing, and can accomplish nothing.

So the wrapped up burrito here, friends, is this: Give grace, because you will fail. This IS a sin cursed world, but don’t let that serve as your excuse once you do, let that serve as your warning so that you might stop things before they start. I know this is WAY not my style, but the TV was on late one night while preparing for Christmas, and Joel Osteen came on and he actually said something that’s painfully true. He said your test will become your testimony. So, be ready for some testimony coming soon, because I have plenty of tests to talk about

 

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Ramblings

 

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The Responsive Burrito

The Responsive Burrito

It has burned in me for days now. I have been assaulted and insulted in a steady stream on my social media feed by folks whom I love. I have wept and avoided the opportunity to weep. I have prayed, meditated, and cried out for guidance, seeking His wisdom and waiting for a response. It seems that in the midst of all that continues to go on in my life, I have things laid to my heart on top of them. All I can think when reading any of it is “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!”

What I have seen in these posts to my various social media feeds, has both hurt me, and taught me. While it is hard to say that I would be shocked by anything that occurs in theis sin cursed world, I still can’t help but not understand why so many choose to politicize and polarize issues when such a heavy loss is accrued by real people. While I was holding and praying over my 7 year old daughter, others were decrying a call to defend. While I was weeping and asking questions to God others were jumping to conclusions and attacking the already-formed polar sides.

Instead of mourning, people were debating. Instead of praying, people were rallying and attaching an unnecessary cause. Where have we gotten lost from what is the most important sermon ever given, some two thousand years ago upon a hillside? How has our line of sight gone from blessing to cursing? Friends, I am a wretched sinner, and I fall short every day, and am constantly undeserving of the grace that I have been shown, but how can we not have our hearts simply break for tragedies?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When wronged in such a way, and reeling from tragedy, why are we crazy to believe that when Jesus taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” He truly meant we are to ensure that His will and His kingdom should be ensured and implemented now, and not only in the afterlife? When broken down to our core, how is it possible that we have such an earthly strength to see our own agendas and values to be attached to tragedy? When faced with loss due to an overwhelming evil that is ever-pervasive in this world, how do we NOT mourn?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

There are beautiful lives that have been lost, and families that are forever changed, and forever broken from this. In the face of death, we are called to mourn. In mourning we can set our sights on things above, and be comforted. So why have we chosen to rally and fight?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

When we are attacked and damaged, there is not an opposite effect to our resolution in immediate terms. Through damage we are weakened. Once weakened we are called to be patient and submit, so that we might we healed. So how is our cause strengthened by these things?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

When hurting and asking questions, we should seek the answers that heal, restore, and regenerate. We are called to seek after the things we are missing. When covered in evil, we are most missing righteousness. So why do we seek to be filled up on things of material and egotistical comfort?

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

In an often used quote of an author unknown, we are told that Mercy is when you do not get what you deserve. Of course, in terms of punishment, we are oh so quick to seek justice, and more often than not, our definition of “what you deserve” is askew. So often, we are guilty, and of course in James 2:10 we are told that “Whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point becomes guilty of it all.” Yet it does not seem that we are given what we deserve for this. So why have chosen to hold others who simply disagree with us to a standard we ourselves are not held to?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted, from one of his more memorable speeches, that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In this quote we see that we are charged through this blessing to drive out darkness and hate, but in order to do so, we must be light and love, not different kinds of darkness and hate. So why do attack evil with evil, and hate with hate?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

We hear so often that in order to obtain peace, you must prepare for war, yet all we have done in our lives for so long is prepare for war. All of this preparation for war, has only brought us more war. So if we are to be peacemakers, why are we attacking and targeting each other?

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

In words no plainer we are told that when people do attack us and say harsh things to us, since we are His, these things are blessings. The verse even goes onto say that we should rejoice and be glad, because we will be rewarded greatly for this persecution just as all the prophets have been that have come before us. So why do we choose to retaliate?

In Jeremiah we are told of the story of Rachel, who wept for the loss of the innocents. In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the slaughter of the innocents. In both of these instances, God was there, and was ready to restore His people. So, I ask you to please UNITE in prayer FIRST. I know that “Faith without works is dead” but works without prayer are worthless, and in fact, given some pretty harsh descriptive terms in scripture throughout the Bible. Once we pray, we can rest assured that we can then act and know that what we are called to do WILL ensure that His kingdom will come and His will shall be done. A faith wrapped, prayer marinated, action burrito, will ALWAYS taste that much better.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Ramblings

 

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The Healing Burrito

The Healing Burrito

The Healing Burrtio

Well, it finally happened. Last week, my daughter was jumping on a trampoline with my sister in-law. After a few minutes, in she comes crying and hollering about how her ankle hurts. My wife and I take a look at it and get some ice on it, followed by a good soak in her usual Sunday evening bath. It didn’t swell and wasn’t discolored, and after the bath she claimed it was just a little sore and was walking on it, so off to bed and ready for her last two days of school. My wife and I took a look at it before we went to bed that night, and as we did, from a dead sleep, my daughter yelped in pain. It was pretty swollen too. So, first thing in the morning, I made an appointment at the pediatrician. Long story short, after about ten hours spent in 3 different medical offices, my daughter was sporting a brand new, bright pink walking cast complete with boot and crutches. Her ankle was fractured, and with only one school day left before her nine weeks of summer began, she was sentenced to six weeks of wearing this cast.

As I was checking my email that night I came across one of my typical devotional type emails I use to reflect on and sometimes tend to inspire these little rambles I call blogs. The scripture was “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8 Of course, there has been a whole lot of conversation lately between me and burrito brethren as well as my good friends and peers here in the world of Karis about exactly how much misinterpretation and heightened expectations we Christian folk can fall into with scriptures like this one. It’s a rocky road to travel for sure.

A lot of Christian denominations consider healing a major tenet of their doctrine, and certain takes on that can point to just how much faith you have determining just how much healing you see. I personally have seen healing take place through the name of Jesus, right in front of my eyes, instantly, in my own body from my own maladies might I add. I believe it’s a real and true experience for sure. I always try to make a habit of praying over my daughter after I put her to bed every night anyways, so of course, the night my wife and I checked her ankle, I prayed for healing though His will and power. However, come the next day, as I mentioned, we still ended up at the orthopedic specialist to get that cast. Why didn’t Jesus heal my daughter? Was I lacking faith? Was my not quite 7 year old lacking faith? Nope

In today’s modern world we don’t rely on God a whole lot.  If we get sick, we head to the doctor. If we are low on money we get a loan or head to a pawn shop. If we get hungry, we head to the fridge to pick out which of the large supply of groceries we’re going to complain about eating for the third day in a row. Now, when we get sick, and the doctor tells us it’s a cold, so he can’t do anything about it, do we just stop going to the doctor altogether? If he prescribes us a medicine that takes a few days or couple of weeks to get rid of the problem, do we get fed up and give up on the world of medicine? Not typically, so why then, when a divine healing doesn’t take place on our schedule or to our liking do we decide its pointless to ask God for intercession?

Now, my wife and myself have never had any broken bones, save for toes and fingers, in our lives. So the whole experience is a learning curve for us, but my daughter’s nickname has never been Grace, and in all honesty, the fact that she made it to almost seven before anything of this nature happening is in itself quite the miracle. She’s taken a fall down a flight of stairs, ran right into a car door as it opens, and missed her target while trying to jump from chair to couch or other furniture on multiple occasions, all with not so much as a bruise, but playing ring around the rosey on a trampoline with a safety net all the way around it that she has been jumping on since she could jump just didn’t work out for her. She had surgery for a birth defect at age 3, and has had just about every bug, virus, and typical sickness a kid can have. So, suffice it to say, prayer has been a primary tool in our arsenal as parents, but nonetheless, her ankle is still broken.

Does God still heal? Do we lack faith, or just understanding? Is there anything in the Bible that would lead us to believe that any of the wonders and amazements that Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit would deliver us from the time of the Pentecost on have ceased to exist in today’s world? If so, why?

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Karis

 

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The Fugitive Burrito

The Fugitive Burrito

So, why are you running away?

Jeremiah 29:11 says For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. In the church that I am a member of, we believe in the call to Ministry for all, which means, wherever you are, whoever you are, God has a plan for you to minister in some shape or form, He has a plan for you! Maybe, you’re a preacher, maybe you’re a musician, maybe you’re a sports star, or maybe you’re a volunteer to take care of “the least of these” type folks. Regardless of what that looks like, it’s a ministry.

This can be a scary thing, of course, to know that you have a job to do for God. I mean, come on, not too many bosses out there that could be that intimidating right? I mean it’d probably feel better to hear The Donald say “You’re Fired” then if we were to hear the Good Lord say that right? Well, here’s the thing, He will not fire you, but as a famous story in the Bible tells us, if He calls you, and you run from His call, He will find you.

God told a guy named Jonah, to go to Nineveh and tell them about God. Jonah was nervous and afraid, so he ran in the other direction from God to a place called Joppa and jumped on a boat to head towards Spain. Next thing Jonah knows, he’s being woken up by all the other folks on the boat. They’re in a complete panic and fearing for their lives because the boat is doing all kinds of rocking and tossing in a huge storm. Jonah realizes that this is God’s way of showing that He isn’t all too happy with Jonah since he decided to run. Jonah still isn’t too keen on the idea of going to Nineveh, because that place isn’t exactly known as a hospitable place for followers of Yahweh, so he tells the folks on the boat to just go ahead and toss him in the ocean to save themselves from the wrath that is really just intended for him. So splash and sink arrives and all of a sudden he’s in the belly of a big ole fish, of course Jonah now realizes that this whole running from God thing probably isn’t gonna work out too well for him, so he prayed to the Lord and told Him he would follow His command. Immediately, the fish spit Jonah out, and he high-tailed it to Nineveh.

I can’t personally say that I know of too many folks that have hung out in the belly of a fish or been chased by a huge rainstorm these days, but I do know plenty of people that run from God’s calling on their lives. Maybe they’re afraid of rejection, or feel they’re not educated enough, or whatever the case may be. A lot of people, when faced with adversity, are fully content with sitting down and just praying and telling, if not just asking, God to take care of it. A lot of these same folks get discouraged when nothing ever comes of these prayers and they continue to watch bad things happen all around them. I’d be willing to wager that after asking God why He won’t fix it or do something about it, if they would take a couple minutes to listen to His reply, they’d be surprised to hear Him saying something to the effect of “I DID do something. I made you!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely think we should ALWAYS start with prayer, and not just a brief little blip, but true, honest, earnest prayer and meditation, but if we look at the world around us and see things that are wrong, we should ask God to fix it THROUGH us, not just FOR us. We need to reach a point where we can become the answer to our own prayers, because chances are, if this thing is truly laid on our heart that much, He probably put it there for us. So, what’s the question I’m asking today? I guess, that’d be “Should we really expect God to do it for us?” Moral of the story? God has assigned you a job, He may or may not have told you yet, but when He does, It would probably be a good idea to start heading towards your Nineveh.

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Karis

 

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Whatcha Gonna Have – 1/9/12

Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ever go through the line at lunch when you were in school and have a lunch lady say “Watcha gonna have?” If you grew up in the south like me, this is an oft reminisced phrase that conjures certain memories. The food may not have always been great, but the feeling was timeless. Paul is telling the church in Ephesus, and by extension – us, to pray all the time and anytime for any and every request we may have. God is asking us “Whatcha gonna have?”

God wants to hear from us. We are His children, and like any parent, it warms the heart when they hear from their child. If you remember the movie E.T. at all, you will probably recall the recurring line of  “E.T. Phone Home!”. Throughout the movie, E.T. is consumbed with getting in touch with his family so he can go back home. That’s the same attitude we should share daily, nothing will ever make us feel better than being able to “phone home”.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Devotional

 

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The sweats – 12/7/11

Isaiah 43:11 says something to the effect of “For those who wait, God will renew them” paraphrasing here of course, but waiting is REALLY hard in todays world, and I’m not talking about passing a judgement on the way everybody else is, I’m strait up talking about myself. I HATE waiting! Have you ever had to wait for something to the point of it putting you close to a state of panic? As in, to the wire?

I was in that position today. Stress abounded and of course, as I’m known to do, I stated something in a matter that wasn’t what I had intended it to come out as. I’m really good at that by the way. Regardless, as I got to a critical point in my stress, God just so happened to pull through in such a way that the circumstance that made it all work was so easy it made me rather annoyed at all the circumstance leading up to it that had originally pointed me to believe that resolution was NOT in immediate site.

I’ve gotta say that I was sweating the whole time. Stupid, I know. After the fact though, as I was spending some typical unwind time on my deck, I began to wonder about that old saying about God having a sense of humor. I mean, seriously, He made the resolution so stupidly simple that I couldn’t believe that it worked with no resistance. I started to wonder if God’s sense of humor wasn’t so far off from my own, and by that I mean twisted and off kilter.

I thought about that the whole time and then Jeremiah 29:11 popped into my head. Most people tend to use the scripture for the wrong purpose (IMHO) which, paraphrasing again, says “For I know the plans I have for you and they aren’t to harm you, they will benefit you”. A lot of people use the scripture to make an argument for predestination, but I don’t personally buy into the concept of predestination that most ascribe to. Yes we are all headed to the same ultimate goal and place as the Body of Christ, but God did NOT determine I was going to break my toe two weekends ago. He KNEW it would happen, but he didn’t MAKE it happen.

Anyways, the point being that He knew what He was going to do for me, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the process of the waiting involved, and that my friends, made me sweat.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Devotional

 

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