The Monkey in the Middle

the monkey in the middleI’m home after a whirlwind tour on the camp circuit. One camp, One tour… every bit as exhausting as the times I travel to multiple places, one on top of another. But this morning I have a full night’s sleep in and my mind is starting to declutter. It’s not bad clutter… just a collection of camp sights and sounds that roam my mind until I find a way to file them into folders; Things I Love, Thinks I’d Change, Things I’m Grateful For, Things that I need address, and some things that made me stress. Camp is like life under a microscope. You’re in a confined space, sharing life up close and personal with people you may or may not know well and this science experiment can go amuck at any moments because kids and camp staff are very unpredictable. God designed us in a unique fashions as we discovered this week using our “the way you’re wired” curriculum. But although we’re all unique, we’re all still designed for one purpose and that is to glorify God.

This morning I opened the file one of the standard behaviors for teens at camp, and kids in general I think, which is to tease and prank one another. It’s “usually” done in good fun, but there’s always those occasions where it crosses a line, feelings get hurt and it’s not nearly as funny as was the plan. Especially for the person pranked. Somewhere in the prank, compassion was overlooked.

I’ve never been a pranker. At least not a very good one. I’ve been the prankee on multiple occasions; perhaps that’s why I’m not a very good pranker. I know how bad it can hurt. My heart wells with compassion when I see a kid held hostage in a game of monkey in the middle or some other form of torment. I just really can’t ever imagine Jesus playing that game. But it’s a camp tradition that has continued in my 20 years of camp. I don’t like it… but it’s there.

Much like the lack of compassion of the church in a general sense. I don’t like it… but it’s there. This morning I read of Jesus’ compassion and my heart was broken because we’re raising a generation who are missing the mark on it.

JESUS HAD COMPASSION ON THE SICK

Matthew 14:4

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

It was a “great multitude.” He healed them all… regardless of gender, socio economic status, race, big people, little people, tall people, short people, young, old… He didn’t show partiality to anyone, but rather all. The church could do better in tending to the sick. We do not have the power within ourselves to heal but we know Who does. And while they’re waiting on healing we can be His words, hands and hugs of compassion. But we don’t.

JESUS HAD COMPASSION ON THE HUNGRY NOT THE PERSNICKITY

Matthew 15:32

Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Jesus of course spoke in the literal sense, which we too need to address, but how many people leave the house of God hungry? I’m blessed with an awesome Pastor who feeds my soul, but it’s up to me to eat. The people who Jesus’ compassion was toward were those who were there desiring He feed them spiritually. They wanted to hear from Jesus. They weren’t concerned with the flesh. Jesus dished it out and they ate it up and then He took care of their physical hunger as well. God’s men are in the pulpit Sunday mornings dishing out compassion and the church is full of persnickety eaters who’d rather wait to have it their way; denying God’s compassion to feed their soul.

JESUS HAD COMPASSION ON THE SEPARATED

Matthew 9:36

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

My stomach rolls over when I see the vast ocean of souls untouched by God. They truly are like lambs out in the cruel, harsh world waiting to be devoured by the enemy, all the while their shepherds are so busy serving self, arguing politics and denomination, worrying about who’s wearing pants and who’s singing the right songs that they fail to notice that they left the gate upon on the pen. The sheep are going everywhere and most of them to Hell because they didn’t feel loved by the Shepherd… mainly because the Shepherds workers were tearing down the other fences that others were building.  I know… metaphorically speaking doesn’t always make sense.

So here’s where my heart hits the road. It’s not the least bit funny when the church is withholding the compassion of God, and the monkey in the middle is a world desiring to be healed, fed and protected and the church is playing games.find me on facebook

Yes, I’m one of those people

one of those people

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands **

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands **

If you’re happy and you know it the your life will surely show it

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands**

Yes. I am in full blown camp mode! I’m singing camp songs, I’m grinning inside and out because next week I’ll have the opportunity to spend five glorious days with 20 or so rowdy teens in a camp in the hills of West Virginia. If you’re not a teen leader then that may sound like more of a punishment than a reward of life, but if you’re in the youth department of a church, you know which ground I stand on! It’s Holy Ground!!!

Isaiah 54:13 says And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately but our worlds in a mess. Fear and anxiety is running ramped and I myself have days that I feel like hyperventilating until the Lord returns. Imagine that in the life of our youth, whose minds are inundated with fearful images, music filled with anger and hatred, political nonsense on every media outlet and all running an inlet straight to their heart. Some are churched, most are not, and all have a desire for a future, even if they’re unsure of what that might be.

Our camp theme this year is “The way that I’m Wired.” It delves into the inner-working of God inside everyone, and how that should play out in the believer. I’m excited!! I can only wonder what God might have done with me if He’d have had a hold of my heart as a child… these teens that I’m about to embark into a camp adventure with can find out now and that makes me very, very happy to be apart of it!

My first lesson for them is “happiness is a choice and a gift of God.” It comes from seeking His will and when that is discovered, you can still grin from ear to ear, even when the world around you is falling apart. Life’s not perfect, we won’t grin ever day… but we can.

When I teach, I grin. When I sing, my soul leaps within me. When I play music my heart smiles and it is all because those things are the will of God for my life… it’s how He wired me. David said in Psalm 144:15  – Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.”

Color me Happy! And please, pray for our camp July 24-28.

Don’t Limit God

Spirit limit

If only I had failed God once and learned my lesson I’d consider myself in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in; that shape being a sinner saved by grace. But no, I have to again and again fail God, beg mercy, feel minty fresh for about 30 seconds and then sin again. Why are we such a fickle lot of people? Christian people that is. Am I alone? I’m pretty sure I’m not.

This past week a well-known preacher, Perry Noble, and one that I had followed, fell. I loved this guy. He wasn’t perfect and I didn’t agree with everything he said but I loved his style of preaching and his “realness.” The problem with being real is it also makes you pretty transparent. Because you’ll say anything. If it comes into your mind, it’s usually out of your mouth before you give a second thought.  This was his style. He was funny and charismatic and above all, thousands of souls came to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ through him. I believe that. His words stirred my soul and I believe God used Him. But he fell, because he, like I, am human. His transparency gave me a spiritual insight to him that said “proceed with caution.” He dabbled too close the snake pit, and that my friend has gotten many a preacher in trouble. Alcohol was his downfall, and I won’t even get started on that because I could write for days! And it’s not the point in this blog. My point is the limits we put on God is through sin’s hold. It’s not the sin itself, it’s the hold it get on us.

Israel let God down again and again. But His great mercy brought them through. Read what David said in Psalm 78

But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 78:38-41

God understood Israel and He understands us. He knows we are weak vessels and that we fall, but the key is to move forward away from the snake pit. Turning back doesn’t stop God’s forgiveness… He’ll forgive again and again. But He won’t bless again and again. We limit Him. Even God has limits, they’re called “us.”

He desires to pour His blessings down upon us, bring revival into our church houses but our turning back puts a speed limit on the Holy Spirit. Turning back is different things for different people. For my preacher man that fell, he got too close a substance that fuels the fires of Hell. Alcohol. I hate it and everything it stands for. That was his sin, I have my own, and you have yours. And for the tribe of preachers that want to cast this preacher to the curb… God sees you too. God Who is full of compassion forgives, you who are full of pride will point and condemn the man God forgave.

My point to ponder is this: Don’t limit God. He forgave the sin, now move on. There’s a new speed sign up ahead that says “full throttle!”  Don’t turn back.

Don’t Play the Fool

psalm 14Wikipedia defines a jester as historically an entertainer during the medieval and Renaissance eras who was a member of the household of a nobleman employed to entertain him and his guests. I believe that also defines those who deny God.

History In the Making

The denying of God is as old as history itself. Man continually believes that they have life figured out; mocking God and His people for their weakness of having faith, not realizing the very thing they define as weakness is the strength that allows the child of God to live in a state of peace, which the fool who denies God desires, and yet refuses because it’s too simple.

Household of the Nobleman

I thought this morning, as I looked about my meager home, that I have missed the mark. I desire more… more stuff. And stuff for certain is fun and I believe God for “stuff” that will glorify Him and allow me to be used for His glory, but not at the cost of the world’s nobleman. The world defines success on a tally sheet of wealth and the fact that they can pay for entertainment to preoccupy their minds and keep it off the spiritual side of life. Allowing the guilt of denying God to be suppressed. But He is still there, whether or not you are reminded.

His Guests

The nobleman, or noblewoman as the case may be, love to entertain the masses. They love to draw people into themselves, giving them the feeling of power and control; all the while they are deceived and they serve to deceive. Countless souls are pulled away from the pulling of the Spirit of God, that draws all men unto Him (John 12:32). Pulled away by the entertainment of Satan himself disguised as a court jester, and he laughs and laughs and laughs. And the noblemen and women continue in misery disguised as amusement. They know it…

Psalm 14:1 says

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

There is a God. His name is Jesus. He is holy and sovereign and He speaks to the heart of every man and woman, pleading with them to come home. Today I may not live in a mansion bright, but when I lay down my head at night, I know that if I should not wake to see the light, with my Creator my soul is right. And that my friend lets me sleep tight.

That’s a peace that cannot be bought. Do you seek it? Then you seek Jesus.

It’s good to know

psalm 5

What a privilege and joy to wake up to an awesome God! With every second of my day before me, it’s wonderful to know that God goes before it placing His stamp of approval on the events that I know not what, but I know that He has not allowed anything to happen without purpose; and He will receive praise and honor. He allows me to be used in His service… gracious… what a privilege that is! I sometimes forget who it is that I work for.

This morning as I sit with coffee in hand and my eyes toward heaven the words came easy, and short. But though they are few, the truth within them is vast.

Psalm 5:3

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

It’s wonderful to know… He is there.

God’s Not Playing Games

Holy

Happy Independence Day! In West Virginia today it’s another rainy day with yet another threat of flooding in some areas that could really use a break. Please pray as clean up and restoration continues in hundreds of homes across our State. As I sit high and dry on Mt. Zion Ridge this morning my heart breaks for those in crisis, and for a country in crisis. How I wish that God’s blessings could rain down on America but I’m too conscience of where America is at morally to believe that that is a possibility today. I am forever the cockeyed optimist who will never fail to believe that God could changes hearts in heartbeat… it just scares me as to what it might take for that to happen.

Reading in Leviticus this morning of the instructions laid out to Moses and Aaron of the Levitical law for sacrifice, God’s attention to detail was apparent and serious! Nine chapters of instruction and Aaron performs a sacrifice which was so awesome that the glory of the Lord shown in such a manner that the entire congregation shouted and fell on their face. Glory to God that must have been an awesome sight! So why is it that we find in the tenth chapter that Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu are struck dead for offering a stranger fire before the Lord? What didn’t they understand? Unfortunately the same thing America doesn’t understand when it comes to receiving the blessing and protection of a Sovereign, Holy God. God’s not playing games.

Leviticus 10:10

And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

There’s a difference. Whatever the strange fire was that Nadab and Abihu offered wasn’t God approved. And regardless of religions and government which says some “things” are now approved, it doesn’t change the fact that God’s not in it and He’s still every bit as serious about holiness today as He was in 1400 B.C; perhaps even a little more serious being that the final sacrifice that was made was the Son of God, not a critter.

So what does holiness look like today? It’s not perfect living because our sin nature won’t allow it. It’s not offering a sacrifice in any manner or form because we can’t do anything greater than God has already done.

Simply put its saying “Lord, You are Holy. Nothing is before You or greater than You, I’m a sinner in need of grace and mercy and it is You Who offer it and I who accept it. You Lord, are enough.”

America has nothing but God. For now He still extends grace and mercy. Let us not fail to thank Him and praise Him for that today.

God… please bless America.