Monday, May 31, 2010

Behind the Fence

Take one turtle...

Place it behind a wrought iron fence.....

and I promise you that God can make a good analogy out of it.  
So here goes...

I was going to pick up a customer a couple of weeks ago and was sitting out side of his house when I noticed something in the yard next to the house.  The yard was closed off by a wrought iron fence (kind of like the one in the picture above), and there was an unhappy turtle in the yard on the other side of the fence.  How do I know he was an unhappy turtle?  His shell was blue!  Ha ha ha get it? OK... never mind.  I figured that he was unhappy because he was trying his best to get out of the gate.  He was trying to maneuver his body through two of the iron bars, with very little success.  Even though it was obvious to me that he was never going to get out of that fence, he kept trying.  After maneuvering for a couple of minutes, the only thing he could accomplish was to get his head and one leg through the the bars.  His shell was easily twice the size of the space he was trying to squeeze through and it kept banging up against the fence.  The turtle was bound and determined to get through that fence and it was abundantly clear that it was never going to happen. 

As I sat in the driveway watching poor little turtle mcshell trying to escape; a thought flashed into my mind.  I could help the turtle to get free!  All I had to do was turn the latch, open the fence, and let my little hero in the half shell walk right out of the yard.  He would then be free to walk down the driveway and into the street where he would probably be killed by one of our friendly Texas drivers.  As I shuddered at the possibility of his little turtle death, I decided not to free him.  I figured that it would be better to leave him inside the fence where he would continue to be frustrated, but safe.  If I would have had time to do so, I would have picked him up and driven him over to a nearby pond and set him free in a safe location.  But since I didn't have time, I decided he was better off in his current situation.  When my customer came out, I told him about the trapped turtle and he said that he would tell his neighbor to get him out. 

Here's the analogy.  Sometimes we can see right where we want to go and we see the path that we want to take to get there.  Just like my little turtle friend was trying to squeeze through the poles in the fence, we try to force our way into the direction that we want to go.  And God is sitting there the whole time watching us struggle; yet continuing to protect us from the dangers that we don't know are out there.  God has the ability and the desire to let you out of one situation so that you can continue on your journey.  But he also has the desire to see that you remain safe until He can move you to a safer location later on.  Just as I knew I couldn't keep the turtle safe once I let him out, God knows that you will not be safe outside of His protective hedge.  So He leaves you where you are; just like I left the turtle where he was.  I felt bad that I had to leave the turtle inside the fence.  But competing against the bad feelings were the satisfaction that I had in knowing the turtle (though frustrated) was safer inside the fence than outside the fence.  God feels your pain when you are frustrated, and it does grieve Him to see you unhappy.  But He looks over all of that frustration because He knows that you are better off where you are at the current time.  But don't lose heart!  There is a reason that there is a latch on the gate.  It is not God's intention to leave you behind the fence forever.  He is simply waiting for the right moment to free you and put you in the exact place that you belong.  A place where you can prosper, grow, and continue to do His will. 

God places the fences in our lives for a reason.  Just as the turtle could see a better place out there, God allows us to see a glimpse of a better situation than where we are.  And I believe that he allows us to get that glimpse to build a desire in us to go to that next place in our lives.  The fence is different from a closed door.  God places a closed door in front of you to make you change direction.  But a fence is different.  God places a fence in front of you so that you can see through the fence to the place where you want to go.  And once we see that place, we want to get there as soon as we can.  But we have to be patient.  And we have to use this time behind the fence to prepare ourselves for what we have to do when the fence is open.  So for now, enjoy the view.  Prepare yourself for the trip.  God is giving you the resources where you are right now in order to get you ready for when He releases you.  And when he does, you can continue the journey on the path that He has placed before you.

Peace and Love,

Rev. Mike

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Training Your Heart: Why We Must Evangelize

This is a paper that I wrote for the Evangelism class that I am taking at a local church. 

The day a person receives salvation is a wonderful day. We are very excited about our salvation and we bask in the glow of our direct experience with Jesus Christ. At this point, we usually do one of three things:

1. We run out and tell everybody that we know about Jesus.

2. We take all of that joy and excitement home with us, lock the doors, and wait for the rapture to come.

3. We do both. We start out excited. We go and tell a couple of people about Jesus. Then somewhere along the way life takes some wind out of our sails, and we begin to hold on tightly to our salvation as though it’s the only thing of value that we have in this world. We’re still saved; but we don’t tell anyone about it. We simply hold onto our gift, suffer in this “mean old world”, and wait to die so that we can finally be happy with Jesus in Heaven.

But no matter what we do, very few of us die immediately after salvation. That’s a good thing. The reason we don’t die immediately after salvation is because we have work to do. We have the wonderful opportunity to follow the mandate of The Great Commission. You can find The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. It says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (niv).” The Great Commission gives us our purpose after salvation. We are to make more disciples so that as many people as possible will have the same opportunity that we did to receive the gift of salvation. The Great Commission gives us everything that we need to complete this task. It gives us the job requirement. It gives us instructions on how to complete the job requirement. And it gives us the support structure needed to motivate us while we are doing the job. It is these three things that I have chosen to focus on.

Our job requirement is to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. As a born again believer, it is our job to go back out into the world and make disciples. How do we do that? We simply tell everyone that we meet about the plan of salvation. We are required to tell the world that the wages of sin is death, but that the gift of God is eternal life. We need to let the people that we interact with know that they are a sinner, just as we are sinners. But we also need to let them know that they have the same opportunity to be free from that sin just as we are now free from that sin. This requires us to let down our own walls in order to show the other person exactly where our lives were before we were in Christ; and where our lives are now. It is important to understand that it is not our job to force them to accept Christ. Our job is simply to expose them to Christ so that the Holy Spirit will have an opportunity to convict them.

As we are completing the job requirement of making disciples, we will begin to perform the second part of The Great Commission. We begin to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you”. In this phase of the process, we need to train the new disciples to live the life that we are living (should be living). And how do we do that? We need to make sure that they are growing in their spiritual walk with Jesus Christ. They should be growing and maturing a little bit every day just as we should be growing and maturing. It is very important during this phase of the process that we let the new disciple know that there is not a point of completion in our walk with Christ until we get to Heaven. We should be learning about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. This helps us to improve our relationship with God and understand the will of God in our lives. It is also important to let the new disciple know that we don’t have all of the answers. By revealing our struggles and successes we give the new disciple the freedom to make mistakes. But we also give them the opportunity to get up, dust themselves off, and continue the journey of their own spiritual growth.

The third part of the process is the most exciting part. It’s the part where Jesus tells us, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. The first two parts of The Great Commission tell you what you are supposed to do. The third part tells you what Jesus is going to do. This life can be unfair, unkind, and unsupportive. Sometimes, it does not even appear that we have any support from our family or our friends. That can be discouraging. And it can also make us question if it is even worth it to continue trying. But Jesus said that He will be with you even until the end of this age. That means we have the strongest support structure in the world! We are not expected to complete this task by ourselves. We have the one and only Son of God with us, around us, and in us to help us complete the task. That also means that we are guaranteed to have the victory over this world because Jesus has already overcome the world. So as we continue to make disciples, teach disciples, and train disciples; we are assured that our support structure (Jesus) is there to equip us with the tools that we need in order to be successful in everything that we do for the Kingdom.

So as you go back to work for the Kingdom of God, I want you to remember these three things. Remember that you have the job requirement of making disciples. Remember that you have the instruction to teach them all the things that Christ is teaching you in order to continue spiritual growth. And remember that you have the best support structure in the world in Jesus Christ. As we and the new disciples continue to follow Christ, we will all continue in our spiritual growth with Christ. Lastly, understand that as long as we are diligently following the instructions of Christ, He will be with us. And if Christ is with us, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish for the good of the Kingdom. So go back into the world! Share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone that you meet. It is a wonderful present from God that you can constantly give away, yet never run out of. It is eternal life!

Peace and Love,

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Help Me! I'm a Pornaholic!

That got your attention, didn't it?  The pornography business is a multi-billion dollar industry that makes a lot of money selling the fantasy of sex.  But when the fantasy is over, it leaves behind the reality of pain, suffering, dysfunctional relationships, STD's, suicide, and other negative consequences including death.  The church itself is no exception.  Many men and women in the church are dealing with porn in their homes, and it is destroying their relationships and their family life.  And since you can't really have honest, no-holds barred conversations about sex in the church, a lot of people in the church are suffering just as much as the rest of the world.

I've found some sites that I think may be of help to anyone that is dealing with pornography.  There are a lot more out there than just these three, but I think they are a good start.  Please be advised that some of the content is really graphic.  But we have to remember that sin is a war against the devil.  Sometimes we have to stop being nice and just get straight to the point.  Here they are:

1.    XXXchurch is designed to bring awareness, openness and accountability to those affected by pornography. We are an online community that tours the world speaking at colleges, churches and community centers. exists to help those who are in over their heads with pornography, both consumers and those in the industry.

2.  The Pink Cross Foundation-  Our mission is to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. We also combat community deterioration due to pornography and prostitution through attempts to educate legislation in order to enforce health and safety laws within the pornography industry, to protect adult industry workers from sexually transmitted diseases and other job-related abuses, to ameliorate the secondary negative effects of pornography on the general public and to toughen laws to protect children from accessing online pornography.

3.  The Prestige Ministry -a ministry that helps women get out of the sex industry (located in Atlanta, Ga).  Prestige is a program designed to help empower and build the self-esteem and self-worth of women who are involved in the sex industry, including, but not limited to, prostitutes and exotic dancers. Our goal is to demonstrate the love of God to these precious women and reach out to them in a non-judgmental and accepting way.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Something Lite: The Insinkerator and the Popsicle Stick

This is a story in the life of my family.  Our garbage disposal stopped working about a week ago.  Not all at once, but over a couple of minutes.  I was running it and heard an interesting noise coming from the inside of the sink.  It sounded like the sound me having to spend money to repair something.  Then it went silent.  I flipped the switch a couple of times and nothing happened.  "Oh great,"  I thought.  "Something else to fix."   I decided to not touch it for a couple of days and pray that it would just decide to work later.  Two days later, my wife Stacey decides she really likes the concept of a working garbage disposal in the house.  So she tells me to call our home warranty company.  You know who they are don't you?  They are the people that charge you $60 per visit just to tell you that you should pour vinegar down the pipe. 

Well, I didn't want to spend $60 dollars.  So I did the one thing that threatens the peace of any family home.  I pulled out the toolbox.  And Stacey left the room.  I have to tell you that I currently have a thirty minute rule when it comes to figuring out how things work around the house.  If I can't completely figure out how to fix something within thirty minutes, I call someone who can.  The thirty minute rule is a direct result of my trying to replace the door frame in the pantry by myself.  Let's just say that the two months that we didn't have a door in place was not a good time for me and my man ego.  But I won't tell you that story yet. 

So after spending some time messing with the wrong end of the garbage disposal, I went to one of my favorite sites in the world. It's called If you ever have to figure out something, go to this site. At the very least, it will point you in the right direction. The first thing that I discovered there was that there is a cut-off mechanism on garbage disposals that recognizes when the disposal is clogged up with an item that it cannot not easily cut. In this case, the item was a wooden popsicle stick that a certain six year old threw into the sink (he's helping).  This keeps your garbage disposal from burning out the motor (very smart). There is also a reset button that allows the disposal to run again. That is found under the bottom of the garbage disposal. I did not notice this button before because I can honestly say that I have never looked under the bottom of the disposal before.  And then there is a hole in the bottom of the disposal. This hole is where the garbage disposal wrench goes. And what is a garbage disposal wrench? I'm glad you asked that question! It is this thing:

The InSinkErator WRN-00 JamBuster Wrenchette is basically an allen wrench with an extra bend in it.  It is larger than your standard allen wrench because the people that make the garbage disposal have to have another way to make money off of you.  So they created this "special tool" with the name etched on the handle that you can only get from Home Depot for $6.75.  So it's 9:30 pm on a Thursday night and I'm on my way to get the tool that I have never heard of so that I won't kill my son for throwing his popsicle sticks in the garbage disposal and won't have to sedate my wife because there are pipes on the floor because I had to take apart the pipes to take the garbage disposal out but I didn't really need to take the garbage disposal out and I hope I didn't mess something up and I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning to go to work and she's starting to get nervous because she doesn't want me to break anything else and I know this is a run-on sentence but you get my point and what is that string of black gunk that I just pulled out of the pipe and is Home Depot still open? 

So I go to Home Depot and they have the InSinkErator JamBuster Wrenchette in stock.  Yes!  I look at it and say to myself, "I can't believe that I have to pay seven bucks for a allen wrench with a handle on it.  But I do.  And as I am driving home, I'm hoping that this stupid thing will allow me to go to bed without tearing up the foundation of the house.  Because I will if I have to.  Thankfully, the wrenchette worked.  Two quick twists, and the disposal was HEALED!!  THE CRISIS IS OVER!!

And then we went to sleep.

Peace and Love

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