Choked with fear

“I find your lack of faith disturbing

I have a confession. I’m a bit of a geek. And I may have just revealed a little too much by quoting Darth Vader from the “original” Star Wars film. But I do have a good reason for this little revelation. You see in one scene, Darth decides to the best way to prove his point on the power of “the force” is to use it to choke the questioning imperial officer into submission. My guess is that he felt the best way to see it, was to experience it.

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” – Matthew 8:26 NIV

I don’t know about you but I sure am glad Jesus doesn’t employ the same tactics as Vader does when we question our faith in Him. I mean God would be choking me all the time. The thing is He doesn’t have to, my own fear will do it for me.

Ever since I started to really read the Bible, I never quite understood the stories of how the Israelites and the disciples would continuously question God & Jesus with each new dilemma. Miracle after miracle, blessing after blessing, forgotten each time a new problem arouse. I don’t know about you but at times I would think to myself, I could never do that: forget the great deeds God has done for me. But I have and I think most of us will at some point in our lives.

What I tend to think about is: there Jesus was right there with them, first hand accounts of His greatness, who could forget anything like that? Who could not trust then? But then what I fail to realize is that He is still there, providing me with personal miracles, victories and probably closer to me now then He was back then with the twelve disciples back in Israel. Yet, I still get weak in the knees when times of certain turmoil hits.

Do we too forget all the good God has done for us? When times get tough, do we focus on the problem of the present, while failing to recount our God’s faithful deeds of the past?

For me, it can be an emotional roller coaster. I trust the Lord in this part of my life, but fail to lean on Him in other areas where I really need him. I hate this about myself, I hate that I can call myself a follower of Jesus, while failing to remember He is always there for me. Knowing that as a vessel for the Lord, that I have leaks.

It reminds me of when I was taking swimming lessons for the first time and having to jump in the pool into the arms of the instructor.  Each time being just as scared as the first, not thinking about the fact that I never once seen them let another kid drown or get hurt. Only dwelling on the terror of not being caught by those big, secure hands at the moment I need them.

When has Jesus never been there for me?  Why can’t I remember that? I need to remind myself of His greatness and love. Taking refuge in scripture, spending quality time being counseled by the Holy Spirit and recounting all the times He has been faithful to me.

My hope is that just like the swimming experience, that at some point it just happens: that complete trust becomes natural and the fear is just a distant memory of those early steps that must always be taken. Because I eventually became a very good swimmer and hopefully someday I will become a better steward of His assurance.

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“Better than a free cup of coffee”

Can you imagine what Jesus may have been thinking at this time almost 2,000 years ago?

Knowing that in a few days He would be abandoned, betrayed and denied by those who He was closest to here.

That He would have to endure pain and punishment reserved for the most vile criminals of the day. That He would be mocked, laughed at and scorned by some of the same people that were praising Him just days before.

Taking in each minute, anticipating the weight of every sin, from every man and woman that would ever accept Him.

Knowing what He knew and still being able to get up in the morning.

Have you thought about that? The measure of courage, strength and love that it took for Him to keep moving forward. Knowing that each step was not taking Him anywhere but straight to the cross.

. . . I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  . . . — John 10:17-18 NIV

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us . . .
— 1 John 3:16 NIV

As we approach the coming Easter weekend, let us take some time to think about all this. Let’s remember our own part in His sacrifice. Then remember how His willful nature to endure through everything I have mentioned, was done in an unyielding, victorious love.

And since Good Friday happens to be sharing “Earth Day” this year, let us honor our Lord by revealing the true meaning of an “earth day.”  Tell people what a great opportunity they have to really celebrate this “Earth Day” because it’s on the same day that its Creator: Jesus Christ gave Himself up for all His creation in hopes of saving them from righteous judgment and the gates of Hell. Let’s take the time to share with them the gift of Salvation and teaching them of its cost. Making sure that they know that it is available for everyone and anyone on this planet “Earth”.

Now that’s better than a “free cup of coffee.”


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Good pain

Last night during devotional time with my family, my youngest son broke down. All it took, all it ever takes is the gentle reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the thought of someone he loves dying for him.

As a Father I feel the conflict of both pride and pain when my children have these realizations. Pride, as I know that they have love for the same man I do, Jesus. But I also get a sense of hope as they realize that He is more than just a man in a story, but know Him to be someone close, someone they love. That He is family.

That is why I am proud.

And this is why I feel pain:

Someday they will understand better why Jesus had to die for us. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. — Romans 3:23 (NIV).  That the cost for our failures as human beings, our sins, was His death. That He did so, willingly and wantingly.

The Lord Jesus Christ . . . who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, — Galatians 1:4 (NIV)

Did you see the “The Passion”? Do you remember how bad you cried when you watched Jesus being tortured? I was bawling, I could barely watch the screen. Every time I saw Jesus being lashed at with that whip, I knew that was my own sin that caused Him to endure this suffering. Each time someone spat at Him, mocked Him and insulted Him was all because of me. With each stroke of the hammer, I cried knowing that although I had not struck Him, I had provided the blows.

I did this to someone I love . . . who loves me.

It would be the same feeling seeing the closest person you love have to go through the worst torture, only to be killed because you are no good. Take a moment to imagine your: wife, husband, mother, father, brother, sister, children, anyone you truly love doing this for you.  How does that make you feel?

These realizations we have concerning the cross are probably the most true feelings of remorse, regret and shame we can have as human beings. It is a pain that never really leaves: the reminder of my sin and the cost for all that I have done.

Last night my son cried because he hated hearing about Jesus dying. My son will cry again as someday he will understand why.

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From one Father to another

I am a fearful person. I am not proud of this fact, as are most people who recognize their flaws. Now I am not as bad as I used to be and I work hard at being strong in the face of danger. Danger to myself: scary. Danger to my Family: unbearable. Next to my salvation, I have always considered the gift of my family as being God’s second greatest thing He has done for me. The best thing about these gifts is the fact that they often point to each other.

Earlier this week my daughter had some serious medical testing done. I wanted to be strong, I tried to be strong, but my heart caved in. Seeing my little girl on the x-ray bed, screaming and crying was more than I could bear. Sadly this was not the first time I had to witness one of my children in this kind of pain.

As I observed all this happening, I couldn’t help but wish that I could take this for her. I have thought this before when I have seen my kids sick or have to endure a pain that is necessary with growing up. I think most parents have felt the same. We know of One who did for sure:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…

I have sat through a lot of sermons and read a lot of books, but as I saw my daughter in pain and wished it had been me, I finally understood why God did what He did. As a Father, He loves us, more than He loves Himself. Why else would He sacrifice His only Son for you and me?

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All Things Possible…

Yesterday I had a wake up call. Nearly 7 years ago I had to take a personality test for the agency I currently work for, I never saw the results, until that morning. My boss, God bless him, withheld most of its contents. I am sure he knew that it would have crushed my spirit to hear what it had revealed. Bottom line: it said I was unqualified in almost every way for the position I was applying for.

As I read the report, I couldn’t help but laugh a little and I’ll be honest: I had equal parts anger and sadness, as it tried to impress the fact that I was not the employee they were looking for. No experience and no real hope for a future. Fortunately God thought differently.

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:13 NIV

I knew when I put in for this job that I was unqualified. I had no illusions of who I was. All I knew was that I wanted to try and give something back to the Lord I love.

I did not apply for the job because I wanted to be an artist or just happened to be looking for work. I applied because I wanted to serve Him. I wanted to put His interests before my own.  It was a leap of faith on my part and all I could say was, “Here I am Lord, I am ready to serve you.

I was very blessed, as the test had not affected the ministry’s decision to hire me. They had seen my heart and in my eyes, put just as much faith in God as I had, believing He could use me for purposes greater than my abilities would allow.

Today I am the Lead Designer for that ministry and I can truthfully say that although I went searching to fill His needs, He in return has filled mine. This report was a gift. Yesterday, I got see who I was and who I am now and although I have many feelings and thoughts about this, I feel Billy Graham said it best:

“. . .if anything has been accomplished through my life. it has been solely God’s doing,
not mine, and He—not I—must get the credit.”


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A big kid

Have you ever noticed how quickly children seem to forget when their friends have wronged them? It always amazes me when I see my own children and their cousins “duke it out” one minute and the next, play and laugh like nothing ever happened. Do you ever ask yourself, when as adults do we lose this incredible ability?

Jesus said in the book of Matthew, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Now Jesus may have used this as part of a larger response to answer the disciples query of “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” But to me, it begs the question: what does it mean to be a child?

First: believe like a child
As a kid I remember going and seeing the movie Superman starring the late Christoper Reeve, causing me to truly believe that a man could fly. I never thought to question it, to me it was very real. But it was more than just Superman, it was Santa Claus, it was the Tooth fairy and it was my Grandpa magically pulling coins out of the air . . .  Now I know what you are thinking, none of that was real and you’re right. But my point is rediscover that child that had the ability to believe without question and put your faith in a God that will never let you down.

Second: forgive like a child
Like I mentioned earlier, kids have that awesome ability to forgive one another. They don’t pack grudges or remind each other of past wrongs. They move on. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. — Matthew 6:14 NIV. That is the forgiviness God is looking for. Grace without strings.

We all have to get older, but we don’t all have to grow up.


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A sacred pledge

8 years ago I made a promise. Some may call it a promise, others an oath or even a dedication. This promise was a sacred pledge between God and myself. It occured over a warm summer afternoon as I was … Continue reading

Gallery | 3 Comments