Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2012

Bushtits

Have you ever heard of a Bushtit? It is a tiny brown and gray bird with a cute little face. They weave a sock-like nest out of spider webs, moss, flower pedals, pollen pods, and who knows what else. A pair of them decided to build a nest right near our front door by a wind chime and the Jasmine that’s growing there. I guess they wanted to have a dinner bell they could ring. If you don’t look closely you will miss the nest altogether, it blends in that well.

Living among an amazing variety of birds is one of the joys of living in Don Pedro. The other morning I was sitting on our back deck with a hot cup of tea and in the short time I sat there I counted over twenty different kinds of birds, ranging from a Red-shouldered hawk and Turkey vultures to an Anna’s hummingbird showing of its colors in the morning sun.

As cute as Bushtits are, they are also annoying. They seem to have a fetish for pecking at our windows, especially in the wee hours of morning. It was sort of amazing and cute the first couple of times, but now it just plain annoying, so much so I want to tie their little beaks into knots.

Isn’t it astounding how cute can turn into annoying so quickly? Think of babies. At first food throwing, saying “No!”,and even doing a poo-poo is worthy of being recorded on video, but before you know it is just plain annoying, frustrating, a bad habit. Think of lovers. How often do cute little quirks turn out to be nothing but annoying bad habits? Think of beauty accompanied by snobbishness, intelligence and arrogance, talent/giftedness and laziness, words and unkindness or lies, love and self-centeredness, wealth/riches and stinginess, power and injustice/abuse, abundance and waste, having a heart and not caring, able but not helping. I am sure you could add to the list, and maybe there are a few beaks you would like to tie into a knot.

Some find God, Jesus Christ annoying. Many think Christians are annoying. Few ever consider what annoys God. Generally God/Jesus Christ annoys when there is a clash of values, when the reality of God and Christ is inconvenient to how we want to live, when we dislike the truth and ways of God. Christ clashed (and still clashes) so much so He was ridiculed, despised, rejected, and crucified.

Christians seem to invent ever new ways of being annoying. Too often not because of who Jesus is or the veracity of the Scriptures (the Bible) but rather by not being what the Spirit of God enables us to be (Galatians 5:22-23).

But what annoys God? There are things He hates (Proverbs 6:16-19, 8:13). Can you imagine bringing mankind into existence and being able to say it is all very good only to watch it pervert itself? How would you feel if you created a people with the capacity to worship only to watch them worship anything but the true and living God? Can you imagine creating men and women in you very image, to be and do good, to love, to be godly, to be holy and then watch them write the kind history we have written? This why we read in God’s Word, For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, …” Romans 1:18 (HCSB).

My hope and prayer is that you and I will be as beautiful a people as God has means for us to be, that we will not be living contradictions but rather living examples of what it means to belong to and follow Jesus Christ.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 “…; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8 (NASB)

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”  Luke 11:9-10 (NASB)

At the bottom of the bucket was an old rusty chain hoist, and boy did it stink like a cat pee. I needed a hoist so I a paid a few bucks and hauled the wreaking mess home in the back of my truck. My first step was to soak the mess in diesel for a week before I cleaned it up.

My daughter wrecked her car. Davidmark gave me a wrecked car with a good motor and transmission. I started looking and praying for a car that would fit that motor and transmission and would fit the budget of the insurance money. Weeks went by, and nothing. One morning in the church parking lot I saw a car with the passenger side mirror dangling by the wires. It belonged to one of our widows. I stopped her and asked if should get a replacement from Pick and Pull and fix it for her. “No need,” Helen said, “I’m getting a new car this weekend.”

“What are you going to do with this one, because I have been looking for one like it?’” I asked

“I’m going to donate it, it needs a new transmission.”

“Would you consider selling it to me?”

“No, but you can have it.”

And so, a few days later I limped Helen’s old car home and stuck in my garage. Turns out it is not only the exact year but also the exact model I had been looking for.

I was almost finished cleaning up the last of the mess the tree made when it dropped a good sized limb on the side of Ed’s house. “Why don’t you take that home,” Ed said as he pointed up at another big branch.

“Ed, I already have one of those.”

“If you can reach it take it down. I used to use it to hold up my old donkey, who had a bad leg, whenever I got his feet trimmed. Buried him over there, so I don’t have any more use for that hoist. So take it.”

Once I got started on changing the transmission on the car from Helen, more than once I looked up from my creeper and said, “God, I am in way over my amateur mechanic’s head, but not Yours. Please help me figure this out.” And you probably guessed it. Yup, I ended up using two chain hoists. My Heavenly Father knows what I need long before I need it.

So why ask? If God knows and cares why does he still encourage me to ask, to seek, to knock? I can think of at least three reasons:

  • One of the reasons to bring my needs before God is to gain His perspective on them. To sort out what are real needs and what are merely wants. Since God already knows I have no need to inform him, but I always have a need for insight, for faith, and for peace regarding my needs.
  • Asking, seeking, knocking is about engaging with God in a real relationship. A relationship that takes place in everyday life, in real time, in real circumstances, with real needs. A relationship that goes beyond my needs to asking for the will of God, seeking the kingdom of God, and opening up our world to the Christ of God, the love of God, and the gospel of God.
  • Asking, seeking, knocking also declares my dependence on God. He has resources I do not have. He has wisdom, knowledge, insight, and foresight I lack. He has power to open the shut, to do the impossible. By encouraging me to ask, to seek, to knock, God invites me to know and experience Him as the Almighty, Holy, Glorious, Awesome, And Compassionate God He is.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. In case you were wondering, the car is up and running – glory

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

“… The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (Mother, Mom, Momma, Mama) avails much.” James 5:16 (NKJV, parenthesis mine)

Forrest Gump’s momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” I am not sure how true that is having bought my share of See’s Chocolates over the years. However, I do know when it comes to kids you really don’t know what you’re going to get. Sure, you can determine the sex long before the birth, as well as various health issues, and even who the biological father is. But still you don’t know if that child is going to be mild one or a wild one, short or tall, athletic or clumsy, a climber or a biter, an artist or an engineer, healthy or his or her doctor’s best friend, obedient or rebellious, kind or abrasive, quiet or an avalanche of words, driven or relaxed, trouble or joy, musical or tone deaf, adventurous or shy, scary smart or having to work hard for everything, spiritual or godless, fashion conscious or oblivious, out-going or shy. You don’t know what their interests, their sense of humor, their aptitudes, and their likes and dislikes will be. Talk about not knowing what you get, not to speak of what you’re getting into. That’s why having and raising children is exciting, challenging, rewarding, worrisome, exhausting, mind-numbing, exhilarating, full of surprises, and prayer inducing.

Hands down two of the best things that could ever happen to a child is having a Momma who knows how to pray and who is righteous (the same can be said for Dads as well). There is no way to get being a parent right – you will mess up, guaranteed. You will also be misunderstood, blamed, disrespected, under-appreciated, and considered incompetent among other things. You will discover your limitations and be frustrated not only with your children but also yourself, but oh the value of a righteous Mom who knows how to pray.

Being righteous means a person cares about God, His son Jesus Christ, His written Word (the Bible), His will, His values, and His ways so much you live your life accordingly. It shapes who you are and what you want your children to be. It means your children get to watch godliness being lived out. God unequivocally says He blesses those and their children who love Him like that.

Fervent prayer is more than crisis praying, emergency calls to God when things are going haywire. It is a habit, a commitment to seek God, to lay hold of God and not let go. It is more than praying for protection for your kids. It seeks for God’s will to be unfolded in their lives, for an unquenchable thirst for the things of God to lay hold of their hearts, for righteous habits to form, for wise decisions to be made, for faith to grow and be experienced.

Even though I am not a Mom, I have witnessed and experienced the unsurpassable value of a righteous praying Mother in my Grandmother, my Mama, and Susie the mother of our children.

Happy Mother’s day, love you, Pastor Hans

 

Read Full Post »

True Prayer

 “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” James 5:16 (NKJV).

All over the world, in every culture, on every continent, and throughout history you find people who pray. They pray to literally millions of god, to ancestors, spirits, some force, angels, saints, rocks, trees, fetishes, demons, and even Satan. They pray according formulas, rituals, traditions, in special places, facing certain directions, use incantations, liturgies, repetitions, and much more. True prayer, however, hinges on who one prays to, actually praying, and on faith.

There is only one true and living God, the Almighty, the Creator of all, who has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are no other real gods beside Him. True prayer is directed to Him only, “Our Father who are in heaven, hallowed be Your Name … Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Mathew 6:9&13). Sincerity, religious fervor, cultural norms, and personal preferences are no substitutes for who we’re praying to. Real prayer begins with, and is centered on, coming into the presence Holy God alone and there to speak with Him and listen to Him. Maybe you are tempted to raise the objections of narrowness and disrespect? But truth, spiritual and otherwise, is never disrespectful in itself and it is often narrow. For instance, in order to live you have to breathe; there is only one choice available. When it comes to time you can only acknowledge it and live within it but you can’t change it or chose an alternative. God is not defined by our preferences, our upbringing, and our choices. God defines himself; we can only know Him as He reveals Himself. We can pray to anything I want, but only if we come before the one and living God are we truly praying.

Secondly, true prayer is actually engaging in a conversation with God. Jesus told his disciples/followers who wanted to know about praying, “When you pray …” (Luke 11:2). Prayer is not wishful thinking, it is not mindless ritual, it is not employing certain formulas, it is engaging in a real conversation that is born out of a real relationship with God, with the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. For that to happen we have to actually pray.

Finally, true prayer engages with the living God on the basis of faith, believing that He exists (Hebrews 11:6), that He hears, that He has spoken (through the Bible, God’s written word/revelation), that He still speaks, that He responds to and answers our prayers. In prayer we believe that God is all-knowing (omniscient), that He knows us, our situation, and our needs inside and out. We believe God is all-powerful (omnipotent) so we can be confident that He is able to help, guide, provide, and supply. We believe that God is loving and good so we are sure that He cares and is not arbitrary or capricious. We believe that God is all-wise and so we know we can rest in His answers and timing even when they are difficult for us to understand. We believe that God is just and thus is against all evil and for all that is good and righteous and so we know what He blesses and what He opposes, and we can rest judgment in His hands. We know that God is merciful and gracious, giving us hope to find true forgiveness and transformation to be merciful and forgiving ourselves.

“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB).

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: