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I Don’t Need 20 Bucks

27 Jul

I Don’t Need 20 Bucks

Prayer is a strange thing.
I wish I could say I understand it, but I don’t.
Despite our lack of understanding, we still pray.
I guess that’s what faith is all about.

I don’t know about you, but I live in a bubble.
Most of my days are insulated away from people who don’t know Christ.
I’ve been praying this would change.
Really praying.
Expectant praying.

You know what? God has been answering.

In just a few weeks we’ve been having crazy awesome experiences.

The other night my wife sent me to a house to buy a cabinet.
It’s not like me to go to some strangers house with a since of expectation that God is doing something, but I did. So did my wife.

The young couple invited me in and took me to the cabinet.
There was pain on their faces.
Even I could see they were in need.
I didn’t want the cabinet, and their faces dropped.
I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until I was in my car that I realized I don’t need 20 bucks.

I headed back into their house.
“Excuse me, I know this may sound weird, but I want you to have this 20 bucks.”
I should have bought their cabinet to help insulate them from shame, but God knows.
Regardless, they seemed thankful.
“Can I be praying for you for anything,” I asked?
She said, “yes.”

Call me silly, but I think that encounter only happened because of prayer.

At least, I think because of prayer I actually realized the need.

People desperately need to hear the words of life.

I got back in my car and wept.

I prayed.

And I realized, I don’t need 20 bucks.

What is it you are expectantly praying for?

GO GIVE LIFE!

17 Jul

Wordle Picture Acts

Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” –Jesus

A fun little reminder of the mission Jesus left for us.

What’s inspiring you today?

Verdict, Schmerdict

16 Jul

Great thoughts from a great man on recent events. Let’s not join the circus.

Mark Nicklas

Who was Trayvon Martin? A sweet Florida kid who got hunted down? A drugged-up hoodlum?  Obama’s imaginary son? A neighborhood troublemaker? A victim? An attacker? A good kid?  A bad man? Go ahead and make your choice, because all of these choices are out there depending on your source of information.  Does it even matter?  Who does he need to be?  Pour whatever traits your position needs into this guy until he is unrecognizable. Trayvon, Schmayvon; he’s becoming a poster child for whatever fear a particular group is peddling. But who was he?

Who is George Zimmerman? A mild mannered do-gooder caught in an attempt to do the right thing? A bigoted killer seizing on his opportunity to strike out against a kid armed with skittles? A mentor of fatherless black children? A thwarted rapist? A bad white man? A good Hispanic man? Again, you can choose from the…

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1 Thing

15 Jul

One thing, can it really change anything?

It can, I’m proof.

One little change to a daily routine can send ripples through eternity.

One rock can change the current of a river.

One change can transform a marriage.

One change can bring a family closer.

One change can reveal the power of God.

One change can unlock the mysteries of heaven.

One change can radically alter the outcome of a life.

One change can redirect an army.

One change can turn the tide in a war.

One change can lead you down a different path.

One change can save a life.

 

What is this one change?

 

It started with a slumber.

The end effect was rage.

A lie had held us captive and screamed, you can never change!

The odds seemed overwhelming.

The list was far to long.

But HOPE was ever stirring, and LOVE had come with dawn.

Like a raindrop in an ocean, a tiny change proposed.

Lives forever altered by one change, this I know.

One change can rejoice heaven.

One change can enrage hell.

One change can change everything, but who can ever tell?

photo

 

If you liked 1 Thing, check out This Mess.

 

 

I Hear Voices

14 Jul

There are many voices rattling around in our heads. Which one’s are you listening too? If you like this post, go check out my post called “The Voice.

Mark Nicklas

At 38,000 feet over the North Sea, I am settling in for the long flight back to Portland from Amsterdam.  I want to talk about voices.  I don’t think I am unusual in saying that I hear voices.  The fact is, I’ve always heard voices – lots of them.  The churning of thoughts and ideas within is a cacophony of words.   They come from outside, from inside and from somewhere else.  There is a steady stream of them competing for my attention, often coming from points of confusion no different than my own.

voicesThe first voice I can remember is the voice of my mother.  She said amazing things to me; “you’re so good, you’re so handsome, you’re so wonderful…” There are times when I have failed or disappointed someone terribly and I really need to hear that voice.  Sometimes I will pick up the phone to hear it.  Other…

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The Voice

10 Jul

ImageWhen was the last time you heard God speak to you?  Have you ever heard God Speak to you?  I have no doubt you have, but perhaps you didn’t know it.  It takes a trained ear to hear this voice, and unfortunately we have trained ourselves to dismiss it.It’s a voice that resonates in our soul.  It seems to come so swiftly and soft that it is like the whisper of the wind, and if our soul and spiritual ear is not ready, it will pass in a moment.

 The Word continually points us to this voice that speaks from heaven ever so gently.  It is the same voice that told Abraham to leave the comfortable life he knew so well, and to follow Him into a desert place.  The voice didn’t tell him where he would end up, only that he must go.  It’s the same voice that whispered to Elijah in the desert.  It spoke to Jeremiah when he was shut up in the court of the prison.  The voice has been speaking since the dawn of mankind, and it is still speaking today.

Have you ever heard this voice?

 It is the voice that led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days, and it is the voice that strengthened him in his weakness.  It called fishermen to come and follow, and tax collectors to forsake their gain.  The voice knocked Saul of his horse, and led Stephen to his death.  It calmed storms, and outraged authorities.

Have you ever heard this voice?

            Make no mistake about it, the voice of God is not safe.  It led Daniel to the lions den, and Jeremiah to a pit.  It exalted Saul to the thrown, and led David into caves. It is the voice that told Peter to step out of the boat in a raging storm.  It’s not concerned with comfort, or popularity.  It’s doesn’t abide excuses, yet is gentle in its dealings.  It exposes every weakness and fear, yet empowers, and comforts.  The voice is never convenient, but always expedient.  It is eternal, and not earthly.

            Have you ever heard this voice?

            The voice thunders in a whisper.  It commands respect, but speaks as a friend.  It can be ignored, and even rationalized, but never silenced.  It is the voice that spoke the world into being, and brought breath to our lungs.  How is it that we have become content in not hearing this voice?

            Are we afraid to hear the voice?  It is true that this voice will lead you to the unknown, but will never leave you on the journey.  It will call you places you never wanted to go, but change your heart along the way.  The voice is unpredictable, and sometimes seemingly unfair, but always just.  It doesn’t give explanations, but when obeyed, it always gives peace.

              The voice will no doubt make us tremble at it hearing, but man was made to hear this voice.  It prods us in the night hours, and whispers to us in the morning.  It waits patiently for us to listen, but is often lost amidst the noise that fills our days. It is the voice of the bridegroom calling to his bride, and the father to his children.  The voice serenades us when we’re sleeping, and rejoices when we wake.  If only we’ll stop and listen, surely we’ll hear the voice.

              “A four year old girl was overheard whispering into her newborn baby brother’s ear, “Baby,” she whispers, “tell me what God sounds like. I am starting to forget.”  The voice will captivate your heart.  The only question that remains, is will you let it?

Warrior God

10 Jul

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Have you ever been hit with one of those reflective moments? A moment where you are brought face to face with the real you. No facades or pretenses about your faith, or like in this case, lack of. Just a raw moment of reality in which you see for yet a brief second how infinitely small you are.

For the last few weeks my wife and I have had a revival of prayer that has been sparked in our hearts. It all started with a little list on the fridge. Prayer used to be something I really gravitated towards. I say “used too” because for years my prayers were few and dead. It’s not that I didn’t pray, but I can say I didn’t war.

As in paced the floor in our condo tonight in little Anchorage, Alaska, I’ve been reminded of the power in spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare feeds the soul like nothing else. It joins us with Gods heart, if not for a moment at least, and aligns us with his desires.

When was the last time you warred in prayer?

Tonight, I’m convinced nothing will draw us as close to God as when we fight the fights He’s fighting. Tonight He’s reminded this wayward warrior that He meets us in prayer.

It’s in these moments of clarity, where Gods presence is so tangible, and his voice is so unobstructed, that I wonder…..

What kept me away?

What’s keeping you away?

The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name. Exodus 15:3

Momentous Redemption

21 Jun

Wordle: Redemption

There are some things that stay with a person for a life time. No matter how hard you try to ignore, cover up, or just plain deny, some experiences burrow into the dusty crevices of the inner chambers of our hearts, leaving lasting impressions that secretly shape the foundations of everything we believe about the world, people, and most importantly ourselves. For most of us these impressions are formed early in our childhood and have a subtle craftiness to whisper doubts, fears, and accusations into our every thought, leaving us almost completely unaware of their lasting impact upon our lives.
No other experience has shaped and molded me more during the impressionable years of my Redemption Blog Pic 1childhood as the slow abandonment of my father. It hasn’t been until recent years that I’ve realized the effects of that abandonment on my heart and how it’s shaped almost every aspect of my life, including how I view God. Sadly, like a solitary drop of rain exploding in an ocean of water, my story is only one amongst millions of others that have yet to be told.
It was on a summer trip to Kansas of all places, where in the quietness of my soul, and the companionship of a best friend, that I discovered an invitation to be initiated into the greatest journey of my life, being fathered by the Father of Fathers. It was in a small two bedroom apartment in the middle of nowhere that the voice of God spoke courage into my fearful heart, and inspired me to look at the tragic experiences of my life through the lens of His love.
Like many who have gone before me, it was in the bareness of a desert that the Father extended a ladder to reveal his love, but as with Jacob long ago, it was not without a wrestling in my soul, and brokenness in my hip. Picture2Like a physician resets a broken bone, for years, God has been taking me back into the broken seasons of my life, especially the abandonment of my father, and showing me how he has always been there and always will be. It has taken the courage of His spirit to re-enter those dark places of my soul, but through obedience directed by love, my true Father has been sweeping out the voices lurking in the darkness, and searing truth upon my heart. A Whistle in the Dark: The Adventures of Eaner Pickernan, is a processing of that journey.
            In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined that in the process of this journey of those dark painful years, I would not be traveling alone, but that my dad would be on the journey with me. When God enters those painful areas of our lives, it’s not enough just to bring us back into the memories, but He has to bring us back to the emotions. We have to hear with our souls. We have to feel what we felt. The searing knife destined to make the crucial cut was none other than my dad himself, and I too the knife in him.
            Although the story of my abandonment is filled with trauma, it is by the elegance of Gods handiwork that Picture3His grace is revealed to not only the victim, but the perpetrator. In this He weaves together a tapestry made of moments that, isolated, tell a story of pain and loneliness, but as a whole, of God’s momentous redemption in which the end story beautifully outshines the tragedy that enveloped it.

Pierced Ear

16 Aug

I’ve been thinking about getting my ear pierced. I’ve been contemplating it for years now, but finally, I think I’m ready to do the deed. I don’t want one of those tiny little shinny studs that most men get either. If I’m going to do this, I want to go big.

I recently saw a picture of a guy who turned his face into a tiger. When you see that, all you can say is, wow. Now, I’m not ready to commit on that level, but if I’m going to do this thing, it’s got to stand out. What’s the point in doing it half heartedly? It has to make a statement, right? Not the, I turned my face into a tiger statement that screams, “Woah, you got issues dude,” but something a little more subtle yet profound.

Now, I know everyone’s thinking; “this is just like that time you wanted to get ‘courageous’ tattooed across your forearm in Hebrew.” No, this is different, but for the record, I wanted to do that long before it was cool. I’m pretty sure I was the originator of that trend. I think I shared my idea with Al Gore right before he started the internet, and the idea spread like wild fire. That was all me!

No, this is more than a passing thought. I’m really going to do it.

The fact is I already did. And, so did you.

Right about now you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my mind. You would remember getting the top of your ear run through with giant piece of metal, right? Well, perhaps I need to explain myself.

You know when you read a verse, and no matter how much you try to juke it (yes, I just used the word, juke), it sticks with you? This is a concept that’s been with me since college and recently I ran across the verse, but it’s been marinating in my soul for quite some time now. The concept comes right out of Exodus. Picture this; you’re a slave. I know, stinks huh. Well, now imagine you’re a slave 4000 years ago (wow, this story just keeps getting worse). You weren’t always a slave. You used to be a farmer, but one year the crops dried up and you had very little options to keep your family alive.

By now you’re thinking, “wow Tom, you’re a depressing story teller.” Just stick with me, it gets worse.

So, in order to feed your family, you go to the wealthiest man in town and sell yourself as a slave (bummer).I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to conceive of a scenario in which I have to sell myself and my family into slavery in order to survive. Crazy! But something else happens that you didn’t expect. You actually like the master.

After spending years experiencing the goodness of your master, the time comes when he by law has to set you free. Finally, freedom is at the door. This is where you and I would do an awesome little jig just like that guy Matt who travels around the world doing a stupid little dance. You don’t know him, well, look him up. Where In The World Is Matt Dancing.

Okay, back to you being a slave. You’re about to be free. You would be elated, right? What if you had nothing to go back to? What if times had become worse over years, and now your freedom meant certain death. What would you do and would your new freedom be as great as imagined? When you begin to weigh your options, you begin to realize how good you have it. Your family is cared for. There’s food on the table and a roof over your head. Most of all, you love the master.

It’s at this point you realize you have another difficult choice to make. You have to choose a pill to swallow. Do you want the red pill or the blue pill? Sorry, I just got all Matrixy on you. You can have your freedom, if that’s what you want to call it, but there is a price you’re going to pay. If will most likely be the death of you and your family. Slavery’s starting to look pretty good, no? But, there’s a catch. If you decide to stay with your master this time, it’s not going to be for just seven years, it will be for the rest of your life. This is where the ear piercing thing comes in.

If you decide to stay, it will mean forever, and to solidify your decision you will be given a mark. This isn’t just any mark. It’s a mark that will be visible for all to see. It’s not only a testament to your decision to be a lifelong servant, but it’s a testament to the character of the master. Then, your master is going to take a metal awl, which is like a giant nail, and drive it through your ear. Ouch!

Exodus 21:5-6

“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges.[a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

Do you realize, you and I are the slave?

I don’t know about you, but this is a good reminder that my life is not my own. We have been bought with a price. Our ear has been pierced.

Who do you know who needs their ear pierced?

It’s All In The Follow Through

11 Apr

Remember back in little league, or swim lessons, or basketball camp, or underwater basket weaving school, and your coach kept telling you, “it’s all in the follow through,” and you had no idea what in the world they were talking about? They always over emphasized the second syllable when they said it too, driving home to our eight year old brains that everything in life somehow depended upon that moment in time, and the swing you were about to perform. Never mind that 98% of us missed that swing and are still dealing with the emotional aftermath of our epic failure. To this day we still flash back to the moment our lives spiraled out of control because we missed that pitch. We didn’t follow through.

Well, years have come and gone, and whether or not we’ve healed from the traumatic experiences of our childhood, we’re beginning to realize what our coaches told us is true. Follow through is everything. No matter what we put our hands to in life, we soon discover that only the things we follow through on actually come to fruition. For once the grown ups were right.

I’m pathetic at follow through. There are so many things I’ve started over the past few years that I just haven’t finished. Those things are like a splinter in my brain. Doing anything worth while takes determination to see it to it’s end. Easter is the perfect example of the ultimate follow through. In a garden long ago our ancestors succumbed to the temptation to be like God, and through disobedience spiraled all of mankind into darkness. But, it was in a garden two thousand years ago that another battle ensued. A battle for our freedom. It was at an olive press where our Lord was crushed in taking on the weight of our sins. It was in this garden that He delivered a death blow to self and surrendered Himself to the will of His father. What was once lost through disobedience was recovered once and for all through perfect obedience. In this garden His mind was made up, and we know the rest of the story well. He followed through.

I’m so glad Jesus isn’t as horrible at follow through as I am, but he’s calling us to something more. Like our coach’s in the past, Jesus is calling us to follow through. To follow through with that conversation you don’t want to have. To follow through with an apology we need to give. To follow through with forgiveness we need to extend. He even wants us to follow through with those dreams we’ve put off. Everything depends on the follow through.

What is it you need to follow through on today?

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