me and my bike

me and my bike

When i was eight years old, i remember for my birthday that year getting the greatest ever gift! A bike! It was a beautiful chrome Mongoose BMX bike! i absolutely loved that thing, and together we went on many an adventure. That same year for my birthday my sister and brother also received bikes . . . the now-classic beach cruisers. i didn’t care that we all received bikes on my birthday i was just happy to have the greatest ever gift in the entire world!

The three of us rode those bikes to Glendale Galleria, at the time it seemed like the biggest shopping mall on the planet! i was eight. We rode those bikes to Los Angeles Zoo and the old Los Angeles Zoo, where many a film was made. We would watch the production crews and the such from a distance but as close as we could get! We rode those bikes to Griffith Park and then would take a ride on the miniature trains. A few years later, when my parents trusted me to go on adventures with my friends, we would ride our bikes to Universal Studios and the back lot of Burbank Studios. That bike helped me deliver thousands of newspapers as a “newsie” on my paper-routes.

Oh, the adventures i remember taking on that bike! i even got hit by a car on my bike. Neither of us suffered anything more than a bruise or two. i could go on and on about my adventures, those were the days! Simple days, no cares or worries, of course, i was only eight. But the world was so much bigger then, and i lived in just a small part of it. The bubble of my universe was my three best friends, the girl i had my eyes on, and my bike. Now, the world is so small, and if i allowed myself, it would be full of worry.

Yet, we are told not to worry. For we serve a God who is able! Even if we are to suffer in the moment . . . joy comes in the morning. Be encouraged friends that no matter what may come our way, our God is BIGGER!

Fear NOT, for I AM with you; be NOT dismayed, for I AM your God; I WILL strengthen you, I WILL help you, I WILL uphold you with MY righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV (emphasis added)

It’s Time.

It’s Time.

It is time to grow up. Move on from the elementary lessons and on to the meat of the matter. We don’t want that, though, because it requires something of us. Yet, we must begin a new, and greater process of letting go of our selves. A journey in which we die to our selves daily, that we might take up our cross to follow the only one who knows the way, The Way. Paul writes this to the Corinthians:

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

This isn’t the only passage that calls us to maturity. There are countless others. Each one rings true to the fact that we must grow-up! To remain toddlers or babies in Christ is to live a meaningless life that will be rift with crisis after crisis, swaying you and blowing you about in an endless torrent of catastrophe. The writer to the Hebrews writes:

“About this, we have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14

How does one begin to move from the elementary to the secondary, from the milk to the meat? It is done daily. It is done intentionally. It is done moment by moment and decision by decision. It requires death. Death to your old self and a putting on of the new self in Christ Jesus. It requires prayer, and meditation, meditate on the Word, day and night. It requires us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. It is a choice, and only you can make it. Be encouraged by Paul’s words to the Philippians:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

You are loved,

cj

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

The final verse of the song by Chris Renzema is, for me, the most powerful. (If you haven’t yet you can find a link to the song at the bottom of Part 1) Here is the lyric:

Like Jesus in the garden
Will you take this cup from me
Like Jesus in the garden
You don’t call where you won’t lead
I wanna love like you love
I wanna bleed like you bleed

The struggle is real, my friends. i love how Chris writes this first part, “Like Jesus in the garden, Will you take this cup from me.” It is based on Jesus’ request recorded this way in the Gospel of Luke 22:

41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”

The anguish in those words is unmistakable. Yet Jesus’ resolve is in the very next part of verse 42, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done.” It isn’t about our will; it is, however, completely about the Will of the Father. And like Jesus in the garden, the Father won’t lead us where He doesn’t’ first call us. His love for us is genuine, and therefore, our love must mirror His.

“I wanna love like you love,  I wanna bleed like you bleed.” What breaks the heart of the Lord should also break our hearts. What stirs the Lord to move must also stir us to action! Are you living a life that loves like that and bleeds like that? i desire to live in this way, i hope that you do too!

Seek the Lord, and boldly declare, “i don’t wanna go if you’re not going with me!” And “i wanna go where You go and stay where You stay!” i want to be where You are Lord, lead me, and i will follow.

You are loved,

cj

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 4 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 4 of 5)

17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8 ESV)

The Transfiguration was a sight to behold i am sure! Just by the reaction of Peter, James, and John we can see that it was spectacular. Can you imagine being there? Seeing what they saw surely would invoke many questions. Peter’s response to build tents or altars in that place certainly wasn’t said in jest but in sincerity. An honest desire to mark the occasion.

As we continue our look at Chris Renzema’s song, “I Don’t Wanna Go” we see him touch on this event.

Like Peter on the hill
I wanna make this my place
Like Peter on the hill
For your transfigured face
I will go where you go
I will stay where you stay

i have many a memory of which i have built an altar of remembrance to the goodness of Jesus. i believe that is what Peter desired to do, given the many altars of stone that were built in the Old Testament as reminders of God’s faithfulness. i also feel that is what Chris is trying to say here as well. Like Peter, in awe of God’s glory, desires to live in that place. To dwell with the Most High and to build an altar . . . yet, to also say, “I will go where you go, I will stay where you stay,” must remain our heart’s desire.

We cannot live on the mountain peaks of our relationship with God, but, we can mark them, remember them, even build an altar to look back upon later. As a remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness. The past is a foundation, the present is our time, the future is the one we strive to share. It is easy to get locked into the present and desire to dwell there and for good reason. We cannot live in the past, we cannot go blindly into the future, we must live fully in the present, however, we do so with the words of obedience, “I will go where you go, I will stay where you stay!” (a link to the song by Chris Renzema can be found at the end of Part 1 of this series).

You are loved,

cj

I Don’t Wanna Go (part 3 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (part 3 of 5)

This week we are looking at the 3rd chorus of the song by Chris Renzema (see part one for a link to the song). In this stanza, the focus is on Moses. We can look at the parts of Moses’ life and calling and see it was full of peaks and valleys. Here we are reminded that Moses didn’t get to lead the people into the promised land. Sadly, and as a humbling reminder that there are consequences for our actions and in the eyes of God no one is exempt from them . . . yet, still, His mercy and grace abound, and Heaven still remains a reward for those who remain faithful even after the storm.  Let’s look at the lyric:

Like Moses in the desert
I wanna see the land
Like Moses in the desert
I can’t fully see your plan
Still your love doesn’t stop
When I see the land from a mountain top

So many great things to be said of Moses; i don’t want to get lost on this one occasion. However, it is essential to note that even the godliest of people have moments of weakness.  Moses was instructed to speak to the rock in Numbers 20 and water would come from it for the nation of Israel. This is the same rock that we read about in Exodus 17. In the Exodus passage, Moses is told to strike the rock with his staff, and in Numbers, he is only instructed to speak to it . . . there is another interesting point, just before he strikes the rock Moses says, “. . . shall we bring water for you…?” Although, Moses is the mouth piece, it was God who was going to bring the water.

Now the people of Israel were a grumbling sort. We read that they were often grumbling against Moses and Aaron and God, for that matter. At this point, i am sure Moses was fed up with the 40 years of whining and complaining. He let his emotions get the best of him. i do that sometimes, i think we all do. Yet, even still, God, although carried out the consequence, allowed Moses to see the promised land, Numbers 27. Here is the main lesson that i take away from this, God is faithful, even when we are not.

But there is more! i have learned and am learning still to walk humbly, and completely with the Lord. my responsibility isn’t to please people but the Lord only. For when i focus on being obedient to the Lord, no matter how bad the grumbling might become i know that God, through His faithfulness, will bring everyone around to see His faithfulness. i needn’t try to make way for Him, no need to strike the rock, no need to take on the anointed of the Lord, no need to fight against the air . . . only listen to the Lord and obey Him.  i am again reminded of my life verse:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8

You are loved,

cj

 

I DON’T WANNA GO (PART 2 OF 5)

I DON’T WANNA GO (PART 2 OF 5)

Ever feel like the Lord led you into a dead-end or just making you wander around in a desert? i remember when i was half-heartedly in ministry. i was 20 something, married, one kid, at the time. i was working retail, and taking each step, i felt the Lord directing, to advance my career. We attended a little church where we were active with the ministry. i worked with the teens and worked full time in retail. i said yes Lord! i will serve You! However, i was only half-way in the pool.

When i was eight years old, ok probably more like 12, but i don’t actually remember, i had a paper route. i so loved being a paperboy. At the end of my route was a sweet lady who invited me and my friends to use her pool at the beginning of summer. Well, on the first hot day we didn’t hesitate! We headed over and into the backyard, then into the pool. That was a huge mistake! The pool was so cold we could barely move! i am convinced that had we stayed in the water any longer, we would all have died of hypothermia. None of us went in more than waste deep. We were too cold. Even though after getting out, the lady jumped in and did a few laps. We were just too chicken and afraid. We didn’t trust the lady and we didn’t trust the thermometer.

As we continue our look at the song by Chris Renzema (see part one for a link to the song) i want us to ponder the second verse.

Like Israel on the shore,                                                                                                           All I see is crashing waves,                                                                                                   Like Israel on the shore,                                                                                                           Through the wild you make a way,                                                                                            I will go where You go,                                                                                                                 I will stay where you stay

i love this lyric. When the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt it is easy to see why the people worried when they reached the edge of the Red Sea. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 so we, of course, know the whole story, and we even think, “after all, God did they were still afraid.” (See Exodus 14) However, i imagine our response might actually be similar to that of the Israelites, unfortunately. After the Lord parts the sea and they begin their desert journey we see the Lord never left them. They were instructed to “stay” where the Lord’s presence rested and “go” when the Lord’s presence lifted. They were told to follow the Lord as He presented Himself in their midst as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Even still it was a struggle for them, a constant struggle.

Why then do we think it will be any different for us? There will come times of struggle when we don’t fully understand the Lords leading. If you find yourself wandering in a desert or at what seems to be a dead-end, i can assure you it isn’t because the Lord has failed you or somehow given up on you. The question in those moments becomes, “are we still trusting in Him?” And as this verse ends, we must be willing to declare and follow-through, “I will go where You go, I will stay where You stay.” i had to make a decision as a young servant of the Lord, husband, and father, to step all in and immerse myself into ministry. The road has led to many places. Some appeared as dead-ends, others as a desert, yet all served a purpose as i have grown in faith and wisdom. my prayer for you is this, if you find yourself at a dead-end, or in an endless desert, that you will declare; “I will go where You go, I will stay where You stay.”

You are loved,

cj

“I Don’t Wanna Go” (part 1 of 5)

“I Don’t Wanna Go” (part 1 of 5)

Sometimes we have the best of intentions. Our desires are not against the Word, in fact, it might even be that our hearts long to worship and obey in ways we see as beneficial and glorifying to God as a whole. i remember once as a youth pastor that i desperately wanted to start up a youth worship band. i wanted it not for anything other than to build the ministry and to have the teens lead in ways that would, in my opinion, help them to grow in the Lord. Without much prayer, i just set out to do, because, hey it’s for God! Sadly, it wasn’t long and it was nothing but a sore spot, a thorn in the flesh if you will.

i learned a lot from that in that just because i wanted it doesn’t mean it is within God’s desire or timing. There is a song by Chris Renzema, that depicts this thought so very well! i will link to it’s YouTube video at the end. It is called, “I Don’t Wanna Go,” hence the title of this blog entry. In its opening lines, you get the heart of this idea of the desire to honor God as he brings to light King David’s heart of wanting to build God a Temple, a permanent structure. David’s heart was in the right place, he declared, why should the king live in a palace, while God is dwelling in a tent? David made this declaration to Nathan the Prophet, and Nathan seemed in the moment to agree, it does sound good! “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” (See 2 Samuel 7; & 1 Chronicles 17)

However, that night the Lord speaks to Nathan and says, “Nope, not today.” (Ok i paraphrased that a little) In this whole thing God reveals His desire, Nathan shares it with king David, and David prays to the Lord in gratitude. Sometimes, we won’t fully understand God’s plan. That is OK, but we still have to accept God’s plan. Back to my days as a youth pastor, although it wasn’t time in that season to have a youth band, God did eventually bless me with one. i am completely humbled by His faithfulness. Here is the verse of the song by Chris Renzema:

Like David and the temple
I wanna bring You praise
But like David and his temple plans
Your ways are not my ways
You don’t need me to build a temple                                                                                     to know that You love me still, oh

You are loved,

cj

Here is a link to the song by Chris Renzema, I Don’t Wanna Go: https://youtu.be/nZ_LUCVdh-o