My friend Carrie posted yesterday a picture of a beloved coffee mug that had been broken. It was a vintage picture of Charlie Brown with the familiar saying, “Good Grief” under it. The handle had been busted off, probably from a slip of a hand or a clumsy movement that send the mug sprawling across the counter. And BAM, the deed was done and the Charlie Brown coffee experience was over. I realize that it MAY not have been that dramatic, but I tend to have a flare for seeing things that way. The mug reminds me of how easy it is to break things that are precious to us. I don’t know how many times I have broken items in my home that were precious to me, just because I wasn’t paying attention. Sometimes things get destroyed on complete accident! Like the time I took apart the air compressor to fix a broken belt, and oops… I dropped it on the concrete floor and alas, the compressor was dead.
I hate it when that happens. But really in the grand scheme of things, these moments are minor. Losing a mug or a compressor won’t really alter the course of our eternal destiny, but it makes me think about the things in life that get broken that DO have lasting consequences. Like when I am careless with my words, and I hurt someone I care about. Or when I don’t take care of the relationships around me and they fall into ill repair. Or when I don’t spend time with the Lord and a perceived distance falls between us where I feel isolated and forgotten.
In my morning time with the Lord, I was reminded of how God is the great restorer. How no matter how bad of a mess we make with our lives, either accidentally or on purpose, God has a way of making all things new.
Isaiah 61:4 says, They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
The prophet was referring to Israel’s restoration from the exile, I believe however that this can be applied to a spiritual exile as well. I can remember times in my life where God really came in and did an amazing work of grace! Sin demolished, relationships restored. Powerful moments where the Spirit moved and I was transformed. I can also remember times when my sin broke me and I felt isolated from God. Notice here I say “felt isolated”. Never once did God leave me, but because of my actions or the actions of others against me, I FELT this way. Yet, God is always ready to restore us, isn’t He?
Do you ever feel this way? Are you reading this today thinking, “I could use a good restoration from the Master… but how in the world do I achieve that?”
Colossians 1:19-20 (ESV)
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Jesus took care of all the “brokenness” on the cross long ago. All we need do is lay our broken pieces down and ask God to restore.
Perhaps it’s time to take God up on His offer. Perhaps that relationship that got crushed by something you said needs a good repairing from the Spirit. Or maybe that sin in your life that has a stronghold on you needs to be laid at the foot of the cross so that forgiveness can be applied.
I don’t know where you are today. I hope that everyone reading this is whole and happy! But I know that probably isn’t the case. If you’re in need of a good restoration, take some time today and ask God what needs to be done. He will answer you! He will heal you.
Have a great day,
Well that was intense. I sat across the restaurant table from my beautiful wife, having just rolled into town from a 5-day camp where I spoke to teenagers about spiritual warfare. It was an incredible week, where kids were delivered from addictions, overwhelming negative thoughts and found wholeness in Christ. As I sat there though all I could think of was, “I am so tired. I just want to sleep for a week.” Perhaps you’ve been there before? How does one recover from such an incredible and exhausting spiritual event? Well I will share with you 4 things I plan to do…
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
The week was great! But it was busy. I need some down time. I need some time to just dwell in the shelter of the Most High. “But Mike, there is so much to do! My family needs me to do…”. I get it. Me too. There is a LONG list of things to do. But first… rest. Just breathe. I will still accomplish my tasks, but I will do them at a slower rate. I’m already planning my nap time. Spiritual rest ALSO includes “dwelling” with God. My mind races after a camp like experience… “I wanna change the world! I want to feed children and start new ministries and…” STOP. First rest. Just be. A few days ago, a friend gave me some great God advice. “Mike take your hands of this thing so God can put His hands on it.” Let go, let God. Just rest.
So instead of riding out the adrenaline wave till you crash into the rocky shore; stop and dwell with the Lord.
2. Enjoy being home.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2
Home should be a safe place; a sanctuary. Enjoy being home and find comfort in the sanctuary. Shut down the brain for a bit and do a puzzle or board game with the kiddos. Sit on the front porch with a cup of coffee and listen to the birds sing. It’s a simple trick that allows God to bring you back to a place of “normalcy”. Camp was high octane! In fact, I woke this morning with an unction to JUST GET GOING. But there is no need. Just chill.
3. Reflect on the goodness of God
Seriously. You just saw God do some incredible things. ASTOUNDING things! Think on those things and thank the Lord in prayer. Perhaps dig out that old journal and put pen to paper. Record what you experienced so that later down the road you can REMEMBER. There will be times in the coming year that you may have a spiritual dry spell. Journal your camp experience so you can be encouraged when those days come.
And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2
Remember what happened, so it can lead you as you LIVE for the Lord.
4. Remember you are under GOD’S protection.
I wasn’t home 5 minutes when the deceiver already tried to squash ALL that the Lord did in my life this week. But I remember that I am protected from that ridiculousness.
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:3-4
Satan will try to tell us that those miracles that took place at camp were a mirage or fake. But we can tap into the protection of the Lord by saying… “Oh no, I know it was true. I know that the Lord did a good work. Now I’ll bask in the protection of the Lord. Surely He will save me…”
What an incredible weekend! I plan to rest and recover so that the Lord can use me in the coming days to accomplish His good and perfect will.
Grace and peace to you friends,
A few years ago I heard a sermon and it had one main point. Not three points and bonus rabbit trail story, just ONE point. This point has helped me through the years to be a better pastor and friend to the communities in which I have lived. It has helped me better relate to people of all ages, especially when I am ministering the Gospel of Jesus. And the best part is, it’s SO simple even I can remember it. The preacher said four words that will forever stay with me, and here they are…
Christian don’t be weird.
And even now when I type it out I want to laugh. Because it’s hilarious.
But then again not so hilarious.
Let me give you the context of the statement. The preacher was talking about being a relevant and transparent witness of the Gospel of Jesus to the world. He was challenging us to make the Light of Christ the attractive inducement that it is, and not hide It under a shade of bizarre Christian clichés and angry subChristian ideology.
If you’ve been in the church very long you have already seen it. The Christian, that because of some tightly held dogmatic belief and/or some social awkwardness, launches into a tirade of epic proportions about some theological minutia, and in the process crushes the intended audience or turns their stomach away from the Gospel.
Mission NOT accomplished.
I can already hear it. “Mike doesn’t the Bible say to stand up against heretics and false teachings?”
But it doesn’t say to be weird about it. In fact it says quite the opposite. Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16 (Msg)…
‘ “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.’
The message of Jesus is supposed to be attractive, generous and something people WANT. (Even more than a $50 flat screen on Black Friday) When we weird up the situation, we look the fool and ultimately HURT Christ in the process.
So I have some tips. Before you launch into a tirade on your personal Biblical perspective ask yourself:
1. Do I really know what I’m talking about? I’ve seen WAY too many people preaching the Bible who don’t read/study it. It’s why bad armchair theology exists. Don’t offer your “insight” or opinions if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
2. Am I really interested in sharing this life-changing Message with this person, or am I just mad that they have a different opinion than me? If you’re just ticked that a person believes different or acts different or IS different, just go away. The Gospel of Jesus isn’t a venue for your angry tirade. It isn’t about anger, but one of love. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you can run around and win arguments. Because even if you win, you lose. You might get the Starbucks worker to write “Merry Christmas” on your cup, but inside they think you’re a dork. (PS Why didn’t you just buy a bag of their CHRISTMAS BLEND COFFEE) You’re not an agent of change, you’re weird. *
3. Am I being Salt and Light or just vinegar? I once tried to lose weight by drinking some kind of vinegar. It was supposed to kick start my metabolism. Have you noticed I’m still chubby? Yeah, I’m not drinking that EVER again. It’s nasty. When sharing your faith, are you sweet or are you bitter? I’ve seen so many bitter Christian people and it makes me sad. The other day a friend pointed out someone at church who doesn’t like me. When I asked why they said, “They don’t like your music style”. This person has already written me off because the way I play guitar? Bummer. Our interactions with people should be pleasant.
4. Does it matter? There are many things Christians believe that REALLY matter. We call these things NON-NEGOTIABLES of the faith. Things like: virgin birth, Jesus atonement, biblical authority, second coming etc. They do not include: paint color, worship style, clothing, coffee cups, and music tempo. When we choose to stand on our bully pulpit for the things that do not matter, we become weird.
Christian don’t be weird.
Stand up for truth. Be the love of Christ. But don’t be weird.
Now confession time. In the flesh, I am the chief of weirdness. I love to argue minutia. I like to be right. The video of the preacher pranking Starbucks gets my flesh laughing, but the Holy Spirit that lives in me is doing a face palm. As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve found the world doesn’t need Mike the Fool, it needs Jesus the Savior. Now isn’t the time for pet projects and senseless arguing, it’s time to get salty.
That’s my two cents anyway.
PS. My copy editor/Wife is sleeping and hasn't had time to proof this. When she reads it I'll update the corrections. ;)
* You might have seen the viral video about the bully preacher who “stood up to Starbucks” because their red holiday cups don’t have Merry Christmas on them. Yeah I was talking about that weirdness. The guy was trying to be relevant, but failed. Keep trying bro!
I like to eat.
I like to eat good food.
Most of us do. A few months ago I was invited to eat a free lunch at the local Salvation Army. I ran into some lady who found out I was a minister and she raved about the free meal that she helps provide to the community at the Salvation Army Church in Kalispell Montana. I responded in kind to her by saying... "Wow, thank you, that sounds nice." But on the inside I was like... "Nope. Not gunna happen." And life went on.
Yesterday I was taking my wife to a medical appointment and we showed up about an hour early. As we sat in the parking lot I noticed the Salvation Army church neatly situated at the far end of the parking lot and it was EXPLODING with cars and people alike coming to and fro. I looked over at my wife and I said, "Hey they have a free lunch there wanna go?"
Then something hit me. Curiosity.
I started thinking things like: "I wonder what it's like in there? Is the food good? Is it only for hobo's or can anyone eat there? Would it make me uncomfortable?"
It was then that my wife said, "Sure. Might be a little strange, but I want to see how they minister to people."
Immediately I was nervous. "Really?" I said.
And we went.
Walking up to the door I felt something happen that hasn't happened in YEARS. I was so nervous, I started to shake. And I knew that not only was this experience supposed to happen, God had planned for me to be very uncomfortable.
Holding April's hand we entered the dated building. It reminded me of circa 1971, and smelled as such. We noticed right away the sense that we were welcome in this place. The foyer had excellent signage and we immediately saw the sign that said FREE LUNCH THIS WAY. Now you may be wondering, "Did you really think these things?"
Peeps, I am a person blessed with ADHD who at the time was so nervous my hands were shaking and I happen to be a bit judgey; I can tell you that my senses were on high alert and I was taking everything in.
We approached the kitchen where we were to receive our food and there were two nice gals behind the counter.
I smiled at them and said, "Hi, this is our first time and we don't know what to do".
The one in charge squared off at me and very kindly barked the rules.
1. Sign in first. Give us your name, gender and indicate if you are homeless or not.
2. Receive the plate of food. You may have as much as you like, but DO NOT throw your plate away. You only get ONE plate.
3. Keep all food and drink in the dining hall. (This was repeated) Please do not take any food out with you when you leave.
4. We read a sign that said, "This is a house of God, do not SWEAR."
5. Respect others.
She then apologizes by saying that normally the meals are home cooked, but not today.
After learning the rules we thanked her and received our plate of food. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it looked delicious. Here is what was on the menu:
-Cream of broccoli and cheese soup
-Salad with a vegetable and cheese tray
-A myriad of drinks (juice, milk, chocolate milk, coffee)
-Dessert (Cake and donuts)
We quickly looked for a place to sit in the crowded dining hall and once again I noticed how nervous I was. My wife sits in front of me and we pray. We ask God to bless our meal and we thank Him for the ministry that was provided us and ask Him to bless it richly.
Then my favorite part came. We ate. And you know what? It was delicious. The soup was awesome, the salad was great, the rolls were soft, the peaches were yum. All of it was really good.
It was then that the Lord spoke to me. In not so many Words He said...
"Mike you go out to eat every week. You sit next to strangers in those restaurants all the time and you don't even bat an eye. Why are you so nervous now? The food is excellent, the staff is clean and nice, and you're even sitting in MY house, what is so different?"
In that moment God wasn't scolding me.
I believe He was teaching me.
Teaching me something about the way I see others and myself.
So I started to look inward and thought, "Who do you think you are? Are you nervous because you think you are better than the other people piled in here? Are you worried about what others may think about you? Are you just uncomfortable because this is something brand new to you and you are afraid of the unknown?"
And God said, "What do you think?"
I think it was nice to get a free delicious lunch.
I think I shouldn't be so concerned about my reputation, my image, my feelings or the unknown.
I think, as I said before, that God intended me to be uncomfortable. Because God uses our discomfort to remind us who we are, Blessed.
I think this is how some people must feel when they attend my church of the first time.
I find it interesting that God can use something as simple as a free meal to teach me so many things.
If you're in need of a good meal, or would like to donate your time, talent or treasure to an amazing cause check out:
The Salvation Army
110 Bountiful Dr,
Kalispell, MT 59901