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Posts tagged with: joy

A Dog’s Purpose (Perspective of a 6 yr old)

This post is simply a copy from the book called “A Dog’s Purpose written by W. Bruce Cameron. Thought I’d take a break from the heavy hitting material and share a cool perspective from a 6 year old boy about his dog. Learning from a dog and a 6 year old demonstrates to us sophisticated adults that we have a long ways to go. (Something Jesus said about having “Faith Like a Child” rings a bell when I read this great story. Enjoy it and let it convict you.

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Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Photo Credit

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

the Six-year-old continued …

”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Comfortingly true…

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Puppy games are for big dogs too
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


HYDRATE – Winning From the Inside 31 (Matthew 6:24) Magnify

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

A man named Hippolytus was martyred in Rome in the third century. In the recorded incident it says he was a soldier who participated in the torture execution of St. Lawrence but converted as a result of that martyr’s example. He was then sentenced to be torn apart by horses. I mention this gruesome story for the purpose of trying to brand an image in our brains as to what happens to us (not physically…but every other way) when we try to serve multiple masters.

Have you ever said, “I’m torn between two ideas…I’m not sure what I should do?” Jesus warns us straight up that if you and I have multiple foundational authorities then we will end up hating one and loving the other. Which one do you think we naturally will have a tendency to obey? Its fair to say that if you obey one, that’s the one you love. If you disobey the other, that’s the one you hate. I think we naturally are drawn to love the easy master, the popular master, the master that requires less resistance, less sacrifice. That all sounds good until we think about the other master…the one that requires us to sacrifice, give, work hard, put in the extra effort, pay the price. What’s wrong with taking the easy road? I say, everything! I know you agree with me that the route that requires sacrifice, giving, hard work, extra effort, a price, is the route that is ultimately better for us. It most definitely makes for a better story when its over. But its so natural to want to travel the easy road. When we choose the easy road, who pays the price? The road doesn’t. We do! Why is it that we naturally want to choose the easy, lazy, and damaging path for a short term reward at the cost of a long term lasting reward? Its all crazy! The pull of the two forces is exhausting. We are actually told this in the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote about it in Galatians 5:17. He said, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” That passage has a heavy feel to it. It paints a picture of a man/woman in a continual wrestling match. A continual wrestling match is exhausting from all perspectives. It leads me to take another look at the picture above of the man being pulled apart.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Paul warns us that the two forces are constantly fighting each other. It doesn’t say that they will constantly being striving to pull you apart, it says they fight each other. This idea gives me hope in that it seems I can train myself to obey the right way every time. Isn’t that a possibility? If I have no hope that I can actually develop the discipline to choose the right path every time, then I am a dejected and hopeless man. Jesus says not to have two masters. Paul says the two masters will continually fight each other. We know that we will be tempted by both masters until we die, but we also know that we get to choose which one wins. This fact comforts me, challenges me, and inspires me to want to win and thus choose the right master/choice every time!

Some might argue and say, “Trent, we are sinners and none of us are perfect, its not possible to choose right every time.”

I would disagree. If I get technical with this argument then I would argue back that a choice is always a choice that can be made in the right way…every time. A mistake, an accident…even when it’s sin, isn’t necessarily a choice…sometimes mistakes/accidents happen so fast, it really wasn’t a choice. It happened. I think these accidental sins are what John references in 1 John 5:16-17. John mentions a sin that doesn’t lead to death and sins that do lead to death. Choosing sin and Falling into sin are very different motives and very different sins. Jesus has compassion for one and despises the other, although both can be forgiven, if the person who sinned confesses and repents as 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I believe that we can choose the right way every time. Examples?
You can choose not to murder…every time you are tempted.
You can choose not to gossip…every time you are tempted.
You can choose to forgive…every time you are hurt.
You can choose to not to steal…every time theft is an option.
You can choose to only drink a little and not get drunk…every time you have alcohol present.
You can choose to do the right thing every time…even when the wrong thing is easier.

If I really love you, then I will stick to my guns on this thought. You and I can choose right every time! When we don’t choose right, the only person we should blame is ourselves. When we choose wrong, then the reality is that we actually chose wrong twice. When I choose wrong, I chose to commit a sin and also chose to ignore my best master Jesus Christ. Choosing to do this is inexcusable. I think when I make the wrong choice, I can explain it, but it doesn’t excuse it. I must, then, face the truth and admit that I simply chose to ignore what Jesus commanded me to do. When I do this, I can’t think of more dangerous way to live.

The hard truth is this. These choices to sin don’t just happen in one instant. A tough example is the example of when someone has a sexual affair. The people committing the sin didn’t just wake up the next morning wondering what happened. No! The affair more than likely started months earlier. In the case of a man who chose to go to a bar and have a one night stand, he actually started having marriage problems way earlier than just that night. In the case of a couple who had a sexual affair, it actually started at the office when they chose to begin to playfully and “harmlessly” tease one another. Then over the next couple of weeks and months this teasing couple actually look forward to getting to the office a bit early, they put on an extra spray of cologne/perfume before they leave for the office.

When we choose to obey the wrong choice at the cost of obeying Jesus, it actually started with a secret. In option one above, the man who had the one night stand refused to talk to his accountability partner at church and instead chose to keep it a secret that he was struggling in his marriage. In the example of the couple at the office, they both, secretly, put that extra spray on, and left for the office early.

Honoring the wrong master…always…starts with a secret. Whether the master is money…which I haven’t talked about in this post, or any other master that is trying to pull you away from Jesus who paid the price to be your master. Jesus earned the right to be your master. Every other master is simply a selfish bastard that wants to justify its evil by having you as company!

Here’s the way to wrap this post up. A Master is simply a Magnifying Glass. Many times the two masters that are pulling at you, are both good. In fact all sin is usually doing a good thing…out of bounds. Examples? Sex is good thing…only with your spouse. Money is good…love of money is the root of all evil. Alcohol is good…too much alcohol is evil. Ambition is good, selfish ambition is evil. Lust is good, lust for created things is evil.

Which master will you choose? Each choice you make, actually is two choices being made. Love one…Hate the other…two choices. When we choose the master who is not Jesus…we actually are saying with our actions…(actions speak louder than words)…”Jesus…I hate you!”

Masters are simply magnifying glasses that show, in a big way, who we really are. Money is just a magnifying glass that exposes who you really are and thus magnifies how you use the gift of money. Sex is a magnifying glass that exposes (no pun intended) who you are as you choose who you have sex with…do you honor God with your sex or the devil with your sex? (Love one/Hate the other) Jesus Christ is a magnifying glass, that when you choose to live for Him, it magnifies to everybody around you, who you are. The devil is a magnifying glass, that when you choose to live for him, he magnifies to everybody around you, who you are.

It helps me to think of everything as a magnifying glass that when I choose it, the whole world sees who I am, MAGNIFIED. Do I live big for Jesus or for other masters?

You cannot serve two masters…you will hate one at the cost of loving the other.

I choose to love Jesus Christ. I want to Magnify Him and when I do, He magnifies me back…and the world notices!
You will be presented with the opportunity to follow many different masters today.
Which one will you allow to magnify you?


Can you define Christian? (Bond Servant)

From the instant Jesus left earth and returned to His gated community by ascending back to the right-hand side of the Father in heaven, there has been controversy about how to follow Jesus. The book of Acts in the Bible has multiple accounts where, even the apostles, argue amongst themselves about what to specifically do when it comes to following Jesus. We are a passionate people, and when it comes to our faith, things get very personal. Add to this natural phenomenon all the denominations and different religions throughout the world, and what we have is a mixed bag of ideas about what it means to get to heaven and what it means to follow Jesus. In fact, a majority of the New Testament is simply letters from the apostles, written to answer questions from local churches that were having problems. The Bible is a grouping of solution letters written under the guidance of the Creator, Jesus Christ Himself. This blog post is long but I hope worthwhile in painting a perfect picture of what it means to be a Christian.

I think the most important issue that we must deal with, in this blog post pertains to something that Jesus said Himself. It is recorded in John 14:6 (NLT). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

That is a very intense, bold, and what could be called, arrogant, statement. Could you imagine your child’s teacher sending home a letter with all his students that read like that statement. The letter sent home would be a short statement that reads like this: “To all parents of the students in my class: I wanted to simply inform you that there is a heaven and a hell, and I wanted to inform you that if you or your student wants to go to heaven, then please know that I am the way, the truth, and the life, and you or your student will not be able to enter heaven or meet the Father in heaven unless you go through me.”

Can you imagine the uproar? Can you imagine the controversy, the headlines? Yet, this is exactly what Jesus did. This statement from Jesus has caused an uproar since He said it. This statement has created controversy and anger ever since He said it. So, before we can become a follower of Jesus, we must sort it out in our own head and heart as to whether or not Jesus is who He says He is. I love the thought process that C.S. Lewis created a long time ago, in which he says that Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord. It’s a fair proposal from Lewis. Someone can’t just show up on the scene, calling themselves the Way, the Truth, the Life, and not be considered one of those three. So as you read this blog post, I ask you to decide what you believe. Do you believe that Jesus is a liar? Do you believe that Jesus is a lunatic? Do you believe that Jesus is who He says He is, and thus, is Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and the only way to get to heaven?

If you chose either of the first two options about who Jesus is—a liar or a lunatic—then you can live the rest of your life however you want. I do not want to be cynical with you, if you have chosen either of these two options or both, but if you did choose liar and/or lunatic, then please eat, drink, and be merry…do whatever you want, for this life is as close to heaven as you will ever get. Enjoy it immensely. Indulge and grab life by the horns and live to the max. I would, if I were you.

However, if you chose Jesus to be who He says He is—Lord—then I want to welcome you to the path less traveled. You have chosen a narrow and challenging path that will rock your world. I am excited for you, and I hope the rest of what you are about to read will give you clarity on what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus.

The best example I use to help others fully understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus is actually an Old Testament example. The example is what is called a bond servant. I do not think someone can have a true and full understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus or a christian, outside an understanding of what a bond servant is.

A bond servant is an Old Testament term for what we might call a voluntary slave. I want to directly challenge the reader to remove all presuppositions from your mind as to what the American mentality of a slave is. Please understand that in the Old Testament Hebrew culture, to be a slave could be a very wonderful and voluntary form of making a living. It could be a lifestyle that someone would choose.

Now, when someone would become a slave in a Jewish culture, there were rules that God required to be followed, and they can be found in the book of Exodus in the Bible. Some of these rules may or may not make sense to us in our cultures today, and that is okay. They were still rules that God wrote, and thus, the people of that time must follow. Just for the sake of what I hope is your own curiosity, I want to include these rules below. Exodus 21:1-5 (NLT).

“These are the regulations you must present to Israel. If you buy a Hebrew slave, he may serve for no more than six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave, he shall leave single. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife must be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave and they had sons or daughters, then only the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master.”

So, this gives us a perspective on some rules of slavery of the Hebrew culture in the Old Testament times. But something amazing is about to happen as you read the next verse of this same Bible passage I have quoted above. The next sentence is where we get the term bond servant. Just for clarity, it is Exodus 21:5-6 (NLT):

“But the slave may declare, “I love my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to go free.” If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life.”

That passage is astonishing to me. Let me put this in my own words. Remember, if someone becomes a slave, they can only serve as a slave for six years. In the Hebrew culture, every seven years, they forgave each other’s debts. Can you imagine how wonderful this system would be? I’m sure there are people who took advantage of this system, but it is still the system that God ordained. I have always wondered what this system would do to an American economy. I personally believe it would create an environment of honor and gratitude that would not allow the few bad apples to ruin it for everybody else. Call me an eternal optimist and idealist. I say all that to simply say this. I can’t wait for heaven!

So, back to point about this slave stuff. Once someone worked as a slave for six years, the Hebrew law required this slave to be set free. Now, a lot can happen in six years in the life of anyone, including the life of a slave, and even back in the day, where change came more slowly than today. So a man who became a slave, for whatever reason, in the Old Testament times, and six years later was set free, now was faced with a free choice and multiple choices at that. He could accept his freedom and move on with his life however he chose. One of those choices was to go back to his master and voluntarily become a bond servant. This was where we can begin to understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

This slave could go back to his master and stand at his master’s front door and commit himself to his master. He would do this by stating to his master that he enjoyed being a slave under him. He would acknowledge that his life with his master, and as a slave, was the kind of life he wanted to live for the rest of his life. Now remember, when this man went to the door to say that he wanted to remain a slave to the master for the rest of his life, he was doing it as a completely free man and in a voluntary free manner. So when this free man, previously the master’s slave, came back to the front door of the master’s home and declared that he wanted to voluntarily remain the master’s slave, there were some critical and permanent things that voluntarily happened. The master accepted this free man’s lifetime offer, if he wanted to. This lifetime offer from the requesting person was one that acknowledges that everything he owned or had in his life, now fully belonged to the master, including his own life and his own family and material things, for the rest of his life, voluntarily. This act of commitment was a lifelong, irrevocable, and voluntary commitment.

It seems to me that for this kind of thing to actually happen, the master must have been a very special person for this kind of commitment to take place. In fact, to demonstrate how permanent this is, the man making the commitment would stand in the threshold of his master’s home, and the master would take a hammer and awl and drive it through the earlobe of man, making the voluntary promise. It would be through the right ear of the man that this piercing would happen. The man who made this lifelong commitment would stand, for a brief time, nailed to the doorframe of his master’s home, to allow for people to witness, and be witnesses, to this irrevocable life long commitment.

When the awl that is piercing the man’s ear and permanently fastening him to his master’s doorframe, is removed, the master would give this man a gold hoop earring to wear, and a title would be given to this man; bond servant. How remarkable. What a commitment. The quality of person that this master must have been to result in such a lifelong permanent, life-changing commitment is remarkable. I hope you see the similarities of the story with being a follower of Jesus Christ. However, our situation with Jesus Christ is even better.

In the bond servant’s case, the man had to work off six years of his life to be free. In a Christian’s situation, we don’t have to work off anything to be free. Jesus is the one who paid the time for us. His death on the cross is the time that was paid for our crime. Jesus’s death on the cross is what removed God’s anger from us and made us free men and women. Jesus’s death took all of God’s anger away from mankind. Heaven and Hell are full of people who were free to choose and God honored their choice. Hell is full of people who were given freedom to choose how they wanted to live their lives; they simply chose to live in the qualities of hell and evil, and God simply honored their free choice and extended it into eternity. I think it breaks God’s heart that hell is full of people whom He loves. I think it’s for these people that God wishes He were a control freak, and I’d bet He wishes He would have forced them to love Him. But God is love. Love does not control or force. Love allows freedom of choice and then simply gives consequences to those choices. It is a choice to become a bond servant or not, and each choice has one consequence. Choose to be a bond servant of Jesus’s, and when we die, we will be reunited with the Father in heaven for eternity. Choose not to be a bond servant of Jesus’s, and when we die, we will be separated from the Father and go to a place called hell that, by the way, was not created for people. Jesus says in Matthew 25, that hell is a place that was created for the devil and his demons. God never intended for people to spend eternity in hell. He only honors our choice to live with Him or without Him. How hard it must be to honor the wrong choice of people who He loves. But, this is how God created the whole thing to work and then placed it all in the hands of His only Son, because of the price that His only Son paid.

Because Jesus paid such a huge price for our freedom, God the Father gave Jesus all authority in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. This fact is found in Matthew 28:18. So, after being given all authority and after paying such a high price, Jesus has earned the right to lay down some new laws and rules. If someone doesn’t like that, then they will have to take it up with Jesus when they meet Him someday. We call these new laws and new rules the New Testament. Jesus is now given the authority by the Father to declare that He is the way, the truth, and life, and no one gets to the Father except through Him. The Bible, especially the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are where we have recorded what Jesus means when He says we have to go through Him to enter heaven. To go through Him means we have to go through His approval and His requirements to join the Father in heaven for eternity. These requirements, if we do them, are what cause us to earn the free, voluntary, lifelong title called a bond servant. Please don’t forget that it’s your free choice to become a bond servant or not. Please understand that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, where we get to the Father in heaven, we must be a bond servant. Please understand that you can’t earn this salvation. You can only earn a title. Salvation is the free gift, just waiting for you to open. The way you open this free gift is to approach Jesus Christ and commit to be His bond servant. Jesus is the one who did all the work, so that all we have to do is commit to the title. But what happens when you do admit that you want to be Jesus’s bond servant? This is where the work begins. The title is a free gift. The question is then, what does it require of me to have the title of bond servant? It requires everything from you. If a man became a bond servant in the Bible times, but then didn’t fully do what a bond servant was supposed to do, the title would be removed. The bond servant could actually be put to death, if the master chose it that way. Being a bond servant is more than a title; it is living as a bond servant everyday. Remove the title or the lifestyle, and one was no longer a bond servant.

Remember, a bond servant owns nothing. He voluntarily and freely relinquished all of his assets and his life to the master. As I think about the physical process that took place to become a bond servant, it causes me to be thankful that when I became a Christian, there was no awl being driven through my ear that day, even though body piercing is pretty popular. I see the awl being driven through the ear of a bond servant as to what baptism is to the one who is making the commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

So, are you a bond servant to Jesus Christ? It is a lifelong, free commitment to become a slave of Jesus Christ. Have you ever wondered, as you read through the New Testament, what Paul meant in some of His letters when He titled himself a slave of Jesus Christ? I think it would have done all of Christianity well if the translators would have, more correctly, translated the word bond servant of Jesus Christ instead of slave. I won’t go into detailed Greek right now, but the word is doulos, which our translators translated as slave. There are some current Bible translations today that actually kept the word bond servant. I know that one is the Holman Christian Standard Bible. There are a few others as well. I think bond servant is the better translation. Keeping the word bond servant in our Bibles would cause us to look it up and study it and define it sooner and fully understand what the term means. James, Peter, Jude, and John titled themselves the same thing in their letters in the New Testament; bond servants!

So now what? I think it is important to understand 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT):

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

I do not belong to myself. You do not belong to yourself. We were bought through the death of God’s only Son. That is a huge price. Whether we have chosen to be bond servants or not, we are still owned by God. Whether you believe in God or not, you are still owned by God. I pray you will choose to become a bond servant if you have not. How does one become a bond servant today? As a reminder, a true Christian and a bond servant are the same thing. In the New Testament, there are recorded only nine situations in which an individual or a group of people chose to become bond servants of Jesus Christ. They are all accounted for in the book of Acts. Every time somebody became a bond servant of Jesus’s in the book of Acts, five things actually happened. First, they heard the news of Jesus Christ, then they believed that Jesus was Lord. They then repented from living their lives outside the will of Jesus and confessed Jesus as their Master. It is at this point that each of them was immersed in water, which is what is called baptism.

As I read through the book of Acts and see that these things always happen when someone becomes what we now know as a bond servant to Jesus, I have no authority to change any one of those five things. Hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized. If you have done those things by faith in Jesus Christ, you now are titled a bond servant to Jesus. A bond servant lives his/her life in a very specific way of obedience. The way of a bond servant is the way of obedience to the master. The next big question that I hope we would ask is, “Obey what?”

The answer, before I end this incredibly long blog, is simply, obey the teachings and commands of Jesus Christ. And when I say simply, I do not mean they are easy. The life of a follower of Jesus Christ is a not a path of ease, but a path of simplicity, of trust, and of focus. It is a good life that will someday become a great, eternal life. There are more than 300 specific teachings and commands of Jesus that we should obey, and they are all found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the Holy Bible. Read the and obey them. Of course there is a forgiveness clause added to this when we are not perfect in obeying all 300 plus of these; and none of us are perfect.

I hope that this study has been a motivating one for you. I hope that you will continue to grow as a fully developing follower of Jesus Christ. It is a life long process that only ends when your heart beats its last and you stand before Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lord and King of Kings and are told, well done good and faithful Bond Servant!


Church Planting Sequel

Do you remember the old Whitesnake song “Here I Go Again”? It was a #1 hit song. Originally released on their 1982 album, Saints & Sinners, the song was re-recorded for their 1987 album Whitesnake. In 2006, the 1987 version was named the 17th Greatest Song of the 1980s by VH1.

The Lyrics resonate with me as I venture into what will be my 2nd Church plant. Some of the Lyrics go like this…my comments are in parenthesis.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been. (Steve Jobs said, we cannot connect the dots looking forward, only looking back.)
Hanging on the promises in the songs of yesterday (Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Amazing Grace, How great thou art, The Old Rugged Cross.)
And I’ve made up my mind (I’m planting a church again. The first one was amazing, I have no idea how this 2nd one will turn out.)
I ain’t wasting no more time (I’ve been side-lined for more than a year now. Its time to do what God has created me to do, plant a Church)
Here I go again, here I go again (Yep…but the “I” should be a “we.” I can’t do this on my own. Its not mine, its the Lord’s. I want to include people from all around the world who will invest their time, talent and treasure in this church plant. What do you have that you would like to invest in this specific work of the Lord’s?)

There are so many unknowns in the future. I know this Church plant will come with some criticism, but we must move forward. There are thousands…no… millions of people who are far from God that if any Christ centered church out there doesn’t reach them, they will spend eternity is the most formidable and tormenting place ever in existence, Hell. The Church shouldn’t criticize each other. We shouldn’t compete against each other, we should celebrate our differences and march together as the body of Christ. We should complete each other.

So many people think the church is the most segregated organism on the planet. Some would “prove” this by saying that whites go to one church, blacks to another, hispanics go one way, Asians another and right on down the skin color chart….and then they’ll prove their segregation comments further by saying, the youth go to one place, the children to another, men this way, women that way, divorcees here, young couples there, senior somewhere else. This “glass half-empty” mentality says that these facts show that the current church is all a great tragedy.

I’m a “glass half full” mentality kind of guy. I agree with the description above, but I do not see it as segregation. I see it as the body of Christ and just as a heart goes one place, the lungs go to another, the toes, the head, the fingers, the kidneys, the eyeballs, the elbows, the knees….

I think the church is the most strategically located entity in the world. It has diversity that reaches to the ends of the earth. IT TAKES ALL KINDS TO REACH ALL KINDS! “Birds of a feather, flock together! Every color, race, tribe and misfit has a place in the body of Christ. A.K.A…THE CHURCH! If it is an organism that believes that Jesus Christ is THE way, THE truth, THE life…then it is a unified, universal, un-defeatable body that is a giant, beautiful, imperfect, spectacular….CHURCH! It isn’t tragic that we are spread out all over the world in like groups…its miraculous and beautiful.

I love the Church…even when her dirty laundry is hanging out for all the world to see. I love the Church. Even in it’s worst form…its beautiful!

That’s why I’m starting a brand new one in Orlando Florida…in a suburb called Oviedo.
I don’t know how it will turn out, but I give this one promise…
I’m going to love joining with a group of people who want to make a dent in this crazy world…where we team together complimenting each other with our different strengths, talents, and spiritual gifts. My greatest passion in life is helping you be successful by leading you to understand your purpose by helping you understand your giftedness that the Lord has blessed you with and then challenging you to storm the gates of Hell at all costs! I’ll storm them with you!

Its going to be an unforgettable, eternal journey.

To God Be The Glory…Great Things He Hath Done…

Here we are Lord…Use us!
TR


Trajectory – Shift Happens

One decision, one person, one integrity problem, one accident, one encounter…and your entire life trajectory can be altered for eternity. We are all just one decision from having our entire life trajectory being altered for eternity. I have never in my life imagined living in Orlando Florida. I planted a church in Phoenix Arizona and dreamed to be the Lead Pastor of that Church for 40 years and then retire and pass the baton to one of my sons and ask to have the Church broom so I could be the Church Janitor and best cheerleader the new pastor could dream of. To be perfectly honest I hate the phrase, ‘If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans.” I hate it, but I get it.

I am completely dumbfounded, flabbergasted, blown away, that I now live in Orlando Florida. My family’s trajectory change has moments of thrill and moments of chill…yah…the bad kind of chill. One decision… has me living 2,180 miles from anything I have ever known and facing giants and obstacles that make my skin crawl, my heart ache, my blood pressure to rise, and my heart to beat faster for the thrill of the challenge. One decision led to this. One decision that I know I was supposed to make. How do I know that I was supposed to make it? Because God told me to. It was so clear that, if I had to make the decision again, knowing what I know now, I would have to make the same decision because God was that clear. Steve Jobs said that we can never connect the dots looking forward, only looking back. Others say we all have 20/20 hindsight.

So the average comfy Christian would reply to my paragraph above, “Its okay, Trent…God must have wanted you to live in Orlando Florida and have you doing what you are doing now…or… what happened wouldn’t have happened, its all God’s plan…so let go and let God.” Isn’t that convenient. I’m not a Calvanist and I think that answer is a copout. Its wrong to place all the blame or responsibility on God. Its easy to blame God for the disasters/trajectory changes going on in your life. When you blame God nobody else has to accept responsibility. The phrase, “God’s Got This” is true but that is different than saying God caused this. Want an example?

Adam and Eve. Did God plan and intend for them to break His rules of not eating of the specific trees in the Garden of Eden? Did God tell Himself before He created Adam and Eve….”Hey I’m going to create this thing called people and I am going to love them because I made them in my image to be like me…but in my plan I’ve got this little fun twist I want to play around with…I’m going to cause them to screw it all up. I am going to watch them become ashamed of each other and then I plan on watching them kill each other and then I’m going to kill my own Son to pay the price for their screw ups and how fun it will be…because I”m gonna blow them all away by raising my son from the dead after I kill Him! God leans to His right and asks His Son…”Sound Cool, Jesus?” “You up for this great plan, Son?” Jesus says, “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, Dad.” God replies, “Oh, Jesus…don’t be a bad sport. You can do it! Think of the adventure!” So God proceeds with his “will” and for thousands of years orchestrates rapes, gangster murder, divorce and hate, suicide bombers, as He leans back into His memory foam love-sac and from His game room in His gated community called Heaven, xbox 360 controller in hand, intensely playing through His favorite game called Life. Press X for Jump, Y to knife, UP arrow to receive prayer, DOWN arrow for eternal punishment…

Too cynical for you? Yah…me too…I’m in a sassy mood. Its been a rough week. It all makes we want to scream from my roof top that Life was never intended to be this way. If you can read through my cynicism there’s actually a good lesson here.

Trajectory Shift. Your’s might shift tomorrow. Everything you’ve been doing for the past 13/20/60 years could be completely annihilated before your very eyes…tomorrow. If it happens you’ll be put in a trajectory change that will make you question everything you thought you knew about life, the people around you and leave you screaming, Why?!” Ask yourself… Do you trust that person you are about to make the deal with? Do you trust your spouse? Do you trust your dad? Do you trust that taxi driver as you jump in the back seat. Do you trust the engineer who just built the bridge. Do you trust the man who put the bolt in the truss hanging over your head in that giant football stadium? Do you trust the driver on the other side of the dotted yellow line? Do you trust the councelor who is meeting behind closed doors with your child? Do you trust the guy working under you as he sees the rungs of the ladder above you? Do you trust the spiritual mentor you’ve had in your life for the past 20 plus years? Do you trust your preacher and how he handles the church finances? Do you trust the man dressed up in a SWAT uniform carrying a gun across the parking lot of the movie theater? Trust and Trajectory shifts…they go hand in hand.

Its tough to walk the fine line of trusting someone, something, and at the same time making sure everybody signs the dotted line of security.

In God We Trust…everybody else pays cash and signs the agreement.
I’ve learned in the past year about trust and security and trajectory shift. God is the only one we can fully trust without thinking much about it, without worry, without stress. He always has our best interest in mind, even if it doesn’t feel good. Everybody else…you will have to choose to trust, it will require some security backup like contracts and waivers. Even then its a finicky trust. Its a trust that if all parties aren’t seeking the best interest of each other it will end up in a trajectory shift in your life that will take your breath away and you will be bothered by it the rest of your life. Shift Happens!

I chose to trust. 20/20 hindsight proves that it was a blind and naive trust. I didn’t have anybody sign the agreement that I wrote up. I didn’t get perfect clarity before I committed. I feel like a dummy. I trusted. I quietly pulled back the paperwork, folded it in half and slid it in my back pocket. Oh…I’d like that 20 seconds of time back. I believed in the idealistic dream that everybody has everybody else’s benefit in mind. You see…it takes two to make a plan work right. It takes all parties listening to God and behaving like God to make God’s plan work. Even one entity thinking only for themselves and the deal is bust. Trajectory Shift starting in 10…9…8…

I do not blame anyone, but myself. I don’t blame the other party. I most definitely do not blame God. I’m just heart broken over all the shift! Its a load of shift. I’m sick to my stomach…frequently…about it all. What does a man do now? I know the answer to that question!

You get up, shake the dust off your clothes and put your feet on the ground and start over. What else can you do? It doesn’t work to keep laying in the dirt bloodied and pathetic. It doesn’t work to listen to the voice of the critic. It doesn’t work to listen to the voice of one who is celebrating as you suffer the shift. You get up! Tomorrow arrives consistently everyday. Time keeps ticking whether I want it to stop or not. I must choose to fully grasp the shift and make the most of it. Shifts make for new beginnings, new places, new plans. Pain and trajectory shifts are twins. Pain doesn’t mean its bad, its just reality. Trajectory shifts means somebody didn’t get what they hoped for. That causes agony, but new beginnings too. My trajectory shift has landed me in another part of the country and feels like another part of the world. My trajectory shift has me realizing that everybody is the same whether you live in Arizona or in Florida…Uganda or Peru…Jerusalem or Paris.

I am truly understanding for the first time in my life what the Bible means by all Creation groans for the return of the King, Jesus Christ. I used to think only weak people groaned for the return of Jesus. I’ve realized its just the opposite. People who really haven’t faced a crushing trajectory shift in their life, who sit under the umbrella of false security and false contentment are the soft ones who don’t understand why people groan for the return of Jesus. If you aren’t groaning for the return of Jesus you have the “blessed” position of comfort and a life truly unaltered. You’ve gotten your way for too long. To this type of person, it is alarming to think of Jesus returning, for life is too good to have it all end now. Death terrifies this type of person because life is too good. What a crazy, wild, out of control world we live in…its quite thrilling if you think about it. I guess its all how you view life.

I am astonished at the patience and love that Jesus carried with Him every minute of the short time He lived here as one of us. He encountered such selfish people. On rare occasions we can see when He encountered a person that “inspired” Him. It was usually a person who had faced incredible hardship and trajectory shifts in their life. It takes my breath away when I think about how much restraint, that God the Father must have, to NOT send His Son back down here to settle the score once and for all and end the nonsense, the selfishness, the clamoring for power and privilege and position. Fighting for who answers to who. Scheming to get what they want when they want it. I want to scream…Jesus…please stop the madness! God’s patience is maddening to me and at the same time a beautiful gift to me. And you!

Its enough to make a pastor throw in the towel of ministry to go work at Home Depot. But…

No chance.
I’ll never quit.
Yes…I said it…Never.

I have been crushed. The crushing has made me smarter, harder, more aware. I’m not sure if all of those things are good or not? I assume it depends on how I use those knew weapons from this day forward.

Time tells all things. Trajectory shift changes all things.
For now…the trajectory has shifted. Shift happens. I can handle it. It just makes me weary. I must rest…for tomorrow is guaranteed to begin. The sun will rise. The Son will return. In the mean time….
I’ll try not to screw it up. If I do…that’ll change the trajectory again. Trajectory change wouldn’t be so bad if it was just me that it affected. The trajectory shift I experienced a year ago…because of one decision,…affected more than 20,000 people. Their trajectory was altered, even though multitudes of them will never know. I wish it would have just affected me. I faced an incredibly scary decision just a few nights ago that I had to make. I made it and my trajectory has shifted again. This trajectory shift has affected nearly 1000 people. In the next few days and weeks all involved with experience more trajectory shift because of the choices of a few.

I wonder if there is a viewing room in Heaven where we can someday go to see what should have been or what could have been if all parties would have just acted like Jesus. I don’t think an actual room exists, though, because the Bible says there will be no tears. Sitting in the viewing room of what should have been, would make any viewer watching their “should have been life” flash before their eyes, cry. If there was such a room, it would have a no vacancy sign on because it would be full of those who insisted that their life stay the same. It will be full of people who clawed and fought for only what they want. The video playing in that room will terrify those who refused to change, stretch, grow, give and risk. If you haven’t faced tremendous trajectory shift in your life, it will only be a matter of time. I think there are two kinds of people in the world. Those coming out of a crushing trajectory shift and those who are getting ready to enter a crushing trajectory shift.

As hard as the trajectory shift is…the shift is actually a gift from God. This wasn’t all in God’s plan. I will never know what God had planned in the plan before this trajectory shift. I will be thought provoked for the rest of my life wondering what could have been if everybody would have stayed in God’s will.
The things that happened has caused God to have to change His plan. It has caused God to pick up the ashes
What does a man do in this situation?

It makes him simply say…What now Lord? Here I am use me.

Trust God that He didn’t cause this trajectory change. Man did.
Trust God at His word that He’ll make beauty from ashes. He will.

The Shift is a Gift!

May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.
Carry on.

Trent